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Disability – the cost of modern life

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This chart shows the shift in the nature of disability in America since the early 1960’s. What is hows is that the stress of how we live is crushing millions of people. The images in this post come from an excellent article here.

Back pain is strongly linked to issues of lack of control. It shows itself in a physical way, but its roots are in stress that comes from not having enough control. Depression has the same connection.

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As the job world shrinks, millions are left out of society and so we see the disability grow.

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There are close to 10 million people on disability. There is no “cure” in a medical sense. For the root cause is within the psyche of the person. Medication for you back does not touch this.

The cure will be a different kind of economy. My first book – You Don’t Need a Job – describes what is going on and what I mean by a new kind of economy. I se a trend where many are now taking making a living into their own hands and are starting a life as networked artisans. But for many who are disabled and who will be, I fear for their future. For they have given up. How many million will be in this position in the next 10 years? The current cost to society is $240 billion a year.

Time to look at this and to start a conversation abut what we can do.

Your baby’s gut health – the platform for good or poor lifetime health – what to know and to do about this

It is clear now that a child’s gut flora drives many allergies – including eczema – Here is a short and illuminating article on this that joins the growing literature on the importance of gut health generally and how, in infants, gut health drives lifetime health.

This is yet one more study that highlights the importance — and complexity — of gut bacterial composition and development in early life. As we say, optimal digestive health is the foundation upon which total body health is built.

They key finding here is that prolonged breast feeding – well into 18 months – helps set up the ideal gut flora. But this is hard to do in today’s culture. The consequences of limited breast feeding are poor though. Maybe as we get to know more, it will be more acceptable. In the interim the author suggest this workaround.

It has been known for more than 30 years that children who continue at least partial breast feedings until age 3 have lower incidences of most all infectious diseases as well as asthma, allergies, and eczema. Since that is not likely to happen with the Western lifestyle, starting an infant on probiotics, fish oil, and vitamin D may help prevent this microbial shift, but I still think food and stress are primary shifters of the microbiome.

Much more here

Your Waistline – The key measurement for predicting Heart Disease

A fat tummy is a sign of visceral fat which is the #1 predictor of heart disease. We have posted about this before here. But here are some charts that help us see the range.

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It’s not just men either.
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More here on Mercola’s site:

Sugar and Fructose – The best post yet on the causes of the epidemic of chronic illness

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We are close now to a strong agreement that the epidemic of chronic illness is diet related and that sugar and fructose is at the heart of it.

This chart showing sugar consumption is I think the smoking gun for looking at the role of sugar and now fructose in the epidemic of chronic illness.

This article – link here – is complete. It goes into depth on the process by which sugar and then fructose affects us and some people more than others. All who care about their health should read this. All who are in health care should too – for  we have to acknowledge that, until now, we must have been wrong. Our failure to make progress is the proof.

Here are the facts about the load:

Sugar consumption continued to increase in the 1900s, with an overall doubling in the United States and the United Kingdom between 1900 and 1967 (34). By 1993, >110 million tons of sugar were produced worldwide (33). Whereas sugar intake continues to be marked in the industrialized nations, it is in the developing countries that the greatest increase in the rates of sugar consumption has been observed (35 ). By the early 1970s, an additional sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), was introduced in the United States, which had certain advantages over table sugar with relation to shelf life and cost. This sweetener, the composition of which is similar to that of sucrose, is used extensively to sweeten soft drinks, fruit punches, pastries, and processed foods. The combination of table sugar and HFCS has resulted in an additional 30% increase in overall sweetener intake over the past 40 y, mostly in soft drinks. Currently, consumption of these sweeteners is almost 150 lb (67.6 kg) per person per year (36), which has resulted in the ingestion of >500 kcal/d (37; Figure 1).

Here they make the connection:

 recent history in the United States has shown that, although a low-fat intake has been promoted, rates of obesity have continued to increase as sugar consumption has continued. In addition, recent studies showing that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet has no adverse cardiovascular effects (4041) suggest that it is time to revisit the causes of the cardiorenal disease epidemic. In 2002, Havel’s group (37) made the case that the fructose content of sugar may be the critical component associated with the risks of obesity and heart disease. Sucrose is a disaccharide consisting of 50% fructose and 50% glucose, and HFCS is also a mixture of free fructose and glucose of approximately the same proportion (55:45).

There are some striking epidemiologic associations between sugar intake and the epidemic of cardiorenal disease. For example, obesity was initially seen primarily in the wealthy, who would have been the only ones able to afford sugar. Also, the first documentation of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity occurred in the very countries (England, France, and Germany) where sugar first became available to the public. The rise in sugar intake in the United Kingdom and the United States (Figure 1) also correlates with the rise in obesity rates observed in these countries. Furthermore, the later introduction of sugar to developing countries also correlates with the later rise in their rates of obesity and heart disease. A series of epidemiologic studies linked the ingestion of soft drinks to obesity, hypertension, and diabetes (4243) and the consumption of fruit juice and fruit punch to obesity in children (4445). Although these epidemiologic associations suggest a potential causal role, are there any direct experimental data to show that sucrose or fructose can induce obesity or hypertension?

