Sunday, May 9, 2010

Live Your Life Well

Often, when we think of healthful living, what comes to mind is exercise and diet and other factors related to our physical wellbeing. And for sure, these are among several important keys to maintaining good health. But did you realize that exercise and diet, among other things, can also impact your mental health? May is Mental Health Month, and I really like the theme that Mental Health America has chosen for its 2010 awareness campaign: Live Your Life Well. Though I don’t necessarily agree with every concept they promote, especially when it comes to conventional psychiatric treatment, I do like this year’s theme and its emphasis on lifestyle and prevention.

Here are the 10 tools they recommend for coping with life and living life well:

• Connect with others

• Stay positive

• Get physically active

• Help others

• Get enough sleep

• Create joy and satisfaction

• Eat well

• Take care of your spirit

• Deal better with hard times

• Get professional help if you need it

To this list, I would add that if you have a friend or loved one who is suffering from mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.), and you are seeking natural, alternative treatment, there is help. Listed below are just a few resources you might consult (in collaboration with your health care provider):

The Pheiffer Treatment Center:

Orthomolecular Treatment for Schizophrenia, by A. Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.

Healing Schizophrenia, by Dr. Abram Hoffer, M.D., FRCP

Nutrition and Mental Illness, by Carl C. Pheiffer, Ph.D., M.D.

Vitamin B-3 and Schizophrenia, by Abram Hoffer, M.D.

Natural Healing for Schizophrenia and Other Common Mental Disorders, by Eva Edelman

Depression, The Way Out, by Neil Nedley, M.D.

Surviving Schizophrenia, A Manual for Families, Consumers, and Providers, by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. (an excellent resource for understanding the disease and coping when a family member suffers from it)

If you think that your probability of being impacted by a mental health issue is slim, consider this: About 1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental health issue sometime in life. That could be you, or someone you know or are related to. Mental illness can strike at any time, and affects people across the spectrum of race, age, culture, socio-economic status, and religion. By adopting a healthy lifestyle you can lessen your chances of being struck with a mental illness, and if it does strike, a healthy lifestyle will help you to better cope with it. Here’s hoping that you live your life well!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Power of Fork and Knife

It's rare that I promote something I've never seen, but in the case of this new movie, I'm making an exception. Knowing the background, work, and message of the major personalities behind it, I have no doubt as to its quality or credibility. It's called Forks Over Knives and examines, according to the film's producers, "the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods." The movie's storyline follows the journey of two groundbreaking researchers, T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., author of The China Study, and Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., best known for his pioneering work in preventing and reversing coronary artery disease.

If you haven't read The China Study, it's a must-read--that is if you want to do everything in your power to prevent cancer. The author, once a dairy farmer who set out on a research project to help poor children in China get the best protein to improve their health, discovered in the process that the consumption of animal protein is actually linked to a higher incidence of cancer. But don't just take my word for it. You've got to read it for yourself. The book is available at your local bookstore or on

Another must-read is Dr. Esselstyn's book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Did you know that you can actually prevent heart disease by what you do with your fork and knife? Dr. Esselstyn makes a bold claim: He has never seen a heart attack in a person with a total cholesterol below 150. Here is a brief excerpt from his book: "I believe that coronary artery disease is preventable, and that even after it is underway, its progress can be stopped, its insidious effects reversed. I believe, and my work over the past twenty years has demonstrated, that all this can be accomplished without expensive mechanical intervention and with minimal use of drugs. The key lies in nutrition—specifically, in abandoning the toxic American diet and maintaining cholesterol levels well below those historically recommended by health policy experts."

Cancer and heart disease are two of the biggest killers in the U.S. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can change the statistics--and avoid being one of them--simply by changing the way you eat and live.

Check out the trailer for the new movie, Forks Over Knives, here: And when the film is released this summer, I hope you'll be among the first to view it. I know I will!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's Not Too Late to Start!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that your new year has gotten off to a great start! Mine sure has. While I haven't made a whole list of formal resolutions, I've decided to make this my healthiest year ever. I've resolved to exercise more and so far, so good. I wear my pedometer faithfully, and every day since January 1 I've met my minimum goal for walking. By the way, if you're looking for a good pedometer, the best, in my opinion, is the Omron HJ720. It comes with software that you can use to download your exercise stats to your computer so you can keep track of how you're doing. It measures aerobic steps, calories burned, steps walked, and distance in miles. I've had mine for about a year and absolutely love it, and just convinced my husband to order one after his cheap one stopped working. You can order it from They have several models to choose from. If you're in a hurry to get it, look for one at your local sporting goods shop, such as Academy.

