Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Is Our Germ-Phobia Making Us Sick?

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Bacteria (“germs”) have such an mandatory and critical role in the environment and in our bodies that without them both would die. If we would die without bacteria, why do we have a germ-phobia?

A very tiny minority of bacteria (<0.1%) cause diseases. In reality, these harmful bacteria are poor competitors and just barely survive in the presence of the much more pervasive harmless and beneficial bacteria. Instead these toxic bacteria wait for an opportunity when the harmless and beneficial bacteria are adversely effected, and then they multiply and take over and as a result cause disease. This is why they are clinically called "opportunistic infections." In fact, it was recently reported that the appendix functions as a repository of harmless and beneficial bacteria that colonizes the gut after a disease process displaces them. In health care facilities, opportunistic infections occur because antibiotics and disinfections kill the pervasive harmless and beneficial bacteria allowing the harmful bacteria to flourish. Could the same be happening in our homes? The number of home products that "disinfect" and "kill 99%" of bacteria are growing rapidly and advertised regularly. These products are actually killing the beneficial and harmless bacteria giving the harmful bacteria opportunities! This could be the reason opportunistic infections are occurring outside health care facilities, i.e., in our homes and schools. It is well documented that children that grow up with pets in the home and otherwise called "dirty" have fewer allergies and asthma than children that grow up without pets in the home and otherwise called "clean". It appears that exposure to bacteria in childhood is important to growing up without allergies and asthma. So, are we too clean and focused on what we can't see? Do we need to rethink what the capitalist and advertisers are telling us about germs so they can sell us their products using false fear? Should everyone have pets and be less clean? Is our germ-phobia making us sick? The simple answer is an emphatic "Yes!"

Are Humans Just Pawns in the Earth’s Recycling Plans?

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Over the billions of years, one comes to wonder if there is rhyme or reason to the slow yet monumental changes that the earth undergoes. Continental drifts with tectonic plates smashing against each other and the evolutionary changes of life on the planet that several times has been decreased by 90% only to bounce back. Finally, why have human beings been so favored in the last epoch. Is there a reason behind all this?Teleologically, there must be a reason and earth’s recycling of its resources may be it.

The environment on earth has varied dramatically over eons. Different ages have had markedly different amount of gases in the atmosphere along with widely varying temperatures. Warming and ice ages variations have been well documented.

Yet, in the previous recent epochs a massive amount of carbon dioxide in the form of plants and animals was sequestered deep under the earth. This sequestered carbon dioxide are called hydrocarbons and commonly known as oil and gas.

Now, if the native intelligence of the earth, i.e., Gaia wanted to recycle this carbon dioxide, how would it do it? Certainly, catastrophic upheavals and fires would release this carbon dioxide but would also destroy the surface of the earth leaving it lifeless. No further use of life would be possible.

An alternative would be to allow the evolutions of intelligent beings that could extract and burn these hydrocarbons. With the recycling of it carbon dioxide the continually changes in the physical earth would continue.

So, in the finally analysis, human beings may just be pawns in Gaia’s recycling plans.

Celebrating a Life Before Death: The Awake Wake

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

The only prerequisite for life is death. Except for a couple of biblical exceptions every living thing has died or will at some time die. In spite of this fact, the end-of-life is poorly managed by most people. Many have regrets or remorse at the funeral regarding not having done or said something they wanted to do or say. The is an answer–the Awake Wake or some suitably named function.

The Wake is an Irish tradition of having a party with the person believed dead present. This tradition started before science was able to accurately determine death and some people in comas were thought dead. It was presumptive evidence that if the person believed dead did not wake up during the boisterous party, then they were really dead.

Wakes or like events are still traditional even though no one expects the decease to awaken. They are memorial services where survivors and other can mourn. Eulogies are common and many of these eulogies express regret or remorse at not having had an opportunity to have a “good-bye” conversation with the decease. Then they elucidate what would have been said.

A new tradition is needed where the gathering is held before death. This is especially needed when the dying person is still cognizant and can be present for these good-bye opportunities. I call it an “Awake Wake” but it can be called anything such as “Good-Bye Party”, “Remembrance Gathering” or anything else desired.

This gathering can be a party, play, religious ceremony or scripted function as planned by the dying person and those sponsoring the function. Out of respect, it is mandatory that the dying person approve the function and agree to attend. Also, everyone that the dying person consent to may have a public or private opportunities for their good-bye visit.