Please invest the time to go further. Link here.

 

A sign that you are at risk from heart disease? You can’t see your willie!

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Is this you? It was me. If it is you can’t see an old friend. But it is worse than that. Visceral fat is the most dangerous sign of impending heart disease. More on this site here

“A recent survey of 1,000 British men has shown that a third of men aged between 35 and 60 years, are unable to see their genitals due to a protruding midriff or, less politely, a beer belly.

As a result of the survey, funded by the medical group We Love Our Health, an online men’s health awareness initiative has been launched. The Big Check aims to encourage men to make a potentially lifesaving health check.

“Take off your clothes, stand upright and look down at your penis, if you can’t see it, you are obese,” says the group’s online doctor, Johan du Plessis.

“Don’t ignore it, it can knock years off your lifespan but it can also put you in serious risk from life threatening illness.”

All my visceral fat was gone in 6 months of a strict Paleo diet. I looked better. And my old friend works well again. No need for blue pills. It’s all connected.

“Erectile dysfunction does not just affect overweight men. The world’s largest study to examine links between erectile dysfunction and heart disease found even minor erection difficulties in healthy fit men, can be an indicator of future heart risks.

The authors of the study, undertaken in Australia and published last month in the on-line journal ‘PLOS Medicine‘, examined data of 95,038 men aged 45 years and older.

The researchers concluded that erectile dysfunction does not cause heart disease but may be an early indicator of the problems that lead to it, such as a build-up of plaque in the arteries.

So what to do? Explore the Paleo Diet

How to avoid the flu? Bump up your immune system!

You and I have an immune system. If it healthy, then it will defend us from a lot of illness. The future of Health Care will be not a fix after we are ill but taking care so that we have the best immune system possible.

So how best to protect yourself against the flu?  Here is what taking care of your immune system looks like:

 

Avoiding a serious case of influenza is not about vaccination but more about maintaining a healthy, well functioning immune system. By following these simple guidelines, you can help keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you’re far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with or, if you do get sick with the flu, you are better prepared to move through it without complications and soon return to good health.

    • Optimize Your Gut Flora. This may be the single most important strategy you can implement as the bacteria in your gut have enormous control of your immune response. The best way to improve your beneficial bacteria ratio is avoid sugars as they will feed the pathogenic bacteria. Additionally, processed foods and most grains should be limited and replacing with healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, olives, olive oil, butter, eggs and nuts. Once you change your diet than regular use of fermented foods can radically optimize the function of your immune response.
    • Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I’ve previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency may actually be the true culprit behind the seasonality of the flu – not the flu virus itself. This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. Regularly monitor your vitamin D levels to confirm your levels are within the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml.

Ideally, you’ll want to get all your vitamin D from sun exposure or a safe tanning bed, but as a last resort you can take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. According to the latest review by Carole Baggerly (Grassrootshealth.org), adults need about 8,000 IU’s a day. Be sure to take vitamin K2 if you are taking high dose oral vitamin D as it has a powerful synergy and will help prevent any D toxicity. But be sure and get your level tested as that is the only way to know for sure.

  • Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar impairs the quality of your immune response almost immediately, and as you likely know, a healthy immune system is one of the most important keys to fighting off viruses and other illness. It also can decimate your beneficial bacteria and feed the pathogenic yeast and viruses. Be aware that sugar (typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup) is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice. If you are healthy then sugar can be consumed but the LAST thing you should be eating when you are sick is sugar. Avoid it like poison while you are sick.
  • Get Plenty of Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you’re tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.
  • Have Effective Tools to Address Stress. We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma.
  • Get Regular Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. Be sure to stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids, especially water. However, it would be wise to radically reduce the intensity of your workouts while you are sick. No Peak Fitness exercises until you are better.
  • Take a High-Quality Source of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils that are trans fats and in processed foods as it will seriously damage your immune response.
  • Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don’t use antibacterial soap for this – antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.
  • Tried and True Hygiene Measures. In addition to washing your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If possible, avoid close contact with those, who are sick and, if you are sick, avoid close contact with those who are well.
  • Use Natural Remedies. Examples include oil of oregano and garlic. These work against bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in your body. And unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, they do not appear to lead to resistance.
  • Avoid Hospitals. I’d recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you’re having an emergency and need expert medical care, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds. The best place to get plenty of rest and recover from illness that is not life-threatening is usually in the comfort of your own home.

How you were born will affect your gut flora and so your health

It is becoming more and more clear that our gut flora is the central issue for health. (More here on that)

It is best to start with the the healthiest gut flora possible. This means that it is best that we are born vaginally. We are a blank slate in the womb. Being born vaginally gives us our mother’s flora.

