Go ahead and dig in the garden

Dear Gentle Reader,

With the strains of Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons setting the tone, spring has finally come to Seattle. While so many of you are enjoying unseasonably warm weather, we have seen snow flurries, much rain and the thermometer has not climbed into the upper 50’s. Until the last couple of days.  The parking lots at the nurseries were full this weekend.  I came home with 11 bags of top soil and 6 roses.  Getting these in the ground usually means an aching body.  My friend, after a day of digging, complained that she couldn’t bend down to tie her shoes.  What’s a person to do who nurses osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis?

Here are some suggestions:

On your hands and knees.  Perhaps you, like me, are most comfortable crawling around on your hands and knees.  My friend, catching sight of my knee pads hanging from the wall, asked what sort of art object that was.  Those are my knee pads.  I have them hung right by the back door so I grab them when I head outside to do a gardening chore, however small or brief. If they are hidden away in some garden shed, you won’t put them on.  You’ll be in the garden and you’ll bend over to pull a weed and there goes the back.

A garden stool  I love my garden stool made of sturdy plastic. Upright I can sit on it to work in the barrels and containers, harvest pool beans and fava beans.  Inverted, I can kneel on it and use the legs as handles to lift me up.

Stretching i didn’t mention this first because I stretch everyday first thing in the morning, first on the Back2Life machine and then a few Feldenkrais hip opener moves followed by yoga down dog, runner’s lunge and plank.  Then while the oatmeal cooks, the seated routine with Jennifer Kreis. I blogged about Jennifer’s seating wake up exercises last Feb. 12, Yoga and Arthritis. I just checked her website: The DVD I love so much is now part of a set of 4 and they are currently discounted to $29.95.

Time limit  Don’t over do it.  The minute I sense a strain, I stop.  Manana es otro dia.  Tomorrow is another day.

I found this delightful forum on gardening which I’d like to share with you.  Enjoy the comments of these women as they share how they keep their bodies moving. http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/accessible/msg091943101715.html  Together we will achieve more, and more comfortably.

Thanks for reading, and please send your suggestions so we can learn from your techniques.

Be well, Do Well and Keep Moving,

Betsy

Betsy Bell’s Health4U

206 933 1889

www.HiHohealth.com

I enthusiastically forster a person’s business development in the health and wellness field.

It comes down to what we eat

Gentle Reader,

A friend sent me a TED talk by Dr.Terry Wahls  on MS this past week.  In the 5 minute screening she recounts her productive life as a research scientist up to the debilitating onset of MS.  Seeking the best care medical professionals had to offer, her condition worsened.  Driven by her inquiring mind to know as much as she could about her disease, she began to experiment with different foods and supplements.  As her condition improved, she increased her dependence on whole plant foods, greens, reds, yellows, blues, purples and lessened or stopped eating altogether all refined foods, meats, dairy, sugars, grains.  Exercise became possible.  Brain function and mobility returned to better than normal.  All drug intake stopped.  Take a minute to watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

Arthritis caused by spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis is not Multiple Sclerosis.  I realize this. I would challenge anyone suffering from the pain and loss of mobility caused by arthritis to eat the diet Dr. Wahls describes and discover how much this pain lessens and mobility increases.  Every other system in the body improves with this diet.

Now, most people will not be able to eat this way day in and day out.  I don’t. For instance, yesterday I ate 1 meal on the run, getting off for choir practice with a protein shake in my car.  The next two meals I ate in the company of church members, lunch with a homeless community meal; dinner with the group of people I traveled with to Nicaragua in February.  My defense is supplementation.  The Carotanoids, Flavonoids, the Liver Cleanse, the pre and pro biotic do their best to take the place of the diet Dr. Wahls recommends.  When I am home, like today, I will eat this way.

You may have decided this blog is becoming too much of a harangue about diet and lose interest in following my Monday posts.  Before you go, just think outside the box, if you will, and consider the value to your health of a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, natural oils and proteins from plant sources.  Think of the future you dream of with your children and grandchildren, of travel and gardening, of skiing and hiking, of knitting and sewing without pain well into your 80’s and even your 90’s.  What is the price you are willing to pay for a pain free future?  We pay for our health sooner or later.  A wholesome diet and supplementation put the money up front and could lessen the cost of healthcare in our later years.  Think about it.

I am too harsh and unforgiving.  I love you just the way you are and would gladly listen to your stories about ways you have found to alleviate your arthritis pain.  If you do experiment with the Dr. Wahls diet, let me know how it goes.  If you want to fill in the gaps with “foodlet” supplements that are guaranteed to make you feel better or your money back, let me know that, too.

