Fast Scroll to the Articles Below:
>link< The Latest! From Dr. Ruth
>link< The Atkins vs Real Food Diet
>link< The Calcium Deficiency Myth
>link< Women’s Hormone Controversy
>link< Fish & the Ciguatera Toxin
>link< Veggie Viagra
>link< The Maui Weekly (an article)
>link< What about protein?
>link< Alcohol & Protein for Athletes
>link< The Footsteps of Pheidippedes
>link< Stress in the 21st Century
>link< Daily Vegan Meal Plan
Ruth at Prince Rupert Totem Park
The Atkins Vs Real Food DietThe most popular New Year's Resolution, according to a recent poll, is Improve Health and Fitness. Since 66% of our population is either obese or overweight, there is a great deal of interest in any diet that promises to take off weight. There is no way anyone can get around the primary principle law of thermodynamics which, in effect, says that the only way you will lose weight is if you take in fewer calories than you burn. As people get more desperate to lose weight, they will try different fad diets but if they lose their health in the process, what have they gained?
So, let's look at two diets: the Atkins (or any high protein diet) vs. the Real Food Diet (fruits and vegetables). This boils down to "animal" vs "plant" foods.
Ruth E. Heidrich, Ph.D.
The Osteoporosis/Calcium Deficiency Myth
and Other Life Threatening Diseases
By Ruth Heidrich, PhD, Health & Fitness Advisor for VegNews
(As excerpted from the Oct, 2003 VUNA VIEWS)
The admonitions surround us! Take more Calcium! Drink more milk!! Take Tums!
Physicians and dietitians have repeatedly increased the daily calcium intake recommended and yet the incidence of osteoporosis increases. The countries with the highest hip fracture rates have the highest dairy intake. Conversely, countries with the lowest hip fractures are non-dairy consuming.
There are many factors involved in bone density, but the major factors are excessive protein intake and lack of effective exercise. The typical carnivore's diet provides excessive protein (amino acids) which then has to be neutralized by calcium, taken from the bones. Couple that with a sedentary lifestyle, and you have the perfect recipe for osteoporosis.
Bone is much like muscle in that it only gets as strong (dense) as the demands placed on it. Demands in the form of stress range in a continuum from zero gravity in outer space, to bed-rest, to sitting, standing, walking, running, and jumping.
Bone loss occurs during zero gravity, bed-rest and sitting. Walking maintains bone, but ONLY running and jumping have been shown to increase bone density. I use my own case history as evidence since my bone density has steadily increased from ages 49 to 64. The obvious solution is a vegan diet and effective exercise. Striking exercise is best, ie., running, because every time the foot strikes with the impact of one’s compounded weight, it involves repeated transfer of energy through the bones and joints and stimulates more bone challenge and growth.
Osteoporosis, however, is just one of the major life-threatening diseases that can be addressed through diet and exercise. Other examples include heart disease, cancer, stroke, iatrogenic disorders, diabetes, arthritis, depression, obesity, and premature aging - each of these conditions has a proven fitness component as well as a nutritional component.
Hearts grow stronger with regular aerobic exercise. It's been shown that runners have increased heart stroke volume as well as greater elasticity in their arteries. Runners also have thicker knee cartilage and lower risk of arthritis.
Regular exercise boosts the immune system to the point where female runners have approximately a 35% lower risk of breast cancer. The increased elasticity of the arteries also lowers the risk of stroke. The fourth leading cause of death, iatrogenic (or medically-caused) diseases, can be prevented by running as fast as you can -- away from hospitals! (Smile.)
Type 2 diabetes is occurring in younger populations, and is said to be due to, at least in part, to lack of exercise. The mechanism is thought to be that the blood sugar rises when muscles aren't being called upon to use it. Exercise also increases the receptor's sensitivity to insulin.
Arthritic joints "freeze" when not put through their entire range of motion on a daily basis; adhesions start forming in 24 hours.
Osteoporosis can be prevented since bones increase density when greater stress is put on them - not by pushing calcium.
