Slipping Out of Summer


Think of all the great things you did for your health over the summer. You left your air-conditioned house and went outside to play, which means you stretched and strengthened your muscles and soaked up lots of fresh air and Vitamin D. Along with your burgers and hot dogs, you ate strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, Swiss chard, beans and melons from your garden and enjoyed roasted zucchini from your neighbor’s abundant harvest.

You relaxed with a good book or good music on the beach or the patio, by the pool or the creek and rejuvenated your mind as well as your body. You left home for a vacation, experienced a change of scenery and reconnected with loved ones. You took time to sit back, reflect, regroup, refocus and plan your next steps.

As we slide from September sunshine into October’s crisp mornings and evenings, what can we do to maintain our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health? Here are just a few ideas. None of them are original, all of them are borrowed.

  • Snag a bit of sunshine and fresh air every day
  • Continue to find ways to move your muscles
  • Swim, bike, walk, hike, climb, fish, canoe, kayak
  • Clean your garden beds, trim your trees and bushes
  • Cut the carbs, boost the fruit, veggies and protein
  • Worship your Creator first thing every morning
  • Immerse yourself in a good book
  • Stay in touch with loved ones, share a hug
  • Walk your dog, bike to work
  • Organize your office, kitchen and closets
  • Smile, sing, dance, jump, skip, relax
  • Listen to God, listen to others, apologize, forgive
  • Think of ways to give rather than get
  • Accept gifts and kindnesses with grace, say “thank you”

The sweet lady who cuts my hair, Tiffiny, always writes gratitude on the appointment cards I take home with me. What a good reminder to be grateful! What are you thankful for this fall? I’m not talking turkey at Thanksgiving. I’m talking daily response to our Creator for gifting us with all that goes with another beautiful day on this beautiful planet called Earth. Gratitude!


Don’t Let Anyone Pull the Wool over Your Eyes

I recently read “Wool,” an enormously successful science-fiction novel by Hugh downsized_1129141605Howey. I don’t normally read sci-fi, but I’d seen and heard enough rave reviews of the book that I decided to read it for myself.

Why am I discussing a novel, especially a science-fiction novel, on a health blog? Hang with me. I have my reasons.

“Wool” tells the story of a group of people who’ve spent centuries surviving in a huge underground silo drilled deep into the earth – one-hundred and fifty-plus levels, if I remember correctly. Each level has a different function. Some contain gardens, others host shops and restaurants, and others have infirmaries and law enforcement quarters. The residents live near their places of employment. Mines and miners are on the lowest levels. Generators and pumps and the mechanics who keep them in operation exist above them. The supply rooms and staff are even higher. And up it goes to more “important” departments, like IT.

One long, spiral staircase connects all the levels and all the silo people. The only way to see daylight is to tread the winding, metal stairs to the topmost level, which has huge windows that display, via camera lenses, the overcast, windswept, lifeless, toxic landscape outside the silo. Few people make the trip on a regular basis.

Are you feeling claustrophobic yet? I did while reading the book. Mr. Howey is an excellent writer whose story immerses the reader in a world that lacks the sunshine, freedom and beautiful vistas we take for granted. In case you’re wondering why anyone would read such a depressing story, I want you to know that love for friends and family is the driving force behind the plot.

Although “Wool” is a fun read, I was struck by its cultural authenticity and the similarity between the silo society and the real-live, repressive, religious cult that segregates several people I love from the rest of humanity. Here are ten of the many commonalities between the two worlds:

  • Fear-based control
  • Focus on shame and punishment
  • Taboo subjects
  • Approved marriages
  • Forced birth control
  • Limited education
  • Limited communication between members
  • Limited contact with other groups
  • Community “order” structured on and regulated by the leader’s lies
  • One person has all the control and enforces with an iron fist

Every aspect of our health is important. Emotional and mental health are just as vital as physical health. Fear and domination take their toll, whether a single sheepperson is manipulated and abused by another person or an entire organization or country is under the thumb of an authoritarian and his or her minions. If even one aspect of the above list rings true for you, seek help. Seek freedom.

