Susan Casaday Stutts, Lynne Epsman Cohen, Paul Friedman, Jr., Nancy Hesse Benson, Virginia Kelser Jones, Carleton Lackey Sokol, Laide Long Karpeles, Carolyn McDavid Ray, Suzy Ovson, Susan Owens Canedy, Elna Riley Brendel, Kenny Rosenberger, Walter Schor, Mary Ruth Sevier Caldwell, Donna Strickland Himes, Ann Sullivan, John “Tiger” Timmons,Suzanne Trimm Payne
Better Health & Healing, Wellness and Longevity
Greetings from sunny [and very dry] central California! A long and winding journey through residence in multiple states and two continents has given me an opportunity to engage learning opportunities in several key areas that are likely relevant for you. In this unfolding epistle I share my key learnings for better health & healing, wellness and longevity. I offer you the opportunity to possibly go beyond your current behaviors and beliefs into a better future for yourself, your friends and your extended family.
You may wonder why I share this with you. What is my motivation? To self disclose, as I read the recent invitation for a combined SVHS gathering from the Class of ’63, I reflected on my high school years, and realized they weren’t especially happy. I am making an effort to transmute those feelings into something helpful, which is consistent with my own long-term purpose, but more on that later in this treatise on my discoveries over more than a half century.
For those of you who may be suffering from any of the classic chronic disease conditions [heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, etc] be advised that, in addition to any genetic predispositions, the primary causes of chronic disease for most people likely involve a lack of exercise [dealt with further below] and varying combinations of inflammation and pollution or hazardous chemicals. When sources of inflammation, pollution and hazardous chemicals are reduced or, better yet, eliminated, the body’s natural healing mechanisms can be brought into play, thereby supporting an internal healing process. With patience and diligent commitment to a healing path, the results can be quite favorable, way beyond expectations.
Causes of Inflammation
There are two likely causes of inflammation: 1 diet and 2 antibiotics. Let’s consider antibiotics first. Most of us boomers experienced significant benefits from antibiotics in the 50’s, 60’s and forward to today. Unfortunately the accumulated effects in our intestinal gut have surely altered our microbiome. The downside to antibiotics is that they tend to kill off the “good” bacteria in our gut that help keep the undesirable bacteria in check. A diet that includes sugar, dairy and alcohol feeds intestinal yeast. As those yeast organisms overwhelm our desirable gut bacteria, our bodies react with inflammation. That inflammation tends to appear in varied locations and organ systems depending on our idiosyncratic strengths and weaknesses.
To summarize for clarity, the undesirable effects of antibiotics are related to alteration of our intestinal bacteria in a manner that tends to stimulate inflammation. When critical organ systems are battling this inflammation [which might be maintained by certain key aspects of our diet, namely, sugar, dairy and alcohol] they cannot engage the body’s natural healing processes, hence this becomes one of the primary causes of chronic disease, brought on by chronic inflammation.
Anti-Inflammatory Dietary Regimen
For those of you who are suffering and who are motivated to do something to reduce your suffering, one of the most important things you can do is to consider testing the result of specific modifications in your diet. There is a way to improve your motivation and commitment for this, which I share toward the end of this epistle.
The behavioral/nutritional test involves three components: 1 eliminating sugar, dairy and alcohol from your diet for one to three months; 2 adding a nutritional supplement called Yeast Cleanse by Solaray, available at Whole Foods and on Amazon; and 3 adding turmeric and black pepper to your nutritional regimen.
This third possible component can be adjusted based on your response to it. Add a combination of turmeric and black pepper spices to your diet. Indus Organic Turmeric can be purchased on Amazon in bulk, and organic black pepper can be found at Whole Foods or on Amazon. Turmeric is the single most researched spice and has been identified as having desirable anti-inflammatory effects. Black pepper increases the absorption [bioavailability] of the turmeric by three orders of magnitude, i.e. several thousand times. I personally use an approximate ratio of four or five parts turmeric to one part black pepper on most of my dinners at home. Because turmeric is slightly bitter, I add coriander, Ceylon cinnamon and Himalayan Pink Sea Salt. These five spices make a tasty combination!
