Healthy Concepts

Our thoughts are one of the most powerful tools we possess. Scientific research has proven that our thoughts can have a miraculous impact on our lives. Positive thoughts can improve our overall health, our relationships, our money situation, our outlook on life and so much more. Negative thoughts can also have a powerful and genuine impact. What we think can control much of what we experience in life.

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” —Peace Pilgrim

We’ve all heard about the benefits of thinking positive. This article, however, isn’t just about being mindful of your thoughts and being positive. I want to share with you a perspective that is discussed less often: how our thoughts affect others.

TAKING THE GOLDEN RULE INWARD

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” But it isn’t enough to just bite our tongue. Our thoughts about a person, a situation or ourselves are just as powerful as the spoken word. So even if we don’t say it, our thoughts still do the work for us and create an impact — positively or negatively. 

A CHALLENGE FOR 2018 AND BEYOND

As we enter this New Year, I challenge you to find ways to think more positively, not only about yourself but about everyone you encounter. It can be difficult to remain positive about someone when they’re rude or disrespectful. But what if just one positive thought toward them could change the outcome of their day? 

The next time you experience negative feelings about a situation or person, release the negative and look for a positive. Maybe their outfit looks great. Perhaps they’ve worked hard to lose some weight. It doesn’t have to be about their interaction with you. Find a positive thought and then send love and compassion instead of negativity. It may just be the boost they need!

Thoughts have power. It’s not just a matter of minding what we say. We also must be mindful of what we think.

To demonstrate just how much our thoughts affect others, I like to use the following group exercise: 

  1. Have the group stand in a circle. 
  2. Select a volunteer to stand in the middle of the circle with their arms straight out from their sides. Gently push down on their outstretched arms while they resist the pressure. Make a mental note of how their resistance feels against your downward pressure.
  3. Next, ask the outer group to think something very positive about the person in the center. As they do so, provide downward pressure on the center volunteer’s outstretched arms. What do you notice about their ability to resist the downward pressure? Is it any different than before?
  4. Next, ask the outer group to think something negative about the person. As they do so, provide downward pressure on the volunteer’s arms. Has the resistance changed? Try it at your next group event to find out!

DEFLECTING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS FROM OTHERS

While we can only control our own thoughts, we don’t have to remain vulnerable to thoughts from others. Here are two powerful methods to keep others’ thoughts from affecting us negatively. 

  1. Ask God or the Divine to keep all negative thoughts from entering your energetic field. You could ask daily, or weekly, or multiple times a day — whatever feels right to you.
  2. Visualize your entire body surrounded by a bubble of pure white light at the start of each day or week. This is the light of love. Nothing but loving thoughts may pass through it. Your intention is everything. Visualize it for the length of three breaths and it will be done. 

Benjamin Franklin said death and taxes were the only two things certain in life. However, another certainty in life is that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. There is very little we can do about death and taxes but we can take advantage of the certainty of the sun by using solar power at our homes and businesses. 

Solar energy is the fastest growing source of new energy generation in the U.S., but has only reached a small portion of the market potential. One of the largest barriers to solar adoption is the upfront cost, as you are essentially pre-buying your electricity for the next 25+ years. In order to purchase solar, often times people will borrow from a lender or increasingly people are looking to use their existing mutual funds to invest in solar. That leads to an intriguing question: does a solar array deliver similar returns to other investments? 

It is important to note to take action on installing your solar array as soon as you can while existing financial incentives are still in place. 

Available incentives to reduce the cost of a solar array: 

  • 30 percent Federal Investment Tax Credit (30 percent through 2019, 26 percent in 2020, 22 percent in 2021 and 0 percent after)
  • 12 percent ($2,000 max residential, $4,000 max commercial) Focus on Energy Rebate (As of 12/1/17)
  • Discounted pricing from Solar Group Buy, if available in your area. 

