I got some bad news the other day.  Originally I went to the doctor a week ago, and he thought that I didn't have arthritis.  I was so happy until I had an x-ray.  Then I got the dreaded phone call with the nurse telling me that I had severe arthritis and that I needed to come back in to talk to the doctor. Needless to say, I cried.  How could this be happening to me?  I was beginning to get back to my old healthy self.  What had I done to deserve this!

     The weekend I was in horrific pain.  Nothing I did was helping to ease the pain.  Ibrophen took the edge off, but I was still hurting pretty bad.  It was waking me up at night!  Church was unbearable as I had to sit for 3 hours.

      For the next couple of days following the news, I skimmed over every article to see what I could do to help this issue.  I wasn't sure however which kind of arthritis that I had.  I still didn't know to what extent the arthritis was.

     The doctor told me that I have osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease.  There is no way of reversing this disease.  Once your cartilage is gone there is no turning back.  There is stem cell surgery, but insurances don't pay for it and it's not a cheap procedure.  I am a candidate for a total knee replacement.  I just started a job at a rehab hospital, and I can't take anytime off just yet.  So yesterday I had a shot of steroids into my joint.  Oh yay.

     The pain was gone for a good week, and now it is starting to ache again.  I have been reading how to help symptoms for osteoarthritis this last week.  The doctor said loosing weight would help.  Okay I have been working to loose weight and have been successful except during the holidays loosing has stopped, and..... I have been eating foods that cause inflammation!!!  It's my fault that my knee is hurting!  I need to get my eating under control.

     The holidays are over, well at least Christmas is, and I'm not a huge fan of New Years so I'm starting today.  I have to get this pain under control so that I can work to earn paid time off hours at work.  I'm also going to start physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around my knee.  I know that will help as well.

     Foods that cause inflammation in our bodies is a big problem for a great many aliments, arthritis being one of them.  So what are these foods.  There is a list below, and you may be surprised by some of them.

1. Sugar: Soda, snack bars, candy, baked sweets, coffee drinks.
2. Vegetable oil: Many packaged processed foods from protein bars to whipped spreads.
3, Fried  foods: French fries, fried chicken, fish sticks, chicken tenders, onion rings, processed meats
4. Refined flour:  Pizza, white bread, crackers, pasta, pretzels, flour tortillas, white rice, breakfast cereals, bagels.
5. Dairy: Milk, cheese, yogurt, butter.
6. Synthetic sweeteners:  No sugar added products, no calorie "diet" soft drinks.
7. Artificial additives:  Breakfast cereals, beverages, processed foods containing fruit, candy, ice cream.
8. Saturated fats:  Bugars, pizza, candy, chips, full fat dairy.
9.  Conventional grain fed meats: Beef, chicken, port.
10. Processed meats: Bacon, hot dogs, bologna, sausage, jerky.
11. Gluten from store bought bread
12. A second round of alcohol: Beer and wine.
13. Trans fat foods: margarine/shortening, baked goods like doughnuts, cookies, muffins, non-dairy coffee creamers, frozen pizza, frosting, microwave popcorn, crackers.
14. Fast foods: Need I say more.....
     For more detailed information on these foods here is the website: http://www.eatthis.com/foods-that-cause-inflammation 

     It's hard to find things to eat in a world that is busy, but let me tell you that this pain in my knee is worth it.  A whole foods plant based diet may be a bit overwhelming at times, but we are worth it right?

     Here is to a new year, a new you, and a new way of life.  I love my plant based diet.  I just need to get back on the wagon and get my knee better!

Probiotics and Fermentation

     Fermented food is nasty!  It's gone bad!  It's rotten!  These are the words out of my son's mouth.  He won't even try anything that is fermented.  I make my own sauerkraut, and he thinks it's disgusting.  I personally think it is delicious!  I have been adding it to my salads for an extra kick.

     So what is up with all these people in other countries that eat fermented foods.  Asian countries have been eating kimchi for decades.  I remember picking up some kimchi for my brother one day from the Asian market, and it exploded in my car!  LOL  Ooooops!

     Why should we eat fermented foods?  Here are eight reasons:

     1. Restores the good bacteria in your gut.
     2. Improves anxiety and depression.
     3. Improves digestion
     4. Rich in enzymes
     5. Easy and cheap!
     6. Absorb nutrients from your food.
     7. Increase vitamin content.
     8. Flavors are more intense.  So delicious!