An alternative to adding these spices to a lunch or dinner meal for seasoning is to ingest a tumeric supplement made by Megafoods, a reputable brand that focuses on natural food products in their supplement offering. I often take the Megafoods product in the morning and add the multiple spices on my dinner. We steam any leftovers for dinner rather than microwave them, so I add the spices and the best olive oil I can find at Whole Foods before steaming, and the result is delicious. To go slowly, it might be useful to try one of these options initially to see what happens, and if you detect no undesirable effects, expand your exploration of this healing regimen.
What about other considerations for diet? There are so many different books and websites available with free advice, how to discern what dietary regimen has the best chance of helping us reduce disease and heal ourselves? After years of research into this question to cope with my own varied maladies, I can guarantee without hesitation that the best free noncommercial information source available is at http://nutritionfacts.org/. Dr. Michael Greger regularly reviews research on evidence based nutrition and has been doing so for years. You may consider signing up for his newsletter which is often a 3-4 minute video summarizing the research on a health and nutrition topic in peer reviewed scientific journals with an accompanying transcript for a quick read. He has a NYT best seller out, which I haven’t bought because I’ve been reading his blogs for several years. If you go to the link above on your computer and scroll down, you’ll see different links you can check out. If you use a smartphone, there are fewer options.
If you are sufficiently motivated to reduce any suffering or discomfort you might be experiencing to invest your time and attention to a Tedx talk, check out this recent message I sent to my distribution list:
May we save our lives from chronic disease. Watch this Ted talk video on Evidence Based Nutrition. We have to stay alive to thwart the crazies. ?.https://m.youtube.com/watch?utm_term=0_980f0158a4-e26369f2d5-25388957&v=deh5gOeJnvY&utm_source=Donor+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=e26369f2d5-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_30&mc_cid=e26369f2d5&mc_eid=3b3f5413d5
My direct experience, and that of my friends, is that these recommendations are a useful addition to any boomer regimen for reduced inflammation and suffering, as well as enhanced longevity. Of course, you can go deeper, and I encourage you to do so. We each have our own paths to discern, and there are surely more discoveries to be had along the way. 🙂
A Three Legged Stool for Longevity: The Second Leg
Consider that I am freely offering you a three legged stool on which to create a foundation for a better future for yourself and those you care about. The first leg of the stool is an anti-inflammatory diet. This includes some items to consider reducing or eliminating as a test, along with spices and supplements to add, and video’s to watch for further expert advice, based on research from peer reviewed scientific journals, summarized by Dr. Michael Greger.
What about the other two legs of the stool? The second leg is movement, otherwise known as exercise. There is fairly good research now to indicate that our longevity is related to the length of our telomeres. In general, the longer our telomeres, the longer we live. Our typical diet, sedentary life style and exposure to hazardous chemicals tend to shorten our telomeres. This is summarized in a NYT best seller by two PhD’s: The Telomere Effect. It’s a thorough treatment of the topic, so if the detail is too much for you, you can check the end of each chapter, where the key points are summarized. It’s a great book for a better future!
My takeaway from the book is that we can reduce how quickly our telomeres shorten, halt that shortening process and possibly even lengthen them with exercise. Either regular moderate exercise or high intensity exercise [HIIT], will provide benefits for our telomeres. I’ve been working on my own physical fitness for decades, so I have begun doing “intervals” to lose some of my abdominal fat. If you do not already exercise regularly, it would be a good idea to start on a moderate exercise program, and get guidance from knowledgeable professionals on how to do that safely. if you’re like Suzanne Trimm Payne and her husband Jack, not overweight and in pretty good shape with no cardio risk identified, you might consider embarking on a slowly intensifying HIIT program. Always trust your intuition about this, though, and be cautious about overdoing it.
