I’m now 43 years old, or as my brother likes to say, in the “extreme 30s”. Over the last five or six years I’ve experienced a couple of serious health scares along with a growing list of minor irritations that, taken together, have aroused my attention. Though I’ve never paid much attention to my own health, not long ago I began doing some research and concluded that I needed to make some serious dietary changes.
The first blow was almost eliminating coffee. I had been a coffee lover from the age of 12, but coffee was causing stomach pains and acid reflux problems to the point of near-debilitation. I couldn’t figure out why I just couldn’t keep my lunches down. I noticed, too, that certain other foods had the same effect – chocolate, beer, white wine, margaritas, even our own home-grown nectarines! So I no longer enjoy my coffee every morning, beer on hot summer afternoons, or nectarines (beyond just one a day) at harvest time. I sometimes use a coffee substitute, but I am settling on tea, and sometimes just half-a-cup of coffee, to start my day. I can still drink red wine, but even some of those are troublesome. I have discovered a local organic brand that is very pleasing (LaRocca – give it a try) and will probably stick with that.
Although my reflux problems were solved by eliminating certain foods, my stomach pains were not conquered until I began to limit my consumption of bread. Bread? Yes, bread. I have always been prone to overeating when it comes to bread. It was a common-sense self-diagnosis, but it took me a while. By the time I figured this out, it was beginning to feel like I was on the fast track to being nourished by feeding tube! Spiritually, I am no stranger to gluttony, so all of this is undoubtedly a mercy.
Cutting out the coffee almost eliminated my frequent heart palpitations, but not entirely. It wasn’t until I drastically reduced my sugar intake that the palpitations went away. This presentation helped convince me to quit soda pop for good, and to eliminate most high-sugar foods at least Monday through Friday. No more sodas and juices with my lunch, no more sweet snacks and desserts, and fewer processed foods loaded with high fructose corn syrup. The happy result? In addition to eliminating those irritating palpitations, the change has also increased my energy levels (and improved my mood) throughout the day.
As a result of the swine flu scare, I began to research the benefits of Vitamin D3 supplements in resisting the flu. Most everyone in the industrialized world is Vitamin D deficient due to a lack of prime-time sun exposure, and this deficiency peaks during flu season when most people try to stay indoors. Vitamin D deficiency is undoubtedly related to the winter blues and depression, or “seasonal affective disorder”. As it turns out, Vitamin D is critical not only for the health of your immune system, but also for resistance to cancer and many other diseases. Please take a few minutes to watch this video:
So, here’s what I’ve concluded thus far, in a nutshell. Many people do not have the food reactions that I have, so I don’t think eliminating coffee and such is a universal prescription. However, I would recommend the following for most adults:
1. Keep your sugar intake at a minimum. Be aware that sugar in the form of fructose – usually high fructose corn syrup – permeates many processed foods not regarded as “sweet”. So check all labels. And quit sodas and juices with HFCS altogether.
2. Take a Vitamin D3 supplement appropriate for your age and weight. Anyone over 100 lbs should take at least 1000 IUs daily. Most adults should take between 1000 IUs and 5000 IUs daily. I take 2000 IUs daily, as do my two oldest children. The 10 y/o takes 1000 IUs, and the 6 y/o takes only a chewable multivitamin with 400 IUs.
3. Take an Omega 3 supplement. Most people are deficient in Omega 3 as well. The benefits are well documented, and it helps your body process the Vitamin D.
4. If you aren’t eating a carefully balanced diet, consider taking a good multivitamin daily.
Both the Omega 3 and multivitamin supplements will also contain Vitamin D, probably around 800-1000 IUs combined. If you’re taking less than 10,000 IUs in your daily Vitamin D supplement, just consider it a bonus. Your body should naturally produce between 10,000 and 20,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 with just 30 minutes of full sunlight exposure, during the non-winter months. If you aren’t doing at least that much – and most people aren’t – your supplement isn’t likely to match what would otherwise be supplied by nature.