Wellness Matters…Pros and Cons of Juicing

One of the fastest growing fads in the United States that involves dieting is juicing. Juicing has become extremely popular and perhaps so because of its initial success among so many. Juicing can be done in a variety of ways but normally juicing involves taking whole fruits and/or vegetables and putting them in a blending machine such as a Vitamix and making a “Smoothie”. Some proponents may actually use a Champion mixer to squeeze the fruit or vegetable and then use the pulp in other recipes or may put them back in the drink. The nice thing is that you can choose a variety of fruits and vegetables and design the drink to your individual taste. It is important for you to understand the pros and cons of juicing so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to try it.

Before beginning any diet change you should ask yourself specific questions. These might include:

1. Are there any dangers in making these dietary changes?
2. What might be the benefits?
3. What is the purpose for the dietary change? Weight loss? To gain more energy? To cleanse the system?
4. If it is a good change will I be able to stay with the change indefinitely?

According to a WebMD article entitled, “Juicing: How Healthy Is It?” Jennifer Barr, dietitian, states that juicing can be a great way to get those fruits and vegetables if you don’t like the traditional way of eating them. It is possible to get your daily recommendations by drinking one glass of juice. She follows up by saying that while drinking juice in this manner you shouldn’t try to get all your fruits and vegetables this way. Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, CSSD, states that you should still aim to eat two whole fruits and three to four vegetables a day keeping in mind different colors because different colors possess a variety of vitamins and minerals.

If you are using a form of juicing that strips the fruit or vegetable from its outside covering and fiber you will be losing a lot of minerals and vitamins unless you save them and use them in other recipes. If you are using a blender you will be using all parts of the food but if you are using a juicer you may lose some of your vitamins, minerals and fiber content.

Since a medium piece of fruit contains about 60 calories and a cup of vegetables contain about 25 calories you probably don’t have to worry about calorie intake. In this WebMD article it is stated that each 60-calorie serving of fruit equals about 4 ounces of juice. Since a typical juicing serving is abut 12-16 ounces that would amount to about 180-240 calories per smoothie. Pure fruit juices are going to be higher in calories than if you use vegetables or mix vegetables with your fruit smoothies.

If you wish to add protein to your drink you can use Almond milk, peanut butter or flaxseed. There are a variety of ways to make that juice drink taste better and experimenting is the best way to find something for your particular taste. Try adding apples or kiwi to a vegetable drink and see if you like that. If your juice gets too thick just add water or an ice cube or two. When it comes to juice drinks the sky is the limit. Just watch those calories and remember that juicing produces a dense drink as compared to eating the fruit or vegetable in its whole state.

While we know that eating a plant-based diet reduces the risks for heart disease, some cancers, hypertension and arthritis and many other diseases it is never a good idea to become fanatical by eating one food source only. Barr states that there is some evidence that juicing may benefit the immune system but the facts are that fruits and vegetables in their whole state will do the same thing. Juicing processes the fruit and vegetable and we know that eating it whole is good for us. Since we seldom get the amount of fiber we really need we want to remember not to throw out the fiber in the juicing process or we should use a juicing method that contains the fiber in the fruit and vegetable. You should consult your physician if you are going to begin juicing in large amounts since some vegetables and fruits may have drug interaction issues. Kale, spinach and grapefruit are some examples to watch out for. Kale and spinach may have an affect on your blood clotting mechanisms that could be dangerous – so beware!

You need to be careful if you are using juicing as a primary method to lose weight. It is my opinion that while you may lose weight this type of diet can be restrictive and may lead you to avoid other important foods and nutrients. A couple of days of juicing may not be detrimental to your health and may actually be good for you, but prolonged juicing may pose risks to your health. Think balance when dieting. Cut portion sizes and eat a balanced diet.

Juicing can be expensive but when you think that you may be cutting down on the cost of red meat and other dairy products it might be a good deal. Remember to drink the juice right away since you have processed the food and it will spoil through oxidation a lot more quickly.

My Dad used to say that moderation is the key to good health. So I pass that on to you. If you juice, eat all parts of the fruit or vegetable and not just the liquid. Use juice as a compliment to other whole fruits and vegetables or as a snack. Stay away from fad diets. They will only come back and haunt you. Eat smart!

