Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why You Need Magnesium

When I was very sick in high school, my doctor finally figured out that I was severely magnesium deficient. It was so bad that it didn't matter how many magnesium capsules I took, my body just wasn't absorbing it. So my doctor gave me a series of 8 magnesium IV's. It wasn't fun, but let me tell you, I felt like a new person after those! From then on I was able to maintain a healthy level of magnesium by taking supplements. 

Since then I've learned that certain foods can contribute to magnesium deficiency, mainly the nightshade vegetables (including: potato, tomato, eggplant, and some peppers). For several years I avoided these foods and noticed improvement in several symptoms. Now I can eat potatoes in moderation and tomatoes on occasion, but I still supplement with magnesium. 

Experts estimate that 80% of Americans today are suffering from magnesium deficiency. With the depletion of the soil, increasing consumption of junk food, and high stress levels, it's no wonder so many people are magnesium deficient.

Here's an excellent article that explains why magnesium is so important for your health, symptoms of deficiency and what you can do about it.  

Magnesium is essential for so many functions in the body. I generally recommend that everyone supplements with magnesium at some level. Certain people will need more than others, but I think almost everyone can benefit from it. For instance, my mom was having trouble with heart palpitations a couple of years ago. She started taking magnesium and they completely went away. They only recur if she forgets to take the magnesium for several days. That's only one example of how necessary sufficient magnesium is for the body.

So I hope you can find a good quality magnesium supplement and give it a try. Or at least try the epsom salts bath as recommended in the article. I think you'll be glad you did. =) 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gluten-Free or Not?

There's a lot of talk these days about the value of eating a gluten-free diet. For some people it completely turns their health around, while for others it doesn't seem to make any difference. So if you've been wondering about it, here are some thoughts I hope will be helpful.

First of all, what is gluten? It's a naturally occurring protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley.

However, some people's digestive systems have a problem with gluten, either because of a condition called celiac disease, or from a gluten intolerance. (You can read more details about these two conditions here.) Anyone with these conditions needs to adopt a gluten-free diet. Also watch out for hidden sources of gluten, such as in toothpaste, lip balm, etc. 

For the rest of us, gluten-free can be a good option, depending on how it's done. 

Some people who switch to a gluten-free diet feel better, not because they are avoiding gluten, but because they are not eating so many unhealthy foods such as breads, pasta, cereals, cakes, cookies, etc. Because the modern diet is mainly "junk" food now, anyone who eats less junk and more "real" food such as vegetables, fruits, meat, etc, will of course feel better. 

However, some people do not feel better when switching to gluten-free, and that is often because they did not give up "junk" food, they simply switched to "gluten-free" junk food. There are a lot of products now that are "gluten-free" but are still not HEALTHY. Always read labels, and if necessary research the ingredients. Know what you're eating! 

Now, I believe that for most people the issue is not gluten itself, but what kinds of foods are eaten - processed, packaged foods versus fresh, organic, home-cooked foods. 

Another important factor is what kind of wheat, rye or barley you are eating. Today's version of wheat "flour" is nothing like the actual food God created. God clearly views wheat as something good and valuable. (Psalm 81:16, "But you would be fed with the finest of wheat..." and Psalm 147:14, "He...satisfies you with the finest of wheat.)

However wheat flour today has been cross-bred, modified, processed, stripped, bleached, and the result is a substance nothing like the wheat people ate in Bible times. This article explains what happened to modern wheat to make it so unhealthy.

That article also recommends buying and grinding your own carefully selected grain at home as the healthiest option. However, I realize that's not practical for many people. Personally, I buy Bob's Red Mill 100% stoneground whole wheat flour at our local health food store, and that seems to work for me. I use it to make non-yeast breads, such as irish soda bread and banana bread (recipes here.)

If you plan to continue eating wheat, just be sure you find a healthy kind of organic wheat and do your own baking. The more you eat home-cooked foods, and the less you eat processed foods, the healthier you'll be. 

If you'd like to try avoiding wheat/gluten, there are some healthy alternatives. Quinoa has wonderful reviews in the health community (here's an article about it). Organic kamut or spelt may also be good options for you. Just be careful not to replace wheat with other unhealthy foods (such as corn, which is genetically modified and nutritionally deficient). 

