Levels of Self-Care
There are three general categories of Self-Care that are all based on controlling our health:
Identifying your symptoms.
Treating them symptomatically by natural means, when necessary and if possible.
Preventing them from future reoccurrence with body, mind and spirit strategies.
Seven conditions can be attributed to most modern ills:
Blood Sugar Irregularity
Inability to Detox
Body Fluid pH Chemistry
Physical injury usually results in tissue swelling. Joint pain can also be a cause of inflammation—this is often, systemic. Inflammation can also be a healing sign, as this is a biologically self-protective action. Finally, inflammation can come from either an outside stimulus, or an internal chemical influence, usually based on dietary factors.
What we eat becomes part of our blood chemistry and body fluids. We also have nearly 10 gallons of fluids that, among other functions, constantly bathe our cells in its essence, nourishing them and encouraging specific chemical interactions within the cells. Within this stew of body fluids and cell functioning, important nutrients, cell activities, immune functions and specific micro-nutrients are always at risk of being compromised by high levels of fluid acidity.
From a dietary perspective, the biggest culprit in causing abnormal inflammation is the “Standard American Diet,” more often referred to as SAD. This usually consists of heavily processed packaged fast foods that we consider “convenience foods.” Simple sugars, such as refined white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, agave, barley malt, rice syrup, and molasses all have a profound effect on blood sugar, creating an insulin release along with free radicals that result in oxidized fats, or contributing to acidity.
When oxidized, the fats from our modern diet form plaque deposits in our arterial walls, which leads to numerous disease conditions confirmed by current medical research. There is currently ample documentation that shows that a diet high in refined sugars and excessive refined flours leads to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Insulin swings in the blood, the result of sugar ingestion, also increase stored body fat. In simple terms: eat a lot of donuts, get fat. We already know this. Yes, it’s a reminder…
The release of pro-inflammatory chemicals from these foods causes significant cell damage while accelerating agng, inside and outside the body. While honey and fruit juice don’t immediately raise blood sugar, they can still promote inflammation.
The biochemical breakdown of saturated fats creates an excess of arachidonic acid which is one of many chemicals that promote inflammation and red blood cell clumping (“cell aggregation”)—a known factor in coronary heart disease. Alcohol is also known to increase uric acid, diminish B-vitamins, produce acetaldehyde, depress testosterone levels and increase endotoxins, which also produce cytotokine release, all featured players in the drama of inflammation.
Essentially, the human body is an acid-generating machine. However, the real topic here is, excess. Chronic stress, over-exercising and certain foods/substances can increase our acid threshold, negatively influencing body chemistry, cells, tissues, bone health, and eventually, organ functions. The result is a broad range of inflammatory symptoms that affect our functioning, digestion, hormones, mood and energy. And, it all begins with your daily nourishment choices.
Blood Sugar Management
The food we eat, the quality of that food and more importantly, the chemical balance of carbohydrate/fat and protein ratios within this food, affect the rising and lowering of sugar levels in the blood. A rise in blood sugar prompts insulin release (producing an inflammatory response) when sugar levels are low. This produces a mild, but systemic inflammatory response. When levels become excessive, over time, the liver, adrenal glands, and pancreas are left to deal with blood sugar irregularities. Irregular blood sugar also can lead to mood changes and a psychologically “depressed” state. In a low blood sugar state, it’s common to feel like an emotional hostage to unexpressed feelings. We find it difficult to summon the energy to express ourselves.
The continued suppression of these feelings often adds to our lethargy and depression. If we can change our physiology by regulating blood sugar, increasing circulation (exercise), and by reducing oxygen-robbing foods (excessive dietary fats), it can become easier to handle this state, thereby minimizing its power, control and frequency.
There are health and lifestyle strategies that can ease depression, clear judgement and sharpen mental clarity. And, we can sustain these positive changes by the consistent practice of a healthier lifestyle along with conscious eating. Irregular blood sugar, over time can affect mood, energy levels, cravings, energy, sleep quality and our susceptibility to stress. The need for building a positive support system of hope, gratitude and faith are essential characteristics for healing.
