Monthly Archives: May 2010

Women Vitamins: To Sleep, Perchance to Live Longer & Better


Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...
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Oh those blissful days of summer. We anticipate more sunshine, more vitamin D,  more pleasurable activities, and possibly less sleep.

We live away from the natural circadian rhythm of light and darkness that ruled our ancestors lives. We are sleeping less, at later times, thinking that we can make it up “some day.”

The truth is, we need sleep and  our body seems to work best with 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep…  We need to sleep during the darkest hours, and we need to sleep regularly.  Contrary to what you may tell yourself, there really is no making up lost sleep.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Americans slept an average of 9 hours, based on available light. Now  the average American sleeps 7.5 hours, a shortening mostly likely to accommodate more working hours or the pursuit of increased recreational and pleasure times.

6 or less hours of sleep falls under the label of sleep deprivation. Although we may get used to feeling fatigued or un-rested, the truth is that sleep deprivation aggravates and accelerates aging and ill-health. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss are common symptoms of an un-rested life.

16 studies involving more than 1.3 million participants who were followed for up to 20 years, has revealed that people who sleep for less than 6 hours each night are more likely to die prematurely.

Professor Francesco Cappuccio, of the Sleep, Health, and Society Programme at the University of Warwick (UK) worked  with the Federico II University Medical School in Naples, Italy. His research found that people who slept less than six hours each night were 12% more likely to die prematurely than those who got the recommended 6-8 hours of rest.

Researchers also found that adults under 40 who typically slept for 5 hours or less each night had a greater accumulation of belly fat, both the “superficial” fat layers just below the skin and the “visceral” fat that surrounds the abdominal organs.  Research suggests that sleep loss alters people’s levels of appetite-regulating hormones — which could  account for the urge to overeat and it’s subsequent obesity.  Cortisol, (a stress hormone that stimulates the storage of fat cells, particularly around the waist area), is also activated by the lack of consistent sleep.

Tips for a good night’s sleep:

  • Get regular, daily exercise.  A study by Stanford University revealed that after 16 weeks of moderate exercise, participants fell asleep about 15 minutes earlier and slept about 45 minutes longer.
  • Stop eating after 7PM, and avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars which raises blood sugar levels and inhibits sleep.
  • Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. Protein provides the L-tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin, two components of good sleep.
  • Listen to relaxation cd’s, nature sounds, or white noises CD’s.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and most liquid drinks before bed.
  • Read something religious or spiritual, practice meditation and pray…all these ease the mind
  • Sleep in the dark, unplug electronics with LED red or blue lights, light interfers with the  pineal gland’s production of melatonin and seratonin…even a brief flash of light can disrupt this production.
  • Don’t watch TV before bed, and get your TV out of the bedroom. TV stimulates your brain and it will take longer to fall asleep.
  • During winter months, wear socks to bed. Cold feet affect the quality of your sleep. Wearing socks reduces night waking.
  • Get to bed fairly early.Your body does most of its repair and recovery between 11 PM and 1AM.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, somewhere around 70 – 74 degrees. Your sleep is disturbed if you are too hot.

Sleep well, sleep enough, stay healthy, take your women vitamins, and be blessed, Kersten

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Women Vitamins: ALA/ALC- the Bobbsey Twins of Anti-Aging


Hill Street Farm CSA Week 4
Image by Wally Hartshorn via Flickr

We all are looking for ways to live healthier, longer, active lives.  We know that the process is not instantaneous, but rather like a journey…made one step at a time. Research on 2 enzymes has

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is a key component in the body’s ability to create acetyl-choline, a neurotransmitter responsible for memory and learning functions. It also boosts cellular metabolism and increases mitochondrial activity.   ALC can “jump-start” the brain and appears to improve spatial learning, discriminatory learning, and long-term memory.  It also seems to increase communication between the hemispheres of the brain.

ALC carries fatty acids from the cytosol (the main body of the cell) into the mitochondria (the energy-producing furnaces within cells) to oxidize  these fats into energy.

ALC has a remarkable solubility in water, which enables it not only to diffuse easily across the inner wall of the mitochondria and into the cell cytosol, but also cross cell membranes. ALC easily reaches all parts of the body.

In addition to its role in mitochondrial activity, ALC is involved in the production of key brain neurotransmitters.

I notice the effects of ALC within two hours after taking a  500 mg pill; these effects are arousal and vigilance, along with mood improvement, and can last most of the day. (Mind Boosters, Dr. Ray Sahelia)

However, by itself, ALC increases mitochondrial activity which creates oxidative damage. But, when ALC combines with the powerful antioxidant Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), the results in the lab are astonishing.

