Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Top 10 Fitness Mistakes

Top 10 Fitness Mistakes
 by: Jon Gestl

Most fitness goals include weight loss, or the reduction of fat content, in one way or another. Whether we want to lose a couple pounds, change a clothing size, or gain muscle mass, loss and control of our fat content is usually part of the plan.
Just as it is necessary to know what steps to take to meet your individual fitness goals, it is just as important to know what not to do. Avoid the following top ten mistakes that are sure to ruin your fitness efforts:
1. Fail to Plan.
It's been said over and over: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Working out without a pre-determined workout regime is similar to going on a trip without directions; most likely you'll end up getting lost. Don't make this common mistake. Enlist the aid of a qualified personal trainer to design a proper resistance training and aerobic program. Purchase one of the many guides to fitness programming and educate yourself on the basics.
2. Compare yourself to others.
Go into any gym and you're sure to see grunting exercisers muscling their way through workouts. Meanwhile, the group fitness studio is filled with twirling, panting, leaping students who look more like they're auditioning for a music video than participating in an aerobics class. Don't even think about trying to emulate them. At the very least you'll get discouraged that you can't keep up; at the worst you'll get hurt.
Keep your expectations realistic. A beginning expecting to bench 300 pounds in the first month is doomed to failure. Better to increase strength incrementally over time. Likewise, presuming that you'll lose 100 pounds of bodyfat on a new diet in three months will never happen. Set realistic goals that will keep you motivated and concentrate on yourself, not others, throughout the process.
3. Too little exercise.
Contrary to what popular exercise programs would have us believe, it is simply not enough to put in three or four exercise sessions per week and expect major results. Weight loss and body composition changes are results of cumulative lifestyle choices, not just exercise in the gym. There are 168 hours in a week; expecting to lose weight by just spending 1% of our available time being active is ridiculous.
This doesn't mean you need to spend your entire day chained to a barbell, but make sure that you are active in some fashion every day. In addition to workouts, increase lower level activity by walking or bike riding to work, choose the parking space furthest away from the grocery store's door, or get out and play with your kids. The point is to be active and keep the body in motion on a regular basis.
4. Too much exercise.
On the other hand, don't become obsessed with exercise that it begins to rule your life. Over-training is as detrimental to achieving fitness goals as doing nothing at all.
Common signs of over-training include overuse injuries, insomnia, fatigue, prolonged recovery from workouts, and general disinterest in exercise. Rest and recovery are vital for achieving gains and preventing burnout.
5. Never change your workout routine.
Nothing is as boring as the same routine over and over again. Not only will you get bored, your muscles will adapt and quit responding. Change your exercises, the order you do them, the number of sets and reps, and vary the weights. Variety is necessary or progress will stop. Make every workout different in some way.
6. Starving to lose weight.
The usual American diet consists of a quick (usually missed) breakfast, lunch on the run and then a huge feast for dinner. Unfortunately, this is the worst eating plan for weight loss because it slows down the metabolism. When the body is not fed consistently, it flips into starvation mode developed through evolution and hangs onto fat content for survival.
Research supports that the production of thyroid hormones can be negatively affected by repeated bouts of dieting and calorie restriction. Five or six smaller meals spaced evenly from 2.5 to 3 hours make it easier for the body to digest throughout the day and increase metabolism over the long term. It may sound counterintuitive, but in order to burn fat you need to eat. Instead of reducing the amount of meals, care should be taken in controlling portion sizes.
7. Underestimating alcohol consumption.
Just as portion sizes need to be controlled, alcohol consumption must be limited, if not eliminated. Not only does alcohol have calories; it is actually metabolized more like fat than carbohydrates. Unlike fat or carbohydrates, alcohol has no nutritional value whatsoever. Drinking a glass of wine or having that martini may feel good but adds no benefit whatsoever to weight loss and muscle growth. The empty calories of those "liquid lunches" just add up too quick.
8. Relying on fast food.
In the New York Times Bestseller Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Eric Schlosser gives a convincing interpretation of how the rise of the multi-billion dollar fast food industry correlates with what we now see to be epidemic obesity in the U.S. Instead of spending time planning and preparing meals, it is far easier to grab the burger/fry/shake combo or a deluxe pizza on the way home from work.
The problem with regularly eating out is that despite how careful we may think we are, we truly don't know the makeup of most of the food that is being served to us. Even with fast food stores attempting to offer "healthier" choices, preparation of mass-produced meals relies on use of less than optimum ingredients and typically laden in fat. The only way we can be sure of knowing what we are consuming is to prepare food ourselves. Consuming less processed food is not always the easiest thing to do if we're used to it, but it is a major lifestyle choice that needs to be changed. Besides, is it just a coincidence that we call it "junk food"?
9. Avoiding of weight training.
An important concern for weight loss is increasing the body's metabolism so caloric expenditure is increased throughout the day. As stated above, one way to do this is to make sure that the appropriate number of meals is consumed. Another way is to increase the percentage of muscle mass. The more muscle we carry on our frames, the higher the caloric expenditure required. Weight training is necessary to increase muscle mass.
A common belief among beginning fitness enthusiasts is the need for hours and hours of high intensity aerobic exercise for fat loss. The reality is just the opposite. Aerobic exercise certainly helps to burn fat, but does relatively little to increase overall metabolic rate in comparison with muscular gain due to a consistent resistance training program. A concern for increasing muscle mass is imperative for successful loss of fat content.
10. Looking for the "easy way out."
Whether it's winning the lottery or having the perfect body, we all want something for nothing. One look at late-night infomercials and you can see all the bogus advertisements that promise weight loss by either popping a pill, drinking a shake, or buying some revolutionary new piece of equipment. Even factions of the medical community have jumped on the bandwagon in recent years, promising the body of our dreams through a variety of surgical procedures.
The main concept of weight loss, calories in vs. calories out, is simple but far from easy. Only with dedication, work, and healthy lifestyle changes are results going to happen. And FORGET the quick fixes. They don't exist. Cher said it best in a fitness commercial back in the 80's: "If it came in a bottle, we'd all have a beautiful body."

About The Author

Jon Gestl, CSCS, is a Chicago personal trainer and fitness instructor who specializes in helping people get in shape in the privacy and convenience of their home or office. He is a United States National Aerobic Champion silver and bronze medalist and world-ranked sportaerobic competitor. He can be contacted through his website at http://www.jongestl.com.

This article was posted on March 10, 2004

The In-Office Emergency Nutritional Kit

The In-Office Emergency Nutritional Kit
 by: Jon Gestl

Tired of having stare-downs with those boxes of Krispy Kremes, trays of brownies, and platters of cookies some well-intentioned but nutritionally clueless co-worker brings into the office? Be prepared for these and other nutritional setbacks at your office by stocking up on a few key items that will have your desk a veritable nutritional emergency kit.
Water: Bottles and bottles of water. Small bottles, big bottles, plastic bottles, glass bottles, whatever it takes. Having enough water within your reach everyday will keep you well hydrated as well as keeping your stomach filled when you'd otherwise fall prey to the lingering office munchies.
Fruit: Each week, bring a bag of fresh fruit to the office and store it in your desk. And don't just stick with the common fare of apples and oranges. Berries, mangos, kiwi will keep for several days, more if you have access to an office refrigerator, and provide variety to whet your appetite for something other than those fudge brownies.
Protein bars: You can also use these as part of one of your daily meals. Be careful and read the labels. Many "nutritional bars" are nothing more than candy bars in deceptive packaging. Stay away from the ones with high sugar and fat content.
Vegetables: Bring a couple of small ziplocked bags of baby carrots, celery or your other favorite veggies that will keep.
Low-fat cottage cheese/low sugar yogurt: Small containers of these on hand will provide nutritional meal options.
Ricecakes: A bag of low-sodium ricecakes tucked away can satisfy a need to eat something crunchy. Just stay away from the ones loaded with flavored sugar coating.
Toothbrush/Mouthwash: I learned this trick from a friend who was a competitive bodybuilder. During pre-contest dieting, he would attempt to deflect the temptation to eat blacklisted foods within his reach by brushing his teeth. He said the last thing he wanted to do after brushing with minty toothpaste was chew a gooey piece of fudge or candy. Not bad for keeping your breath fresh, either.
Utensils: Make sure you have a serving or two of utensils at your desk, along with something to cut your food if needed.
Thermal-Lunchbags: Perfect for storing food when a refrigerator is not available. Available in many sizes.
The first step to staying on track with your eating, particularly at work, is planning. You don't have the power to control what your co-workers bring into the office, but you can help ward off temptation by stocking up on a few items of your own. Remember, the point is to not make your own desk resemble a supermarket aisle, but to have enough options on hand in order to substitute for the really bad stuff should the need arise.

About The Author

Jon Gestl, CSCS, is a Chicago personal trainer and fitness instructor who specializes in helping people get in shape in the privacy and convenience of their home or office. He is a United States National Aerobic Champion silver and bronze medalist and world-ranked sportaerobic competitor. He can be contacted through his website at http://www.jongestl.com.

This article was posted on March 10, 2004

How To Start a Running Program

How To Start a Running Program
 by: Jason Barger

Running or jogging is one of the best ways there is to lose weight fast. It burns tons of calories and gets your body burning fat. Running strengthens the heart, lungs and can be done just about anywhere at anytime.
The problem is most people don't know where to begin and usually do it wrong.
In this article I am going to show you an effective way to start a running or jogging program without killing yourself.
The first mistake people make when they begin a running or jogging program is that they run too fast. This will leave you out of breath and spent in about 5 or 10 minutes. When this happens people generally think to themselves that anyone who runs is crazy or likes punishing themselves.
This simply is not true. Once I found out how to run properly, I was able to run a few miles with ease and comfort.
I had been running for about a month and was up to two miles. But at the end of these two miles, I felt as if I was going to keel over and die. My legs hurt. My lungs hurt. Everything felt wrong.
I thought I would just keep running these two miles until it became easier, but it never did. It got harder, if anything.
Then I heard about a guy named Stu Mittleman. This guy had run from San Diego to New York in 56 days. Basically Stu ran two marathons a day for 56 days. So I bought his book called Slow Burn and it completely changed any negative feelings I had about running.
The first thing I did was bought a heart rate monitor. This cost around 100 dollars and was the best purchase I have ever made. It allowed me to monitor my heart rate and stay at a comfortable running level, even while running up hills.
What I did, was started running at 50 to 70% of my maximum heart rate. At first, I felt like I was going too slow and not getting a good workout. But within a week, I was able to run 4 miles without any problems. The best thing was that after the four miles, I felt incredible. Instead of feeling like I was going to die before, I actually felt better.
To find your targeted heart rate zone, do the following:
Subtract your age from 220. Then multiply this by .50 and .70 and that will give you your targeted zone.
Example: Age 28
220-28 = 192
192 x .50 = 96
192 x .70 = 134
By this example, if you are 28, then you should be running in the heart rate zone of 96 to 134. To make it easier to remember, just round it up to 100-135.
If you are running in this zone, you will probably be very comfortable and be able to run a good distance.
You see, the problem people usually face is that they start off running too fast. You just need to slow down. It isn't necessarily how hard you run, but that you are moving as much as possible, as often as possible.
Once you begin to add mileage, you will get in better shape and be running faster anyways. You just won't be working any harder. Your body will adapt, and you will begin to move more efficiently, without more effort.
This program worked perfect for me, and has turned me into a runner for life. I hope it does the same for you.

