Eating the Right Foods – part 2.

8437000099_a0188bd6dc_m8439343858_9029588a9a_m

Why inflammation matters.

There are some foods that cause inflammation and some food stop the inflammation. Why should inflammation matter? It matters because medical science is starting to understand inflammation maybe the starting point for all diseases. Take heart attacks for example, we are beginning to understand that lowering high cholesterol is only part of the prevention. First the inflammation starts in the walls of coronary arteries, that triggers the cholesterol to be deposited on the walls of the arteries that are inflamed, these deposits build up until eventually the flow of  the blood completely stops and thus causing a heart attack. It is thought Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Heart Disease are all linked to the inflammation. There are many other diseases in which inflammation is present but it is not clear where in the process of disease formation the inflammation happens, at the beginning or end of the disease process. These diseases, to mention some, are Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, ankylosing spondylitis, SLE,  dermatomyositis, sacroiliitis etc. It doesn’t matter where in the process the inflammation happens, if it is causing harm it makes sense to turn it off.

The causes of inflammation.

There are number factors that cause bad inflammation, these include some foods I have listed below, stress, polluted air, chemical irritants, second hand smoke, pesticides, chronic infections such as Helicobacter pylori, fat around the midline of your body, chronic sleep disturbance and sleep apnea. To turn the inflammation off, correct as many of the above as possible.

Inflammation causing foods.

Avoid or eliminate the following :-

Sugar in the form of corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, golden syrup, maltose, and sucrose.

Oils that is very high in omega-6, such as grape seed oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.

Trans fats, they are found deep fried foods, commercially prepared baked goods, fast foods and they usually appear on the label as partially hydrogenated oils.

Cow’s milk can also lead to inflammation.

Cured meats and red meats contain substance called neu5Gc which causes inflammation.

Excessive alcohol consumption.

Consumption of refined grains, such as white bread and white rice.

Artificial food additives such as monosodium glutamate and aspartame.

8438907638_994db05fcd_m8436766891_4d84224046_m8439582160_23b493ea57_m8437928614_71da3a683f_m8437671725_af914e0a38_m

Preventing inflammation with food and Herbs.

Use these foods as much as possible:-

Eat  whole foods and avoid anything processed.

Eat fish high in Omega-3

Eat Kelp ( seaweed)

Eat whole fruits and vegetable.

Use olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil; these all have better ratio of omega-3 : omega-6

Avoid drinking from plastic bottles.

Drink black and green tea

Eat broccoli, shitake mushrooms

Have Tulsi or Holy Basil

Use Tumeric, Ginger, Basil and rosemary in your cooking.

8438276056_c007cc1d31_m

Resources:

The Science of Natural Healing – by Dr Mimi Guarneri

Emotional Health and Well Being.

In my last post on physical health I said it was hard to seperate it from the emotional health because they both effect each her. When we are physically unwell or in discomfort it is more likely our emotions are going to be impacted negatively. People with chronic medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic back pain, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease have much high incident of depression then those that are physically healthy. Moreover,the people who are depressed tend to have worse outcome when recovering from any disease; for instance depressed people who suffered an heart attack will have worse prognosis  as compared to those that are not depressed. Although the physical and the emotional sides are intricately linked , today I will be looking at cultivating healthy emotions that are likely to make people feel happy and content.

Four Dimensions of Ourselves

Most people have experienced recurring thoughts after having an argument with someone or ended a relationship under not so pleasant circumstances. We keep brooding over the situation and  playing out different scenarios , if only I didn’t say that, if only I made more effort, if only I hugged more , or if only I was more help in the kitchen or in the garden, or if only I appreciated more what was done for me or if only I was more interesting, cleaver or witty etc; these never ending streams of possible ‘if only I’ continue for ever into the late hours of the night, you can’t sleep , then from nights it spills over into day , then weeks and months. If after  this process of deep reflection one reaches a  conclusion that there are no solutions to the problem and moves on, then there is good chance that the  low-mood  will improve. However, if the the processes continues even after one has come to the conclusion that there are no solutions then it becomes like an addiction, one just can’t stop going over the same theme over and over until all the useful , happy thoughts get crowed out of the mind , and this leads to much unhappiness, then to fear, anxiety and despair. This process actually has a name, it called “Depressive Rumination“.

Rumination is bad for you; Meditation helps

The question is how does on get themselves out of this vicious cycle? Well there are ways and they work too! The methods I have listed are based on the various schools of psychological tradition;  the positive psychology , cognitive behaviour psychology , mindfulness – based cognitive behaviour psychotherapy and eastern psychology. I will not go into details about them here but if someone asks by leaving a  comment on the blog that they would like more details, then I will write in the future post. For now, I will just list the methods for getting out of  the  depressive rumination, and move towards the road to happiness. These methods require practice and some effort to get the most benefit.

1.Write a gratitude letter to someone  who have been kind to you and then read the letter to them. This causes immediate feeling of happiness.

2. Write down three good things that are going well and the reason why for one week . This provides even longer lasting feeling of happiness.

3.Care for others. There are many studies showing that the happiest people are those who devote their lives to caring for others. Recently one volunteer at the hospital told me that she forgets about her problems when she volunteers and she feels so happy to have left her problems behind for few hours. Our society has become too self focused; such that we don’t even know our neighbours.

4.Focus on breathing. Feel the breath go in and out of your body, this will help to take your focus of unpleasant thoughts. It will relax and calm you.

5.Developing attention and concentration by focusing on the breath or by visualization; this in fact is meditation. These skill of attention and concentration is important because in those that have wondering attention tend to be sad . Instead of letting our mind wonder into the past memories and future fantasies, good attention and concentration bring the mind back to the reality of the present. This in fact is being mindful. Mindfulness helps deal with emotional problems, it can also make you more efficient,and skillful in anything you undertake, improves your relationships and allows you experience life more fully.

6. Avoid sounds that upset you and surround yourself with the sounds that make you feel good. One of my friend used to get  annoyed with me every time I visited her with my cell phone still on; I changed my ways and both of us felt the peace of not being interrupted  by the sound of my awful cell phone. Until she pointed it out to me I was used to carrying the cell phone with me all the time. I only realized how peaceful it was without it after I turned it off for the whole weekend. I was a blissful time. I have become more sensitive to the noise pollution since then, I try to avoid loud noises of the city , I turn off the tv more often , I am working on avoiding the computer but to date that has been challenging. I am sensitive not to listen to the music that makes me feel sad. This was reinforced when I went to see an opera, the music was beautiful but was very sad and I was already feeling sad before I went to the opera. When I came out I was almost suicidal …only kidding…but quite sad. I now try to surround myself with more nurturing nature sounds, bird sounds, sound of water fountain  or the sound of the wind by the river.

7.Avoid watching bad news on TV or at least limit it, I don’t like senseless violent movies or horror movies either, they just don’t make me feel good.

8. Avoid information overload. Sometimes you end up picking so much irrelevant information your brain doesn’t no what to do with it, and has to sort out what is useful and what to ignore. It is tiring and you always feel as though you are rushing to keep up. So I try to ignore useless information overload.

9. Social isolation can be a major contributor to depression because by default we tend to slip into depressive thoughts and get addicted to ruminating. Good company and social interaction support emotional well being by stopping the depressive  rumination . In the city even though there are lot of people there isn’t much social interaction because people are too focussed on themselves.

10. Cultivate spirituality by practicing your faith, by connecting with nature, by relating to your companion pets, by appreciating art and beauty, by putting others first but not to the point of your own detriment, by practicing empathy and compassion, by practicing forgiveness, by smiling and laughing, by cultivating silence, by choosing the right company and by feeling and expressing gratitude.

11. If, after trying all or most of the above suggestions, you are still feeling sad or not at peace then working with an psychologist maybe worth while. They may be able to  change your pattern of thinking so that it doesn’t give rise to negative feeling and behaviour.

Until the next time, be happy and healthy.

Resources:-

Spontaneous Happiness  ; by Andrew Weil

Mindsight -the new science of personal transformation ;  by Daniel J. Siegel

PS:  I will be posting articles either once or twice a week depending on the time availability.

The journey begins for real health and happiness.

Where does one begin and start the journey towards real health and happiness? I think the journey needs to start with the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, clean environment and water.  Without these one would just struggle to survive and real health and happiness will be just a dream. In Canada we are blessed and most people have these basic needs met.

When the survival is ensured we need to be free of disease and this is what I do in my office most days, try to keep my patients free of disease. I have been thinking for a while that just being free of disease is nowhere near the optimal health and happiness we are capable.

“Optimal health and happiness”, what exactly is it ?  It is probably best to start by stating what it is not.  Optimal health and happiness is not having a fantastic muscular body free of disease and having a smile on your face all the time, rather it is something to do with having enough energy, being able to do things you love without pain or discomfort, being able to make lasting relationships, being able to love and be loved, being able to be free of irrational fears.  It is being content, being able to negotiate through life ethically, compassionately and with ease, it is eating the right foods, it is about keeping active and exercising, it is to be in the right company that will nourish your soul, it is about having right thoughts, it about seeing reality as it is, its about making commitments, its about having good habits, its about being grateful, its about helping, its about accepting help, its about having good concentration, its about being able to see and live with your own thoughts, its about touching and holding your loved ones, its about appreciating nature and beauty , its about feeling beautiful inside even when on the outside things are tough, its about having a beautiful mind, its about connecting , its about being curious, its about listening to your heart and not just your brain, its about being comfortable alone by yourself, its about having enough rest , its about protecting yourself from information overload and noise, it about having spiritual life , its about having faith and about much more..

It seems that the happiness doesn’t come from external goods but rather it is cultivated over lifetime. To look for happiness outside oneself is a useless endeavor. We will talk more about this in the future posts.

Quotes without comment: –

“ We do not acquire or preserve virtue by the help of external goods, but external goods by the help of virtue.”

Aristtotle, Politics, Bk. V11, Ch.1  (4th cent. B.C. )

If you are in good emotional health, you should be able to respond appropriately to whatever situations you encounter: to feel appropriately happy about good forture and appropriately sad about bad, to be able to feel appropriately angry or frustrated about the state of the world and the annoying behavior of others and to let go of these feeling once you’ve acknowledged them. It is important to remember that our moods are supposed to vary through both the positive and the negative regions of the emotional spectrum………..It is near the balance point that you will find resilience, contentment, comfort, and serenity.”

Andrew Weil MD, Spontaneous Happiness  Ch.1 page 19 and 21

%d bloggers like this: