Health - Archives

The Purifier, Part 5: Deep Detox

November 28, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Medical residents regularly exposed to chronic stress were found to have elevated white blood cell counts. White blood cells are a crucial part of the body’s defense against invasion, sickness, and disease. They search out and destroy invading pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. Too many, however, can be a sign of disease.

Dr. Matthias Nahrendorf and his team at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School discovered this elevated immune cell state in the residents and investigated the cause by conducting animal experiments. Nahrendorf exposed mice to stressful situations for six weeks. Just like in the stressed doctors, increased levels of white blood cells were observed in the mouse blood after six weeks. The research team found that elevated levels of the stress hormone noradrenaline actually made its way into the bone marrow, where white blood cells are produced. There they bound to cell receptors on stem cells, altered the chemical environment of the bone marrow, and activated the stem cells, thus increasing the production of white blood cells.


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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

The Purifier, Part 4

October 31, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

I was 19, ignorant, and trusting. A woman who lived near the college I was attending convinced me that I needed to go on a “seawater cleanse.” It lasted about 10 days. I don’t remember the particulars of the program, except that I fasted for many of those days and drank “seawater.” This created an internal tsunami that “cleansed” the bowels. Whew! I remember two things after the experience: how delicious steamed broccoli tasted after going without food and how baggy my jeans were.

Since then, I have learned that rather than being a singular event, detoxification is a continuous operation in the body. It is an ongoing process to deal with our continual exposure, incessant internal production, and stored accumulation of toxins. While lemonade fasts, tea-toxing, juice cleanses, and even seawater cleanses exist, these don’t adequately support this valuable, multi-step process. So here are some basic guidelines to support balanced detox.

Reduce Exposure

Minimizing exposure to environmental toxins can lighten the body’s workload, allowing it to focus on house …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

The Purifier, Part 2

August 29, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Air and water purifiers operate off the concept that invisible contaminants are lurking in the atmosphere around us, in our aquifers and watersheds. Transforming and removing these contaminants is how we purify indoor air and drinking water. Last month we identified several contaminants and realized we live in a country that allows thousands of toxins into the environment. Despite our efforts, the chances of living in pure surroundings is bleak. Even in the pristine lakes of Alaska there are PCPs floating in the water. We may sail across the Pacific Ocean, away from manufacturing plumes, only to realize that we are inhaling polluted currents from China.

Last month we alluded to the reality that toxins can be found even within our bodies. We used the word detoxification in reference to the effort to remove harmful compounds from our persons. The reality is that the average American is a storage depot for potentially hundreds of toxins. Consider the fact that over 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants were found in umbilical cord …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

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