About The Author

This article was written by Jason Barger. Jason has been helping people lose weight with his breakthrough book, Primal Weight Loss. To learn more about his philosophy and programs you can visit http://www.primalhealth.com

This article was posted on March 05, 2004

Hyaluronic Acid - The Natural Face Lift?

If So What Is It and What Does It Do?
In Yuzuri Hara, a village in Japan, ten percent of the population is 85 or older. Diseases of aging, such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's, are virtually unknown. People rarely see a doctor and their skin rarely shows signs of aging. They live long, healthy active lives.

As reported on the ABC News program 20/20, researchers have discovered the 'magical' ingredient that appears to keep people in Yuzuri Hara young. It is hyaluronic acid, which is found naturally in the carbohydrate foods that are unique to the hilly terrain of this village.
The Times Newspaper (UK) reported 'New LIFE in OLD BONES: Researchers are looking for the genes involved with osteo-arthritis, which may lead to more effective, targeted therapies. Some studies have also shown positive results from injections into arthritic joints of hyaluronic acid, a component of the bodies own lubricant fluid, which seems to delay the need for a joint replacement.'
What Is It? Hyaluronic Acid; or HA is a natural substance that is plentiful in our bodies when we are born. It is found in all human connective tissue.
What Does It Do? HA occurs naturally in the deeper layers of our skin (the dermis). It helps to keep skin smooth and "plump" through its ability to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. It lubricates the joints. HA plays a critical role in the rapid repair of wounds and other skin conditions. Improves eye-sight
1. Moisture Retention
The ability to retain and hold moisture is the secret to youthful, healthy, vibrant skin.
Aging robs us of this innate ability to hold in moisture. As we get older our bodies produce less and less HA. The drop in HA starts at around the age of 18-20 years. But after the age of 40 the down slide becomes apparent. Skin starts to lose its elasticity and lines and wrinkles appear.
HA also supports the formation and maintenance of collagen, an important connective tissue. Collagen degradation is believed to cause a decrease in skin tone and elasticity.
Healthy, youthful skin comes from the inside. By replacing the components that naturally deplete with age, we can reverse the signs associated with aging.
HA supplementation puts back in what is naturally lost to restore radiance and youth.
2. Joint Lubrication
HA occurs throughout the body in abundant amounts in many of the places people with hereditary connective tissue disorders have problems such as joints, heart valves and eyes. Hyaluronic acid abnormalities are a common thread in connective tissue disorders e.g osteoarthritis
3. Wound repair
Another important part of good skin is the ability to quickly heal wounds. This ability is slowly degraded with age. In part, it is due to the slowing down of cell mitosis, crucial aspect of cellular repair and regeneration. A possible contributing factor is also the decrease in the amount of HA available in the body.
4. Vision
HA makes up 80% of the human eye - it is present in the vitreous humor of the eye and assists in vision. HA is a shock absorber to the retina thus helping to prevent trauma to the eye.
Anti-aging products that use Hyaluronic Acid
There are two types of HA anti-aging products: Those that are applied externally in cream form Those that are taken as a health supplement and work internally, providing moisture to the inner layers of the epidermis. By reaching the corium layers of the epidermis, you penetrate, like no topical application is able to. This provides essential HA components to the cell level where it can work effectively, whilst still moisturizing the skin and reducing wrinkles
For more information on Hyaluronic Acid supplements and skin care products go to:

Iron and Your Heart Health

Iron and Your Heart Health
 by: Jakki Francis

A ranch house, a zip lock bag and some ordinary flour
Two experiments:
1)Some ordinary wheat flour such as can be found in most homes placed with some water in a zip-lock plastic bag. A magnet is passed over the bag and an extraordinary thing happens - Iron particles start popping out and attaching themselves to the side of the bag, forming clusters of what looked like iron filings.
2) The next experiment involves placing a well-known brand of cereal into a bowl of water. The magnet is again passed over the bowl this time and the flakes literally line up and follow the magnet round the bowl.
This is the first time I realized that there is so much added iron in the food that we eat and the effect it can have on our health.
We've all been told that heart attacks and heart bypass surgery are as a direct result of clogging or furring of our arteries by 'bad cholesterol'. The arteries become so narrowed as to make the blood flow through the arteries very difficult thus placing enormous strains on the cardio-vascular system.
Why do we need chelators and what are they?
A few trace metals that we absorb are toxic, these include iron and lead
To make use of them our bodies must form chelates (key-lates) out of them, and to do this requires chelating substances
Chelating substances attach to desirable trace metals and allow the body to properly utilize those metals they also attach to undesirable trace metals and allow the body to remove them.
Types of Chelator
Many chemicals can serve as chelators. Their effects will depend on the precise nature and concentration of that chelator.
There are some weak chelators present in common foods.
Stronger chelators are substances used medicinally to rid the body of excess toxic metals
Why is there potential for Iron Overload? Iron overload is possible because there is no normal mechanism for removing it from the body.
The body is iron-efficient, it retains its iron and recycles it over and over again.
The body's iron level is controlled almost entirely by absorption and iron can build up progressively as dietary intake increases, especially in men because they do not have a monthly blood loss.
Over a period of months and years this will result in the accumulation of several grams of iron.
Iron and Heart Disease Risk
Iron can generate free radical pathology.
There is now good evidence that free radical pathology leads to changes in the blood vessels which sets the stage for atheroscelerosis.
Accumulation of excess iron in the body may increase the risk for heart disease and the connection doesn't end there....
Health statistics have revealed that women have a lower risk of heart disease than men, until menopause, after which the risk is the same.
Pre-menopausal women have a monthly blood loss that rids the body of excess, potentially toxic iron, which may protect against heart disease.
Even pre-menopausal women with high blood cholesterol levels and high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which are considered to be strong risk factors for heart disease, have less heart disease than men.
The Lead connection
Lead is a toxic element that has many undesirable health effects.
Evidence links excess lead with cardiovascular disease, cancer and other disorders.
Researchers have found that cancer rates are higher amongst people living near heavily-traveled roads and it was suggested that this increased risk is due to the higher levels of lead in the air.
This led the researchers to test the effect of a lead-removing substance - EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid),a man-made amino acid and chelating agent - on cancer rates in people living near high-traffic roads.
After 18 years those treated with EDTA had one-tenth of the cancer rate of those not treated with EDTA.(1)
Chelation Therapy
This is the use of chelating agents, orally or by injection, in order to bind and remove harmful metals from the body.
The man-made chelating agent EDTA can remove most toxic metals.
Intravenous Chelation
This therapy has been used by doctors as an effective alternative to bypass surgery for atherosclerosis since the 1950s, giving hope that having hardening of the arteries need not lead to coronary bypass surgery, heart attack, stroke and numerous other related diseases.
Doctors noted reduced pain and blood cholesterol levels as well as other favorable changes. EDTA chelation therapy has been reported to help in many conditions now thought to be related to free radical pathology: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and others.
Another effect of EDTA is that it changes the calcium/ magnesium ratio in the body.
EDTA removes calcium more efficiently than magnesium which reduces the ratio.
Lowering the ratio improves the flexibility of blood cells, reduces the tendency of blood to clot and reduces blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
So the benefits of EDTA are not entirely due to the removal of toxic metals but also the calcium/magnesium balance.
In the case of intravenous chelation, EDTA is used as the chelating agent. It is carried in a glucose formulation together with synthetic B Vitamins. It takes several hours and requires 80-100 treatments.
Oral Chelation
Oral EDTA therapy can also be used. One or two oral doses of EDTA per day, over a period of months can have a long-term preventative effect.
But beware! - there are many so-called oral chelation supplements on the market containing few or no chelating substances!
For an oral chelation supplement that has been tested and certified to lower bad cholesterol by The University of Illinois, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition: Go to http://GetaHealthyHeart.com
1. Blumer,W, et al Environmental International 3: 1980, pages 465-471
New Answers to Old Questions, The Free Radical Story by Harry W Hersey

About The Author

Jakki Francis operates 'Natures Remedies' a health and nutrition business selling cutting-edge herbal nutrition products. They are based in the UK and also trade in Europe, USA and Canada and new partners are welcome from any of these countries.

Natures Remedies also trade worldwide on-line. http://www.naturesremediesuk.com

And while there, don't forget to subscribe to her F*REE Ezine, "Health News You Can Use"

Who is Jakki Francis? http://www.JakkiFrancis.com

This article was posted on March 04, 2004

Muscle-Building Exercises and Growth-Boosters.

