The quick answer, of course, is yes.
Everybody knows that.
But popular wisdom wasn’t good enough for me. I hail from Washington State, the birthplace of Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Tully’s and thoseands of other charming American coffee houses. When I return home for a visit I make the rounds, sharing a cup of joe or cappuccino with everyone I’ve ever known.
Seriously. All we do is drink coffee in various locations. My husband teases me about this.
I’m on a health kick right now. Basically, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I conducted a grand experiment of extreme wellness, which I’ll share another time. One of the first things on the chopping block was coffee.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think coffee is bad for your health. There is ample scientific evidence of its benefits when consumed in moderation. (Hey, what’s that?) Besides, it’s a staple in most traditional cuisines which indicates transcedent healthful properties.
My break-up with coffee was much more personal.
First of all, I was drinking too much. About 4-5 cups a day. I didn’t drink that much for the caffeine boost, in fact, some of it was caffeine-free. I just really love the flavor and use it as a distraction when I want to mindlessly eat.
My problem was that I wanted to return to a natural state of health and energy. I wondered if coffee truly gave me extra energy, or did it just shift my energy around, giving me extra energy at 8 am that was meant for 10 am? The constant stream of coffee in my system could block my notice of this.
Was drinking a cup of coffee akin to stealing from Peter to pay Paul?
This was important because I was taking a sleeping supplement to help with my insomnia. I wanted to rid myself of that, and return to my natural state. Perhaps getting rid of coffee would enable me to feel naturally energetic in the day and sleepy at night? What a concept!
A few other things about coffee bothered me too. I prefer mine with milk to cut the bitter edge, but I wanted to cut dairy out of my diet. For the past few years I have used commercial almond milk, but as its popularity has grown, I have noticed more unnatural processing. Homemade almond milk just doesn’t have the same body to work in coffee. It’s much better cold with granola.
Also, coffee plays the role of connector in my diet. It’s great with morning toast or a piece of chocolate or an afternoon pastry. I wanted to eliminate those food, so saying adios to coffee first made that easier.
I packed up my coffee maker, and promoted my blender to the counter top, at the ready for daily smoothies. I rediscovered my love of tea. I ate the healthiest diet possible, exercised, meditated, took energy boosting B vitamins and CoQ10. Six weeks passed.
Does Coffee Really Give You Energy?
The long answer is the same as the short: yes it does!
Once I was completely over withdrawals and embedded in a healthier lifestyle, I still felt an energy slump that just wouldn’t go away. I also noticed a slight depressive tinge to my mood. After a month and a half, I decided to drink a cup of coffee: instant energy and happiness.
This stuff is great!
But I don’t want to let it take over my life again. Green tea, chai and chamomile are back in my life to stay. My reservations about coffee as a connector and my dairy dilemma remain. My blender is not going to move an inch. Breakfast smoothies are the best! Coffee gets to enter my life twice a day: a morning brew and an afternoon treat. I freshly grind my coffee and use my old French press.
It tastes divine.
First of all, thank you for the out-pouring of support. When I revealed my autoimmune disorder, so many people reached out with messages and comments which surprised and touched me. Here’s an update:
I just ended a 3 day semi-juice fast and I feel a lot better. I drank living juices for breakfast and lunch, followed by broth-based soup dinners. No dairy or wheat. I didn’t snack except for a little fresh pineapple (which is very good for arthritis). I have done strict fasts in the past, but this time I was much more relaxed. I don’t see the point in suffering through a detox just to rebound with a retox. I didn’t take out caffeine, because I never intended to give up coffee. Why go through days of grumpy, sluggish headaches only to drink coffee later? I need to be energetic and alert right now. In fact, lack of energy is a main symptom I am trying to eliminate.
It has been two weeks since I’ve had any nightshades.
I feel a lot better. In no way am I cured. I still have stiffness in my hands and toes, but it is a bit better. My pain has gone down from an eight to a four. For me, level four pain is doable. I don’t put much stock in this yet. The nature of my symptoms is to flare and remit, so I can only judge its effectiveness through a long lens. I am grateful for the relief and hopeful that it may work, but I remain skeptical.
