. . .A GRAIN OF SALT.

saltHere are some contradictory tidbits that I’ve been ‘digesting’ from recent news:

  1. Practicing yoga increases cortical brain thickness in the region responsible for executive function and induces a sense of peace in the practitioner. Yoga causes as many injuries as other sports, including “drop foot.”
  2. Salt is important for maintaining normal blood pressure and iodine levels. Salt intake causes water retention, high blood pressure and may be iodine-poor.
  3. Spinach contains iron and lutein, known to prevent cataracts and glaucoma. Spinach has oxalic acid, which can bind with calcium and cause kidney stones.
  4. Eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids that we can’t produce on our own and high levels of choline, vital for nerve and muscle function. Eggs are high in cholesterol and increase the level of TMAO (TriMethylamine N-Oxide) in our system, which can lead to cardiac and diabetic issues.
  5. Massage is good for draining the lymphatic system, un-tensing tight muscles and creates an internal feeling of well-being. Massage can be detrimental, leading to overtaxed kidneys, nerve damage and muscle and joint pain.
  6. Vegetarianism is healthy for your body and easier on the planet.  Eating meat provides necessary protein that is difficult to get on a vegetarian diet. Vegans may have a 42% less risk of heart disease, and lower blood pressure.  However, a vegan diet is deficient in B12, iron, calcium, zinc, folate and Omega-3’s.
  7. Eating gluten is deadly for the digestive system and causes allergies, mental disorders and a host of intestinal issues. However, processed gluten-free foods, because they are lower in fiber, can often be higher in fat, sugar and calories, which leads to weight gain, poor digestion and other health issues.  
  8. Drinking coffee helps protect you from Type 2-diabetes, improves cognitive function and decreases depression. Coffee may cause insomnia, restlessness and raise your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels depending on the type and brew.  
  9. Red wine has high levels of resveratrol and antioxidants, which raise HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce cognitive decline, coronary artery disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. Red wine can raise blood pressure, hamper muscle healing and increase the risk of breast cancer.
  10. A high fat diet leads to obesity, diabetes, heart attack and premature death. A high fat diet, containing ‘good’ fats, (avocado, nuts, fish and lean meats) is essential for the brain, as it needs cholesterol to function efficiently and regulate hormones.

 So, take what you read with a grain of salt. (Just don’t ask me which salt.) Like the Greek poet, Hesiod, suggested in 700 BC, I plan to use, “moderation in all things.” Seems to me that folks were a whole lot wiser before they got too Google-educated.  

DON’T NUKE…..CUKE!!!

cucumber

If you think that today’s 20-something is, “irresponsible” and “doesn’t consider the future,” get this: People over 50, and there are 76 million of us, don’t either. In a recent survey, fully ¾ of us said that we have profound worries about aging. Our top two concerns are, “losing our independence,” and “being a burden” to our family. The participants were then asked which on a list of 10 things they would be willing to put into place to address those concerns.

Here is the list:

  1.  Have family or friend move in with them.
  2. Move in with children, other family members or a friend.
  3. Rely on your spouse, family member or a friend for care.
  4. Attend an adult day care facility.
  5. Hire an in-home aide or agency for care.
  6. Hire a live-in caregiver.
  7. Move into an assisted living facility.
  8. Move into a nursing home.
  9. Make modifications to your home.
  10. Use the value in your home (your equity) to pay for care.

Dare I tell you how many of us seriously considered those options let alone said we’d be willing to put them in place?  About 20%.  Stanford professor, Douglas Bernheim, recently did a study called, “The Baby Boomer Retirement Index,” with Merrill Lynch. He discovered that only about 1/3 of Baby Boomers have saved enough money for their retirement years. This, despite the fact that most of us feel we, “will maintain our same standard of living in our later years.” Are we victims of, “magical thinking?”

Quite frankly, I have friends who have planned out their funerals better than they have their aging futures. Which brings me to the cucumber. Did you know that sniffing the scent of one can relieve anxiety? Indeed, a recent study put claustrophobics in an elevator reeking of cucumbers and their symptoms were relieved! Dr. Alan Hirsch, renowned for his work with various odors declares that he can even cure migraines with the scent of green apples.

So don’t worry about the future. When we all get too old to take care of ourselves and run out of money or find ourselves in long-term care cubicles, just spray our rooms with cucumber and we’ll be happy campers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOTTA HAND IT TO HIM

 

hand

As I was getting out of the pool today, a little boy sitting on the top step looked me up and down and said matter-of-factly:

“You’re squishy!”

“Squishy?” I repeated.

“Yes, squishy,” he said.