We celebrate birth dates and many other events. We need to celebrate the end of a life while the person who is the reason for the celebration can still attend. It will provide closure and a lot fewer regrets and less remorse than now occurs among the survivors.

The Self: Always Present and Always Unknowable

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

‘Me, Myself and I’ was a common defiant and playful assertion of my childhood that I never hear any more. I have always been curious about the meaning of this triad. The ‘I’ and ‘Me’ are well described but the ‘Self’ has defied description and understanding. Nevertheless, it is possible to explain why the Self is indescribable and unknowable even when it is always present.

The “I” is ones Personality which is well described and is how one consciously deals with external relationships. The personality is how others see us. The “Me” is ones Character which is also well described and is how we each consciously deal with our internal relationships. The character is how I see me. In contrast, the “Self” is how our unconscious deal with both internal and external relationships. Being unconscious makes it indescribable and unknowable.

This unconscious’ interface to the inner and outer conscious worlds is opaque making it indescribable. Even though “gut feelings”, micro-expressions and other pre-conscious events are physical manifestations of the unconscious Self, it remains unknowable because why these manifestations occur remains unconscious. In other words, even though the Self’s effects can be observed, the causes for reacting the way it did remain unknown.

The Self knows everything about our personality and character and is constantly aware of all our surrounding conscious and unconscious external and internal events. And, the Self is prepared to react. When someone ‘snaps’ or ‘loses it’ and does not know why they reacted how they did, it is the Self that has taken over. Neurophysiologists distinguish between “higher” and conscious reactions that predominately involves the prefrontal lobes and the “lower” and unconscious reactions that predominately involves the amygdala. But, these Self reactions are much more than just the amygdala taking over since the resulting actions are varied and individual. Nevertheless, why the Self reacts the way it did remains unknowable.

Many of the internal ‘voices’ we all hear throughout our lives are conscious manifestations of repressions. These voices are described as the anima or animus, shadow, archetypal parents, inner child and fossilized-at-one(or more)-age(s) us. As repressed these voices are closer to the unconscious Self than our personality or character. As intermediaries, these voices give the Self access to the personality and character. Repressing the Self accessing us is to risk retribution from the Self through personality and/or character disorders. These self destructive behaviors include addictions such as alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, multimedia and food; depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety and other abnormal behaviors. Acknowledging and accommodating these internal voices through which the Self communicates will help alleviate conscious and unconscious conflicts in ones lives and lets one live a more harmonious life. Our personality and character are in line with our Self.

Another way to reveal the Self is through intimacy. Closeness reveals others to us in our presence while intimacy reveals our Self to us in the presence of another. Closeness occurs with those we are familiar while intimacy is strange and easier with strangers. Being intimate with those with whom we are close is difficult. Paradoxically, the Internet through Internet Disinhibition is a growing form of intimacy.

Journalling, psychotherapy, meditation, conscious dreaming, dreaming, yoga, etc. are ways to acknowledge the presence of the Self and make one consciously aware of its manifestations. This activities are required because the Self’s interface to the conscious is very weak and easily overwhelmed by consciousness unless an noted one ‘snaps’ or ‘loses it’. An effort to clear the conscious to let the unconscious Self communicate is the rule.

Many of us mull, stew or ruminate over a problem or concern until a ‘breakthrough’ occurs. This process eventually allows the Self to breakthrough to the conscious with an insight. Ironically, this breakthrough usually occurs when we are not consciously thinking about the problem or concern; thus, allowing us to become aware of the unconscious Self’s solution. Thus, the “eureka” moment is from the Self.

The Self is wonderfully unknowable yet always present. Being available to the Self’s communications is key to being in the world in good faith to ones Self.

Is survival possible without me loving me?

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Our very survival requires that we love our own self as we are! We must be able to look in the mirror and say “I love me just the way I am” and mean it wholeheartedly. This is very hard to do because most of us want to change some things about us. Nevertheless, without doing this change is unlikely and our very survival as ourselves is not possible. Also, it is impossible to love someone or something else with unconditionally loving oneself first. It may be closeness, caring, infatuation, and the like but it is not love.

Once you love you the way you are, your self acceptance that is part of this love will attract others. The world will look more beautiful and the intimacy, i.e., being present as ones true self that is vital for survival will occur more often.

It takes practice looking in the mirror and into your own eyes and saying “I love me the way I am?” But with practice comes love. And, with love will come survival. There is no other way.

