If you've ever considered becoming vegan because for health reasons, then you might get the little boost you need by signing up for the PCRM's 21-day vegan kickstart. I signed up, even though I'm already a vegan, because after all: Who wouldn't want daily healthy tips and recipes?
And just in case you'd like some links on vegan being the healthiest way to eat:
Food, Inc is somewhat based on MIchael Pollan's work and a great deal of its focus is on the health ramifications of our current agro-industrial complex approach to food production on humans, particularly lower-income families.
So I thought it belonged here, and I'm wondering if any of you are planning to see it or have seen it?
Of course, I also have a vegan blog. And a personal blog where I write both movie reviews and occasionally items about animal rights. So this belongs there too.
Might start to feel a little bit like cheating though!
Healthy school lunches seem like a total no-brainer, but in fact one of the small things you can do is start to activate around your local schools, particularly by telling your local schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks.
Hell, I'd say you should do that even if you don't have kids in school!
But if you do have kids in school: What are their food options like? Food, Inc. wants us all to know...and to work to make those options healthier...for children in every kind of school at every kind of income level.
As I suspected, getting the steroid shot and prednisone treatment has made a huge difference. My allergies have gone from out of control and wearing me down, to barely a blip on my radar. How does that make a difference in day to day life?
How about this: The other night I went out for drinks with a friend who is leaving the country. About 7 years ago i developed an allergy to alcohol out of nowhere. Any kind of alcohol. I basically stopped drinking altogether. I visited an allergist who thought that being allergic to alcohol in such a sweeping way was unlikely. He instead subscribed to the bucket theory. My allergies are like a bucket, and when the bucket is full, lots of things can act as a trigger to push them to overflow...like alcohol. He suggested getting on Claritin, and that eventually that would bring my allergies under control. Well, i did take Claritin...and later switched to Zyrtec. And while my allergies are more under control taking a daily pill than taking nothing, I have not taken back up drinking. Occasionally I have a 1/2 glass of wine, maybe almost a full beer...but I always feel it when I do. Until a couple of evenings ago when I had one whole margarita. And felt nothing. No itchiness. No flushing/heat. No swollen eyes.
Or this: Friday evening I went to a book launch party for BlogBuddy Tara Hunt...which was held out in a beautiful backyard surrounded by lots of plant life. There have been countless times that I have left parties early, usually with two catalysts: Pets or outdoor plant life. But yesterday I hung out for about two hours and better yet: I didn't feel it. My eyes were a tiny bit red and icky this morning, but generally, I didn't sneeze, I didn't cough etc. etc.
Now my allergist back those few years ago isn't the only guy who subscribes to the "bucket" theory. I got an email the other day from a blog reader who said much the same thing. He represents the folks from a company called Phadia, who sponsor a site called Do I Have Allergies?.com
Their explanation of the bucket theory:
Allergy patients are often sensitive to a number of allergens, and allergy symptoms emerge only when cumulative exposure to these allergens pushes them over the symptom threshold. As long as the cumulative exposure is below threshold, allergy symptoms are not present. But once the threshold is breached all hell breaks loose. For example, a patient may be sensitive to three allergens, such as pet dander, dust mites, and pollen. For 11 months of the year, the cumulative load of the pet dander and house dust mites is just below the threshold. No symptoms. But that one month when pollen is in the air, the patient is over the threshold and symptoms are unmanageable. As a result, a patient suffering from terrible allergic symptoms during pollen season may be able to avoid these symptoms by targeting and reducing their exposure to other allergens, in short, rendering their sensitivity to pollens less than harmful.*
Sounds reasonable to me. And that's where I was a few weeks ago. I fully credit the steroid treatment for letting my enjoy life a little more.
I gotta do this every year!
*Thanks to Joseph Crivelli from Gregory | FCA Public Relations for sending me this description
That recipe calls for about 4 pounds of ingredients to make only 18 cookies, each of which runs 500 calories — one quarter of the amount needed by most people for an entire day. I’d call one of those cookies lunch or share it with three friends. By the way, a similar recipe in the 1975 “Joy of Cooking” made 45 cookies with just half the ingredients. These would be just under 100 calories each.
I, too, would like to know how the editors justified this ballooning of portion sizes over the years. Certainly, as people with free will, we could always choose to serve more than the recipe calls a portion if we protested against their original small portion size, but when recipes (and restaurants) put portions of immense size in front of us, it does sort of re-set our expectations of how much we should eat.
Seems like this is just another way that our culture is killing us slowly and insidiously.
One of the most trafficked posts I ever wrote here was about green phlegm. That's right. I was coughing up some, and I was wondering if that was an automatic "Go straight to Dr., do not Pass Go, and be prepared to cough up $$" symptom.
As it turns out, there was not complete agreement on the matter.
And Google searches for "green phlegm" still bring me traffic every single week.
I am in a similar situation now. Three weeks ago I started feeling a bit under the weather, and I was cursing my body out, because on February 16th I left for a trip to South Africa, my first real vacation in about 6 years. (Yes, I took many cool pictures, and you can find the links to those photo pages here on my personal blog.)
