In This Issue:
3) A Few More Words about Vitamin D
Here in the Pacific Northwest we’re finally enjoying the warm weather, flowers and accompanying sunshine, and stocking up on some of that all-important vitamin D for next winter. In our last newsletter we discussed vitamin D (which is actually a hormone, and not a phyto-nutrient), but new research has come to light recently, so we wanted to say a few more words on the subject in this issue. Also in this month’s issue, I discuss some beauty and health concerns that I experienced personally, and we welcome Dr. Jennifer Daniels as a guest columnist.
Tomorrow I’ll be in Monterey California on April 22nd, and Redwood City California on Thursday April 23rd, giving my new talk, “How to Look and Feel Beautiful, Inside and Out.” If you’re interested in attending, please click here for more details.
And by the way, in celebration of April and as a late Easter present, we’ve hidden an “Easter Egg” in one of our articles. The egg is actually a coupon code to receive 30% off of any size order of Do You Have the Guts to Be Beautiful? But hurry, the coupon can only be used by the first 50 readers who redeem it and it expires on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th).
When placing an order with this coupon code, you will need to entert the code near the end of your order, after you have entered your shipping and billing information and before entering your credit card information (if you don’t see a space for the code at the beginnng of your order, this is why). Good luck on your hunt!
Here’s to your health,
Mitra Ray, Ph.D. and the From Here to Longevity Publishing Team
Dye-ing to Be Beautiful
Most people I know are concerned with their looks. Wanting to be beautiful isn’t vanity: people like to look at attractive things. The appearance of youth and vitality signals to others that we are healthy. From an evolutionary biology standpoint, it makes sense for humans to choose attractive mates – the potential partners who have clear skin, bright eyes, healthy hair, etc., are likely the best mates when it comes to propagation and survival of the species.
The media and mainstream culture have managed to confuse us when it comes to our looks, however. On one hand, many of us want to look like the model or actress on the magazine cover: unnaturally thin, airbrushed to perfection, hair and make-up laboriously attended to. We feel inadequate and unattractive when we don’t look like these artificial examples of beauty, and we either over-compensate by spending money on lotions, potions, surgery, and other would-be solutions to our perceived flaws, or we throw our hands in the air and give up; we recognize that we’ll never look like that super-model, so we decide that we might as well eat the chocolate cake or drink the soda.
On the other hand, there is the opposite extreme view that exists in our culture: that it’s somehow vain to want to appear beautiful. Looks aren’t everything, as we all know, so it must be shallow to actively pursue beauty. This view is as damaging as the others, and none of them do anything to help people gain true health, vitality, and beauty.
I’m no different than anyone else when it comes to wanting to look good, and I recently had an experience that contributed greatly to my desire to educate myself and others about natural remedies for common beauty problems.
When I was living in London, UK, I went to a new hair stylist in my neighborhood. It was a particularly stressful period in my life, and I wasn’t my usual discerning self about my sensitivity to chemicals. As someone who has a hard time with harsh perfumes, cleaning agents, and chemicals, I am generally scrupulous about what goes on and in my body.
However, as I said, I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and when I went in for a haircut the stylist really sold me on coloring my hair. She said that there was a lot of gray in the back of my hair where I couldn’t see it. I panicked when she said that, and decided to do something about it, so I agreed to let her change my color.
She proceeded to color my hair without a performing a patch test on my skin or scalp. I started itching when I came home. The itching got worse and worse, and when I called her she offered no help. I started calling homeopaths, searching the internet, talking to everyone I could about the fact that I was having this horrible reaction to hair dye. My face began to swell up as well. I couldn’t sleep, and every time I looked in the mirror my face was more swollen. It looked so bad that I actually frightened my children.
People said I should go to the hospital. I read an article about how 1 in 200 people are allergic to hair dyes and another article about how a young girl was hospitalized just that very day for a similar reaction. Her picture looked like me! And we both looked like the Elephant Man-swollen, disfigured, and very, very sick.
Well, I knew I wasn’t going to go to the hospital, so I proceeded with super-hydration, homeopathic treatment (petroleum, 30c; causticum,12c),and herbal therapies (aloe straight from plant; calendula cream). In the end, I was able to treat the allergic reaction myself, but the amount of physical pain and fear that I experienced as the result of using hair dye was something that no one should have to go through in their attempt to look and feel good.
But we don’t have to choose between the equally unappealing choices of harsh chemicals to color our hair, or throwing up our hands and accepting that our hair is thinning or gray. Believe it or not, there is an alternative for all of us.
