Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's a Man to Do?

Last weekend my church sponsored a men's retreat. The weekend promised to be a bit more grounded and pragmatic than many such excursions I've embarked upon in the past. The idea behind the weekend? Just what is the masculine design?

I was one of the first to say, "What a great idea!" And one of the last to sign up. My late commitment wasn't because I had any doubts about whether it would be valuable. I've done my fair share of retreats and men's retreats (some of which were memorable for all the right reasons and some of which were... well... memorable.) Instead, I wasn't sure I wanted to invest the time.

As it turns out, I went... and found the investment more than worth the time spent. The topics covered are far more detailed and complex than a simple blog post can handle, but suffice it to say that I learned some things, had several great insights, and enjoyed delving into deep topics with a bunch of guys who may yearn for such conversations, but typically don't find the time or place to engage.

To give you just a little flavor for some of the topics explored, here are two simple elements from the workshop that might serve as food for thought (or which could spark heated debates -- you choose):

While the masculine and feminine roles are equally valuable, they are different;

Women (or the feminine aspect of God) our facilitator suggested, are the warriors of relationship (i.e. part of their strength and knowledge is knowing how to create and maintain such bonds);

Men, on the other hand, (or the masculine aspect of the divine) are the warriors of order whose duty it is to engage the chaos in order to create environments where loving, life-giving relationships can flourish.

Interestingly complimentary roles, wouldn't you say? And, such a partnership, were it created, would seem to be off on the right foot.  If you buy the premise, at least.

Now, for one who has spent a significant amount of time helping corporations embody both right and left brain skills effectively, I found that the two roles just described do tend to be accessed by different sides of the brain, as well.

Case in point... right-brained skills include such abilities as relationship building, creating rapport, creating group consensus, qualitative analysis, creating entirely new ways of seeing things, holistic thinking, and tactile learning (learning by doing things).

Left-brained skills include such abilities as organizing and bringing order to complexity, sequential or linear thinking, quantitative analysis, consistency, and descriptive learning (learning by hearing or reading).

Curiously, whether men and women actually tend to be right or left-brained dominant has a lot to do with the culture in which they are raised. For example:

In the U.S., 70% of men who are strongly influenced by Northern European culture (i.e. their primary heritage is from Germany, Netherlands, England, etc.) tend to be left-brain dominant. Women in the U.S. who are influenced by the same cultural background, tend to be equally balanced between right-and-left-brain usage.

In Latin-based cultures, on the other hand, both men and women tend to be slightly more right-brain dominant. Asian, African, and Indigenous cultures also tend to skew more toward right-brained dominance. (It's important to note that while  a culture may generate tendencies among a population, it does not define an individual, nor dictate their left-or-right-brain dominance.)

So what's all of this have to do with the price of tea in China? (One of my paternal grandfather's favorite questions to ask.)

Recognizing what skill sets are natural strengths for us can allow us to focus on and leverage those skills independently or in league with others. Understanding where I am not as strong can help me understand who my best teammates or partners might be and should lead me to the opposite end of the continuum to find someone whose brain dominance is quite different than my own.

It is possible, some say, that such attraction of opposites is actually biological (in other words we naturally seek out companions who fill in our gaps so that together we might approximate the whole or complete realm of human capacity). This seems to make sense.

The challenge, however, with pairing opposites is that while it may make sense, it can also present some real difficulties. The secret to effectively leveraging differences, though, as opposed to allowing them to create a divide is simple: value the difference. Easier said than done, you might say. And I would agree. But after more than a decade of coaching and consulting in this area I've found a very simple secret to this process. Mindset drives behavior, which drives results.

More simply stated, if I think your method has value and you think the same about my different approach and we take on the challenges we face with that same level of mutual respect, our likelihood of solving the difficulties life may present are exponentially greater than if we spend our time fighting over who's right and who's wrong. Truth is, in most cases, there's truth and error in both approaches and our willingness to situationally combine our methods is the way to win together.

So what's a man or woman to do? Trust in your strengths, but realize they are also your potential weaknesses because we tend to rely on our way of thinking too much. And, listen with an ear tuned to hear the value and benefit of another person's different approach or solution. I've seen this simple formula lead to major breakthroughs in organizations large and small; and in families and friendships. Perhaps it's worth giving it a try next time someone your living or working with sees the world through very different eyes. It might not work at all... or, it just may lead to a breakthrough neither of you had considered possible beforehand.