Muscle-Building Exercises and Growth-Boosters.
 by: George Papazoglou

I have 'emerged' some subtle bodybuilding  techniques that infuse rapid muscle-growth  to any trainee. You see, the "factor of top  intensity levels" in combination with  "aggressive workouts that expel pure  testosterone bursts", is the key to a  fantastic muscular development.
Yesterday, another non-typical "Chest & Biceps"  workout suffused my body to some *wondrous moments*  of exhilaration and "incredible muscle-inflation". 
I got so pumped... That I could hardly weep the sweat out of my Forehead!
My adrenaline was sky-high, my heart pounded  like a piston and there I was enjoying a  spectacular workout, which was even better than...
I have been distinguished for the small in duration,  high in intensity and abbreviated in time muscle-building  fundamentals. 
Each and every weight-training session is of crucial importance! 
Your mind must be mentally prepared for an inevitably brutal,  scientifically structured bodybuilding schedule.
The most potent muscle-building exercises, those which  command your body to reach new levels of muscle-growth,  are Squats, Deadlifts and Bench Presses; combine these  exercises astutely, in combination with the Ultimate  Muscle-Building System (see http://bodybuildingtips.net)  and a strategic infusion of "SUPERSETS" and "MEGA SETS"  to succumb new signals of newly generated muscle-tissue.
These exercises will multiply your physical power  at astoundingly rapid paces while increasing your metabolism;  add to your dieting egg whites, red meat, pasta, rice, vegetables,  pure protein, fibers and liquid-based creatine. 
( see http://weighttrainingcenter.com/CreaBlast )
The astute combination of the "testosterone boosting"  exercises and natural HGH releasing techniques that are  induced during exercising with a short in duration,  high-in-intensity and adrenaline peaking scheme...  forced my body to grow to its' maximum capacity,  while retaining my fantastic gains.
The most successful workouts are ideally inculcated  within a 30-45' training session. I've even had  tremendous responsiveness in new muscle-size by  training even for as little as 25' per workout.
The secret to total muscular development is  directly correlated with the factors of timing,  exercise combinations, intensity, recuperation,  muscular amplification during workloads and other  sensitive parameters. 
Every weight-lifting schedule must force your  body to "flow" superfluous anabolic hormones  like testosterone and HGH, which your body produces.  Combine with "CNS-friendly" (Central Nervous System)  recuperation periods, and rejoice fantastic gains  in shorter periods.

About The Author

George Papazoglou is the Creator of the Ultimate Muscle-Building Systems at: http://bodybuildingtips.net

Other Bodybuilding Products: http://1gym.com/workout_program.htm

Affiliates (Reprint this article with your $-Links) http://bodybuildingtips.net/associates.htm

This article maybe freely reproduced provided that it is published at its' absolute entirety including the Author's credentials and this © Protection Message.

This article was posted on March 04, 2004

10 Smart Shopping Tips To Protect Your Family From Getting Sick

10 Smart Shopping Tips To Protect Your Family From Getting Sick
 by: Terry Nicholls

Prevention of food poisoning starts with your trip to the supermarket. Here's how to start off safely.
1. Pick up your packaged and canned foods first. Buy cans and jars that look perfect. Don't buy canned goods that are dented, cracked or bulging. These are the warning signs that dangerous bacteria may be growing in the can.
2. Look for any expiration dates on the labels and never buy outdated food. Likewise, check the "use by" or "sell by" date on dairy products such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, and sour cream and pick the ones that will stay fresh longest in your refrigerator.
3. Check eggs, too. Choose eggs that are refrigerated in the store. Before putting them in your cart, open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and none are cracked or broken.
4. Raw meat, poultry, and seafood sometimes drip. The juices that drip may have germs. Keep these juices away from other foods. Put raw meat, poultry, and seafood into plastic bags before they go into the cart. Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and in your refrigerator.
5. Don't buy frozen seafood if the packages are open, torn or crushed on the edges. Avoid packages that are above the frost line in the store's freezer. If the package cover is transparent, look for signs of frost or ice crystals. This could mean that the fish has either been stored for a long time or thawed and re-frozen.
6. Check for cleanliness at the meat or fish counter and the salad bar. For instance, cooked shrimp lying on the same bed of ice as raw fish could become contaminated.
7. When shopping for shellfish, buy from markets that get their supplies from state-approved sources; stay clear of vendors who sell shellfish from roadside stands or the back of a truck. And if you're planning to harvest your own shellfish, heed posted warnings about the water's safety.
8. Pick up milk, frozen foods, and perishables (meat, poultry, fish) last. Always put these products in separate plastic bags so that drippings don't contaminate other foods in your shopping cart.
9. Drive immediately home from the grocery store. This will give cold or frozen food less time to warm up before you get home. If the destination is farther away than 30 minutes, bring a cooler with ice or commercial freezing gels from home and place perishables in it.
10. Save hot chicken and other hot foods for last, too. This will give them less time to cool off before you get home.
Copyright (c) Terry Nicholls. All Rights Reserved.

About The Author

Terry Nicholls is the author of the eBook "Food Safety: Protecting Your Family From Food Poisoning". For more tips like these, and to learn more about his book, visit his website at http://tinyurl.com/3fr2t

This article was posted on March 02, 2004

10 Essential Food Safety Tips For AIDS Sufferers

10 Essential Food Safety Tips For AIDS Sufferers
 by: Terry Nicholls

Persons with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are especially susceptible to illness from food-borne pathogens. Because they're at higher risk for severe illness or death, affected persons must be vigilant when handling and cooking foods. Here are some recommendations to help prevent bacterial food-borne illness.
1. When shopping for raw and cooked perishable foods, be sure the food is being stored at a safe temperature in the store. Don't select perishable food from a non-refrigerated aisle display. Never choose packages which are torn or leaking.
2. When ordering food from the deli department, be sure the clerk washes his hands between handling raw and cooked items or puts on new plastic gloves. Don't buy cooked ready-to-eat items which are touching raw items or are displayed in the same case.
3. Don't buy cans that are dented, leaking, or bulging; food in cracked glass jars; or food in torn packaging. Tamper- resistant safety seals should be intact. Safety buttons on metal lids should be down and should not move or make a clicking noise when pushed. Do not use any product beyond its expiration date!
4. Immediately refrigerate or freeze perishable foods after transporting them home. Make sure thawing juices from meat and poultry do not drip on other foods. Leave eggs in their carton for storage and don't place them in the door of the refrigerator. Keep the refrigerator clean.
5. Food stored constantly at 0 °F will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy storage. It's of no concern if a product date expires while the product is frozen. Freezing keeps food safe by preventing the growth of micro- organisms that cause both food spoilage and food-borne illness. Once thawed, however, these microbes can again become active so handle thawed items as any perishable food.
6. Store canned foods and other shelf stable products in a cool, dry place. Never put them above the stove, under the sink, in a damp garage or basement, or any place exposed to high or low temperature extremes.
7. Wash hands, utensils, can openers, cutting boards, and countertops in hot, soapy water before and after coming in contact with raw meat, poultry, or fish.
8. Many cases of food-borne illness are caused by take-out, restaurant, and deli-prepared foods. Avoid the same foods when eating out as you would at home. Meat, poultry, and fish should be ordered well done; if the food arrives undercooked, it should be sent back.
9. Wash cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use; then rinse and air dry or pat dry with fresh paper towels. Non-porous acrylic, plastic, or glass boards and solid wood boards can be washed in an automatic dishwasher (laminated boards may crack and split).
10. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. For people with AIDS, the most important thing is to use a meat thermometer to be sure meat, fish, eggs, and casseroles reach at least 160 °F. Roast whole poultry to 180 °F; poultry breasts to 170 °F. When reheating foods in the microwave, cover and rotate or stir foods once or twice during cooking and check the food in several spots with a thermometer.
Copyright (c) Terry Nicholls. All Rights Reserved.

About The Author

Terry Nicholls is the author of the eBook "Food Safety: Protecting Your Family From Food Poisoning". For more tips like these, and to learn more about his book, visit his website at http://tinyurl.com/3fr2t

This article was posted on March 02, 2004

What is a Herniated Disc, how is it different from a Bulging Disc, and What You Can Do About It?

What is a Herniated Disc, how is it different from a Bulging Disc, and What You Can Do About It?
 by: Jesse Cannone

So what in the world is a Herniated Disc??? Well, rather than confuse you more, I am going to give you my simple, easy to understand definition… a herniated disc is simply a protrusion, or sticking out of the disc. Think of a disc as a balloon being held in place between your hands… if you push your hands together unevenly the balloon will bulge out on the opposite side. This is what happens to the disc between the vertebrae.
A Bulging Disc is the same thing as a herniated disc… just a different name.
Herniated discs are probably one of the most common diagnosis's for back pain out there and is often used when a doctor can't find an explanation for the person's pain… similar to a doctor explaining away various aches and pains as arthritis.
The problem is, many people who are diagnosed with a herniated disc don't have pain because of it… and, for years, research has shown that in many cases, people live with herniated discs yet never have any back pain or symptoms. The point is, if you've been diagnosed with a herniated or bulging disc, it may not be what's really causing your back pain!
Even if you've had x-rays and MRI's done that show a herniated disc, chances are still very good that it's not the problem… so read on to learn more and find out what's causing your back pain…
So what causes a disc to herniate?
Well, many people want you to believe it's old age, excess weight, stress, poor genetics, or how you lift a heavy object…
while these are all potential factors, the biggest factor or cause is uneven pressure placed on the disc. Yes, you read that right… uneven pressure on discs is the biggest cause of herniated discs.
Remember we talked earlier about the uneven pressure? Well, months and years of this uneven pressure causes discs to breakdown.
Do you have any idea what causes this uneven pressure?
It's something so simple that it amazes me how many people, including the experts (orthopedic specialists, chiropractors, physical therapists, etc) fail to recognize it.
So what is it??? Muscle Imbalances.
You see, muscle imbalances pull your bones and joints, especially the pelvis and spine, out of place and this places excess and uneven wear and tear on the body.
This is where Chiropractors come in…
The whole concept of chiropractic care is to manually move the bones and joints back into the proper position.
Makes sense right? WRONG! Why? Because the same muscles that pulled those bones and joints out of place to begin with, will do so again, usually within days.
The ONLY way to address muscle imbalances is to first identify them, then work on correcting them with the right combination of corrective exercises and stretches… and any treatment that fails to include this formula, is doomed to fail!
To learn more about muscle imbalances, be sure to read my article titled "Aches, Pains, and Injuries" here: http://www.losethebackpain.com/achesandpainsarticle.html
So when does a Herniated Disc actually cause pain?
Typically, a herniated disc will cause pain when it is putting pressure on a nerve or nerves and this pain is usually felt down the backside of the leg. However, occasionally individuals experience pain in the disc itself or the area around it.
How do you know then what's causing your back pain?
Whether your pain is in the disc or shooting down your leg, I am willing to bet that it has something to do with muscle imbalances.
In my opinion, it always makes sense to start at the beginning… so the first thing to do is identify what muscles imbalances you have and then begin work on correcting them.
DON'T try things like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, cortisone shots and then feel disappointed that they didn't work… how can they??? Remember, they don't address the root cause of the problem!
I am not saying that these types of treatments don't have a place, it's just that they will not give you the long-term relief you are looking for. For example, ultrasound may be helpful in conjunction with a corrective exercise and stretching program but it's not likely to do much on it's own.
The real key is to not only treat the symptoms, but address the cause of the problem also. You can learn more about how to identify and correct your muscles imbalances in our video, Lose the Back Pain.
In it, we take you thru a series of self-assessments in which you'll identify which specific muscle imbalances you have. We then show you step-by-step what to do to correct them in our Corrective Action Plans… all you have to do is follow the instructions and in weeks, maybe days, your back will be feeling great again. Order your copy online at http://www.losethebackpain.com or call 1-888-343-FITT (3488)

About The Author

Article by Jesse Cannone of http://www.losethebackpain.com Jesse is a certified personal fitness trainer and post-rehab specialist and he has helped hundreds of individuals to eliminate their back pain. Visit his site now and be sure to sign up for his free email course on eliminating back pain.