Well, a 40-hour door-to-door trip, which included about 24 hours sitting on three different planes with all of humanity, did nothing to quell my ailment. In fact, by the time we arrived in our game lodge room, I was a goner. I got in bed at about 2PM that afternoon and didn't emerge until morning.
At some point it was hard to tell where my allergies might have played a role...we were driving out in the bushlands amongst dense vegetation for about 5-6 hours a day. But the bottom line was that I had a wicked cough, an ear that never unclogged from landing, sinus congestion and pressure and sneezing. And a general fatigued, feverish feeling.
You can get cough syrup with codeine without a prescription in Africa, so my friend (who was also sick) and I did get through the trip without missing too much. But we were not at our best, and our energy was definitely depleted.
I've been back over one week now, and while I'm mostly better, I can't say I'm 100%. The cough is there, and perhaps more annoyingly, it's that tightness in the chest that is still there. You know the kind...when you have to plan your deep breaths carefully because otherwise they automatically lead to a cough. It's a dry cough, not producing much phlegm at all, but it's persistent.
And yes, I'm asking that question: After three weeks of being sick, how long do I give myself to get over this before going to the Dr.? Does this last remaining symptom get to stick around for another week? What would the doctor do about it anyway?
What would you do? And be honest...because I am well familiar with the "do as I say and go to the doctor, and not as a I do (which is never to go to the doctor) approach!!
I got an email telling me about Kaiser Permanente's new widgets. went to the page and thought, cool! A yoga widget. A fitness widget. A brain tease widget. That's neat, and I was all set to add one or two to this blog's sidebar.
But why oh why would they make me download an application from Yahoo! to load a widget, instead of just providing me with the code?
And then they compound things by having the stupidest explanation ever of why they want me to do that. And I quote from their FAQ page:
Why do I have to download and install a separate application to run these widgets? The widgets are like small power tools. The Yahoo! Widgets program is like the electricity that makes all the different power tools work. Installing the Yahoo! Widgets program is like wiring your computer with electricity. As soon as that installation is complete, you can download and start using widgets immediately.
That explanation makes me so grumpy I'm not downloading the widgets...at least today.
I read it with interest because recently my right eye lost a full point on the vision scale in about 9 months, going from 20-475 to 20-575.
This was unusual because I have been nearsighted since childhood, and as an adult my eyes have only degraded at a fairly regular, slow pace. Moreover, my right eye has always been a little worse than the left, but has stayed the same amount worse throughout adulthood...now it is significantly worse, because my left eye did not change during these last nine months.
The eye doctor didn't seem overly concerned, although he conceded it was a bit of an unusual drop. He asked me if I was under stress. Ha! Sounds like he might have been thinking of the same temporary issue Dr. Val's doctor mentioned.
Then, sticking with the eyes for a moment, my S.O. got me a lovely lavender and buckwheat eye pillow, which he gave me on Christmas Eve.
Handy tip for you all: Those pillows are not meant to be slept in, as though they were eye shades. I woke up and my vision was blurred...for hours. I'm guessing that the pillow was too heavy and pushed down on my eyes, with the result being blurred vision.
All to say: Eyes are scary. Vision-related issues are scary. And, like Dr. Val, my eye doctor didn't have a lot of answers or suggestions. It's a very wait-and-see-what-happens-next-year kind of thing, from what I can tell.
Meanwhile, I keep checking my vision with one eye, and then the next, closed. I think this eye-pochondria may last a few more days.
Now that I have nieces and nephews I have observed the hassle their parents, grandparents and the rest of us go through trying to extract the kids' gifts from their frustrating packaging. And quickly too (as the kids stand by anxiously ...and not too quietly...waiting).
I could go on and on about why I haven't posted in over a month. I could explain my life (too much work, too many blogs, and not enough time). I could talk about how talking health care during the election season was just frustrating for me because I didn't feel enough of an expert to comment on anything or anyone. I could look on the bright side and say, gee, I've just been so healthy I had nothing to write about regarding health. (True, except those allergies and sleep deprivation I actually have been good.)
But let's forget all that ad just move forward, shall we? And what better way than to point you to a wonderful daily series over at BlogHer: 61 Days to Better Health, by Health contributing editor (and RN) Catherine Morgan.
OK, it's a minor detail that the series actually started on November 1st, so I'm tell you about three weeks late. But you can catch up and thus learn about many simple things you can do to be healthier this holiday season.
Now, i could encourage you all to give veganism a try by pointing you also to VeganMoFo, spearheaded by noted vegan chef, cookbook writer and cupcake aficianado Isa Moskowitz. That's short for the Vegan Month of Food, and is a project where scores of bloggers commit to blog as much wonderful stuff about food...recipes, reviews etc...as they can for the entire month of October.
But this is a health blog, so I will point you to the latest medical study indicating a vegan diet is effective for staving off, in this case, cardiovascular disease, particularly in patients with Type 2 diabetes. Honestly, I thought we already knew that, but i think the differentiator about this study was that it was specifically looking at Type 2 diabetes patients because heart attacks or strokes kill two-thirds of those patients! Which is pretty shocking.
So take advantage of VeganMoFo and Vegetarian Awareness month and give peace (and peas) a chance in October. Let me know how it goes, m'kay?