Let’s take a look at a sample 5 kW solar array installed in We Energies territory on an unshaded roof for a cost of $3/watt for an installed cost of $15,000: 

  • Estimated installed cost $15,000
  • Federal Tax Credit $3,960
  • Focus on Energy Rebate $1,800
  • System Cost After Incentives $9,240
  • Cost Recovery in Years 12
  • 30-Year Internal Rate of Return 10.84%
  • 30-Year Levelized Cost of Energy from solar ($/kWh) $.071 (current utility rate $.13111)
  • 30-Year Cost of Utility Bills Without Solar (Estimated) $39,562

As you can see, the 30-Year Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is 10.84 percent and the levelized cost of energy over the life of the system is $.071/kWh, compared to the $.13/kWh rate that the utility currently charges. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), residential utility electric rates in Wisconsin rise an average of 3-5 percent per year. Should rates increase greater than 3-5 percent average the IRR of the solar array will increase. While the cost of solar generated electricity will remain the same throughout the life of the solar array. 

Let’s compare the performance of the sample array to a generic mutual fund. According to Investopedia, the historical average return on stock market investments is 10 percent, but is closer to 7 percent with inflation. Certainly there is some risk when investing in stocks as the market rises, falls and occasionally crashes such as the one in 2008. 

A typical residential solar installation in Wisconsin has an internal rate of return (IRR) around 4-11 percent and produces a levelized cost of energy of $.06 -$.10. Solar arrays are fairly low-risk. The solar modules production is warranted for 25 years and there is good data on weather patterns to closely estimate the amount of sunshine a particular location will receive. 

Additionally, installing solar keeps your investment dollars in your community and drives significant environmental benefits of using the sun instead of burning fossil fuels to create electricity and significant pollution. Solar is an investment in your family and community as opposed to a mutual fund investment in Wall Street and big business. 

A solar array performs as well or better than a mutual fund and allows you to invest in yourself and produce clean energy for the next 25+ years. As always, please consult with your financial advisor before any investments. 

 

The money taken out of your paycheck every month may be unwelcome now, but it can give you monthly income later in life. 

However, some question if Social Security will last long enough for those in the workforce now to be able to receive these benefits. According to Social Security trustees, enough reserves exist for the system to pay 100 percent of promised benefits until 2033 without further reform. Full benefits are available at age 65 for those born before 1938, gradually increasing to age 67 for those born in 1960 or later. There is more to Social Security than just applying for retirement benefits when you are eligible at age 62 or over. By waiting, you can maximize your benefits, which will increase every year you choose to wait to file for Social Security retirement benefits. 

Consider these four tips before applying for Social Security:

1. Don’t assume it won’t be there. Social Security is projected to last at least until 2033, so the first mistake is writing it off as a resource that won’t be available. Planning early for the role Social Security will play in your retirement will prevent you from being caught off guard and missing out on increased benefits once you are ready to start collecting.

2. Know your situation. Retirement income planning is critical. Social Security has many nuances, so a personalized approach is necessary to get a better grasp of your retirement future. By using your current information from the Social Security Administration, financial representatives may be able to create scenarios to give you an idea of how the age you begin receiving distributions can affect the monthly amounts you will receive. For example, if you’re divorced or widowed, a financial representative will be able to calculate the different ways you can claim benefits and how they can affect your retirement strategy. 

3. Wait to draw. Now that you are planning for it, you can figure out when the right time for you to start receiving benefits. For many people, this will most often be after the age that you are eligible to start collecting full benefits. For every year that you delay, Social Security benefits will increase by a set percentage, eventually putting your monthly benefit above 100 percent. Delaying can also multiply the benefits after it is adjusted for cost of living and can potentially reduce the number of years benefits are subject to income taxes. Factors to consider as to when to file for your Social Security benefits include: health status, life expectancy, need for income, future employment and survivor needs. A financial representative can help you build all of this information into an overall retirement strategy.

