Health - Archives

The Purifier, Part 1

August 1, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

The dictionary definition to purify is: 1. to make pure; free from anything that debases, pollutes, adulterates, or contaminates. 2. to free from foreign, extraneous, or objectionable elements. Detoxification is a modern word that represents this physiological process. Why would someone living today need to or seek to purify or detox themselves? The short answer is because we live in an era of unprecedented exposure to chemical agents. Various people groups come in contact with compounds humanity has never interacted with before. Scientists estimate that today our bodies carry at least 700 contaminants, most of which have not been well studied.

Since the Second World War, tens of thousands of synthetic compounds have been introduced into the environment to facilitate many industrial, domestic, and personal practices. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published the findings of the “Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals,” and found that most Americans, irrespective of age, have bio-accumulated numerous toxins. Bio-accumulation is the storage of toxins in our own tissues.

So, what …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

AGE-less

July 4, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

As I turn 50 this month, I have to admit, the concept of being ageless is rather appealing. I would love to know how to age less. One way of minimizing the impact of aging is by decreasing AGEs. Rather than referring to the lapse of time, AGEs are molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). They are also referred to as glycotoxins. Typically, our bodies make them in limited amounts. We also ingest a considerable amount.

Our standard American diet typically contains high levels of AGEs. AGEs are considered toxins that have been linked to cardiovascular, liver, kidney, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as diabetes. AGEs are naturally present in uncooked animal-derived foods that are high in fat and protein, such as red meat and cheese. Dry cooking—broiling, grilling, frying, searing, and roasting—these foods results in the formation of additional AGEs, raising the levels from 10-100 times over that of uncooked food.

The body can take care of the AGEs that are part of normal metabolism. However, if excessively …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Sour Wine

May 30, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

In the year following her CHIP attendance, Angie lost over 100 pounds. Recently, Angie shared her story with the current CHIP class. Gasps were heard around the room as she told of her weight loss journey. She was flooded with questions like, “What do you eat?” Do you ever eat…?” Was she able to include greatly beloved foods in her weight loss journey? Inherent in their questions was the hope that perhaps there is a way to achieve health goals while still enjoying food.

Food is more than nutrition, more than building blocks that support bodily functions, more than a source of fuel with which we produce energy. It is information that the digestive system processes and relays to the nervous system and brain. Food can make us feel good or bad, and it accomplishes this in various ways.

The foods we typically have great difficulty relinquishing are more than likely the foods we use to feel calm, give ourselves a lift, or provide a sense of reward and heightened …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

The CHIP Highway

May 2, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Carl had the typical cardio metabolic syndrome profile: diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. He approached me after a week into the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) that I was leading at the Adventist Health Medical Center. “I am not going to change the way I eat,” he said. “I have eaten beef and chicken every day of my life. I rarely eat vegetables. I don’t cook and I’m not going to start. This program isn’t going to work for me.”

I assured Carl there was no pressure to stay in the program. He could drop out at any time, but I encouraged him to keep coming. Maybe there would be something worthwhile? We also enjoyed having him in the group.

A couple weeks passed, and I noticed Carl was contributing more and more to the discussions. His attitude had clearly changed. He was interacting with other participants. He began including some fruits and vegetables into his diet. One evening he told the group about the chili and …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Detoxing the Lifestyle

April 4, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

A 24-year-old male teacher began to have deviant thoughts of doing harm to his students. He sought professional help and complained of depression, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and anxiety along with the thoughts of inflicting harm. The counselor referred him to a psychologist. Thinking that perhaps he was possessed, he also sought help from a religious leader. After intensive therapy, the psychologist referred him to a physician who prescribed medication. However, the young man’s experience only worsened. He left work on “sick leave.” Side effects from the medication included weight gain, persistent nightmares, fatigue, and intractable constipation. With no family history of mental health problems, the patient was devastated to hear he had a chronic mental illness, requiring he take medication for life. His thoughts took on a suicidal nature.

The young man was then referred to a physician trained in environmental medicine, a branch of medicine that studies environmental inputs and the individual’s responses to them. Testing revealed high levels of mercury. It was disclosed that he’d been eating one …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

PFCs – Perfluorinated Compounds

February 28, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

It was the Native Americans who first made popcorn in this country. They popped it over fire on flat rocks. Today we microwave it in bags lined with substances called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), also referred to as perfluorochemicals. PFCs are a class of persistent organic pollutants. There are 853 different perfluorinated compounds—PFOA, PFOS, PFBS, PFOSA, and PFDA are just a handful.

