by Tammera Karr, PhD, BCHN, CDSP, CNW, CGP
This question popped into my head this morning as I was thinking about a dear friend enjoying a spring National Monuments RV trip.
Each morning she makes her green smoothy, does her yoga, embraces the day’s adventure of vistas and views with her soulmate, and rests comfortably in her fifth wheel at the end of the day’s travel. The freedom to stop and rest, sleep in and go for leisurely hikes, taking in the smells of the earth and air. ( all shown to change immune function)
Sounds pretty wonderful to many of us. We may not appreciate the time and dedication this remarkable health practitioner has spent crafting, nourishing, sacrificing, and supporting her lifestyle of health. It didn’t happen overnight; part of her vision may never have included a fifth wheel. Throughout the years I have known her, she has been kind, generous, pragmatic, honest, and open to opportunities. For my friend, health is something you live, more than all the supplements, diet restrictions, or diagnostic tests. These items are ingredients, seasonings if you will, but the daily choice of Lifestyle makes health.
Another remarkable woman in my life is a cancer thriver; she is a dynamo of energy, intellect, and dedication. Each day she rises at 4 am to call her father in Europe. Then begins her workday with students and faculty in differing time zones. This lady is not a cook; “not in my contract,” she says. Yet health is a daily passion and joy. The joy she receives from doing what she loves is an important element of her cancer-free lifestyle. Her relationship with her soulmate, who is the chef, feeds her in many ways. There is a balance; one steps in to fill a role while the other steps into a different one, both movements in harmony. Through joy and sorrow, lifestyle has been an active choice – daily activities, time allotment, rest from work, trauma, worry, and media. These aspects of health we can think of in cooking terms as – proofing, cooling, and serving.
According to research published in 2022, Lifestyle makes up over 80% of an individual’s health. Lifestyle is a banquet of dishes that nourish, excite, comfort, and sustain us. I know clients who feel battered, abandoned, and alone. To some, they view this as the result of how others have treated them, not the choices they have made. Then there are those who seem to rise above and still find joy. This is a choice, not an easy one, but one that changes brain chemistry, digestion, immune function, inflammation markers, and countless genetic receptor site regulation responses.
So once again, I reflect; on the wonderful life and health my husband and I have; the daily supplements are expensive – choice; the quality food is expensive and time-consuming – choice; the location we live in is remote and challenging – choice, time spent writing, painting, building, restoring and developing gives a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and pride – choice.
Health isn’t about early detection, medical appointments, worry, fear, or apathy. Health is about engaging, making choices, and inviting joy as a choice each day.
What have you stopped doing that you enjoy?
What in your life energizes and or refreshes you?
Freehand watercolors were done by Tammera while enjoying time away from her phone, computer, and research. These breaks and the use of a brush clears the mind and improve eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills in addition to being creative. There is no pressure to be perfect or professional, just let the water carry the color and see what happens. She has not painted for over 20 years and is gradually inviting it back into her life just for the fun of it.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CDSP, CNW, CGP
Over the years, clients have asked many questions, but the questions on cookware safety seldom come up. It is generally the clinician interviewing the client that most frequently asks the question about what kind of cookware was in use. Now with the internet and social media, questions like – “Are nonstick pans toxic?” “Can aluminum cookware cause dementia?” “Are my dishes full of lead?” and “Are my scratched pans still safe?” seem to be everywhere. Frequently, the responses and answers are based on outdated information. So if you are shopping for new kitchenware and are uncertain, begin by reading the chapter Gizmos and Gadgets for the Kitchen page 51, in Our Journey with Food Cookery Book 2nd edition, you’ll find there’s a wide range of choices in cookware material; such as cast iron, stainless steel, copper, glass, and ceramic. By and large, they are all safe when purchased in a mindful manner. Keep in mind when it comes to cookware, your experience, comfort, and enjoyment of “all things cooking” is determined by the quality of the tools you use.
What tools are selected will depend on the type of cook you are, your kitchen area, and your level of experience. Not on the health risks from the tools used. As someone who cooks inside, outside, on an electric range, gas stove, barbeque, and wood fire, I can assure you the heat-producing surface determines what pot or pan is used as much as the quality. World over, individuals prepair meals each day in cookware Americans would refuse to use – yet America and other western cultures have skyrocketing dementia numbers.