4. Get your financial house in order. If you delay your Social Security benefits, you will need to have another way to pay for your needs while you are not working. If you planned early enough, you will likely have adjusted your finances so that you are prepared. Again, talking to a representative can help you plan the best option for the interim time before Social Security paychecks.

Social Security can be confusing, but talking to a representative can help you clarify the role it can play in your retirement strategy. Once you have a strategy in place, you will better be able to enjoy your retirement years without worrying about the next paycheck. 

Ah, the holiday season. And now a new year is upon us. Somehow, it’s the time of year our world is more clearly seen in stark contrasts: gratitude and joy and unity versus the obvious pain, hatred and violence all around us. The big question is, how do we, in integrity and wholeness, live our lives? How will we grow through the holiday blues — living in integrity and wholeness, expressing our light, which will help human kind bring forth solutions that enable us to move forward? Or will we continue in the same cycles of anger, fear, and hatred — cycles that may allow us to be right but will never allow us to be at peace?

A true story: Shirley Johnson had not seen her son, Dennis, who at the time was 24 years old, for ten years except for one or two brief encounters that were hostile and very unfulfilling. When Dennis was 14, there was a very bitter and acrimonious divorce, and he and his father went to live in another state. The husband since has admitted that he systematically poisoned his son’s mind against the mother, Shirley. To the degree that Dennis had no desire or intention to see or be a part of his mother’s life.

For those of us who have had some of those kinds of experiences, we know the wounds run deep. So Shirley says, “I had tried everything. I prayed, wrote, called, there’s absolutely no bridge.” Then for three years, every day, she began to pray the “Child of Light Prayer” that I had given her. She never prayed that Dennis would come home, only that he would find himself. Every day for 3 years!

Child of Light Prayer by May Rowland

“Child of light, I bless you. I think of you. I pray for you. Not in terms of what I think you need or what I think you should do or be or express. I lift up my thoughts about you. I catch a new vision of you. I see you as you truly are: a holy child of light. I see you guided and directed by an inward spirit that leads you unerringly into paths that are just right for you. I see you strong and whole. I see you blessed and prospered. I see you courageous and confident. I see you capable and successful. I see you free from all limitation or bondage of any kind. I see you as the spiritually perfect being you truly are. Child of light, I bless you.”

Thanksgiving one year ago, out of the blue, Shirley got a phone call from Dennis. He called to make his amends and to beg forgiveness after his father had told him what he had done. Yet there was no need — his mother was already at peace. It was as if those 13 years had never happened. All the work had been done in consciousness. Both Shirley and Dennis were overwhelmed with joy. And so Dennis made travel plans, he took two weeks off from work, and went home to Michigan on Dec. 6 last year. Mother and son had a great time together. On Dec. 14, Shirley got violently ill, Dennis took her to the doctor’s office, and two hours later she was in the emergency room for a radical hysterectomy. She then began chemo for cancer. All the time, Dennis was there, loving his mom, supporting her. And to this day, they continue their healed and loving relationship.

May we dedicate all thought to union of mind and heart, and unconditionally accept the gift already within us — the peace of God. “You have been given the Peace of God — go in Peace. Spread peace throughout the land. Go out in peace and love and service to all. For in this going out you come home and bring with you all the brothers and sisters you have brought to peace. Go in peace to love and serve with all your heart. Thus are we one heart, one mind, one unity. Thus are we one in a relationship of love and peace that is our eternal home.” —A Course of Love

There

By Steve Colladay

There is a place in you where the Love of God resides;

There is a place in you where peace lives forever;

There is a place in you where you know your oneness with all that is;

There is a place in you where you know no fear;

There is a place in you where you know.

There is a place in you.

There is a place.

There is.

There. 

 

What do you want your children or grandchildren to know about money? Many parents have used allowances to teach their children financial responsibility. 

Allowances can help children learn: 

  • Our spending choices are almost limitless
  • We have limited resources
  • We all need to make choices
  • From spending mistakes they make

By age 5 or 6, many children are ready to receive an allowance. Children are often required to work or do some things around the home to earn their allowance. They learn there is a connection between working and getting paid. 