PFCs are not naturally present in nature. Their production began about 50 years ago. They’ve since become ubiquitous. They are used to produce water, oil, and stain-resistant coatings in many textiles; in cooking utensils, oil-resistant coatings for culinary paper products, and non-stick coatings; and in photographic emulsifier, aviation hydraulic fluids, and fire-fighting foams. They aren’t reactive and don’t degrade easily, making them persistent and able to bioaccumulate. Their presence has now been found in nature in various bodies of water, in wild animals, human blood, and even breast milk.

PFCs are toxic to humans and animals. In research using rats and monkeys, it was found that the liver, kidneys, …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Energy

January 31, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Found within all human cells (with the exception of red blood cells) is the ability to produce energy—energy that enables action, maintenance, movement—and life in general. Microscopic structures called mitochondria are the key players in these processes and produce 95 percent of the cell’s energy. They dwell, sometimes in the hundreds and thousands, in a single cell. The number of mitochondria in a cell depends on how active that cell is. For example, an active brain or muscle cell may contain thousands of mitochondria, whereas a blood platelet may contain only two. Mitochondria make up 80 percent of the volume of the photoreceptors in the cone cells of the eye, again numbering in the thousands. Each mitochondrion is tailored to meet the needs of the specific type of cell it’s in. The purpose of breathing, eating, and ensuring a steady supply of fuel in the blood is fulfilled in these seemingly unnoticeable structures. Like tiny factories, they take the components of foods we eat and the air we breathe to …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

It’s the Oats

January 3, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Holidays are over. The time to excuse our excess is behind us. Now, with a few extra pounds and a sense of guilt, we are on to making enthusiastic compensatory resolutions. It’s reported that the majority of resolutions pertain to weight and health. The sad part is only 8 percent of these resolutions succeed, while 80 percent fail in a couple months.1 Trying to lose weight has become a cyclical affair, at least for those who haven’t given up.

Resolving to change, failing, gaining more weight, and starting the process again at New Year’s is so common that the National Institute of Health has given it a term: the false hope syndrome.

I admire people who don’t give up. However, it’s a law of our nature that if what we’re working towards becomes seemingly impossible to attain, we’ll eventually quit trying. With the false hope syndrome, “people appear to behave paradoxically, by persisting in repeated self-change attempts despite previous failures. It is argued, though, that self-change attempts provide some initial …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Trumping Fear

December 6, 2017 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Grasping in the dark for my phone, my terrified mind sought to force my trembling fingers to dial 911. It took hours to calm my nerves even after the police arrived. Fear is not a foreign emotion. I have often felt fear in the form of butterflies and a pounding heart just before public speaking. I felt fear when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Standing in line to ride a roller coaster, a fearful dread has come over me. I was afraid as a child when my mother ran off in the dark parking lot of the LA fair, chasing two young men who had just stolen her purse. Fear comes in various shapes and sizes in response to real or imaginary situations, present and future events.

Sudden fear, like the fear I experienced while dialing 911, has the potential to cause one to freeze or jump over a six-foot fence. There are subacute, underlying, chronic fears that guide behaviors, generate insecurities, and influence our reactions to others. There …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Skinny Fat: The Dangerous Oxymoron by Risë Rafferty

Skinny Fat: The Dangerous Oxymoron

November 1, 2017 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Pretty ugly, deafeningly quiet, make haste slowly, and vegetarian meatballs are great examples of oxymorons that make you smile when you think about what the words by themselves mean in contrast to what is conveyed by the phrase. There is one oxymoron however that is pretty serious in nature and that is skinny fat.

Skinny fat describes fat tissue, found in individuals whose BMI would not sound off any alarms or raise red flags in a doctor’s office. On the scale, the numbers look decent. But when diagnoses of type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or fatty liver are given to skinny people the first question is usually, “Why? How’d that happen to me?” Our society tends to emphasize metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, type-2 diabetes, and fatty liver with being overweight or obese. Graphs show that as weight increases so do these conditions. Correspondingly, as weight is lost there is a decreased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Interestingly enough though, not all excess weight is the same. Those who are …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers