Health and Medical Care CommitteeHealth Council Meetings
Contact Craig Lane 831-325-4402 or go to http://www.shivawarrior.com to get involved.
Essays on Health
Butter Me Up, Comparison to Hydrogenated Oils in Margarine and Prepared Foods
Butter Me Up – Sustainable Foods
Thanks to Paul Robbins for forwarding a written piece to me.
I once had an argument with a nurse about butter versus margarine. Which is better? I had a class in college called Experimental Nutrition in 1997 where my senior thesis was on trans fatty acids from hydrogenated oils. What I found shocked and scared me enough to NEVER eat trans fats or hydrogenated oils in any form ever again. The British had done autopsies of people who consumed alot of trans fats. They found severe artery blocking and fat deposits in the tissues. In addition they found that the body treats hydrogenated oils like saturated fats anyway. THERE IS NO FAT IN NATURE like hydrogenated oils. The chemical bonds have been altered with a nickel catalyst and subjected to 500 degree temps. Oils three worst enemies, that make oils toxic, are heat, light, and oxygen. The trans variety has extreme of two: heat and oxygen. Yummy?
It is said by some that margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use in place of butter.
DO YOU KNOW...the difference between margarine and butter?
- Both have the same amount of calories.
- Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared to 5 grams.
- Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study. Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods!
- Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of other foods. *Butter has been around for centuries, and it is a sustainable food from living animals, where margarine has been around for less than 100 years and is made in a lab.
- Margarine can triple the risk of coronary heart disease, it increases total cholesterol and LDL, bad cholesterol, and lowers HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol *Margarine increases the risk of cancers up to five fold. It lowers quality of breast milk. *Margarine decreases immune and insulin response.
- And here's the most disturbing fact.... HERE IS THE PART THAT IS VERY INTERESTING! Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC...
- Try this yourself:
- No flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)
- It does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value
- Nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weenie microorganisms will not a find a home to grow.
Shared from many sources, and edited by Craig Lane, FOSL Health Council Leader. Check out the FOSL website under workshops for upcoming health classes.
Desires and Health Essay
“I feel that people are not regarding poor health as seriously as they should. They place their health problems secondary to all their other problems: financial, domestic, real and invented…without health there is little That one can truly enjoy.” Bernard Jensen Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management p. 63
Consequences of desire
I’m practically flying down the freeway, going sideways when I realize I’m out of control. Part of me knows this feeling, deep and ancient, almost primal. I wanted to impress my two friends following me So I got pitched, purposefully making the car Go sideways at 55mph. It had gone too far, of course. But now, my life was in another’s hands in a metal box with wheels, going end over end over end. In the end, I had broken my neck. I paid the fee for desire. Desire to impress.
There are many other types or things to desire. Desire for food, sex, Money, security, and on… There is no inherent problem with desire. Where things tend to go awry is when conflicting desires meet up.
What I see after more than ten years practicing nutrition and health are many of these conflicts manifest in people. In the context of health and vitality, many people live out conditioned Patterns. The first is to override their “gut feelings.” I know. I have a Ph D? in altered states from food, herb, and meditative states, despite uncomfortable symptoms because of the substance or practice.
As a young man, I began to see some unhealthy patterns of overeating and fatigue. Yet, this part of me that knew could not act. It just watched. It watched desire cause hay fever symptoms. I knew. My guts knew. But my mind/ego overrode the feelings for taste and sensory gratification. What I did not know at the time was the alcohol ferment occurring in my irritated and yeast ridden belly. The cravings must be like what an alcoholic feels. It went like this: craving >>> think or act on craving >>> initial sensory satisfaction >>> minutes to hours later >>> gurgling belly, gas, and maybe belching >>> shame, guilt, sorrow >>> feelings of tingling in head with initial sinus irritation >>> sneezing in series of one to four long >>> itchy eyes, water dripping from nose, more sneezes >>> disassociation from reality and fatigue >>> recovery >>> repeat cycle.
It happened so many times, I almost can’t believe I let it happen as long as I did. Yet it did. The symptoms were the admission price for desire.
After meditating and learning to focus on body and other sensations for over 15 years, I began to see the painful patterns arise, often suppressing them for ascetic yogic type reasons. But they were still acted upon, despite the symptoms and the ideals of austerity. I began to inquire who or what was craving. Could it be the trillions of microbes that share this body with me? What exactly was this me? Where was this awareness?
I began to see many awarenesses. One was the primal soil based awareness in my own belly. I knew one day that the sweets were fermenting in my belly, causing me to become drunk. That was why I never liked alcohol. I produced my own! Later, in a book by an MD, I saw my first confirmation of this in a special DUI case. The guy had eaten lots of sugar, but no alcohol. He tested drunk! So did I.
During this recognition, I knew the yeast and fungus and bacteria with their own agenda were using my nervous system to signal cravings. I labeled them “pathological cravings.” It took another ten years to sort out pathological from normal cravings. During those ten years, I also felt like I was braking in a horse. The horse was used to running life unquestioned. Now, the mind was no longer lost in sugar trance.
It was also during this period that I was training in herbal medicine with Michael Tierra. It was a correspondence course, but I did get to learn directly from him also. In the correspondence course booklet, he states, “toxins are desires.” I’m blown away. Some part of me awakens, cut loose from a veil long covering my eyes. I saw how toxic I was, and painfully, at spring seminar he and others hold in the Santa Cruz mountains, I had another horrendous allergy attack. I was eating too many carbs and too much in general. And I kept thinking about the quote, “toxins are desires.” IT became like a mantra, repeating when desire would arise, repeating when symptoms arose.
Expectations for life
I always had expectations for my life. One was never to live like my elders, lost in the trance of what the natives called, “the disease of the white man.” I saw how many of my teachers, family, and elders did not walk their talk. And as a blooming healer, I had vowed to live in vibrant health. I felt embarrassed about my symptoms. But I did something.
That spring, a few weeks later, I did my first enema. IT was simply warm water with salt. Two quarts and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought, just strange. I knew I was on my own. No one I knew supported me, probably because, well, it can be embarrassing. The procedure offered insights into how much nervous tension was in my bowels, not to mention the strange colors and stuff that came out, yuck! Afterwards I felt weak, yet pleasantly light and very clear. I knew this was an ancient practice, valued by holistic healers for its ability to clear the guts of congealed mucus, unfriendly microbial overgrowths and parasites of all sorts. The ancient Essenes called unfriendly critters in our bellies, “devils.”
A part of me was seeking security, total security without effort, without any more fears and problems. I read more and more about “enlightenment” to discover I was chasing it. I wanted the powers I thought came with it, like being able to read minds, to levitate, and to be in more than one place at a time. I also wanted to be able to help the sick with these “powers.”
But my body kept on complaining. Aches, pains, hay fever symptoms, digestive problems kept bringing me back to Earth. Many years later, I was to discover a deeper experience of “toxins are desires.” I was studying the gut biology, and learning that the critters that live in there can get rooted in the tissues. Despite the cleansing and enema, I was learning that these life forms can have resilience. I knew my tissues and resolve needed to be stronger to rid myself of these not so helpful critters. The question still was with me, “Were these cravings being caused by them?”I discovered I was in a viscous cycle of desire, then indulgence, then shame and guilt and physical suffering and pain. I ate a lot of wheat products, overate delicious treats, then suffered runny nose, flu-type symptoms, and sneezing. I was still blaming someone else or a microbe for “giving them” me a cold. In reality, I caused my own pain.
What woke me up a little more was an intense period of meditating and attending silent retreats for a number of years. Just before this period, I had been experimenting with mushrooms and marijuana and altered states of consciousness. During my first ten-day silent retreat, I began to see that I was addicted to trance states and disassociating from reality. I would doze off in many of the meditations, despite having adequate sleep. My first taste got deeper ten years later when I saw the belly microbes can produce neurotoxins and other toxins to stay rooted in the gut tissue. These toxins and yeasts in my gut producing alcohol from all the sugar I had been eating for 35 years, were one of the causes of the trance states and suffering. It was hard to admit, but I said to myself that I was a junky on avoidance, sweets, and paradoxically, drama.
Mind over matter (belly and primal needs)
I have heard life called a divine comedy, a game of spirit, and many other analogies that make this world seem like an “illusion.” But it is real, until we see what is actually true for ourselves. Many play the game of life and lose horribly, based on how much they suffer. This is cause and effect (or karma) of unskillful conditioning as children. Many of our parents were not taught how to live skillfully as a human. Many people are not taught how to eat and what to eat. Many more are not given rights of passage into maturity (what is adulthood anyway?). The Native and indigenous cultures worldwide did know much more about these things than our “modern” and “civilized” cultures.
In the ancient teachings of the Vedics and certain yogic teachings, subjugating the ego through austerities, postures, and diet are ways to mature. We might say these techniques can give us glimpses of joy and truth. But in the modern world, I see most people doing the opposite, subjugating the body with the wants of the ego/mind. Many of us know the old cliché, “mind over matter.” This became clearer and clearer as I saw my uncle drinking and overeating at a Thanksgiving dinner and wondering why he had back pain, and heart and circulatory problems. “It tastes so good, just one more bite!” Meanwhile the body is crying out, No!”
Let me share a little story about ego subjugation and a yoga posture Adho Mukha Svasana (downward facing dog).
After 15 years of practicing yoga, I finally felt comfortable in downward facing dog. For those of you who have done the posture, especially as a beginner, you can see the difficulty in a tense and stiff body. But I had a teacher that said, “Don’t do the postures that are easy, do the ones you find challenging.” I hated this one at first, but some part of me kept at it. After 10,000 tries, something clicked and part of me let go. At this point I began consciously using the posture to go into deeper states of focus and letting go. I began to see how the mind labeled everything, including sensory states. Some were nice. Some were heating. Some were bad, like pain. I began to question all the stories. An inquiry arose during a five-minute downward dog, “What would it be like to not label the sensations?” My body was aching after a minute, but after the curiousity arose, the sense of release came of just resting in sensation without any judgement of good or bad, pleasure or pain. The body became the vehicle to question the trance states of the ego. When the sensations became too intense, I saw a lifelong pattern of escaping into daydreams, thoughts, and judgements very clearly. What these trance states were protecting me from is another story.
