Friday, May 28, 2010


By now, we all know that smoking is bad for you. Every year on May 31st, the World Health Organization (WHO) urges us to observe World Tobacco Free Day. This year, the focus is on women. For too many years, we have been the focus of advertising trying to convince us that smoking is somehow sexy. It's time for us to wake up!

Smoking is not chic, no matter what the form. Many young women do realize that smoking cigarettes is dangerous, they fail to realize that hookahs are just as dangerous. Many people reason that hookah smoking is not as dangerous. A recent article by the Canadian Press, points out the dangers of hookahs. Smoking sessions with hookahs generally last for over an hour, with the smoke exposure being equal to 100-200 cigarettes! 
Malabar Hookahs in three different sizesImage via Wikipedia

Waterpipe smoke contains harmful constituents- nicotine, carbon monoxide, carcinogens. And it may contain greater amounts of tar and heavy metals, including cobalt, chromium and lead...Waterpipe use has in fact been linked to lung cancer, heart disease, infectious disease and pregnancy related complications. So that's a list that would certainly raise my anxiety.

The smoother smoke experienced with hookahs is a result of the moisture content. The water provides moisture, but does not effectively filter out toxins! Unfortunately, myths about hookahs spur their widespread use.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why is your diet so restrictive?

Life here is a blur. It's hard to mark the passage of days. I enjoy watching the steady improvement in the health of our guests, and am sad each time one leaves to return to life in the bigger world. I really hope people are maintaining the diet they started here, and with it their good health.
I freely admit that the diet here seems very restrictive. Not only is it a vegan diet, it's a healthy one without added salt, sugar, and oil. I've seen vegans come in and improve on the diet. Why the limitations?
Photo courtesy of Theodore Fields, Gout:Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment.

Meat seems strongly linked to many of the prevalent diseases of today. Americans, and others, now face diseases of affluence. Gout is a prime example of a very painful diseases that is obviously influenced by meat and alcohol consumption.
Salt intake is strongly associated with elevated blood pressure. If you consume sodium, your body will work to maintain the correct percentage in the blood. To do this, you retain more fluid. Adding more fluid to a closed system (your blood vessels) will cause the pressure to go up.
Sugar is sticky. We all know this fact. We tend to forget though that sugar is sticky inside of us as well. When things in our bodies become sticky with sugar we call them glycosolated. Common things that get coated with sugars are our red blood cells (hemoglobin A1c measures how coated they are), blood vessels, and eye lenses (cataracts).
Fats are tasty. They are high calorie foods rich in flavor. However, fats in excess are bad for our health. If we meet our energy needs, extra fuel is stored as fat. Many of us live rather sedentary lives. People drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home, and relax on the couch. The food we eat provides more than enough calories to meet our needs.

Eating large quantities of fresh vegetables and fruits, with small amounts of nuts, seeds, and grains, provides all of our nutritional needs. However, the traditional salad bowl is not big enough. You should eat a good quantity of plant based foods. You will feel full, while eating a fraction of the calories a typical meal provides.
This is a quick overview of reasons to eat the diet we promote at TrueNorth. To find out more about the food visit, the TrueNorth Kitchen. If you would like me to expand on something please post a comment!

PS For those following my weight, its 121.6. I seem to be holding steady at this point. For those of you worried this diet would make me too skinny, I think its safe to say you were wrong.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Diet Here

I'm enjoying a day off, so I figured it's time to post a new entry. Although most people think of TrueNorth as a fasting center, food is a key component here. Many people come here to re-acclimate their taste buds to healthy food.