Be Well, Stay Well.



Wellness Matters…Evaluating Health Information

Because there is so much information out there on health sometimes it is difficult to know fact from fiction. When it comes to scientific research, there are some simple guidelines to follow and I will share some of them with you in this Wellness Matters. Many times there may be a lot of truth to what you are reading or researching but there may be a tad of error that could lead you down an inappropriate path if you are looking for answers to your health questions. Understanding how to critique research, news articles and advertisements can actually save your life or at the least give you the science on which to make an informed decision.

MedlinePlus has developed a list of questions you may want to ask yourself concerning clinical research and online health information in relation to articles you may be reading. Here are a few of those questions.

1. Was the study performed on animals or people?
2. Does the study include people like you?
3. Was it a randomized controlled clinical trial? In other words, were the subjects randomly assigned to a group and was there a control group that could be observed?
4. What was the size of the population used for the study? Small studies with 12-15 subjects would be more likely to have error than studies that involve several hundred or thousands of subjects. Please keep in mind that large studies can also have issues!
5. Where was the research done? The place and environment may play a role in the outcome.
6. If a new treatment was being tested, were there side effects?
7. Who paid for the research? This could result in bias.
8. Who is reporting the results?
9. Does the research promote a product?

You should also consider the source of your information. There are professional journals for most medical professions that are very reliable. A few examples include:

• Journal of American Medical Association
• Lancet
• New England Journal of Medicine
• American Journal of Medicine

There are several excellent government sites that provide health information. These include:

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.gov)
• National Institutes of Health (NIH.gov)
• Healthfinder.gov
• Health.gov

When determining the reliability of health resources the same criteria will hold true for all professional organizations and web-based health information. Using a search engine like Google will lead you to almost anything you wish to research. Be careful!  Here are a couple of hundreds of reliable health related sites.

• The American Heart Association (heart.org)
• The American Cancer Society (cancer.org)
• The American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org)
• American Dietetic Association (eatright.org)
• WebMD (WebMD.com)

If you have a reputable site you like for health information I would like to hear from you. Finally, there are literally thousands of sites that provide health information of one sort or another. Enjoy them but again beware! I like to browse some of them but will then go to more reputable sites to verify what I have found. The list for these sites is inexhaustible.  Happy exploring!

“He who trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered:  Proverbs 28:26

Be Well, Stay Well!


Wellness Matters…The Weight of a Nation

A May 2012 report from the Institute of Medicine, part of the Center for Disease Control, paints a pretty gloomy picture on the “Weight of the Nation”. One of the positive statements from the report is that the problem of obesity in the United States is conquerable. We are usually very quick to blame the overweight and obese on lack of self control and poor choices but the issue of obesity is complex and involves many factors. The Institute’s report states that one out of three children are overweight or obese, that obesity-related disease costs us $190.2 billion dollars a year and cost industry $4.3 billion in job-related absenteeism. What’s more, 37% of adults are pre-diabetic, 8% have Type 2 diabetes and 3% are undiagnosed type 2 diabetics. Not only that but obesity can lead to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and depression.

Here are some additional facts to ponder. The number of individuals walking to work in 1977 was 4.1% and in 2008, 2.8%. Only 19% of Americans get the recommended amount of physical activity, which is 150 minutes per week. The number of school-age children walking to school was 20.2% in 1977 and only 12.5% in 2001. Calories consumed each day by adults in 1974 were 1,996 as compared to 2,234 in 2008. On a given day, 30-40% of children and adolescents eat fast foods. Approximately 20% of the weight increase in the U.S. between 1977 and 2007 is attributed to sugar-sweetened beverages. Older children and adolescents consume more than 7.5 hours of media each day. Around 87% of food and beverage ads seen by children ages 6-11 on TV are for products high in saturated fat, sugar or sodium.

In the Institute of Medicine’s report, “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation,” the institute came up with five essential areas that need improvement. Their premise is that education has not proven to be the success many thought it would be. After careful study it was determined that environmental factors are key and if we are to succeed in the battle of obesity we need to begin thinking about how we can alter the toxic environment we live in today as it relates to the marketing of junk food, more conducive walking environments, less “in your face” marketing of foods and beverages high in sugar and fat, and more healthy environments in our schools and places of work.

