Taking the Hell out of Healthcare
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Taking the Hell out of Healthcare

A Look At Coping & Seven Tools to Develop Healthy Coping Skills (revised after rogue code removed)

by Angeline Pacy on 02/28/15

As an individual and society, we must regularly examine coping skills. They don't just impact you, they impact us all (because we live in community, as a society). In an age of growing violence, mass shootings, and public discontent, the open dialogue on healthy coping skills is of vital importance. To help people adopt a higher way of living, healthy coping skills are essential. Let's explore the context of coping skills and some very simple, practical tools to create a more beautiful world and self. 

In order to make positive change, we must first evaluate some important barriers. Why do people freak out and blow up buildings? Or shoot up schools? Those are complex issues involving biological, psychological, and social systems. But, one common denominator often surrounds unresolved trauma and grief. Examples may include trauma from knowing too much about something controversial; being the victim of social injustice; a marginalized person; and unskilled in coping with it in healthy ways. Ultimately, coping can be summarized by adaptation or maladaptation (coping in healthy or unhealthy ways). 

Danger in Using Denial as a Coping Skill

Some people only want to talk about superficial topics or, as McCartney sang it, "fill the world with silly love songs." I am willing to engage in the tough topics (and what I can do as an individual to make myself better, and lift up others when possible); I have 'courage to change.' You can too! We can face change and reality together to make a lasting difference in our own lives and in the world. 

As the saying goes, we ALL need 'courage to change.' Denial is a coping skill that all humans use to one extent or another. Examples include avoidance behavior; some types of delusions; adopting excessive amounts of diversions; and closely-related excessive self-gratification to escape from reality.

In some situations, denial can be positive or it can be negative; it all depends upon how it is used. There is a difference between being positive and being in denial; but, the two concepts are often confused. Denial is a negative coping skill (errant) if it creates an unbalanced life or is punitive. Being overly positive is a maladaptive coping skill in some contexts, as it leaves people and situations that need support without the right resources or help. Covering up and dismissing tragedy, misfortune, and injustice, under the guise of positive pop-psychology, is a temporary coping skill but ultimately destructive (errant). It can be dangerous, isolating, and often perpetuates dysfunction.

In general, humans do have a very hard time owning up to reality. Perceptions of reality are complex. We are all often limited by a lack of experience outside of our personal bubble, and often subjected to bias in the form of propaganda (the messages that we are fed on daily television or through the clever brain-washing in the commercially-vested education system). What if the only reality we could face comes directly from giant corporate news sponsors? How sad! Some people have a small scope of human experience and others grander. But, we must not go into denial of all things outside of our limited human experience. This is another reason why we must continuously assess ourselves for poor or errant coping skills like denial (and ways to connect with the larger community, even marginalized people groups who we errantly have determined are unworthy of compassion or dignity).

An Appropriate Context for Denial? 

There is an appropriate time and place for discretion and denial. Do you want to talk over supper about child pornography? How about a discussion on the definition of orgy sex with your young children? Some denial is ok, especially when developmentally appropriate. Denial can help us achieve milestones of success. Just don't live there, in a metaphoric suspended childhood, indefinitely, and expect the results to be good (for self or for society). 

In ancient biblical times, the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was a metaphor for what it meant to have knowledge of a reality which correlated to greater human suffering (when we were once sheltered by ignorance). Talk to your kids about tough subjects as developmentally appropriate as possible. Perhaps, the apocalypse and end-of-ages prophesy isn't a great topic when you need to establish a sense of security in a fragile and developing mind?

But most importantly, help yourself and your children to develop good coping skills today. Instill a sense of security, not by lying or sheltering one another, merely palliating reality, but by reinforcing messages of peace, serenity, and hope in the face of obstacles and suffering. Then, we can face change together to create healthier lives and society.

Adaptation is Built Upon a Foundation 

What one finds, after many years of life experience, is that the world can be a very dark place. My wise father used to tell me that unless you go into life consciously to bring it love, meaning, and light, there will be very little of it in our lives. Providing purpose and meaning to life, and teaching children to be a light in the darkness is not morbid: it's healthier than living in denial. The future of humanity rests upon living in reality, not denial (as environmentalists have warned for decades and dangerous power and nuclear arms races continue).

How can one develop healthy coping skills in the face of crisis? The best way is to not wait until there is a crisis. Don't wait until your health fails or to lose a precious job or family to develop healthier coping skills. Let’s do it today! 

7 Steps to Developing Healthy Coping Skills
  1. Have a commitment to self-improvement.
  2. Have a mission and purpose to live for something greater than self, including the betterment of humanity.
  3. Build a thriving community and a healthy family around you (even if it is not a traditional, nuclear family like you imagine in fairy tales).
  4. Develop a strong sense of self, making sure to place your self-worth and identity outside of people, gender roles, and work/hobbies (which can and will change at any time). Knowing that you are loved unconditionally, and accepted unconditionally, by a power greater than yourself is a great start!
  5. Make self-care a priority: make sure that there is something left for you at the end of the day mentally, spiritually, and physically.
  6. Set reasonable boundaries and expectations with self and others.
  7. Build routines with healthy outlets for stress (such as creative arts, exercise, mind-body activities like yoga and meditation).

A Game-Changer: pH-Consciousness (revised after rogue code removed)

by Angeline Pacy on 02/28/15

Have you ever gotten a muscle cramp during exercise? Some people call it a “Charlie Horse.” That horrible pain is from lactic acid build-up in the muscles and it is from a local change in pH (where an acid builds up). But, what if similar issues were happening around the body everyday, and we couldn’t feel them in quite the same way? We’d want to do something about it, right? Definitely!

Thanks to the internet, health-conscious people are growing more aware about the importance of the body’s pH and related tools to boost health. Never has such a fundamental principle in medicine, capable of impacting patient lives and reducing healthcare spending, been so overlooked in the clinical setting in exchange for wasted healthcare dollars. The positive impact potential is enormous because pH changes are associated with so many preventable illnesses. Understanding pH can at first feel complex because it is both environmental and genetic. The environmental stressors that influence pH are often controversial too. But, don’t let that discourage you from taking charge of your wellness.

Don’t Miss Ancient pH Mysteries Revealed Here
I remember a time when I was growing up, I was about 15 years old, when I had a very intellectual argument with my mother over this very commonly debated scientific topic. This topic surrounded the systemic outcome of ingesting raw apple cider vinegar. Vinegar, also known as acetic acid, is in fact exactly what its name suggests; it is an acid. Despite that simple logic, my mother insisted that after ingesting this acid, it would have an over-all alkalinizing effect in the body. 

"Mom, how can that be," I questioned? "I just don't understand." 

A common denominator for altering pH involves the microbiome. Some microbes, fed by a proper diet, create a more alkaline environment. In contrast, many pathogenic microbes and infections, including intracellular organisms, create an acidic environment. It turns out that my mother was right about the "mother colonies" found in raw apple cider vinegar. There are several components to raw vinegar, amongst them being living microbes (called "mother") and enzymes, that aid in creating a more alkalinizing body (systemically). 

This stands in stark contrast to acids found in beverages like many colas, such as phosphoric acid, among other seemingly innocent combinations of acids, that create an environment so acidic in the blood that the pH changes leach calcium from the bones and teeth (in order to buffer the blood as a compensation method and bring it back into homeostasis). Diets high in acid-producing foods will lead to diseases like osteoporosis and tooth decay (as a result of this demineralization-buffer feedback loop). 

The body is designed to buffer itself, to keep pH stable. But, this gets more difficult as we age. Even young people can have serious pH problems due to causes both in and outside of one’s control. We can help this process or hurt it simply by our lifestyle.

What is pH?
Understanding the basics of pH and its context in the body is helpful. The body must stay within a certain range of many different values in order to maintain balance or homeostasis. One of those important values is most certainly pH. For starters, pH is a measurement, based upon a number scale of 1-14, that represents the acidity or alkalinity of a solution (technically hydrogen ion H+ concentration). On this pH scale, the number 7 is neutral; lower number values are acidic or stronger acids and numbers with values higher than 7 are more alkaline or stronger bases. 

Interesting, different parts of the body have varying pH values. This delicate balance within various bodily fluids is known medically as acid–base balance or homeostasis. A healthy pH of blood serum is at approximately 7.37, where as Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) can be measured at 7.5. Both being acids, gastric juice (stomach acid) has a pH value of approximately 1.5-3 and urine a value of approximately 6 (but can range from 4-8). In the clinical setting, patients are identified as acidic (acidosis) when blood pH falls below 7.3. In contrast, when the blood's pH is too high (alkaline) patients are diagnosed with alkalosis.

Some pH changes happen outside of the blood and can’t be measured without a muscle biopsy, among other things. Unfortunately, routine testing for pH is typically limited to blood serum and often ignores the other crucial areas of the body that better-reflect both health and illness. There are a series of biochemical changes that happen throughout the body that impact pH long before problems are detected by a basic blood test. Even serious pH disorders are often only transient and extremely difficult to detect except when blood is taken immediately in an attack.

Impact of pH Changes
Scientists have proven that unhealthy pH can denature proteins. While an acidic stomach acid is perfect for denaturing proteins for digestion and also protect the body from invading germs, it is crucial to protect other types of proteins in the body from acidity.

All sorts of chaos happens in the body, across systems, when acidic pH pH inactivates enzymes that are crucial for many biological functions (enzymes are a type of protein). Critical metabolic processes are slowed down in an acidic environment (through enzymatic deactivation). Although more rare in a clinical setting, enzymes can also be deactivated in an environment that is too alkaline (which also causes micro-organisms to grow where they should not). It’s really about acid-base balance that keeps bodies thriving.

A slight shift in intra-cellular pH (within the body's cells) can cause the onset of spontaneous and hereditary genetic mutations by damaging (denaturing) DNA. Shifts in intracellular pH are known to activate genetic pre-dispositions in diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, initiating the disease process. This news can empower society to focus on things like target therapies, infectious disease care, and life-style choices that prevent the denaturing of DNA and other delicate structures in the body.

As a culture, chronically-ill patients most often have a pH that is far too acidic in areas of the body that benefit from an alkaline environment. Inflammation and vasoconstriction are associated with a higher level of acidity in the body (low pH) too. Another disease-state commonly associated with an acidic body is epilepsy. The likelihood of seizures increases dramatically in an acidic body. Regardless of what came first, altered pH or inflammation, pH is an important therapeutic and diagnostic target to consider in any wellness plan.

A Closer Look at Environment
What factors can we discuss here that impact pH in the body? Most certainly diet has a fundamental impact upon the body's pH. A diet that is high in foods that create an acidic environment will lead to chronic illness and pathological states. 

For example, dental plaque is comprised a type of living biofilm that is produced in the mouth after eating starchy and sugary foods. It surrounds tooth enamel and creates a locally acidic environment that leads to tooth decay and cavities (dental carries). 

Interestingly, this plaque in the mouth correlates to cardiovascular disease that caused by plaque in the arteries (coronary artery disease). Could this change in acid-base balance and microbiome place patients at higher-risk for heart disease? That’s what it looks like!

The microbiome is negatively altered by diets overly dominant in sugars, and starches, this includes grains and even fruits when eaten excessively (see the term ‘advanced glycation end-products’). It places the body at higher risk for all sorts of disease and accelerated aging, including infectious disease! The shift in pH is often influenced by microorganisms in the flora and related biofilms that are dependent upon those simple sugars. 

In contrast, a diet rich low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, many raw foods, protein, and healthy fats, can promote systemic better pH balance. It will feed healthy organisms in the microbiome that going on to influence the whole body and health in positive ways (systemically)  Enjoy these easy tools to boost pH-consciousness today!

Stories from the Bathroom (revised after rogue code removed)

by Angeline Pacy on 02/28/15

There is a mystery island that we need to explore together. It resides somewhere in between oral ingestion of food and how the nutrients we take in get delivered to your blood serum, then deeper into tissue saturation, and finally excreted. This seemingly magical mystery island is rarely discussed amongst clinicians and patients alike. Some people waste their lives alone on this island. Yet, some people devote their entire careers to exploring, discovering, and maximizing the potential of this mystery island. It is a concept as much as it is an unspoken place. This place is called ABSORPTION. We can go there together.

