Archive for the ‘Reclaim your health’ Category

Enjoy Hiking Safely in NH Mountains

April 22, 2016

Weird weather patterns are not new to NH. Ice has been slow to leave the trails this spring and several hikers have fractured ankles, wrists, legs, and more when negotiating open ice falls or when sidetracked from sneaky patches of ice covered with a little snow.

Right now, Mt. Tecumseh Trail in Waterville Valley and the Kinsman Ridge Trail up Cannon Mt. in Franconia Notch continue to greet hikers with trails covered by frozen waterfalls that are a challenge even to hikers wearing crampons.

NH Fish and Game has a Hike Safe program, complete with a $25. annual insurance card should you ever need a rescue. Meantime, revenue from this fund assures that should you or others need a rescue, qualified people will respond. Without the card, you may be billed for rescue services. Just google “Hike Safe” and you will not only bring up the insurance website, you will find more information about how to prepare for your hike.

Here are a few cautionary measures to assure safe hikes this spring: Know the trail, including brook crossings and springs that feed the brooks. Carry and use the White Mountain Guide Map or local trail map that locates your hike.  Save new explorations for later when free of ice. Stay with your group and count noses at every trail junction.

Know your body, ie, sore knees, heart problems, breathing problems, and pace yourself. If your dog hikes with you, be sure that your dog has the stamina and social skills needed for your hike. Be mindful of wet lichen on the rocks, and dry or wet leaves, which may be concealing ice, all potential fall stimulators.

Prepare for weather changes with extra layers, hats, mitts, and rain gear. Be ready with first aid kit and a stuff sack for emergencies. Be willing to turn back if necessary for safety, even if you took a day off from work for your hike. Carry more water than you expect to need, an extra sandwich and snacks.

Should you ever need a rescue, remember that cell phones often only work at higher elevations. By calling 911, Fish and Game officials will be contacted. The nearest rescue group will then be called if needed, usually local Fire Departments who then alert their on-call members. A crew of 12 or more people may respond, depending on the situation.

Your best protection is careful preparation. A list of pack contents to check off makes it easy to have what you need as you prepare for each hike. Here’s to the wonders of spring blooms, grand vistas, and the sheer freedom to enjoy walking our beautiful land with confidence.

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Probiotics: The Latest Health Promo

July 24, 2015

For 5,000 yrs., India’s Ayurvedic Medical System has claimed the digestive tract as the seat of all illness. Now, our Allopathic System has research that backs up that claim.

Neurologist, David Perlmutter’s most recent book, Brain Maker, cites his research and others who find that a combination of Probiotics and Diet are now relieving many health conditions, not just digestive complaints, and scientific research reveals that “90 percent of all known human illness can be traced back to an unhealthy gut.” The good news is that health and vitality also begins in the gut. That’s something we can do about.

While our problems did not begin with antibiotics, they have certainly been aggravated by routine antibiotic use that kills both helpful and harmful bacteria, hence the term ‘pro-biotics’ which are actually a diverse collection of friendly bacteria. After any round of antibiotic to treat specific infections, we need to reseed our digestive tract with friendly bacteria.

Here’s what probiotic bacteria do for us: they help us digest and absorb nutrients; create a physical barrier to harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites; neutralize toxins we take in with our food; prevent infections; support our immune system; produce enzymes, vitamins, and neurotransmitters; help us handle stress; and control the body’s inflammatory pathways, for starters. The list seems endless.

Not just any old probiotics will do. Lactobacillus strains are needed in the small intestine and Bifidobacterium strains in the colon. Perlmutter offers his protocol but your health practitioner can help you choose an appropriate preparation if you are interested in exploring the benefits. Probiotics don’t require prescription but they are pricey and some question the reliability of claims for what is in a capsule.

Dietary changes are less costly but require more thought and effort. Family lore includes stories about preparing fermented foods such as what Perlmutter recommends: plenty that provide us with natural probiotics: organic, plain yogurt, kimshi, sauerkraut, kombucha, pickled fish and vegetables, all of which can be prepared at home in large batches and stored.

Carbohydrates, not fats are the primary cause of weight gain. Since fat, not glucose, is the brain’s main food, he suggests our main food choices: butter, meat, cheese, eggs, abundant above ground vegetables and greens, and cooking with olive or coconut oil. Healthy, monounsaturated fats are in avocado, olives, nuts, wild fish, and some plants (flax seed oil). We also need good saturated fats like butter and coconut oil to recognize and destroy invading germs and to fight tumors.