Along with their five essential areas that need improvement were five recommendations or solutions for changing our communities and culture. The five areas are:

1. Integrate physical activity every day in every way everywhere.
2. Strengthen schools as the heart of health.
3. Market what matters for a healthy life.
4. Activate employers and health care professional and engage them in health initiatives.
5. Make healthy foods available everywhere.

On their own, any one of these five solutions might help speed up progress in preventing obesity, but together, their effect would be reinforced, amplified, and maximized, so says the institute. When we look at the work place, adults spend about ¼ of their time at work. One problem with health care workers is that they do not feel comfortable discussing weight with patients. That may be because so many health care workers have the same issues. The other side of the coin is that ½ of a child’s waking hours are spent at school and the percent of high school students attending daily physical education classes has dropped from 41.6% in 1991 to 33.3% in 2009. Changing our environment could solve a lot of problems related to our pension to gain weight.

Work place wellness programs are indeed making an impact. Bringing back physical education to our schools would be another great place to investigate. Providing safe parks and walking trails in our communities would encourage people to get out and walk. Marketing healthy foods and limiting the marketing of sugared beverages and unhealthy snacks in vending machines and convenience stores might be another place to look. The bottom line is that our nation is in crisis. Most of us have read that recently a major U.S. city is looking at banning any soda larger than 16 ounces. I believe that is only the beginning of regulations that will assail us. As Americans we need to take personal responsibility for our decisions when it comes to food or the federal government will step in and make some of those decisions for us. Trying to stay politically correct, I for one would like to reserve my rights in making those decisions. The only way that can or will happen is for us to begin making progress individually with our lifestyle choices. I encourage you and your families to sit down, evaluate your nutrition practices and set some long term family goals on how you can collectively improve them. Good luck!!!

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” Goethe

Be Well, Stay Well!


Wellness Matters…Phytochemicals


The term phytochemicals is Greek for “plant chemicals”. Wikipedia states that phytochemicals occur naturally as compounds found in plants and are responsible for their organoleptic properties. Have you never heard that term? Me either! The term organoleptic is used by the U. S. Department of Agriculture to detect signs of disease and contamination in foods. The term is an adjective and refers to the aspect of foods that we experience through our senses, including taste, sight, smell and touch. So the color of foods is organoleptic!

Nutritionist now know that the deeper the color of fruits and vegetables the more phytochemicals and antioxidants that particular food contains and the better it is for us. Phytochemicals may have health benefits but may not be classified as an essential nutrient. Scientists estimate that there may be as many as 10,000 different phytochemicals in our foods. Why are phytochemicals so important? It appears that phytochemicals may play a key role in reducing our risks for the diseases cancer, stroke, heart disease and metabolic syndrome (topic in previous Wellness Matters). That means that the risk of many diseases may be reduced by the intake of a plant based diet. Although research on the benefits of phytochemicals is a relatively new science there appears to be a powerful and positive impact on our health when we eat the right foods! Fruits and vegetables are high on that list.

As with most chemicals that are consumed by the American public, it is believed that the best way to introduce phytochemicals to our bodies is by eating whole foods and not in pill or drink form. There is still debate on this issue but we know that the whole plant contains both antioxidants and phytochemicals and what better way to get them into our systems than to eat them in their natural state.

Phytochemicals have been around for thousands of years and have been used for medicinal purposes. One example is the phytochemical Salicin, which is extracted from the bark of the white willow tree. Salicin is an anti-inflammatory and is synthetically produced today and sold over-the-counter as what we know as aspirin! It is thought that Hippocrates may have prescribed willow tree leaves to decrease fever. Taxol, an important cancer drug, is a phytochemical extracted and purified from the Pacific yew tree. It is beyond the scope of this article to mention the long list of phytochemicals but it is important to note the tremendous value found in the foods that God has given us as they relate to plants, especially fruits and vegetables.

The manner in which plants are cooked is crucial too! When foods, especially vegetables are exposed to boiling about 50% of their nutrient value is lost. Steaming is generally the best alternative if not overdone. Most cafeterias over cook foods and the value of the foods are dramatically reduced. Again there is debate as to the cooking time of various foods but suffice it to say that for the most part the less the vegetable is in contact with boiling water the better. In many case slight steaming actually makes the vegetable more digestible and may convert nutrients into forms that are more easily absorbed.