How to undercut desire
In TCM, there are emotional states associated with organ and bodily systems. There are also elemental energies associated with emotions and their organ systems. Desire stems from needs (nourishment, touch, housing/shelter) and from wants. It is the area of wants that needs to be examined if we are suffering symptoms. Especially conflicting wants. Let me give an example from my own life.
Surfing versus spirituality (peace)
Upon ending a very unsatisfying BS degree in nutrition, I began discovering the ancient elemental and energetic techniques of the Eastern cultures. I began to see the truth in what a great health teacher, Geoges Ohsawa, said about human health, “You cause your own suffering.”
AS I mentioned earlier, despite seeing how I was causing allergic symptoms through overeating and too many sweets, I was in denial. Then, I began experimenting with changes. I noticed after a year of eating a lighter vegan Macrobiotic diet that I did feel better. But the symptoms still came. And another surprise realization came.
There was an emerging paradox. I discovered the stamina and strength I had been used to, was diminished. Part of me was beginning to meditate much more, and practice more yoga. This part of me was growing while another was dying. My first love, surfing and the ocean, were being put in the backseat. This was because the diet and lifestyle, for me, was not supporting the desire to have hard physical activity, yet it was supporting looking inward, resting, and “reprogramming.”
I began to see the conflict. “Can I eat the meat and still meditate too?” I was finding the clear head, the calmer nerves, and the lighter feeling was much more preferred to the uptight, stiff, and reactive self I used to be. Yet, the conflicting desire to surf, to work out, and to push myself physically was not being acted upon. The peace I used to feel in the water was fading. There were deeper states of peace in yoga, meditation, and fasting, I was discovering. The conflict nearly tore me apart a year later. I was learning the art of resting in paradox, and living more simply. The reprogramming was accelerating.
A suggestion from a macrobiotic cookbook and my meditations were merging into a strange new technique. I began using inquiry into bodily needs, separating actual needs from pathological desires like candy. I began asking my body what it wanted. I began asking my body what was causing its pain. Answers came slowly, yet steadily. I found the Five-phase and elemental system of Macrobiotics and Traditional Chinese medicine very effective at mapping out where I was weak and strong. It is a circle, like life, never ending. We will begin with some key words about the elements and how the circle proceeds:
Water element = the beginning of the cycle of dreaming things into reality, ability to relax and be nurtured, quiet and still time (or seeing and living what is always quiet and still), the will to begin the making the dream, and fear of failure, pain, and death, putting problems “behind us,” fear of feeling (getting lost in it), desire to escape, trust, awe, resolution, apprehension
Water feeds wood and controls fire
Wood element = courage to act on dreams, building plans into reality, clear decisions, and anger impatience frustration, rash decisions, over control of feelings, will to become, responsibility, assertiveness
Wood feeds fire and controls earth (think of retaining walls)
Fire element = discernment, joy, and bipolar mood swings (manic to depressive), building from the details and practical, irritable exhaustion, lack of energy for activity, restless anxiety, responsibility burdens, self-confidence, shock
Fire feeds earth (via sunlight) and controls metal (by melting it)
Earth element = centered grounded, finishing what we started, harvesting the results, indigestion on all levels, anxiety, reclusiveness, collecting junk, not deserving nourishment, sympathy, empathy, houses “thought”, storage of ideas
Earth feeds metal (contracted earth is very dense, like metal) and controls water (via gravity water runs around earth)
Metal element = Letting go of what we built, letting go with each breath, taking in what we need and eliminating the waste, constipation (mental, emotional, physical), emotional inhibition, defensive pride, restraint of crying, openness to the present moment
Metal feeds water (ending of cycle becomes new forms and dreams) and controls wood (like a saw cutting wood)
Observing where I was weak and strong made inquiry easier. I now realized I could fine-tune the curiousity. I could use awareness like a laser to dissect old defeating patterns I learned as a child. Layers peel away, leaving more energy and joy. Where did it end, I wondered? I discovered it did not, and this is the dance of life.
The questions below can be used to inquire into your own health, through your own direct experience. Who lives in your body, you, or the doctor? We know ourselves best. Let’s use that inner knowing and not project our healing onto the doctor.
- Where do I stand in health?
- Is peace already here?
- What does ?? (body part) need?
- When did I begin to feel lack of ease today? Was it because of an outer circumstance?
- Is satisfaction already present? Do I really NEED this ___?
What follows are some observations about people’s root causes of their health “problems.” The most subtle are the suppressive drugs that do help us to feel “better,” but what exactly is better? The liver and kidneys must process these medications, but the side-effects are not noticeable for years sometimes. An example is antacids to suppress “heartburn.” But what is causing the heartburn? Could the mucus producing cells have stopped working (that protect the delicate lining)? When we suppress stomach acid, medical studies show a higher correlation of hip fractures and less bone density. This takes years to manifest. I would challenge medical thinking that heartburn has less to do with stomach acid and more to do with the upper stomach valve, and a chronic overeating late in the day. Then going horizontal (sleep) too soon after can cause the stomach contents to “leak.” That is why we eat while we are vertical and more active.
The List of Root Habits causing “dis-ease”
- Quick fix with no thought of consequences (pain killers, surgery, drugs)
- Eating for pleasure, not nourishment
- Habit patterns like coffee drinking first thing AM
- Not questioning doctors orders
- Refined foods – flour (gummy), salt (irritating and electrical activity screwed up), sugar (bipolar, adrenal emergency, hot fire to cold and drained), oils (hormonal imbalances, cellular signals, clogged lymph)
- Eating late in the day chronically
- Chronic lack of activity
- Chronic sitting too long
- Chronic straining (eyes, neck, shoulders, arms, hands)
- Resisting what is happening means tense muscles and fascia
- Trusting large companies to provide us with nourishment (implicit)
- Lack of sleep >>> ties to lack of activity
The Cholesterol Myths -
Needed Truth in A World Making Money
Introduction / Why the focus?
Currently one of the most debated and controversial health topics is Cholesterol. In my opinion, an invented health “syndrome” (not a disease or an illness) by the pharmaceutical industry has doctors and uninformed public running scared over “high cholesterol.” The drug industry has shown convincing “studies” to doctors that there is a link between high cholesterol and heart disease. The problem, I learned from two years of classes in statistics and study analysis, is that any study can be manipulated to show desired outcomes. I have read and studied both sides of the issue, and I cannot give any credence to high cholesterol as a health hazard. The drug people say high cholesterol can be lowered with the statin drugs, which will help reduce the frequency of heart attacks. This is barely statistically true, yet it is true the drugs lower cholesterol. The real issue at hand: is cholesterol the real villain, or is there something else? If one looks at the heart and cholesterol studies themselves, without interpretation from others, they will see that the link between higher cholesterol and higher death rates, along with compromised life quality, is non-existent. Some studies on the anti-drug side even show high cholesterol has a link with longer and higher quality of life. Who to believe?
Drug Industry Bigwigs - those at top make policy, make more $$$
Mirrors class discrepancy
Very little concern for average person and outright denial of truth
Pharmaceutical industry, questionable motives
In a capitalistic society, one must research the people/companies one is buying from to assure they are using their profits and money in a way benefiting the community/society. On top of that, one must hope the person or company one is buying from has their best interest at hand, not just making money. We have learned that the US government cannot be relied upon to regulate the cheaters/vultures/parasites on society from the ones supporting equal trade of labor, sustainability and cooperation. As long as the corporation and its motto of “profit first” remain the dominant paradigm, then we will all suffer in some form. The pharmaceutical industry (that’s right – industry; not health, healing, or well being) has one objective: to make money. The drug companies send their sales reps out to medical clinics, hospitals, and doctor’s offices hoping to convince them to buy their products. They hand out free samples, give questionable perks, and maybe even questionable gifts, commissions, and promises.
I would in no way blame the average doctor or health professional. There is no blame at all. We are all responsible for our choices. Any doctor worth his weight of health will have studied both sides of the cholesterol issue, and he/she will have at least a basic knowledge of nutrition and holistic health. Even better, the doctor will be a “healer” himself by living what he practices, health. My most inspiring health teachers all lived by example, offering hope and encouragement, not five minutes of “their time,” a prescription slip and a push out the door. Below are the health “myths” associated with cholesterol. Read the studies yourself. Test the cholesterol drugs and see how awful they make you feel. I see it every day at work from my clients. They are tired of health gimmicks and symptom management. Get to the root.The Myths (from the book “The Cholesterol Myths.”)
I) High fat foods cause Heart disease
II) High cholesterol causes Heart disease
III) High fat causes high cholesterol
IV) Cholesterol blocks arteries
V) Animal studies prove cholesterol is a problem
VI) Lower cholesterol lengthens life-span
VII) Polyunsaturated oils are good for health
VIII) The Drug industry campaign is based in good science
IX) There is complete agreement amongst “experts.”
Where cholesterol comes from/how its made
Cholesterol is made from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The liver, intestinal cells, adrenals, sex organs, and all cells to a certain degree, make it. The body will make all the cholesterol it needs unless there is metabolic weakness.
In TCM, one may view one aspect of cholesterol as part of the Earth element scheme. Cholesterol is indispensable to cell membrane strength. It is said in TCM that a weak Earth element is responsible for prolapse and inability to hold the fluids. Another compound involved in the cholesterol metabolic pathway is Co-enzyme Q. This very important substance is responsible for membrane integrity, cellular energy production and respiration, nerve conduction, formation of elastin and collagen, and muscle integrity. Many theories say the body stops making so much of its “own” cholesterol if it is consumed through outside sources. The drug companies would have us believe the opposite. The more cholesterol one eats, the more there will be in the body, as if the body was some automaton making the same amount irregardless of consumption. To really confuse things, I have noticed certain people will hyper-produce cholesterol when a low cholesterol diet is followed. Of course, there are many factors at play here. But the one most important is to have faith in your own body that it is doing what it needs to do to maintain health.Cholesterol raising factors High consumption
High sugar diet XXX
High stress XXX
High oxidative load XXX
Low exercise XXX
Poor quality oils XXX
Too many factors come into play to really say for sure how much cholesterol is made in the body versus metabolizing it from food sources. Why are some people’s so high while others with seemingly similar bodies and life circumstances can be low? The answer is, truthfully, we don’t know.