Of course, there’s more to handling money wisely than just earning money and spending it. Parents can use an allowance to help children learn to make choices and save money. 

Parents can set guidelines for saving, spending and sharing. For example, let them spend 40 percent, require them to save 50 percent and to share or donate 10 percent of their allowance.

Many parents wonder how much they should pay their children. A common guideline is to pay 50 cents or $1 for every year of their age. So, a six year old would get $6, a ten year old $10, etc. As they age, they get paid more and have more to manage. Some parents pay their children every time they get paid; others pay allowances once a month. 

Some children handle money better than others. Many will make mistakes, like buying things immediately with their spending money, and then being out of spending money until they get paid again. Let them run out of spending money and learn that timeless lesson, “Once I spend my money it’s gone.” Don’t rescue them with more spending money. Making mistakes with small amounts of money can be a priceless way to learn enduring lessons. 

To encourage saving money, talk with them about how you are saving for a short-term goal, like some clothes or electronics. Tell them you also save for your long-term goals like retirement. 

Even if you do most of your banking, shopping and bill paying digitally, occasionally take younger children to the bank. Let them see you putting money into the bank, not just taking money out or spending money. 

You can also help develop the habit of saving money by: 

  • Using a piggy bank or other visual savings tool
  • Opening a savings account in their name
  • Having them make regular deposits into their savings account
  • Showing them how their balance is growing 

If you want your children or grandchildren to understand some of the key financial facts of life, help them learn when they are young. An allowance coupled with good parental guidelines can help them learn wise financial habits that will serve them throughout their lives. 

 

According to Dan Wile, in his book, “After the Honeymoon,” “There is value, when choosing a long-term partner, in realizing that you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems, with which you’ll be grappling, for the next ten, twenty, or fifty years.” There is wisdom in selecting a set of problems with which you can live. If you were not in a relationship with your current partner, you might not have the problems you have now, however, you would have a different set of problems. Sadly, our partners are just not as perfect as we are, and we must learn to coexist and dialogue our way through the inevitable conflict that arises. 

According to John Gottman’s research, there are two different kinds of problems: solvable problems and perpetual problems. Solvable problems are “solvable” because they are situational; 39 percent of problems, about which couples argue, fall into this solvable category. The dishes don’t get put into the dishwasher because your partner didn’t think to load them, didn’t know the dishwasher had dirty dishes or they don’t “see” the dirty dishes in the sink. If you say to your partner, using your best softened startup, “I feel frustrated that there are dirty dishes in the sink. Would you be willing to load them into the dishwasher?” Your partner may respond, “Sure, I can do that” (problem solved) or “I didn’t know if the dishes were clean or dirty.” If the response is, “I didn’t know if the dishes were clean or dirty,” a sign can be created that reads, “Clean dishes or dirty dishes.” Again, problem solved. 

Sixty nine percent of problems, about which couples argue, are perpetual problems. These problems are not solvable because they are not situational problems. Let’s go back to the dirty dishes. You use your best softened startup, “I feel frustrated that there are dirty dishes in the sink, would you be willing to load them into the dishwasher?” Your partner may respond, “Sure, I can do that”; however, the next day, the dirty dishes remain in the sink. When you ask your partner for clarification, “I just forgot” or “Why do I have to do everything around here?” may be the reply. Welcome to the land of perpetual problems. 

Though it appears that the conflict is about the dishes; it is not. The conflict is about wanting things to be fair, ideas about which chores should be performed by whom, autonomy and control or any number of other reasons. Efforts to fix perpetual problems only lead to frustration and anger; both partners feel disrespected and unloved, and, eventually, gridlock occurs. When a couple becomes gridlocked, they stop talking about the problem or trying to solve it. Each time the perpetual problem occurs the partners have thoughts such as, “I’m not going to waste my breath. It does no good to even try to talk him (or her).” One gridlocked issue tends to lead to more gridlocked issues, which lead to resentment and the two of you beginning to live parallel lives. 