Peace, Love, and Good Health to you,

Chris Harding
Chief Community Officer
Our Health Co-op, Inc.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who Can Heal You?

Over the centuries human beings have attributed the power to heal to a variety of sources -- physicians, medicine men or women, psychic healers, priests, deities, energy workers... the list goes on.  Seldom, however, have we granted this same ability to ourselves.  As I suggested in my last post, The Power of the Placebo, there is a truly remarkable phenomenon that has been taking place throughout recorded history that has had little attention paid to it by modern science.  Regardless of the reason why, I want to begin a conversation about a very real power within us -- the power to bring about our own healing and to facilitate and support the healing of others.

Before diving further into this topic, I want to make it clear that I'm not one who believes we should abandon Western medicine or shun the help and viable avenues available through a myriad of healing technologies and practices.  I do, however, strongly feel that many of us have placed ourselves at the back of the line in terms of "who has the power to heal?"

In a previous blog post, Let the Healing Begin, I shared that, due to a rather unusual childhood, I was under the impression that what we called "natural healing" was something everyone engaged in.  It's probably no coincidence either, given my upbringing, that from a very early age I became fascinated with Jesus.  There was something about his healing work that always struck me. He's recorded as having said, on more than one occasion, "Your faith has made you whole" (or, as some interpretations say, "made you well"). 

I remember asking my grandmother about how one's faith could make a person whole.  "Faith is a powerful thing," she told me.   "It's more than just belief.  It's a knowing that comes from deep inside a person and when you know something that deeply, the whole Universe lines up to support you."

While I saw and participated in the healing of people, animals, and plants as a child, it wasn't until I arrived in South America, "on a mission from God," as the Blues Brothers put it, that I really understood just how deep and powerful faith could be.  There, in some of the poorest places on the planet, I encountered people who were so in touch with the world of spirit and healing that it was totally "natural" for one to call upon God, spiritual forces, and people to heal them or their loved ones.

One such instance that left me nearly speechless occurred when I'd only been in Brazil for a few months.  Since I was recognized as a minister (and people weren't really so interested in denominations, but merely that you were a man or woman of God), people would stop me places and ask for me to pray for them or sometimes to lay hands on them for healing. 

On one particular morning, an older, nearly blind woman who I often stopped to talk to as I walked from my apartment to the church where I worked, was anxiously waiting as I approached. I could see she was upset about something.

"My doctor tells me that I will soon be completely blind," she said.  "He says that he might be able to fix me, but he'll have to operate and cut into my eyes."  Tears began to flow down her cheeks.  "I don't want this surgery," she cried softly.  "It scares me to think of having such a thing done to me."

I held her hand and told her how sorry I was.  I quickly found, however, that she wasn't asking for my sympathy. She was asking for something much more daunting than that.

"I want you to heal me," she said with deep conviction.  "You are a man of God, are you not?"

I was stunned by her request and struggled to answer her question.  "Yes I am," I said without the depth of conviction I'd hoped to find.

"Then we will do this," she smiled as she reached up to pat my face.  "I will pray and fast all day today," the sweet woman told me. "And then tomorrow you come by my place and call on God to give me back my sight. " 

What could I say?  Her faith was so profound, yet so simple... so childlike.  I simply said, "All right, I'll see you tomorrow."

Throughout that day and late into the night, I fretted.  What had I done?  How could I have simply just said, okay?  While her faith may have been grand, mine had nearly disappeared. All of the miracles I'd seen as a young boy suddenly seemed "bush-league" by comparison to this devout woman's request.

The following morning I arose, dressed, and -- with a church colleague in tow for moral support and extra faith -- made my way to the elderly woman's apartment.  I knocked lightly and heard her shuffle her way to the door.  

As she pulled the door open, her smile was illuminating.  "You have come!" she exclaimed joyfully.  "God has answered my prayers."  Without further ceremony she ushered us into her modest abode and said, "I'm ready.  You can heal me now."

My colleague and I performed the healing ceremony as we'd been taught and when we finished, she hugged us.  "It is done," she said.  "Now we just wait for God to do the rest."

