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!