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Buster Benson

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health month
I went to acupuncture yesterday and was curious about how Health Month was affecting my pulses and chis etc.  Apparently my liver chi is still all crazy and tense, which Vickie said was odd because she thought most of that was caused by alcohol and caffeine.  But it's also where stress goes, so maybe the problem hasn't been my diet at all, just the way I process stress.  In any case, I'm going back right before Health Month ends on Feb 5th to see what the end result is.  As part of my Year of Health(tm) project, I've asked Vickie to come up with some kind of health assignment for my second month.  Something that specifically targets my liver and heart/pericardium because those are the two places that always have chi problems.  She also suggested a macrobiotic diet, which I don't really know anything about.

I need a health challenge for every month of the year.  Ideas needed.

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the problem I always have with macrobiotic diets is eating locally grown. It's really tough, actually pretty impossible, to find cereal grains and soy that are grown down the street. and since those are the main ingredients of the diet, what's the point! I just try my best to buy locally grown produce as much as possible mainly to support local industry and keep my carbon footprint low.

but I totally agree that whole grains are the way to go. oatmeal, 15 grain bread, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, tasty and good for you.

I'd have a hard time keeping away from avocados though.

Hmmm... I don't know anything about it yet. I'm just looking at this site and the wikipedia page and seeing if it makes any sense. So it's about grains huh? And no avocados? It could be fun since those are two opposing rules to Health Month.

I've read some awesome studies about whole foods. Cultures who have diets that contain mostly whole grains with few processed foods tend to have very low rates of GI disease like colon cancer or ulcerative colitis, and less incidence of heart and vascular disease, and extreme longevity. So that says something I guess!

Avocados are completely healthy!

I want health month to be overseen by a nutritionist next year. My friends are getting very strange ideas about what is actually cool to eat vs. not.

no no... avocados are bad according to the macrobiotic people because they are part of the "nightshade" family.

I don't buy that crap. I could just never give up potatoes tomatoes or avocados. I mean COME ON.

That just lost me. I could give up potatoes since they aren't the healthiest, but tomatoes and avocados are pretty awesome.

Someone suggest me something else that's better!

honestly I just eat as many whole grains as possible, lean protein like chicken or healthy protein like fish, cut back on dairy but don't get rid of it all together. yogurt is your friend. I personally feel there's nothing wrong with cheese as long as you don't eat it every day. cultures are good for you!

eat tons of fresh vegetables, raw, steamed, and cooked in food, I follow the color rule for that. I just eat as many colors of vegetables as I can find every day. I drink those super green food smoothie drinks from Naked or Odwalla or Trader Joes which have tons of green vegetables, fruit and algae.

spirulina is some amazing stuff man. chlorophyll will change your life!

sugar in moderation, alcohol in moderation, caffeine in moderation, processed food is a big NO. Just avoid it at all costs. Cook your own food or eat thai, japanese, or indian.

and the best diet recommendation I have is, be a happy person, be kind, be good to others and yourself, laugh a lot and forgive, avoid anger, be positive! you will be happy and healthy and just glow. :)

Sounds like a good diet to me! Too bad it's so difficult to market and sell moderation and good sense. :)

Potatoes are actually incredibly healthy and nutritionally dense. In fact, I believe that they are one of the few almost complete foods, ie, you can basically live on nothing but potatoes and get enough nutrition to survive.

WhatEVER. And the raw food people are wrong, too. Most of the good stuff in veggies is completely unavailable unless the veggies are cooked.

I support dietary sanity!

There are plenty of diets made by nutrionists already. They can screw. This is a diet by and for the misfits. And avocados are just nasty.

Okay, that sounds great, but it makes little sense. Nutritionists aren't total idiots. :-P

Avocados are definitely not for everyone, on the other hand.

i ate a macrobiotic diet for a month a few years ago and i found it made me feel great, but meal preparation was an all day affair. and the whole nightshade thing was bizarre to me. i love mushrooms. don't hate things that grow in the shade! haha. i've been on so many weird food/diet kicks and what i have found is that an a la carte approach is best. take a little from each diet and run with it.

Macrobiotic might be interesting for a month, but I wouldn't try it long-term.

I think cutting out white flour/white sugar is the way to go.

Other health challenges:
- Train for a 5k?
- 8 glasses of water a day
- Vitamins every day (I am terrible at this one)
- Dentist!

Good suggestions. We're doing the water and vitamins, but it's time I went to the dentist for sure. And a 5k might be pretty fun! Or a triathlon.

I think it makes total sense that your liver is still stressed because you're still in a fairly acute detoxification process. All the stuff doesn't come out all at once--especially in people with sluggish livers like all of us. The simple fact that you don't feel the way you want to feel yet tells us that your body is still processing the change. And yeah, there's a stress handling problem underneath it all. Intoxication is a solution to and cause of it.

As for macrobiotics, my mom did it with our family for a few years, and while it has many good points (brown rice, seasonality, seaweed, fish), it does not provide enough fat in its popularized form (the original's another story). You know there's not enough fat when no one can stand to stay on it! I'll go off about it tonight after I get done with serotonin. :P I have another health book recommendation, too.

Very good point. Maybe my continued headaches are really coming from my liver. More book recommendations pls.

psst, I think an interesting health challenge would be stress reduction... Trying different relaxation techniques, massage, acupuncture, exercise, yoga, guided imagery, whathaveyou. (I do research on stress and its effects on the endocrine and immune systems, so I'm always interested in the real-world applicability of this stuff. The research we do in the lab is so well-controlled, it doesn't simulate the stresses of real life all that well...)

Oh, I'd love to do this. I actually already do a lot to manage my stress, cause I have a lot of it... including meditation, occasional massage, acupuncture, exercise, long walks, breathing and posture exercises, etc. I did a talk on eustress vs stress at Toastmasters a while ago and researched a lot of that stuff. Also, since I work at a goal-making company, I've done research on lists like "Top 10 things you can do to live longer" and they're all about reducing stress: getting a pet, laughing more, eating better, exercise, meditation, etc. Of course, there are some studies that say being married leads to longer life, or winning an Oscar, or even playing the harmonica.

If you can think of an interesting guinea pig-esque experiment for me to undertake, I'd be open for that. What in your research have you found to be the most effective?

It's cool that you've tried so many different techniques! It seems that what works best to reduce stress seems to vary from person to person, just like what stresses one out in the first place / how one perceives or responds to stress also varies from person to person. My research tends to be really far-removed from anything that useful - we mainly look at different immune markers and endocrine levels in various forms of stress - chronic stress (operationalized by caregiving for alzheimer's patients), stress due to life-threatening medical diagnosis, etc. We don't do too many intervention studies - one on aromatherapy, which we haven't really analyzed yet, and one we're doing now on yoga. There have been some studies which show the breathing patterns induced by chanting, like in yoga or monastic chants, acts physiologically (I forget the mechanism, blood co2 maybe?) to induce relaxation, and imaging studies have also been done in meditating monks, to look at brain areas involved in relaxation. Interesting stuff!

Macrobiotics are bunk. Total bunk.

The stress, however, is a problem. I agree.

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