Doing My Homework

My health coach gave me a pretty easy assignment this week: think about chewing.

Yes, chewing. She gave me a crash course on the digestive system which brought back memories of elementary school, learning about saliva and the esophagus and food’s journey through the miles of intestines. She also gave me a handout with some suggestions- suggestions which have turned out to be easy to read and not so easy to implement.

Do YOU chew every bite 30-50 times before you swallow it? I found out that my average is about 10. I’m now making more of an effort, but I have some work to do.

Why does it matter, you ask? (I’ve been doing some reading, so I’m not sure now what I’ve read and what Rebecca told me. I’ll give all the credit to her unless otherwise noted!) Saliva is alkaline. Alkaline reduces inflammation in the body. Chewing efficiently alkalizes our food before it’s swallowed which prevents inflammation. I guess that explains why eating on the go or “swallowing your food whole,” as my mother used to say I did, usually results in heartburn, indigestion, and/or stomach ache, i.e. inflammation of the gut. Chewing matters more than I realized.

I’m the one who didn’t want to take time to stop for lunch at all, so this is hard! Eating nine cups of fruits and vegetables every day requires more stopping-to-eat than I’m used to, and now I’m adding more chewing to that effort! But I’m already feeling better, so it’s worth it!

Assignment number two was to learn about albumin. I had heard of albumin in connection with eggs, but this time I was seeing the word on some blood work results. My albumin level was low, and Rebecca suggested I find out what it was and why it mattered. Albumen is the white of the egg, but, albumin is “any of numerous simple heat-coagulable water-soluble proteins that occur in blood plasma or serum, muscle, the whites of eggs, milk, and other animal substances and in many plant tissues and fluids,” per Merriam-Webster.

From various medical websites, I learned that albumin is produced by the liver, and it carries substances such as hormones and enzymes throughout the body. If the albumin level is low, it might indicate kidney failure or kidney disease or liver disease. Or it might indicate malnutrition. Well, none of those conditions appeal to me, but malnutrition seems to me to be the easiest one to correct!

My question is, will my nine cups of improved nutrition correct my albumin level? Maybe. Hopefully. According to Registered Dietician Sarah Pflugradt, “increasing the overall quality of the diet may help increase albumin levels in those who are malnourished.” Writing for livestrong.com, she also noted that some recent research indicates that “albumin was not a direct indicator of nutritional health, but rather a marker of the influence of illness on albumin. For instance, inflammation- present in many diseases- causes protein to break down in the body, leading to a decreased albumin.”

Homework results: I hereby promise to make every effort to efficiently chew every bite of nine cups of fruits and vegetables every day, hoping to reduce inflammation and to increase albumin.

Here are a few pictures of some of the delicious and nutrient-rich meals I’ve eaten lately. Recipes don’t seem to be necessary since a picture paints a thousand words, but I’ll be glad to give you the details if you ask.

 

You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!

drinking waterA little over a year ago, I came across these pictures on facebook.  I already knew that I needed to drink more water, and these pictures gave me the extra encouragement I needed.  Since then, I’ve been faithfully drinking lots of water every day (half my body weight in ounces).  I can’t say that I’ve noticed a change in my appearance as this lady did, but I sure have noticed a difference in the way I feel.

I recently came across a book on a library display.  It’s called Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!  by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj.  Dr. Batmanghelidj has done extensive clinical and scientific research in dehydration and disease.  I’ve read the first chapter and skimmed most of the rest of the book, and my mind is blown!

I’ll give you a sample of what I’m reading.  This is from the first chapter…

“The body can suffer from deep dehydration without showing a dry mouth.  Dehydration produces severe symptoms, even to the point of causing life-threatening crises…  Dry mouth is one of the very last indicators of dehydration of the body.  By the time dry mouth becomes an indicator of water shortage, many delicate functions of the body have been shut down and prepared for deletion.  This is exactly how the aging process is established–through a loss of enzyme functions.”

Here are just a few of the topics addressed in this book:  asthma, allergies, blood pressure, diabetes, constipation, heartburn, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, hot flashes, kidney stones.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing more of what I’m reading.  For now, I’m going to pour myself a glass of water!

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