The story of this island begins with a tail…I mean, a tale. Once upon a time, my dad met a man in the sewage pumping industry. Gross, right? ‘Shit-pumping, Angeline. I don’t want to read this,’ you may be thinking? You’re wrong! You do want to read this. 

As a certified GI advisor with a 90-credit hour diploma in toilet talk, and years of health coaching and mentoring people who live in the can, I can tell you that this story is worth the grunting…I mean ‘grunt-work’ to read.

Here is why…back to the ‘sewage pumping man.’ When discussing the ideal form for medication and tablets, the sewage man said, ‘every septic tank that I pump is filled with floaters that destroy plumbing. You know what they always are? Pills, mostly there are tablets of all kinds, literally inches of pills floating.’

People weren’t flushing down their pills whole on purpose (although some people do that). Please don’t do that because medications get into the water table. There are better places to return unused medications.

Instead, people were pooping out their medications mostly whole because they were hardly being absorbed. That’s right. It’s big money, flushed right down the toilet. 

In another tale, in another tail, a young person recovering from cancer later suffered from chronic anemia. After treatment, doctors prescribed iron supplementation for the patient. There are many forms of nutrients, including iron, to choose from (with some forms being more bioavailable than others). The patient's serum iron levels remained low, despite having tried out various forms of iron supplements.

In this scenario, the patient was suffering from malabsorption (absorption challenges). FYI, some nutrients can boost the absorption of iron. A well-trained advisor can help to change the ending of this tale to a happy tail!

Did you know that world-wide, incidence of irritable bowel syndrome continues to rise (as well as inflammatory bowel diseases)? It is almost always associated with malabsorption. It represents a barrier to maximizing human potential, making it a place that is worthy of exploration by every pharmaceutical; nutraceutical; clinician; and patient alike!

Through the years of mentoring patients, friends, and family on their paths to wellness, I continuously observe that some things do not add up; from a clinical standpoint, patients with the same conditions try the same medications yet frequently have very different results. This phenomenon is often measured by bloodwork (assessing serum levels of vitamins, minerals, and drugs). It very often corresponds to absorption, for good or bad. 

The ability to reach adequate serum levels (and red blood cell uptake) of nutrients and drugs is complex. It also certainly is dependent upon metabolism and one’s personal genome; this is a biological concept just one step beyond absorption (not discussed here). Absorption Island is not the complete story on total nourishment or successful therapeutics. But, understanding these key concepts in absorption allows clinicians, patients, and manufacturers to better-maximize potential and healthcare spending.

Absorption occurs in different places, but primarily in the jejunum of the small intestine. Some important exceptions to jejunum absorption include vitamin B12, which is ultimately absorbed in the ileum, while iron is absorbed in the duodenum. That’s why total gastrointestinal health is important. Bowels matter, not just looks. Looks are often dependent upon bowels (and so are brains)! Gastrointestinal health is for everyone.

Nutrients and drugs are facilitated across layers of tissues in the small intestine where they enter blood vessels through various mechanisms such as active or passive transport and facilitated or passive diffusion. When any of these areas become inflamed, damaged, or begins to stretch out so that the gaps between cells widen (so that undigested food gets into the body), that’s means big trouble for overall health! Patients and clinicians alike can draw upon the evidence-based wisdom of an experienced GI advisor (and use these evidence-based tools to support GI health). 

Some patients will never be good candidates for the medications and health products found in tablet form. Manufacturers should adopt innovative tools to increase absorption, which will lower side-effects (by reducing the quantity of medication and toxic burden), improve patient out-comes, and lower healthcare costs. But, patients can reach out for innovative resources in boosting absorption too. These techniques are called ideal delivery systems (not unique to the drug or nutraceutical industry). Be in the know!

Patients should not be left to explore Absorption Island alone, should they? Patients may empower themselves to improve absorption by addressing underlying conditions; controlling systemic inflammation; purchasing bioavailable nutrients and supplements when possible; and having blood serum monitored. Experienced advisors and innovative manufacturers can be their tour guide to success (on an otherwise lonely island).