Uses of cholesterol:
Brain and nervous system
Some of the things we do know are what cholesterol is used for in the body. The bile acids, which become salts when mixed with digestive enzymes, are the first. Bile is vital to fat digestion. It acts to mix the oils with water, and to facilitate absorption and use by the body. Another lesser-known use of bile is to act as a local irritant to the colon, causing peristalsis (see Digestion), and the release of fecal matter. Many factors can go wrong with normal bowel movements. If the bile is too weak an acid, or if the minerals (salts) that combine with bile in the small intestine are too strong, then there is not enough irritation, then constipation ensues. And the opposite can be true also.
Bile can also be used to carry used up hormone compounds out of the body via the stool.Hormones
In my opinion, one of the most important, and overlooked, uses of cholesterol is the backbone of many hormones in the body: stress hormones, male and female sex hormones and a Vitamin D pre-hormone. Studies show some people actually feel more violent, agitated, and unhappy with low cholesterol. Could it be that these people’s hormonal building systems need extra cholesterol from an outside source? I feel that if the body is under a high oxidative load (stress, bad diet, etc…), then cholesterol is mostly used as an anti-oxidant and backbone of stress hormones. There is not enough left for cell membrane integrity, brain function, and other hormones. On top of all that, the world today is loaded with hormone disrupters like birth control, plastic containers, pseudo estrogens (soy, pesticides, growth hormones), various drugs, and improperly prepared foods (like too much raw cabbage family veggies).
Another lesser-known hormone-like substance that has a backbone of cholesterol is Vitamin D. What a miracle that sunshine, cholesterol, and divine wisdom combine to make a vital vitamin that helps calcium and mineral metabolism.Antioxidant
Another lesser known use of cholesterol is an antioxidant function. Many people accept the medical model of HDL cholesterol is “good” and LDL “bad.” Why doesn’t anyone look deeper into what these compounds actually do? Simply put, LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to the tissues, and HDL from the tissues to the liver. One direction outward, one inward. Balance. When a person puts themselves in a high stress life with poor nutrition, the body begins to oxidize or rust, like your car. When dietary antioxidants are not ingested, the body, in its infinite wisdom, must deal with the free radicals, germs, oxidation in anyway it can. Guess what? Cholesterol gets used. The body makes more, it gets oxidized, then the oxidized cholesterol, carried by proteins in the body, can do damage. But it is not the cholesterol that is the problem. This is why people have high LDL and low HDL. The tissues are becoming oxidized, cholesterol gets sent out to do its work in stabilizing the cells.
Brain, Nerves, and Nervous System development and maintenance
Cholesterol is a critical element in the development and maintenance of the brain, nerves, and cell walls. It is part of every cell in the body. Nature has given humans the ability to produce cholesterol without having to consume it. We think? I always rely on my own experience and not what studies or so-called experts say. I have observed many children fed a Vegan diet looking very depleted, with poor attention span, and a dullness in the eyes (shen or heart intelligence). Since all dietary cholesterol comes from animal products, children fed a “uninformed” Vegan diet often end up with a poor start to life. Could it be that the foods higher in cholesterol also have a higher energy potential than other foods? If we expose our children to a variety of foods, we can let them choose what works for them. The body can adapt to any diet, and a Vegan diet can be workable for children, however, it is my opinion that a balance of different fats (including saturated fats like butter) and types of proteins will better serve a growing body.
The building blocks for cholesterol are fatty acids and sugars. When we consume excess calories, cholesterol production goes up, they say. Then why do some growing children show cellular deficiency signs such as poor attnetion span, emaciation, lifeless hair, low height, small and weak bones, while consuming enough calories? One thing we all have to relearn is the energetics of foods, and to learn the elemental properties like earthy, watery, fiery, and airy. An animal free diet typically has a weaker, colder energy than one with meat and/or dairy. It also usually has more airy foods. Children need more earth and water based foods. Whatever we eat leaves a signature on our system. It is vital to have strengthening foods while growing. The brain and nerves need fats and protein to build new cells and tissues (earth and water foods), and good quality carbs for energy (which provide fuel for metabolic fires).Cellular integrity
Another aspect of cholesterol is its importance to cellular integrity. The cell walls are composed of fat, proteins, phospholipids, and cholesterol. Cholesterol is so important to stabilize the cellular boundaries that each cell can make its own. When we eat foods that are expansive (like unsaturated oils, fresh produce, etc…) our cells walls become more fluidic. If it goes too far, our cells lose their ability to maintain good boundaries, and they become leaky (like leaky gut syndrome). So the cells make up for this by speeding up cholesterol synthesis and putting it in key places to give the membrane more stiffness. If we eat foods that are more contractive (like meat, salt, and saturated fats) then our cells become stiff and cholesterol is taken away from the membranes to make them more fluid. So it makes sense that a diet high in poor quality meats, refined salts and oils would cause cholesterol levels to go up because cholesterol is forced out of the cell membranes and into general circulation. Not only that process, but more cholesterol is produced to buffer the stress put on our system due to the damage refined foods cause. But remember, cholesterol blood measurements are only a snapshot in time. We might be surprised someday to see just how much cholesterol levels can change in a single person in a short period of time.