After another day and night fraught with concern, I hesitantly made my way down the street from my apartment the next morning.  To be honest, I have to admit that I actually considered taking an alternative route so that I wouldn't have to pass my sweet friend's apartment.  But, gratefully I found the courage to take my normal route.  

Upon rounding the street corner just up the lane from the faithful woman's place, I could see her standing in front of her door.  What was astounding was that she spotted me too. "Oh Father," she cried out to me, using the title she'd been raised to use with the local priest. "I can see! I can see!"

Stunned, I stopped in tracks as she made a dash for me with arms open wide.  The thick lensed glasses she normally wore were gone and tears streamed down her cheeks as she approached. Overcome with emotion and deep relief, I began to cry too.  "Oh, my God!" I stammered through my tears.  "You can see!"

"Yes!" she shouted in elation. "It happened just after you left and the doctor cannot believe it.  I went to him so he could know that there are other ways to cure people.  He had no words," she laughed.  "No words at all.  He just stared at me and then wanted know who'd done this thing.  I told him, it was God," the woman bragged happily.

I couldn't help draw upon the words I'd read as a young boy, uttered by one who drew many to him because of his healing presence.  "Your faith has made you whole," I told her. 

"And you were an answer to my prayers," she said.  "An instrument in God's hands."

"But I didn't have faith," I confessed, suddenly embarrassed in front of this saint of a woman.

"You came, though, didn't you?" she asked me, smiling wryly.  "Perhaps your faith wavered, but you came anyway."  She took my hands in hers and looked up at me. "That too showed great faith or great love for this old sister of yours," she chuckled. "It all comes from the same place."

This was to be the first of many such amazing moments, I would experience in my time in South America. Yet this first experience is the moment of faith that my heart cherishes most, because on that day, in a little town far away from my home, I learned at a level deeper than ever before that we are all connected by a great healing force.   It is the force that gives us life and that can, when our faith and divine timing line up, bring about what we call "miracles."

In my experience over the years working with animals (including wolves), I've found that their lack of resistance to the healing energy we can engender is its own kind of faith.  The following video provides an interesting example of what may be one animal's deeper, more intuitive understanding of this invisible power.

So my friends, who can heal you? I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories about healing and how it has taken place for you or others you know.

Peace, Love, and Good Health to you,

Chris Harding
Chief Community Officer
Our Health Co-op, Inc.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Power of the Placebo

I'm sure we've all heard of the "placebo effect."  It's the name given to the positive effect experienced during a drug trial -- not by the substance in question -- but by the mind of the person who's unknowingly been given a blank (i.e. "sugar pill").  The idea, of course, is that a drug should perform better than the placebo in order to be considered valid and market-ready.

What's rather remarkable about this whole process is that while billions of dollars are spent on inventing new drugs that must prove themselves against the maligned placebo effect, little money, time, or resources are being invested into researching, better understanding, and maximizing the effect of the placebo.  Why is this so?

The response often given by those who make such decisions is that the placebo response is not valid because it is either: a) generated by a temporary state of mind which is not sustainable; b) it is occurring through random happen-stance (i.e. the improvement in the patient being tested could be occurring for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with their state of mind); c) "modern" medicine is still based on Newtonian physics and, therefore, only concerns itself with matter than can be quantified (i.e. we don't deal with invisible energy -- we leave that realm for those crazy quantum physicists and religious folks to fight about); or d) a combination of a) b) and c).

Doesn't it make you curious though -- that when the placebo effect is seriously competing (and sometimes winning out) against billion-dollar drugs -- why no one wants to invest in or better understand this rather amazing phenomenon.  There is one answer which comes quickly to mind, but which is seldom spoken out loud in the pharma industry (and which may or may not be true): you can't patent the placebo effect and therefore it isn't profitable to invest in understanding the phenomenon better.

Now, based on the business model of our healthcare system, such a decision makes logical sense... or so it would seem. Think of the potential of lost revenue, lost profits, and lost jobs that might occur if people learned how to heal themselves and each other without the need of expensive treatments and drug protocols?

On the other hand, think of the new revenue, new profits, new jobs, new productivity that could come about if people didn't get sick or could cure themselves easily -- or if we invested in a model that focused on systemic wellness and prevention, rather than managing and controlling merely the symptoms of chronic illness.  Where else might we invest our time, energy, and resources?

It stretches the imagination and boggles the mind to even think that such a scenario might be possible, let alone plausible.  But then every scientific and economic breakthrough was literally inconceivable before it came into being.  And, just as a reminder, it was the brilliant physicist, Albert Einstein, who said, "To keep doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results, is the definition of... (yep, you got it...) insanity!!  Yet that is just what  we are doing in the world of healthcare.

In case you're wondering, I'm not holding my breath, waiting for the healthcare industry to change their approach.  That's not likely to happen -- in my lifetime, at least.  Instead, I'm looking to us -- the everyday people who have been patients of the system (and far too patient, in my way of thinking).  My hope is that we will get curious enough, motivated enough, inspired enough to finally delve into the innate power of healing that manifests itself throughout nature -- and, it could be argued,  in humans during drug trials, as the "placebo effect."  It is this innate power that I believe exists in the natural foods we eat (and in the nature-derived, nutritional supplements we can take to reinforce our diet in a modern world so lacking in vital nutrients).

I love one man's definition of the notorious placebo effect.  He told me during an interview a few years ago that, "The placebo effect is nothing more nor less than the marvelously overlooked power that is elicited when people simply, but powerfully choose to believe."

And with that, I simply invite each of us to wonder... to ponder... to ask, "what if?  Then see where your wondering heart takes you. It may lead you to a solution or thought that brings about a revolution in wellness.  How marvelous would that be?

Peace, Love, and Good Health to you,

Chris Harding
Chief Community Officer
Our Health Co-op, Inc.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let the Healing Begin!

I grew up in a rather unusual home environment.  This fact didn't really dawn on me, though, until Middle School and I have since become more acutely aware of the sometimes unique approach with which I was raised over the ensuing years.

As it turns out, most families did not teach the children to draw upon the natural healing powers present in all of nature in order to bring about the wellness and restoration of other living things. This seemingly odd practice was something that had been carried down through segments of both my mother's and father's lineage.  While my mother carried on the tradition, her older sister did not have the faintest interest in doing so.

I remember being presented with a case study at about the age of 6 or 7, in which there was a call for healing.  These types of opportunities were often presented to us from the time we were young.  In this particular situation, the miniature marigolds my parents had purchased to surround our garden were sick -- they had grown pale and sickly shortly after being planted.  "Transplant shock" was the diagnosis from my mother.  "See what you can do to bring them back to good health," she invited me, providing me no real prescribed solutions.

While sitting by the plants, in the late afternoon sun, an idea occurred to me.  My parents had already tried plant food and the new transplants had been given just the right amount of water.  Even so, the normal gift of a "green thumb" which both Mom and Dad possessed appeared to be of little avail.  "What could I possibly do?" I wondered.  And then it struck me.  These plants weren't designed to be sickly, pale and shriveling versions of themselves. They were created to be strong, robust, beautiful sentinels of the garden. I would simply remind the plants of who they were and what they were capable of.

It was a wonderful idea, I thought to myself. But there was just one problem.  How do you communicate such a message to a plant? I suppose that simply talking to them might have done the trick (my parents had made us aware of interesting studies that explored the positive effects that encouraging words could have on plants), That's not the idea that popped into my head, however.

For some reason, I started to communicate to my botanical patients by employing a method I'd never seen performed before (I know now that it is a practice called "toning" -- a technique utilized by different healing practitioners and similarly mimicked by ultrasonic treatments).  In employing this notion that seemed to simply "pop" into I my head, I started making a sound that I called the "IT sound" because I could sense the vibration of IT everywhere. As I made the sound, I also pictured the marigolds as healthy, strong, flowering plants.

When my mother peeked out the door to see what I was up to, she didn't find it odd that I was toning to the plants. Instead, she simply smiled asked me about what I was doing. When I explained I was making the IT sound from the Universe so the plants would wake up and remember who they were, she nodded approvingly and said, "Oh good.  That's an excellent idea."

After a few days of my administering the IT treatments to the ailing marigolds, I awoke to hear my parents speaking outside my bedroom window with awestruck voices.  As I made my way outside, I too joined in the jubilation as I discovered that the once stricken plants were no longer dying.  In fact, they were happy and vibrant. It was almost as if they had gone through an overnight transformation.