The main reason we say to eat whole plant food whole is that when foods are processed they lose a lot of their nutrient value. In a Journal of Nutrition article by R. H. Liu in 2004 it was reported that the absence or deficiency of phytochemicals and other nutrients in the processing of foods may contribute to the increased risk of many of our preventable disease such as those listed above. I would be remiss not to mention that in a few cases the processing of a food may actually increase the value of the food because its concentration is increased but for the most part we need to eat WHOLE PLANTS WHOLE!

Other common names for phytochemicals are flavonoids, flavones, isoflavones, catechins, anthocyanidins, isothiocyanates, caratenoids, allyl sulfides and plyphenols to name a few. Some of these may be familiar to you but if not the next time you see these terms you will be able to associate them with the term phytochemicals. Here is a simplistic list of some of the major phytochemicals and their related food sources:

1. The Berries! Berries contain the flavonoids anthocyanidins which give them their blue and red color. Anthocyanidins are thought to aid in the prevention of cancer.

2. Citrus. Contains the phytochemicals limonene and Coumarins. Limonene gives citrus their distinct smell. Coumarins act as a natural blood thinner.

3. Orange vegetables. They contain caratenoids and caratenoids give the bright orange and yellow color. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon University says that caratenoids are associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and encourage good eye health.

4. Tomatoes. Tomatoes have a very powerful phytochemical called lycopene in them. Lycopenes are associated with reduced risk for arthrosclerosis and cancer.

5. Soy. Soy contains isoflavones that may reduce the risk for breast cancer. Soy also contains phytosterols and saponins and the antioxidants phenolic and phytates that help to regulate the amount of cholesterol made by the body.

6. Red grapes. Red grapes are loaded with the phytochemical resveratrol. Resveratrol has been implicated in reducing risk for cardiovascular disease.

7. Garlic and Onions. They are known for their strong smell and taste. These foods contain sulfur-containing compounds called sulfoxides, thiosulfinates and diithins. Onions and garlic are also associated with the reduction of risks from cardiovascular disease.

I would like to close this Wellness Matters with the thought that the field of nutrition and science is still expanding in knowledge. It is safe to say at this point that the reference to eating whole plants whole is a healthy habit and that most Americans should get up to 9-11 servings per day of these valuable foods. We are no where near that today. So maybe we should try for five servings and then increase the amount with time. Remember that fruits and vegetables are high in nutritional value and low in calories. What a gift from our Lord! So make sure to include at least five servings of these healthy foods as part of your whole plant intake each day.

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” Goethe

Be Well, Stay Well!


Wellness Matters…Cognitive Dissonance

I am constantly asked to explain the logic behind the decisions we as Americans make when it comes to living healthy lifestyles. Making healthy decisions is a complex issue for most people but it has been said that making no decision is in fact a decision! Anyway, there is an interesting field of study in social psychology called cognitive dissonance that might give some credence to why we make the decisions we make concerning most important aspects of life as a whole. Wikipedia defines cognitive dissonance as a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions. Cognitions are ideas, beliefs, values and emotional reactions. Please don’t quit reading yet. This will make sense.

The theory of cognitive dissonance holds that man seeks to reduce the tensions between what he knows to be true and what he does through his or her actions. For instance, we all know that the speed limit on a particular Interstate is 70 MPH, right? However, we know the police won’t stop us as long as we stay under 74.9 MPH. Knowing that we can fudge on the speed limit, we decide taking the chance of going 74.9 and getting a ticket is low so we break the speed limit. Let’s take this to a more serious level. There are few today that would say smoking is a healthy habit, however, millions still smoke. The theory of cognitive dissonance would say that those who smoke rationalize their behavior by saying I am healthy so a cigarette or two won’t hurt, or only a few people actually die from smoking, or cancer only strikes those who are heavy smokers, or if I don’t die from smoking I am going to die from some other disease. Following these lines of logic allows individuals to reduce the tension of the negative affects of smoking and allows them to light up with little remorse. It has been said that cognitive dissonance research contributes to the abundance of evidence that humans are not always rational beings.