The problem I have with considering coconut oil is that this new craze depends on the destruction of rain forest trees to supply coconuts. The problem with probiotic capsules is that they are financially out of reach for too many people.

The good news is that we all know what the food ‘hit list’ is: all that boxed, packaged, and bottled food, which is also pricey and can be replaced right now by overconsumption of peas, berries, asparagus, kohlrabi, zucchini, summer squash, greens, tomatoes, and more. We can take a leaf from the animals, load up on what is in season where we live, store some for later, drink plenty of water, and keep every muscle moving.

Counterclockwise: Think Positive Health

July 10, 2014

Every day we hear of amazing feats that defy the notion that life, health, or events are predictable with inevitable results. Harvard social psychologist, Ellen Langer’s latest book, Counterclockwise, is just that – a mind-blowing collection of positive outcomes that trump dire predictions. She gives a steady stream of reversals of everything from stage 4 cancer, hearing, vision and memory loss, paralysis, cardiac problems and more, when we keep a mindful, positive attitude toward challenges.

Her strategy is that there is “always a step small enough from where we are to get us where we want to be. If we take that small step, there’s always another we can take, and eventually a goal thought to be too far to reach becomes achievable.” It was refreshing to read a book with positive outcomes that happened simply by reframing someone’s perspective.

Langer points out that the expression, “we won’t know unless we try” is misleading because if we try and fail, we still don’t know whether another attempt might be successful. We still do not know that it can’t be. And: there’s a lot we don’t know yet.

I continue to be concerned about the effect of overhead power lines on our children who live in close proximity to high-density lines. I realize that there have been no rigorous double blind studies done with experimental and control groups, studies that lay out results of how many died, developed birth defects, etc. in each group. I admire the countries in Europe that have decided to pass Bury the Lines Laws after simply seeing the association studies showing rates of cancer and birth defects among children living near high power lines. Those countries value the lives and health of their children so much that they are not taking any chances on even potential effects of power lines that might threaten their health.

Bill Dowey’s, Letter to the Editor (Plymouth NH Record Enterprise, 7-3-14) “25 solar arrays for 25 New Hampshire small towns to meet the 2025 Energy goals” is an example of small town ingenuity and positive attitude. Bristol, NH is now on track to meet the town library’s annual power needs through its solar array because it tried solar energy and not only succeeded, it has come up with a plan that can easily be replicated by other small towns.

ISO New England (International Organization for Standardization) has come up with a plan to smother New England with a giant cobweb of above ground lines crisscrossing the state. This archaic, outmoded plan comes at a time when more modern towns and cities are streamlining lines underground, and exploring forms of renewable energy such as solar and geothermal that protect environmental webs of life.

At the same time, the NE governors are meeting to decide whether to approve a plan that would allow one gas pipeline and one electric transmission line from Canada through New England. This, despite the fact that Hydro Quebec could not provide the power last winter when it was needed, not even for Quebec. If the governors agree, our rights to eminent domain are also at risk with this new deal – a deal put together by Northeast Utilities – like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.

Each of us has a choice in any event. Hopefully, we will dare to put our energies into positive, healthful outcomes for the future. One small step we can each take is to call Governor Hassan (603-271-2121) and let her know how we would vote.

Obesity Declassified

January 8, 2014

Since its discovery in 1957, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HCFS) has been one of the best kept secrets of food and beverage company productions with the total support of the USDA. Currently, researchers like Robert H. Lustig, a University of California at San Francisco endocrinologist, author of Fat Chance, have begun to declassify the role HCFS plays in our obesity problem.

 As a child, I loved the Orange Soda we had on holiday family picnics and the batch of Hires Root Beer my mother brewed up each summer. Then, in the early sixties, the flavor changed; soda tasted like chemicals and was no attraction for me beyond the Root Beer floats we flavored with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I knew that chemical sweeteners had been added in increased amounts over the years, but only recently looked at the big picture. Here’s what I learned.

 High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), the darling of Big Ag corn growers, receives government subsidies that keep its price cheap and make a tidy profit from its monopoly, paid for with our tax dollars. But that’s only half of the story. HFCS, as a sweetener is much more potent than natural cane sugar, which is not subsidized and therefore more expensive and we pay the full price for natural sugar.

 In 1915, drinking a 6.5 oz soda bottle daily would cause an 8 lb. wt. gain/year. Today’s 20 oz. plastic bottle daily will cause a 26 lb. weight gain/year. The industry went from bottles to cans in 1960, and currently also sells in big, thirst buster 44 oz. cups and big  42.2 oz. plastic bottles.