– Freedom of Mind Resource Center:

– Freedom of Mind Resource Center phone: 617-396-4638

– National Domestic Violence Hotline Website:

– National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233

– National Human Trafficking Resource Center:

– National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888

– Wellspring Retreat & Resource Center:

– Wellspring Retreat & Resource Center phone: 740-589-5600/740-589-5601

I’ll conclude with the heroine’s thoughts near the end of “Wool.” “So much about her previous life made sense. Things that had once seemed twisted now had a sort of pattern, a logic about them…it was all designed. She’d seen hints of this before but never knew why… It turned out that some crooked things looked even worse when straightened. Some tangled knots only made sense once unraveled.”

Treat Yourself

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted a blog on this site. I’ll try to be a bit more faithful with my posts in 2015. Let me know if you have a topic you’d like me to cover – and I’ll see what the experts have to say about it. My thoughts for today have to do with holiday eating.

As we head into a season of celebration with traditions centered around food preparation and consumption, I thought youchristmas food gifts 06 might be interested in the experiences of a family who stopped eating processed food for 100 days. Lisa Leake writes in a McClatchy-Tribune News Service article titled “Eight Things My Family Learned by Giving Up Processed Foods” that many of the foods she thought were healthy were actually highly processed.

A good definition of processed food comes from “Food that has had anything done to it is processed. This means frozen fruits, bagged salad greens, chopped apples and ground beef are all technically processed foods, not just foods like crackers, chips, frozen dinners and cookies.”

Another source says, “The term ‘whole foods’ refers to eating food that is closer to its original form than much of the food we see being advertised and on the shelves nowadays. It is in fact sort of a return to the way things used to be. Whole foods are foods that know where they came from. For example, if a vegetable still look exactly like it did when it was picked, then it’s a whole food. If it comes in a can with an ingredient label, it’s not quite so whole anymore.”

The idea behind healthy eating, according to, is to “Eat mainly whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy products, seafood, skinless chicken and lean meat.” I appreciate the inclusion of the word “mainly” because few, if any, individuals have access to whole foods all the time, especially in the winter.

Here are the eight lessons Leake shared with readers. For more about their experience, see

  1. Eating real food is easier than it looks.
  2. Her family is healthier since they stopped ingesting processed foods.
  3. “Reading the ingredient list (as opposed to the nutrition facts) is the only way to truly know what’s in your food.”
  4. Purchasing real food doesn’t have to break the bank.
  5. Real food tastes better.
  6. They occasionally indulge in junk food but prefer the homemade variety.
  7. Planning ahead is key. “Always think through your next meal and have a plan.”
  8. Out of sight, out of mind. Don’t keep junk food in the house.

My family has had the same experience. Real food can be simple to prepare and is tastier than boxed or canned. In fact, the longer I avoid fake food, the worse it tastes when I have it—and the worse I feel. I’ve heard people say consumption of processed foods, which often contain an overload of carbs, salt, sugar and chemicals, causes them to have fuzzy thinking. Along with a muddled brain, I experience headaches plus sinus and digestive problems.

I know some of you are thinking you’ll save healthy eating for January 2, 2015, when you plan to start that diet you’ve been thinking about. But you and your body and your family members and their bodies are valuable and worthy of tender, loving care. Treat yourselves to real food this holiday season. Try it, you’ll like it!

Wishing you a joyous Christmas Season, Becky

Sweet Heart Health

Our local newspaper published an Associated Press article last week titled “Study Says Sugar Can Be Deadly.” According to Lindsey Tanner, the author of the story, “The biggest study of its kind suggests diets high in sugar are linked to fatal heart problems.”

candies,chocolates,food,hearts,Photographs,special occasions,Valentines Day“Yeah, yeah,” you say. “I know sugar is bad for me, but I don’t eat that much.” Have you ever stopped at the end of the day to total the amount of sugar you consumed that day? From the sweetener found in your breakfast cereal and in the two sodas you drank between phone calls to the candy bar or cookie you ate with your latte during your coffee break? Don’t forget the sugar in the sandwich you enjoyed at lunch (check the bread and mayo labels) and in the spaghetti sauce and salad dressing you consumed at supper. How about that after-dinner scoop of ice cream with chocolate syrup and maraschino cherries on top? It all adds up, and a high score does not mean you’re a winner.

The study found that “adults who got at least 25 percent of their calories from added sugar were almost three times more likely to die of heart problems than those who consumed the least     less than 10 percent.” Dr. Joseph Mercola says, “sugar is a primary dietary culprit in the development of heart disease. To protect your heart health, you need to address your insulin and leptin resistance, which is the result of eating a diet too high in sugars and grains.”

