Friday, April 29, 2011

Complications of Physical Activity

We've all heard about the benefits of exercise. Some of us moan and groan a bit, thinking our excuses are truly valid. Now a days, I'm probably in the front of this line, as I get caught up in the complications of my day by day health, rather than the benefits of exercise for my health and well-being.

My health issues began over 35 years ago with an auto accident. I had my first total hip replacement at age 23 and 3 subsequent revisions (1 almost every 10 years) with the last one resulting in femoral nerve damage and temporary paralysis.  Swimming was my best option for exercise for the first couple of hip surgeries.  Water and physical therapy were the best for the last one.

After years of lap swimming, I got multiple ear infections. I also came down a vestibular disorder  which resulted in debilitating dizziness, nausea, imbalance, and neurological problems.  My world stopped for several years as I went to multiple specialists, progressed through treatments and learned several exercises to help me adapt to this disorder. I can no longer swim or turn my head quickly, but I do continue the daily stretching for my neck.

As a complication of the chronic pain and stress to my hips, pelvis, neck and shoulders, I have also developed arthritis,  fibromyalgia, cluster headaches and chronic fatigue syndrome. I've learned various 'tools' to help cope with the pain: healthy back exercises, deep breathing techniques, journaling, meditation, stretches, goal setting, pacing, etc. I was treated with chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, cranial sacral positioning, shiatzu massage, and electrical stimulation modalities from wonderfully trained professionals.  My physical activities through these years consisted of walking, water therapy, a fibromyalgia exercise group (through a research study), stretches, balance exercises and hand weights often using the exercise ball.

The years have gone by and more symptoms have resulted where lab tests show high cholesterol, diabetes, liver disease, gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD) and gastroparesis. At this point, my exercises consist of basic core isometrics, small hand weights and stretching. I'm frustrated to say the least. I can go for a short walks but definitely not brisk ones. I still 'play' with my grandchildren, but I tend to 'lead' them in activities more by talking rather than doing.

But as I read through various articles online, it's important for me to participate in exercise to help lower my blood sugar levels. Chronic inflammation from arthritis and fibromyalgia can be helped with specialized exercises consisting of minimal repetitions and varying muscle groups. Movement, whether aerobic or non-aerobic, is shown to lower levels of C-reactive protein (the test for inflammation in the body). Most articles refer to being consistent with your exercise plan, doing so for 20-30 minutes or more, 5-7 days a week, if possible. 

As we age, we need to consider movement and range of motion exercises as a lifestyle to keep our bodies healthy. When we least feel well, that's when we need to get up and move. Consider going outside and picking a couple of weeds or cutting some flowers. You might go over to a neighbor's and check in with them, getting out of 'yourself' and helping others. Before you know it, maybe you'll feel like doing more. I have a stationary bike on my covered porch that needs a little dusting off. There's a lovely honeysuckle plant just off the porch that will start blooming soon. The smell is luscious and a pleasure to enjoy while pedaling! 

Scientists aren't exactly sure how exercise diffuses inflammation. [One theory is that exercise goads the body into making more antioxidants, which then seek and destroy free radicals associated with prolonged inflammation. William Joel Meggs, MD, PhD, author of The Inflammation Cure (McGraw-Hill, 2004), believes exercise may fool the body into thinking it’s younger than it is. “If the body senses it has a biological need to stay healthy, it will produce more antioxidants to control inflammation and slow the aging process,” he says.]

Our bodies are extremely complex and resilient, but they need nurturing. Only we can make a difference in our physical health.  Get up and move . . . and make your body feel younger! If you are young, enjoy the abilities you have today, for tomorrow comes all too quickly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Toxic Effects of Nightshade Vegetables on GI, Immune & Nervous Systems

I've heard for years that people with Arthritis should avoid nightshade vegetables. I knew the main culprits were potatoes and tomatoes, but did not understand what it was about them that effected inflammation. Eggplant and sweet and hot peppers are also considered nightshade vegetables.

Last night I chose to eat potatoes and unfortunately I experienced first hand multiple reactions all night and into today. My Fibromyalgia pain was worse, the tingling sensation in my feet from my diabetes was really horrible, I had the worst headache at the base of my head/neck (the occipital area), I was restless and could not sleep, etc. Hmm . . . What's all this about?

basket of ratte potatoes photo

In researching nightshade vegetables, I decided to focus on potatoes for today. (I'll do another article(s) on what I find out about tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.)  Potatoes are one of my favorite foods from childhood. My claim to fame is: 'I've never met a potato I didn't like', until now.