Be well, Do Well and Keep Moving.

Betsy

BetsyBell’s Health4U

206 933-1889

Seattle, WA 98116

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But I have to have an operation!

Gentle Reader,

I was talking with a guy last night who had to have an operation for his hip.  The osteoarthritis had become so advanced into the hip joint that various movements were impeded.  A long time supplement user, he fortified himself with various supplements in order to tolerate the operation well and heal quickly.  He is a little disappointed with how long it has taken to get back to a range of motion he hoped for.  He is apprehensive about the operation waiting for his other hip.

As a wellness advisor, I have counseled many people about steps they might take to prepare for surgery, all kinds of surgery, whether for cancer or for arthritis and bone issues.  I thought I would share with you the document I have developed over the years.  Please add your own thoughts if you have had surgery and found alternative supplementation and actions that have helped with healing.

Before Surgery:

Soy protein 2 x daily  (if taking chemo, increase to 3-4 x daily)

Vita-Lea 3-4/daily  (Shaklee’s multivitamin-mineral supplement)

Fiber Tablets or Mix:  Soluble fiber (bloodstream), insoluble fiber (gut)

Herb Lax:  Cleanses gut, blood

Vita. C Sustained Release w/bioflavinoids:  anti-inflammatory, new cells grow faster, immune system support, helps w/pain.  Take a minimum of 3-4 of 500 mg./da – up to 10,000 mg.  (gradually decrease since body has to adjust to excreting excess)

B-Complex:  aids in good digestion.  Depleted by stress.  Take 8/da – space out

Zinc:  Helps w/pain, healing, no more than 50-60 mg./day except when there is trauma like a cut or incision (up to 120 mg./da until healed).  Body can’t make new cells w/o zinc, protein, & C.

Immunity Formula I:  2-8/da (A proprietary Shaklee supplement to enhance the immune response.)

Carotomax:  Cleanses cells, reduces inflammation (swelling), makes mucous membranes healthy.  Especially helpful if using breathing machine.

Vitamin E:  Oxygenates cells, gets rid of toxins of anesthesia.

DO NOT take GLA, E, OmegaGuard (fish oil), Garlic or lecithin before surgery. Stop 1 week prior.

Alfalfa (vitamin K):  10-20/da to reduce bleeding during & after surgery.

Garlic:  Helps flora, antibacterial agent. Not before surgery as is a blood thinner.

NutriFeron:  Take 4 for 2 weeks. (A proprietary herbal blend that stimulates interferon production.)

OsteoMatrix:  Coats nerve endings, helps repair them quicker, helps you relax so you can sleep deeper (can take w/Gentle Sleep Complex). (This is Shaklee’s calcium product.)

Iron:  Need blood test to know if needed. (Shaklee’s comes with vitamin c to help absorption.)

After Surgery:

Performance:  Dilute more than usual, make ice chips out of it, & start taking slowly as soon as feel like it. (Shaklee’s rehydrating drink, perfectly balanced for absorption.)

Protein:  Take as soon as can drink but don’t feel nauseated.  Alternate with Physique. (Physique is Shaklee after workout maximize, excellent for healing sore muscles.)

Liver DTX: 2 at night (Shaklee’s detox milk thistle product to help restore normalcy after the medications of surgery.)

Stomach Soothing complex:  Helps calm digestive system if feeling queezy.  Made with peppermint and ginger, can be taken as a tablet or dissolved into hot water for tea.

Vita-Cal:  Helps reduce gas bubbles. (A chewable Shaklee calcium product)

Fiber:  Start w/very small amounts to start cleansing.  A Fiber Blend tablet or ¼ tsp. Fiber Blend.

Vitamin E 400+:  4-6/da.  Prevents blood clots, oxygenates.  Start slowly if high blood pressure is an issue.

Lecithin:  Helps build sheath around nerve endings which helps reduce pain. 6 daily

GLA:  Up to 6/da, anti-inflammatory. (Shaklee makes their GLA from borage oil for best absorption and least contamination)

Omega Guard (fish oil):  If you digest it well.

Alfalfa:  Diuretic, liver cleanser, reduces swelling, helps kidneys, etc. start working again. 20 daily

Herb-Lax:  Start slowly. Very helpful after surgery as elimination slows down so much from the anesthetic.  Take to the hospital.  From personal experience, this is super important.

Purified Water:  very important

B-Complex:  Promotes healing, increases energy level.