A good run is almost always a better antidote for depression than Prozac - and no side effects.
Since obesity represents stored energy, an obvious solution is to exercise and is far more effective, in the long run (pun intended) than cutting calories.
It is obvious then that fitness plays a major role in the prevention and reversal of these major health conditions.
There was, of course, the backlash from those in favor of keeping women on PremPro. There are those who argue that the increased risk was not that great, that the numbers were relatively small, and that it was effective in treating hot flashes. These arguments keep the debate going, especially since physicians are left with no weapons (drugs) in their armory. The pharmaceutical companies stand to lose the most since HRT represents a major source of their profits.
Reading the article reminded me of a situation where cars keep driving over the cliff on the Pali (a steep pass on the island of Oahu), and here are all these investigators at the bottom with all the crashed cars, arguing over whether they need more ambulances or should they just build a hospital right there! They all miss the main point, that women who follow a vigorous exercise program and a vegan, low-fat diet don't have ANY of these problems in the first place -- no hot flashes, no heart disease, no strokes, no Alzheimer's, no breast cancer, no mood swings, no bone loss (osteoporosis), no weight gain, and as for the so-called advantages of taking PremPro such as lower colon cancer rates, they'd be at lower risk of that as well! Blood clots and poor circulation are caused by eating animal products. These are the real reasons for heart attacks, strokes, (the major killers of women in America) and Alzheimer's, poor circulation to the brain.
There are a number of factors that these investigators and physicians overlook. For one, it has been assumed that women past menopause are automatically deficient in estrogen. They have never tested estrogen levels and if they did, they'd find that most women DO continue to produce enough estrogen to keep them physiologically balanced. Actually, most women before menopause are producing too much estrogen; this is one of the reasons breast cancer is so common in this country. They'd be better off after menopause if doctors would just leave them alone.
Another factor: the estrogen they use is horse estrogen and the balancing synthetic hormone, progestin. Both are quite different from the natural hormones the human female produces. In fact, it is the progestin that causes so many problems in women. Just look it up in the Physician’s Desk Reference, the PDR.
Third, if they DID test women's hormone levels, they might find a small minority of them low. They should then be supplemented with a natural form of both estrogen and progesterone, e.g., Progest.
I had to laugh when I read about the monkey study. They had to feed them "lard, butter, and eggs" to induce heart disease. Isn't it amazing that these researchers don't get the connection? The connection is that this is the "experiment" that we've got going in our so-called "civilized world" -- feeding people lots of "lard, butter, and eggs" -- all of which come from animal products.
The biggest problem is this: if these women ate a vegan, low-fat diet and got daily, vigorous exercise, the drug companies would lose their major profit makers and doctors would find their practices cut severely. Now who is going to be willing to do that???? (9:>)
It was a shock to hear that the doctor who knew the most about women's hormones, John Lee, had a heart attack and died Oct. 17, 2003. It's really sad because he was just getting going on educating doctors about the fallacy of prescribing horse estrogen and progestin. The problem here is that Dr. Lee was an expert in that one field and not in nutrition. He had a heart attack at age 74 because of his diet. On his website he said that eggs and meat are good for you! I'm really sad because of the irony of this situation. Age 74 was way too young to die.
For those women who have menopausal symptoms, regardless of the reason, the safest hormone is Natural Progesterone. The brand I recommend is Progest, primarily because when I had Dr. Lee on as a guest on my radio show, he spoke most highly of that product. He showed evidence of its use in stopping hot flashes, increasing bone density (progesterone stimulates the osteoblasts, the cells that build new bone), enhances the thyroid hormone, increases libido, increases feelings of well-being, a whole litany of very positive effects. He’d been advising the use of this cream in his practice for years, following his patients and documenting their good results.
There is even evidence that a small amount of Progest is useful for older men who are suffering from an enlarged prostate and increased nighttime urination. It makes sense because both men and women have the same hormones, just in different quantities.
Reference link: Wall Street Journal Article
I discount the price, which is regularly $30, so you can try a two-month supply for $25.
If you have some questions, here's the link: >click<
If you would like to order a tube, use this link: >click<
Have you heard the one about the doctor who used to treat sick people, but ever since he discovered Viagra, is now raising the dead? Or, what’s the difference between Niagara and Viagra? Niagara Falls! Did you know there is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra than Alzheimer's research? By 2020, there should be a large elderly population with perky breasts and erections and no recollection of what to do with them!
Folks, this is serious! Although it’s a sensitive, sometimes taboo, subject, impotence, technically known as Erectile Dysfunction (ED), must be very, very common. When the drug, Viagra, was first introduced, its sales skyrocketed into one of the top-selling drugs in America!
Viagra was originally developed for the treatment of pain caused by angina. In test groups from 1980-1990, it did nothing at all for that condition, but test subjects wouldn’t give it up because of its now-famous side effect!
Here’s the logic of how both problems, angina and impotence, occur. Eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in animal protein, cholesterol, and fat, causes plaque to develop in the arteries. In a famous study published in the 1950s, it was found that eighteen-year-old young men had plaque in their arteries. Then it was discovered that this process of laying down plaque in the arteries starts as young as two-years of age when eating the SAD diet. Although the coronary arteries was where this plaque is found, no one thinks that this process would selectively occur only in these arteries and not the arteries to the genitals as well.
Just one high-fat meal, e.g., a fast-food breakfast of 50 grams of fat and 900 calories, narrows the arteries, putting you at risk of a heart attack, coronary artery disease, and, of course, the dreaded affliction, E.D.
How Viagra Works
An erection depends on several factors, most importantly, a good blood supply, nerve tissue and enzymes. Viagra (sildenafil) enhances the effects of nitric oxide, the chemical that relaxes blood vessels of the penis (and clitoris), allowing increased blood flow and, therefore, erection. There are, however, side effects such as headaches, visual disturbances, and nasal congestion.
Is Testosterone The Answer?
Last year doctors wrote 1.5 million prescriptions for testosterone, mostly for middle-aged and older men seeking relief from low libido, E.D., fatigue, depression, bone and muscle loss, etc. These are also the symptoms of an unhealthy lifestyle, usually the SAD diet and little or no exercise. Instead of another pill, patch, or injection, if they would switch to a low-fat vegan diet and add some vigorous, daily exercise, most, if not all, those symptoms would simply disappear.
What About Us Women?
All of the above applies! The SAD diet clogs the same arteries. Although there are obvious anatomical differences, each has functional counterparts. For example, Skene’s glands are the female equivalent of the male’s prostate. Scientists in Italy have identified an enzyme called PDES that destroys the nitric oxide which allows erections to occur, and Viagra works by blocking this enzyme. Researchers believe that anti-impotence drugs work on women in a similar way.
The Western medical model is based more on treatment of symptoms than on getting to the cause and/or prevention of disease. The cause of blockage of arteries is the SAD diet but how many medical doctors tell their patients to reverse the clogging by changing to a low-fat vegan diet? A few, but not many. Most just write a prescription for a pill to either lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, or Viagra.
What we really need are more doctors to prescribe “Veggie Viagra” – healthy doses of broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, apples, oranges, and bananas. Then all the Viagra jokes will be on them!
Ruth E. Heidrich, Ph.D.
(Fish is not health food)Your question brings up just one of the many reasons fish should not be known as a "health food." Although ciguatera poisoning was not directly linked to FMS, but to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), I suspect both are very much related and difficult to differentiate.
As far as specifics are concerned, this is cutting edge research so doctors won't know much about this yet. This was a fairly recent discovery by Dr. Hokama at the University of Hawaii and was published in a couple of psychiatric/neurologic journals.