When it comes to making healthy lifestyle decisions we, and I include myself, are always in this tussle of knowing what is best but not always making the correct decision. And then there is this tension of knowing that a certain food or drink is bad if eaten in abundance so why eat it or drink it at all. Is life a matter of never or always? I think not. I have always believed that if it has moral implications then careful thought needs to be given so that the final decision is a good one. When it comes to decisions on the food we eat, exercise, our finances, items we purchase, and even spiritual decisions reducing the tension brought about by cognitive dissonance might be a good thing. Trying to match our values with our actions will always result in making us happier beings.

The term cognitive dissonance was coined by Leon Festinger and others in a book called, “When Prophecy Fails,” written way back in 1956. The authors followed a group of religious zealots who believed the world was coming to an end on a certain date. We have modern day groups that have predicted the same event only to find they had come up empty handed. The amazing thing is that even though the prediction of these groups didn’t come to fruition, they didn’t disband. Instead, they believed they had been spared to spread the “Good News” to others and they simply set another date. This justification reduced the tension of the failed expectation that the world would soon end.

Let’s face it. Most — if not all — of us struggle with our diets and exercise programs. We know what we should do, but we have a very difficult time doing it. If you follow the psychology of cognitive dissonance you would say we are simply making decisions based on what we really want by justifying our behavior or lowering the tension of having the facts but making decisions that diametrically oppose those facts. It has been said that children learn by example and adults learn through crisis. It usually isn’t until the pain in the left shoulder is diagnosed as heart disease, the silent high blood pressure is discovered, or a blood test tells us of impending doom that we decide that maybe our current lifestyle choices aren’t leading us toward good health.

So what is the bottom line? When it comes to our own personal health it would be good for all of us to sit down, take a deep breath, and pick up a pen and paper. Then, divide the paper in two halves. On one half of the paper list your values as they relate to life. Make sure to include family, exercise, nutrition, spiritual values and the like. On the opposite side of the page list your actions. Do they match? If, in fact, there really is something to this cognitive dissonance idea reducing the tension within us can only be done by either changing our values or making our actions match them. Assuming you have good and moral values which will you choose?

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” Goethe

Be Well, Stay Well!


Wellness Matters…Blue Zones

After several years of investigation, National Geographic writer, Dan Buettner identified five areas around the world where people apparently have longer life expectancies than in general. He identifies these areas as “Blue Zones”. These areas possess the largest number of centenarian’s world wide and in his book; “The Blue Zones” explains why he believes longevity is so great in these locations. I have found his work to be like looking under a leaf. You know what you expect to find but in its simplicity what you actually find can baffle you. I didn’t find Buettner’s work to be rocket science however I did find it to produce lots of practical advice that could be incorporated in our lives to make us healthier and happier!

For so long we have placed great emphasis on diet and exercise as the key to health and longevity. I still believe that to be true. But wait, have we been missing something just as important but maybe not so obvious? I think so. In his quest to study various geographical areas around the world and the people that live there for National Geographic, Buettner found five Blue Zones. These five Blue Zones are:

*The Italian island of Sardinia
*Okinawa, Japan
*Loma Linda, California
Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
Ikaria, an isolated Greek island

The top three locations (*) produce the highest percentage of centenarians in the world, suffer less common disease and enjoy better quality of life than that of the world population. Of note is the location of Loma Linda, California. The Loma Linda University Hospital, in Loma Linda California, is tied to the same Seventh-day Adventist health system that Takoma Regional Hospital is part of. While the community of Loma Linda has a high number of Seventh-day Adventist who live there and have good diet and exercise practices there are additional reasons people appear to live longer in this and other Blue Zones. Let’s take a look at some of these health gems we have been ignoring for the past few decades.

1. Social Life-This includes family, friends, community, workplace and schools. These social networks play a significant role and have a long-term impact on our health. Most of the time the influence is positive and we need to invest in them. The security in the “sense of belonging” can significantly impact how we view life. When our view of life is positive our immune systems respond in a positive way reducing disease and death. When we surround ourselves with health minded people we in turn seek to live healthier and happier lives. Attending a faith based group on a weekly basis also appears to increase longevity by 4-14 years! I would suppose that belonging to a civic group such as Kiwanis or Rotary would give similar benefits. Purpose is also given to those who take care of their aging parents.