In 1965, scientists discovered that feeding rabbits very high levels of aluminum produced changes in the rabbits’ brains resembling Alzheimer’s. This was later proven to be incorrect. Aluminum is a naturally occurring mineral found in water, plants, fish, and animals. Aluminum plays a role in cell formation, especially skin cells. Broccoli, a proven health food, also contains aluminum. So what about the argument over organic and inorganic aluminum? To be honest, most of us are guessing and relying on theory and interpretation. Aluminum cookware has been in use since 1807. Just like cast iron; aluminum is released from pans when acidic foods are cooked. The acidic properties of food interact with the metal affecting the protective coating or finish on the cookware. Lightweight aluminum is an excellent heat conductor and highly reactive with acidic foods like tomatoes, vinegar, and citrus juice. Such items can cause aluminum to leach into food, imparting a metallic taste and leaving the cookware with a pitted surface. These are the same foods that leach iron from cast iron and can damage poor-quality stainless steel.
There have also been reports aluminum is present in the brains of people with dementia and Alzheimers. This can be found in the early work done on Alzheimer’s when an autopsy was the sole avenue of determining Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Now with the availability of CAT and MRI scans, the location, development, and the “cause” is far more complex than one thing. Overall health plays a role, including diet, diabetes, the microbiome of the mouth, the environment and genetics. A groundbreaking text by Russell L. Blaylock, MD, in 1997 called Excitotoxins, revealed the damage to brain cells when MSG and Aspartame, along with naturally occurring glutamates in high levels, are present in the diet. These chemicals affect the cell’s ability to regulate fluid, resulting in the cells bursting and leaving behind trace minerals like aluminum. While this research has been pushed to the shadows in favor of designer therapies, it still has value. Over the last 3 decades, research on Alzheimer’s has linked a wide range of causes, only to be disproved and only looking at the brain as a single organ, not part of an amazingly complex life form. Today we face a new paradigm in Alzheimer’s research linking oral bacteria and its effect on tao proteins. Now the question has changed to a different “what if”.
Lifestyle may be your biggest protector.
The tools we use for the preparation of food are important, but they are only one element of our lifestyle that supports well-being and longevity. When we narrow our focus to one thing as a cause, we also miss dozens, if not thousands, of other elements contributing to health. A narrow point of view assumes everyone is affected by a potential toxin or gene expression in the same way. Yet, as our technology opens the window to more information, research finds our bodies are capable of achieving homeostasis even under extreme challenges. Our bodies have been living with heavy metals and naturally occurring toxins from the beginning. When an individual cultivates well-being from a broader perspective, incorporating all aspects of nourishment- risks diminish along with the burden, confusion, and fear over what kind of food, cookware, water, air, or medicine to use.
In our book Empty Plate: Food~Sustainability~Mindfulness; Kathleen Bell and I share volumes of science supporting how our daily lifestyle choices make the difference in disease rates and longevity. A literature review expands the concept of nourishment and how more than food is necessary for health.
Expanding the definition of nourishment to include lifestyle and environmental sources beyond diet.
Tammera Karr, PhD, BCHN™, CNW®, and Kathleen Bell, RN, MSN, CNM, AHN-BC™
National Association of Nutrition Professionals and American Holistic Nurses Association
Published February 13, 2022
The purpose of this literature review is to expand the limitations of the common scientific definition of Nourishment to a broader holistic understanding relating to health. Is Nourishment limited to nutrients extracted through digestion? Or does Nourishment also include elements ingested from exposures to environment, culture, beliefs, social, connections, wavelengths, and smells as well as calories? To Nourish is to provide food or other substances necessary for growth, health and well-being. Well-being is a positive outcome that is meaningful for people and society. The authors demonstrate evidence that food alone is not sufficient to sustain human health and vitality.
Nutrients in food become information and control aspects of human biology and physiology, but Nourishment is not derived solely from food, Nourishment enters the body through multiple pathways. For example: Research shows that taste develops in the womb before birth as the fetus is introduced to foods the mother consumes. Fetal growth and development proceeds without the physical ingestion of foodstuffs; Nourishment is provided through the mother. Additional research illustrates health of both mother and child are affected by multi-faceted environmental, cultural, and biochemical factors.
Wellness can be viewed as an active process of becoming aware of (mindfulness) and making choices that support the dynamism required to maintain homeostasis. Holistic health and well-being are outcomes of constant interaction between and among many dimensions of human life. Balance is achieved via devoting significant attention to each of the interrelated elements that comprise Nourishment. Lack of attention to one or more of these elements results in imbalances that may lead to deterioration and disease. By redefining the concept of Nourishment the reviewers’ intention is to illuminate the deficiencies of remaining within the confines of a reductionist paradigm, and to highlight possibilities available in the quantum era for persons to develop and regenerate health.