The treatment is to stop ingesting the ciguatera toxin which, of course, means quit eating fish of all types. The toxin originates in the algae which is eaten by small reef fish which are then eaten by larger fish -- and larger fish, until you get to the tuna, or
whatever fish is being caught for consumption by humans. So it's impossible to say which fish have it or which don't because the testing is difficult and expensive. It can even be in fish oil capsules.
The diagnostic testing was actually done here at the University of Hawaii from blood samples from all over the country. They measured the levels of ciguatera toxin in the blood of patients with CFS, hepatitis, and controls (those with no symptoms) and found toxic levels in 97% of those with symptoms. The researchers are also suspecting links to Alzheimer's Disease.
Recovery, which, of course, can only start after the stopping of eating contaminated fish, may take a long time, in fact, years. Large doses of Vitamin B-12 may be helpful in regenerating nerves.
Go to www.holistichealthtopics.com and follow the links for ciguatera toxin
poisoning. You can also read the original UH paper by Dr. Hokama at
Ruth E. Heidrich, Ph.D.
( March 20-26 Edition of the Maui Weekley)
Hawaii's own Senior Olympics gold medallist, 67-year-old Ruth Heidrich, survived cancer and tells how you can too. "This senior can kick your butt."
Who in the world are we talking about? None other than Hawaii's own 67-year-old, Ruth Heidrich. Leave no doubt in your mind: this senior can kick your butt.
She actively participates in track events, road races, and triathlons, and is a 20-year survivor of breast cancer. She attributes a great deal of her success to her strict vegan diet. (For those of you carnivores. vegan means no meat. no eggs, no milk...no animal products or by-products ...and yes, fish is considered an animal).
"When I was 47 and working on my PhD, I was diagnosed with breast cancer," said Heidrich in a recent interview with the Maui Weekly. "Of course, I was devastated. I felt betrayed by my body. I mean, here I was, the most physically fit person that I knew (I had been an active runner for about 14 years) and I had cancer. It was unbelievable."
Heidrich underwent surgery to have the malignant lump removed. Unfortunately, further testing showed that the cancer had already spread. "The doctors found hotspots in her bones and also a lesion in her lung.
Heidrich decided to do what was at that time the unthinkable. Instead of receiving even a single dose of chemo or radiation, she put her faith and ultimately her life into the hands of Dr. John McDougall.
At that time, McDougall was researching the effects of a vegan diet on breast cancer. He put Heidrich on a vegan diet and monitored her. To make a long story short, Heidrich has never undergone any type of conventional cancer treatment and has been cancer-free for 20 years.
"My body actually encapsulated the lesion in my lung," she said. "It's great what your body can do with the right type of nutrition."
Continued at the next colume: >click<
There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The decision to go vegan changed Heidrich's life. She has authored the book and video, "A Race For Life' and also wrote "The Race For Life Cookbook", a guide to cooking delicious and healthy food for optimum health and nutrition.
Recently Heidrich came to Maui to talk about reversing the aging process and improving athletic performance. The free event was sponsored by the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii.
Heidrich explained that Americans tend to think they need a lot more protein than they actually do. And according to her, too much protein, primarily animal protein can lead to big trouble. "I've seen people die from the 'all protein'-meat' diet," she said. "People are always talking about their cholesterol. Well, cholesterol is in animal protein. Animal protein can lead to and aggravate arthritis, osteoporosis and of course, heart disease."
For those of you out there who have osteoporosis, you've probably been told by your doctor to eat more protein, like fish, and participate in some sort of exercise that will help to rebuild your bones.
Heidrich said that the recommendation to consume animal protein to help rebuild bone is misinformation. "When you eat four ounces of fish," she explained, "your body goes into an acidic state. Your body cannot function or live in this state so it needs to balance out again."
You know how when you get indigestion, you take a Tums? It's a calcium tablet. Calcium is an alkaline that counteracts the acid to make your tummy feel better again. It works the same way with the Ph levels of your blood. "Your body will actually pull more calcium out of your bones to buffer the protein that you ingested from the fish." she said, the last thing that you need when dealing with osteoporosis is more calcium being pulled from your bones."