 In tandem with the increase in the size of soft drink containers, food and beverage companies distracted us with the fat-free propaganda. Fat was claimed to be the culprit causing obesity. Yet, we need fat for energy and healthy nerve functioning. We need fat to transport vitamins A, D, E and K; to protect and surround organs like the heart and liver; to prolong digestion for longer-lasting satiety, and more. All this was disregarded as people were encouraged to go on a low-fat blitz. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t a fat problem before HFCS was introduced. The public was successfully blindfolded from the real culprit.

The tragedy is that the food and agriculture corporations knew exactly what they were doing, what was causing obesity to go viral. They spent years suppressing research and funding only research that supported their claim that fat was the problem. Since educational institutions are challenged to come up with research grants, having a review string attached to any corporate funds meant research to the contrary never saw print.

 So, how about the rest of the story: how does HFCS make people fat? First, we have to understand how our intestines connect with the liver and the rest of our body. If you could stretch out your intestines, they’d look like the border trim of one big umbrella. The fabric connecting it all together would be the mesenteric membrane with veins in place of the spokes and a big vein that goes to the liver in place of the handle. Anything we eat has to be broken down to a slurry fine enough to be absorbed through the wall of the intestine and into the small veins that funnel into the big vein to the liver.

The liver then decides what to do with what we eat. If we take in more sugar than the body needs for the functions mentioned above, the liver cannot store extra sugar. It converts it to fatty acids that are then sent out to be stored in all the familiar places.

 When we eat whole foods, the sugar in them shares space with nutrients and fiber that slows down transit time to the liver because the food must be chewed, then ground up in the stomach before it turns into a slurry and moves on into the intestines. Even in the intestines, food relies on a squirt of bile from the gall bladder and squirts of insulin and enzymes from the pancreas to blend it up before it moves through the mesentary to the main line to the liver.

 However, when we drink soda, it moves through the digestive track like a luge! There’s no gradual absorption. Every swig is a big hit for the liver to deal with right now! Too much soda right now means more fat stored right now. Pregnant women pass the HFCS to their developing fetuses and any offspring they nurse. The WIC (Women, Infants and Children) nutritional program provided HFCS laced formula for babies that caused babies to be obese at 6 mos. of age.

Significantly, the FDA gives fructose a GRAS (Generally Rated as Safe) status. The FDA does not regard fructose as an acute toxin. It is classed as a chronic toxin. Translated, that means it only leads to chronic diseases, doesn’t kill you right off.

Lustig uses 4 interventions with his clients, who happen to be obese children.

  1. Get rid of all sugared liquid. Drink only water and milk.
  2. Eat carbohydrates with fiber- include plenty of raw veggies.
  3. Wait 20 min. for second portions.
  4. Buy your screen time, minute for minute, with physical activity time.

The first step in dealing with any problem is to know what the cause is. Whether we are obese or not, we are all affected by the problem of obesity.  Hopefully, we will provide support and encouragement to each other in our goal to keep each other well.

Cholesterol Revisited

February 28, 2013

In response to my column on “The Cholesterol Sting”, a reader was kind enough to recommend that I update my references with two important books. Both books were the result of over 40 years of research, neither of which was funded by food and drug companies. They were funded by US taxpayers and results are openly available to us.

 The first is The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, Cornell University nutritionist, and co-authored by his physician son, Thomas M. Campbell II. Campbell includes 750 peer reviewed studies to back up his finding that cholesterol levels in fact do cause heart disease and other illnesses. This was true even if the cholesterol levels were high in HDL (High Density Lipoproteins), the so- called  “good cholesterol.”

 The reason China was an important country to study is that their plant-based, dairy-free diet kept the incidence of heart disease and breast cancer at bay in China. Also, when Chinese people emigrated to the US and adopted our diet, they also developed heart disease, breast cancer, and auto-immune diseases. Campbell established that diet, not genes, is the most significant stimulant of conditions.

 The second book is by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., MD, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Esselstyn is a surgeon who wanted to find a way to prevent women from needing disfiguring breast surgery, and heart disease patients from undergoing such invasive and life threatening procedures. He found that when he was able to convince patients to adopt a plant-based, dairy-free, fat and oil free diet, they usually did not need surgery: hence, the title of his book.

 He asked doctors to refer to him their heart patients who had exhausted their by-pass and stint procedures and had been essentially told, “we can do no more for you.” When they came into his program, all who accepted the diet plan improved and/or reversed the damage to their coronary arteries.

 Here’s what they had to say about cholesterol that jolted my education. First, total body cholesterol IS an important marker, even if HDL, the good cholesterol, is high. For optimum health the total level needs to be 150mg/dL  or less (not 300, which the USDA recommends or 200, which the American Heart Association recommends.)

 We do need cholesterol but excessive amounts of it end up blocking our arteries. The amounts the USDA recommends appear to be causing more harm and expensive treatments.

 There is so much money to be made by radical surgery and treatment for breast and other cancers and heart disease that there is little incentive for doctors to focus on preventing the diseases. Esselstyn had a long uphill struggle to get referrals from cardiologists but once the word got out that people who went through his program regained their health, people began looking him up.

 Significantly, both Campbell and Esselstyn walk their talk. Esselstyn’s family made the transition when their children were young. They all enjoy robust health. Campbell grew up on a dairy farm. Esselstyn grew up on a cattle farm, but their search for what makes people well superseded  preconceived notions about diet.

 President Clinton attributes both his weight loss and improved health to this diet which he continues to maintain.

 The good news is that there is a growing number of physicians who are committed to keeping people well. That goal supersedes making a lot of money with preventable surgeries. Both books are available at your local library or through Inter-Library-Loan.

 Campbell’s book covers research on a broad spectrum of diet-caused conditions. Esselstyn’s deals mainly with heart and breast cancer and has a long section on the diet itself and recipes to transition for those interested. YouTube has an informative talk by T. Colin Campbell, “Lessons from the China Project.”

 Bottom line is, we can’t lower cholesterol with the American diet, which relies heavily on meat and fat. And, equally important, changes need to be made gradually to be sustainable.

 

Reconditioning Humans

August 9, 2012

We are shocked when we see or hear about senseless killing on the news, whether it takes place in a mosque, church, school or Batman movie theatre. How did we get to this stage in history?

 Today, we are being fed a steady diet of violence. Even attending The Lorax, a benign children’s film about saving the trees, the trailers for it, which children must sit through, are a series of violent scenes of people being mercilessly killed, with lots of noise, screams, and looks that kill.

 We are fed constant desensitization to killing, whether we go to a movie, or  watch violent movies at home. Even watching the news with its perpetual reruns of people being gunned down, buildings collapsing, bodies dismembered, anguished mourners, despairing orphaned children, we continue to view the effects of violence. We become passive observers. With this steady stream of violence, what can we expect but more violence, more people wanting to follow the model? 

I found a ray of hope in Dave Grossman’s book, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. He detailed research documenting the fact that 98% of humans do not want to kill another human, even when called  to war. The 2% who enjoy killing were psychotic to begin with. Returning service people with the highest rate of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) are the ground troops, the people who are trained and commanded to shoot people at close range. They actually see, make eye contact, hear screams, see the carnage; 98% are repelled and nauseated by this most inhuman of all acts.

 The ray of hope is that 98% do not want to shoot, and regularly do not fire. This tells me that humans innately abhor killing another human, that war is asking a price it has no right to ask of anyone. Research bears this out for our so called opponents as well.

 We’ll never know what life might be like today had we spent the War Chest for the last 50 years on developing alternative forms of energy, and boosted our educational system with that in mind. Fighting/killing for oil that is not renewable leaves us in the vulnerable position of now having to manage violence at home as we struggle to provide students with increasingly difficult access to higher education.

 The military model is carried over into team sports even in earlier grades as children are taught to chant, “kill, kill, kill” as they do their calisthenics. The kid just wants to play football or some other sport and is confused by this chant unless he or she is watching plenty of violence on TV and is trying to follow the model.

 Even Olympic sports, once the model of pure athleticism, have become tainted with athletes who purposely maim their competitors.

 All of which calls on us to decide what media we will allow ourselves to be massaged by, and what we will allow our children to be massaged by. Grossman notes that re-sensitization may mean that society needs to censure (not censor) those who exploit violence for profit. It may also mean that the more advanced the technology, the greater the need for controls of explosives, machine guns, artillery, assault rifles, and pistols. For the media, it may mean controlling TV, movies and video games.

 The oil wars have lost their momentum. Pressure is now building up for Water Wars. Time to carefully consider what we value most, what kind of life we most want to live, what kind of controls we need to put in place to recondition ourselves.