God created grains as good food for us. The challenge today is to find those that are healthy and closest to how God created them, not "improved" by man. 

If you have any helpful resources to share or questions about this topic, please post them in the comments. Thank you! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Cheerful Reminder =)

I know how overwhelming health challenges and life in general can feel at times. It's easy to listen to discouraging and negative thoughts. Yet that's when we need to hold onto joy and good cheer the most. 

It's vital for both our health and our lives, that we continually refocus our thoughts in a positive direction. Here are some of my favorite verses that help me embrace joy and practice good cheer.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.  -Psalm 28:7

But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.  -Psalm 68:3

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.  -Proverbs 15:13

All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.  -Proverbs 15:15

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  -Proverbs 17:22

This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.  -Nehemiah 8:10b

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  -1 Peter 1:6-8 

I'm so thankful that in Jesus we have both the ability and the reasons to be full of joy and cheer! 

Whatever you're going through today, may God put a joyful song in your heart. =) 

(Here's a song that always cheers me up!) 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Meats You Shouldn't Eat

Some health advocates say vegetarian is the best diet. And while there are some good things about a vegetarian diet, I agree with Jordan Rubin that a diet including meat is the healthiest kind. Of course, it's very important what kind of meat you choose to eat. 

Meats to Avoid - 

Pork - There's a reason why God listed pork as "unclean" meat in the Bible. Biology clearly explains why pork meat is so unhealthy for human consumption. 

Briefly - God created pigs as scavengers, thus they will eat anything. Because of the way they're made, they don't detoxify well, so their meat is full of all the toxins they've ingested, as well as many different kinds of parasites and viruses (including some that are extremely dangers to humans). 

There is no such thing as "organic" pork. It's all contaminated, not to mention that most pork products also have added preservatives, chemicals, and toxins, along with all the antibiotics, hormones, etc. that the pigs have been fed. 

If I haven't convinced you to avoid pork yet, please read these two articles containing all the gruesome details about pigs and pork meat.

Fish - In Jesus' day fish was a staple in people's diet. And ideally, fish is healthy as it contains omega 3's (healthy fat) that the body needs. However, as this article explains, because of the increasing toxicity of the ocean, fish is no longer a healthy choice. Mercury contamination in fish has increased substantially in recent years. And mercury toxicity causes many health problems, including damaging your central nervous system. 

With these facts in mind, it's best to avoid fish, since there's no way to control the level of toxins in fish whether farm-raised or wild-caught.

If you're concerned about how to get enough omega-3 fats without fish, check out this article which explains how flax seeds can supply necessary omega-3's. 

Processed Meats - The facts are clear on processed meats, such as hot dogs, pepperoni, sausage, lunch meats, etc. They are full of unhealthy chemical additives which significantly increase your risk of several different cancers as well as heart disease and diabetes.

One study about hot dogs linked hot dog consumption in children to a greater risk of the child developing leukemia. That's pretty scary. And completely avoidable. 

Non-organic meats - One reason meat gets a bad rap is not because "meat" is bad, but because of what's in the meat. 

Non-organic meats contain antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and many times drug-resistant bacteria. Not to mention things like "pink slime" and "meat glue," both very nasty. 

This is why it's so important that if you can't afford to buy all your food organic, at least buy organic meat. 

Some healthy meats to consume are - 

Organic, grass-fed beef - I buy Laura's Lean Beef. It's more expensive than non-organic, but totally worth it! It's healthy and tastes great. =) 

Organic, grass-fed lamb - If you have a local ranch in your area, that's often a good source of organic lamb and beef. 

Organic chicken & turkey - It's a little harder to find "organic" chicken or turkey, so if you can't find any, at least look for products that are free-range, antibiotic free, and all natural. (Generally speaking I also avoid ground turkey...whole turkeys or turkey breast is better.)

Organic, free range eggs - Eggs are a wonderfully healthy food that God created. But if they're not organic, they'll be full of chemicals and toxins, not to mention other nasty things that contaminate eggs produced by "conventional" egg factories.

I'm thankful that in spite of all the chemicals and toxins in the world today, there are companies working to produce healthy food. Let's do our part to consume foods that will help, not harm, our bodies.