Heidrich is a living example that the right diet can make all the difference. Whether you tend to be conservative and traditional in your health views, or unconventional and liberal, it may be a good idea to talk to your physician about how you can benefit from a vegan diet. It's your life, ask questions and don't stop until you get an answer backed by fact.
Heidrich encourages the people of Maui to be healthy and eat to live.
~ ~ ~
An Article by Ruth Heidrich
One of the most frequent questions I get from athletes is how to get more protein. In their minds they are thinking that if they stuff more protein into their mouths, that it magically goes to their muscles and they will automatically get stronger. Body builders, especially, want to see hypertrophy of their muscles (without all the work). This question is especially prevalent with vegetarian or vegan athletes because they think that without meat, egg whites, or skim milk in some form, they are at risk of having a protein deficiency.
The advertising you see in magazines and health food stores plays into this fear because, of course, there is a product to sell. Protein supplements come in many forms, all with the same goal, to get you to buy their product. The fallacy is that if you want to develop a muscle, you have to overload it by putting more stress on it than it can handle. This is the ONLY way a muscle will get bigger and stronger.
OUR BODIES ARE PRETTY SMART!
Our bodies are built for economy. They will get rid of anything they don't need. If you don't need bulging biceps (or if you already have them and are not currently using them), the body will not let that muscle get a "free ride." The most vivid example is seen when you put an arm or a leg in a cast. In this case the body doesn't (and can't) use the associated muscles. When you take the cast off six weeks later, you will be struck with what you see. The arm or leg appears to have withered away. In addition, what you can't see is that the bone has also lost mass or bone density.
Now, is this permanent? No! To rebuild those muscles and bone, all you have to do is start using them and the body responds by putting on additional muscle and bone ONLY to the extent that it needs. So, for every day usage, a normal-size muscle is attained. With heavy, extreme usage, a bulging muscle is the result.
SO, WHERE DO I GET MY PROTEIN?
So where do our bodies get the raw materials (protein) to do this if you are not eating another animal's muscle (protein)? Easy! It comes from plants. The best examples are the biggest and strongest animals, elephants, horses, giraffes, rhinoceroses -- every one of them vegans! (They also happen to be the longest-living animals, another lesson buried here.) Vegetables and grains are complete proteins which means that they contain all the amino acids necessary to build muscle from scratch or to add on bigger, stronger muscles.
For example, the limiting amino acid in plant foods is methionine, one of the so-called essential amino acids. If you were to eat only rice for, say, a large male's 3000 calorie day's allotment, you would get 1.1 grams, way above the minimum daily requirement of .11 grams (about TEN times as much)! In fact, this points out one of the problems with consuming the excess protein you get from eating animal protein, that of getting TOO much protein. This leads to kidney disease and osteoporosis as the human body cannot store protein and is damaged when it has to break down excess protein.
A SIDE EFFECT OF HIGH PROTEIN INTAKE
One of the major causes of the epidemic of osteoporosis in this country is excess protein. As is generally recognized, protein is made up of amino acids. These acids are, logically, acidic -- that is, they have a pH of less than 7, which is neutral. The human body cannot operate in an acidic environment -- it must be alkaline, that is, above 7 or about 7.2. So when you take in protein powders, pills, or animal protein such as egg white, fish, dairy, poultry or beef, this acid load has to be neutralized. Our bodies have the perfect buffering system. We use the same mechanism you see advertised on tv ads for Tums and other antacids for "acid stomach", which is calcium. And where do we store our calcium? In our bones. Our bones are very active living tissue, and calcium is constantly moving in and out of them, so if we consume a high acid meal, especially animal protein, our bones are called upon to give up some calcium to neutralize or buffer this acid so that we can keep the heart beating, muscles contracting, and nerves firsing. These processes all stop if we go into acidosis, a state of too much acid.
