An Epiphany

For those of us who celebrate the Christian Faith, this Sunday marks the Epiphany, a time of discovery, recognition, awareness.  A time when One greater than ourselves is discovered and embraced.
Now such great discoveries do not happen every day, and epiphanies do not always have to be in the religious or spiritual sense.  Epiphanies or transformational discoveries can happen in every area of our lives.  We can find out something about ourselves, about the world around us that is that “eureka” moment.  That “wow that really makes sense, that is what and who I want to be.  That is exactly what I have been searching for,” type of moment!
When was your last personal epiphany?  Did it pass you by and you never embraced it?  Were you so busy, so distracted with fear, anxiety, day to day stress that you failed to even see, feel, hear or experience that moment?
If you think it is possible that such moments of awareness, of realization, of transformation have come and gone without your engagement, then let’s make a pact, a commitment to each other.  In 2013 let’s listen a little more carefully.  Let’s be more receptive and search for and embrace the daily humble and the grandious punctuated epiphanies equally.

 

Preparing for Change

The new year is upon us, and I have to be honest, I am not quite ready for the old year to pass me by.  I feel there is still so much undone, so many more tasks to complete, goals to achieve, things to learn.  Wow, where did 2012 fly away to.

Perhaps you feel the same way.  If you do, let’s make a pact.  Let’s both try to embrace every day a little more fully, each moment a little more entirely, each waking moment with a little more zest and enthusiasm.

It really is so easy to get lost in the rush of have to’s and musts, or the nagging responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, caravaning and so on, but what if we changed the most important thing of all….our attitude.  Sure you may not look like a movie star or be as young as you once were, but what about your attitude?  If you can change that then everything else in your life will improve.  The old lemonade from lemons really is true.

Ask yourself the simple question…..who do you want to be….the person who complains that things are never good enough, never right, never easy enough, that there are always things holding you back and limiting your ability to achieve your personal goals….or do you want to be the person who accepts adversity, embraces challenges, figures out ways to achieve personal goals inspite of it all?

I want to challenge and encourage you….and myself that starting in this new year 2013 we will both prepare for personal change by first changing the most important part of ourselves…….our attitude. Here’s to 2013 and the adventures, challenges and opportunities ahead.

Blueberry Juice in Public Schools!

Have you heard about this?  Blueberry juice now being served in Georgia school cafeterias?  As if that wasn’t enough good news, this is sugar free blueberry juice made from blueberries grown in Georgia.  The good news just keeps coming!  I mean who would think that you could grow something yummy and nutritious in your own state, make a health-promoting beverage and then actually get it served in the public school systems!  It just makes way to much sense……but then again maybe their is a revolution underway. I love it!  If you want to learn more about the company check out this link!  If you want to be part of the revolution get a little crazy today and eat a pint of blueberries, a fresh romaine salad and get a physical activity burst in to top it off……join us and be a revolutionary!

Lifestyle Medicine

It’s easy to lose site of the basics in our ever more consumptive world.  It’s easy to think you need this or that product, lotion or potion to make you that much better then you are.  It is nearly universal this trend.  Of course it drives industry, creates proposed need and leaves most of us feeling inadequate, unfulfilled and looking for the next best “thing.”
When it comes to your health, it’s time to “buck the system.”  You ARE the most powerful force for health and  function in your life.  You ARE the most important person in your own healthcare.  Don’t let anyone else fool you, sell you product or make you feel like you need something to be more complete.  Now there may be times when a little “product” can give you an edge, help you improve your health/function/performance, or is necessary due to some level of injury or disease, but the overwhelming basic truth is that health comes from healthy living.  Get out there…live it!  Rock your life!

 

Fasting: A few Reflections!

I recently spent some time answering questions regarding fasting. I thought you might enjoy the reflections!  If you are not familiar with fasting, come back and learn more soon!  It might just change your life!
1. What do you recommend in terms of foods to eat the day before? Best category of foods — meat, carbs, fish, beans (if someone is vegetarian)?

SE: Great question. During a fast the body begins a process of metabolization and detoxification. After it uses up sugars in the blood stream (glucose) and stored sugars in the muscle and liver (glycogen) it begins to break down stored fats or adipose tissue. As the fat reserves are metabolized many of the stored fat-soluble (lipophilic) toxins, heavy metals etc are mobilized and enter the blood stream and intestinal tract. As you might guess it is preferable to eat foods which help facilitate the excretion of these wastes from the body. Plant foods are ideal for this purpose as the insoluble fiber in plants binds up fats and toxins and the body is able to excrete them quickly and efficiently even during the fast. Animal foods will increase the risk of constipation and recirculation/reabsorption of the toxins and fats the body is attempting to excrete. So large vegetable salads and fruits, whole grains and beans along with plenty of water throughout the day are ideal pre-fast meals.  The simpler the foods, with a nice quantity of insoluble fiber the better.
2. What about beverages — better to drink a lot right near the end of the day before? Water only, something like Gatorade — what’s the best thing to drink?

