Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Cost of Obedience To God

When I was younger, I always thought, like most children, that life was going to be perfect.  I always envisioned my life as being princess-like--free from any trials.  However, reality finally set in after I graduated from college and got married.  Health issues came over me, and were a wake up call that I need to start giving my troubles to God, and reevaluate how I need to better care for myself. 

Trust me...  Through prayer, God has brought me a long way, and positively impacted and transformed my life!  But most importantly, He has humbled me.  And even though I am not where He wants me to be, I feel as though I am a lot better off than I was.

So, my advice to you is to fervently pray everyday that God gives you the strength to get through the roadblocks you experience without getting discouraged.

"Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all. - Exodus 5:23

Have you ever felt like you have been obedient to the Lord for something He called you to do and all you get are more roadblocks? This is the way Moses felt. When Moses went to tell Pharaoh to release the people because God said so, Pharaoh simply got angry and made the people make bricks without straw. Moses caught the blame for this from the people. Moses was just learning what obedience really means in God's Kingdom. You see Moses had not even begun to release plagues upon Egypt. He hadn't even gotten started yet in his calling, and he was complaining about his circumstances. There were many more encounters with Pharaoh to come, and many more plagues with no deliverances in sight. Why would God tell Moses that He is going to deliver them and not do it?

It was all in timing. God never said when He was going to deliver. He just said He would. In the next chapter, we find Moses arguing with God about not being capable of the job God had called him to:

But Moses said to the Lord, "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?" Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and He commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 6:12-13).

Do you get the feeling God was losing His patience?

God had a good reason for His delays. He said, "And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it" (Ex. 7:5). God not only wanted the people of Israel but also the Egyptians to know Him. It would be the greatest show of God's power on earth.

God often causes delays in our lives that we cannot understand. Sometimes it seems our obedience is not getting rewarded. Jesus said He learned obedience through the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). Imagine that - Jesus having to learn obedience. What does that say for you and me? Sometimes God's delays are simply because He wants more glory in the situation, more recognition, more Christ-likeness in you and me through greater patience and obedience. Faint not, for the promise may yet come."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Taste the Rainbow of Health-Enhancing Fruits & Vegetables

I am glad that I read the below article regarding ways to boost your health through colorful fruits and vegetables, and especially since I am pregnant and trying to make sure that I eat healthy for myself and the baby.  It is articles of the such that I like posting about, because I am all about sharing information that both myself and readers will positively benefit from!

My whole dilemma with preparing meals is knowing what to make that is completely healthy--my goal is to have a healthy, happy family.  The hardest part about it is when I find recipes I want to make I usually never have all the ingredients for it, which requires me to go to the store.  I always plan meals the day of, and really should make it a point to plan each week's meals the week before to save myself the hassle of being ill-prepared.

I always say that if we had our own personal chef it would make my life a whole lot easier!  But who would not love to have their own personal chef?  All I would have to do is let he or she know what types of meals I would like prepared, and voila!  But that is just a dream :)  So, my job is to research the most real food recipes out there, and do the best that I can to create them.

Please share with me how you plan your weekly menus.

"Filling your plate with colorful fruits and veggies doesn't just make your plate look pretty - it also provides antioxidants and other health-enhancing vitamins and minerals. "We get different nutrients from different foods, so eating a variety of produce in different colors is one of the easiest ways to ensure we're getting a full range of nutrients," explains Vandana Sheth, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In fact, one quick way to determine whether you're eating a balanced meal is to check your plate for at least three different hues. Here, 10 bright ideas for loading up on foods that fight cancer, boost vision, and improve your health in other ways.

Red: Beets

A crimson tint indicates that a fruit or vegetable may promote a healthy heart, boost vision and immunity, and cut down on cancer risks. Beets are a prime example of the healing power of the color red. Their hue comes from betacyanins, a substance linked to fighting cancer in laboratory mice. The vegetable also contains nitrate, which may lower your blood pressure and can halt dementia in older adults by improving blood flow to the brain.

Red: Cherries

The antioxidant-packed ruby spheres are more than just an ice cream topping. Bing cherries may lower your risk for arthritis, heart disease and cancer by fighting inflammation, according to a USDA study. If you'd rather drink your nutrients, guzzle a tart cherry juice. What's more, a 2010 study found that the beverage may help you sleep better with its high melatonin content. It may also reduce muscle damage in athletes, reports research from London.

Red: Tomato

A tomato's rosy complexion comes from lycopene, a phytochemical that helps protect against prostate cancer. While most fruits and vegetables lose some of their antioxidant mojo once they're cooked, cooking tomatoes actually enhances their lycopene content, according to Sheth. This means that even when tomatoes are out of season you can reap their health benefits through tomato sauce or tomato paste.

Orange: Sweet Potatoes

Orange fruits and veggies get their color from beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant that's converted to vitamin A in our bodies. The substance may protect the skin from UV rays and help prevent vision loss. Sweet potatoes are no exception. In addition to delivering nearly four times your recommended vitamin A allowance, a serving supply you with blood-pressure-friendly potassium, immunity-boosting vitamin C and slimming fiber. Orange you glad you know?

