August 20, 2010

The Dilemma with Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency warned that drinking water pollution is one of the top environmental threats to our health. Contaminants are routinely measured in municipal drinking water including lead, cadmium, mercury, metals, pesticides, fertilizers, and chlorine. These can enter your body not only by drinking the water, but through bathing in it.

Our blood is 90% water and our muscle tissue is 75% water. We need to drink clean water to deliver nutrients and oxygen, discharge metabolic wastes, and clear out toxins. Our ultimate goal is to relieve the body from daily environmental stressors, but what do we do when one of these stressors is our own water? Although water from our faucets and city water supplies is ordinarily safe from bacteria and harmful organisms, undesirable contaminants in the water are an ongoing concern.

One of these contaminants is fluoride. As an additive to public water supplies, fluoride has been banned as unsafe for public health in many countries, yet it is added to many municipal water supplies in the United States with assurances that it is a “proven health measure.” Michael Barbee, author of Politically Incorrect Nutrition says, “Fluoride improperly mineralizes many tissues, including bones, joints, and teeth. It also disarms the immune system and calcifies the pineal gland.”

Despite the urgings of dentists, fluoride may not be necessary to protect teeth. Tooth decay appears to result from a poor diet and lack of basic hygiene. You can read more about this theory at And if you’re interested in how fluoride became so widespread, read The Fluoride Deception, written by Christopher Bryson, which details how public opinion has been molded to believe fluoridation is a good thing. See a review of Bryson’s book at

Fluoride and other contaminants aside, we still must find a way to have healthy drinking water. Coffee, sodas, and other commercial drinks don’t adequately hydrate the body like pure water does. Lack of water in the body weakens immunity and increases susceptibility to disease because water actually protects cells from diseases and viruses. When your cells lack water, it is easier for foreign invaders to enter them. Adequate water holds the cells in a structure that allows for optimal functioning.

In regard to healthy water, Mu Shik Jhon, Ph.D., author of The Water Puzzle and The Hexagonal Key tells us, “What was once only theory is being confirmed. Water has a specific structure which varies with environmental conditions.” He tells us that water around cancer cells is less structured than water around normal cells. His research has shown that cancer has a common feature: the destruction of the water structure at a cellular level. Dr. Mu Shik Jhon says when hexagonal structure of water near cells is compromised, cells are more vulnerable to external stimuli. Cells surrounded by less structured water are weaker and more prone to malfunction and genetic mutation. “The failure to consider water’s impact during disease may be a glaring oversight,” he says, and goes on to say that water is especially critical for cancer patients, protecting cells from environmental damage. Through this research, some have suggested the possibility of returning cancer cells to a normal state by improving the water environment at a cellular level.

The road to good health involves being adequately hydrated with healthy water. Bottled water is not optimal unless you know the source is pure and it comes in glass, as plastic is an environmental pollutant that can leach toxic chemicals into your water.

What to do? Filter your own drinking, shower, and bath water with high quality filters. Look for filters for your drinking water that eliminate contaminants found in your municipal water. To learn more about the tap water in your community, see the Drinking Water website for the United States Environmental Protection Agency at

August 16, 2010

Is Insomnia Harming Your Immune System?

I recently heard a celebrity doctor say seven hours of sleep per night is ideal and if we get more than that we are shortening our life spans. Then, this week I read an article in a health journal advising eight hours of sleep for optimal health. Obviously there are conflicting viewpoints about how much sleep will help us heal, remain healthy, and perhaps extend our lives.

Some people can get six to seven hours of sleep, apparently function well all day, and continue on without fatigue, while others feel tired, looked tired, are foggy-minded, and generally irritable after the same amount. It is the latter group that needs to be aware of their own well-being, because these are the ones who will first come down with a cold or flu, their body unable to fully recuperate through sleep.

By knowing and honoring our own ideal sleep rhythm, we are better equipped to remain healthy and avoid not only infections that might be going around, but more serious diseases. Stanford University psychiatrist David Spiegel, MD, reviewed studies and noted a correlation between sleep-regulated hormones melatonin and cortisol, and cancer. Cortisol helps regulate the immune system response, while melatonin may have an antioxidant effect on cells, which can prevent the damage that can lead to cancer.

There are several other links between sleep deprivation and immunity, so what are we to do if we know we aren’t getting the sleep we need? It’s helpful to begin with a few basic questions about your own true “sleep nature.”

Think back to when you were a child and remind yourself of your own sleep cycle. On weekends, would you stay up late and sleep in the next day? Or were you falling asleep in front of the television by 9:00 and waking early the following morning? Many of us have had to change our true sleep rhythm in order to get along in life, and it’s worth getting in touch with it again.
Are you at your best during the day if you go to bed by 10:00pm, or, can you stay up past midnight and feel great the next day?
If given a choice, would you rise with the sun or sleep late into the morning?
Is your energy highest in the morning? Or does it increase in the evening? 
How sensitive are you to judgment around sleep patterns? For example, do you hear criticism from a society that says you should not be ready for bed as early as 9:00pm, but you shouldn’t stay in bed very late in the morning either?
Do you like to take naps?
Do you like to be up doing things in the middle of the night?
At what time during the day do you get a lull in your energy?