For many couples, the following issues become perpetual problems: chores, finances, raising and disciplining children, sex and spirituality. There are many right ways to navigate these issues; you are both right and you disagree. Trying to convince your partner that you are right and they are wrong will only create greater conflict and hurt. The two of you will polarize one another; you will both become more extreme in your positions because you will try to balance your partner’s “unreasonable” position. For example, if one of you is strict when disciplining the children, the other will become more lenient to “protect” the children from the stricter parent. You are both right; children need limits and they need to be heard and loved. The differences in your parenting styles can lead to both of you becoming better parents if you don’t try to “win.” The solution is to create a respectful dialogue.

If the two of you can learn to ask one another open-ended questions and listen closely to the answers, then your relationship can escape the anger and resentment that comes with trying to win the fight. There is no such thing as “winning a fight” — if one of you loses, you both lose. It is not a zero sum game. Developing a deeper understanding of one another’s beliefs, values, experiences and life dreams makes it easier to create space for one another’s opinions and actions. You will begin to see that your partner is not “unreasonable.” Their emotions, thoughts and actions make complete sense. Their behavior is based on reason, and if you want to know their reasons, ask questions. Using the phrase, “Help me to understand… (…what dirty dishes in the sink mean to you)” is a great conversation opener. Do not ask “Why?” because “why” really means, “Explain your idiotic logic to me” and creates a felt sense of criticism. Instead, ask questions that begin with “who, what, when and how.” Develop a curiosity about your partner’s inner world; when those perpetual problems arise (and they will), you can work with your partner to create a temporary compromise, or a partial solution, based on mutual love, respect and grace. 


Reference: “After the honeymoon.” Wile D.B. 1988.

 

Everywhere I turn there is misinformation about health, fitness and nutrition. The only thing more frustrating is the photoshopped images and advertisements of how I’m supposed to look and the very clear message of how I should feel about myself if I don’t. It’s extremely hard to know what is true versus what is paid-for advice that has a motive attached. The constant expectation of beauty tied to skinny has given credibility to all the diets. Am I supposed to eat, avoid or cycle carbs this week? But no message is more frustrating to me than the “if you ate X, you need to go to the gym and do Y.” 

Let’s be frank. If you eat poorly, no amount of exercise is going to make up for it. The number of calories in one delicious fried cheese curd would require you spend hours on a treadmill to “burn it off.” Your weight is like 90 percent what you put in your mouth. This has been scientifically proven many times over but advertisers don’t like this message because it’s harder to sell lettuce than it is a new fancy piece of gym equipment you can use in your home that will totally make you look like a supermodel for just 20 minutes three times a week.

What is exercise? Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do! Exercise is your body moving to be healthy. I read something once that really stuck with me: “Your body is a vehicle, not an ornament!” Think about that for a second. Your body is a vehicle. It is meant to get you from A to B. It is your vehicle to play with your kids and get to your office and do all the things you do in a day. Therefore, exercise is taking your vehicle out on the autobahn and seeing what it can do. Exercise is moving the wheels to make sure they stay lubricated or the tires don’t get a flat spot from the pavement.

The problem with linking exercise to nutrition is that if someone isn’t willing to eat healthy they often will feel like exercise is also out of their reach. It isn’t. You can eat the pizza and exercise. I, for one, love pizza. I also love seeing what my body is capable of. I’m lucky because the sport I chose, the aerial arts, defy gravity and give me constant opportunities to do things I didn’t think I’d be able to do. And there are days I’m sore from training the day before or from lifting something heavy while moving or from sitting in the car for way too long on a road trip; do you know what always makes those days better? Moving! Our bodies were made to move! We just happen to have built a huge fitness industry around this concept that is spewing misinformation to drive sales. But if you take away the money incentive, moving is fundamental to the human experience. What use is a vehicle if it is always just sitting in one spot? 