Ginseng:  Helps energy & supports adrenal glands.  (Shaklee’s CorEnergy)

Dandelion leaf:  Swelling & inflammation. (Not a Shaklee product)

Optiflora pills and powder is strongly recommended to rebuild the flora. 1 serving daily of this pre and pro biotic made by Shaklee

This is a tall order when you may not be used to taking so much stuff.

The minimum pre-op is Energizing Soy Protein,  Vita C, Optiflora, Vita lea Gold and Alfalfa

Post op:  Physique, Vita C, Vita E, Optiflora, Vita Lea Gold, Alfalfa, Herb lax, Lecithin.

I have gleaned this information primarily from Carol Dalton, a nurse practitioner in Colorado who, during her long practice, has found the Shaklee supplements to work best for her patients.  People who have followed this protocol have had remarkable healing and suffered the least from the trauma of surgery.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,

Betsy

BetsyBell’s Health4u

206 933 1889

http://www.HiHoHealth dot com

 

Nicaragua: How it went from the body perspective

Dear Reader,

From yoga to Central America and back.  I am happy to report that I needed very few of my Shaklee herbal Pain Relief tablets.  I packed about 18 in my little emergency pill-box, plus 6 Aleve.  In the airport back here in Seattle after sitting on the airplane for 10 hours and hauling the 2 rolling suit cases along miles of hall ways, I swallowed the last herbal remedy.  There are still 4 Aleve in my box!  I was amazed.

Exercise: practically impossible to get the usual exercise.  Unconventional exercise opportunities came along frequently.  In Managua, we all stayed in various homes clustered around the Cultural Center in the barrio of Batahola.  After a 36 hour trip (we missed our plane leaving Seattle and had to re-book 18 hours later), Alicia (my granddaughter of 13) and I joined our group for tours of two collectives in which Nicaraguans produce products from local materials for sale locally.  From there we headed for our home stays where, after meeting the family and unpacking my suitcase, I showered and washed the clothes I had on so long. This is the first exercise.  One washes standing over a double sink, the washing side of which has an old-fashioned rubbing surface.  You wet the clothes by dipping water from the larger of the two tubs and splashing it over the clothes and then scrubbing.  Of course my delicate ExOfficio sports clothing wouldn’t tolerate that kind of treatment.  I used my laundry soap from home and gently got the sweat and grime out, rinsed over and over with dips from the water tub and finally hung the clothes on the lines strung in the patio over the concrete floor and potted plants all around the edge.  Open to the sky, everything was dry in the morning.

There was no early to bed for us.  Around 8:15 after dinner of rice and beans, fried bananas and steamed beets and a strange new root vegetable that had been boiled and mashed with butter (yummy), the family announced they were going to a concert.  Would we like to come?  Exhausted as we were, we chose to go along.  We walked–three children, grandma and grandpa and daughter–to the main road (about 1/2 mile) and hailed a cab.  Four adults and 3 children sat in the back seat with Don Encarnacion Nicaragua in front with the taxi driver.  What a ride!  The concert was a first gig for a talented young group with a clear, warm tenor; a rich sultry contralto and our family’s friend, Ana, the back up singer, violinist, flute player, castanet shaking beauty.  The rhythm section included every sort of Latin drum and vibs, acoustic and electric guitars.  The music rocked.  The audience knew the words of all the popular songs from the Misa Campesina and their original tunes were haunting and worthy of a CD.  The place was an outdoor bar, tables and people filling the concrete slab just below the stage area which was right in front of the serving bar.  We were a bit late at 8:45 and sat at a table on the dirt slightly sloping floor along side the stage and right in front of the powerful sound system.  No chance of nodding off.  Huge bottles of Tona, the Nica beer, fried cheese and fried bananas and coke for the kids arrived.  By mid-night I pleaded total exhaustion and the mother and children took us home in a cab while the seniors, Mr. and Mrs. Nicaragua stayed to the end.  Amazing.

The next day, real exercise presented itself in a dance lesson at the cultural center led by probably one of the best group class exercise leaders I have had.  We practiced the salsa, merengue, and several other steps I can’t name.  She had us stretching.  Washing out those clothes and showering all over was a necessity after that work out.  And no pain.

Was it the heat?  Was it the vacation?  Was it the clean diet of corn, beans, rice, vegetables and no wheat at all?  Who knows.  I was grateful.

Not to give you an entire travel log, but I want to mention a couple more exercise moments.  We stayed a night in the lovely hill city of Matagalpa, where like Seattle, to get anywhere you have to walk up and down.  At one moment I was able to take off alone and walk up hill.  We would never permit that steep an incline for normal driving.  On my way back down from a high point in front of a lovely house, I passed a woman about my age carrying 2 sacks of groceries, her face contorted in pain, breathing hard and resting often.  I thought how fortunate I am to have all the self-care and practitioners to keep me in such good shape.  I can elect to walk the hills of Matagalpa.  She cannot.