Loving unconditionally our significants others will reveal themselves to themselves. Everything deserves to be loved as is and to conditionally love is not to love at all. Parenting without unconditional love is incomplete and does not serve our children well. Closeness is not enough.

Love Unconditionally. First, yourself, then others and then the world. It will transform you.

Controlling Ones Weight Through Lifestyle Changes

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Diet is a four letter word and they don’t work and never will. Diets makes the body feel deprived. Therefore given the chance the body restores what it has lost and then some just to prepare for possible future deprivation. This is the basis of the yo-yo plus weight loss and gains seen with diets and what makes obesity an epidemic.

So, what works? What works is lifestyle modification without extreme deprivation. First, increase you physical activity. Walk the dog for at least thirty minutes daily. Take the stairs several times daily. Get up from the desk and walk around the office perimeter several times daily. Park the car at the far end of the parking lot. Physical activity must be part of the school day. Anything that increases exercise should be sought.

Next, avoid all foods made with flour, potatoes or sugar, i.e., starches. No breads, pastas, breakfast cereals, french fries, etc. At most one portion of one of these peer day would be acceptable. You can have any amount of meats and vegetables except starches. This recommendation has a physiologic basis.

The body cannot burn fat when its blood insulin levels are increased. Food and snacks with starches greatly increase insulin levels and prevent fat burning. So, even with caloric restriction, a starchy snack or meal will increase insulin and fats are blocked as calories for energy. Needing calories, the body will use proteins such muscles for energy. This is what causes the wash out feeling of diets that include starches.

In summary, increase activity significantly and avoid starches. This combination is a solid start to the lifestyle changes needed for a better life at a better weight.

Is Self-Abuse of Body and Mind Normal?

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

We are all normal! Since normal is a average, we are each average for who we each are. It is not reasonable or responsible to compare one normal person with another or to get an average of average people since they are not us. We are who we are and that’s it. Instead of normality, the real issue are the statuses of our bodies and minds? It is normal to not be using our bodies and minds optimally. This less-than-optimal use of our bodies and minds is a form of self-abuse. Thus, is self-abuse normal?

Self-abuse of the body is pervasive. Vaccinations are the major medical advancement that prolongs longevity and they are being withheld from children by ill-informed albeit well-meaning parents. Unfounded fear of the unknown has overshadowed what should be well-founded fear of the known, i.e., the risk from the infectious diseases they prevent. Why would parents not want to prevent cancer in their sons and daughters with HPV vaccination? There are plenty of other and worse infectious deterrences to sexual activity and the HPV vaccine does not diminish these bigger risks.

Obesity is a pervasive form of self-abuse. It is self-abuse because we stress our bodies by eating what it does not need and thus become obese. Obesity then stresses other organs and may lead to one or more well known problems. Unfortunately, science, medicine and the government have offered little leadership in preventing obesity. Capitalism on the other hand flourishes while people get obese. To the same extent bulimia and anorexia nervorsa are opposite types of self-abuse, i.e., denying the body of what it does need. We are what and how much we eat! To over- or under-indulge is self-abuse.

Lack of exercise is self-abuse but so are a “six-pack abdomen” and an abnormally muscular bodies. Physically fit people are sinewy, i.e., lean and muscular. Physical fit regarding the heart means walking for at least thirty minutes a day at least five days a week and not eating what is not needed. It doesn’t mean fad diets and gym or exercise for hours a day or marathons.

It should be apparent that self-abuse of our bodies comes from our minds. Our bodies evolved to survive by being physically fit. Our minds override the body’s efforts to be physically fit thus abusing it and this mental self-abuse shows up on our bodies. Obesity, over-developed muscles, tattoos, piercing are just some bodily manifestations of mental self-abuse.

Mental self-abuse is normal. We turn our anger inward rather than just accepting or forgiving ourselves for letting others get to us. We forget what others do is their problem–not ours–and we participate in it when we should just laugh or shrug and ignore it.

Mental self-abuse occurs when we are unable to stand in front of a mirror and look at ourselves and into our eyes and say “I love me the way I am now!” wholeheartedly and mean it. The love of others starts with self-love. It is mental self-abuse (even torture?) to love others without loving one’s self.

If it is normal to self-abuse then it is time to be abnormal and love ones self and stop the self-abuse. A good start to this path is Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements. It gets you more than half-way there.