The real problems:
Poor quality oils/poor oil uses
Link with high oxidative load – rest, exercise, diet, and link with liver and stagnation
Life can be very simple. The formula for health involves few variables, yet choice is the matter at hand. These are the keys to good health: exercise in the right amount, quality rest, good fuel and building blocks for the body, time to relax and just be everyday, time for service (work for the community or society), touching and being touched, and finally, our choices. When we make ignorant, poor, or damaging choices, we can suffer. The link of high cholesterol is one of choosing other things than health. They can be money, fame, nice house and possessions, excess TV, serving only oneself, laziness, partying late at night, eating only for pleasure, not leaving “float” time in a day, separating oneself from touch, and blaming the world and people for our problems. Stresses of various sorts cause cholesterol synthesis to go up because cholesterol is the precursor (or building block) of the stress hormones.
The liver and adrenals suffer from poor choices. When the liver gets clogged up, we call that “excess” in TCM. When the liver has too much work to do, it gets stagnant. Stagnation and excess go together in TCM. Stagnation from lack (or deficiency) can also occur. But this would likely involve LOW cholesterol. The adrenals are affected by excess by becoming deficient. Paradoxical, huh? They produce stress hormones and hormones to balance high blood sugar (from excess food consumption, especially sugars) at an alarming rate under chronic stress, then eventually burn out. Try drinking coffee after a long fast from it. You’ll feel the jolt. Then do it every day thereafter and you may notice the bodies =“jolt”= decreasing each day until one day you finish your coffee and notice you are yawning. This is adrenal burn out. The difference lies in the American paradigm of more is better. We might think of oxygen this way. The amount in the air (20% more or less) is perfect to support life as we know it on Earth. But if oxygen goes up too much then life ages and decomposes more quickly, which is exactly what happens with high cholesterol. The sign "high cholesterol = =warning”= is both helpful and scary. Its like coming to a curvy, bumpy mountain road, suddenly in the dark, when the sign says, =“Danger.”= Don’t blame the sign. Like the driver on the dangerous road, one must alter their approach, or bad things could happen.Link with fat
We can speak of fat in different ways. Oil is defined by being liquid at room temperature. Fat is solid, or more solid at room temperature. Fat/oil in our bodies is necessary. It is very easy to see someone who is in excess. They are big with excess fat. Excess food can become cholesterol. Excess food also becomes excess fat. Cholesterol is linked with fat in that the more poor quality oils and foods we consume, the higher cholesterol goes up. It is funny but with all this focus on high blood cholesterol, what gets missed is that by far most of the cholesterol in our bodies is in the cells (about 143 grams out of 150). That’s more than 95%! The only direct link with fat is shown below.
HIGH SAT FAT (grass fed) UNKNOWN EFFECTS STIFFER CELLS
HIGH SAT FAT (damaged) HIGHER BLOOD CHOL STIFFER CELLS
HIGH UNSAT FAT (damaged) HIGHER CHOL DAMAGED CELLS
MORE SUGARS MORE CHOL ???
TRANS FATS HIGHER CHOL OXIDATION
HIGH EFA’S LOWER CHOL OXIDATION
LOW ACTIVITY HIGHER FAT HIGHER CHOL
Dehydration and high cholesterol
High Blood Pressure - Why is it so high?
Another very misunderstood health challenge, even amongst doctors, is blood pressure. Very few look deeply into the root causes. The pharmaceutical industry has a stake in our not questioning this. Between blood pressure and cholesterol, two common indicators of POTENTIAL PROBLEMS, the drug companies make __billions of dollars per year. Why do you think universal health care has never been approved in this country? The answer: $$$. So it is with blood pressure. There is no doubt that very high pressure in any system causes problems. Some risks to humans are: stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, heart attack, and damage to the brain, eyes, or kidneys (all very sensitive to strong pressure changes). If we look more deeply at this issue, we can turn to direct experience for guidance about high blood pressure. Fill a balloon or a plastic bag with water. As you add more, what happens? The membrane which holds the water in, begins to expand, then will burst or crack at its weakest point. So it is with us. Our eyes, brain, kidneys, heart, and lungs are very sensitive and are our weak parts. We can also see how our hoses at home spring leaks as they age and crack, or if too much pressure is turned on at the faucet (or if we buy cheap attachments or hoses). What follows are potential root reasons why one has high blood pressure. Solutions will be offered also, as drugs will never get to the root of the problem without borrowing or damaging another bodily system. Treating the whole will help correct the imbalance.Narrowing of arterial walls
This can be caused by the tube itself getting clogged up with congested blood products, or it can be caused by the walls contracting because of nervous system overload, or from the walls losing their elasticity. Try this at home to see for yourself how this works. Breathe through a straw, then put a small piece of gum or something to slightly clog the opening, then breathe again. Much harder, huh? Imagine how the heart feels, having to pump against this all day, every day. Now try pinching the straw, which is what happens when our arteries contract due to poor building materials (diet), and/or too much stress (which can cause the arteries to lose the elasticity).