Over the next week, as I continued my treatments, the newly energized marigolds grew several inches in height, became verdant green, and had flowers like exploding like fireworks.  Within another week or so, the plants had grown far beyond the normal limits of their species.  In fact, they eventually began to compete in height with the full-sized marigolds at the other end of the garden.

In the years since that time, as I have on rare occasions shared this story, people are often amazed by my mother's reaction and by the notion that a young boy making odd sounds at a plant could have any affect at all.  "Surely your mother or father fertilized the plants and didn't tell you," some say."Or maybe they replaced them with new plants." That's possible, but both of my parents denied it then and throughout their lives. And while my father has since passed on, my mother (now 93 years-old) will still recall the time "when you made the flowers grow my doing the "IT sound."

My fascination with natural healing grew even stronger when, years after the marigold incident, I found myself living in South America. While there, I was delighted to find that the invisible world of spirit was still very much alive and an integral part of many people's everyday lives.  It was there, with people of indigenous origins, that I really began to understand how to let the healing begin.  But that, my friends, is a story for another day.

Peace, Love, and Good Health to you,

Chris Harding
Chief Community Officer
Our Health Co-op, Inc.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Alarming Implications of Genetically Modified Food

When we think of genetically modified food, we may envision a modern-day scientist working in a lab to alter the normal course of nature in order to bring about more efficient food production. Some would argue, however, that farmers and other early bio-engineers were engaged in genetic modification when they engaged in the practice of cross-pollinating different varieties of peas or cross-breeding cattle to encourage favored traits.  I remember, working in our orchard as a teenager, grafting limbs from one tree to another or cross-pollinating varieties of apples to create a tastier fruit.  So while there is some truth in saying that I (and farmers for eons) were participating in genetic engineering, it dramatically over-simplifies the radical difference between early cross-breeding or hybridization and the genetic modification that commonly occurs in our era.  How so?

Traditional methods for creating hybrids (done through cross-pollination or cross-breeding) can only occur within closely-related species or life forms (i.e. you can't cross-breed a dog with a cat, for example).  Thus, the case can be made that the age-old practice of hybridization simply introduces a co-mingling of genes that could take place naturally if the conditions were right (i.e. if a bee went from one type of pea plant to another variety of pea plant and cross-fertilized the plants through natural means).

Current genetic engineering, on the other hand, allows scientists to cross the "species barrier," as it is called, and mix the genetic material among plants, animals, and micro-organisms in a way that could never occur in nature.  While the offspring of a genetically modified life form might be found in the lab of the fictitious mad scientist, Dr. Moreau, such a creature would never be found in nature without the hand of science inserting itself into the process in a most un-natural way.  For example, to name a few of the unnerving oddities created in today's laboratories: human genetic material has been placed in a strain of tobacco plants; and the genes of fish have been placed in tomatoes to create certain "desirable" affects.

Now, as odd (or at times, down right creepy) as some of the genetically engineered combinations may sound, the deeper concern now surfacing is a ripple effect most scientists never fully anticipated or prepared for (or, if such an issue was anticipated, it was apparently written off something not worth worrying about).  What is this deeper issue?

Before answering that question, I'll take a slight (and very relevant) detour.  Biologists have long known that un-related species cooperate with each other. Think of the shark and its constant companion the remora sucker fish that is nourished as it cleans the shark's skin helping the large predator to stay healthy. Or remember our digestive track, which is able to function and process the food we eat thanks to colonies of healthy bacteria that break the food down.

What scientists are only recently beginning to understand, however, is that an entire biosphere is affected when the genetic structure of another species within that biosphere is altered.  In other words, when the genes (or what some call the environmental information modules) of one species in a given biosphere are altered, the other species in that biosphere perceive the change and begin to engage in the process of genetic adaptation to account for any such modifications (this level of inter-species connectivity and information exchange has not previously been understood by Western science).
While such genetic modifications typically occur very slowly over eons of time and thus the biosphere's reactions are also slow, the radical shifts in genetics that are being inserted into our various biospheres nowadays, do not allow for such a gradual shift.  Instead, many of the chain reactions being instigated by modern-day genetic engineering present some potentially daunting challenges.