 

Welch-Dickey’s Free Health Spa

March 23, 2012

We’re lucky to have free health spas in or adjacent to every town in Northern New Hampshire. Every mountain is a potential spa, depending on whether you choose to check in and get with the program. Welch Mountain is usually one of the first in NH to be clear of snow in spring and this year’s balmy opening week must have claimed a record!

 Health spas, the paid ones, usually include massage, saunas, hot tubs, swimming, and some sort of calming practice like meditation or yoga. The main goal is to cleanse and relax the body from the inside out as well as from the outside in. That means keeping hydrated with plenty of water. Think 2 liters.

Sweat is the body’s most natural way of cleansing. Sweat heats up and massages all of our systems and uses sweat glands to wring them out so every system has a fresh start. Every joint gets well oiled. It was already 65 degrees F. when I started up Welch and my back was wet under my pack by the time I reached the Welch Ledge, a popular destination for folks who want a short hike on a well maintained trail alongside a lively brook.

Hiking on a balmy March day practically guarantees a successful spa treatment, especially on a day when the summit is 80 degrees F. There are no black flies and the trails are so well groomed that you can avoid ticks by walking in the center of the trail and steering clear of branches. (Yes, ticks are here year round and so are the deer and four-leggeds that carry them.)

The walk itself can be a meditation, even if there’s some chatting going on. Conversation tends to be a sorting out, rethinking, brain cleanse, with the last leg of the hike to each peak often being in silence to better access fresh air.

Blueberries calmly covered the Welch and Dickey summits and open cliffs with red buds, just waiting to pop out and provide us with lush berries this summer.  A few Jack Pines greeted me; they’re the ones that benefit from forest fires because the heat pops open their seeds. They are only found in four places here in NH, this mountain loop being one of them. Mounds of slivery blue reindeer lichen perked up and showed off fresh sage-green tufted offspring. A new generation of deep green partridge berry leaves peeped out from under leaves. It’s a time of year when every hike seems like a new adventure.

Hiking poles make the hike kinder to your knees and hips by spreading the weight bearing load to include the shoulders and arms as well, while still allowing you to build up a good sweat. They also encourage a good upper body workout and help to maintain balance around muddy areas or the occasional ice remnants.

If you want to hike in a truly relaxed state, breathing 2:1 is the way to go. Just make your exhalations twice as long as your inhalations. The easiest way to practice this breath is to count your paces. You may start out breathing 6:3, then shift gears to 4:2 and 2:1 as you gain elevation. If you cannot exhale for 2 paces to every 1 inhalation pace, it’s time to stop and rest. This practice develops the habit of deeper breathing regularly.

So, your free health spa takes care of your cleansing sweat massage and by the time you pass the summits, you may be lucky enough to be fully soaked.  As you cool down in that delicious breeze (if there is one) you may even need to put on that extra layer in your pack while you enjoy lunch, the view, your friends, and maybe even a little siesta.

The trip down via the Dickey end of the loop did have some remaining stretches of ice in areas shaded by spruce trees but they were negotiable with tree help.

Depending on the day and the temperature, you may need the extra layer as you cool down, hike out, go home and take a salt bath or shower to complete your free spa treatment.

PS: In cooler weather, I carry at least 2 liters of water, a wind/rain shell, light fleece, hat, first aid sack, high protein sandwich, nuts, and an orange to assure the full treatment!

Your Body’s Many Cries For Water

September 23, 2011

So goes the title of a rare book by F. Batmanghelidj, an Iranian born, British educated physician. Following medical school, he relocated to Iran to help establish hospitals and medical centers there.

 In 1979, Dr. B. was imprisoned during the Iranian Revolution but managed to survive because the prison needed a doctor. One night, he was called to see a man with a peptic ulcer. He had no meds to treat the condition and told the man to drink two glasses of water and he would return later to check on him. When he did, to his amazement, the man’s condition was much improved. He continued to note the response to just water in other prisoners with other problems.

 Dr. B. was released from prison in 1982, escaped from Iran, emigrated to the US, and set up a general practice. The full title of his book is, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water: You are not sick, you are thirsty! Don’t treat thirst with medications. 

He attributed many common disease symptoms to dehydration as their root cause, and was careful to check that his clients were well hydrated before prescribing medications. He died in 2004, but his writings, while controversial, are still available on his website, http://www.watercure.com.

 However, health professionals today routinely encourage people to drink plenty of water. Medication needs water to be distributed throughout the body and keep all systems working well. Our food needs plenty of water to break it up so that it can pass  through the wall of our intestines and on to the liver for distribution.

 Despite the emphasis on carrying water everywhere we go today, many of us do not drink enough water. Coffee, tea, soda, and beer don’t count. They are dehydrators.

 Over-the-counter meds, such as different forms of ibuprophen, taken excessively for chronic pain, can cause liver and kidney damage. If the kidneys’ can’t make enough urine, our bodies will retain too much water instead of using it.

 How can we know we’re drinking enough water? What are the signs to be on the lookout for? Thirst is the last sign that we need water. Thirst is a reminder that we haven’t been paying attention to other body signals like pain of any kind, fatigue, dizziness, joint and muscle stiffness, difficulty remembering, following through on instructions, slow healing of injuries, and constipation, to name a few.

 If you decide to check out the power of tap water (6-8 glasses a day), first be sure that your kidneys are making sufficient urine and increase the amount of tap water you drink slowly. Then, just observe the changes!

Calling All Gerdics

September 9, 2011

It’s anyone’s guess how prevalent GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) is today. The highfalutin name itself sounds pretty ominous. Put simply, on the lower end of the esophagus where it connects to the stomach, there is a sphincter, a valve that opens every time we swallow, to allow food into the stomach. That valve is supposed to close once the food is through.

 With the condition called GERD, the sphincter doesn’t close reliably, food backs up into the esophagus, and the area around the sphincter becomes painful. Sometimes, people worry that they’re having a heart attack because the sphincter is right over the heart.

 Since I’m a Gerdic (someone with GERD), I know what it’s like to wake up in the night with chest pain that felt like a blob was shifting side to side when I turned in bed. When I sat up, it disappeared (definitely not a heart problem or it wouldn’t stop then.)

 The literature will tell you that if you’re a Gerdic, you should not lie down for at least 2-3 hours after you eat to allow food to pass through your stomach and not annoy you by trying to get back up into your esophagus. It will also tell you foods to avoid and, if you are obese, to lose weight. Overeating just keeps that sphincter wide open from a bulging stomach. Most important, chew everything thoroughly so that it can pass through the sphincter to your stomach without straining it.

 In my quest to become a reformed Gerdic, I elevated the head of my bed 6” and began taking a recommended over-the-counter remedy at bedtime. This took care of the GERD but gave me a new problem: restless sleep with frequent night awakenings.

 Then, a reader told me that when she asked her physician if he knew of an herbal remedy for GERD, he immediately said, “Licorice Root.” So she tried it with great success.

 With nothing to lose, I picked up chewable licorice root tablets at my local health food store and was amazed to find that gradually, I no longer needed the bed elevated and went back to sleeping like a top. 

 What’s the magic with licorice root? It produces a viscous mucus, which coats and protects the stomach wall and limits acid production. I like the idea that a condition is possibly curable!  The cure may take longer for some folks than others, depending on severity and commitment to changing eating habits, but it’s doable.

 What foods do Gerdics need to avoid?  That’s easy: all the things we love – coffee, chocolate, alcohol, spicy, fatty foods and combinations thereof  – the acid crowd. However, the problem isn’t those foods; the problem is eating too much of those foods too often. They need to be balanced with fresh greens, veggies and fruits.

 Stomach acid is not all bad. Our body produces it to begin digesting meats and tough foods. We just don’t need to add huge amounts of acid foods that only foul up the works.

To keep each other well, now’s a great time to appreciate the last of the fresh string beans, basil, chard, parsley and arugula, and be on the lookout for winter squash and apples and….

Irene Calls

August 29, 2011

Irene is a metaphor for all the churning going on in our heads, all the changes and choices we are daily presented with. Sometimes, it’s difficult to decide what to focus on once homes and communities are restored: storm recovery, high tension wires, genetically modified food, hormones in our milk and meat, mercury in our fish, education, employment, and retirement all jockey for our attention.

 At the same time, storms like Irene energize us. People watched the water soaring high over the Mad River’s Campton Dam, whether on TV or in the crowd standing in full view of the dam. There was an urge to get out and experience that energy. I watched the Pemi rush to expand on either side of the Cross Road Bridge in Thornton, flooding a wide swath of land with rich silt.

 Nature’s housekeeping sometimes seems a bit too thorough, depending on how much it extracts from us in the aftermath and the painful loss of life that is so swift and difficult to understand. People can immediately discount damaged of lost homes or vehicles when, “At least, everyone is OK,” or “No one was hurt.”

 In the calm after the storm, hopefully our relief at surviving the unknowns will bring fresh energy to act on all the ways we can think of to keep each other well. We have a clear, sunny day to begin again.