On the Healthy, Sunny Side of Life Monday, Jul 8 2019 

IMG_2025Sunshine isn’t a guarantee in the Chicago area. Most of the year is overcast. When skies are clear, it’s like Christmas here. Residents are deliriously happy and out and about soaking in that rare commodity which is so good for our emotional and physical well-being.

Recent studies suggest that a substantial percentage of the global population is deficient in vitamin D. We need sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week to obtain enough sunlight to produce the necessary amount of vitamin D, which is difficult to achieve in many areas. The lack of sunshine, in addition to high pollution and the use of sunscreen which interfere or prevent absorption, are the main reasons.

Deficiency can be avoided by consuming eggs, fish (especially herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, swordfish, and tuna), fish liver oil, and chicken in addition to fortified foods such as cereals, dairy products, and orange juice. There also are an array of capsules and pills on the market from which to choose from, although there is a great variation of product quality to be aware of.

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin. It’s considered a pro-hormone. Unlike vitamins, which are nutrients that cannot be created by the body, vitamin D can be synthesized when sunlight hits our skin. But vitamin D breaks down quickly making it difficult to attain and retain enough of it especially in winter.

Sunlight is vital to our health for many reasons. Without it, we may experience fatigue, an increase in aches and pains, severe bone or muscle pain, stress fractures, and a waddling gait in addition to asthma in children. The vitamin regulates calcium and phosphorus and helps to maintain proper bone structure.

Research suggests that vitamin D supports lung function and may play a role in the prevention of type 1 and 2 diabetes; hypertension; multiple sclerosis; heart disease; colon, prostate, and breast cancers; rickets; osteoporosis and bone fractures; rheumatoid arthritis; and swine flu in addition to treating plaque-type psoriasis. It also helps to reduce depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia symptoms, as well as improve cognitive function.

The recommended intake of vitamin D is about 400 IU but does vary by age. Senior adults are sometimes advised to take double that amount. However, don’t go overboard with this or any vitamin. Excessive consumption of D, called D hypervitaminosis, can lead to calcification of bones and hardening of blood vessels, kidney, lungs, and heart. The most common symptoms of over intake are headache, nausea, dry mouth, a metallic taste, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.

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Do you follow my other blog: Mary K Doyle Books?

Would you like to attend my next presentation? It’s free of charge. I’ll be presenting on “The Alzheimer’s Spouse” on 7/16/19, at Arden Courts of Avon, CT and 7/17/19 at Arden Courts of Farmington, CT. If you are in the area, I’d love to see you there. Together, we can find solutions to some of your concerns.

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Passing Through the Tough Stuff Tuesday, Jun 4 2019 

Today is a painful, fibromyalgia day for me–body aches from head-to-toe and fatigue. The good news is, like most of life’s trials, it will pass.

No one escapes the tough stuff whether it is physical or emotional. However, as my sister, Patti, says, “It’s not what happens to us but what we do about what happens that matters.” We easily can make a difficult situation more trying if we resist or revolt rather than work through it. When we continue to move one step at a time through a troubling situation, we soon find ourselves at the other end of that tunnel.

For me, that means a quiet day at my desk with a positive outlook knowing I soon will see you on the bright side, my friends.

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(Did you see my last post on Mary K Doyle Books: Marian Devotion through Art?)

 

Super Berry Wednesday, Jan 9 2019 

elderberryStep aside blueberries. You have some competition as a super food. The elderberry is rapidly gaining in on you.

My daughter, Erin, has me hooked on elderberry syrup, pills, and tea after reading some credible studies. As a nurse, Erin, seeks the scientific findings such as this one before jumping on the home-remedy bandwagon. Another study reported in The National Center for Biotechnology in 2016 found elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travelers.

Rich in flavonoids, consuming elderberries is thought to offer numerous health benefits. In addition to reducing colds and flu symptoms, elderberries are believed to offer some prevention and reduction in allergies, urinary tract and bladder infections, headaches, constipation, epilepsy, scarlet fever, and measles. The purplish-black berries may also improve digestive health, rheumatism, and sinus, back, leg (sciatica), and nerve pain (neuralgia) in addition to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Some positive effects even have been seen on markers of the heart and blood vessels, as well, with a reduction of the level of fat in the blood and a decrease in cholesterol. Elderberry may even increase insulin secretion and improve blood sugar levels.