The difference a good diet can make is amazing. One of the most striking things I've seen so far is the changes in blood pressure. One person here has dropped from about 180/130 (on medication) to about 130/70 (without meds) in 7 days!  This is an amazing change, especially since it is so easy and cheap to do.

blood pressure
Photo credit: deanjenkins from

The food here is vegan and free of added salt, oil, and sugar. A large portion of the food is raw, but there are also steamed vegetables, and grains. At first a lot of the food seemed bland to me, but now it tastes normal. I've been going through some bread withdrawal, but am starting to get over it. The past few days fruit has started tasting extremely sweet. My weight has slightly decreased to 121.4. I'm working hard to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

The vast majority of places do not serve food that meets the dietary criteria we have here. Most vegan food has added salt, oil, or sugar. After leaving here people are advised not to eat out. Preparing your own food insures high quality, and is cheaper than eating out. People living in certain areas of California can have food from the kitchen here delivered to them.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Vegetable Stock

During the last week I have started to settle into my new life at TrueNorth. My days here can be long. We start rounds at 7:15 am and may not finish documentation until after 9 pm. I'm enjoying the food, but miss bread! For those of you monitoring my weight, it really hasn't changed (124.0).

I enjoy living onsite as I get to see how well people are progressing. It's amazing to watch chronic conditions disappear. Admittedly, not everyone sees complete remission of symptoms, but many do. During my short time here I have seen ANA on a lupus patient go from positive to negative!

During their stay patients have access to a large DVD library of health promoting lectures. Various doctors lecture daily and are able to answer questions. There are cooking demos in which people can learn healthy ways to cook.

The cooking demo yesterday is a great example of how living a "green" lifestyle can promote health. Using vegetable stock is a great way to flavor dishes without adding extra sodium. Its a wonderful additional to soups, rice, polenta, etc. You simply replace the water you would normally use with stock.

Vegetable stock is made from kitchen scraps that many people throw away, or hopefully compost. Examples of some scraps are pepper cores, corn cobs, celery tops, and cabbage leaves. Things to leave out because they can make your stock bitter include artichoke, eggplant skin, and the dry outer layers of onions. Vegetable trimmings are placed in a pot which is then filled with water, about 1 inch over the top of the scraps. The pot is then brought to a boil, and then simmered for 30 minutes. The liquid in the pot is the stock! While the pot is simmering you can add whatever herbs you would like.

vegetable stock
Photo credit: wax115 from

In less than one hour you have created cheap healthy vegetable stock! An added benefit to making your own is that you know what is in it. There won't be any vegetables you can't eat, or mystery "natural flavors." Vegetable stock will keep in a fridge for several days, and in a freezer for around 6 months!

Monday, May 3, 2010

It begins

After a beautiful, but exhausting, train trip I finally arrived in Santa Rosa. I've been very busy since I arrived. Hopefully, I'll get used to the work pace and won't be so exhausted soon.

Arriving here is shocking and comforting. The weather and plants here are a complete change from what I'm used to. It seems like everything is in bloom! The center is in a converted apartment complex that surrounds a central courtyard. I am currently sharing a 2 room suite with another person, although I have rarely seen her. Everyone here is very friendly, so I have no reservations about living here for the next 6 months.

My day starts with rounds at 7:15 am. Once rounds are finished I get to eat breakfast. About the time I finish eating, its time to start the first presentation. The morning presentations are often on video, so I have to find the correct one and start it. I want to stay and watch all of them, so I know what information the patients are getting. It's then time for lunch. After lunch I have some time until the afternoon presentation. Once the afternoon presentation is over it's time for evening rounds. I eat after checking everyone, but before data entry. So far, I've been exhausted after data entry and go to bed, which is around 8 pm. As you can see, there's not much down time during the day!

The food has been interesting. The main portion is an ever changing raw salad bar. There's also a variety of fruits. There are then a few steamed vegetables and cooked grains to choose from. You won't find any croutons here since we don't serve refined carbohydrates.

Now on to the guesses on my weight. I'm no longer biking and I'm eating 3 prepared meals a day, so my weight may go up. I do have to go up and down a lot of stairs since its a 2 story complex. I'm not sure how its going to balance out, but I'm still guessing that my weight will remain stable, or hopefully drop to my usual weight of 115. This morning my weight is 123.4.
Related Posts with Thumbnails