Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Truth About Trans fat

You've probably heard this term before but may not know what all the fuss is about. Here's some information about trans fat that I hope will be helpful.

What is it?

"...trans fat, is an artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening."*1

Trans fat was a result of experiments by a German chemist. It's a man-made product that was originally advertised as healthy because it was "plant-based" instead of from animal fat. Common sense tells us that what God has made is far healthier than what man tries to do to "improve" it. Scientific evidence is finally catching up and confirming the dangers of trans fat.

What harm does trans fat do?

"...researchers were able to definitively prove that trans fat increased the risk of heart disease by 23 percent. Other discoveries showed that this fat contributes to cancer, bone problems, hormonal imbalance, skin disease, fertility problems, and many others. Also, it was found that there is no proof that animal fats posed the same threats."*3

"Trans fat clogs your arteries and promotes heart disease. Moreover, trans fats prevent the synthesis of prostacyclin, which is necessary to keep your blood flowing. When your arteries cannot produce prostacyclin, blood clots form, and you may succumb to sudden death. Trans fat has also been linked to dementia. ... Trans thought to act as a pro-oxidant, contributing to oxidative stress that causes cellular damage, and many researchers agree that there is no threshold at which trans fats are safe."*2

What foods contain trans fat?

"It is found in many other foods besides margarine and shortening...including fried foods like french fries and fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers. In the United States, typical french fries have about 40 percent trans fatty acids and many popular cookies and crackers range from 30 percent to 50 percent trans fatty acids. Doughnuts have about 35 percent to 40 percent trans fatty acids."*1

"The problem is that it’s oftentimes hidden. Even products boasting a 'zero trans fat' label can contain trans fat, because food manufacturers are not required to list trans fat if it falls below a certain amount per serving. Using ridiculously tiny serving portion is a legal loophole that permits food manufacturers to mislead you about the trans fat in their products. As a general rule, to successfully avoid trans fats, you need to avoid any and all foods containing or cooked in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil...."*2

"One tip to determine the amount of trans fat in a food is to read the ingredient label and look for shortening, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. The higher up on the list these ingredients appear, the more trans fat."*1

Watch out for similar dangerous substances.

In 2014, "the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed trans fats from the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list. This is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, instead of reverting to healthy saturated fats like coconut oil, lard, and butter, trans fats are being replaced with other non-saturated vegetable oils that produce toxic cyclic aldehydes when heated. These byproducts appear to be so harmful they may even make trans fats look benign in comparison, and we may not realize the full ramifications of this switch until a decade or two down the line."*2

Is all fat bad?

Definitely not. God created many healthy fats for our benefit. Some healthy fats you can eat are organic butter from raw milk, organic virgin coconut oil, virgin olive oil,  avocados, raw dairy products, etc.

"The truth is: you need saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources, since they are necessary for many of your body’s functions. Saturated fat:
0. Provides building blocks for your cell membranes, hormones, and other hormone-like substances
0. Helps in the absorbability of fat-soluble nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K
0. Contributes to the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, and for effective mineral absorption
0. Contains caprylic acid and lauric acid, which act as antiviral agents
0. Contains palmitic and stearic acid, which help bring cholesterol levels to normal range
0. Contains butyric acid, which aids in modulating genetic regulation and helps in preventing cancer" *3

So watch out for those dangerous trans fats. Read labels or avoid processed foods altogether. The more organic, whole, home-cooked foods you eat, the healthier you'll be. 

So say goodbye to margarine and junk foods, and try some avocados, and organic butter or coconut oil. Your body will thank you. =) 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

This Crazy EI Life

I saw some funny posts on facebook lately about the differences between men and women. One was a list of questions that kids ask their mom. It was a long list with all kinds of questions. Then in the next column it had a list of questions kids ask their dad. But there was only one question: "Where's mom?" =)

Another one was about going to bed. Men say, "I'm going to bed." And they go to bed. Women say, "I'm going to bed," and then they tidy the living room, start the dishwasher, lock the doors, turn off the lights, wash off make-up, etc, etc. until they finally go to bed. I had to laugh at this one because my "going to bed" routine is so ridiculous that it even surpasses the busy wife and mom list. It looks something like this:

get detox bath
have snack (to keep blood sugar stable til morning)
take supplements
put baking soda in bedroom for 15 minutes (to absorb any toxins from the day)
put on clean sheets (every day when I'm detoxing a lot)
hold charcoal capsules for 10 minutes (to take the edge off any toxins I'm detoxing so I can sleep)
find pajamas I'm not allergic to
brush & floss teeth
make sure air purifiers are running in different rooms
set heat/air to correct sleeping temperature
turn off wireless box, and any other electronics
make sure I have water to sip in the night
etc, etc,
and eventually turn out lights and go to bed.

As you can see, it seriously takes me two hours to "go to bed." Crazy, I know. But that how this EI life is sometimes. 

My friend and I were talking this week about some of the things we go through, that other people never even think about. She recently bought some shelves for her home, but she had really bad headaches from the formaldehyde they were off-gassing. She finally found some AFM sealant, and two coats later, she could tolerate having the shelves in the house. She was so excited! I laughed and rejoiced with her. I totally understand. 

19 months ago we transported my mom's antique wood table from MO to here. It sat in the garage for months, all covered up (it had mildew & such on it). Then last summer she and my sister sanded it and stained it with a less-toxic stain. Then it went back in the garage. In December we finally moved it into the house. I did ok as long as the doors were open. Once we closed them, it was too much. So we covered up the table with sheets and tablecloths. Now we're gradually airing it out when we can, until eventually we'll take the covers off and use it. Such is this crazy EI life.

Where am I going with all this? 
If you never go through these kinds of things, please rejoice and be thankful! Count your blessings! =) 
If you often experience this EI craziness, just know you're not alone. And that as difficult as it can be at times, it's not the end of the world. Keep persevering. And keep smiling and laughing. A sense of humor will help you stay sane in the midst of all the craziness. =)

Blessings to you today, my friends. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Finding E.I. Community

Living with chronic health challenges isn't easy, and it can feel very isolating. It helps so much to be able to connect with others who understand. Thankfully there are several different resources that provide community. Here are just a few. Feel free to add any others you know of in the comments.

Environmental Illness Resource - contains lots of health information but also forums and discussion groups. 

MCS Friends - a non-profit organization providing support through conference calls, newsletters, etc. Some of the members are not able to use electronics and the group provides for this as well by using phone calls and snail mail. If you know someone who cannot be online, this group might be a good support for them. There is an annual membership fee.

MCS Meetup Groups - At this link you can look for a "meetup" group of people with MCS or other health challenges, people who want to get together and encourage one another. 
(Note: I haven't personally tried "meetup" groups before, but I have a friend who has and it's been a positive experience for her.) 

Facebook groups - 

There are many health support groups on Facebook. 

"Christians with Environmental Illness" is one I've chosen to be part of. 

There's also a support group for those who have the MTHFR genetic mutation.

There's a Christians with Lyme support group...and others.

I hope these resources are helpful for you. And as always, please feel free to post comments here or email me with questions, thoughts, prayer requests, etc. Whatever our challenges, I know we will be stronger together. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Don't Neglect the Beauty

About two years ago I planted this rosebush. It has been a continual source of joy for me, but this week when it bloomed again, it was stunning! I've never seen it this spectacular, just overflowing with roses! Every time I look out our kitchen window and see it, I can't help but smile. The beauty of my rosebush, just being what God made it to be, fills my heart with joy.

God created such an amazing world for us! There is beauty all around us. I know how easy it can be with chronic illness, or just the stress of life, to get bogged down in our struggles. I thank God that He has provided so much beauty that can touch our souls and contribute to healing, if we'll stop and receive.

We're all different, and some forms of creation or beauty speak to us in different ways. Personally, I'm touched by beautiful music. Sometimes I put on music then just close my eyes and listen. And I can feel it nourishing my body as well as my spirit. Sometimes a photo of beautiful scenery blesses me. Or the feel of a gentle breeze when I'm outside. 

There's an abundance of God's beautiful handiwork around us. What kinds of beauty nourish and inspire you? How often do you take time to enjoy them and receive their healing benefits? 

When we continually focus on problems, pain or even our "to do" list, it only perpetuates a cycle of stress. We need time away from thinking about those things. We need to experience wonder, awe, and appreciation of the blessings around us.

So whether you enjoy photography, music, being outdoors, or other things, don't neglect the beauty.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

I encourage you this week to plan a time to enjoy some of the beauty God has so sweetly placed in your life. =) 

P.S. If you need a little help, here are some possible sources of beauty to inspire you.  

*Amazing international photography from one of my friends:

*Beautiful music from one of my favorite groups, Celtic Woman:

*A photo gallery of Thomas Kinkade paintings. My mom and I have puzzles of several of his paintings, and we love looking at them for encouragement and inspiration:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Healthy New Year!

May your stress be less.

May your environment be non-toxic.

May your immune system be stronger.

May your neighbors be fragrance-free.

May your food be organic. 

May your laughter be plentiful.

May your peace be unshakeable.

May your healing be ongoing.

May your strength be renewed.

May your heart be joyful, no matter what comes. 

Praying many blessings for you in this new year!