SE: Good “normal” levels of hydration are preferred. I advise drinking purified water the day before and during the fast if allowed. Also the avoidance of caffeinated beverages and heavily processed drinks with artificial colors and sweeteners.
3. On fasting in general — I know some people who occasionally do a “cleanse” and fast. Is this a good idea? Pros and cons?

SE: Intermittent therapeutic fasting can be excellent for the appropriately selected individuals. When we speak of fasting of course we mean complete “physiologic rest.” This means rest of mind and body. If one can not take complete rest, and must continue to work or study etc, then some of the healing potential of the fast is not engaged. You see we want the nervous system uncluttered and untroubled, able to focus on healing and detoxification. The pros are that intermittent “caloric restriction” gives the body and the digestive system a break and is in fact the only thing proven to independently extend life in vertebrates. From a spiritual perspective it can also be of value to assist the individual in self-mastery and in discipline, while helping to detach from the things of “this world.” A new sense of ability and potential is often experienced by the faster. The cons exist only when the fast is misused. For example, using a fast to yo-yo from poor eating or living habits is not a health promoting lifestyle. Likewise, “fasting” while on artificial drinks or caffeinated beverages is not wise.

4. Any recommendations for making the fast easier?

SE: Individuals who are on medications, or have severe, chronic diseases should always be evaluated prior to making a fast. For the average, healthy individual with minimal disease burden, a short 1-2 day fast, appropriately organized is reasonable. Anything beyond that number of days should be medically supervised until the individual has demonstrated good tolerance of fasting.
To make a fast easier, individuals should be in a comfortable, warm but not hot, safe, low stimulus environment where they have the freedom to sleep and rest when needed. They should avoid excessive stress, emotional turmoil and work/family obligations when possible and engage fully in the fast experience. One can have a collection of articles, books, magazines, music etc available related to the particular reason for fasting. If for spiritual reasons, then some good readings on the spiritual significance and the value of fasting. If for health, then perhaps a book or two on the particular malady the person is hoping to improve.

5. Some people say fasting is easy for them, while others have more difficulties. Any conditions that could contribute to that?

SE: Individual responses to fasting frequently reflect internal health and at times reflect emotional states. This is not always the case, however some individuals have developed strong attachments to food for various reasons and limiting food for a brief period is overwhelming, During more prolonged periods of fasting or in specific cases of illness, some people may experience a “fasting crisis” or significant unpleasant symptoms which reflect their poor underlying health and the detoxification the body is undergoing.
6. How safe is it for kids to fast? Is there a minimum recommended age? What about older people? Recommendations for college students away for the first time?

SE: Short periods of fasting, such as 1-2 days are generally safe for otherwise healthy individuals older then 3 or 4 years of age who are not on medications. However they must be able to take in water ad-libitum( based on thirst) to maintain the bodies stores of fluid and facilitate good kidney function. If they can not do this they should not be considered for fasting.  However if they can,  fasting can be an excellent and powerful treatment for colds, coughs, sniffles and other childhood illnesses frequently felt to be of “viral” origin. A brief fast increases the concentration of white blood cells in the blood stream and improves their ability to fight off infection often resulting in much shorter periods of illness. Older individuals may be limited in their fasting potential by medication use or other chronic illnesses, that would require closer medical supervision to allow a fast. As per college students, a brief 1-2 day fast over an otherwise quiet period with limited physical activity can be of value. If done for spiritual reasons, bringing together friends to share in the experience can build collegiality and support and encourage spiritual growth and dialogue in the post-fast period.
7. Any physical conditions where people should NOT fast — I know pregnancy — could you say why — but any others?

SE: During Pregnancy the developing fetus is dependent on the mother for all his/her nutrient needs. Halting nutrition to the mother for an extended period of time, may leave her body searching for nutrition and eliminating non-essential components of her body. In this case it is plausible that her body might eliminate or terminate the pregnancy in the form of a miscarriage. The length of time that may be risky is unclear. However it is prudent to avoid fasting during all periods of pregnancy. Otherwise the precautions as listed in the areas above apply./……regarding medication use, chronic illness etc.

 

Stephan Esser MD Dr Esser is a Specialist in Lifestyle Medicine and Sports Medicine, a collaborator with Harvard’s Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, founder of www.esserhealth,com and a frequent presenter and author on topics related to lifestyle and disease. His family ran Esser’s Ranch a fasting facility for over 65 years with over 30,000 patients fasting.