A UC Davis review paper on Potato Glycoalkaloids, (glī-kō-ˈal-kə-ˌlȯids), defines one of the main glycoalkaloids in potatoes as solanine which can be very toxic even in small amounts.  The natural function of solanine is to serve as protection from insects, fungi, etc.  Improper storage conditions are the major reason for increased levels of solanine. Potatoes should be stored in a dark, dry (not the refrigerator), and cold place, 45* being the optimal temperature. When potatoes are subject to light, they begin the process of 'greening' in which the potato peel actually turns green.  I did notice some greening on the potatoes I cooked last night. I peeled off part of it, but not all of it - my bad, but I did not know any of this information until today. 

On, it defines [Solanine poisoning as primarily displayed by gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, headaches, dizziness (and increased pain). Hallucinations, loss of sensation, and paralysis, fever, jaundice, dilated pupils and hypothermia have been reported in more severe cases.] Symptoms can manifest themselves anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. The (diabetic) tingly loss of sensation in my feet started about 2 hours after eating the potatoes last night. My fibromyalgia pain shot up about 4 hours after eating. The headache lasted 10 hours and the stomach cramping and loose stools have continued 16+ hours later.

The link between solanine poisoning and chronic illnesses has not been fully researched. However, those suffering with primary immunodeficiencies or acquired immune deficiencies are encouraged to eliminate toxic foods from their diets.  The elimination or exclusion diet as it may be called, basically eliminates foods which are known to cause allergic or inflammatory reactions. The anti-inflammatory diet eliminates wheat and corn products, red meats, sugars, caffeine, processed foods and nightshade vegetables. After eating from the modified food list for a 2 month period, you can try to add back in certain foods, one at a time, to see if or how they effect you. Wait a period of 2 weeks before adding the next new food.

Due to my Gastroparesis (see post below), potatoes are a recommended food that is easily digested. But for me, it's just not worth the horrible side effects. Noodles are another recommended food. I have added them back into my modified diet, starting with rice noodles, which I tolerated very well. I have added (wheat) egg noodles, and they seem to be fine as well with no side effects that I can tell. Foods that are easily digested are often not recommended for the diabetic or low glycemic diet as they cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly. To counter this reaction, I am successfully adding homemade soups to my diet, made from fresh anti-inflammatory vegetables. The strained vegetable stock makes a nutritious base for adding other digestible foods. These soups are delicious and nutritious.

Perhaps you've learned a little something today. If you already knew some or all of this information, I'd appreciate your insights and input.  I really look forward to all comments. Til next time, take care of yourself.  See you soon - bye.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Limiting Anti-Inflammatory Foods?

There is no doubt in my mind that anti-inflammatory foods are the healthiest foods to eat. Fresh fruits, vegetables, lean white meats, limited oils and whole grains are undeniably the best nourishment for our bodies. However occasionally (or more often) there are complications we face that limit our food choices.

I'm finding after many weeks of eating FRESH anti-inflammatory foods, my intestinal tract cannot tolerate many of my choices.  I have GASTROPARESIS, otherwise known as paralyzed stomach, and I have come to the realization I really need to respect the advice of my health care professionals. Gastroparesis is a COMMON complication of diabetes, effecting over 5 million Americans of all ages. It does not allow food to be digested normally, and does not permit emptying stomach contents, causing tremendous pain, nausea and elimination problems. Undigested food can harden into solid masses that can be dangerous if they obstruct the intestinal tract.

I have to say, this severe bout of Gastroparesis and my intolerance for fresh foods is causing a lot of grief inside me. I was so excited to find out the wonderful things about anti-inflammatory foods. I feel betrayed by my body. Yet I know I will keep searching for ways to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into my diet some way, because I need the nutrients they provide.

According to GI specialists, nutritionists, and the information found at, the best way to handle Gastroparesis, GP, is in small nutritional steps. The website outlines 3 basic steps to follow. As I evaluate these steps, I'll take what I've learned about the nutritional values of anti-inflammatory foods and see how to incorporate them into these steps. Let's see what options are available to me . . .
  • Step 1: Patients with severe nausea and vomiting should take small sips of salty liquids such as Gatorade or bouillon, to help avoid dehydration. Any liquid should have caloric content, however avoid citrus and highly sugared drinks.  The goal is to ingest 1000 to 1500 calories in a 12-14 hour period. (Hmm - no anti-inflammatory foods available in this step.)
  • Step 2: As tolerated, the diet can be advanced to include a variety of soups with noodles, rice or crackers.  Peanut butter, cheese and crackers may be added in small amounts if tolerated. These foods should be eaten in six small meals over a 12 hour period. The goal is to ingest 1500 calories and avoid dehydration. It is important to avoid creamy, milk-based liquids.  Any fat in the food will delay emptying the stomach. (I could make a soup stock using fresh chopped vegetables and strain them out. Once you've boiled them to get the broth, there's no nutritional value left in them. Chopping fresh vegetables and letting them cook in the broth is the way to go. If I don't want them chunky, I can strain them out and puree them and put them back into the soup to thicken it and keep the nutritional level up.) 
  • Step 3: As the patient tolerates Step 2, the following items may be added slowly. Starches like white bread, noodles, potatoes and white rice breakdown easily and are emptied by the stomach. Homemade soups, mashed potatoes, pasta and rice dishes may be well tolerated. Small portions of baked chicken breast and fish can be added at this time. These solids should be ingested in six small meals over a 12 hour period.  The goal at this point is to find interesting and satiating foods which do not exacerbate my GP symptoms. 
    • Goal: Avoid all fatty foods, red meat and (uncooked) fresh fruits and vegetables which delay emptying of the stomach.  Canned (or fresh COOKED) fruits such as peaches and applesauce, as well as fresh bananas and avocados may be added as they do not require excessive digestion. Fresh vegetables MUST BE COOKED until they are SOFT and should be LIMITED to spinach, squash (winter & summer varieties) and carrots. Fresh and fibrous vegetables must be completely avoided as they are too difficult to digest. 
I notice as I write out this list of "safe" foods for me to eat, some of the foods in Step 3 are high on the Glycemic Index which compromises my diabetes, as they elevate my blood sugars more quickly. Potatoes are identified as an inflammatory food and will effect my arthritis and fibromyalgia.  Clearly I have my research work cut out for me; as I balance my food choices for easier digestion along with stabilizing my blood sugars.

Others of you may have health complications which effect your food choices. I'd LOVE to hear from you. I believe our health and well-being are our responsibility. The more we know about our diseases and the nutritional value of foods, the easier it is for us to make proper substitutions and choose different foods that will help us stay on track with healthful eating.

Wishing you all the best today and every day. Thanks for checking in. See you again soon!

For more information on Gastroparesis, please check out these sites:

You can find support for Diabetes on facebook at:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Images of Beauty - Ideas for you

 I thought it would be nice to give the eye a little refreshment.
Here are some luscious photographs of anti-inflammatory foods.
Maybe it will give you some ideas to make a healthy meal today.

Glass with different kind of fruits. Shallow dof. Stock Photo - 6364862

Sliced section of a healthy Vietnamese rice paper roll with chicken and vegetables. Stock Photo - 2924529

Fresh chicken salad with pineapple and pecans Stock Photo - 4390651

a bundle of green asparagus with lemon on a white background Stock Photo - 6853584

Shish kebabs on the grill

Stock Photograph - sushi (california 
roll). fotosearch 
- search stock 
photos, pictures, 
wall murals, images, 
and photo clipart

Stock Image - pink sorbet. fotosearch 
- search stock 
photos, pictures, 
wall murals, images, 
and photo clipart

Fresh ingredients are the best!
They taste wonderful and nourish your body.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Green Facts

Today we are hearing more and more about being GREEN.  We are asked to consider making our carbon footprint less by walking, biking, taking mass transit or purchasing vehicles which are GREEN. We are suppose to bring our own bags to the grocery store and not use plastic ones, to keep our earth more GREEN.

I'd like to expand upon eating GREEN, dark leafy greens, that is. Why? Because they are a great source of nutrients our bodies desperately need. There are 3 basic groups of leafy greens.

Salad greens - these are normally eaten raw. The darker the color, the more nutrients in them. When using salad dressings, choose one that is high in Omega 3's - like an olive oil base, or make your own. Put dressing ingredients directly onto the greens and toss. Start with a vinaigrette, (rice vinegar, balsamic, or lemon juice), add a little olive oil and fresh herbs, a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Quick cooking greens - these greens can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. Spinach is a familiar vegetable in this group, but others include multiple varieties of chard, beet greens, and members of the broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower family. Some of these greens shrink drastically when cooked. 6 cups of fresh spinach become 1 cup cooked. This can pack a lot of nutrients into your body very quickly!