The American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is a deciduous shrub native to areas of the Midwest and Eastern North America. Fragrant white clusters of blossoms bloom each summer. In warmer areas, blossoms may appear throughout the year.

Raw berries should not be eaten as they can cause nausea and vomiting. And the bark, seeds, stems, leaves, and roots are inedible. They contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside, which in large quantities, is toxic.

Elderberries are safe when cooked. They may be consumed in pies, jams, juices, gummiessyrups, and wine. At this time, there is no standard dosage of elderberry to take when suffering from colds or flu but some suggest one tablespoon of syrup extract four times a day. It’s also unknown as to whether or not consuming elderberry products daily is beneficial.

(Did you see my post, “The Magician’s Escape Plan,” on my blog, Mary K Doyle Books?)

Essential Oil Pendants Wednesday, Sep 7 2016 

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As you’ve read in previous posts, I’m a fan of high quality essential oils. They have so many uses to support health and happiness. I use them for everything from cleaning and air freshening to flavoring water.

One way to benefit from essential oils is by diffusing. Most often this is done with a small appliance that spreads drops of the oil into the air with or without water.

Diffusing is also done by placing a couple of drops of essential oils on cotton balls or a pendant and allowing the oil to penetrate into the air. Pendants made of clay look attractive and work particularly well. They can be made simply or intricately depending on your creativity.

I had fun making some of these pendents for gifts and myself. I kept the rejects-which were many-and hung them in closets, my car, lingerie drawers, the laundry room, and placed them in my handbag and luggage. They also can be worn as a necklace which offers a way to enjoy the fragrance of your choice all day long.

To make them, purchase clay that air dries, string, leather, or ribbon, and beads or stones of your choice. You also might want to look for stampers, but check around your home first for buttons, leaves, jewelry, or other items that can make a deep enough impression into the clay.

Begin by taking a small amount of clay and knead it until soft and pliable. Roll out to the desired thickness. Thinner pendants are easier to wear. Thicker ones are best for larger spaces like closets. Cut into desired shapes. Gently press stampers or objects into clay being careful not to spread the clay. Take a straw, chopstick, small doll rod, or other round object to push through the top of the pendant for a hole for the string.

Loop the string through the hole and then slide the desired beads onto the string. Another option is to glue a magnet on the back and use the pendant for an air freshener on the refrigerator door.

Allow the clay to dry about three days. Then slowly drop essential oils onto the pendant. Be careful not to let the oil run to the back which can mark your clothes or object you place it on.

(See my newly updated website, Mary K Doyle, my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin and my Facebook author page.)

 

 

America’s Poor Thursday, Aug 11 2016 

My sister, Patti, a stock broker and financial adviser, often says, “It’s personal. The daily numbers are mostly irrelevant to investors. If they’re making money, then they feel the market is good. On the other hand, if their losing—not so good.”

Statistics typically tell such a story. Everything depends on how those numbers affect us personally.

The federal poverty level is a measure of income issued every year by the Department of Health and Human services. This level determines eligibility for certain programs and benefits, such as Medicaid and CHIP. The 2016 levels are $11,880 for an individual, $16,020 for a household of two, and $24,300 for a household of 4. In Alaska it is $14,840, $20,020, and $30,380 respectively. And in Hawaii, those numbers sit at $13,670, $18,430, and $27,950. No doubt, millions significantly above those numbers feel the poverty pinch.

The top 1% of the US population owns 43% of the country’s wealth. That leaves 99% with vastly lower income levels.In 2014, 14.8% of Americans were considered living in poverty. (However, the Supplemental Poverty Measure stated it was 15.3%.) That comes out to 1 in 3 Native Americans (two of the US’s poorest counties are located on Native American reservations), more than 1 in 4 African Americans and Hispanic Latinos, and 1 in 10 Asians and non-Hispanics living below the federal poverty line.