To measure my cardio activity during any exercise session, but with special focus on HIIT sessions, I recently bought a Fitbit Ionic watch, and sync it with my iPhone Fitbit app. After the sync, I get a clear readout of my moment to moment heart rate variability during exercise sessions. I find it enormously useful. I was surprised to discern the clarity in the record during my first home workout session where I turned the exercise tracking on and selected “workout” on the watch. This exercise session involved diagonal pushups, curls and squats with free weights [Alert to Walter Schor!] and kettlebell jerks. This involved intensity to a degree that I worked up to over a period of months. Each short burst was combined with rest until the next exercise set.
Notice the peaks rise above what Fitbit calculated as the limit between my cardio rate and my peak rate. There are 8 intervals where my heart rate went above 126, which qualifies that session as HIIT, according to my understanding. Free weights are more appropriate for males; my wife does yoga for both stretching and strengthening. She uses machines at the gym, along with Zumba and dance classes, as well as 2x/week guidance from an excellent personal trainer. We both exercise daily. At my encouragement, and after looking through the above NYT bestseller, she has begun short interval runs on her daily walk with our 8 year old Bichon Friese`, who is the fourth member of our family, and a sentient being whose longevity we want to extend. 🙂
A Three Legged Stool for Longevity: The Third Leg
Now that you have an introduction to the second leg of the three legged stool, what’s the third leg? The third leg is a three component method for combining movement, breath and your aspirational goals, affirmations or prayers. It’s too long a story to explain how I discovered how to combine these three components, but suffice it to say that this method has taken me through more crises, healings and serendipitous discoveries than I can share in what has become a rather long epistle.
I briefly describe it here, but be advised that you can check my free non-commercial website as a “give back” of the benefits and learnings I have experienced. Consider it kind of a “Pay It Forward” contribution to a better future. Over the past 35 years, as it [and I] have evolved, I have named it in different ways, currently I call it the Ready for Better Method. Click this link to explore the website. The method is divided into three stages: beginning, intermediate and advanced. The likely evolution of effects is described in the description of each stage.
Move repetitively, breathe deeply in rhythm with your movement and repeat a statement of your needs, wants, wishes, hopes, affirmations, mantra or prayer in rhythm with your breath, in rhythm with your movement. There are significant benefits that accrue from use of this method, ranging from improved brain, cardio and immune function, to increased serendipity and synchronicity on matters that are important to you.
Several years ago I rose most mornings around 4am to document my learning of this method and continued writing until dinner time. This lasted for about six weeks. I paid a web designer multiple thousands of dollars to advise me on the layout. I’m not selling anything and I get no tangible benefit.
As a PhD cognitive-behavioral psychologist and self directed student of eastern spiritual disciplines, I can assure you that this method is useful. It will enable you to identify and then stretch beyond any limiting beliefs you may hold from past programming by what was for all of us a fairly provincial culture. It will stimulate deeper insights into our own personal responsibility for the suffering and struggles we have experienced. And if you so wish, it may even open your heart a bit wider and deeper, enabling you to share a deeper version of your self with those you love.
As evidence of this, I offer you below a view of the first Valentine’s card I have ever produced. It was for for the most recent Valentine’s Day this month. May this move you to increased motivation and effective action for a better future.
Happy Valentine’s Day 2018
Thirty one years ago
Dad proposed to Mom
On Valentine’s Day
“I’ll be your sister”
“I don’t want a sister
I want you as my wife”
A year later
she said yes.
A long and winding journey
that has brought us
We have covered so much ground
experienced so much stress
dealt with so many challenges
found so many solutions
learned so much
it’s been an incredible life
For this we are thankful
At this time
of those we love and cherish
On this Valentine’s Day
and be pleased with knowing
That I love you both
You enrich my life immeasurably
I am blown away by who you are
how far you both have come
and how you continue to
So on this special day
May you both
and know that you are LOVED
from that mysterious arena
that we call HEART