2. The 80% rule! In Okinawa people eat until they are 80% full! There are tremendous health benefits for those who cut 20% of their calories, eat large breakfasts, plan meals and eat with their families. Removing the TV from the eating area pays dividends too!

3. Know your purpose-It appears that those who know why they wake up in the morning every day may live up to seven years longer than those who don’t. Know and use your talents, values and passions for others on a regular basis. Know what your passion in life is and pursue it!

4. Move naturally-Americans burn less than 100 calories a day in planned exercise. Walking is life’s best activity. You can also garden and do outside chores. Encourage community walking trails. When possible walk, don’t ride.

5. Down Shift-Stress causes inflammation which wrecks havoc in our bodies as well as with cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Find time through the day, even if it is five minutes, to pray, meditate or nap.

6. Plant Smart-Eat at least 5-7 servings of veggies and fruits a day. Meat protein is a small fraction of the typical diet in these Blue Zone cultures. Consider moving towards a whole plant based diet.

In his book, Buettner states that for every 100 people that start a special diet at the end of one year only 50% are still on it. That decreases to only about 5% after one year. For every 100 people who buy gym memberships after one year 66% continue to use them. After two years only 30% use them and by the end of 3 years only 10% are using them. Adherence to taking daily medications is abhorrent too! At the end of one year 50% have quit and by the end of three years only 30% are taking them as prescribed. So where do we go from here?

After studying these Blue Zone cultures it became apparent to Buettner that our environment plays a key role in our health. You can’t go into a convenience or grocery store today to pay your bill without going through a “gauntlet” of junk food. It is everywhere and invades our sub-conscious at every level. Changing our environment can work and it can be done in small steps.

Buettner has partnered with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the University of Minnesota to determine if small changes in our environment can actually make positive health changes to a community that will stick. His research shows positive results. After choosing the town of Albert Lea, MN, to do his research he began making changes with the aid of the city fathers. They built walking trails, limited the volume of traffic allowed to pass through the center of town, made small changes to local restaurants with their assistance, reduced fast lane junk food in grocery stores, made a policy not allowing school kids to eat in the classroom or hallways, encouraged community gardens and fostered social environments with clean and safe parks. Notice that he didn’t just educate through diet and exercise. He changed the environment of this town one small step at a time. Here are his results:

• Absenteeism went down 20% in the local businesses
• Grocery stores reported a 46% increase in sales on 36 different healthy foods
• Life expectancy increased by 3.2 years
• Average weight loss was 2.8 pounds
• There was a 40% decrease in city worker’s health cost

Not bad results for such minor environmental changes. Will it work everywhere? Maybe not but there is a lesson to be learned and that lesson is that our environment can have a positive or negative impact on us. It comes down to one thing, choices. Let’s choose to make Takoma Regional Hospital a Blue Zone!

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” Goethe

Be Well, Stay Well!


Wellness Matters…Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes!

Exodus 15:26 says, “If you will carefully listen to the voice of the Lord, your God, do what is right before Him, give ear to his commands and observe all injunctions, then I will put on you none of the diseases I put on Egypt; for I am the Lord your healer.”

Can you see the cause and effect relationship in this passage of scripture? If you do this, then that won’t happen to you.

It is no different today. To a great degree, health is a choice. In this blog I am going to talk to you about lifestyle diseases. There are many diseases that have the potential to be reversed, as well as prevented through lifestyle changes.

There is a saying that, “Nothing Changes, If Nothing Changes!” Let’s go back and look at the diseases of the Egyptians to see how true this is.

The Egyptian embalming process took about 10 weeks to complete. The process was meant to honor their dead as well as to provide spiritual comfort since they believed life after death to be a continuation of life on earth. Producing a mummy was no easy process! When a Pharaoh or wealthy individual died, the brains were sucked out of the head through the nose and the vital organs were removed and placed in sealed jars. The body was then preserved with “Natron,” a salt substance. A molten resin and perfumed oils were then applied to the body to preserve it. The next process took over ten days to complete. The mummy was intricately wrapped in fine linen bandages. Hundreds of yards of linen were used to complete the process. As a matter of fact, the amount of linen would have reached from the top of the Empire State Building to the bottom.