Women and children face the brunt of these numbers. If things continue as they are, more than half of all children below the poverty line will live in families headed by women, as two-thirds of the minimum wage earners are women, and one in seven women lives below the poverty line.

Three fourths of the poor are unemployed. The causes and cycle of poverty and unemployment are complex and many. Job shortages (there is only one job available for every 4 unemployed people) and job outsourcing, automation, limited education, illness and disabilities, elderly and children caregiving needs, inadequate transportation, over-spending/credit debt, and lack of mentoring lead the list.

I don’t know about you, but I believe it’s challenging to live at two to three times the federal poverty levels. Rent, utilities, food, insurances, medical, phone, and auto or travel expenses are basic needs yet take a substantial amount to keep afloat.

Food is the one area we can cut when short on funds. That results in a good number of Americans going to bed hungry. This is especially so for those who make more than the level to receive assistance but too low to purchase nutritional foods.

Children comprised 21.1% of this group and seniors 10%. Every county in the US note levels of food insecurities. The states of Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky are the hungriest. And households with children reported the highest rates overall.

If we have an extra buck, feeding and caring for the poor can be the best karma. Four out of 5 (79%) Americans live in danger of poverty at some point in their life. According to the government website, most Americans will spend at least one year below the poverty line between the ages 25 and 75.

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin or my Facebook author page? I also have a Facebook page for each of my books with information specific to that title.)

 

Know GMO Monday, Jul 18 2016 

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The more options science offers us, the more concerns we have in regards to ethics, health, and safety. Those concerns often create emotionally charged camps with opposing viewpoints. Such is the way with GMO products.

GMO, the acronym for Genetically Modified Organisms, and GE, the acronym for Genetically Engineered, refer to living organisms whose genetic material has been manipulated through biotechnology. Genes are isolated and added to cells in a laboratory to produce desired traits in new cells, altering the DNA.

Most developed nations, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, either significantly restrict or ban the production and sale of GMOs. They consider them to be unsafe.

But, according to the FDA, GMO/GE foods are as safe as non-GMO since all must meet the same food safety requirements. The FDA also states that the practices of selective breeding and cross-breeding have been in existence for thousands of years with the same intent of creating more flavorful crops with higher yield and resistance to insects and diseases.

Foods from GMO plants were first introduced into the U.S. food supply in the 1990s. Today, cotton, corn, and soybeans are the most common GMO crops. In fact, 93% of all soybeans, and 88% of all corn planted, are from GMO seeds. Other major GMO crops include potatoes, squash, apples, and papayas.

Anti-GMO activists, who refer to these crops as “Frankenfoods,” argue that GMOs may cause environmental damage and health concerns. The non-profit organization, The Non-GMO Project, describes GMOs as living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated through genetic engineering creating “unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that do not occur in nature.” In addition, they say that contrary to public belief, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Instead, The Non-GMO Project claims that there is evidence that GMOs do result in health problems, environmental damage, and violation of farmer’s and consumers’ rights. And there is great concern that  GMOs are engineered for herbicide tolerance. This results in increased use of toxic herbicides like Roundup, and the emergence of super weeds and bugs which require even more toxic poisons to extinguish them.

Since as much as 80% of conventionally processed foods contain GMOs, The Non-GMO project advises reading labels carefully. They offer the example of raisins that may be packed with a small quantity of oil which could present a high-GMO risk.

However, the ability for consumers to clearly identify products containing GMO ingredients is another dimension of the argument as companies are not required to disclose this information on labels (except in Vermont). A bill that recently passed will allow consumers access to this knowledge through some type of hidden labeling such as a “QR-code,” but this won’t happen for several years.

(The FDA states that GE/Genetically Engineered is the more accurate term. I use GMO in this post because it is more commonly used.)

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin or my Facebook author page? I also have a Facebook page for each of my books with information specific to that title.)