For example, as Dr. Bruce Lipton explains in The Biology of Belief, "tinkering with the genes of a tomato may not stop at the tomato, but could alter the entire biosphere in ways we cannot forsee."  Lipton goes on to site a study that shows that when humans digest genetically modified foods, the artificially created genes transfer into and alter the character of the beneficial bacteria in the intestine.  Similarly, the genetic information transfer among genetically engineered crops and the native species in the same geographic locale has given rise to highly resistant species known as "superweeds."

Because of these seemingly unforeseen effects of genetic engineering, many scientists and nations are calling for stricter regulations (or in some cases outright prohibition) until we better understand the true impact of such efforts.  While you and I, as ordinary citizens, have some influence in terms of how we vote, our real control begins with what we put into our shopping carts and then into our bodies.  Having grown up on organic foods produced from heirloom seeds, it's challenging for me to see the potential havoc that our experiments with nature could create.  More and more, my wife and I are re-examining what we eat, where it comes from, and how it was produced.

We may never fully escape the rolling effects of today's efforts to live better through modern chemistry and genetic modification, but as he New Year begins, I'm resolving to take a more active role in gaining a deeper understanding about food, nutrition, and health and, as a result, making better decisions about what affects my family's well being and that of future generations.  Perhaps you'll join me.

Peace, Love, and Good Health to you,
Chris Harding
Chief Community Officer
Our Health Co-op, Inc.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Living Community That is Our Body

In his book, The Biology of Belief, author and cellular biologist, Dr. Bruce Lipton, describes that human beings are, in essence, an awe-inspiring, well-organized, community of trillions of individual cells.  There is no function that the human body performs, he shares, that is not also performed by the most basic cell in our bodies. Like us, each of our cells ingest vital nutrients, metabolize, eliminate, rest, multiply, communicate, and so on. What was stunning to Lipton when he first realized it (and still is to me) is the level of intelligence demonstrated by our component parts.  It is the collective intelligence of each of these cellular components, some assert, that makes up the more robust and facile intelligence we think of as ourselves.

Now, regardless of whether we want to see ourselves as the collective intelligence of a mass of individual cells or not, one thing is clear -- the health of our individual cells is directly related to our overall health as human beings.  While this understanding seems elementary, it's quite astounding how little this fundamental concept is taught in our schools, homes, or societies.  What is it, therefore, that we can do each day to create a healthy environment for our cells to function and thrive?

Dr. Hugo Rodier outlines the basic answer to this question in his treatise on cellular TOIL.  According to the good doctor (and the many other physicians and scientists who agree) ill health begins to take shape at the cellular level by way of a four-step chain reaction which includes:
  • Toxins: Cells take in environmental toxins; 
  • Oxidation: Cellular oxidation (or the elimination of waste) occurs during the metabolic process and produces more waste than the body's ability to properly eliminate it;
  • Inflammation: Cells initiate an inflammatory response to harmful stimuli or damage (from toxins, oxidation, and other injury);
  • Lack of Energy: The cellular power plants (the mitochondria) become damaged and therefore lack the ability needed to perform the essential functions of communication and power generation needed by the body to function properly.
This process of TOIL, of course, leads to more and more TOIL-ing and, unless mediated, wreaks varying degrees of havoc in the body.  The equation, therefore, is simple: unhealthy cells = unhealthy people.

As anyone who is an active member of Our Health Co-op knows, the Co-op's answer to creating healthy bodies is incorporated in its mission -- to make health affordable (and fun) together.  Our way of doing that naturally, is to provide the quality supplements and vitamins that we need in our modern diets to ensure that our individual cells get the nutrients, energy, love, and support they need in order to function at their best.  For me, the fact that Cell Nutritionals is the brand name of the Co-op's own product line makes perfect sense.  And, it's even more logical, that the foundational product of Cell Nutritionals is Constant Health -- a product designed and formulated to address cellular TOIL.

If you've read some of my past blog posts, then you know my life was truly altered (in the most positive way) by Constant Health. It's for that reason that I have generated this post as a celebration of that landmark product and the fact that it is now back in stock at the Co-op.