Yellow: Pineapple

The tropical fruit delivers 131 percent of your daily vitamin C intake and also supplies you with bromelain, an enzyme that helps with indigestion, reduces inflammation and may prevent heart disease, Sheth says. Mounting research also indicates that bromelain has cancer-fighting properties.

Green: Broccoli

Emerald veggies like broccoli and bok choy support a healthy immune system. These cruciferous veggies contain a protein that helps intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs) - immune cells that line and protect the gut and skin - function properly, according to 2011 research published in Cell. Broccoli's also a great way to get your green on because it contains relatively high levels of protein (3 grams per cup), vitamin C (135 percent of your daily value), and vitamin K (116 percent of your daily value).

Green: Spinach

When it comes to greens, the deeper and more intense the color, the more nutrition you'll get, Sheth says. Choose kale, spinach or collard greens rather than iceberg lettuce. Popeye's favorite will hit you with significant helpings of calcium, potassium and vitamins A and K. Not to mention, the nitrate in spinach can help muscles perform more efficiently, according to a 2011 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Blue: Blueberries

Natural foods with a blue or purple glow contain anthocyanins, a phytonutrient known to be a superfood, according to Sheth. "These foods decrease our risk for macular degeneration and prevent certain cancers and strokes," she says. A higher intake of anthocyanins has also been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Blueberries are a superstar in their own right, serving up more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy doses of vitamins K and C, fiber and manganese.

Purple: Grapes

Grapes possess an antioxidant trump card, of sorts: resveratrol. Many studies indicate that the substance may chip away at a number of different types of cancers and prevent against heart disease. To boot, the nutritious orbs may also prevent age-related blindness, according to research from California Table Grape Commission. They'll also give you substantial amounts of vitamins K and C.

White: Banana

You may not think pale foods fit this technicolour food scheme, but white fruits and veggies can be beneficial to your health. "More and more people say to stay away from white foods, but naturally occurring white foods give us good nutrients," says Sheth. In fact fruits with white flesh - such as bananas, apples, pears and cauliflower - may keep strokes away, according to a Dutch study published in the journal Stroke. Bananas' concentration of B6 and potassium - which can boost your mood and help your heart, respectively - make them a solid achromatic choice."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Household Toxins to Avoid

Since this is the time of year for spring cleaning, I found the below article appropriate.  We all should avoid toxic overload, and avoid purchasing products with potentially harmful ingredients.  I have made it my mission to rid our kitchen and bathroom cabinets of products with harmful ingredients--and especially since we have a 3 year-old daughter and a baby on the way--and have replaced them with healthier options.

After reading the article, I found that I need to purchase a new shower curtain, because everytime I take a shower, I smell the PVC and phalate--my sense of smell is heightened due to being pregnant.  Actually, the smell of the shower curtain bothers me so much that I cannot wait to get out of the shower.

"Mainstream medical literature generally agrees that many of the chemicals we have put into our environment are linked to myriad illnesses. These toxic effects occur at very low exposure levels, so it’s important to learn how to reduce our exposure to the chemicals that already are part of our daily lives.

John Hibbs, ND, is a senior faculty supervisor at Bastyr Center who teaches environmental medicine and toxicology curriculum at Bastyr University. “The most important thing you can do to prevent illness from chronic exposure to chemicals is to stop the exposure,” says Dr. Hibbs.

He points out that reducing exposure to household toxins need not be expensive or time-consuming, especially considering that household dust is a major culprit in spreading many chemicals. “Take your shoes off at the door when you come in from outside and vacuum more often,” says Dr. Hibbs. “You’ll see real gain in removing toxic exposure from the home.”

As you go about your spring cleaning this year, consider these five sources of toxicity. While not a comprehensive list of common household toxins, these are some of the most dangerous and surprising offenders:

1. Mercury
Chronic exposure to mercury can lead to brain problems such as Parkinson’s disease, lowered immunity and hormonal disruptions. Common sources of mercury exposure include fish and florescent light bulbs. Dr. Hibbs advises following the
EPA fish advisory, and also explains that eating fiber with fish can reduce exposure. “If you eat fiber with your fish – eat an apple or some whole grain, or beans – it binds with the mercury that was in the fish in the intestines and takes it on out with the stool, keeping most of the mercury from being absorbed in the first place,” he says. Dr. Hibbs acknowledges the energy-saving benefit of newer florescent bulbs, but cautions that they still contain mercury and must be handled with care. “When a florescent bulb breaks, that actually represents a very significant toxic hazard,” he says. “Ventilate like crazy and then stay out of there for a few hours before cleaning up.”

2. Aluminum
Aluminum is a neurotoxin that has been proved to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease as well as other issues with cognition and memory. Aluminum is extremely common and is frequently found in beverage containers and cooking pots and pans. “My advice is to stop using aluminum cookware – pots, pans, baking dishes and so forth – especially at high heat and especially when cooking acidic materials,” Dr. Hibbs says. He also recommends against using aluminum foil in high-heat cooking, as the aluminum can vaporize into the air and into the food.