Some solutions are to take time to relax throughout the day, even if only five minutes. Shut your eyes and just be. The next is to look at how much commercial animal products, ready-made baked goods, refined salts, chips, refined vegetable oils, and strong sweets you eat. These foods all cause acids to form, which can lead to extreme oxidation and waste products for the body to deal with. This is the root of arteriosclerosis. Oxidized cholesterol and lipoproteins, with platelets and scar tissue (from too acidic blood going through the blood vessels) cause deposits to form in the blood vessels, blocking circualtion. One of the best corrective measures is to eat more daikon radish, or any type of radish, along with turnips daily. They need to be eaten raw for the beneficial effects. Including one mashed umeboshi plum will help the body deal with the acids while the radish is like an arterial roto-rooter. Medicinal mushrooms also lower oxidized cholesterol. These are maitake, shiitake, reishi, oyster, and others.Inflammation/oxidation
Chronic inflammation from lack of exercise, injury, poor diet, lack of sleep, high stress, etc…can cause the muscles of the heart and its surrounding sack (the pericardium) to swell, which puts pressure on the heart and chest (and other tissues), which raises blood pressure. Chronic oxidation (which also leads to high cholesterol) also causes swelling of the tissues (like how rust on your car actually goes outward, causing the metal to swell slightly). Inflammation from dehydration can also be a cause. Make sure to be drinking enough water.
The solution here is very simple. Include more anti-oxidants in your diet and reduce oxidizing foods. Oxidizing foods are easy to spot. Any food that is highly processed, cooked, and altered from its natural state will put an oxidative stress on the system. Meat and dairy eaten in excess will put a high stress on the system. Polyunsatureated oils also put a high oxidative stress on the body. Anti-oxidant/anti-inflammatory rich foods are all ripe fruits and veggies, many herbs such as oregano, ginger, rosemary, turmeric, medicinal berries like schisandra and lycii (goji), green teas, ginkgo, and many more. One key here is the foods that are vine, tree, and sun-ripened have much more to offer than produce picked many days before, then shipped unripe. The way to get this food is to grow a couple of easy herbs, vegetables, or fruits oneself. Another is to buy from farmer’s markets.Too much blood volume/edema – tissue density
This is from too much refined salts and salty foods, high chronic stress, poor water metabolism (with too much water consumption or not enough water consumption), and overeating with low or no exercise. Remember, refined salts break down, then stick in the tissues. Water always follows salt. Excess salt, even the best of salts, can cause water retention. Imagine beef jerky: hard, tough, and chewy. So we become like that if we consume too much salt and hard, crunchy, refined foods. If we put jerky in water, it will swell. If we put a crunchy chip in water, it too will swell up.
The other issue to address is how well one metabolizes water. Water carries information. Water molecules from pure sources look like snowflake crystals. By drinking artesian well or spring water, purified water, or treating a glass of water to some sunshine or a quartz crystal to revitalize it, will offer a lot of good energy to one’s system. Our cells need to absorb water and metabolize it. Imagine pouring water on really dry, clay soil. The earth will not accept it right away. In TCM, our muscles and soft tissue are linked to the Earth element. Our bodies can become like hard, dry clay when they are dehyrated. Then the water we drink isn’t getting received. It passes into the blood, diluting it, then special cells tell the kidneys to start letting go of fluid to concentrate the blood again. The cells have adapted to being dehydrated. Begin eating water rich fruits and vegetables, and drink more water. Another easy way to improve water metabolism is to exercise daily. Take a walk once or twice a day for 20-30 minutes. Some other solutions are to begin using unrefined sea salts like Celtic, Muromato, Himalayan crystal salts, Brittany, Real salt, and many others. Next is to eat less salt in general. I was told once that if food tastes salty, then too much is being used. Salt is meant to enhance the flavors of the foods it is used with, not to dominate. Some foods and herbs to help with water metabolism are parsley, fennel, dandelion, barley, sea vegetables, cucumber, carrots, most beans (especially azuki), lettuce, millet, parsnip, spinach, watercress, and watermelon (with some of the seeds). Corn silk can be used also. A Chinese herb that is specific for water metabolism is FU LING (or poria cocos). Making a tea with this herb, consumed for many months, taken with meals will help correct this problem, along with consuming enough water.Link with heart rate – sympathetic nerves and adrenals
High blood pressure can be linked to chronic low-grade stress and a fast, fast, fast lifestyle. Look at the very tip of your tongue. If it is scarlet red and sensitive, chances are your blood is very “hot,” especially in the upper third of the body (upper warmer). Overheated blood comes from too much stimulation (caffeine, alcohol, rushing around, deadlines every day all day), acid forming foods, chronic “fight or flight” stress, and little rest. When we consume ourselves with activity and poor stress (there is good stress!), then our heart rate becomes a little too fast (HT yang), the blood a little too hot (Blood heat), and our adrenals get depleted in the long run (KD yang). This drives up the blood pressure because if you have the same container in which to pump fluids, but the pump works faster, then the pipes have increased pressure in them. Do you see how the blood pressure is not the problem? The blood pressure is the symptom, the branch of the tree. The root is the lifestyle and dietary choices.