This article was posted on February 25, 2004

Face Check Up

Face Check Up
 by: Kathy Thompson

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the healthiest of them all? Here is your handy-dandy checklist for a healthy you. Discover how your face reveals your health.
____1. If you see 12 bloodshot lines in the whites of the eyes, your internal organs are getting weak.
____2. If the lines in the white of the eyes end in small spots, there is hardening and stagnation in the circulation of the blood. ____3. If the pupil of the eye is a yellowish color like mucos, it is due to the malfuction of the gall bladder.
____4. If the pupil of the eye is a black shade, it shows trouble in the kidneys.
____5. If the pupil of the eye is a purple or green shade anywhere on the eyes, it is very dangerous.
____6. If the pupil of the eye is a dark brown shade, it shows that the internal organs are becoming harder and inflexible.
____7. If there is a horizontal wrinkle across the groove under the nose, there is weakness in the sexual organs.
____8. If the lips are swollen, the digestive tract is swollen, and there is a tendency towards constipation.
____9. Baldness is a sign that the internal organs are becoming weak.
____10. Skin that has a reddish tinge is a sign that the heart is overworked.
____11. Brownish skin areas is generally a sign of trouble in the liver and gall bladder.
____12. Yellow skin areas indicate problems with the pancreas, liver, and gall bladder.
____13. Greenish skin is seldom seen, but if it is on the sides of the face, it could indicate lung cancer or too much sugar. It could turn the skin to blue or purple, a very dangerous sign.
____14. Purplish color on the nose may indicate a very expanded heart and high blood pressure.
____15. Black spots or dots are associated with kidney problems.
____16. A crease on right earlobe can indicate heart problems.
____17. For lung problems, look to the nose for any discoloration.
____18. For spleen problems, check for any discoloration on the inside of the eyes just below the eyebrows.
____19. For kidney problems, check for any discoloration just under the eyes.
Remember, these are only signals that MAY occur. Consult your doctor for any concerned areas.
Kathy Thompson is a Writer, Speaker, Profiler, who helps people succeed in their lives with her FREE weekly ezine; "Face Up To It - You Can." For a FREE sample send a blank email to; ezine4u@demandmail.com. Or contact Kathy at; healthyu@words4-u.com.

About The Author

With 8 years of teaching and 15 years in Toastmasters, Kathy Thompson really enjoys writing and speaking. She has a B. S. in Business Communications and has taught her programs around the country at various businesses and Adult Education Centers.

She writes and speaks about Health, Personal Communications (writing & speaking), and her unique specialty of "Face Reading" has brought her plenty of media attention.

Kathy's goal is to help you be all you can be and reach your potential. Reach her at: writing4u@words4-u.com http://www.words4-u.com

This article was posted on February 23, 2004

Top Ten Ways to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Top Ten Ways to Get a Good Night's Sleep
 by: Linda Dessau

Sleep – are you getting enough? For some people, enough is four to six hours. Other people just don't feel right with less than eight hours. People need more or less sleep at different phases in their life. Women may need more or less sleep at different phases of the month.
The simplest way to tell if you're getting enough is by noticing every morning - do you feel rested? Do you wake up without an alarm clock and feel ready to get right out of bed and start your day?
Not getting enough sleep is one of the most direct ways that we self-sabotage our success and well-being. When we are better rested we not only feel better, but are calmer, smarter, more rational, nicer to be around and we look better. Why wouldn't we choose to have that every day??
1. Set the Stage - turn off the computer and television at least one hour before you'd like to fall asleep, and turn on some music that you find relaxing. Test what your stereo system will do when the recording is finished – does it SNAP! or does it "wrrrr" – this will make a difference as you're drifting off. My CD player makes a very soft "wrrrr" noise (though I honestly can't remember the last time I was still awake when the CD was over).
2. Music without words - words can provoke and direct your thoughts more than instrumental music or pure vocal sounds.
3. Music with natural "breaths" - music where the soloist takes natural pauses to breathe can help you to slow down your own breath - try flute, other wind instruments or voice (either with no words or words in a language you don't understand).
4. A good book - For bedtime reading, try to stay away from material that gets you thinking about things you deal with during the day. Magazines or stories that distract you from your own life may help you to drift into sleep.
5. Imagery - If you find that your mind is racing when you are trying to sleep, picture a viewpoint where you're traveling down a road. See your thoughts as signposts that you're passing. Concentrate on letting them pass right by.
6. Progressive muscle relxation - Imagine that a ball of light is traveling along your body, beginning at the top of your head, going down to the tips of your toes, and then coming up again. As it passes your muscles, they fill with light and relax.
7. Take a nap - If your sleep has been interrupted or there've been unavoidable late nights, an afternoon nap can help you catch up. Experts advise that naps should be taken earlier in the afternoon, rather than later, and that we should keep them to 30 minutes or less. This will avoid disrupting your sleep at night.
8. Lavender Bath - Take a hot bath and add a couple of drops of lavender oil. Lavender has naturally occurring relaxing properties.
9. Chamomile Tea - Calms the nervous system and helps to promote restful sleep.
10. Take 500 mg Calcium with 250 mg Magnesium at bedtime - The calcium has a calming effect, and the magnesium works along with it.
The advice and information in this article is not meant to replace medical advice. If you suspect you have a serious sleeping problem such as sleep apnea, or if you experience insomnia or extreme fatigue, please consult a healthcare professional.
Copyright Linda Dessau 2004. All rights reserved.
You're welcome to reprint this article online as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the contact information at the end), and please send me a copy or link to your reprint at linda@genuinecoaching.com. Thanks!

About The Author

Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach helps hundreds of people every month improve their self-care and make healthier choices. To receive her free monthly newsletter, "Genuine Self-Care", subscribe at http://www.genuinecoaching.com/newsletter.html

This article was posted on February 22, 2004

Why DO the Japanese Have The Longest Lifespan?

Why DO the Japanese Have The Longest Lifespan?
 by: Peter McGarry

A recent statistic in the World Bank Group states that the Japanese have the longest lifespan in the world. Japanese men live be 78 years old on average while the average lifespan of a Japanese woman is 85. How do the Japanese do it?
After personally experiencing the Japanese lifestyle in Tokyo for five years, I learned a little about why Japanese people live so long and will share a few of their secrets. This month will feature Part 1: It's All in the Food. Part 2: Live the Lifestyle will appear in the April edition of eNews at www.magneticrevolution.com
Part 1: It's All in the Food
The Japanese diet does not center on delicacies eaten solely for taste. In fact, most dishes are consumed based on the health benefits people gain from them. Conscious decisions are based on 'What would be good for me?' as opposed to 'What do I feel like eating?' This leads one to contemplate what is the diet for the average Japanese person and what are their secrets?
Secret #1: Eating fish instead of red meat lowers the risk of heart attacks.
For a source of protein, fish is a common staple in most meals. Red meat is significantly more expensive and less frequently consumed. Fish is healthier and the fresher it is the better. Keep in mind that not all fish in Japan is consumed raw, there are many ways that fish is prepared (grilled, baked, fried, poached, etc) and served. Furthermore, Japanese women believe that the skin on fish helps bring out the natural beauty of their skin and improves their complexion.
Secret #2: Soy products help reduce heart disease and high blood pressure and are a great source of protein.
Tofu and soy products are also staples in the Japanese diet. Considering that saturated fats from meat and dairy products increase cholesterol, it is encouraging to know that foods derived from plants such as soy actually have the opposite effect. Soybeans provide adequate protein without the saturated fat and cholesterol of meats and high-fat dairy. Soy sauce, tofu, and natto (soy beans mixed with raw egg served over rice) are a few examples of soy products consumed daily.
Secret #3: Wheat and buckwheat flour helps in the digestive process.
The consumption of starches is at a minimum and usually contains no white flour. Japanese noodles are made from wheat flour or buckwheat flour. Both are significantly healthier than enriched white flour. Rice is a staple in the diet but consists of a small bowl at meals. The significance is to cleanse the mouth when changing dishes. Rice will remove the flavor in one's mouth much like cheese and crackers when sampling wines.
Secret #4: Smaller portions reduce the opportunity for excessive eating.
Traditional Japanese meals are about half the regular portion of western dishes. Even though most dishes are viewed as healthy, portions are still relatively small.
Secret #5: Oolong tea counter balances some of the effects unhealthy food has on the body.
Finally, the consumption of Japanese green tea or Chinese oolong tea, served hot or cold, has numerous health benefits. Tea has half the caffeine of coffee. Oolong tea, in particular, helps to break up oil in the digestive system and is usually consumed at mealtime, particularly when fried or breaded foods are being served.
These five secrets help to explain why the Japanese are so healthy and have the longest life expectancy. Part 2: Live the Lifestyle will appear in next month's edition of eNews at www.magneticrevolution.com, and will describe daily life habits in Japan. If you have any comments or questions please send them to: info@magneticrevolution.com.
Here's to your health!
Peter McGarry

About The Author

For additional free information on health issues regarding fitness, nutrition, environment and financial well-being please visit www.magneticrevolution.com. This site is a guide to improving your quality of life.

This article was posted on February 21, 2004

Low Back pain - Ayurvedic Management

Low Back pain - Ayurvedic Management
 by: Dr.Shashikant Patwardhan

Low back pain is one of the most common pain disorders today .It is a chronic condition characterized by a persistent dull or sharp pain per the lower back. It may be also associated with burning, stiffness, numbness or tingling with the pain shooting down the buttocks and the legs.
When we stand, the lower back functions to hold most of the weight of the body. When we bend, extend or rotate at the waist, the lower back is involved in the movement. Low back ache is often precipitated by moving, lifting objects or twisting of the waist. Severe pain in the low back can be quite debilitating to patients. Pain in the lower back restricts activity and reduces work capacity and quality of enjoyment of everyday living and turns daily life into a misery.
Survey indicates that 70 per cent of the people suffer from low back pain at some time in their lives. The highest rate of back pain occurs among the 45 to 64 year age group. The incidence of low back pain is greater among women. In 90 per cent of the patients, low back pain resolves within six weeks, i.e. self limited. In another 5 per cent the pain resolves by 12 weeks. Less than 5 per cent of back paid account for true nerve root pain.
One of the common causes for the backache is poor posture habit. Balanced posture decreases stress on your back by keeping the muscles, bones and other supporting parts in their natural position. Any change from normal spinal curve can stress or pull muscles. This leads to increased muscle contraction, which causes pain. Low back pain can result due to health problems like osteoporosis, scoliosis, spinal stenosis. Sprain or strain of muscles or ligaments in the area can also manifest in low back pain. Other possible causes include fibromyalgia and benign or malignant tumours. A fall or blow to the back can strain or tear tissues around the spine, or even break a bone leading to back pain. Lack of exercise or incorrect exercise can also lead to low back pain. Too much weight or overweight also is a cause of low back pain.
Conservative treatment is the most likely course of action for most patients. Treatment options include rest, Traction, Short wave diathermy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, weight control, steroid injections in step by step order.
If a patients does not get relief after 8 to 12 weeks of conservative therapy surgical intervention is considered. The most common surgical procedure is a discectomy, which involves removing the soft gel-like material in the disc. This procedure returns the disc to a more normal shape, relieving the pressure on the nerve. the neurosurgeon can also perform a foraminotomy, which is a procedure designed to expand the opening the nerve travels through.
Drugs and knives don't always work because from 60% to 90% of disease is not the result of structural injury, but rather of the mind-body response to stress
Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurveda holds that low back pain is a result of vitiation of one of the three principal 'doshas'. 'Kateegraham'/'Prishtasoola' or low back pain is an indication of Vata aggravation and bone and muscle weakness.
Ayurvedic Treatment
Treatment in Ayurveda is to bring the vitiated 'dosha' back to the state of equilibrium and thereby to the state of health. For treating low back pain, internal as well as external treatments are done. Herbal preparations like 'Asthavargam' are administered internally. Daily purgation is recommended to restore the vitiated 'dosha' to the state of normalcy.
Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatments like Abhyanga (oil massage), Basti (meditated enema) are very much helpful in relieving backache and correcting abnormalities. Drugs like Yogarajaguggulu, Lakshadiguggulu, Triphala Guggulu, Maanarayana tailam are useful in this condition.
Yoga and Yogasana
The source of the pain is due most often to pushing oneself beyond physical or emotional capacity. The spine needs stability and, therefore, the mind must first be steady. So, the first step is to learn to relax the mind and focus on the specific areas of back pain. With practice, you can redirect the body's energy and affect the pain.
Among the Yogasanas ,when there is pain, start with simple back-bends, such as Locust, Cat, and Sunbird. To keep the spine aligned practice Hero Pose.
Caution- Before trying any of these postures, consult with a yoga teacher or therapist to determine the best postures for your condition.

About The Author

Dr.Shashikant Patwardhan is practicing as 'Ayurvedic Consultant' for last 25 years at the city -Sangli , Maharashtra -India. He has done his graduation in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery [B.A.M&S] and post graduate Fellowship of Faculty of Ayurvedic Medicine [F.F.A.M.] From Tilak Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Pune University , India, during the years 1970-1976. He is a chief editor and Ayurvedic Consultant of a 'Comprehensive website on Ayurveda - http://www.ayurveda-foryou.com. He is an author of many books on Ayurveda and is first to publish them in ebook format. He has written ebooks like - Ayurvedic Cure of Diabetes , Home Remedies in Ayurveda, Treat Common Diseases with Ayurveda & Yoga , Ayurvedic Principles Revealed. He regularly writes articles on various topics in Ayurveda in Ayurvedic health magazines and alternative medicine sites.

This article was posted on February 21, 2004

Is Modern Life Hurting Your Health?

Is Modern Life Hurting Your Health?
 by: Rick Mills

How often have you said to yourself, "I wish things would slow down"? "I wish life was simpler!"
Modern life can be taxing. Today we live faster, work more, and have less free time than ever before. In addition, our 'conveniences' often come at the expense of the purity of our environment.
It's no wonder we are the 'stress generation'. Did you know that you hear more news in one DAY that your great-grandparents heard in an entire year? One day!
Combine the stress caused by too much information with the changes in our environment and the food we eat and you end up with a losing combination.
What can we do to fight back against the unseen environmental factors that rob us of our health and peace of mind?
Here are the top three environmental factors that have a negative impact on your life and what you can do about each.
1. Air pollution
This problem can sneak into your home or office without you even noticing. And the problem is very real. From airborne pollutants to toxic mold, our breathing is under attack.
Many cities now routinely warn citizens to stay indoors during certain parts of the day, particularly in the summer, due to elevated ozone levels. Of course, summer is the time when our children and we often want to be outdoors.
The good news is that this is a problem with several solutions. Today we have a wide variety of air filters from which to choose. Ranging from those that simply filter our air to more expensive models that 'treat' the air, be sure you get a filter that traps super-small particles and defends against ozone as well. And change your filter often. Experts now recommend changing filters up to once a week.
You may not be able to change the air outside but you can make a difference in the air your family breaths when they are in your home.
2. Water pollution.
If you remember high-school science, you will remember that there is no new water. That's right, the water you drank today is completely re-circulated from the clouds above. Makes air pollution take on a completely new meaning, doesn't it?
Water is essential to life. When NASA speaks about the possibility of life existing on Mars or any other planet, what they look for is whether that planet has or has ever had water. The majority of the human body is made of water. We cannot live without it.
Like our air, our water is polluted with chemicals and toxins from various sources in the environment.
Thankfully, water filtration is sophisticated. Having an effective home water filtration system is within the reach of virtually everyone.
Whether you choose a 'whole house' filter or one that runs from the faucet, be sure that the particle size that it filters is sufficiently small. Look specifically to see that your filter will remove contaminants like lead, mercury, and asbestos.
3. Chemical Residue
If our air and water are both polluted, where does that leave our homes? By cleaning up the air we breath and the water we drink, we are on the road to providing a safer environment for our families. However, we're not there yet.
Every surface in our home collects dust, dirt, germs, and grease that need cleaning regularly. That's no problem, you say! You can just pick up your handy dandy bottle of all-purpose chemical cleaner and begin, wait, did you say chemical cleaner?
We filter chemicals out of our air and water and then put them right back into our home environment by cleaning every surface in our home with chemical cleaners, exposing our families to their vapors in the process.
Modern advancements come to the rescue in the area of cleaning as well. For the first time, we have easy access to methods of cleaning that will do a great job without bringing us the chemicals and toxins that we don't want.
In each area of household cleaning you undertake, be sure to choose products that won't leave a chemical residue or strong chemical odors in the air. Your health and your lungs will thank you.
By making a few simple changes, you can have a permanent impact on your life and the lives of your family members. Why not start today? Take back your peace of mind and begin the journey to happier and healthier lives.

About The Author

Rick Mills is an independent consultant that promotes safe alternatives to environmental factors that have an adverse effect on our health. http://healthfocus.smartlivingnews.com

This article was posted on February 19, 2004

Low Carb vs. High

Low Carb vs. High
 by: Moss Greene

Low carb diets can be classified as food plans that require keeping carbohydrates as low as 3% and never more than about 25 to 30%. This is much lower than the 50 to 60% recommended by most good scientists and valid research. Low carb diets include programs like Atkins, Protein Power, The Zone, Sugar Busters and the South Beach diet.
As you can see by the chart below, the Ornish and Pritikin diets at 70% and 80% carbs, are definitely high carb. One means used to distract people's attention away from the fact that the Atkins diet is basically an unhealthy food plan is to compare a "low carb" diet to a "high carb" diet. However, neither one is the best solution.
Although the in-depth research of Dr. Dean Ornish, using his high carb/low fat diet, has uncovered some amazing findings and produced phenomenal results in reversing heart disease, as a weight loss program and regular eating plan, it has some drawbacks. The Ornish diet, as with Pritikin, is proving to be too low in healthy oils from fish, olives, nuts and seeds. Plus, it may also raise triglycerides and lower HDL (good) cholesterol.
This chart shows you carb, fat and protein comparisons:
Carbs Fat Protein
Atkins 3-20% 45-65% 25-35%
South Beach 10-25% 50-70% 20-30%
Healthy 50-60% 20-30% 20-25%
Ornish/Pritikin 70-80% 5-15% 10-15%
Diets at both the top and bottom extremes have their problems. Anyone can lose weight on a diet – fad or otherwise - for a week, a month or even six months. But, for a weight loss program to be truly effective, your diet must become part of your lifestyle and the basis of everyday food choices. Besides health concerns, too many people find both low carb and high carb diets difficult to stick with for a lifetime. Your best bet is to develop a low calorie, healthy eating lifestyle that includes regular moderate exercise.