Get moving however it appeals to you. There is no wrong answer to moving, go for a walk, join a sports league, sign up for a pole exercise class. The type doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that you move, call it exercise if you want but move! And remember that moving your vehicle is kinda the point of having one. 

How many more times are you going to make a New Year’s resolution only to fail again? Some people mistakenly believe that they have no willpower at all and so do not give themselves the opportunity to make crucial life changes that will help them — like quitting smoking, losing weight, reducing stress, insomnia or pain.

So when it comes to willpower, you either have it or not, right? The answer is no. Willpower depends upon many factors. For example, in one study, participants had a plate of radishes and fresh-baked cookies placed in front of them. One group was told they could eat the cookies and the other told that they had to resist the cookies and eat the radishes. Then both groups were given a complex puzzle to solve. Those who were asked to eat the radishes and resist the cookies gave up on the puzzle after only a few minutes whereas the people who happily ate the cookies continued to work twice as long. This means that exerting willpower in one situation can drain you for another situation later on.

Holidays are a great example of what is called “willpower depletion.” Just like the cookie study, if you are dealing with family and find yourself biting your tongue or holding back from yelling at your in-laws, you may find yourself binging on the dessert or wine later that night because you used up all of your self-control with your family. Sound familiar? Another example we are all familiar with is following our diet perfectly for five days straight and then the weekend comes and everything goes off the rails. The next thing we know we are knee-deep in ice cream, potato chips, and self-loathing. Failed again!

tap into your subconscious and be hypnotized for success

There are three keys to achieving your goals. The first is motivation. Research clearly shows that it is easier to quit smoking when your life is at stake. Just like movie stars who stay rail thin for those seven figure salaries, we need to find our motivation because that is the initial drive for achieving our goals. The second is social support. People who have a good support network find it easier to give up addictions and cravings. The problem is that goals are actually a very private thing and you can’t count on your social group to be on or stay on the same page as you, can you? Fail again!

The third, and most important key, is aligning your subconscious mind with your conscious mind. Our conscious mind knows what is good for us. That is the part of your mind that sees clearly the need to lose those extra pounds or put that cigarette down once and for all. It sees the end goal and knows what needs to be done to get there. The problem occurs when our subconscious is not on board with the plan. It literally undermines our efforts and sabotages our goals. Failed again!

One of the most powerful ways to tap into your subconscious is to be hypnotized. Through hypnosis you can shift your subconscious and bring it into alignment with your goals. Imagine waking up and effortlessly avoiding those fatty treats or naturally putting your fork down once you are full. Getting your subconscious on board with your goals makes them easy and effortless. It is like setting the autopilot on the airplane of success. If you are tired of watching the same old New Year’s resolutions come and go, be hypnotized and get the results you have been waiting for. 

In January of 2014, Karl noticed numbness in his left foot. Soon, the numbness increased and progressed up his leg. After months of testing, and while paralysis was setting in, a MRI of his upper spine revealed a tumor in his spinal column. In September, Karl underwent a seven-hour surgery to have it removed. His prognosis of being able to walk again was mixed at best.

With walking on his own the ultimate goal, Karl started with traditional physical therapy, but the progress he was hoping for wasn’t realized. He then worked with a physical trainer at the YMCA where he focused on a program aimed at regaining muscle strength and included the use of their standard pool as well as land-based exercises. After two years, Karl had reached a plateau with his progress, so when his trainer made the decision to change careers, he decided it was a good time to give warm water aquatic therapy a try.

When Karl first came to the pool he had little feeling in his lower body. We needed to start with the basics, which included building core strength and muscle re-education. Warm water therapy is great for this because it relaxes your muscles enough to be able to be stretched, and working in water slows your movement enough to give extra time for the brain to communicate with the muscles. Rebuilding muscle memory is the essential building block for muscle strengthening and the overall recovery process.