Emotionally the nightshade elimination hurts. I’m fine with giving up potatoes and eggplant. Tomatoes are very hard, but giving up peppers is daunting. I cook with red pepper flakes almost everyday. I want my kids to develop a pallet that can appreciate spicy food. So many cuisines rely upon peppers for flavor: Thai, Indian, Mexican, to name a few. If I think about it too long, wondering if I’ll be able to go out to eat without a huge hassle, I get apprehensive.
But I take it one day at time, one meal at a time.
Today I am feeling a little bit better.
I’m nervous to put this out there:
I have an autoimmune disease.
I’ve written about it before, but not in about a year. I’ve had symptoms that match lupus and rheumetoid arthritis, but conflicting blood work. My current diagnosis is: atypical rheumatic disorder.
It costs about $600 to be told that. It means nothing.
I have tried acupuncture, massage, cupping, diets, fasting, exercise, medicine, salt-water soaks, prayer and willpower to rid myself of my symptoms. It is hard to know what works, because the nature of autoimmune diseases is that they flare and remit. That means if I make a change and feel better, the change might have made a difference or it might just be a time in between flares. Needless to say that makes it extremely frustrating to endure and difficult to treat.
For a while I thought I had it under control. I loosely followed an anti-inflammatory diet and had strong exercise and sleep routines. Regular salt-water soaks reduced my pain significantly. At the end of last summer, a flare burst in my body and I never fully recovered. For me flares mean chronic pain, exhaustion and pronounced arthritic symptoms. My body feels heavy, like all the trace metals in it are suddenly magnetized and pulling me down towards the Earth’s core. It is hard to find motivation to do anything more than the absolute necessary work of each day.
I haven’t felt like myself in nine months.
I haven’t felt good in nine months.
Not even for a moment.
Recently, a new symptom popped up: a topical allergic reaction to nightshade vegetables. Nightshade vegetables are a class of vegetables which contain a compound called solanine, which triggers inflammation in many people. The most common nightshades are eggplant, potatoes, ground cherries, peppers and most regrettably, tomatoes. There is a strong link between arthritis and nightshades. I gave them up for a short period last year, but didn’t notice a change, so I added them back. This last week, my hands have blistered, calloused and cracked just by touching them. Even after touching them for one minute and washing my hands with soap, they continued to sting for an hour afterwards. The flare that never quite ended started at the end of summer, also known as, tomato season.
If nightshades cause this strong a reaction to the briefest contact with my skin, what might they be doing inside my body?
I’ve done a bit more research and I learned that it takes one to four months without nightshades to notice a difference. I did not eliminate them for that long before and I wasn’t careful about hidden sources, so it’s worth a shot. As a foodie, the thought of life without tomatoes breaks my heart. As a person with an autoimmune disease, the thought of life without pain elates my spirit.
I live on baited breath.
I am about to embark on a detox program in hopes that I will come out of it healed. I will begin with a juice fast, followed by a raw food diet with a slow integration of other anti-inflammatory foods. I will compliment this with daily cardio and a detoxifying yoga routine. Salt has been extremely effective for pain relief, so I will use it daily as well as massage.
In the past I shared a weightloss diary with my readers, but I ended up feeling stressed about not getting my desired results, especially when flares interfered with my ability to push myself. I hesitate to broadcast any diet or self-improvement plan, because I don’t want to repeat that experience. But this is the truth of my life. I have not been able to follow through with many ideas I have for mamaguru.com because of this pain. I also know that autoimmune disorders are on a rapid rise and those of us suffering from them need answers and support. I hope this detox ends with a healthier, happier me, but if it does not, that’s valuable information too.
I have one more tomato-based recipe to share later next week, but then it’s back to the kitchen to get my creative juices flowing. I hope to learn some fabulous new recipes and cooking techniques as I wean my cuisine from tomato dependence. As daunting as this detox seems, I’m also exhilarated by the motivation to broaden my cooking skills and the fingers-crossed hope that I just may wind up healing myself.
Please wish me luck, keep me in prayers and send wonderful recipes my way. I’ll update you about my progress periodically.
I hurt everyday.