About The Author

Moss Greene is the Nutrition Host at Bellaonline.com. Visit her web site at http://www.bellaonline.com/site/nutrition to find out how to look better, feel your best and have more energy -naturally. Join her free health and fitness newsletter by going to http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art2919.asp

This article was posted on February 20, 2004

CRP And Your Heart

CRP And Your Heart
 by: Lee Cummings

Monitoring your CRP level is vitally important because it is one of the best indicators of heart disease. C-Reactive Protein has proven to be one of the best indicators of looming Heart disease.
Find out why high cholesterol alone is NOT responsible for heart disease. And you will find out how to keep your CRP Level in the normal range.
Because your body produces C-Reactive Protein as part of your body's defense – like when you are injured, it signals your immune system for help. Your immune system sends out white blood cells and inflammatory molecules (including C-Reactive Protein) to the injured area.
This defensive system causes inflammation which is damaging to blood vessels and leads to heart disease. Because this is an continuous process, not like an ankle injury which heals and then inflammation goes away.
Elevated C-Reactive Protein levels are an early indication of inflammation in the body. When there is inflammation in the body, there is usually a problem. Realize this is why C-Reactive Protein is a great indicator.
Naturally you can easily understand that C-Reactive Protein is a better indicator of heart disease than cholesterol. A huge study on CRP backs this up.
The New England Journal of Medicine published A report where nearly 28,000 people participated in a study of CRP. Researchers in the study used LDL cholesterol and CRP to predict heart attacks and stroke.
What the researchers found was that CRP was a better predictor of cardiac events than LDL cholesterol -1
So – what can you do to keep your C-Reactive Protein level low? In a word, exercise. Activity is the best way to keep CRP levels low. Just taking a walk is a good way to get your activity level up.
There are also important nutrients to help limit the damage from the inflammation.
Here are several nutrients you have heard of:
Vitamin C
Vitamin E
And Folic Acid – protects the blood vessels.
Two others you may not have heard as much about:
Taurine - is an amino acid-like compound and a component of bile acids, which are used to help absorb fats and fat- soluble vitamins. It is found in meat and fish.
L-arginine - A naturally occurring amino acid found in food proteins that the body uses to make Nitric Oxide.
You can easily get plenty of these nutrients through food and supplements combined.
Talk to your doctor about a simple test for CRP levels, it is like a blood test. It is best to keep your levels under 5 mg per liter, preferably 3 mg per liter.
1 - Ridker P., et al. Comparison of C-reactive protein and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in the prediction of first cardiovascular events. NEJM 2002 Nov 14; 347(20): 1557-1565

Please feel free to use this article in your newsletter or on your website(with resource box included and use an active link).
This article may not be used in any e-mail promotions that do not conform with federal law.
If you use this article, please send a brief message to let me know where it appeared: mailto:leeman@lc-nutrition.com

About The Author

Lee Cummings has been helping people solve problems and feel better with proven nutrition for over 4 years. Lee publishes the montly LC Nutrition newsletter. For a Fr^ee Report - mailto:report@lc-nutrition.com Discover proven nutrition information visit: http://www.LC-Nutrition.com

This article was posted on February 19, 2004

How Stress Effects Neurotransmitters

How Stress Effects Neurotransmitters
 by: Bev Storer

The brain uses feel-good transmitters called endorphins when managing daily stress. When the brain requires larger amounts of endorphins to handle increased stress, the ratio of many of the other transmitters, one to another, becomes upset creating a chemical imbalance. We begin to feel stress more acutely -- a sense of urgency and anxiety creates even more stress. As a result, harmful chemicals are released in our bodies that may do damage, causing more stress. This vicious cycle is called the "stress cycle." Emotional fatigue might result and be experienced and felt as depression.
The body responds to emotional stress exactly as it responds to physical danger. Without our being aware of it, usually not feeling it at all, our bodies are continuously reacting to emotions such as frustration, irritation, resentment, hurt, grief and anxiety. We physiologically respond to these mental and emotional struggles with a primitive "fight or flight" response designed to prepare our bodies to face immediate danger. Today, we usually don't fight, we usually don't flee. Instead, the high-energy chemicals produced in many everyday situations insidiously boil inside us.
Most all of our body organs and functions react to stress.
Your body responds to stress with a series of physiological changes that may include increased adrenaline secretion, blood pressure elevation, heartbeat acceleration, and increased muscle tension. Digestion may slow or stop. It is likely that within one to two days after a stress-anxiety-anger reaction, physical symptoms will occur. Excessive stress could manifest into illness.
Increased adrenaline production causes the body to increase metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates to quickly produce energy for the body to use. The pituitary gland increases production of andrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which in turn stimulates the release of cortisone and cortisol hormones. These hormonal releases may inhibit the functioning of disease fighting white blood cells and suppress the immune system's response.
According to NeuroGenesis, Inc., researchers estimate that stress contributes to as many as 80% of all major illnesses. Studies by the American Medical Association have shown stress to be a factor in over 75% of all illnesses today.
Is there any alternative?
There are many natural products on the market that may help with disorders where stress is a factor. Do your homework before making a choice. "beCALM'd" is one such product that may be useful in helping to reduce stress. NeuroGenesis states that "beCALM'd" has 13 years of successful use in over 700 clinics, hospitals, drug and alcohol rehab centers.
NeuroGenesis also states that the ingredients in "beCALM'd" provide cells with the required nutrients to produce the necessary amounts of the neurotransmitters the brain needs to stay in balance.
Always be sure to check with your health care provider before you take any nutritional supplement. Some supplements may not be right for you.

About The Author

Bev Storer is a writer and researcher in the field of nutrition and nutritional supplements. To learn more about the effects of stress visit: http://www.adhd-info.com or e-mail Bev at adhd-info@omega3zone.biz

This article was posted on February 18, 2004

"Orphan Drugs": Hope Where There Is Little or No Hope

"Orphan Drugs": Hope Where There Is Little or No Hope
 by: Alex Michelini

NEW YORK, N.Y., February 18, 2004 – On a visit to his doctor, Gary Jacob received distressing news – not about himself, but a friend of the doctor's.
While playing with one of his children, the doctor's friend fell and broke a rib. That was bad enough, but during the examination at the hospital, the father was hit with a startling and totally unexpected diagnosis – he had a disease known as multiple myeloma, a bone marrow blood cancer.
The diagnosis was nothing less than a death sentence.
Jacob knew of the anguish of multiple myeloma patients. The disease is incurable and nearly always fatal, one of the rare diseases that have few, if any, available treatments. They are known as "orphan" diseases, shunned by most drug-makers because the patient populations are small and commercial development of a drug is seen as economically unattractive.
Mr. Jacob was aware because, as Chief Executive Officer of Callisto Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a small Manhattan-based biopharmaceutical company, he is leading a scientific effort to develop a new orphan drug called "Atiprimod" for multiple myeloma patients.
"The father's disease brought home to me that what we are doing is really important," says Mr. Jacob. "Everyone agrees we need more drugs to treat multiple myeloma. There are people out there dying without real hope because of a lack of effective treatment for all patients."
In steadily increasing numbers, orphan drugs are providing new doses of hope where little or none at all existed. In the decade before the inception of the federal Food and Drug Administration's orphan drug program, 10 drugs were developed by pharmaceutical companies for orphan diseases. In the decades since, the FDA says nearly 250 new drugs were developed and approved, and hundreds more are in the pipeline.
Atiprimod is one of those wending its way toward the marketplace. Callisto recently obtained orphan drug designation from the FDA, providing the company with financial incentives to continue the costly development process.
The program covers drugs for orphan diseases with patient populations under 200,000.
The National Organization for Rare Disorders reports about 25 million people in the United States suffer from an estimated 6,000 orphan diseases.
Diseases such as cystic fibrosis, complications affecting HIV-infected people, Gaucher's disease, hemophilia and rare forms of cancer were among the orphans without effective medicines until the FDA program went into effect in 1983 and paved the way for new drugs for patients with these diseases.
Large drug-makers have been largely missing from the efforts.
According to the orphan drug program's deputy director, Dr. John McCormick, only 15% of applications for orphan drug designation have come from the larger pharmaceutical companies.
The reason: expectations of unfavorable investment returns.
The FDA orphan drug incentives – grants, seven years of marketing exclusivity and tax breaks – have drawn small pharmaceutical companies with promising drug candidates into the breach.
While the future is brighter, the task is still daunting to develop drugs for orphan diseases.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, affects 30,000 Americans with 8,000 new cases diagnosed annually; Huntington's disease also affects about 30,000 patients.
Some diseases affect fewer than 100 patients, according to the National Institutes of Health.
An estimated 50,000 patients have multiple myeloma with 15,000 new patients diagnosed each year. Last year, the FDA approved a new drug Velcade for patients with the disease. However, there are still a number of multiple myeloma patients with no treatment available.
Dr. Kenneth C. Anderson, who played a major role in the preclinical development and clinical trials of Velcade and is now a member of Callisto's Medical Advisory Board, is among the experts who see a need for more drugs to treat multiple myeloma.
"He is excited to see Atiprimod enter clinical trials for evaluation in multiple myeloma patients," Jacob said of Anderson. "He believes it has an opportunity to help patients who have not responded to other drugs. "
Dr. Anderson is director of the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The Phase I/IIa trials for Atiprimod are slated to begin later this month.
Dr. Donald Picker, Callisto's Senior Vice President of Drug Development, said studies of Atiprimod in collaboration with scientists at the National Cancer Institute have been very promising.
"In essence, we've shown in these early studies that Atiprimod has the potential to intervene with cancer cells and tumors in three ways – by inhibiting their formation, by programming their death and by limiting their ability to grow blood vessels necessary for their survival. Taken together, these findings suggest that Atiprimod could potentially represent a novel class of compounds for development for therapeutic intervention in human cancers," said Dr. Picker.

About The Author

Alex Michelini is a former award-winning reporter/editor at the New York Daily News. His credits include nomination for a Pulitzer Prize for a series on medical costs. Among his honors, Mr. Michelini received the Deadline Club Award, the Page One Award, the Associated Press Award and the New York Press Club Award (twice). He is the founder of Alex Michelini Public Relations, and has developed and collaborated on articles appearing in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the London Times, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, Bloomberg Radio & TV, CNNfn, WCBS Radio & TV. WINS radio, the Christian Science Monitor, Fox TV, Reuters, Newsday and other media outlets.