After a year of working in warm water, Karl has made solid progress. His muscle control has improved, he can walk up the pool ramp using handrails to steady his balance and his confidence has soared. He is also able to complete some land-based exercises that he wasn’t able to do before.

In addition to specialized cases like Karl’s, warm water aquatic therapy can be helpful for a host of other medical issues including joint and chronic pain, muscle weakness, sports injuries, pre- and post-surgical recovery, orthopedic disorders and neurological diagnoses.

The key with warm water is that it provides muscle relaxation. Once the muscles are relaxed, people often find they are able to do more in the water with less pain. Decreased muscle tension also increases the ability to stretch muscles, which means you are able to try and be successful with new exercises and in turn can increase your heart rate and overall cardiovascular health.

Working in the water also helps you “buy back” gravity. I start many of my clients in the deep end of the pool, where they are completely buoyant. As they progress, we work toward the shallow end, reintroducing a bit of gravity each time as they build adequate strength. Doing this allows clients to work at their own pace and progress when they are ready and able to.

Another advantage of warm water therapy is three dimensional access to the client. Instead of working only one area at a time as you lie on a table, in the pool, I can move more freely around a client, working with multiple areas at the same time.

If you are considering physical therapy, or are looking for alternate options to further your progress, talk to your doctor or therapist about warm water aquatic therapy. Like Karl, it might be your game changer, too. 

 

With the holidays now over, everyone can relate to the feeling of a “food hangover,” or the agony of overeating. But could what you eat really be the culprit of arthritis, muscle pain, asthma, digestive and skin disorders as well? Yes, in fact it can be to blame. Scientists are making a strong link between our food choices and pain. About 70 percent of our immune cells are in our digestive system, making direct contact with the food we enjoy every day. If the immune system is triggered by bacteria in food, or flags a food as an allergen, or has an imbalance of important hormones such as insulin, it can set off the red alert of inflammation.

Inflammation is a major underlying factor in chronic conditions such as arthritis or poor digestive health, resulting in serious discomfort and a limited lifestyle. In other instances, inflammation is a periodic byproduct of stress and the proverbial wear-and-tear of living. At times we tax our bodies excessively, causing joint pain and decreased mobility. And yet, there are occasions where the stressful demands of work and family — the unexpected obstacles that are symptoms of financial and personal hardship, unhealthy diet, and too little sleep — manifest themselves through inflammation.

Persistent, systemic inflammation also increases a person’s risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and an assortment of other problems that become more likely as we age. More disturbing is the rise in the use of prescription drugs — many of which have serious long-term side effects — as a response to the growing threat of inflammation. Bottom line? Inflammation is the root of all chronic disease. How inflammation becomes visible in our own health will depend on the person.

There are immediate steps we can all take to reduce inflammation, starting with improved eating habits. Sufficient rest, moderate activity and a strong immune system also complement our dietary choices so that we can better control inflammation when it strikes.

Diet is critical! Amidst the far-too-numerous types of processed foods, sugary drinks and oversized meals, we must seize any chance to embrace the benefits of sound nutrition. When you eat foods you’re sensitive to (especially over and over each day or week), it causes an inflammatory reaction in your body and your health declines. And the important fact to note is that healthy foods such as squash, turkey, beans and apples, for example, may be your “personal poison” foods causing the inflammation.

The easiest way to discover your food sensitivities is a food sensitivity lab test. It’s a blood test that challenges the part of your immune system responsible for food sensitivities against different foods to determine your immune response. The strength of the response tells if you have a severe, moderate or mild sensitivity or none at all. You can choose to test up to 200 different foods, with results listing all your sensitive foods, the degree of sensitivity and your safe foods. It’s that simple. Imagine how long it would take to test that many foods on an elimination diet!

It is not a matter of whether a person “has” food sensitivities. In my experience, “how many,” and “which foods,” are what the blood test results show. The solution to pain is choosing to support your immune system with your next meal. We eat numerous times throughout the day, every day. Your next bite of food has the power to help or the power to heal. Which would you prefer? 

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