THE ROLE OF GENES
This process of building muscle is fairly straightforward: Overload a muscle and it responds by getting bigger and stronger. Is there a limit? Of course, there is. You see this in natural body builders where genes play a role in limiting or enhancing the building of hypertrophic muscles. In order to go beyond genetics, some body-builders have to resort to the use of anabolic steroids, something our body produces naturally but insufficient in the minds of some competitive body-builders. This comes with many health risks, and, unfortunately, many focus on short-term gains and would rather risk their health in the long run.
What about women? Women are sometimes advised to get into weight training to gain or maintain muscle and bone strength, but their fear is the opposite: that they might develop these huge, bulging muscles that they find unattractive on a female. Well, they need not worry because, again, their genes control the limits of muscular development. And for those women who want to develop, say, calf or pectoral muscles, popping protein isn't the answer. The same principles apply: you've got to overload those muscles.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
How much weight to lift and how often? The body in its present state can handle "x" number of pounds. Add about 10% and work the muscle to exhaustion and then stop. Give it at least 48 hours but no more than 3-4 days to recover and rebuild, then do it again. Gradually, that muscle will be able to handle "x" plus "y" pounds. Continue this progression and you will see the muscle grow. Remember that rest and recovery is just as important as the overload. Eating a diet of vegetables and fruit will provide all the raw material necessary.
So, this is the secret to greater muscular development. The more weight the muscle has to push, the bigger and stronger it will get! You get to choose!
Ruth E. Heidrich, Ph. D.
I have two questions for you.
I read in your book that alcohol in any dose is bad for you. Is this true of wine, too? And the second thing... what about all the sports medicine studies that claim runners and other high endurance athletes need 15 to 20 % more protein than couch potatoes. I figure this would mean I would need about 80 grams of protein a day and I can't imagine getting that from a vegan diet, not to mention a raw diet. Thanks for your help.
Dear G.B.,Dr. Ruth
Yes, alcohol in wine is alcohol -- period! It is toxic to every cell in the body as it is a universal solvent. It does tend to thin the blood which counteracts the sludging of the blood from animal foods, and it's the sludging of the blood which leads to heart attacks and strokes -- plus many other problems. So wine is not the answer -- not eating animal foods is.
Your second question: when athletes burn more calories, they eat more and this is how they automatically get more protein. You don't need to change the composition, just the quantity. If, for example, an athlete burns 5,000 calories a day over the average 2,000 calories per day, that will give him/her 3,000 extra calories with an average of 10% calories from protein. So that is 300 protein calories. Divide that by 4 (calories per gram of protein) and you get 75 grams -- right in the ballpark you mentioned. Don't forget that veggies have plenty of protein in them, just look it up in the charts. Hope this helps,
Running in the Footsteps of Pheidippedes
The opportunity presented itself in a totally unexpected way. How would I like to visit Greece and Turkey and give a few talks along the way? I’d never been to that part of the world and wanted to see it plus I love running in new locales. What’s more, here was my chance to run on the course of the original marathon, the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens.
Then reality hit me. What if nobody there knew what I was talking about? What if I couldn’t find the course? What if it was miles away from where I was going to be staying? What if I didn’t have enough time? Then I thought that if I’d come this far, that surely I’d find a way to make it work.
The very first Greek person I met was a shopkeeper who noticed my running shoe charm around my neck. Ah, here’s a person who knows something about running, I thought. As it turned out, he just wanted to sell me some jewelry and was just using that as a way to engage me in conversation and get me into his shop. In any case, his answer to my first question was, “Yes, it is just on the other side of the park just two blocks from here.” I could not believe my ears. This is just too good to be true, I thought.
Shaking my head in disbelief, I thanked him and started back down the street when another shopkeeper approached and tried to sell me some jewelry. So I asked him the same question and got the same answer! That did it! I needed no more evidence. These Greeks know the importance of the original marathon course, obviously!
My plan was to get up at daybreak the next morning and do what was for me on par with my running the Boston or Moscow Marathon or the Great Wall of China!