This article was posted on February 18, 2004

Fitness-related Benefits of Massage

Fitness-related Benefits of Massage
 by: Jon Gestl

Ask someone their reason for getting a massage and you're likely to hear "because it feels good". We all know that a massage can relieve stress, help to make sore muscles feel better and even reduce anxiety, but can it help us achieve our fitness goals? Research shows that the massage you get to relieve stress can also have a positive effect on your muscle-building capabilities and fitness level.
1. Massage improves circulation and general nutrition of muscles. This appears to be the most valuable fitness-related benefit. Massage is accompanied or followed by an increase interchange of substances between the blood the tissue cells, which increases tissue metabolism. After a muscle is exercised, vital nutrients must be supplied in order for it to increase in size. Massage maximizes the supply of nutrients and oxygen though increased blood flow, which helps the body rebuild itself.
2. Massage improves the range of motion and muscle flexibility. This results in increased power and performance, which helps you work efficiently and with proper intensity to facilitate the body's muscle-building response.
3. Massage helps to shorten recovery time between workouts. Waste products such as lactic and carbonic acid build up in muscles after exercise. Increased circulation to these muscles help to eliminate toxic debris and shorten recovery time.
4. Massage can help prevent over-training. Massage has a relaxing effect on the muscles, as well as a sedative effect on the nervous system. This can prevent over-training syndrome which has limiting effect on muscle building.
5. Massage may aid in fat loss. According to some research, massage may burst the fat capsule in subcutaneous tissue so that the fat exudes and becomes absorbed. In this way, combined with proper nutrition, massage may help in weight loss.
6. Massage helps prevent and even heal injuries. By stretching connective tissue, massage improves circulation to help prevent or break down adhesions. Massage also influences the excretion of certain fluids (nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur) necessary for tissue repair.
While a massage won't build muscle directly, it helps to facilitate the body's rebuilding phase following a workout and influences muscular growth. Getting a massage is just as important as regular workouts and supportive nutrition for a comprehensive fitness program. Great news for those of us who thought building a great body was all hard work!
Before making an appointment with the first massage therapist you encounter, however, be sure they are a qualified bodywork practitioner. Ask for referrals, professional training information, and certification credentials from a reputable agency, such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

About The Author

Jon Gestl, CSCS, is a Chicago personal trainer and fitness instructor who specializes in helping people get in shape in the privacy and convenience of their home or office. He is a United States National Aerobic Champion silver and bronze medalist and world-ranked sportaerobic competitor and editor of the fitness ezine "Inspired Informed and Inshape." He can be contacted through his website at http://www.jongestl.com.

This article was posted on February 14, 2004

Open, Full and Imperfect: What You Must Know About Your Heart

Open, Full and Imperfect: What You Must Know About Your Heart
 by: Maya Talisman Frost

Last Friday was National Wear Red Day, an intentional opportunity to wear a red dress as a symbol of awareness of the fact that heart disease is the number one killer of women in America.
I didn't wear a red dress, but I did get my very first electrocardiogram.
I wish I could say that I had planned it that way.
The truth is that I was experiencing chest pain, a terrible squeezing sensation in my left shoulder and left arm, and an alarming tingling running up my neck. I headed into Urgent Care. The next few days brought a series of tests involving all kinds of electrodes, ultrasounds, and my personal favorite, running on the treadmill. I'm still waiting for the results.
I'm a 43-year-old woman, fit and active, with low blood pressure, a stupendously healthy diet, and zero history of cardiac problems in my family. I've never smoked, I drink a small glass of wine most evenings, I have low cholesterol, and I've been meditating for over twenty years. You'd be hard pressed to find a woman with a lower degree of risk for any kind of heart disease. Yet, here I am, hanging out in the cardiologist's office with a bunch of 75-year-olds.
My doctor is my stepfather's cardiologist. I know he's good because he has done about a dozen surgeries and procedures to keep my stepfather alive and kicking over the last 20 years. Dr. Toren is a great guy. Still, I never quite imagined I would need to visit him myself.
It's been rather disconcerting, to say the least.
But it's also given me an opportunity to think about my heart in a whole new way. I am appreciating this fantastic organ and its ability to beat over a billion times in an average lifetime without (much) assistance.
Like most healthy people, I've taken it for granted. I've allowed it to go about its work, and only in rare circumstances when it decided to pound--middle school crush walking past me, parachute not opening fully while skydiving, snatching children out of harm's way--did I ever really pay attention to it.
Poor heart. So unappreciated.
Not anymore. In the last few days, I have felt every beat of my heart. I note the blood coursing through my arteries with every pulse. Becoming hyperaware of my heart's magnificence has resulted in an indescribable sense of awe. I've been greatly humbled.
I'd always sort of figured that I was in control of my body. I've been certified as a personal fitness trainer, and I know a lot about how to change your shape or size or strength through exercise. I've been healthy enough to actually think that I was the one in charge. How ridiculous of me to believe that my body will do exactly what I want it to. It's been running the show since before I was born.
Anyone suffering from any kind of illness, injury or decreased ability already knows this. I am guilty of ignoring my body on the most important level--recognizing its power over me. In my continuing effort to connect body, mind and spirit, I've forgotten that the three don't always share equal billing.
Empedocles, a philosopher and scientist who lived in Sicily in the 400s BC, was the first to state in any sort of medical way that the heart was the origin of human emotions. I guess we're supposed to believe, based on current research, that this is completely inaccurate. Our emotions are actually connected to our brains.
But really, it just isn't as satisfying to think of love as being a head thing. Our hearts seem more poetic, more romantic, more likely to be swept away by the sheer force of nature that is love. We understand what it means and how it feels to be brokenhearted. We feel an ache in our hearts in quite a literal way. A headache is nothing like a heartache.
We use a lot of language that calls attention to this link between our hearts and all that is good, true, beautiful, and just. Whether we're listening to our heart, opening our heart, connecting to our heart, trusting our heart, or simply living to our heart's content, we regard it as the seat of the soul and the source of tremendous compassion and tenderness.
Women are supposed to have a pretty good handle on all this, and that's why I believe that we haven't really considered women as being susceptible to heart disease. We're great at picking up on the importance of being aware of breast cancer, but when it comes to the heart, we want to believe that we are somehow protected from what we have come to think of as the stressed-out man's disease. Or the fat person's disease. Or the don't-pay-any-attention-to-your-health disease. We hope that by simply being aware of our emotions, our habits and their effect on our bodies that we're somehow immune.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this: if you have a heart, then you are at risk. It's that simple. It's terribly important to do all the right things, but even then, you've still got this ticker that needs tending. You need to know your risks, and you know to know how to reduce them.
I'm not sure what I'm going to learn about my heart when all is said and done, but I've already learned an extremely valuable lesson. My heart may be open, it may be full of love, but that doesn't mean it's perfect.
I'm hoping for some seriously good news for Valentine's Day this year. I'll be waiting, and wearing red.

About The Author

Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse. Her work has inspired thinkers in over 80 countries. She serves up a unique blend of clarity, comfort and comic relief in her free weekly ezine, the Friday Mind Massage. To subscribe, visit http://www.massageyourmind.com.

This article was posted on February 10, 2004

5 Keys to Better Sleep

5 Keys to Better Sleep
 by: Patricia Wagner

Do you have trouble getting a good night's sleep?
What you are about to read may make a huge difference to your future health! Being well rested is essential to our wellbeing and is a major key in living an energetic lifestyle.
Here are some of the benefits of a good night's sleep: - You will look and feel your best. - Relating to others will come easier with enough rest. - You'll be a safer driver and be less likely to fall asleep at the wheel. - More alertness and creativity on the job will be a major benefit. - You'll feel less stressed. - There'll be an increased ability to fight off illness. - You'll enjoy life more.
Here are some keys to getting a better night's sleep:
1. Set your body clock.
Choose a bedtime schedule by deciding how many hours of shut-eye you need and try to stick with it. That's because we are all creatures of habit.
Try not to oversleep too often because this tends to throw your body clock off. If you are tired, try taking a short nap. However, it should not be longer than about one half an hour because more time than that and you will wind up not being able to fall asleep that night.
2. Be wise about eating and drinking.
Drinking too much fluid in the late afternoon and evening can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night to trot off to the bathroom. Also consuming food and beverages that contain caffeine before bedtime can cause you to toss and turn for hours. So it would be wise to avoid coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate before going to bed. However, a hot non-caffeinated drink can relax you.
3. Prepare your sleeping environment.
You have control over a number of factors in your sleeping environment that will make or break a good night's sleep.
One of them is the temperature of your bedroom. Adjust the temperature of your bedroom so it's conducive to sleeping. It's usually best to have your room a little on the cool side, but be sure you have enough blankets on your bed.
Another environmental issue is the darkness of our bedrooms. Many people prefer sleeping when it's totally dark, so turn off the lights except for night lights.
A key bedroom environment factor is your bed. Purchase the best mattress you can afford since you'll spend a large proportion of your life on it.
Quietness is very important to our rest. Try to keep the noise down. If that's impossible, consider using ear plugs. Play calming music and avoid watching television just before bedtime. Violent scenes can lead to sleeplessness and violent dreams!
Design your bedroom to be a peaceful sanctuary in your home. Separate your work from the bedroom area so your body knows the bedroom is a place to rest - not work.
4. Prepare yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually for bedtime.
There are a number of steps you can take before going to bed to prepare yourself physically. Slowly stretching before hitting the sack can help you relax. Regular exercise during the day will enhance your ability to fall asleep. Taking a warm bath - not a shower - can be helpful too. If you are still tense, a back massage can help you relax. Wear comfortable nonbinding clothing.
Here's the most important thing you can do once you've hit the sack - let go of the day's worries. Bedtime is a bad time to dwell on problems since worry can keep you tossing and turning for hours! I've found that reading the Bible and praying before going to bed is a wonderful way to end the day. Then I can truly relax and lay down my problems. My sleep is much sweeter and so are my dreams!
5. Seek specialized help if needed.
A medical condition could be preventing you from getting your full rest at night. See your doctor if you have continuing difficulty with falling asleep. Usually it's not wise to take sleeping pills since they can become addictive. They also interfere with the body's own inner sleeping rhythm.
Here are three organizations that offer specialized help:
National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org/about.cfm
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine http://www.aasmnet.org/
National Center on Sleep Disorders Research http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/ncsdr/index.htm
The suggestions in this article have been listed to help you get a better night's sleep. Now try putting them into practice and enjoy a more rested and energetic lifestyle.
Pleasant dreams!
Copyright ©2004 by Patricia Wagner

About The Author

Patricia Wagner offers informative tips on living a more energetic lifestyle at http://www.a-to-z-wellness.com and through her free "A to Z Health Tips" newsletter.
Email: wagner.art@verizon.net

This article was posted on February 09, 2004

Natural Foods Defined

Natural Foods Defined
 by: Stephanie Yeh

With so many people concerned about natural and organic foods these days, it's useful to stop and really take a look at what "natural" and "organic" foods really are. We all know that natural and organic foods are better for us than highly processed or artificial foods, but do we really know which foods are natural and organic? When you buy food that is labeled "natural," what does that really mean? What about "organic"?
It turns out that the term "natural" doesn't mean all that much. Because it's only been broadly defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it's a fairly arbitrary term, the meaning of which is left up to the conscience of the food manufacturer. The FDA says that any food can be labeled as natural so long as it doesn't include added color, synthetic substances or artificial flavors.
This definition sounds good—until you realize that it can be stretched to include such definitely non-natural substances such as aspartame, the artificial sweetener. More liberal food manufacturers argue that "natural" means any material that exists in nature. While aspartame does not exist in nature (you have to use a chemical process to create it), manufacturers say that the resulting product is made up of two amino acids, both of which do exist in nature. Never mind that they don't exist glued together as aspartame!
So what can the savvy nutritionally-conscious consumer do about this? Go with a term that is clearly defined and regulated by the FDA: organic. In the next issue we'll delve into the intricacies of organic foods, including basic regulations and differing levels of organic production. In the meantime, avoid foods that are only labeled as "natural" and go for those labeled "organic" or "natural and organic." It's the real stuff.

