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October 2005 after the first frost and summer grasses had turned brown.  The growth of winter grasses was delayed by the drought.

Columns

This is the Home Page for our quick-read nutritional health column for regional newspapers. If you have a local publication that might want to carry it, let us know or pass the link onto them.

Indoctrination

Column #176

Indoctrination is the process of getting a person or group to accept a set of beliefs without question. No one is 100% immune to the many forms of indoctrination. Therefore, all of us have been indoctrinated with certain beliefs: some good and some not so much.

How many forms of indoctrination can you name besides religious and political beliefs. Here are a few I thought of:

Looking back at recorded history, it’s easy to see how amazingly foolish people were at times in swallowing pure nonsense such as the world was flat, fear of hot air balloons, burning witches, tulip mania, the Holocaust was good, and on and on. Unfortunately, we assume we’re smarter than people in the past and we can’t possibly be fooled by stupid or dangerous indoctrinations. Yet many very popular modern beliefs are actually just myths. Today’s “fake news” media is a reminder of how devoid of facts many messages are that we’re subjected to. And I’m not just talking about politics.

Let’s Get SMART

Column #175

We all make resolutions, but how often do we follow through? Is there more to it then just saying I want to be healthier, thinner, live longer, or exercise more? It turns out that unless we’re smart, the odds of success fall by the wayside.

A couple days ago Dave Pratt from Ranch Management Consultants published a terrific article about making resolutions which reminded me about the importance of SMART. It’s a management concept established by George T. Doran in an article “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” It was originally published in the November 1981 issue of “Management Review.”

Here’s what his SMART acronym stands for:
●    Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
●    Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
●    Assignable and Actionable – specify who will do it.
●    Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
●    Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

‘Tis the Season

Column #174

No matter one’s religious or non-religious beliefs, most people are spiritual to some degree. This is underscored by the annual end-of-October through New Year’s Day period which hosts a certain universal charm. It’s a season for numerous religious and pagan celebrations–especially in December.

In the northern hemisphere this 65-day period celebrates the fall harvest, the shortest day of the year, the beginning of longer days, Hanukkah, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, several other notable religious events, bowl games, and of course New Year’s Day. In the southern hemisphere this period celebrates the longest day, soccer games, the notable religious events, and the coming New Year.

Consequently, this is a joyous time for all of mankind which makes all the Scrooges think a little differently. They may even become joyous and actually look forward to more fulfilling lives. But is a joyous mood dangerous to your health?

Dope I Mean

Column #173

How many of us are “looking for happiness in all the wrong places?” (That phrase reminds me of the country western hit by Johnny Lee: “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.”) But this column isn’t about love and lost loves. It’s about understanding the difference between happiness and pleasure.

Happiness is an internally generated feeling of peace and satisfaction with life in general. Pleasure is caused by external events such as beautiful scenery, Christmas lights, the sound of rain, a bird chirping, buying something new, video games, arriving at your destination, winning the lottery, your team winning, eating s’mores, drinking spirits, smoking cigarettes or marijuana, and using fentanyl. These external pleasurable events are related because they cause the brain to release dopamine which creates a short-lived sense of elation or joy. Many of these events are addictive.

Persistent Health Issues

Column #172

Are you plagued with one or more persistent health issues such as:
    Muscle Aches                 Intestinal Pain                  Diarrhea
    Skin Rashes                    Migraine Headaches       Diabetes
    Cancerous Growths      Sluggishness                     Arthritis
    High Blood Pressure     Asthma                              and more

If so, being proactive with exercise, sleep, and diet can bring some if not total relief. Moderate exercise and a good night’s sleep is very underrated in its importance even though most people understand the science. Addressing diet is more complex because most Americans scoff at the actual science or they embrace “healthy” fads. In addition, people get addicted to what they eat!

When it comes to the aforementioned persistent health issues, my first thoughts are about the immune system and a body’s potential toxic loads. When immunity is down and/or there’s an autoimmune condition, bodies are highly vulnerable to bacteria, pathogens, viruses, and toxins as well as their own misfiring immune systems. When it comes to toxins, most people mistakenly assume the worst ones are household cleaners, pesticides, chemicals in drinking water, etc. But in my book the worst are Microbial Toxins.

Pets, Kids, and Food

Column #171

Everyday, usually several times a day, people make food choices. Normally their initial focus is on themselves, after that it’s the needs of their family and pets. Naturally all major food suppliers seek to be the target of their focus. So what do marketing trends suggest? In other words what motivates people when they buy food?

I follow pet food market trends mostly out of curiosity. I like to see how the big boys strategize their marketing and nutritional programs. The keyword search “pet food trends 2018” brings up 138,000,000 hits. Some of the new age industrial pet food marketing strategies are a huge change from just five years ago. It’s being said that not only are older citizens responding, but many younger consumers are also changing their habits.

Omega-3, a Prescription?

Column #170

On November 10, 2018 it was BREAKING NEWS. Headlines on NBC, NY Times, Washington Post, and on and on called it a miracle heart drug. Guess what, it’s purified fish oil (a highly concentrated form of Omega-3) in a prescription pill that costs “only” $278 a month per person. Does it work? Yes, it lowers heart attack risks by 25% and death by 20%. Wow, what a discovery!

Or is it a wow? Is it even a discovery? To answer that question I read the report. Then I dusted off additional research from over the years. Then I reviewed my own experiences. The following is my analysis of the “Breaking News.”

Meditation and Thanksgiving

Column #169

It’s said that meditation reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and pain while increasing internal peace, perception, self-concept, and well-being.

What does being thankful do? Michael E. McCullough, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Miami, compared “grateful people” to those who were less so. He concluded that being thankful has five advantages--both psychological and physiological. They are:

It’s Not Working

Column #168

When people realize that nutrition actually plays a role in their long-term health and wellness quite often that’s when they start making changes. Usually the changes are small ones they learned about from their friends, medical doctor, and the media. That means they start off with mostly myths, half truths, and rarely with what’s known in the scientific literature.

Almost always initial changes provide some positive results. That’s because when beginners start, they are in such malnourished states that any positive change, however slight, heads them in a better direction. Just eating a little less processed foods, a dab more vegetables, and switching from processed grains to whole grains can provide that improvement. But on the continuum representing the way food impacts health and disease, their initial changes only pull them a few notches away from disaster.

Live Holistic

Column #167

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 61 million Americans are grappling with a disability that impacts major life activities. Of course not all of these afflictions are food related. There are numerous causes, and I’ll review some. I’ll also point out situations that could have been avoided by having a holistic approach to life and discuss if it’s ever too late to establish preventative measures. But first: one in four Americans is disabled.

The "2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System" study focused on six disability types:
●    Mobility (serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs)
●    Cognition (serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions)
●    Independent living (difficulty doing errands alone)
●    Hearing (serious difficulty hearing)
●    Vision (serious difficulty seeing)
●    Self-care (difficulty dressing or bathing)