Everything Counts Saturday, Jun 25 2016 

Back in the 1980s I wrote a newspaper feature article on a cancer wellness center. One of the survivors said something that made so much sense, it stuck with me. She said that there wasn’t one reason why she developed cancer and so there wasn’t one practice needed to cure her. In addition to traditional surgery and chemotherapy, she also improved her diet, reduced stress, prayed more, and increased exercise, among other things.

After recently viewing the nine episodes of The Truth About Cancer, I was reminded of this interview. I believe the words of wisdom I was told 30 years ago still holds true and can be applied to most situations.

Whether we look at our financial state, level of crime in a city, world hunger, political unrest, obesity, or just about any health condition, most likely several issues contributed toward it, and therefore, more than one remedy is needed for a complete solution. One dollar won’t get us out of debt. But every dollar earned and saved eventually does. From the afternoon drive-through coffee to vacations beyond our budget, we can cut back and/or work an extra part-time job.

There’s always something we can do to participate in solving even the most dire situation. If we break it down, and honestly consider how we contributed toward the decline, as well as how we can bring about improvement, things do change.

(Like my author Facebook page to see more posts like this)

The Essence of Nature Saturday, May 14 2016 

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Lavender for sleep. Peppermint to keep alert while driving. Tea Tree Oil to disinfect. I’ve used essential oils since the early 70s, but now they are my go-to-source for nearly every need.

Young Living’s Purification eliminates odors in the trash can. Thieves cleans and disinfects counter tops. Lavender soothes burns. Peppermint keeps ants away. And the lovely fragrance of diffusing jasmine makes me happy.

Pure essential oils are concentrated compounds that have been pressed or distilled from plants. They do not have a fatty or oily component. They are called “essential” because they carry the essence of the plant or plant part they are made from.

Essential oils can be diffused, and some used directly on the skin or even ingested, if they are of high quality.

I was drawn to essential oils more recently because I sought a more natural pain remedy. I’m allergic to most prescription and over-the-counter ones. I also am trying to eliminate as many chemicals as possible. Essential oils have offered me many options for all of this.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books or my author Facebook page?)

Want Some Bugs with That Cake? Saturday, Apr 23 2016 

The concept of red velvet cake escapes me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of the flavors. But what’s wrong with chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting without dying the cake red?

Red velvet cake requires 2-4 tablespoons of red food coloring to transform the brown chocolate to red. And do you know what that red food coloring is made from? Bugs.

Red food colorants are typically made from chocineal, carmine, or carminic acid, all of which are made from crushed carcasses of a South and Central American insect known as the female dactylopious coccus. It takes about 70,000 insects to make one pound of cochineal.

The Aztecs and Mayans produced the red dye for coloring fabrics as far back as the 15th century. It became popularly used in foods in recent times as a safer alternative to those found to be carcinogenic. Today FD&C Red Dye #40 is also used. This dye is not made from insects but rather coal.

Red food coloring is used in most red drinks and candies as well as red velvet cakes. Check the labels to know for sure.And enjoy those tasty treats.

(Follow my posts on Mary K Doye Books and my Facebook author and book pages)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

 

Sun’s Up Saturday, Apr 16 2016 

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Finally, the sun is shining in the Midwest. We can have any weather in the spring-rain, sleet, snow, chilly, or warm-but these are the days we treasure. It’s in the 70s and everyone is running outside, waving to neighbors, driving with the windows down, and firing up the barbecue.

It’s also the time we get our first sunburn of the year because we forget about sunscreen. Actually, we should be using sunscreen year-round. We can burn even on a cloudy day since UV light passes through clouds.

Studies show that the daily use of sunscreen significantly slows the aging of skin and lowers risk of cancer. Broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher is our best defense. Anything less only protects from sunburn.

The recommendation is to apply a generous amount of sunscreen to dry skin 30 minutes before going outside. Be sure to cover all exposed areas including the head if hair is thin. Reapply at least every two hours and immediately after swimming.

(Beautycounter Protect SPF 30 All Over Sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide, which is an effective and safe natural mineral sun blocker, aloe vera for hydration, and green tea and blood orange extracts for antioxidants. Find yours here on my website.)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

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