From this abstract, we have now written a full paper due to be published in the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine Newspaper through Pacific College of Health and Science.
by Tammera J. Karr
The history of essential oils is intertwined with the history of herbal medicine; in most ancient cultures, people believed plants to be magical, and for thousands of years herbs were used as much for ritual as they were for medicine and food. In the modern world, science is exploring the medicinal value of many herbs, and plant extracts in efforts to locate new therapies for antibiotic-resistant conditions. There is a growing pharmacopeia of anti-inflammatory herbs additionally.
The Atlantic magazine highlighted the antimicrobial qualities of plant extracts and essential oils. The article notes that “various oils have also been shown to effectively treat a wide range of common health issues such as nausea and migraines, and a rapidly growing body of research is finding that they are powerful enough to kill human cancer cells of the breast, colon, mouth, skin, and more.”
I reflected and realized I had shared information on this topic during a superbug outbreak in 2015.
Just a little recap of an article from the Alliance for Natural Health – On April 14, 2015 – A New Tool for Antibiotic-Resistant Killer Bacteria: Essential Oils; What should you stock to protect yourself?
Drug-resistant tuberculosis—and antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” in general. These infect at least two million Americans each year and kill 23,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to Karl Rotthier, the chief executive of a Dutch-based pharmaceutical firm, antibiotics are making their way into rivers and waterways due to lax safety measures. Some of the drugs are flushed directly down the toilet, while others pass through the patients first—and it all ends up in the water supply. Too many drugs come from manufacturing waste.
There is a growing body of research supporting the natural antibiotic properties nutrients and herbs, here are just a few:
Silver, the world’s oldest known antibiotic. (still used in hospitals as silvadeane cream for burns and wound healing)
Vitamin C may be effective in fighting antibiotic-resistant infections.
An article released February 13, 2020, from Orthomolecular Research on the use of vitamin C, Goes on to say – “Viral pneumonia is a dangerous condition with a poor clinical prognosis. For most viral infections, there is a lack of effective targeted antiviral drugs, and symptomatic supportive treatment is still the current main treatment. Vitamin C, has antioxidant properties. When sepsis happens, the cytokine surge caused by sepsis is activated, and neutrophils in the lungs accumulate in the lungs, destroying alveolar capillaries. Early clinical studies have shown that vitamin C can effectively prevent this process. In addition, vitamin C can help to eliminate alveolar fluid by preventing the activation and accumulation of neutrophils, and reducing alveolar epithelial water channel damage. At the same time, vitamin C can prevent the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps, which is a biological event of vascular injury caused by neutrophil activation. Most deaths from viruses are caused by pneumonia. Vitamin C has been known, for over 80 years, to benefit pneumonia patients greatly. In 1936 Gander and Niederberger found that vitamin C lowered fever and reduced pain in pneumonia patients”.
The sited study can be seen at: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v16n17.shtml
While these studies are not conclusive on the total value of nutrients during challenging health events, they do provide hope for many. The foundation of our health is directly tied into the foods we eat every day, and it is easy for many to add more of the traditional herbs, spices, and foods into their diet during the expected seasonal health challenges.
To Real Foods for Health.
1.University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. (2015, September 16). Immune system may be pathway between nature and good health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 19, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150916162120.htm
2.The antibacterial activity of oregano essential oil (Origanum heracleoticum L.) against clinical strains of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. 2012:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23484421
3.Coriander essential oil and linalool – interactions with antibiotics against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.2019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30471142
4.Antibacterial activity of traditional spices against lower respiratory tract pathogens: combinatorial effects of Trachyspermum ammi essential oil with conventional antibiotics. 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30187508
5.Inhibitory effect of Allium sativum and Zingiber officinale extracts on clinically important drug resistant pathogenic bacteria. 2012 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22540232
6. University of Melbourne. (2020, March 17). COVID-19: The immune system can fight back. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200317103815.htm
7. University of Virginia Health System. (2020, March 19). Understanding how COVID-19 affects children vital to slowing pandemic, doctors say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200319125201.htm
8. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. (2020, March 23). ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers may increase the risk of severe COVID-19, paper suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200323101354.htm
9. University of Maryland School of Medicine. (2020, March 23). Anxious about COVID-19? Stress can have lasting impacts on sperm and future offspring: Study identifies biological mechanism by which stress alters sperm and impacts brain development in next generation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200323132410.htm
10. Stanford University. (2020, March 26). How to identify factors affecting COVID-19 transmission. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200326160759.htm
11. Stanford University. (2020, March 26). How to identify factors affecting COVID-19 transmission. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200326160759.htm
12. Semantic Scholar Free access to COCID-19 Research https://www.semanticscholar.org/feed/create?name=COVID-19&paperIds=4adf89030bb59f9cd97a55af21b419aad9045287%2C272c530d8b3a2daae3af01fa4a59b350f3a5398b%2Ca42902bc3f4d92b72f46775420be6569d19e3f73
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by Tammera J. Karr
Every year I have clients tell me they made a New Years’ resolution to eat better, lose weight, and exercise more. And like clockwork, there’s, and my resolutions are so far down on the priority list by February that there is no motivation to drag them to the top again. Why does this happen – is it we are weak in caricature, deficient, bad people?