Inability to Detox
"There is no basis in human biology that indicates we need fasting or any other detox formula to detoxify the body, because we have our own internal organs and immune system that take care of excreting toxins. Your body is designed to remove toxins efficiently with organs such as the kidneys, liver and colon. You don’t need detox diets, pills, or potions to help your body do its job."
— Frank Sacks, MD,
Epidemiologist, The Harvard School of Public Health
“Garbage in, garbage out,” goes a colloquial saying. But that’s a very succinct and base overview. Essentially, what comes into the blood through the mouth must first be filtered by our body’s natural detoxification system.
There are many products advertised to help detoxification. Some of them have value, in terms of bonding to heavy metals, but the real work, first and foremost of natural detoxification, is to first strengthen our natural detox systems already in place. When you consider that red blood cells change every 4 months and our blood liquid (plasma) renews itself every 8 to 12 days, the idea that you can “”Detox” with a three-day juice diet seems like a bit of a stretch. I think that’s called “marketing.” It’s not that simple and your body already has an amazing system to do this work—if it’s tuned and in good shape.
The six filtering factories responsible for body detoxification are the liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph, and the skin. What we store within the body – and what we eliminate — depends on the condition of these organs and systems, our fat reserves (toxins lodge themselves in body fat), circulation and blood quality. As you read these words, you body is actively discharging, through your exhalation, through bowel and urinary formation, through your skin, by kidney and liver function and by certain foods that bond to toxins. We simply need to learn what burdens liver function, how to generate better circulation and how to nourish ourselves in a way that creates more stablized blood sugar with less toxic by-products in our food and drink.
Psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University cited a recent study: "The risk of depression increases about 80% when you compare teens with the lowest-quality diet, or what we call the Western diet, to those who eat a higher-quality, whole-foods diet. The risk of attention-deficit disorder (ADD) doubles."
"A wealth of documented evidence suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health. A healthy diet is protective, while an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety,” says Felice Jacka, President of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research.
Trillions of good bacteria live in the gut. They fend off bad germs and keep your immune system in check, which means they help tame inflammation in the body. Some gut germs even help make brain-powering B-vitamins. Foods with beneficial bacteria (probiotics) help maintain a healthy gut environment, or "biome." "A healthier microbiome is going to decrease inflammation, which affects mood and cognition," Ramsey says. A high-fat or high-sugar diet is bad for gut health and, therefore, your brain. Some research hints that a high-sugar diet worsens schizophrenia symptoms, too.
Memory, word association, the ability to express yourself in words simple and direct, as well as mood and disposition, all reflect a wealth of information about not only how the mind can affects physical functioning, but how the body affects the mind. In fact, in the last five years, this has given rise to an accepted therapy called, “Nutritional Psychiatry.”
Nutritional deficiencies, excess sugar, too much animal protein and fat, poor circulation, too little or too much fluid, and exposure to environmental toxins, all play an undeniable part in brain, mental and neurological health. Additionally, our verbal expression, our ability to think and reason is fueled by energy, so if we’re eating and drinking in a way that comprises our energy, these forms of expression noticeably suffer.
Body Fluid pH Chemistry
The concept of acid-alkaline remains one of the most misunderstood concepts in nutrition. It is commonly referred to as terrain medicine, a reference to treating the whole individual. There are many published books with chapters about acid-alkaline, however many of them seem to contradict each other.
The human body is, essentially, an acid-generating machine. As you read this paragraph, your body cells are secreting acid waste products. For some people this might be a very unpleasant thought. there you are in daily life, all dressed up, looking good and going about your business. Yet, your body is secretly producing, transporting and eliminating waste, from your breath, bowel, urinary tract and pores, wherever you go. While the acid-waste our cells produce is constant, it’s weak in strength compared to the potentially toxic acid generated by refined and processed foods.
The human body contains fluids inside and outside the cells of all muscles, bone, brain, bloodstream, urine, saliva, digestive fluids and the spine. On the average, we carry nearly 10 gallons of fluid in our bodies, which all have differing levels of acid and alkaline. Their value is expressed in terms of pH, which stands for Power of Hydrogen, indicating the relative acidity, or alkalinity of a solution.