The feeling I had as I ran on that hallowed ground was incredible. I pictured myself as Pheidippedes, way back in time, something like 490 B.C. Then I thought of Melpomene, the first Greek woman to run the marathon. My connection with the past was so exciting that I wanted to tell everyone in sight that I’d come all the way from Hawaii just to run this course, and that I wished they could share this experience with me. This was definitely up there as one of my peak running experiences!
The following week I was in Istanbul. Because it was a Muslim country, I was told that, as a female, I should not expose my knees and shoulders. My first thought was “How am I going to do my usual morning run in the obligatory running shorts and singlet?” My second thought was that old proverb, “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” Well, Greeks run, Romans run, so I will run. What are they going to do, shoot me? Again, I rose at daybreak, this time so the fewest people would see me. I tiptoed out of the hotel, onto the street and broke into a stride, just like I didn’t know any better. I didn’t look at anybody, just kept my eyes on the ground ahead of me. This was the smartest thing to do anyway, because the so-called sidewalk was fraught with traps for unwary runners. I certainly didn’t need to trip on the extremely uneven sidewalk or twist an ankle due to the many potholes. I ran for an hour, up and then back down on the main street. There really was no parallel side street, and I certainly could not afford to get lost, so I played it safe. And, no, I didn’t get shot but I think I did turn a few heads.
This run was also memorable, but for an entirely different reason. I think I’ll stick with Pheidippedes’ route!
Stress in the 21st Century: A Positive Approach
Stress happens when the mind resists what is!
Stressors can be real, such as a truck bearing down on us as we cross the street, or psychological as in something threatening to prevent us from having things be a certain way, usually “my” way.
Fight-or-flight is an evolutionary response to a threat and is “adaptation.” Back in prehistoric times, those who didn’t have that response were weeded out. We are “hard-wired” to respond with fight-or-flight to the appearance of a stressor. A flood of hormones is automatically released in our bodies that increases our heart rate and breathing, causes us to sweat, stops our digestion, dilates our pupils, and tenses our muscles. These responses get us ready to fight or run – catapulting us into hyperarousal, whether we like it or not.
This was a very appropriate response in the jungle, but it is not adaptive in today’s environment. Society mandates that we do neither—we cannot fight nor can we run. There is no escape from stress as it’s a natural part of living. For most people, change of any type creates some stress. We all have our daily routines, with accompanying expectations. A change forces us to respond in a different way. That has an element of unpredictability and it the unpredictability, the challenge to our ability to handle a new situation that causes the stress. Most people respond to change, whether positive or negative, with the same physiological responses. Losing a job or winning a million dollars in the lottery will produce the same bodily reactions.
Avoid, Escape, Confront
How we personally react from this point on is a “soft-wired” or learned response—which, in most cases, has become very automatic from years of reinforcement. The three most common responses people use are:
*Avoid by walling themselves off
*Escape by anesthetizing themselves
*Confront by understanding and controlling
Avoidance is usually not adaptive because it does not resolve the issue and the cause of the stress frequently remains or even increases. People who avoid returning a phone call from a bill collector may find themselves with their car repossessed.
Another common response is “unbridled doing,” the momentum of which can carry us into such a state of “busy-ness” that we never quite know or understand what is happening.
Escapism is rampant, whether it be by alcohol, other drugs (both legal and illegal), getting sick, mindless watching of television, travel or vacations.
Confrontation is, of course, the ideal response. By overriding the initial fight-or-flight reaction, by switching from the automatic to an executive mode, through which we make conscious decisions and are mindful of the factors of operating, we have a chance to analyze the situation and respond appropriately.
The major stressors in people’s lives center around: other people, the pressure of time, lack of skills, the cognizance of aging, and unhealthful lifestyles.
Coping with difficult people involves learning how not to be engaged in their agenda. To the extent that you can override your automatic flight-or-flight response is the extent to which you can let their attacks go right by you.