In 1922, Howard Carter, an archeologist, discovered King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. His coffin was made of solid gold and placed in several larger coffins weighing in excess of 2,500 pounds and valued at more than $13 million dollars in today’s currency. The coffin was placed in one of several rooms that contained Tut’s personal artifacts. These included furniture, jewels, and several of his personal chariots.

Through today’s technology we have been able to autopsy some of the mummies to determine their causes of death. Some have even been X-rayed. Several interesting facts have come to light through these examinations. Enough information has been obtained to give us some interesting information on how these ancient Egyptians lived and died.

Ancient hieroglyphics and pictographs teach us that Egyptian priests butchered animals. The locals ate the meat and drank the blood. The upper class Egyptians also had ample milk, butter and cheese on their tables. Records show that they consumed large quantities of olive oil imported from the Island of Crete. Just like us, they milled flour, taking out valuable nutrients, to make bread and cakes. Today, we mill flour but have the ability to put some of those nutrients back in. There are also indications that they had stills for making beer and lived very sedentary lifestyles. Sound familiar? The Bangles sure had it wrong in their 1986 hit song, “Walk Like an Egyptian!”

Here are a few of the results of the Egyptian lifestyle. The hearts of the Egyptian mummies showed progressive stages of heart disease. The walls of the arteries were found to be fibrotic with lesions from arteriosclerosis.

Milton Crane, MD., Weimar Institute, states in his unpublished paper, “The Disease of the Egyptians,” that dental cavities were also quite common among the Egyptians. They were found in Ramses II of the 19th dynasty. Ramses was also found to have arteriosclerosis and degenerative arthritis of the cervical spine (upper neck). His son, Merenptah, who is believed to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus, also had the same two diseases. These diseases occurred in succeeding generations due in part to the passing on of lifestyle practices from one generation to the next. Some of the other diseases that were found included diabetes, gall bladder disorders, tuberculosis, polio, parasites and leprosy. Diseases that are passed on from family to family over time are called trans-generational. See any likeness to today’s diseases?

It becomes evident that when we treat our bodies with neglect in regards to lifestyle, and don’t give ear to God’s commands, we will suffer the same plaques the Egyptians did. There is a cause and effect relationship of following the laws of health.

Here are some 2009 statistics from the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Diabetes Association.

About 30% of Americans have hypertension. That is about 100 million Americans.
Americans suffer 785,000 annual heart attacks. One American dies every minute from heart disease.
25.8 million Americans are diabetic. It is estimated that 79 million are pre-diabetic. One new diabetic is diagnosed every minute.
There are about 550,000 surgeries to remove gall bladders each year (cholecystectomies).
45% of Americans have one of these three: Hypercholesterolemia, Hypertension, or Diabetes.
One person per minute has a stroke.
Obesity is at epidemic stages. About 65% of Americans are either overweight or obese.
Japanese migration to America by way of Hawaii was tracked in an Ancel Keys study back in 1975. It was interesting to note that prior to their migration, the Japanese ate a 10% fat diet and had cholesterol levels of 150 mg/dl. Once they migrated to Hawaii, they ate a 25% fat diet and, as a result, their cholesterol levels increased to 220 mg/dl. When they arrived in Los Angeles, these same Japanese adopted a diet of 40% fat and their cholesterol levels soared to 250 mg/dl. The typical American diet is now at about 37% in fat. The only good news is that with the development of cholesterol-lowering medications (the statins and others) the average American cholesterol level is down to around 200 mg/dl. We have become a nation dependant on medicating our way to good health! We need to remember that there is always a cause and effect relationship in how we live our lives.

You would be amazed at how well you would feel, how much less medication you would have to take, and how your outlook on life would improve by following these simple lifestyle goals.

1. Get out and walk 30-45 minutes a day.
2. Eat smaller portions. Use smaller plates!
3. Drink 5-8 glasses of water a day.
4. Eat at least 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables EVERY day.
5. Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
6. Eat a diet of at least 30-40 mg of fiber each day.
7. Spend time in scripture, prayer and meditation each morning.
8. Stay away from sugar and processed foods as much as possible.
9. Keep a positive outlook on life!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Be Well, Stay Well!