     With all our processed foods that we have on the market today, and the depletion of the nutrients from our soil it is important to eat foods that are good for our gut.  It is important to get our guts healthy so that the outside of our bodies will be healthy. If you incorporate fermented foods and probiotics into your diet to make your gut healthy, your immune system becomes healthier.  I can't remember the last time I had a cold or even a sore throat for that matter.  I wasn't going to get a flu shot this year, but I recently got hired on with the local hospital here and they require it, but I have been vegan since last January and so far so good with staying healthy.  A healthy gut will also help skin problems such as acne and eczema.

     What are some ways or some probiotics that are good for you?  I don't really have any suggestions for probiotices, because I eat whole foods and fermented foods.  The less pills I have to take the better.  I have made sauerkraut though, and have enjoyed that experience.   I'm going to try to do some other kinds of vegetables as you can use almost anything i.e. carrots, zucchini, onions, even squash!  From the videos that I have found on Youtube the squash turns out a bit squishy, so that might be an issue for me.  lol  Here is a link to that video:

     One of my favorite beverages that I like to buy is kombucha.  It is a fermented tea.  It's quite expensive so I only buy it occasionally when I go to the Boise Coop or Trader Joes.  My favorite flavor is guava.  It tastes like grapefruit.  You can also make your own, but you have to find someone with a scoby or buy one online.  A scoby is a bacterial culture that helps produce probiotic enzymes.  Here is a video that explains it well.  https://draxe.com/7-reasons-drink-kombucha-everyday/  I think for right now, I will just buy mine.  I am going to try my hand at yogurt making since my I Pot has a yogurt feature. I will let you know how that goes!  If you just can't get past the thought of eating "rotten" foods, then go to a health food store and see what you can find out about which probiotic is a good one.  They are in the refrigerated section, and some are shelf safe.  Probiotics are quite expensive which is a good reason to try your hand at fermenting as it's cheap.  Just a note, the sauerkraut that you buy at the regular grocery store is not fermented.  It won't do much for you, but it does taste good.  If you have any experiences with this, let me know what you think and how it turned out.  Good luck!
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Why Does Everyone Ask About Protein

     A few days back, I was talking to someone I was working with.  I told her about how I eat, and she said, "well what about protein?  How can you get enough protein just by eating plant based?"  Why is this the first thing that people worry about?  My sister was concerned that I was not getting enough iron.

     When I was growing up, my mom and dad subscribed to Weight Watchers.  At that time to get the "recommended" iron in one's diet all a person had to do was to eat liver once a week.  Most people cringe at eating liver and onions.  Can't say it was ever my favorite, but people, times are a changing!  You don't have to eat meat to get your protein or iron!

     More and more research is being done about the food we eat and the protein that we are actually supposed to have.  This video explains perfectly what kinds of proteins we should be eating.

     So how much protein should we have a day?  Dr. McDougall has a program that he has his patients follow called The Starch Based Diet.  In this diet he eats mostly starches along with fruits an veggies. I eat a lot of starches, and those starches contain a lot of proteins.  Listen to this video  https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/videos/mcdougalls-moments/where-do-you-get-your-protein/   He talks about people that get too much protein are over weight.  That is the problem with the standard American diet (SAD).  Obesity has never been higher in this country.

     Not only do starches contain a lot of protein, but vegetables do as well. So when someone asks you were where vegans get their protein? Send them over to my blog or do your research to find it out for yourself!  This way of eating has helped me so much!  It has reversed my diabetes, and has lowered my blood pressure.  I have more energy now than I ever have because I'm eating clean proteins. Have you ever felt bloated, fatigued, and weighed down after a heavy meal of meat?  It's because your body has to work twice as hard to digest it!  Not so with this diet.  I'm still lazy though.  I need to force myself to go out and walk, but I sleep better, and when I do workout my body recovers more quickly.  
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Let Food Be Thy Medicine, and Medicine Be Thy Food

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     What does it mean to let food be thy medicine?  Hippocrates was a physician years before Christ.  He was known as the Father of Medicine.  He was the type of doctor that practiced holistic medicine.  There are several things that he believed in  1. He noticed that people who ate a whole foods plant based diet, didn't develop as many diseases.  WOW!  2. He also believed that if there was not a real medical problem that there shouldn't be any procedures or tests run.  3. He also believed in exercise, that walking is man's best medicine.  4. Moderation in everything.  In that day many people drank wine, (ha, they do now too)! but he noticed that those who drank too much were subject to gout. (Arthritis)