The lack of time is a problem of perception—we all have the same 24 hours every day. How these hours are spent is a result of our priorities. If important jobs are not getting done, it is necessary to reprioritize or gain increased skills that allow us to do tasks in less time.
The skills we possess are a direct result of our self-development. Learning new skills should be a lifetime activity, a process of continuous growth that leads to greater satisfaction with our lives and, therefore, less stress. When we are feeling stress, we must identify which skill we need to learn or improve upon.
Aging is a process that starts from the moment of conception. A life that is spent in awareness and mindfulness will seem to be long and rewarding, not spent in unbridled “busy-ness.” Many of the disabilities of aging are a result of disease and disuse, disease being primarily of improper diet, and disuse being from lack of exercise, both physical and mental.
Lifestyle factors create unrecognized stress in people’s lives because they are unaware of the effects of an improper diet and sedentary lifestyle. The majority of people in this country are overweight, lack much energy, feel tired all the time, sleep poorly, don’t like the way they look, may be worried about high blood pressure and cholesterol or the health problems of a loved one.
Those major stressors in people’s lives can be eliminated by exercising, following a diet that is based on plant foods and an awareness of the fact that stimulating foods such as caffeine and alcohol are very disruptive of our body’s normal wake/sleep cycles.
Diet, Exercise and Self-Development
Both diet and exercise help solve obesity, energy, sleep, appearance, and health problems. Daily vigorous exercise is an effective de-stressor. It dissipates the stress hormones and creates total mental and physical relaxation. It also allows the brain to go into a creative thinking mode and thereby solve problems. It floods the body with oxygen while simultaneously getting rid of carbon dioxide.
One study showed that 60% of doctor visits are said to be stress-related. Several disorders, formerly thought to be stress-related, are now known to be primarily caused by an improper diet. These include heart attacks, ulcers, high blood pressure, hives, some cancers, and depressed immune systems. Another study showed that carnivores had one half the cancer-fighting capabilities as vegetarians.
The Full Solution: Self-Development
Your range of responses is a direct function of your self-development. When you perceive stress, look at the stressor as a clue to where a possible inadequacy lies within you. Use stress as a motivator to broaden your skills. A “bigger” person has a wider repertoire of tools to bring to any situation.
Since stress is very closely connected to any change in people’s lives, this is an opportunity to look at what needs to be learned. If a person feels unable to handle a change with competence and confidence, the feelings of stress are the symptom of one of the above factors. As a result of learning new ways of coping with challenges j(stressors), life can get very exciting, rewarding, and satisfying.
Dr. Ruth Heidrich’s Daily Vegan Meal Plan
Served in a LARGE bowl. All items are raw.
Lots of greens for the base: 3-4 leaves of Romaine, 1 stalk kale, 1 stalk of celery, 10 sprigs of parsley or cilantro. Slice and add 1 large carrot, ½ mango, 1 large banana, and half dozen large, seeded Globe grapes. Top off with 1 rounded Tbl of B12-fortified nutritional yeast, and 1-2 Tbl of blackstrap molasses.
Because I eat this after my daily workout, this is served late and I eat no midday meal.
Lots of greens for the base: 3-4 broccoli florettes, 2-3 stalks of kale, 1 stalk of celery,
¼ unpeeled English cucumber, ¼ head of green or red cabbage, 1 large carrot, ½ red (or orange, green, or yellow) bell pepper, ½ large field tomato, half a head of garlic (about 6 cloves) Half of a yam or sweet potato, raw.
On top of the above ingredients, to 1-2 cups of prepared salsa (mild, medium or hot), add 1 Tbl of regular mustard, 1 Tbl of flax seed, freshly ground
A base of blueberries (fresh or frozen, depending on availability and season) – ½ cup; ½ cup of a second fresh fruit (e.g. strawberries, bananas, grapes,); top with a small handful of walnuts, and 1Tbl. blackstrap molasses.
For those times when the hunger pangs strike, I eat carrot or celery sticks, grapes, dates, and in the evening, plain air-popped popcorn.