Hearty greens - like kale and collard greens require more cooking time, mainly because they are more fibrous. These greens are not eaten raw because of their toughness. However by cutting the stems from the leaves, you can reduce cooking time by more than half.

The nutritional value of greens is HUGE. They are flavorful and contain a high percentage of Vitamin A, C, E and K, Calcium, Iron, Folate, Omega 3 fatty acids, anti-carcinogens, and are super high in protein per calorie.  These nutrients assist with mental functions, help to prevent osteoporosis, macticular degeneration, premature aging and cancer, as well as they help to flush out toxins in the digestive system and reduce the risks of coronary heart disease.  If you want to feel good and put a lot of nutrients in your body ~ choose GREENS!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Depression and How It Effects Your Well-Being

Depression is a very common illness effecting up to 25% of the world's population (roughly 340 million people*). Depression is thought to be a brain disorder, caused by abnormalities in the levels of neurochemicals in the brain.  Chronic depression is a long term disease which can effect a person's basic ability to function on a daily basis.

The cause of depression may include factors such as genetic vulnerability, physical or mental trauma, loss of a close family member or friend, chronic illnesses, multiple surgeries, or high levels of stress. Often there are multiple things which combine over time and effect the chemical composition of the brain. Treatment usually involves medication and psychotherapy. Many symptoms improve with careful monitoring of your health care.

One of the most difficult problems for a person with depression is reaching out and seeking medical assistance. The person tends to withdraw and pull away from others. Feelings of hopelessness, despair, lack of self esteem, the stigma of having a mental illness, the threat to job security or family relationships, changes in sleep patterns, appetite, concentration, loss of interest and irritability are all very real. Untreated depression can lead to personal and marital troubles, financial difficulties, and a terribly high (up to 15%) suicide rate.

I have suffered from depression most of my life but have been on medication over the last 15 years. It's been helpful understanding how my young life experiences contributed to my illness along with a traumatic auto accident, recurring surgeries and the now the resulting diseases I have.

I remember going to a seminar on Fibromyalgia and the guest speaker, a world renown specialist in the field, was asked a question from the audience. The question was, what does a person with Fibromyalgia (all over chronic pain) tend to die from? The specialist hesitated to answer and then very frankly said, suicide.

Chronic pain, whether it is physical or mental, is excruciatingly difficult to live with. When the pain is both physical and mental, it is unbelievably overwhelming and can even be paralyzing. All I can say is be kind to yourself or your loved ones suffering with depression. Your love and hope matter on a daily basis.

Try to eat a healthy diet and exercise every day, as these are equally important to obtaining optimal health. I find when I do these two things, life seems much better. Releasing endorphines through exercise is very healing for the body and mind.

Keep checking back for more tidbits of info and support.

(* figures provided by the World Health Organization, Depression as an Illness)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Balance Your Omega 3 & Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Welcome to this blog! Today I'd like to explore Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. They are an essential source of energy for our metabolic system, however because we are increasingly eating more fast foods with our busier lifestyles, we are putting our lives in jeopardy. Fast foods are predominantly saturated with Omega 6 vegetable oils. Too many Omega 6 fats cause inflammation in our body. This reaction produces high cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes and many other serious heart and health risks. 

The good news is that we can balance our diet by adding a few Omega 3 fats, and eliminating some of the Omega 6 fats. By planning ahead and putting a few walnuts in a snack ziplock to take with you, you can stretch out your eating times with a healthy snack. By adding a little tuna to a salad, you will find yourself adding in Omega 3 rich foods to your diet quite easily. has a list of primary foods to substitute for fast foods.  Here are some ideas to help you make healthier food choices.

Omega 3 - use these items more often
  • Salmon, sardines, herring, tuna and other cold water fish
  • Walnuts, ground flaxseed
  • Canola Oil, Olive Oil
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Eggs from free range chickens
  • Daily supplements
Omega 6 - limit these items daily
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetable Oils (soybean, corn, cottonseed,sunflower, and safflower oils)

Last fall my husband and I went over to Astoria, Oregon to buy some fresh tuna off the fishing boats in the marina. They cleaned it for us and put it on ice for the trip home. Upon returning home we cut up the tuna into small chunks and put them into sterilized jars for canning. We added a few spices and sealed them for processing in a pressure canner. It has been a god-send having this fish on hand. Once the jars are opened, the tuna tastes just like fresh cooked fish. It's awesome.