Acids have a tremendously wide range of potency and the typical American diet pushes the boundary of acid tolerance. It’s a one-way ticket to Acid-land, chock full of strong acid elements like coffee, sugar, alcohol, spices, excessive protein, plentiful fat, vinegar and refined grain products (grain flours and similar “particle” foods that are quickly absorbed and raise blood sugar, thereby instigating the inflammatory response).
Our modern diet is seriously deficient in alkaline factors (vegetables, salt, etc.). This may be one of the reasons people become so salt-addictive and another reason why many people find vegetarianism difficult to maintain—meat cravings become overwhelming. This is not just from previous habitual eating, but due to meats being a potent source of sodium which occurs naturally within the animal tissue. The common practice of adding salt in generous amounts to meats, doesn’t help the situation for cravings, particularly for sweet foods. Yet obtaining sodium through animal tissue is a poor choice for fulfilling our sodium needs.
Through daily waste (mostly urinary) and perspiration, the salt exits our body, leaving us with high residues of powerful acids, such as: sulfuric, phosphoric and uric acid—including other by-products of animal protein breakdown.
We then compound this acid overload by indulging in more acid: large amounts of refined sugar (acid producing); lead stressful lives (acid producing); tend to overeat (creating: “acid-indigestion”); and enjoy consuming lots of acid-forming flour products and high fat foods. Adding insult to injury, we gorge ourselves on highly concentrated acid-based foods such as tomato juice, peppers and spices, as well as acidic non-foods, such as sodas, artificial drinks, etc. The predicable result? Acid overload—and numerous symptoms from the symptom list in Part One of this article.
Our Internal Rest Cycle
A lack of sleep, emotional stress and worry can be instigators for a physical breakdown, or disease diagnosis. It not only minimizes our energy level, it weakens our will, robs much needed energy and clouds our thinking. What is the best time to sleep? How much do you need? How do you minimize worry? How do you develop a faith to move on, keep searching, experimenting? These are vital questions that we need answers and solutions to better maintain our health.
The need for consistent rest, early bedtimes and not eating prior to bed all influence our sleep quality. Good deep sleep, produces wide awake days. Active days will usually result in deep restful sleep. As simplistic as it sounds, this is the basic formula.
Often, when we finally lay in bed and focus on trying to sleep, our stresses and concerns suddenly loom large. It might feel impossible to shut off your thoughts. The value of learning a simple breath meditation can help quiet a busy mind to secure deeper rest. The best and simplest way to do this is by deep breathing practice (learn the yogic “full breath”). Then, with your mind follow the breath path as you gently inhale and exhale. You may impulsively have other thoughts, but keep bringing your mind back to the breath and you’ll soon find an easier and more restful sleep.
The lack of nutritional elements, both with macro- and micro-nutrients, all play an integral part in health maintenance. The solution is simply not to randomly take a bunch of multi-vitamins, but to understand first how food affects us, then get an assessment of your needs. Supplements can help for intermittent periods of time, but best not to become dependent on an array of supplements. Ideally, if you take them, try to limit daily usage to 4 or 5 days weekly, then omit the weekend—just to keep the body in a state of change so it does not become accustomed to concentrated nutrition. From time to time, varying dosage, brands and usage is also important, as well as taking periods of time without any supplementation.
The most important factor is more about what you might be taking, as substance or food, that inhibits or robs important nutrients from your body. Strong acids, alcohol, stress, lack of sleep and lack of fermented food in the diet all conspire to weaken your nutrition profile.
The obvious reality is that your body is constantly talking to you, telling you how its coping by the extent of its need. To know this, to really hear this, requires listening. On an energetic level, your intuition also speaks to you, sometimes more by unexplained mechanical or impulsive action, but often as gentle advice that suggests how you can obtain your needs. While we might ignore intuitive messages, recalling the voice of past accurate intuitive impulses can be helpful to recognize when your intuitive voice is speaking.
Next Week—Part Three (final):
• 12 Essential Self-Diagnosis Questions
• Active Self-Diagnosis – Exploring the 12 Questions