About The Author

Stephanie Yeh and her partner have helped many other people achieve and experience prosperity with the help of a strong 15 year network marketing business. Her current project, the Journeyman Wealth Program, is aimed at helping 15 people a year fully achieve their dreams. Stephanie's Prosperity Abounds website works on the basic principle that "You are the creator of your own reality!". Get more details on her website at http://www.prosperity-abounds.com.

This article was posted on February 08, 2004

The Writer As Activist

The Writer As Activist
 by: Eric Shapiro

THE WRITER AS ACTIVIST: Eric Shapiro Elaborates on Alternative Mental Health.
Almost two years ago, before the release of my first book, "Short of a Picnic," I began writing nonfiction Internet essays that, like the book itself, deal with mental health. I say "deal" with mental health instead of "dealt" with mental health because these essays, five or six of them altogether, continue to be read. I know that people still read them because some folks e-mail me about them, sharing their personal stories and requesting elaboration on my part. In addition, the pieces have appeared in various places without my prompting, which means not only are they alive, they are multiplying.
"Short of a Picnic" depicts mentally ill characters without suggesting remedies; the back of the book even warns readers about this. My nonfiction essays, however, are all about remedies. Such are the two sides of my experience of mental disorder. I've wandered many dark corridors, but I've also known the sweet taste of relief. When writing about the latter, I never expected to engage this many readers. That shows just how thick I am: I assumed that people would be more interested in the dramatic dark side of my experiences (my fiction) than they would be in the inspirational light side (my nonfiction). Leave it to a youth like me to forget how much the masses relish happy endings.
With no shortage of irony, the essays I crafted to draw attention to my book have drawn attention to themselves, making me into an accidental activist. Before I started hearing from appreciative readers, I had underestimated the power of relating my positive tale. But now I comprehend the power. And I intend to wield it (here and again) for anyone in need. This essay is more ambitious than my previous ones. I intend to make a general case in favor of alternative mental health. In the past, I've plugged acupuncture, discussed the appeal of spirituality, and questioned the value of diagnoses. Allow me to step back for a wider view. Allow me to explain why alternative treatments work. For those of you who don't need convincing, I thank you for your time; you should probably take your business elsewhere. But for those of you in pain, for those of you who dread waking up in the morning, for those of you who fear you won't be able to stand it much longer, I humbly offer the following.
The person writing this essay has had prolonged exposure to acupuncture, shiatsu, homeopathy, massage therapy, reflexology, and a macrobiotic diet. All of these modes of healing work, and I will do my best to explain how. My explanations will be low on formal jargon, for I am not an expert and would never claim to be. I am merely a stunned, joyous witness.
Before I move on, I offer a kick in the rear of all skeptics. I recently watched an episode of Showtime's tastefully titled series, "Bullshit!", wherein Penn and Teller -- those esteemed contemporary philosophers -- made a half-assed attempt to disprove alternative health. Their analysis consisted of little more than having some traditional doctors scream "It's all nonsense!" into the camera. To be sure, traditional medicine is fundamentally different from alternative medicine. The former treats illnesses; the latter treats individuals. The former aims to eliminate symptoms; the latter aims to promote holistic balance. The former is often defensive; the latter is often preventive. I happen to believe that both schools of treatment can work. To each his own. But I personally prefer alternative medicine.
Upon entering the alternative medical world, one is encouraged to accept the following two principles (among others too numerous to discuss): (1) Our bodies are possessed of a natural ability to heal themselves, and that ability can be triggered via treatment. (2) We are all composed of highly sensitive energy, the imbalance of which leads to illness, and skilled healers can help us to balance our energy.
Though one doesn't have to believe in these principles to heal, one does have to understand them to grasp how most alternative therapies work. The first principle is more initially trustworthy than the second, for we all agree that something -- some life force -- is sustaining our existence. Whether we call it "God" or "matter" or "the flow" or what have you, we all realize that some internal engine is propelling us through our lives. So it logically follows that this engine has a sustaining, healing element. We see this element in action when our cuts turn into scabs and our bodies eliminate waste. Our bodies strive for constant efficiency. The job of the alternative healer is to enhance this natural efficiency.
The second principle -- the presence of energy -- tends to set off more alarm bells. The concept carries an unfortunate air of "hocus pocus." People tend to believe what they see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, and energy does not appeal directly to our five senses. So how then does one accept the idea that a healer is going to balance something of hers that is insensible? The best answer is: Make an appointment with an alternative healer and "see" for yourself. The present answer is: Although our senses bridge the gap between our inner and outer worlds, we should not be dismissive of post-sensory possibilities. Could our five senses possibly grant us access to all that there is? Most of us believe in God, so what is so fundamentally irrational about believing in energy? Whenever two people have a conversation, they typically exit the conversation feeling altered, for they have traded energy. Energy is everything; everything is energy. The skilled healer has the ability to progressively interact with this fundamental layer of existence.
The following modes of healing have all inspired my "inner physician" and balanced my energy. To put it more plainly: The following modes of healing have all helped to change my mind from a distressing and uncomfortable realm into a landscape of relative peace (though, like anyone in the world, I still have my moments of torment). The knowledge that I can turn to these treatments at any time fills me with an overpowering sense of optimism and comfort. Anyone who's tired of perpetual mental duress should pick up the Yellow Pages, locate an experienced practitioner, and bask in the wellness that results. Should you fail to do so, I can only quote a salesman from "Glengarry Glen Ross": "Your excuses are your own."
ACUPUNCTURE. I have had great success with acupuncture. Those of you who fear needles needn't worry; acupuncture needles are practically invisible and hardly penetrate the skin. The needles -- sometimes as few as three or four -- are strategically placed in different points on the patient's body. The patient's energy is tangibly impacted; myself and countless others have been known to shed tears upon acupuncture tables. It is not uncommon to leave an acupuncturist's office feeling like you are floating on a cloud.
SHIATSU: To the best of my understanding, shiatsu is acupuncture without needles. Shiatsu practitioners go after one's trigger points with their fingers. Truth be told, I personally have found shiatsu to be softer and gentler than acupuncture as far as energy is concerned. In other words, a shiatsu cloud is even softer than an acupuncture cloud.
HOMEOPATHY: Unlike the last two, homeopathy has nothing to do with reclining on a table. The homeopath administers sweet-tasting concoctions known as "remedies." Remedies look like tiny white pills and taste like exotic candy. You sprinkle a remedy under your tongue and -- wait a while. It's that simple. The skilled homeopath will have listened closely to your case history, taken detailed notes, and selected the appropriate remedy (from a list of thousands) to cure what ails you. If it doesn't work after a few weeks, you move on to another remedy. I personally have had only mild success with homeopathy. But my cousin who had a seizure as a child took a single remedy and hasn't had another seizure in over a decade. And his whole immediate family swears by homeopathy. These are credible people of uniformly sound minds, so I grant homeopathy a place on this list.
MASSAGE THERAPY. I belong to a special club of people who are lucky enough to be engaged to massage therapists. I'll do my best not to brag about her (though it is pretty swell when I have a headache and she relieves it within 90 seconds). Massage therapy is tops for people in the throes of mild mental distress: occasional anxiety, shallow depression ("shallow" in the literal sense, not the superficial sense!), insomnia, transitional stress, et cetera. Once, when I was in the midst of a five-alarm panic attack, a massage therapist cooled me off within thirty minutes. Massages make you sleep sounder and have luscious dreams. Bob Hope supposedly had one massage a day for his entire life. All 100 years of it.
REFLEXOLOGY. Despite what Penn and Teller say, your feet are a map of your entire body. The various parts of your feet correspond with the various parts of your body. This is why, when I have a sinus headache, my girlfriend (who's also a reflexologist!) need only massage my toes before I'm feeling dandy again. Reflexology is inordinately effective and relaxing. I envy any person who is about to experience it for the first time.
A MACROBIOTIC DIET. "What could my diet possibly have to do with my mental illness?" That's a question I asked myself after an acupuncturist told me to eat healthier. I regret that I didn't listen to her advice until three years later. My pasta, hamburgers, potato chips, and bologna sandwiches were just too good to pass up. Nowadays, I've scrapped meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. My diet is a personalized version of the standard macrobiotic diet. By eating more soy, tofu, tempeh, vegetables, and fruit, I've rid my body (and, more importantly, my brain) of destructive toxins. I've been bothered by almost no obsessive thoughts since I began doing this. Do I have my bad days? Of course; that's life, baby. But my mind is clearer, my body is lighter, and my energy level has never been higher.
I've left out yoga, meditation, energy healing, reiki, herbs, aroma therapy, somato emotional release, magnet therapy, and other modes of healing that I've had only passing exposure to. But I have faith in all of them, because I have faith in alternative medicine. It has treated me very honorably. It has made my mind a safer, healthier, and more constructive place. This isn't because I'm lucky. Nor is it because I'm delusional. It's because it works. Afflicted readers can either trust my testimony or remain trapped in the darkness.
Ordinarily, I like to close my essays with sharp, potent one-liners, the nonfiction equivalent of punch-lines. I'll resist doing so with this one, because this essay is not for me. It's yours. Take it, leave it, dismiss it. I've done my part. It belongs to you.

About The Author

Eric Shapiro is the author of "Short of a Picnic."

This article was posted on February 09, 2004