     Now I understand that back then there were not a lot of medications like they have now. Have you noticed that there is a pill for everything?  From balding heads, to erectile dysfunction!  Have you also noticed that during commercials they advertise all those pills?  I hate commercials!   First you see an advertisement for junk food, and then the drug commercials.  In a way it's funny and ridiculous!  The pharmaceutical companies are just that, companies.  They are there to make a profit. They don't care about the people they serve.  I work in a nursing home, and I'm so amazed that the nurses just pass meds!  They have no time for anything else!  These people are fed the most disgusting foods.  Most people I deal with have had strokes, and are bed bound for the rest of their lives.  There is a lady that is well over 500 lbs, and she is fed food that I wouldn't give to my dog. Breaks my heart that physicians aren't seeing what could really help their patients is right in their grocery stores, but then no one would make any money would they!

     So how can food help us?   What are (wise) doctors saying now about our diets.  Dr. Esselstyn tells us to not eat oil.  I have posted this to my facebook page, but this is important!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_o4YBQPKtQ  He was raised on a dairy farm, but in his research has discovered that "heart healthy" oils are not good for us.  When you stop oils, disease is reversed.  He has a book call Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

     Dr. Michael Greger that wrote How not to die just released a video today about cancer and how a plant based diet can reverse cancer.   http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die-from-cancer/  This video has a lot of good information.  He likens chicken to second hand smoke!

     Dr. McDougall is a board certified internist.  His research has led him to potatoes and how good they are for us.  Here is a marvelous story about a girl that was diagnosed to have MS and what happened when she started following the McDougall diet.  https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/health-science/stars/stars-written/deb-tasic/

     These are just a few doctors who believe that diet can be our saving grace from the awful debilitating diseases.  I think as time passes, we will see more and more physicians that will do the research and find that diet should be our medicine.

     Now I'm not saying to disregard what your doctors have said to do.  Our doctors do have a really good education.  We need to stay on our insulins if that is what they have prescribed, but start following a plant based diet and watch your pancreas start to work again like it's supposed to.  I reversed my pre diabetes.  I have gotten off of my high blood pressure meds, as has my son.  This is a total miracle for the both of us.  When I work at the nursing homes, I can walk all day long 10,000 steps without any problems!  I come home tired, but I'm old!  lol   If I still had my health problems I wouldn't be able to keep up!   I have a lot more energy these days!

     There is so much to learn.  We need to be in charge of our health.  We need to read the books, and discover that out there we can live long healthy lives, and still eat delicious foods!

     Another film that I watch and re-watch all the time is Forks over Knives!  Good info!

Do You Think It's Okay to Drink Soda Pop?

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     When we were first married, my husband and I didn't start our days until we had an ice cold Dr. Pepper poured into a glass (no plastic) over ice.  Some people do the same thing with coffee.  Even in the winter time we drank ice cold soda first thing in the morning.  We were young back then, and after doing some research we decided that soda wasn't a good choice.  We still drank it as a treat.  We allowed our children to have it occasionally, but not all the time.  I would buy Pepsi for headaches, but my sweet husband would find it and drink it, so I stopped buying it.
     What is the big deal?  If you can buy it in a store, then isn't it okay to drink?  Surely everything in the stores that we can buy are okay aren't they?  Trust me people, there are a lot of things in the store that we should not be consuming. Anyway........ lets get back to soda pop.
     I came across an article just the other day that gave me 22 reasons not to drink the stuff.  I will post a link so you can read the whole article at the end.

     1.  Soda can cause a decline in kidney function.  There was an 11 year study at Harvard University just on the effects that soda has on your kidneys.

     2. Soda increases the chances of getting diabetes!  Because of the high sugar content in soda (9 1/3 tsp to be exact) causes a strain on the pancreas!  Drinking 1-2 sodas a day increases your chances of getting diabetes by 25%!!!  Yikes!!

     3. Soda cans are lined with BPA.  BPA has been linked to heart disease and reproduction problems.

     4.  Soda dehydrates you.  Remember last week when I talked about caffeine?  Caffeine is a diuretic.  What is a diuretic?  It's a liquid that produces more urine, you pee more.

     5.  Caramel coloring in sodas are linked to cancer.  Need I say more?

     6.  Caramel coloring in sodas are linked to vascular problems leading to strokes and heart disease.

     7.  Soda is high in calories.  In a 12 ounce can of coke are 9 1/3 tsp. of sugar, but in a 20 ounce there are 17 tsp. with 240 calories.  Can you say obesity?

