Ten Recipes to Save Your Life

I love this Ted Talk. Jamie Oliver, chef, food and health activist, gives an unsettling talk on the absolute crisis we are in with respect to our health and food.

In this impassioned talk, he reports:

  • In the 18 minutes of his talk, 4 Americans will be dead from the food they eat.
  • Two-thirds of Americans are overweight.
  • American children will live 10 years shorter than their parents.

As Jamie says, “Diet-related disease is the biggest killer in the United States, right now, here today.”

Lest you think we’ve escaped the problem here in Canada, we haven’t. Our rates may be lower, but we’re headed to the same place–we’re just a decade behind. Our main streets are clogged with fast food and sugary drinks. Our homes are no longer a place for cooking and eating together, and our schools make food decisions based on economics, not nutrition.

Perhaps the most staggering moment in the talk is Jamie showing clips of young school children who are unable to identify vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, and broccoli.

How do you deal with a problem this big? Jamie gives many suggestions, but the one I like the best is this: Every child, before they leave school, should be taught to cook 10 recipes that will save their life.

A great idea. And here they are: http://www.cookingmanager.com/jamie-oliver-teach-ten-recipes/

Commit to one a week. One a month. Hell, you could commit to one a year if your kids are young. Do it with your kids, and then have them do it for the family, or even better, for their friends!

 

Join Us for the Be the Change Film RIVERBLUE

“There is a joke in China. They say you can predict the “it” colour for the season by looking at the colour of the river”

 – From the documentary RiverBlue

On October 18th, the Be the Change Film Series kicks off its 10th year with the documentary RiverBlue. The film looks at the environmental impact of the “fast fashion” industry on our waterways, and as a result, our health.

We’re sponsoring the series, and would love to see you there! There are two show times, 5PM and 7:30PM, at the Simcoe Street Theatre. Tickets are $8, and all proceeds go to Elephant Thoughts and The Blue Mountain Watershed Trust.

See the full 2017-18 line-up and buy tickets here!

Tuning Your Hormonal Orchestra

Hormones are your body’s chemical messenger system. They control many, if not most, of your major body functions, including digestion, mood, sleep, metabolism, respiration, stress, growth, movement and mood. Hormones, in short, are a big deal.

They also pack a powerful punch, and so they need to be balanced. To keep things running smoothly and to keep your body “in tune”, they have to be produced in exactly the right amounts at the right time.

This makes your hormonal system a little like an amplified orchestra with various instruments and roles to play:

  1. The pineal gland is the timer, to tell the system when to sleep and when to play.
  2. The hypothalamus is the sound man, detecting signals from the audience and reading the sound levels, balancing the output of control hormones.
  3. The pituitary gland, like a conductor, tells the individual players when and how forcefully, to do their part. If all is in balance, the individual player does just the right amount of work and the system is in tune.
  4. The thyroid hormone is the rate controller, increasing the speed of the beat and the efficiency of the instruments.
  5. The neurosteroids, or sex hormones, control tuning, maintenance and repair of the many instruments.

All of this must work in a complex biological harmony. Otherwise, like a poorly tuned orchestra, the results can be pretty awful.

Fortunately, the hormonal orchestra is usually an elegant and effective performance. The problem arises as we age, when hormone production begins to slow. It’s then that we hear the first problems in the musical score that is your body.

The progressive loss of hormones begins with the pineal, at about age 20, followed at about age 25-26 by declining growth hormone. After that, pregnenolone decreases, then DHEA, testosterone and progesterone, with estrogen in women following closely behind testosterone in men.

As hormones decline, your poor thyroid is left to handle the bulk of the work, like a lone musician trying to play an entire symphony alone.

Off Key: The Effects of Low Hormones

If we look at blood tests just a few months into menopause, a woman’s blood may contain:

  • Zero estrogen, testosterone, growth hormone and melatonin, and;
  • almost zero pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA.

Is it any wonder things feel different? Like a poorly tuned orchestra, these changes don’t usually go unnoticed:

  • Low testosterone and/or progesterone causes depression and panic attacks.
  • Low progesterone causes menstrual irregularity, painful menses, water retention, poor sleep, reduced memory capacity, reduced self-esteem and inadequate maintenance and repair of the brain and nervous system.
  • Low estrogen causes hot flashes, night sweats, poor sleep and general misery.