3. Benzene, Toluene and Xylene
These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are associated with many health issues including nervous system problems and especially with bone marrow toxicity, leading to injury and leukemia. “When I have a patient with chronic leukemia in my practice, one of the first things I do is check their body load of benzene, toluene, etc., and talk to them about an effective cleansing regimen – and it usually helps,” Dr. Hibbs says. These compounds are commonly found in outside dirt, so the best way to reduce exposure is to remove shoes when entering the home and vacuum carpets often.

4. Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), Alklyphenol ethoxylates (APEs) and Propylene Glycol
These chemicals, found in many household cleaners, are also VOCs associated with many of the same health issues listed above, including reduced function in the nervous system, immune system, and the liver and kidneys. In addition to household cleaners, these chemicals may be found in degreasers, mothballs, cosmetics and at commercial dry cleaners. To reduce exposure, Dr. Hibbs recommends cleaning with simple ingredients like soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and elbow grease. “I’m not a fan of dry-cleaning,” says Dr. Hibbs, “but if I need to dry-clean a blanket or a jacket, what I’ll do is hang it in the garage for a few days and let it off-gas before I bring it into the house.”

5. Phalates (plastic) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
“These chemicals are measurable in all of our bodies, all over the world,” says Dr. Hibbs. Phalates and PVC are toxic to the liver, kidney and lungs and may cause birth defects and fertility issues. They are extremely common in household items including food containers, flooring, vinyl and adhesives. “That stuff you smell when you open up a new vinyl shower curtain – that’s PVC and phalate,” Dr. HibbsHibbs. “They’re not perfect but they’re a whole lot better. I still wouldn’t heat them, as it will increase their volatilization.”"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Vitamin Deficiency Associated with Allergies

Allergy season is in full swing right now, and the pollen count is the worst it has ever been, which does not help anyone with allergy-related issues.

For the past few weeks, I have struggled with allergy/sinus headaches that have literally kept me from doing some of my normal everyday activities.  And since I am pregnant, I am limited to what I can take, so I let the headaches run their course.

I thought that a contributor of my allergy/sinus headaches could be the dust on our bedroom ceiling fan-- which I just cleaned--because my headaches would usually start once I woke up in the morning.  However, for all I know, it could be a number of factors that are contributing to my headaches.

Thankfully, I did not wake up with a headache today, and feel really good!

I found the below article interesting.  Many people do not realize that several health-related issues can be tied to vitamin deficiencies, which is why I am so intrigued by reading these types of topics.

"Low Folate Could Contribute to Allergies

The prevalence of allergies and asthma have been on the rise over the past three decades, a trend encompassing all age groups, leading scientists to search for reasons. Declining air quality—both indoors and outside—is one widely examined possible culprit. Now evidence from a recent report from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, points to another contributing factor: low levels of folate (the natural form of folic acid) in the body.

Folate linked to less wheezing

NHANES is a large ongoing study examining the influences of nutrition and lifestyle on health and disease. Data collected for the recent report came from 8,083 children and adults enrolled in NHANES who underwent blood tests to measure folate levels and levels of antibodies known to be involved in allergic reactions. They also answered questions about whether they had been found by a doctor to have wheezing (a symptom of airway inflammation) or asthma in the previous year.

When the people in the study were grouped according to their folate levels, those with the lowest levels were the most likely to have high total levels of allergy-related antibodies. They were also the most likely to have high levels of antibodies to specific allergens such as dust mites, cat, and dog, and to have had wheezing in the previous year. In contrast, the people with the highest folate levels had the lowest levels of total and specific allergy-related antibodies and were the least likely to have wheezing.

Nutrition for allergy prevention

Folate, part of the B vitamin-complex is found abundantly in nature. Folate-rich foods include whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and some fruits like avocados and strawberries. Folate plays a critical role in cell division, and its importance to the developing fetus came to light in the 1970s when congenital neural tube defects and cleft palate were linked to low levels during pregnancy. Efforts to increase intake through education and fortification programs have helped improve folate status in many parts of the world; nevertheless, it remains one of the most common vitamin deficiencies worldwide.

More recent research has shed light on folate’s importance in modulating the immune system and preventing inflammatory processes that can lead to diseases such as cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Although it only provides preliminary evidence, the new report from NHANES could lead to a broader understanding of the importance of folate-rich foods in disease prevention. “[Our] findings suggest that dietary folic acid and factors regulating its metabolism might play an important role in the development and perpetuation of allergy and asthma,” the study’s authors said.

Getting enough folate

With so much evidence pointing toward folate’s importance in preventing chronic disease, it’s a good idea to evaluate your diet and be sure you are getting enough.

  • Eat leafy greens every day. Try spinach, asparagus, and collard greens. Dark green lettuces can also be good sources, especially because they are not heated—some folate is lost during cooking.
  • Choose whole grain breakfast cereals or cereals that are fortified with folic acid.
  • Include lentils and beans, like pintos, black, and garbanzo beans, in soups and on salads, or try beans, brown rice, and avocado for a main dish.
  • Consider a multivitamin. Folic acid, the form of folate used in supplements, is very effective for improving folate status."