It turns out we have been trying to initiate change in our lives under a faulty premise. I have said for years the best way to help a client is “To Not set them up for failure” by asking them to change too much at once. The Stanford Behavioral Health Lab had to work with 40,000 clients to learn the same thing.
Think back on all the things you have learned and accomplished in your life. You didn’t learn or do it all at once; some things took practice, familiarity, and confidence others you wonder how in the world did I get through that? We often time hear the phrase “take baby steps.”
The Stanford University Behavior Research Lab has found a painful gap between the changes people want and what they actually do. For the most part, we tend to blame ourselves for not being willing to work hard enough to adopt new habits. Behavior research shows, to be effective, change doesn’t have to be hard at all—and shouldn’t be. Tiny adjustments that come easily and make us happy are the ones that work best. It’s our approach to self-improvement that needs to change.
According to behavior researcher BJ Fogg, PhD., “It turns out that there is a formula for any successful shift in behavior. This applies to everything from flossing your teeth to running a marathon. To instill a habit, the first thing you need is motivation: Pick a behavior that you want to do rather than one you merely feel obligated to do. Second, you need to be able to do it: Make the change simple and small at first. Third, you need a personal prompt: Identify a way to reliably trigger the behavior. Finally, you need to celebrate your new habit, so that your brain associates it with positive feelings”.
First, don’t think you have to create motivation. Choose habits that you already are eager to adopt.
Second, go tiny. Why? Small is successful and sustainable because it is simpler.
Third, design a prompt.
We respond almost automatically to hundreds of behavior prompts each day (for instance, when you feel a few drops of rain on your arm, you open your umbrella); no behavior happens without some kind of prompt.
Here is an example: I was talking to a client about their InstaPot. For two years, it had been in a box on the counter – never opened. The whole idea of a pressure pot, something they had no experience with, created anxiety and procrastination. This client with a high-stress job in healthcare had to change from the regular pot or pan to using this appliance in small steps; they had no frame of reference for using a pressure pot, or canning, these where different tools with a foreign language. It wasn’t about motivation. It was the uncertainty over doing something for the first time that made the roadblock.
“It isn’t primarily repetition over a long period that creates habits; it’s the emotion that you attach to them from the start.”
So, while we were on the phone, with my experience with pressure canning, she opened the box and put it to work. Was it a complete success? No, but it wasn’t a failure either. The InstaPot was no longer a boogie man waiting to blow up; it was easy to operate, clean and convenient. Now she is willing to try again and keep trying until her comfort level becomes second nature. Because I was on the phone with her, she felt like she had help, and we made it fun, less stressful. We celebrate her tiny victory by treating the next step like a detective story, reading researching and watching videos while comparing notes.
To making tiny sustainable proactive changes for our health.
On the Journey to New Habits, Take Tiny Steps: New Year’s resolutions fail because people aim too high and get discouraged quickly. Instead, celebrate small accomplishments. – https://www.wsj.com/articles/on-the-journey-to-new-habits-take-tiny-steps-11577985523?emailToken=e941c82b2acd54635b41bfbf06c38a11NOmjXHECRogTse0J4ZgD2L+35NukdsYmUhsbsU/3e4Tm7ywSen9rB6QVPgyd3YAxHyqDeWmBcxbkjdRFYSfNnqxdGFN4+hKSb3gD6NiuFsw%3D&reflink=article_email_share
“Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything,” by BJ Fogg, Ph.D. 2020, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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