Another change I've made this year is to purposefully incorporate more whole, fresh, organic foods into our diet. I joined a local organic food coop and it's great! I picked up my first order the other day and we've got a huge stash of wonderfully fresh organic fruits and vegetables.

Here's one more great resource I'd like to share: The 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. You can find it here: It started January 1, but it's not too late. You'll find great recipes and tips for adopting a plant-based diet, celebrity interviews, webcasts, and a community forum. Check it out!

Wishing you a very Healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three Down, One to Go!

This has probably been the most challenging week ever for me, when it comes to weight management. Three work-related social events (with lots of rich food!) and a lunch outing at a restaurant with a coworker—this is a sure-fire plan for weight-loss sabotage—or at least it could be, if I were to succumb to all the temptations. And I have to admit, in times past, I would have just blown it and given up completely. “Resisting all this good food is impossible! I might as well just give up! I’ll just wait until after New Year’s to start controlling my weight,” I can just hear myself saying.

But although the week’s not over yet, I’m happy to say that I’ve managed to get through it, even losing a pound in the process. And I haven’t deprived myself, either! You know what the secret is? I’ve come up with a little three-step formula that works for me, and I think it could work for you too: Plan, measure, and track.

One good thing about the holidays is that, usually, social events are planned well in advance. In other words, your employer doesn’t wait until the day before to tell you that an office social will be happening tomorrow. The advantage here is that you can plan, that is, if you know that you’ll be eating out for dinner on Sunday night, you can make your earlier meals a little bit —or a lot—lighter. The other day, I found that by eating a huge salad for lunch and filling up on vegetables and other high-fiber, low-calorie foods, that I was satisfied, and not starving, when I arrived at the party that night. Then, when it was time to eat, I took generous helpings of salad and veggies, and went easy on the starches, such as sweet potatoes and dressing. I had a taste of everything, even the gravy, except that I chose to skip dessert altogether. But before you jump to the conclusion that I never indulge in sweet delights, rest assured that I do, on occasion. At our dinner outing the next night, I enjoyed a decadent slice of pecan pie, and savored every bite! But again, earlier in the day, I was very careful to watch what and how much I ate.

The key here is planning. I realize I can’t eat a rich dessert at every meal, or I will definitely blow it, but an occasional splurge, balancing it with lighter eating at other meals in the day, and with good planning in advance, is OK. Once again, it’s all about choice, intelligent choice, rather than mindless indulgence without regard to food values or portion sizes. And that brings me to my next point. Know what you’re eating. Study the fat, calorie, and fiber content of foods and choose wisely when food is placed in front of you. Learn to eyeball measurements (e.g., a cup of rice is about the size of a tennis ball) and be conscious of how much you’re consuming. Then, write it down. Did you know that scientific studies have shown that people who consistently track what they eat lose more weight than those who don’t?

There’s a lot more I could share, but before I go, here is one more quick tip: Eat slowly and savor your food. This one weight-management technique has helped me probably more than any. It takes time for your brain to get the message that you’re actually full, and if you eat more slowly, you won’t pack in more food than your body really needs. Instead of focusing on food, enjoy the company of friends and the conversation during this holiday season. Here’s to you: Healthy Holidays!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lean Toward the Bright Side

If you’re like me, you probably don’t like the idea of taking medicine. And as an ardent believer in natural health, my choice would definitely be natural remedies over drugs, if it’s at all possible to avoid them. But here’s a medicine I can recommend wholeheartedly and without reservation. You don’t need a prescription for it and, best of all, it’s free! What am talking about? A merry heart. In Proverbs 17:22 we find this bit of ancient wisdom: “A merry heart does good, like medicine. But a broken spirit dries the bones.” In the same way that happiness can lead to better health, a negative attitude can literally make us sick.

Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin has discovered through research that people with a positive attitude “have more electrical and metabolic activity on the left side of the brain’s prefrontal lobe” (Creation Health Discovery, p. 92). This is the side of the brain that has more of the killer cells that help to fight viruses. In other words, a positive attitude can help us to resist disease. Now, that’s powerful medicine.

On the other hand, Neil Nedley, M.D., who is well-known for his work with depressed patients and author of the book Depression, The Way Out, cites a number of studies indicating higher risk factors for certain diseases in people who are depressed. These conditions include cancer, pneumonia, elevated stress hormone levels, osteoporosis, hypertension, elevated blood sugar, asthma, seizures, and infertility, among others. In his book, which I highly recommend, he suggests a number of lifestyle measures you can take to help deal with and/or prevent depression.