ALA is a sulphur-containing antioxidant, occurring naturally, in small amounts, in such foods as spinach, broccoli, beef, and yeast.  ALA is water and fat soluble, thus having antioxidant properties in almost any part of the body, including the brain. In the mitochondria, ALA can act both as an antioxidant, capable of recycling other antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin E, and as a coenzyme for key metabolic enzymes involved in energy production.

ALA also raises the level of glutathione within cells which is critical for neural function, and aids in glycolysis, the breaking down of carbohydrates for energy.

ALC/ALA supplementation on elderly (24-month-old) and lethargic rats showed an increase in energy,  an improvement  on memory tests, and increased mitochondria efficiency. Researchers likened this result to a group of 80-year-old humans acting 35 years younger.

Otolaryngologist, Michael Seidman, MD FACS conducted hearing tests on elderly, 2-year-old rats.  In his book, Save Your Hearing Now, Seidman relates that the ALC/ALA supplemented groups not only avoided hearing loss but their hearing actually improved. In other words, supplements didn’t just stop age-related hearing loss, they reversed it.

Human studies support these animal studies.   ALC/ALA, which eventually slows down and even reverses mitochondrial decline, is a long-term investment for  your health, and not a quick fix for age reversal.

I take GNC’s pre-blended mix of ALC (500 mg) and ALA (200 mg) and I’m in it for the long haul.

Be happy, be healthy, take your vitamins for women, and be blessed, Kersten

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Women Vitamins: Soap, Soil, and Soul


Making Mud Pies
Image by ‘Playingwithbrushes’ via Flickr

After a long dreary winter, the sun shines bright and hearts are light, deep in the heart of Texas….. Spring is here with the jasmine and roses in bloom, the greening of oak and lawns…. I remember spring days as a child. The joy of being outdoors unfettered by snow suits and boots, mittens and scarves….oh the freedom and pleasure of spring in Dakota.

Making mud pies was an all time favorite sport. Normally, my fastidious mother discouraged gratuitous encounters with dirt. But making that perfect mud pie was an art. Patting that mud into a workable consistency, forming it into the pie shape, using the fore-finger to finesse the edges on that crust….mmmmm.. (I wonder if that is why I love working clay into sculptures and do all my own lawn work?)

I can’t remember the last time I saw a child playing in the mud…..I don’t count my intermediate students who purposefully stride thru mud as players.

I feel sort of sad for them….we are disconnected from our Earth and have lost the cycles of preparing soil and sowing  and reaping.

We don’t put our hands in the soil, we don’t connect with the microbes that support our healthy lives. In fact, we do our best to avoid any and all bacteria, to our own ultimate detriment.

In the art room, kids will ask to go to the restroom to wash their hands. I point at the sinks in our room and say “Ok, wash!” The look at the sink and then at me and say, “But there’s no soap.” I point to the soap bars by the sink, and they look bewildered. Can you believe 12 and 13 year olds are not recognizing soap if it is not in a foam or cream formate?

The most common forms of soap are now anti-bacterial, which sounds great– in theory. But the fact is, we need bacteria. Not all bacteria are bad. Bacteria are fundamental for our immune and digestive systems. We are anti-bacterializing our everyday world, we avoid the Earth; we are cleaning ourselves into poor health and possibly death.

Not only are we targeting bacteria, we are also doing it with a questionable substance. Look at the label on your anti-bacterial soap, laundry detergent, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash,  some common home accessories (plastic dish mats and utensils), towels, and even clothing .  See if you can find a listed ingredient: TRICLOSAN.

Triclosan is a bacterial inhibitor  used since the 70’s. It really works great fighting staph infections. But when exposed to chlorinated water, triclosan converts to chloroform and dioxins.  Chloroform is a carcinogen and dioxins are documented endocrine disruptors. Triclosan is also impacts thyroid hormone concentrations. Triclosan is found in our water supplies.  It kills fish and disrupts hormones in the bullfrog .  It has been found in the urine of 75% of the population, and in 3 out of 5 samples of human milk.

The FDA, aware of triclosan related concerns for almost 40 years, has evaluated triclosan since 2008, and in April 2010, released a recommendation of continued investigation.

A comprehensive analysis from the University of Michigan School of Public Health indicated that plain soaps are just as effective as consumer-grade antibacterial soaps with triclosan in preventing illness and removing bacteria from the hands.

Alternative cleansing ingredients shown effective include herbs (thyme, oregano), silver and copper ions, and nano-particles.

I say: let’s introduce our children to the fine art of making mud pies.  Let’s put our hands back into the soil,plant our own plants,  and keep our houses clean with Grandma’s organic cleaning methods.

Be happy, be healthy, take the best women vitamins, and be blessed, Kersten

Soil for the Soul

Reconnecting With Earth

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