     8.  Caffeine in soda blocks magnesium absorption in our bodies.  Magnesium helps to detox our bodies from environmental chemicals.  Kind of important!

     9.  Soda increases obesity risks in children.  This to me is very sad.  Our kids don't have a chance because they are given sodas, and then play video games all day.  When I was a kid, I did have soda, but I was out all day running it off!

    10.  Soda increases heart disease in men.  The chances rise 20% in men if they drink soda!

    11.  Acid in soda wears away dental enamel.

    12.  Soda contains high amounts of sugar.  Have we already read this?  Must be true.

    13.  Soda contains artificial sweeteners.  Artificial sweeteners are worse than sugar in my book as they are linked to many diseases including cancer.

    14.  Soda depletes your mineral levels.  If the soda you are drinking contains phosphoric acid, this acid depletes the calcium in your bones.  Can you say osteoporosis?  Even if the client takes vitamin D and calcium supplements, the soda leaches the calcium out.

    15.  Drinking soda changes your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight!

    16.  Drinking more than one soda increases heart disease and metabolic syndrome which means high blood pressure, high glucose levels, high triglycerides, and belly fat.

    17.  Diet soda does NOT help you to loose weight.  Did I mention the belly fat above?

    18.  Diet sodas contain mold inhibitors!  WHAT?  This cause severe damage to our DNA.  Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi have replace this with a different preservative, but preservatives aren't great at all.

    19.  Sodas containing ascorbic acid and potassium benzoate are a know carcinogen.  Just another preservative.

    20.  Daily sodas and other sugary drinks are linked to non alcoholic fatty liver disease.  What are the symptoms of this?  Fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain and jaundice.

    21.  Some sodas contain flame retardant.  These are used in a lot of citrus drinks to help them from separating.  This is banned in many countries, but it is still allowed in the US!  Mountain Dew anyone?

    22. Soda is linked to Asthma.  A study was done in Australia of 16,000 over 16 years of age.  They had higher levels of Asthma, and COPD!


     Soda is a hard one to give up, but after reading this article I'm so glad that I did!  I used to infuse my water with fruit, strawberries being my favorite, but now I just drink plain old water.  I'm still working on drinking 1/2 my body ounces in water, but life is a process.  We can't all be perfect!

Staying Hydrated

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     By a raise of hands, how many of us drink enough water?  I have been working my whole life in the medical field, and I constantly hear, make sure your patients drink water.  Don't let them get dehydrated.

     Why is this so important?  First of all our bodies are made up of 50-75% water depending on your age.  Infants and babies have more water then adults.  It is important to drink 1/2 your body ounces in water.  So if you weigh 150 pounds that is 75 ounces or 9.3 cups of water.

     What happens if you become dehydrated?  Well there are about ten things that can happen.
     1.  Fatigue, blood flow and pressure drop due to a lack of water.
     2.  Urine becomes a dark yellow, medications and disease can also turn urine dark, so if the water doesn't help it would be best to talk to your doctor.
     3.  Sudden lightheadedness.  If you stand up quickly and you become lightheaded chances are you are dehydrated.  Your heart starts to beat faster and breathing become rapid.  You could pass out! Danger!
     4.  Heart rate increases, also heart palpitations.
     5.  You can overheat.  You can become overheated and dehydrated due to sweating while working out.
     6.  Muscle cramps.  If you become dehydrated there are important electrolytes that help our bodies perform as they should.  Without them your muscles can cramp up.  It hurts!
     7.  The dreaded constipation!  Without water, your stools become hard and hard to pass causing stomach cramps, not to mention hemroids!   I have noticed this in my field.  No fun!  Everyone's BMs are different, but 1-3 per day are pretty normal for me.  I know TMI!  LOL
     8.  Skin loses elasticity.  Has the doctor ever pinched your skin to see if it goes back quickly?  If you are dehydrated your skin will stick and won't return to normal quickly.
     9.  No more tears.  You can always tell when children are dehydrated because if they cry and don't produce tears, they are dehydrated.  Also if they aren't producing wet diapers within a 3 hour period.
    10.  You're Parched.  If you are very thirsty chances are you are already dehydrated.  You need to listen to your body.  If water tastes really good then you aren't drinking enough.