Becoming more familiar with your personal sleep nature can help you accept the way your own body wants to rest. And it does want to rest, very deeply, because this is when it heals itself, rejuvenates and recharges, and mends what needs mending. I believe the best, most renewing sleep happens when you are in sync and mindful of your natural sleep traits, the ones that truly suits you. Perhaps it is easy to lose sight of what they are because of the structured work and school day. But if you’ve had lowered immunity, it’s completely allowable to adjust your schedule to honor yourself and your rhythm.

There are many holistic ways to get to sleep without the use of drugs and other artificial methods. The following suggestions have worked for many people, even during times of intense stress.

  • Be sure to get adequate magnesium and calcium, in proper balance, through a source or supplement that is food-based, not synthetic. This will help calm your nervous system.
  • L-theanine is an amino acid that calms the mind. Studies have shown it to help people sleep better, if not necessary longer. 
  • Adaptogens such as ashwaganda help reduce cortisol levels to lessen stress and help you sleep. I would get this through a licensed practitioner so the right dose can be determined for you.
  • Calms Forte is a homeopathic remedy that can help calm the nerves and induce sleep without the heavy feeling of sleeping pills. It can be found in any natural food store.
  • Drink chamomile tea in the evening. 
  • Walk daily, if only for 20-minutes.
  • Avoid caffeine during the day, or drink green tea, but only in the mornings.  
  • Calm your mind and spirit in the evenings by turning off the computer, telephone, and television at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • At the end of the day, write down your thoughts, feelings, worries, and concerns to get them out of your head and down on paper.
  • Clear your bedroom of clutter, including computers and electronics.
  • Remove papers and extra books from your nightstand.
  • Stop answering the phone or having animated conversations in the evenings if it activates your mind too much. 
  • Meditate before bed or read a novel to relax and clear your mind from the day.

If you still don’t sleep well through the night after you have tried these, see an acupuncturist, herbalist, naturopath, homeopath, or holistic practitioner to assist you so you can come back into balance, sleep soundly, and keep your immunity strong.

Why Create an Acid-Alkaline Balance in Your Body?

In the field of holistic and natural health, we often hear that a body in an alkaline state is better than one that is too acidic. What we actually want is a balance between the two.

This issue has been one of controversy, with some medical doctors saying it is nonsense - that foods and pollution and so forth cannot cause acidic changes in the body. Whether or not one side or the other is “right,” it’s an interesting health topic and I do think there is something here worth looking into.

Your body can be considered too acidic if its pH, or potential Hydrogen, is acid forming. When we measure pH, we measure the degree to which negative ions and positive ions push against each other. Negative ions are alkaline-forming. Positive ions are acid-forming. What does this mean and why would it matter?

Donna Gates, author of The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity, says, “When cells live too long in an acidic condition, they adapt to it by mutating and becoming malignant. Long-term acidic conditions in our bodies provide perfect environments for cancer and auto-immune diseases like AIDS to flourish. Most people with these disorders also have candidiasis.”

Likewise, Dr. Theodore Baroody, Jr., author of Alkalize or Die, tells us to be aware of creating a balanced internal pH because disease thrives in an acidic environment.

You can have your body’s acidity tested, or you can get special strips, which are usually found in natural food markets, to test your levels at home. With these strips, your pH level is measured from a sample of your saliva or urine first thing in the morning. (A balanced urine pH is approximately 6.4.) It’s interesting to see what the strips indicate, but it isn’t always an accurate reading. A blood test would be more accurate, but not necessary.

Your best approach is to begin to address your lifestyle and whether or not it is alkaline or acid producing. A healthy balance between the two is the goal. Since the majority of food eaten by the typical American is considered acid producing, altering food choices is a major step in creating a balance.

Most people eat the Standard American Diet (SAD – an appropriate acronym) and consume primarily processed food. Items that come in boxes, packages, or cans, plus fried food, fast food, alcohol, sugars, white flour, and meat are all acid forming. But it isn’t only food and the SAD that creates an acidic condition. Noise, air pollution, and toxins in our environment can cause it, as can general stress, worry, anxiety, anger, and fear.

As you might imagine, a healthier lifestyle contributes alkalinity and can help maintain the acid-alkaline balance. For alkalizing, we simply add what we know we need more of in our lives: relaxation, fresh vegetables, oxygenated clean water, fresh air, laughter, and positive connections with others. We reduce those foods and experiences that create too much acid.

Whether or not you know your pH levels, it might be a good thing to take some simple steps to encourage a healthy acid-alkaline balance in your body. Many of these suggestions come from Dr. Baroody’s book, and they are common knowledge among holistic practitioners who see a person’s health considerably improve when they make these lifestyle changes.

  • Spend adequate time outdoors in sunlight - twenty to thirty minutes per day – even if it’s cloudy.
  • Have a regular pattern of sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  • Use an 80/20 ratio of alkaline-forming foods to acid-forming foods. In just doing a basic online search, I found over 300,000 pages referring to these foods.
  • Rest and reduce stress.
  • Walk by water or by the sea to be in the midst of negative ions.
  • Eat fresh foods found in nature, including an abundance of vegetables.
  • First thing in the morning drink the juice of ½ lemon water in a tall glass of warm water. Although citrus is acidic, your digestion uses the acidic parts and leaves an alkaline residue.
  • Utilize natural healing such as acupuncture, energy work, reflexology, color and music therapy, yoga, chiropractic, and spiritual healing, all of which have alkaline forming reactions in the body.