Our group of 10 from Saint Mark’s Cathedral was organized through Matagalpa tours.  We spent two nights in the campo, staying with farm people, members of the fair trade coffee collective, Cecocafen.  Two from our group and I walked over a mile to get to our farm stay, again on gravel/dirt road that rolled with the hills up and down.  At the house, visiting the bathroom was an athletic even.  At night the doors were bolted with heavy iron bars which I had to lift and move, then removing a heavy beam holding the upper half of the door shut.  Then I had to navigate a steep stone stair case down to a dirt slope that descended to the outhouse, being careful to duck under the clothes wire set to smack me right in the eye balls.  A few stone steps up to the heavy wooden door to the two hole latrine.  I scoped out the outhouse trip during the day light and wore my head lamp.  Oh, did I forget to mention that going down the outside stone steps included trying not to disturb a pile of dogs who slept there.

I was glad I had tucked in a therma-rest mattress to help me sleep on the 2 inch thick foam pad on a ply wood sheet on 4×4 legs of a bed.

Several in our group climbed an active volcano outside Leon, the colonial city in the western part of the country.  I chose a city tour with two of the other older participants and we got to climb to the roof of the cathedral, a classic Spanish structure.  The ring of fire around Leon is impressive and most residents have experienced ash in their homes and on their faces.  It makes for very fertile soil and beautiful vegetables and fruits are produced on the mountain farms.  We learned about the complex mixed farming of shade grown, organic coffee, tucked in with bananas, fruit trees as the upper story.  Beans were ready for harvest, pineapple had just been planted, corn was bagged and carried by a yoke of oxen to a high place for winnowing the chaff.  A little mechanical help from a small John Deer tractor would ease the hardship of these farmers’ lives.  They rise at 4 to shower in the dark, make tortillas and get their children ready in their blue trousers or shirts and spotless white shirts to walk the 1 1/2 miles to school by 7:30.  What a pleasure to watch the children gather from the scattered farms to form a river of blue and white, each with their back pack, the 5 year olds holding hands with the older sisters and brothers.

At night, returning from our day exploring the area as a group, we walked home to our farm on a moonless clear night. Seldom have I seen such stars, the Milky Way so brilliant as to light our way with Orion leading to the south.  Everyone was in bed by 8:30.

Our Saint Mark’s group returned to Seattle last Monday and Alicia and I stayed another 6 days, she with her father and his family; I with a welcoming couple and their 40-year-old son living in Batahola, across from the Cultural Center.  Here is a link in English where you can read about this remarkable place.  I signed up for more of Carla’s dance classes and met a great group of women who come twice a week to learn about nutrition, health (mini lectures between the merengue and salsa) and exercise.  They were very welcoming and chatted me up with questions about the US and plenty of sharing about their work, families and home life.  My Spanish was up to it, I am pleased to say.

My host mother is interested in prevention and nutrition and we had wonderful long conversations about herbs and vitamins and foods that help with her aches and pains.  She is 61 and not taking any medications.  She was #5 in a family of 12 and her parents both lived into their 90’s.  Her grandmother lived in the mountainous countryside until her death at the age of 115.  Besides keeping visitors for a small sum (room and 3 meals $20 a day), Dona Cony made helado, a fresh popsicle sort of fruit ice cream.  She made 5 flavors: one, chopped mango, banana, watermelon, cantaloupe, and something else, vanilla and cinnamon poured into 1/2 cup sized plastic bags and tied by hand and frozen. Other flavors are coconut, cocoa, cherries ground fine and mixed with milk, and a slightly fermented concoction of pineapple and some other fruits that she first cooks to get the acid out and then skims, added a bit of rum and other flavors and largish pieces of banana.  I didn’t get to try this one and had to content myself with helping.  They sold for 5 cordobas.  23 cordabas = $1.  She doesn’t advertise.  There is no sign.  People come from all over the neighborhood and beyond to buy one or a dozen at a time.  I explained that such cottage industry would require an enormous amount of red tape here in the States.  They let the buyer beware and the seller maintains a spotless kitchen. One bad batch and she’d be out of business.  News travels fast, especially when it is bad.

I’ll get back to the wonderful topic of preventing and managing arthritis next Monday.

Be well and Do well and most of all, keep moving!

Betsy

BetsyBell’s Health4U

206 933 1889

www.hihohealth.com