Some solutions are to take calming restorative nerve herbs like wild oats, chamomile, lemon balm, st. john’s wort, and many more. Another solution is to be alone during work breaks. Lie down for a few minutes. Practice not talking throughout the day. Set aside some times to be quiet every day. And lastly, make new friends that are supportive of better diet, supportive of a healing lifestyle, and supportive of you unconditionally.Link with heart’s pumping power
Another root to high blood pressure is the heart’s strength. If one is blessed with a strong heart, and if it is forced to work harder through constant signals from the nervous system (via stress, fast lifestyle, stimulating foods), it will. Say your heart has a base-line pumping power of 5. This will cause a certain base-line pressure in the pipes (blood vessels). If there is too much nervous energy though, the pump is forced to work harder, then the pressure goes up to, say, 8. In the long-run, the heart can burn out faster, though no symptoms may appear until congestive heart failure late in life. Then the person wonders why they ‘got” such a bad deal. The causes were laid through choices and ignorance earlier in life. The manifestations appear later. Sort of like karma.
The answer here is to slow down one’s life. Take time to breathe. Notice yourself throughout the day. Set times to set your watch alarm, then check-in with your breathing and body. Is there strain and tension anywhere? If the breathing is shallow and fast, then take a few minutes of slow deep breathing from the belly. Practicing this long enough will generate a spontaneous remembrance throughout the day. How am I doing? The question will appear all by itself. This is a helpful habit to get in.Venous involvement – stagnation, contraction, blood congestion
Many people wonder why they have varicose veins. They believe the “story” or the branch of the problem. The real reason lies in the root cause/s. The same applies with high blood pressure. If there is congestion/stagnation in the belly due to excess water, tight/tense muscles and organs, and clogged blood and lymph vessels, then the extremities can show problems like varicose veins, dry skin, blood pressure problems, pimples, etc… Imagine you are on the freeway, travelling along at 60 mph. You take a turn-off to a different freeway, then wham, stuck in traffic! This is what a cell sees when travelling into an area of the body that has congestion/stagnation. Everyone has a felt sense of the pressure they feel while in traffic. Too many cells in an enclosed area and pressure builds up until the breaking point is reached. This is high blood pressure due to stagnation/congestion.
The easiest solution is to exercise more. Simply walk a few times a day. Go out, breathe the fresh air and walk for 20-30 minutes. Even once a day will help. Another helpful thing is to lie on your back with your rear-end up against it. Place a rolled up towel, pillow, or blanket under your low back and raise your feet up the wall. Let the fluids be pulled back into the belly and core of the body for five to ten minutes. Helpful blood moving foods and herbs are beets, rosemary, turmeric, adzuki beans, dong quai root, parsley, eggplant, and many more. Sometimes stimulating foods/herbs are also helpful. These can be ginger, garlic, hot peppers, hot curries, rosemary, and many more. Stagnation releasing foods and herbs are raw radishes and turnips, seaweeds, garlic, ginger, bitter greens, raw foods, lemon juice, and many more. See the book Healing With Whole Foods for more ideas.Hormones out of whack – cortisol, thyroid, aldosterone (adrenals)
The last root cause of high blood pressure can stem from a hormone imbalance. Even saying hormones are the problem is a little surface oriented, as they are affected by emotions, circumstances, the nervous system, foods, exercise, etc… But with a lifestyle encouraging sympathetic (flight or flight) nerve dominance, then certain hormones will be excreted more than others. In this case, with chronic low-grade stress, the body keeps producing stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, etc..). Aldosterone is excreted to alter sodium balance in the cells, then the cells themselves lose their sensitivity to regulate aldosterone (which can cause low level cellular dehydration), and the thyroid can produce too much thyroxine and other stimulating hormones (which eventually leads to low thyroid function). These act to constrict the blood vessels at the core of the body (encouraging congestion), speed up heart rate (raising blood pressure), and rapidly burn sugars (increases heat, which can raise blood pressure). On top of all this, stress hormones take blood and energy away from digestion, which is the root of health in the body. Chronic stress ends up as chronic degeneration. An easy solution is to end the day by relaxing, eating a meal slowly, and taking breaks throughout the day to sit or just “be.”
One of the themes of this book are self-help, so some foods that gently correct hormones, relax the nerves, nourish the kidneys, liver and blood, lower inflammation, and reduce water retention are offered here. The following foods are clinically proven to reduce blood pressure – celery, garlic, hawthorn, kuzu, onion, tomato, broccoli, carrot, purslane, saffron, valerian, fennel, oregano, basil, tarragon, shiitakes, black pepper. In addition to the above list, the following foods and herbs can be helpful based on my experience: brown rice, sea vegetables, aloe vera, tulsi/holy basil, ginger, barley, wheat grass and chlorophyll rich leafy greens. Some herbs may need to be reduced from the diet, such as rosemary, licorice, ephedra, cayenne/hot peppers, and other stimulating herbs. For those with excess weight, who run cold, have fatigue, have blood stagnation, and have a slow metabolism can use more of the stimulating herbs. A final note is that one’s high blood pressure, or any problem, is almost never due to a single cause. Many factors come into play with life. There’s a saying in spiritual circles that the cause of any one event is every other event that led up to it. EVERY ONE. Keep this in mind while your mind is trying to find THE ONE REASON/DIAGNOSIS for a health issue.