Long before becoming a formal part of the Co-op team, I evangelized this breakthrough drink mix and I continue to do so.  Do yourselves a favor and read the research on this gem.  And then, if it feels right for you, know that you'll be joining a growing number of people who attribute an important part of their return to and maintenance of good health to this gentle, but powerful morning taste treat.

Peace, Love, and Good Health to you,

Chris Harding
Chief Community Officer
Our Health Co-op, Inc.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Interesting Facts About Aging

I'm becoming more aware of my age these days.  When I crossed that imaginary threshold from my 40s into my 50s I told myself "age is merely a state of mind." Now I'm finding that, while that statement may be true, it takes a lot more concentrated effort for me to believe it.  That's likely because the aging process, which is neglible until we hit 50, seems to accelerate each year. As a result, my commitment to exercise, proper diet, and intellectual stimulation becomes increasingly important.

While researching the aging process the other day, I recently came across a series of facts about the brain that fascinated me.  For example, "the human brain has about 100 billion neurons by age 35.  However, from the age of 35 years on, 7,000 neurons are lost daily."  That's roughly 2.5 million a year or 25 million every 10 years.  "Wow!" I thought.  "That's a lot!" But then I realized that that it's really only a loss of 1/4th of 1% of the total every decade (hopefully we lose all the useless information we've acquired, while retaining the wisdom that comes with age).

Still, I'm very keen on maintaining my intellectual capacity and so I pay attention to what I take in, making sure to get lots of good brain food (both the edible kind and the intellectual variety).

According to Directory Journal's Health Section, the Top 10 list for edible brain foods includes:

1.  Blueberries
2.  Salmon
3.  Flax Seeds
4.  Coffee
5.  Mixed Nuts
6.  Avacados
7.  Eggs
8.  Whole grains
9.  Dark Chocolate
10. Broccoli

I wouldn't recommend having these choices as the only items on your diet, but these and other foods with similar charcteristics are a good step in the right direction.

In terms of non-edible treats that we can feed our brains, most experts include some configuration of the following list to ensure that we maintain healthy brain capacity and function:

1.  Keep learning (challenge your mind and your senses)
2.  Exercise regularly (stay as active as you can)
3.  Interact with others (and laugh a lot)
4.  Sleep well (8 hours sleep is still important )
5.  Reduce stress (learn what you can control and what you can't)
6.  Eat well (a combination of the right foods and supplmenets where needed)

I have been fortunate to grow up in a family where the quest for knowlege, healthy living, and conviviality are prized.  My paternal grandfather lived to age 99.  He was still sharp as a tack until the end and able to hold a conversation with anyone, from any walk of life.  Grandpa could still manage his own vegetable garden until his late 80s.  My mother, who turned 94 last week, still reads 3 to 4 books a week and when she watches television (which is infrequent), she's tuned to PBS, National Geographic Channel, or The Learning Channel.  She uses a walker to assist her in doing her daily walks whenever possible. Those traits, combined with a commitment to regular laughter (and to finding the humor in challenging situations) has created a zest for life in a good share of my family members.  "If I'm going to be alive," my grandfather once told me. "I'm damn well going to enjoy being here."

As for me, I join Christie Brinkley and Chuck Norris in endorsing the "Total Gym" as a wonderful exercise machine that allows me to stay fit and flexible.  I add to that form of exercise a daily walk (with Lila and our dog, Kai), healthy food (thank heavens, Lila and I both love to cook), and a variety of supplements.

Kai - The happiest dog I know

To keep my brain in gear, I take Fish Oil, Ginko Biloba, and Acetyl L-Carnintne and read voraciously, like my parents and grandparents.  And, since my father was a television art director with a PBS affiliate, I spend my television time watching programs like "Nature" and "Nova" (when I'm not enjoying a few of my guilty pleasures on other networks). As for that wonderful health food, laughter, my wife was once a stand-up comic in Los Angeles, so there's no shortage of that medicine in this house (gratefully)!

Whatever your methods are for staying fit and happy, know that we support your efforts.  It's so wonderful for us to have the chance to read your comments, on order forms or in emails, and to learn to how you're doing and how our products are helping you.  It's our privilege to be members with you in a Co-op whose whole design is to make staying healthy affordable and fun.

Peace, Love, and Good Health to you,

Chris Harding
Chief Community Officer
Our Health Co-op, Inc.