Dr. William Douglass writes that in a recent study, “more than 100 healthy teens were given milkshakes with varying levels of fats and sugars as their brains were scanned. Fat content almost didn’t matter. What did matter was sugar: the more sugar in the shake, the crazier the brain’s reward center went. The biggest burst of activity came with a shake loaded in sugar, but relatively low in fat.”

He added: “This study focused on pure sugar, but all carbs have a similar effect, leading to cravings, hunger, overeating and eventually weight gain and obesity. Fats, meanwhile, do the opposite     leaving you feeling full and satisfied and far less likely to overeat.”

You may have heard of sugar’s connection with metabolic syndrome. The YouDocs, in a February 4 column, explain that a person with any three of five certain conditions has metabolic syndrome. Those conditions? A large waistline, elevated triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, and elevated blood pressure. Metabolic syndrome predisposes a person to “diabetes and heart disease. And it seems that elevated cholesterol and elevated or fluctuating glucose levels are what amp up the grouch.”

If you’re not feeling sweet and loving this Valentine’s Day, you might ask your doctor to check your numbers. Even before the test results come back, begin to heed the You Docs advice: Reduce stress, walk 10,000 steps a day, and eliminate the “Five Food Felons      saturated and trans fats, added sugar and sugar syrups, [and] any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole.”

Be kind to your heart this Valentine’s Day and always!

Buff Up Your Immune System

Here are a few random thoughts from the experts with ways to maintain your health during cold and flu season.Image

From a YouDocs November column: “A new study reveals that taking probiotics twice a day for six months helps kids chase away cold symptoms.” Fewer children became ill, and if they did, “recovery time was cut by a third.” Along with probiotics, the docs suggest taking multivitamins, vitamin D-3 and DHA omega-3 plus eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. They also recommend we “drink plenty of fluids, avoiding those with added sugars.”

Dr. Joseph Mercola writes: “Studies have clearly shown that regular exercise will help prevent catching colds in the first place.” Also, “according to the research, exercising with a cold may be well advised. At the end of one 10-day trial, those who exercised 40 minutes every-other day, at 70 percent of their maximum heart rate, felt better than those who remained sedentary—even though the clinical severity and duration of their symptoms were virtually identical.”

Dr. Louis Ignarro and Dr. Andrew Myers of say we should “focus on getting adequate sleep. During sleep, our body releases chemicals that help support and improve our immune function.” They also recommend drinking green tea because “it is rich in antioxidant nutrients that support immune cell activity in defense against bacteria and viruses.”

More from Dr. Mercola: “Evidence is mounting in support of vitamin D as a potent cold and flu prevention strategy. Optimizing your vitamin D levels through regular sun exposure is preferred, as it imparts health benefits beyond what you can get from oral vitamin D supplements.”

Along with vitamin D, I use the Chinese herb astragalus to enhance immunity. When I feel a scratchy throat or have other suspicious symptoms, I add echinacea, another herb that stimulates the immune system. I’ve found that daily multi-vitamins and minerals are essential for my own good health as well as extra vitamin C and vitamin E.

If you do succumb to one of those nasty bugs making the rounds this winter, Drs. James Balch and Mark Stengler, authors of Prescription for Natural Cures, have a couple suggestions. First of all, “Eat lightly. Steamed vegetables, soups and broths and herbal tea will let your body focus on healing, instead of on digestion.”

The writers also recommend we stay hydrated and increase our consumption of ginger, onions and garlic.  The traditional hot water with lemon, honey and cinnamon cold remedy is mentioned; plus, the authors say to avoid sugar, milk and other dairy products. “Sugar decreases the number of white blood cells that your body produces and depresses your immune system” and dairy products “encourage the production of mucus.”

One more note from the book: “Caffeine depletes the body’s stores of zinc, a mineral necessary for healing. Avoid coffee, black teas, and chocolate until the flu passes.” No chocolate!? I can hear the groans. But this too shall pass.

Have a Happy, Healthy 2014! Becky


Metabolic Syndrome Epidemic

I know, I know. I harp on sugar a lot. So I’ve held off on this particular post. Still, you need to hear it again. Sugar and sugar substitutes are far more addictive than we realize.

