Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, prevention.

Browsing the web looking for health information, I learned that academics have discovered an undeniable link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Melissa Schilling, a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, has just completed a large scale study in which she reviewed the extensive literature that clearly associates diabetes with Alzheimer’s disease, both in terms of risk and now in terms of mechanism. She was able to find robust evidence that links insulin, as well as the enzyme that degrades insulin (insulin-degrading enzyme or IDE), and the development of Alzheimer’s disease in itself. Her study strongly suggest that elevated insulin plays a critical role in the development of the various hallmarks characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. – See more at: http://www.drperlmutter.com/alzheimers-news-front-page/#sthash.dAVa7l9b.dpuf

Given that diabetes (Type 2, anyway) is considered a lifestyle disease, it adds to the urgency that diabetics and pre-diabetics change their diets now to prevent Alzheimer’s later. Some say Alzheimer’s is Type 3 diabetes.

Continue reading

Reversing diabetes: Phyllis’ return to health. Part 1.

We’ve all heard the bad news: the percentage of Americans with diabetes has risen sharply since 1990. The CDC says over 12 percent of the adult population is estimated to have diabetes, and more than one-third of adults are now thought to be prediabetic. Two million more people are diagnosed with diabetes every year, and the rate is rising.

I’m talking about Type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance), which 90-95 percent of diabetics have, rather than Type 1 (in which the body no longer produces insulin), diagnosed in just 5 percent of diabetics.

Why is this alarming? Having diabetes increases the risk of serious health issues including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, amputation of toes, feet or legs, and early death.

Doctors now know that living a healthier lifestyle (that means watching your diet and exercising) is key to preventing diabetes. Exercise and diet are important. But once full-blown Type 2 diabetes has been diagnosed, can it be reversed?

I’m writing this to tell you it can. This is Part 1 of a four-part series on how Phyllis Lejeune reversed Type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise, and in the process got off twelve prescription medications and lost over 100 pounds.

If you don’t have time to read all these posts, here’s a summary of Phyllis’ hero’s journey back to health.  Continue reading

I just applied for the 60-day food challenge!

The Human Food Project has opened a 60-day challenge that involves changing your diet for 2 months, recording it, and sharing the results. I’ll summarize, and you can click here to read the original invitation and apply. (I think they add you to their mailing list even if they don’t accept you, so you’ll be notified of results.)

The researchers are seeking 25-30 super-motivated people to participate. It’s not an easy challenge. However, if you are skeptical about the role of your gut microbes on your overall health, and you have been eating processed food and junk food (or you’ve been eating a healthier diet that includes a lot of whole grains), participating in this challenge will let you experience first-hand (for most of us, the best proof possible) the connection between diet and well-being.

You also get before-and-after data on the composition of your very own gut bugs. They want to measure before and after the 60 days to see if they can shift things, decreasing levels of opportunistic pathogens and increasing the microbes that increase health.

I told you it wasn’t easy. Besides the diet (more on that later), they want you to:

  • spend a lot more time outside
  • keep your home and office windows open to breathe more fresh air
  • spend more time being dirty and in the dirt (gardening, anyone?)
  • spend more time with pets and livestock if you don’t have pets, visit other people’s pets and visit a farm)
  • swim in natural bodies of water rather than chlorinated pools

Basically, they want you to live — for 60 days — with more connection to the wild world, connecting with the “microbial metacommunity.” (Love that phrase!)

Here’s the diet part. There’s no meal plan, but it’s about eating unprocessed foods as much as possible:

  • eat 30-plus species of plants each week (let’s see, I have on hand avocado, kale, onion, carrot, parsley, dill, green onion, raspberry, red pepper, jalapeño, ginger, garlic, collards, tomatoes, cashews, walnuts, spinach, celery, lemon, cabbage, chia seeds, goji berries, olive oil, coconut oil, mint, thyme, rosemary, hemp seeds, capers, and mustard — that’s 30 right there)
  • eat lots of onions, leeks, and garlic
  • eat the whole plant as much as possible (not just the broccoli tops but the tough stems too) — the goal here is to eat 30-80 grams of fiber a day from numerous sources
  • when you cook veggies, take care not to overcook them
  • eat no grains at all, not even rice
  • eat beans and lentils (so this is not a Paleo diet)
  • eat as much meat, poultry, fish, and game as you like, but avoid anything raised on growth hormones or antibiotics (no factory-farmed animal products)
  • only drink filtered water, not tap water

I didn’t see anything about dairy or sugar, so I assume you can include them if you want. Apparently alcohol is also okay, but they recommend you take your “booze cruise” after the challenge.

I applied to do it! I’m not sure I’ll qualify. The researchers say they are very interested in people who are currently eating lots of whole grains. I eat a gluten-free diet. I’ve gone for a few weeks not eating grains of any kind, and then after talking with a friend currently studying nutrition, last weekend I added back quinoa, rice, Ezekiel bread, and the occasional corn tortilla, going for 1-2 servings per day.

Keep ya posted about whether I get in!

A reader asks about self-actualizing

I received an email from a reader who found my blog inspirational and shared her story about the pull of coming alive. I in turn feel very inspired and want to share publicly
and answer some questions she poses, because if she is wondering, others are too. (I replied personally as well.)

This is the path of self-actualization. It’s the same thing as coming alive.

Dear MaryAnn,

About a year and a half ago, I felt like I was coming alive at last. I had been laid off from corporate America, had my mornings free to be physically active, and my afternoons free to write and volunteer. I spent a summer/fall in Chile to volunteer at a non-profit, where the highlight of my time was to befriend children at a school and teach them a lesson about the “red alimentaria”… the food web… in Spanish!  I then taught kids outdoor environmental education, and then spent the summer doing labwork in Alaska (I trained as a biochemist).  But after being away from my “field” for so long, fear kicked in, and I started worrying about income source, a “career”, and so on… and as you probably already know, feeding the wolf of fear leads one down paths that don’t contribute to feeling alive!
So, thank you for your inspirational blog, which reminded me that YES, I am OK to NOT want to stay in a new job (albeit it pays $65K/year) if selling life science research projects does not make me come alive!  And NO, I’m not “wrong” to feel this way. And YES, I AM grateful for all that I have, but at the same time, I don’t need to continue doing something that I think is draining me of life versus filling me with life.
My question that I hope you can provide some insight into is, what helped you determine what type of new work and income source you could pursue that is both life-inspiring and supports your needs?  I noticed the image of the trailer… when I taught kids for 5 months in Redding, CA, I learned that a trailer costs $8000, which would pay for itself in a year vs the $750/mo I am now spending in rent in the SF Bay Area.  Did you find a solution to reducing living expenses so that you were free to pursue work and activities that truly fulfilled you?

Thank you again for your inspiring words, and may you continue to live courageously! : )
-B
PS  Btw, I’m 33 soon to be 34 in June, no debt, some savings, and a bit on the conservative side…. though that is all relative b/c none of my friends have taken career breaks to travel and live/work non-career jobs like I did this past almost 2 yrs. But at the same time, I have not picked up and relocated to a new city jobless the way some folks whom I’ve met in my travels have.  Thanks again!  I’m thinking about training to be an environmental science teacher…. or a Breema practitioner (I actually only just learned about Breema but it sounds great!).

Well, I feel flattered and honored to hear from such an amazing person who received some inspiration from my blog. I have no doubt that B is on the path of really coming alive!

The path of self-actualization isn’t for everyone. Most people find it easier and much more comfortable to take that “path of least resistance” and stick with the corporate job, the 8-5, the insurance and benefits, the known.

There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what is right for you right now. It’s just that throughout history, some people have listened within to an urge to seek more life out of their life — to see the world, to pioneer something, to take a risk, to call their time their own, to be of service, to express themselves, to be their own boss, to listen to their body, to get to know themselves at a deeper level.

B’s first question asks what helped me determine the type of new work and income source I could pursue that is life-inspiring and can support my needs.

My answer is that I’m still figuring that out, but my new criteria for work is no longer just a paycheck, benefits, the potential for advancement. I want to do the kind of work that is so aligned with who I am and what I love doing that I would do it even if I didn’t get paid (and actually getting paid and making a decent living is icing on the cake).

I want to spend my time doing what I want to do, not what someone else wants me to do. I want to follow my interests, fascinations, and passions. Or else why did God give them to me???

That seems to pretty much translate into becoming self-employed and to practicing some kind of profession. It’s starting to take shape and will combine several of my interests and allow me to pursue others. What I can tell you now is that it involves me working with others on improving their well-being, and getting results.

I should also mention that having my hand analyzed by Richard Unger of the International Institute of Hand Analysis helped me open my mind years ago to the possibility of living my life differently. Darn, I forgot to tell B that.

B, hope you’re reading this. He’s based in San Francisco. Go see him.

Also, I paid attention to my dreams and discussed them with friends.

Notice what you love doing. Notice what you are attracted to. Notice what fascinates you. What do you do now that makes you happy? What are you passionate about? Love, attraction, fascination, happiness, passion — these are about emotion, energy, direction, feeling alive, satisfaction, fulfillment. 

That’s where to start. And then if you like, start thinking about how you can combine what you love in a unique way.

B’s second question is whether I found a solution to reduced living expenses so I could be free to pursue work and activities that truly fulfill me.

Yes, I did find a solution based on my situation. I sold my home of 10 years in February. I loved it, but it was too much for me to keep up with, and the mortgage obligation had become an albatross. I wanted to free up some capital to pursue a big improvement in work and lifestyle even though I didn’t know what shape it would take. 

Maybe it was the fantasy of hitting the open road and exploring this beautiful country that first got me interested in trailers. I discovered Spartan trailers and discovered a rare Carousel for sale. I hoped it would still be for sale when I closed on my house. It was, and I bought it. It felt like the Universe really wanted me to have it!

It is big enough to live in year-round, like a one-bedroom apartment that you can move, and trailer park leases run month-to-month. I began freeing myself of stuff, and without planning to, I quit my “permanent” job when my gut told me it was the only course to take. I took a contract job doing the same kind of work for 3 months, and I can do that again if I need to.

I found a nice trailer park and will soon have it moved here. Then I’ll update it and move in. My monthly housing and utility costs will be one-third of what they were. That makes a difference — I can pursue the training I want, and I can do some work from my new home.

I know that I am very, very lucky to be able to do this. At the same time, I bought my house in 2000 with an eye to charm, location, and appreciation, so in a way, I created this option before I knew my life would take this turn.

Not everyone has a house to sell. I think reducing one’s living expenses is about being creative and knowing yourself, which are other aspects of coming alive. Usually housing is one’s biggest expense. You can rent a room in a house, share a house or apartment with roommates, couch surf, house-sit, buy a trailer, take work that includes room and board. You always have more resources than you think you do. If you feel stuck, seek a resourceful friend or a coach. Like you did, B, by emailing me!

Work is the area of life that can create the most happiness. See my recent post about right livelihood. We spend more waking time working than anything else, and work can have a sense of purpose and meaning to it.

Imagine what work/lifestyle is ideal for you. Dream big. Put no conditions on it. Then look at how you can get there incrementally. It’s a direction, not a destination. At each fork in the road, ask yourself, “Which is the happier choice? Which will take me closer to living the life I’m meant to live?” 

Good luck, B, and all you self-actualizers out there. I’d love to hear from you.

I’m ending this post with a quote from the Dalai Lama that helps put everything in perspective:

The Dalai Lama when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered, “Man…. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”