Now I may no longer have my 20-something body but I would hardly consider myself squishy. So I plunked myself smack down next to him and said:

“Exactly how am I squishy?”

He looked me up and down again, then changed his mind:

“No,” he said, “you’re not squishy. Actually, your crumbly.”

“Crumbly? Do you mean I’m crumbling?”

“Oh, no,” he said thoughtfully. “Just crumbly.”

“Where am I crumbly?” I asked him.

“Hmm…your face and on your hands.”

I opened up my hands.

“No, he said, on the back of your hands.”

I turned my hands over and saw all the freckles and age spots.

“Oh!” I said delightedly, “You mean I’m wrinkled and getting old?”

“Yes!” he squealed, as if I finally understood him.

“Well, guess what?” I said.

“What?” he said excitedly.

“I’m going to get even older and older and older and. . .”

“Then you’re gonna die!!” he yelled out with great enthusiasm as if he’d just completed the punch line to a joke.

“Yes, I will,” I replied a bit taken aback. “Does that bother you?”

“Oh no,” he said, “That just means that your human life will be over and then it will be time for your spiritual life to begin.”

“I see, and how do you know so many wise things?”

“Well, I am four and a half,” he said solemnly, “Life goes on and on and is always changing. Old things go out and new things come in.”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right. But will you do me a big favor?”

“Sure,” he said.

“Next time you see me, will you call me ‘speckled’ instead of ‘crumbly’?”

“Speckled?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes,” I said, “Speckled. Just think of me as a speckled egg.”

“A speckled egg?” he laughed. “That’s so funny. Okay. You’re a speckled egg!”

Well, I figure that’s better than being squishy and crumbly. 

 speckled egg

 

A WORD TO THE WISE IS NOT SUFFICIENT

lunch

The FDA, “responsible for public health,” approved pesticides on crops in the 40’s,  birth control pills with life-changing, side effects in the 60’s, and Celebrex in the 90’s, which is now in the middle of a class action suit, and had Frances Kelsey not intervened, Thalidomide would have been approved for pregnant mothers in the 50’s as it was widely used in Europe.  A recent Harvard study says that even our everyday drugs, like Benadryl, sleeping pills and antihistamines contain diphenhydramine, which has recently been linked to Alzheimer’s and certain cancers.

 What was once touted as ‘healthy’ even 10 years ago, is no longer, ‘safe for human consumption.’ Whether it’s mercury in our fish and vaccines, chemical sprays on our fruits and vegetables or the cancer-causing ingredients like BHA, Parabens and Retinyl Palimitate in most of our skin products, we are contaminated–and not just by misinformation. However, the real guilt here lies not just with the FDA.  It really belongs to those scientists and researchers on the payrolls of big food and drug companies; the ones that cleverly present only portions of their findings and err on the side of those who grease their palm.

 The FDA has always approved, so many rat feces, hairs, fly eggs and maggots per pound of grain. Even frozen blueberries, “can contain up to 60% mold and include up to 10 insect parts and larvae, per 500 grams.” Ground spices like cinnamon have been found to contain the deadly Hantavirus, found in mouse excrement.  It gets worse.

 You know those metal, amalgam fillings in your mouth? The ones that your dentist told you were, ‘perfectly safe,’ 40 years ago? Well, they’re not. Over time, they corrode and all that mercury finds its’ way into your bloodstream and wreaks havoc. Many believe that it is responsible for everything from gut to mental disorders. My husband had his removed and wanted me to follow suit. Well, I’m still debating. Why? Because how do I know that 10 years from now ‘science’ won’t discover that his replacement fillings are even more deadly?

 In 5th grade, my class visited a ketchup factory. While my classmates admired the bottling process, I wandered out to where the trucks were unloaded. Thousands of pounds of tomatoes sat open in those trucks and they were quite a sight, only I wondered why they looked so green. That’s when I noticed that they seemed to be moving! They were covered by thousands of green worms!

“Oh, honey,” the foreman laughed, “Don’t worry!  Those are just cutworms. We boil them until they’re completely dead!”

 Anyway, it’s time for lunch. Here’s a picture and the recipe for mine:

big fistful of raw chopped spinach–fistful of my homegrown sunflower sprouts–1/2 cup cottage cheese–large, vine ripened tomato–artichoke hearts–hearts of palm–black jumbo olives–handful of raw pecans–1/2 sliced avocado–big drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the delightful juice of one, entire lemon–with a dash of pink, Himalayan salt if I’m feeling terribly decadent.

 

 

 

    

UP TUMAMOC!!!