Do You Have the Guts to Be Beautiful? is my new book, written with Dr. Jennifer Daniels. It’s all about the healthy alternatives that really do work when it comes to looking beautiful. There are simple, effective, and inexpensive ways to treat gray hair. There are also tips for reversing hair loss and baldness. In our book, Dr. Daniels and I also discuss ways to remove wrinkles and age spots.
We believe that beauty, health, and vitality are our birthrights, and that these three things go hand in hand. Our goal is for each and every one of us to look and feel beautiful, and to have the health and energy to enjoy our lives to the fullest.
Click here to order your copy today.
P.S. Dr. Daniels and I are delighted with the raving reviews we’re receiving on GTBB.
Readers seem to be eager to try all the suggestions, and are asking many enthusiastic questions.
In response to this, Dr. Daniels and I are launching a series of 4 calls starting May 7th, 2009 at 5 pm PST. Click here to register for this series.
The Cholestrol Myth: avoid useless medications and lower cholestrol naturally
This month, From Here to Longevity welcomes Dr. Jennifer Daniels as a guest expert in health, nutrition, and beauty.
Dr. Daniels received her undergraduate, pre-medical degree from Harvard University. She attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, where she simultaneously completed an MBA at the Wharton School of Business with a focus on healthcare management.
Dr. Daniels is co-author of Do You Have the Guts to be Beautiful?, and currently runs a fasting clinic in Panama where one can go to rejuvenate and gain health and vitality.
Not long ago, this quote appeared in a story in Business Week magazine: “What if you put 250 people in a room and told them they would each pay $1,000 a year for a drug they would have to take every day, that many would get diarrhea and muscle pain, and that 249 would have no benefit? This is the comparable cost and benefit of taking cholesterol lowering medication.”
Too many Americans have been put on cholesterol-lowering medication even though they have not been diagnosed with heart disease. Lowering cholesterol, while making no other significant lifestyle and diet changes, will not lengthen anyone’s life. For example, eggs are high in cholesterol, and you have just found your our hidden coupon code. Enter hiddenegg when you place an order and you will receive 30 percent off of the normal cost of the book. And now, back to the article. In general, studies done on cholesterol levels are inconsistent in their conclusions, and lead to more questions than real answers. For instance, some studies indicate that those with cholesterol levels that are too low die more frequently than those whose cholesterol levels are too high.
Lowering cholesterol is big business: doctors, drug companies, labs that measure cholesterol, and pharmaceutical sales reps all profit from making sure that people spend a lot of time, money, and energy monitoring their cholesterol. Sadly, the pharmaceutical industry measures effectiveness in cholesterol-treatment not in terms of improved health for the patient, but in terms of the numbers that go up and down on the cholesterol tests. These numbers have very little to do with quality of life, experience of symptoms, or even life expectancy. Patients also often lose sight of health and well being as the ultimate goal, so fixated do they become on those numbers.
But the real numbers are important to pay attention to: 250 people need to be treated in order for one person to benefit medically from taking cholesterol-lowering medications.
So how should we approach treatment of high cholesterol? First, consider what cholesterol does: cholesterol is found in plaques that can grow until they block arteries. Why are these things there in the first place? From a natural point of view, the cholesterol is acting as a patch to repair a portion of an artery damaged by inflammation. Cholesterol is useful and important, and lowering one’s cholesterol too far is dangerous, which explains why people with very low cholesterols can die sooner than people with high cholesterols.
Reducing the inflammation is the solution. Sugar, flour, refined Omega 6 vegetable oils, processed foods, and food additives all contribute to inflammation, and should be avoided.
The foods and habits that reduce inflammation are Omega 3 fatty acids, turmeric, garlic, ginger, drinking more water, and eating more raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Over time, elimination of the foods that cause inflammation, and increase in consumption of those that reduce inflammation, will have long term and dramatic effects on your health. Heart disease is reduced, cholesterol levels balance out naturally, and there are no side effects or expenses of cholesterol-lowering drugs.
It is also important to remember that all animal products (including eggs, dairy, chicken, fish, and red meat) increase cholesterol in the blood. Plants have no dietary cholesterol, and will never raise blood cholesterol levels.