I suffer from an auto-immune disorder which causes periodic flares of pain, fatigue and joint stiffness. I am currently searching for a method of healing which will alleviate my symptoms in as natural way as possible. So far I have received treatments of acupuncture, cupping, massage and Ayurvedic supplements. Because my condition has flares, it is very difficult to see if a treatment if effective. Have my symptoms left because the treatment worked, or has the flare cooled down with plans to resurface later?
One of the most successful treatments for pain relief I have experienced is an anti-inflammatory diet. The food we eat carries energy and properties which can heal or harm us. Many pharmaceutical solutions originate from natural plant sources, so it’s really not a large leap to use food as healing agent. If you suffer from any sort of chronic pain, I urge you to try adjusting your diet and lifestyle to support your health.
This is an eating plan designed to reduce inflammation in the body. It is not very far from the well-touted Mediterranean Diet, so it’s health benefits extend beyond pain relief. There are some sacrifices due to some restrictions, but there is a great deal of variety as well. If you really hurt, like I do, missing a cookie is a small price to pay for feeling well.
Foods to Eat in Abundance
fresh fruits and vegetables (Organic if you’re really serious.)
water, water, water
wild caught salmon and sardines
walnuts (All nuts are good, but these are the best.)
1-2 cups of green tea per day (decaf is best)
tart cherry juice
beans, beans, beans
whole oatmeal (preferably steel-cut oats)
lots of celery, cucumbers and parsley
a wide variety of herbs
Foods to Avoid with Diligence
night-shade vegetables (These include tomatoes, eggplant and peppers and potatoes. Because these are so good and good for you, I recommend taking them out for 2 weeks, or until you feel better. Then gradually add them back into your diet one at a time. Space them out by at least a week. See if the inflammation returned, if it did, they good-bye forever. If you don’t see a change, then you can eat without worry.)
absolutely all processed food
I compiled this list using a variety of sources including my doctor, my acupuncturist and a few trusted publications. Of course, this is not meant to replace medical advice, so please consult your physician. I also recommend consulting several sources and experimenting. Our bodies are each individual so food can have very different effects on us. When experimenting, keep a careful written record and space out each change by a week or two so you can identify how a particular food makes you feel.
Mother, mother ocean. I have heard you call. -Jimmy Buffet
The vast seas of our planet are mother to all life. Even though we have grown two feet and walk on land, mother ocean still nurtures us with the power to heal. These days most people pop a pill for every ache and pain, but for millenia human beings have flocked to salty water for its natural healing powers. Think of the miraculous healing of the Dead Sea, the bathes of England, the Roman bathes, Japanese onsens. All of these places have been revered for their curative power. The ocean gets its salty flavor from the minerals dissolved in her waters. Those minerals are what provide excellent pain relief.
I became interested in the healing power of salt water during my pregnancies. My massive weight tethered me strongly to the earth. I found that if I dragged myself to the ocean, I could relax in the bliss of weightlessness. Swimming in a pool was also lovely, but the ocean water actually eliminated my body aches. During my third trimester, much to the horror of the lifeguards, I would lug my babyfull body to the beach for a dip every week. For days, I would feel much better.
Ocean water isn’t accessible to everyone all the times, but there is another time-honored way to garner some of the ocean’s benefits: Epsom salts. These salts are available in every grocery and drug store for just a few dollars. Epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate. They can be uses as a laxative or fertilizer, but my favorite use if for pain relief. This can be incredibly effective and is always my go-to solution for aches and pains. Next time you have a tough workout, a bad night’s rest or a general ache, hop in the ocean or give yourself a healing soak at home. We may just put Tylenol out of business.
Post-workout or Pain Relieving Soak
Dissolve 2 cups of Epsom salts into a bathtub of warm water.
Add 5 drops of lavender essential oil (optional)
Soak for 10-20 minutes. Relax and enjoy.
To Relieve and In-grown Toenail (from Dr. Harowitz, podiatrist)
Dissolve 3 T Epsom salts in 4 c of warm water.
Soak feet for 10 minutes in the morning and at night until relieved.
For a Minor Sprain
Dissolve 2 cups of Epsom salts in 1 gallon of warm water.
Soak bandage or towel in solution.