Up Tumamoc

Too many of us, old and young, are loathe to get out of our comfort zones. It’s nice feeling cozy in your routine, always knowing what the day will bring. Thing is you can’t grow by sitting still, anymore than a muscle gains strength without use. Any challenge, no matter how small, builds us and makes us bolder.

 Which explains the hike I took yesterday with my 24 year-old up Tumamoc Hill. It was billed as, ‘an easy, hike,’ until you read the fine print: It was a 750-foot ascent to the top and a three-mile round-trip! Now, I haven’t hiked in. . . Well I can’t actually remember when, but I did learn a thing or two along the way:

  1. Don’t over-analyze the route before you start or you may never take it.
  2. Swing your arms when you walk whether or not it makes you look foolish. It helps.
  3. The real climb is in your head. Your legs are just there for support.
  4. Don’t worry if someone passes you. Don’t even notice or you’ll alter your own momentum. Besides, you may pass them later on.
  5. Don’t be afraid to pause and admire the view. It will help you catch your breath if nothing else.
  6. Encourage your fellow travellers. You are in this together.
  7. Don’t be shy asking for help. Most people love to offer it and it makes them feel important.  (My daughter’s left shoulder was a great support to me most of the way back down as I have no knees.) 
  8. When you’ve gone as far as you can, turn around and look how far you’ve come.  It will encourage you to go further.
  9. Be present in each step and reaching the end won’t feel so overwhelming.
  10. And finally:

 The view from the top is exactly the same as it was from the bottom, only now you can see it!!!

 

BROKEN BUT BLOOMING

broken but blooming

 I’m a pretty adept gardener but removing mistletoe from Palo Verde trees and pruning huge, spiny branches is not my forte. So, last week I hired a gardening crew for a few hours. When they arrived, I cautioned them to, ‘be careful’ of some of my new plantings. Now granted, most people do not scatter sunflower seeds among rocks but I do. It gives me immense pleasure to fill barrenness with beauty.

 It wasn’t until the following morning that I noticed one of the men had stepped on several of my sunflower shoots and broken the stems. They probably did look like weeds. I was tempted to pull them out and start over but stopped when I noticed that each one had a round, green bud that someday would yield a yellow flower. So I left them, broken and lying flat on the rocks. Perhaps the birds might peck out a bite or two I surmised.

 This morning, I was alone in the pool, which is both blessing and curse. Blessing, because I don’t have to fight for a lane and curse because I am alone with my thoughts. Today, I was a bit blue because there is so much less time ahead of me than behind me. I pictured the older people who are often here, many of who can no longer swim at all and merely tread water. I wondered if that would ever be me.

 Then I thought of the gal who arrives daily on crutches, sits down, removes her prosthetic leg, slips into the water and swims a vigorous mile.  My brief depression ended abruptly. I returned home to find this beautiful flower, which actually bloomed more than a week after it had been trampled!!  ‘Such spunk,’ I thought to myself– just like the girl with no leg and just like the kind I intend to cultivate in myself.  As Hemingway once wrote, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

 

  

DRINK UP!!

coffee

 Just imagine how delighted I was to read this week that drinking coffee actually lowers your risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and Type 2 Diabetes by 65%. Not only that, it seems that drinking up to four cups of the lovely stuff a day might well be the charm. This information came from several studies over a long period of time and you can Google them for yourself.

 But that’s not all. Not only is coffee rich in B vitamins and minerals but it is also loaded with antioxidants. Caffeine, it turns out, not only increases your metabolism but also enhances brain function by blocking adenosine. In addition, coffee drinkers have an 84% lower risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver and a 40% lower risk of developing liver cancer. Even better? Coffee drinkers have lower rates of depression and suicide. No wonder I’m so happy!

 But lest you get too giddy reading the above, I also want to counter these findings with another article that I read in The New Yorker this week. It was entitled, “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Opinions.” Apparently, we humans are subject to something called, “confirmation bias.” That is, we tend to embrace information that supports our beliefs and reject information that contradicts them.

 Incredulously, our bodies actually release dopamine when we read or hear information that supports our beliefs. Uh oh. Maybe I’m doped up right now?? “As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding.” Another ‘uh-oh.’

 I guess it all goes to say that you should take these lovely findings on coffee with a grain of salt. (Whatever you do, don’t put those grains in your coffee). As for me, I am blissfully looking forward to my double espresso with non-fat milk tomorrow morning. I will sprinkle it with cinnamon and nutmeg, both of which are known to boost the immune system, strengthen cognitive function and lower heart disease risk. Oh, and did I mention that they also are anti-inflammatory agents? So, drink up my friends. Drink up!