     Just before I go to bed at night, I put a water bottle next to my bed that is filled with 1 liter of hot lemon water, and because it's a thermos it stays warm.  I drink that one liter after waking up, even before I eat breakfast.  I always have a bottle of water with me wherever I go.  On my way to work I drink a cup of Pero.  It's a grain drink and contains no caffeine.  Caffeine is dehydrating so be careful of that.  One thing that the article doesn't talk about is kidney stones.  I have had my fair share of them, so I drink water like a fish swims.  I also have noticed that if I don't drink enough, I get a headache. At the close of that day I like to unwind by drinking a cup of tea with some soy milk in it.  Helps me get ready for bed.  Tea and Pero are okay and works to get your water requirement in.

     DON'T DRINK SODA!  I will be writing another article on soda next time.    

Milk and the Dangers of Dairy

     I'm finally back!  We still have boxes adorning our living room, and tools in the kitchen but at least there is an end in sight!  All in all I gained 10 pounds!  Yes you read it right "TEN POUNDS"! However, since getting settled back down I have lost 3!  Seven more to go until I'm back to where I was before this hullabaloo started.

     Today I thought I would touch base on milk.  There is so much about milk that we thought was good.  I remember as a child, we had Winder Dairy delivery come and leave glass bottles of milk on our porch.  It always tasted so good ice cold from that glass bottle.  Mix it with a little Nestles's Quick and it was fabulous!  I also remember as a child going to the factory to watch how it was bottled, and getting free samples of milk and a little loaf of bread.  Those were the days!  Very fond memories.

     All through my growing up years I drank lots of milk, ate lots of ice cream and discovered yogurt! My dad even made yogurt, and we were hooked.  Then I was married, and my husband was a huge milk drinker.  We went through gallons of milk in a week.  We started having a family, and the pediatrician told us that our children should be breast fed, and when they were weaned to a cup should drink whole milk until they were two years old to help develop their brains because of the fat content in the milk.  I believed this.  Why shouldn't I believe them? After all they had been to medical school, and knew all about nutrition.  So I was compliant to their suggestions, after all milk at that time was thought to be a complete protein.

     What are doctors saying now about milk?  It really depends on which doctors you listen to as most doctors still do not have the educational background on nutrition.  If you don't believe me google it to see how much training medical students receive on nutrition in medical school. http://www.sarahbesthealth.com/think-doctors-know-about-nutrition/  If they want more info on nutrition, they have to go somewhere else to receive that knowledge.  Sad really.

     Dr. Michael Greger has done extensive research in the area of nutrition.  His book "How Not To Die" (which I have mentioned before) has a lot of information contained in his book.  Here is a quote from that book.  Page 213.
    Humans are the only species who drink milk after weaning.  It also seems a bit unnatural to drink the milk of another species.
     "Milk it does a body good?"  All foods of animal origin contain sex steroid hormones, such as estrogen, but today's genetically "improved" dairy cows are milked throughout their pregnancies when their reproductive hormones are particularly high.  These hormones naturally found even in organic cow's milk may play a role in the various associations identified between milk and other dairy products and hormone-related conditions, including acne, diminished male reproductive potential, and premature puberty.   Is this why my daughter started her period at age 10?  More and more female children are starting their periods at a young age.  More and more people are becoming lactose intolerant.  We were not meant to eat or drink animal products.

     Think about that baby cow and how fast it puts on 100 pounds after birth.  Makes a person think about what dairy is doing to our bodies.  Milk has been linked to asthma, blood pressure problems, cancer, bone fractures (because calcium is leached out of our bones from drinking milk)  http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-protein-bad-to-the-bone/  It has also been linked to flatulence, Parkinson's disease and saturated fat causing heart disease.

     Milk per-say wasn't hard for me to give up.  The only time I drank it is when I ate cereal, at least as an adult...but ice cream?  That is a different story.  Now though you can get ice cream made with different milks and nuts.  My all time favorite is from SO Delicious made from cashews.  Salted caramel is my favorite flavor.  Also nice cream made with frozen bananas is amazing as well.  Check my recipes for that.  Cheese was a bit hard as well to give up, and I'm not fond of any of the nut cheeses or Daiya cheese.  I figure if it's processed I prefer not going to eat it.    I just have given up cheese all together, and really don't miss it.

     I'm thankful that I have done the reading and studying to figure out what is good and bad for our bodies.  My son since being home from college has gotten off his high blood pressure medications because his pressure has come down.  I'm sure it is because of the dairy that we have been consuming since he was a little boy.  I would admonish everyone to find out for themselves and do what is best for your families.
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