A Few More Words About Vitamin D
In my last newsletter, I wrote about the importance of vitamin D and sunlight. Recently, new research about vitamin D has emerged, and I want to amend what I said and give you a bit more information with regards to this vital hormone. It’s still crucial to get sunlight when you have the chance, and as I said in the last newsletter, the best way to get vitamin D is to spend some time in the sun. There’s no supplementation that does as well as sunshine, so any time you have the opportunity, expose your arms and legs to the light. 15 minutes a day during the summer, even if it’s indirect sun in the afternoon, should be enough if you’re light-skinned. Those of us with darker complexions need a bit more sunlight, and should shoot for half an hour a day whenever possible.
Getting sun on your face isn’t recommended because, health benefits or no, too much sun will cause your face to wrinkle. In our new book, Do You Have the Guts to Be Beautiful ?, Dr. Daniels and I share ways to eliminate wrinkles, but avoiding them in the first place is probably a better bet, so wear a hat when you’re going to be in direct sunlight.
But the rest of your body needs that sunlight for vitamin D production. However, for those of us who live in places like Seattle, there’s not much sun in the winter, and it’s worthwhile to have your D levels tested in September. Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in most diseases of civilization, and many people are sick and don’t know why. If you have any kind of chronic pain, if you have concerns about being over-tired, if you’ve got any health challenges, definitely get your blood checked around September to see if you’ve got good levels of vitamin D from the summer. If you don’t, you want to take about 5,000 units of D3 a day and see how you feel after several months.
In the last newsletter I indicated that long-term D supplementation isn’t a good idea, and that’s still true. You can overdose on vitamin D because it’s a fat-soluble hormone, so it’s not good to take too much. But it’s safe to take 5000 units a day and then check your levels in December to see if you need to continue. If you’re really, really deficient your doctor will probably inject you with about 50,000 units of vitamin D, and then another 10,000 units once week for a month or so.
I can’t stress enough just how worthwhile this is to pursue. The tests aren’t terribly expensive, and the D3 supplementation itself will probably set you back about $10 a month. Given how much good it can do for you, there’s no reason not to look into having your levels checked, especially if you’re someone who avoids the sunlight or lives in a place that doesn’t get much sun to begin with.
For health care professionals interested in an excellent summary on Vitamin D, click here.
Recipe: Heavenly Hummus
Legumes are an amazing source of both fiber and protein, and are vastly healthier than any animal protein. In my family we go through hummus like mad, and it can get expensive to buy store-bought hummus when you have a husband who practically drinks the stuff!
Hummus can be made with either dried or canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Soaking your own dried beans not only costs substantially less, the beans retain more of their nutritional value, and are not overloaded with sodium. Plus, they just taste better when prepared fresh. Still, if you’re pressed for time, canned beans can be used. Be sure to rinse them several times if you do to remove some of the salt.
When using dried beans, follow either the quick-soak method, or soak overnight.
Quick soak: Cover beans with several inches of water, bring to a boil, and boil for two minutes. Take the pan off the heat, cover, and let stand for two hours. This is not part of the cooking process – this is just soaking. You’ll still need to cook for 1.5 hours when you’re ready to prepare your recipe.
Overnight soak: Cover the beans with several inches of water and let stand in the refrigerator (so that they don’t ferment) for a minimum of 8 hours. It’s fine to soak for up to 24 hours, so you can start your soak in the evening, and then cook them the next night (or anytime during the day, of course).
To cook your beans: use two-to-three three cups of fresh water or homemade vegetable stock for each cup of dried beans. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and partially cover the pot. Cook for 1.5 hours, periodically skimming any foam off of the top. You can also cook garbanzos (or any legumes) in a pressure cooker.
A note about authentic hummus: Most store-bought hummus and hummus recipes call for a lot of olive oil. This isn’t actually the authentic Middle Eastern preparation. No oil is used when cooking or blending, but only drizzled over the top right before serving. It can also be left out entirely, which is how I prefer to eat it. To get a creamier consistency to your hummus, adding water is more effective than adding additional oil when you’re blending. Extra olive oil can actually overpower the other flavors.
Heavenly Hummus Recipe
2 cups cooked chickpeas
3 T tahini
1 tsp sea salt
¼ – ½ tsp ground cumin seed (roasted or raw; vary amount according to taste)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic (or more if you’re a garlic lover)
¼ – ½ cup cooking liquid from beans or water to desired consistency
2 T chopped Italian parsley
Dash of paprika
Chopped kalamata olives
Use blender or food processor to mix cooked chickpeas with tahini, salt, lemon juice, garlic, and cumin. Blend until creamy, adding water or cooking liquid from beans in small amounts to reach desired consistency. Stir in chopped parsley, sprinkle with a bit of paprika and chopped olives (optional) before serving.
Can be stored in refrigerator for up to a week.
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