The reality is that there is an intricate mind-body connection (we are fearfully and wonderfully made!), and I firmly believe that in order to achieve optimal health, we must take care of our physical bodies (exercise, follow a good diet, get proper rest, etc.) as well as our minds, by cultivating a sense of optimism and a positive attitude. (Keep in mind that if you are dealing with clinical depression, it’s important that you seek the care of a competent physician who recognizes the role of lifestyle in the healing process.)

I could share with you many tips to help you cultivate a positive outlook on life, but you can read them for yourself in Dr. Nedley’s book, and I hope you will (even if you don’t suffer with depression). Let me just leave you with this thought: God’s Word, the Bible, is filled with promises that give us hope and joy. If you want to have a brighter outlook on life, then read the Bible, follow its principles, and grasp hold of the promises you discover there. Here’s one of my favorite promises that I hope you’ll take to heart: I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).


The Wellness Lady

Friday, November 13, 2009

Interpersonal Relationships

Over the past few weeks, we've been taking a look at the steps to health found in the acronym C.R.E.A.T.I.O.N. Health. Do you remember what they are? Let's review: C is for choice, R is for rest, E is for environment, T is for Trust in God. We're down now to the I in Creation, which stands for Interpersonal Relationships. As with all the other factors, relationships also have a profound impact on our health.

According to Dr. Shelton Cohen at Carnegie Mellon University, the more friends you have, the less likely you are to get a cold. Also, if you have lots of social contacts, the duration and severity of a cold will be lessened, according to the authors of C.R.E.A.T.I.O.N. Health Discovery. The authors also cite other studies that show the relationship of social contact to health and longevity. A researcher at Stanford University, Dr. David Spiegel, "found that women with breast cancer who participate in psychosocial support groups live longer than breast cancer patients who do not." Another researcher, Dr. James House, who reviewed an extensive body of literature, concluded that social isolation increases your risk of dying from all causes.

When we're faced with illness or crisis, having a good system of social support can help us through the bleakest of situations. Whether it's with friends, family, neighbors or members of our community or church, seeking healthy relationships can be healing, for us, and for those around us. Here are some simple ideas to get started: Why not offer to run an errand for a house-bound neighbor? Or surprise a sick friend with a basket of herbal tea and a mug. Get involved with community services at your church or donate time and/or goods to a local food bank. The opportunities for reaching out to others are limited only by your imagination. Make a decided effort today to strengthen your relationship with those around you and to be a blessing in others' lives. You (and those whose lives you touch) will be glad you did!

The Wellness Lady

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Trust in God

Did you know that people who have faith in God are happier than those who don't? It's true. The authors of Creation Health Discovery cite a study conducted in 560 households, which found that people who pray to God are "happier, more satisfied, and enjoy a deeper sense of well-being about the direction their lives are headed."

Here are some other findings they report:

• "A study of high school seniors revealed that students who go to church are less likely to become delinquents, drink alcohol, or use marijuana than other teens."

And from a May 2001 Readers Digest article cited by the same authors, here are a few findings by researchers at Duke University and Dartmouth Medical School:

• " Those who enjoyed religious services more than once a week enjoyed a seven-years-longer life expectancy than those who never attended."

• "Older adults who considered themselves religious functioned better and had fewer problems than those without faith."

• "Adults who attend a house of worship have lower rates of depression and anxiety."

The list could go on and on. By now, I'm sure you get the idea. Faith, belief in God, prayer, and spirituality are important factors, not only for longevity, but also for the quality of life and health that we experience every day.

There's a wonderful little book on prayer that I've had on my shelf for quite some time. Every now and then when I want to be uplifted, I pull it down and read it again. A classic, it's called The Incredible Power of Prayer by Roger Morneau, a man of amazing faith. Whether or not you're a person of faith, this book will amaze, energize, and inspire you. It's available on, or if all else fails, e-mail me at, and I'll mail you a copy.

One last thing. Faith and prayer are good things in and of themselves, but remember, their power is limited unless they are based on a foundation--the foundation of God's Word. Prayer works, not because there is some kind of magic in the words we say, but because of the power of the One who answers prayer. And we can discover that power by studying the Word of God. If you haven't already, I hope you'll begin to dig into the treasures of the Bible to find the power that can heal you, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually, as well. And if you are already a student of the Bible, I hope you'll be inspired to dig even deeper!

Before I go, I want to share a Bible text that expresses my wish for you: "I pray that you may enjoy good health, and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well" (3 John 2).

The Wellness Lady