 ImageDr. Joseph Mercola writes, “Research has demonstrated that refined sugar is more addictive than cocaine, giving you pleasure by triggering an innate process in your brain via dopamine and opioid signals. Food manufacturers have gotten savvy to the addictive nature of certain foods and tastes, including saltiness and sweetness, and have turned addictive taste into a science in and of itself.” (

The YouDocs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, wrote in a newspaper article last March: “Some food manufacturers engineer products to contain (from their point of view) the optimal balance of sugar and high fructose corn syrup.” That optimal balance creates “maximum crave,” so that we continue to consume the engineered products.

“It’s what they call your bliss point,” Oz and Roizen tell us. “We kid you not; they aim for that sweet spot that keeps you coming back for more. It’s why you’ll find sugar in spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, yogurt and even low-fat, processed, frozen foods that say ‘Healthy’ or ‘Lean’ on the package.”

Manufacturers also use sugar substitutes to retain customers, according to the YouDocs. “These fake sugars trick your body into thinking that you’ve had real sugar, but then leave you wanting more, more, more.”

The crazy thing is, once you get away from the overly sweet stuff, it no longer tastes good, and the artificial stuff tastes like what it is, chemical soup. Once you’ve made the taste-bud switch, you can enjoy a wide variety of foods. Last weekend, at a launch party for my latest novel, Winds of Freedom, my daughter and I provided sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free foods because we knew certain attendees could not tolerate sugar, dairy and gluten. Several people, even non-allergic individuals, commented on how much they enjoyed the food and asked for recipes. We served items like turkey meatballs, fresh fruit, nuts, non-dairy cheese, and veggies and crackers with hummus dip. Mini fruit kabobs and apple pie bites lightly sweetened with brown rice syrup were the sweet treats of the evening.

I’ve mentioned Dr. Lustig before, whose work is cited in a NY Times article called Is Sugar Toxic, and a Segment on 60 Minutes with the same name. Dr. Robert Lustig, is the pediatric endocrinologist whose lecture, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has been viewed almost four-million times on YouTube. Dr. Carolyn Dean ( says that “Lustig and his fellow researchers have concluded that it’s the fructose component in sucrose (processed table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup that’s causing the epidemic of Metabolic Syndrome with its components of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, inflammation, and non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease.”

The important takeaway from this information is that retraining our taste buds (or even losing weight) is not the main issue. Our well-being and lives are at stake. Be kind to your body. 

When Your Body Talks, Listen

Years ago, I wrote an article for a pregnancy newsletter titled “When Your Body Talks, Listen.” After two toxemic pregnancies Imagethat resulted in four-pound babies followed by a healthy pregnancy that produced a nine-pound child, I wanted to encourage other women to pay attention to their bodies. From my pregnancy experiences, I learned to watch my diet, drink plenty of water, get regular exercise, and supplement my diet with vitamins, minerals and other health-enhancing products.

Recently, I’ve had to take my own advice. It all started with engine noises as I was falling asleep one somewhat silent night. I realized I was hearing a rumble like an airplane warming up, which wasn’t surprising because we live fairly close to an airport. But the plane never took off, and the sound didn’t stop, so I decided it came from a truck in the neighborhood. Eventually, I fell asleep. However, I heard the same “motor” the next night and the next…and the next.

 If I listened closely, I could hear the engine revving during daytime hours. Soon, the sound got louder; at least I thought it did. Maybe I was hyper aware of the problem, or maybe the noise really did escalate in volume.

That’s when I got on the Internet to search for reasons and solutions. I also considered visiting an audiologist. But then I remembered a young man we knew years ago who had a similar problem. His doctor told him the noises were a result of food allergies.

I thought about how dairy products clog my sinuses, give me headaches, and affect my digestion, even when I’m not pregnant. Although I rarely ingest milk and cheese, I’d been topping my fruit with a bit of plain Greek yogurt for breakfast almost every morning. I love the taste and consistency and wanted the protein and probiotics found in yogurt.

Despite the fact I’d eaten Greek yogurt for several months without noticeable problems, I knew I had to eliminate the delicious stuff from my diet to see if it was the culprit. Sure enough. Within a couple days, the throbbing in my ear was gone. Lesson learned.

What about you? Are you listening to your body? Becky