All of this elevates your stress levels and further inhibits the ability of your thyroid hormone to do an increasingly difficult job. As more time goes by, the orchestra slips further out of tune. Your body loses its balance, can’t manage sugar and cholesterol metabolism, and is unable to heal quickly, fight off infections, avoid autoimmune diseases and kill cancer cells.

It’s reasonable to conclude that many of our age-related disabilities (if not all) have their root in this progressive reduction of hormone production. Add the stress of modern life to the mix, and you have a musical score for accelerating the development of disease and the aging process.

The good news is that it’s possible to bring the orchestra back into tune! Using accurate testing and bio-identical hormone replacement, you can relieve some of the troublesome symptoms of aging and your body can begin to play a more pleasing score.

To learn more about your hormonal orchestra—and bring your instruments back into tune—contact the clinic at 705-444-5331, or book an appointment with Dr. Gervais Harry, MD online here.

Are You Addicted to Your Phone?

Tens of thousands of years ago, when we homo sapiens were just getting started, we had to be able to effectively meet our goals in order to survive–we had to find water, get enough to eat, seek shelter, and generally get things done. Unlike now, if we just lay about all day not accomplishing anything, we’d die. We had to be goal-oriented.

The key driver for this goal-seeking behaviour was, and is, a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is the reward chemical–it provides the little hit of “goodness” we feel when we accomplish a goal. (That delightful feeling of crossing something off your to-do list? Dopamine.) It’s an evolutionary gift from a long line of ancestors that helped us survive. It helps us see rewards, and take action to get them.

So what does this have to do with your cell phone?

Because accomplishing goals like “find food” were so critical, dopamine became a pretty addictive chemical in the brain. We LIKE the feeling of dopamine, and are driven to do what creates the release of it. We’re  easily addicted to things that deliver it.

The problem is that some things that have nothing to do with creating a meaningful life create dopamine for us. Things like alcohol, nicotine, gambling and yes, that delightful little “ding” your cell phone makes when you get a text.

Every time you hear the sound of a new message or see the tiny alerts or badges onscreen, your reward system swings into gear. Almost all of this happens below the level of your awareness. All you know is that you simply can’t resist checking your phone.

How Do You Know if You’re Addicted?

The same brain chemistry that casinos hijack to keep you sitting at a slot machine for hours is being hijacked to keep you staring at a screen. Your phone has been doing a remarkable job of training you. And not just to respond to whistles and signals like a trained seal, but to find it intolerable to suffer even a few moments without stimulation.

Here are some questions to ask yourself?

  • When you wake up in the morning do you check your phone before you go to the bathroom?
  • Do you walk from room to room holding your phone all the time?
  • If you get a text while driving, do you find it impossible to wait the ten minutes until you get home to look at it and respond?
  • Do you regularly respond to texts while reading your kid a bedtime story?
  • Are you unable to leave your phone in the car when you are having dinner out with friends?
  • Are you incapable of sitting quietly for ten minutes without looking at your phone?
  • Do you use your phone while watching TV or eating?

Why is it important to ask ourselves these questions? Here are a few things you might find interesting about high cell phone use. It’s been linked to:

  • Higher anxiety
  • Lower grades
  • Decreased happiness
  • Lower quality sleep
  • Poor posture
  • Lower relationship satisfaction
  • Reduced activity
  • Less time outdoors
  • Less time spent with others

Are those weather alerts and social media updates really that valuable?

What to Do?

Every recovering alcoholic will tell you that the first step to fixing a problem is to admit that you have one in the first place. If you can do that, what do you do next?

  • Turn off your alerts. Those little badges and sounds and flashes are designed to trigger your reward system. You don’t need to get alerts from every app.
  • Use “do not disturb” mode. Most devices will allow you to shut down your phone’s alert systems, while still letting through calls from a specified list of people. That way you can still get a call from your teenager or spouse, for example, but not from anyone else.
  • Set time periods in which you shouldn’t use your phone (i.e., 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.).
  • Designate activities in which your phone is forbidden (e.g., driving, dinner time).
  • Schedule break times to access your phone or social media.
  • Practice being bored. Your phone is gradually eroding your ability to simply be. Try taking longer and longer periods away from it. Reclaim your ability to live without constant digital stimulation.

If you find you can’t do these things, or instinctively push back against them, that might be the most powerful indicator of all that you have a problem.

Are you using your phone, or is it using you?