Tag Archives: Diet

A Hill (not) to Die On – Fall 2008 Catalog

by Greg Webster

Greg webster

Easy Prevention for a Difficult Men’s Problem

Two years ago, I turned half a century old. Our family celebration was thoroughly Cajun style: Blackened everything-streamers and balloons, over-the-hill signs, even a cake noir. My son presented me a pair of “old man” Velcro shoes while my sisters provided rotten false teeth and a cane. One especially caring card announced that the time had come for regular colonoscopies.

The significance of my age milestone was not lost on my wife. As I’ve come to realize about most loving wives and their husbands, she worries more about my health than I do. Not long after the party, she and I enjoyed some quiet moments one evening on our deck, reminiscing about backpacking trips through the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park two decades earlier. “You know,” Nancy spoke into the darkness, “your birthday cards joked about old man diseases, but you need to take good care of yourself so we’ll still be healthy enough for backpacking when we get the chance again.” Naturally, my first reaction was to point out that I’m still in much better shape than she is, so I’m not the one to worry about. But to leave it there only ignores a small part of me-and every aging male-that can cause big problems if not managed correctly.

GLAND AWARENESS

While men have carried a prostate gland around all their lives, most have little idea what it does for them-and arguably for their wives too. A walnut-sized gland situated just below the bladder, it wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body. You may have seen it diagrammed at some point as part of the male reproductive system, but as a back-stage player, its function is much less exciting than some other components in the array. It produces a fluid that is a major ingredient in semen while defending the genital and urinary tract against infection.

Great. So, the prostate is an unsung hero of things male. What’s that got to do with turning 50? When a man reaches middle age, his hormones change, causing the prostate gland to grow. And its proximity to the urethra can cause problems-kind of like a python causes problems for small animals. The expanding gland can constrict the urethra and make bad things happen like:

  • Frequent urge to urinate or the opposite-difficulty in doing so
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Dribbling of urine
  • Difficulty having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.

These problems can be caused by prostate inflammation or infection (prostatitis), enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), and/or cancer. Health-gloom-wise, prostate cancer is to men what breast cancer is to women. The second leading cause of cancer death in men, 90% of cases go undetected until it is untreatable and has spread to the lymph system (men don’t worry about their health, remember?).

This disaster is just waiting to happen in most grown males. By age 50, 35% have developed some cancer cells in the prostate. The result is that 97% of all men will be affected with some manner of prostate problem at some point in life. The typical solution is surgery. Yet even in successful cases the outcome can be, shall we say, unhappy.

The two big “I” words: Incontinence and Impotence happen every year to a strong contingent of the 400,000 American men who undergo prostate surgery. Unfortunately, the drugs most popular for treating the ailments are similarly ripe with dangerous side effects. But then, the alternative to treatment is pretty dangerous, too-lethal, in fact.

NEW TWIST ON AN OLD PRESCRIPTION

The discouraging facts about my future health compared to my wife’s could make a man my age wonder if thoughts of backpacking adventures to come are nothing more than pipe dreams. But taking care of the inner piping is possible.

While the prescription for good health is familiar-maintain an active lifestyle, eat a nutrient-rich diet, and take high quality supplements- there are a number of elements in this typical health recommendation that especially benefit prostate functioning.

Exercise

Sedentary men are 30% more likely to get prostate cancer and 40% more likely to have the non-cancerous condition, BPH. The same stats apply to highly stressed men. Both experience low levels of glutathione (an antioxidant produced inside the body and induced by exercise) in their cells, a situation that lessens resistance to cell and DNA damage.d3

Sitting for long periods also pinches nerves in the vertebrae that transmit messages from the brain to the prostate. This reduces the flow of fresh blood to the gland, allowing toxins to build up. Prostate- specific exercise can free up nerves and blood flow. And routine outdoor exercise adds a winning touch. Vitamin D, essential to prostate well-being, is manufactured naturally by the body when exposed to sunlight.

Diet

Foods rich in antioxidants-the cancer-fighting wonders found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables-are crucial. In addition, oysters and other shellfish, lamb, pumpkin seeds, and nutritional yeast contain zinc, an important mineral for prostate health and replacement of seminal fluid.

The Weston A. Price Foundation (an organization committed to education about natural, healthful eating) encourages the use of raw milk from grass-fed cows. It’s high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) for powerful protection against cancer of all types. If raw milk is not available, whole (not low-fat) organic milk is a good second choice.

Excessive caffeine or alcohol should be avoided since these are immune suppressors. And contrary to politically correct dietitians, processed soy products have been linked to increased prostate cancer risk and should be avoided. Although soy manufacturers often brag that Asian men (who eat a lot of soy) demonstrate a low incidence of prostate cancer, they don’t point out that soy mostly consumed by Asians is fermented into healthful tempeh or miso-very different from the processed Americanized form. Regular consumption of meat substitutes, energy bars, and protein shakes made with soy can mean a person ingests 100 times the level of soy intake considered safe.

Supplements

A few supplements directly improve and maintain prostate functioning, but none better than Beeyoutiful’s Clinical Strength Prostate Health. As men age, the body’s ratio of estrogen (yes, the woman hormone!) to testosterone increases, but Prostate Health contains stinging nettle root extract to counter the effects of excess estrogen production. Many cheaper health products use only the stems and leaves, not the root of this herb, which renders it significantly less effective.clinical_strength_ph

Yet that’s only the beginning. The complete rundown on what Prostate Health delivers is impressive.

Saw palmetto supports normal urinary flow and calms inflammation. Berries from the saw palmetto plant, which grows in the southeastern U.S., are used to inhibit production of an unwanted form of testosterone suspected of contributing to enlargement of the prostate. “Bargain brands” use a powdered form of the plant which does not perform as well as berry-based formulations like Beeyoutiful’s. Prostate Health, in fact, contains an especially high percentage of healthful fatty acids in the form of serenoa repens. And while there is a downside effect of any saw palmetto-blocking the enzyme responsible for prostate enlargement causes another enzyme to kick into high gear and make estrogen-the stinging nettle root in Prostate Health counter-balances this tendency.

Pygeum, made from the bark of the pygeum tree-an evergreen found in the higher elevations of Africa and used by the natives for centuries for what they call “old man’s disease”-enhances the saw palmetto/stinging nettle combo, facilitating urination and helping the bladder empty completely.

Pumpkin seed oil is high in four free fatty acids and is now considered as vital to prostate health as lycopene.

Lycopene-the natural pigment that makes tomatoes red-has been shown to slow or even halt the growth of BPH.

Zinc offers an anti-bacterial effect to help stave off genito-urinary infections. (In prostatitis, zinc levels are only one-tenth of those in a normal prostate.) Men are more vulnerable than women to having low zinc because they lose that particular mineral in every ejaculation.

Vitamin B6 supplements the zinc and stinging nettle in regulating the enzyme which makes “bad testosterone.” B6 helps control inflammation of the bladder and counteracts the development of prostate tumors. Prostate Health offers all-in-one prostate protection. If someone you know isn’t taking it by the time he turns 50, add a bottle to the gag gift pile. The name will fit with one of the “kind” cards he’s certain to get, and the pills are just the color you’d want-basic black. This is one over-the-hill gift to keep on giving- and taking-so men can enjoy celebrating not only 50, but 60, 70, and beyond.

Greg Webster is a freelance writer, homeschool father of eight, and owner of The Gregory Group advertising, marketing, and design firm. He and his family enjoy “natural, country living” just south of Columbia, Tennessee.

PROSTATE EXERCISE

Stand and take a few deep breaths. Exhale until all the air is gone from your lungs. Without breathing in, suck in your stomach, pulling it up as high as possible into your chest. Use hands to help lift it and squeeze your sides as well. This reverses the negative effects of gravity, which is constantly pulling down on your organs, with the prostate gland at the bottom of the heap. Feel the muscles in the lower back and side tighten. Then relax and inhale. After a minute or two, repeat.

If you notice any pain (very possibly your prostate), do this exercise 10 times throughout the day. You’re likely to feel some soreness after the first few sessions because toxic blood trapped in the prostate area is now moving out, irritating the surrounding tissues. Stick with it, and within days there should be only a feeling of relief and refreshment after exercising. Three to four sessions a day is good enough as a maintenance routine.

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Baby Steps to Better Eating- Summer 2008 Catalog

By Nancy Webster

We were good Southerners. During my growing-up years my family ate lots of vegetables-boiled or fried near to death-and fruits and nancy_smallberries mostly in the form of pie or cobbler. But as a teenager, I was fascinated by Mrs. Brewer’s very different approach to food.

Long-time family friends, Mrs. Brewer and her husband lived on a small Tennessee farm just outside of Nashville, and every year, Mrs. Brewer grew a magnificent organic garden. She also read Prevention magazine, and-appropriately-took daily brewer’s yeast supplements. Inspired by her fine foods and the many nutritional tips she shared with me, I finally began my own quest for purer eating by asking my parents to take me to a health food store. Shelves of mysterious bottles and austere boxes overwhelmed us, and we emerged with nothing but a package of soy crackers.

Those crackers were the start of a 30-year food journey from college dining hall food and vending machine junk to meatless, soy substitutes, to proper-protein-combining, to fresh-ground, whole wheat bread, to all raw vegetarian fare. Each represented an extreme of sorts, leaving me hungry (so to speak) for a more whole way of eating. If you’re just now at the early stages of a quest for a healthier diet, please allow me to save you years of rabbit trails.

A History of Good Eating

Although it’s easy to let the busy-ness of life push you back to frozen pizza and fish sticks, it’s vital for your health and your family’s to keep taking baby steps towards the healthier way. Every little success makes it easier the next time.

I first recommend bookmarking and reading the articles on the Weston A. Price Foundation website (www.westonaprice.org). Dr. Price, a dentist, toured the world in the 1930’s, visiting people groups which had not yet been introduced to processed foods. They still prepared meals by the techniques of their ancestors. Dr. Price found these people with excellent teeth, and he also noted that they were resistant to illnesses such as tuberculosis, prevalent in that time period. He also took note of other people groups who-in just one generation of eating processed, sugary foods-had developed decayed, crooked teeth and newly succumbed to many diseases. His travels laid the groundwork for the outstanding nutritional research carried on by the foundation that bears his name.

The next thing you need to do is buy Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon. This in-depth volume contains factual information about the value-added benefits of proper food preparation as well as many, many meals’ worth of delectable recipes. Even though the book has more than 600 pages, it’s like the Bible in that you can read a bit here and there and get a lot out of it.NourishingTrad_1

Sally Fallon explains the value of fermenting vegetables instead of pickling them-it’s even better than just eating them raw! Fermenting boosts the enzyme content of vegetables and fills your digestive tract with beneficial bacteria to help your intestines get the most nutrition out of your food. Nourishing Traditions also details how to culture dairy products, a process that predigests lactose (milk sugar, to which many people are allergic) and casein (milk protein, often an allergen). The remarkable healing properties of simple bone broth are highlighted. And, politically incorrect as it may seem, you’ll discover why animal fats are good for you and can even help you lose weight!

The Fantastic Four

To jump-start your venture in traditional cooking, I’ve outlined below a few tips for four of the many important food preparation processes taught in Nourishing Traditions.

(1) Fermented vegetables. You can ferment most vegetables, but start simple, with plain sauerkraut. A spoonful of sauerkraut with your meal helps your body digest food, especially meat and beans, and eating fermented vegetables regularly will lessen sugar cravings. Try this sauerkraut for starters.

Combine:
1 tablespoon sea salt (cheap, regular salt does not contain trace minerals and is chemically processed, so using sea salt is important).
4 tablespoons whey (whey is the liquid you find at the top of an unstirred carton of plain yogurt. You can collect it by draining the yogurt through cheesecloth or a cotton dishtowel. Keep the whey for your recipes, and use the yogurt in place of cream cheese.)

Next:
Chop finely a head of cabbage, organic if possible (a food processor is a big help.)
Mix ingredients in a large bowl and pound them for about 10 minutes to get the juices out of the cabbage. (This is a fun task for small children. My six-year old son loves banging the soup ladle we use for the job.)
Toss in a tablespoon of caraway seeds if you like.
Dump the mixture into a clean 1-quart mason jar, packing it tightly and leaving a 1-inch space at the top.
Tighten the lid, and set it on the counter for three days to ferment. After that, it’s ready to eat, and you can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to two months.

(2) Kefir and cultured dairy products. Kefir is yogurt’s stronger cousin, replete with probiotic good bacteria necessary for optimal health. It’s a cinch to make-much easier than yogurt! The hardest part is finding milk kefir grains to get you started. They’re sold online (google “kefir grains”), or you may even find them free from a local Weston Price Foundation chapter (find one near you at http://www.westonaprice.org). Kefir grains look like little pieces of cauliflower but are living, lactose-loving bacteria.

To make kefir:
Dump the grains into a 1-quart jar, three-fourths full of milk.
Rubber band a paper towel or cotton handkerchief over the top, so it can get air but stay clean.
Place the jar in a kitchen cabinet for 24 to 48 hours.
Once it’s all done, use a stainless steel strainer (not aluminum!) to separate the grains from the liquid. (Dump them into another jar of milk to start your next batch.)
Store the finished product in the refrigerator.
Kefir is sour, like buttermilk, but you can sweeten it with fruit, honey, or stevia. Try it in a smoothie for a fast breakfast or snack!

(3) Bone Broth. Homemade bone broth is the real stuff you’ll want to use in place of those MSG-laden cans of soup broth and bouillon cubes sold at the grocery store. Ask your butcher or a local meat processor to save bones for you. Nourishing Traditions includes several recipes for making broth from different types of bones, and if you follow the recommended steps, you’ll have incredible broth. A great way to get started, though, is simply to cover a bunch of bones with water and simmer them for several hours. Then strain off any gunk that rises to the top. You can freeze the broth in small containers, and use it in place of water in soup or to cook rice and other grains. And with a pinch of sea salt, warm broth makes a soothing, mineral-rich drink alone or with a meal.

(4) Animal fats. You won’t hear this from popular diet articles and books, but it’s true that animal fats (and other cold-pressed, omega-rich plant oils like flax seed, olive, coconut, and palm) can help you lose weight-if you need to. It’s important to replace fake fats like margarine, hydrogenated shortening and vegetable/canola oils with these real fats. Our brains are mostly fat and require it to function optimally. And bodies need healthy fats in order to manufacture hormones which keep us balanced. Belly fat, which tends to accumulate on middle-aged women even when they watch what they eat, is often a sign of hormone imbalance. The book Eat Fat Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon explains this in detail and might help you overcome the brainwashing we’ve all been subjected to regarding low-fat diets.

Once you’re off and running in this new, old way of preparing foods, you’ll build your momentum and keep on learning. It gets to be a lot of fun. I only wish Mrs. Brewer was still around-now I’d have a few tips for her!

Nancy Webster is a freelance writer, homeschool mother of eight, and an avid researcher on health and nutrition. She lives with her family on their “partially working” farm in Tennessee.

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