Apply bandages for 30 minutes to effected area, three times a day.
Of course this advice is not a replacement for getting proper medical care. The information in this article should be considered supplementary for minor pain relief. Always consult with your doctor before taking health-related advice.
Researchers have just unveiled the next generation of drug regimes. Next month a single pill is scheduled to be released which will cut an individual’s risk for cancer by a whopping 75%. The FDA stated, “It could be called a cancer vaccine, but because it isn’t 100% effective that would be a misnomer; however, for the majority of the popuation this pill does have the capacity to effectively vaccinate them from cancer.” Skeptics have been silenced by the overwhelming scientific evidence proving this drug’s efficacy by decades’ worth of research conducted on a global scale. The name of this new wonderdrug is: Do.
Probable side-effects include: improved brain function, weight-loss, lowering of cholesterol levels, increase in energy, improved metabolism, lower risk of heart disease, sharp decrease in depression and anxiety, regulation of sleep, balance in hormones, possible correction of diabetes, improved complexion, stronger teeth and bones, quicker healing response to wounds, increased sex drive and overall reduction in stress levels.
Thrilling, isn’t it? Can’t wait to make an appointment for my prescription.
Of course we all know that it’s unrealistic to expect a daily dose of one drug to cut our risk of cancer by 75% and have all those wonderful side-effects to boot. But what I wrote above was not completely fictional. Widespread scientific research has absolutely proven that an individual can cut his or her risk for cancer by 75%. It’s not glamorous and certainly not breaking news that we can cut our risk so drastically by simple lifestyle adjustments, but that is an astonishingly important fact we need to heed.
There is no such thing as being healthy. Health is not a state of being. Health is not a possession some people have and others have not. Health is an action. Quite simply, health is something we must do. The very nature of living is that our bodies are in a constant state of flux. Even as we sleep, our hearts pump, our cells renew, our lungs breathe…. When we are in a state of good health, it is easy to assume that we always be in that state, but that is a false perception. Our bodies are always getting older. When we are children, we call that growth; as adults, we call it aging. Everything we do effects our health. We provide fuel to our bodies everyday; is it good fuel or bad fuel? Do we allot time for the body relax, heal, improve itself, or do we run it ragged with bad habits? The greatest mistake we can make is taking good health for granted. Whether you want to maintain or attain good health, you must take action. You must do healthy.
Here’s the promised prescription. You’re doctor probably has written this for you many times before, but most of us never quite manage to get it filled. This time when you peruse the list, take time to examine each aspect and commit to changing areas of weakness.
1. Eat a diet rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins and foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Reduce your intake of animals and animal products and make sure that any you do consume are high-quality, organic, grass-fed.
2. Exercise daily. Include 3-5 sessions of cardiovascular activity as well as 3 sessions of strength training per week. In every medical study, exercise has been proven to be more effective than medication in treating depression.
3. Do not smoke. Quit immediately if you do. There is no time to waste. Take heart in the fact that within 20 minutes of quitting, your body will already begin to show signs of improved health.
4. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF (at the very least 15) EVERYTIME you spend time outdoors.
5. Reduce your contact with chemicals by using natural cleaners, painting with low VOC paint, allowing fresh air into your home on a regular basis and surrounding yourself with purifying houseplants.
6. Reduce your ingestion of chemicals by eating only whole foods. Organic is the absolute best. Don’t heat, serve or store your food in plastic containers because of its leeching qualities. BPA-free is good, but glass is better.
7. Integrate stress reduction activities into your daily life. This could mean yoga, meditation, a walk outside, play with animals, breathing exercises, tai chi, or a quiet hobby you enjoy. Stress literally kills you.
8. If you do drink, a few glasses of red wine per week can be beneficial to your health. If you don’t drink; don’t start. Drug and alcohol abuse is pure toxicity.
9. Educate yourself about possible pollutants and industrial seepage in the environment where you live and take action and/or move if it is unhealthy.
Pour yourself a nice glass of water. Some pills are harder to swallow than others, but this is one we all must take. It’s our cancer vaccine! It’s our cure for depression! It’s the end of obesity and heart disease! Ready? OK, now DO HEALTHY!