Evidence is now coming out about how important this is. Leaving mothers with a more informed choice. If you can have a vaginal birth, you are giving your child the best start possible.

Here is the summary:

The researchers found that infants born by cesarean delivery were lacking a specific group of bacteria found in infants delivered vaginally, even if they were breastfed. Infants strictly formula-fed, compared with babies that were exclusively or partially breastfed, also had significant differences in their gut bacteria.

“We want parents (and physicians) to realize that their decisions regarding c-section and breastfeeding can impact their infant’s gut microbiome, and this can have potentially lifelong effects on the child’s health,” says postdoctoral student and first author Meghan Azad, University of Alberta.

“The potential long-term consequences of decisions regarding mode of delivery and infant diet are not to be underestimated,” write the authors. “Infants born by cesarean delivery are at increased risk of asthma, obesity and type 1 diabetes, whereas breastfeeding is variably protective against these and other disorders.”

Beginning before birth, CHILD collects a range of information on environmental exposures such as pets, air pollution, household cleaning products, maternal and infant diet and more, and child health outcomes (including biological samples and clinical assessments). The researchers will use this information to study the development of the gut microbiome and its relationship to conditions such as wheeze and allergies in future studies.

“Children born by cesarean delivery or fed with formula may be at increased risk of a variety of conditions later in life; both processes alter the gut microbiota in healthy infants, which could be the mechanism for the increased risk,” writes Dr. Rob Knight, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist and an Associate Professor with the BioFrontiers Institute and Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Computer Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States, in a related commentary.

“These issues are of direct relevance to pregnant women and health practitioners and should be considered when choices such as elective cesarean delivery and other interventions are discussed,” state the commentary authors.

 

Do you have Celiac Disease? Here is a great resource

Many people who have Celiac Disease now eat food that is labelled Gluten Free. I even saw Gluten Free Ham for sale the other day. Most labelled Gluten Free food is just more factory food and will only make you more ill. For Celiac is not just an allergy to Gluten but is a sign of Leaky Gut.

Here is a great resource for all of this.

“The bottom line is: If you have Celiac Disease, you have leaky gut and bad gut flora.

We’ve talked about how prolamines and lectins cause inflammation and leaky gut.  We’ve talked about how SIBO causes inflammation and leaky gut… and all within the confines of a gluten-free diet.

When your gut flora is out of balance and your gut barrier is damaged, your gut is going to be inflamed.  Inflammation triggers leaky gut and leaky gut triggers inflammation[19].  They all feed on each other in a vicious cycle that looks like this:

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The only way to begin treating Celiac Disease is to break this inflammation-leaky gut cycle… and the first step is to recognize that gluten-free isn’t enough.  There’s a better way to eat that can begin to halt this process.

So what can a Celiac eat to feel better?

The answer is: eat easy-to-digest, low-toxin, real foods.  Foods that don’’t feed bad bacteria or promote inflammation… but at the same time provide adequate nutrition and improve intestinal permeability.

In other words the ideal Celiac Disease diet:

  • Doesn’t contain processed foods filled with added sugars, vegetable oils, additives, or dyes that damage health
  • Eliminates disaccharides and polysaccharides to starve out overgrown bad bacteria (SIBO)
  • Eliminates the most toxic food groups: cereal grains and soy
  • Encourages consumption of low-toxin whole foods in their natural state
  • Encourages plenty of nutrient dense animal products filled with protein and healthy fats
  • Encourages plenty of good bugs (probiotics) through fermented foods or supplements

The gluten-free diet doesn’t fit the bill…

Simply eliminating cereal grains that promote inflammation and leaky gut is a step in the right direction.  But if you remove the other 3 toxic foods I mentioned above (soy, industrial seed oils, and sugar) you’ll be one step closer to recovery.  At that point, you’ll be eating a whole food, non-processed diet – which is ideal for optimal health based on what we know.”

Much more on the site itself here

 

Vitamin D – A Great Resource Roundup

The role of Vitamin D in our health is rapidly becoming better known. It is clear now that low levels of D can have a wide range of negative effects. While you might know your cholesterol levels, do you know your D levels?

I am going to join the Vitamin D Council

Here is a link to a very complete round up of how D affects us.

 

There are worse things than death

February 6, 2013 Context, Personal Health No Comments

Today is my father’s birthday. He died age 55. Not a good age to die. But my mum has been an invalid since her late 40’s. Without his pension I don’t know what we would have done. But who has such a pension today?

Much of the discussion about health is about living longer. But what about our life? What is our life like as we live into our 60’s and 70’s?

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Here are the stats for men on Prince Edward Island. The average man is disabled by chronic illness by the age of 65. He cannot work. He cannot contribute. He has to be looked after. And for women, add 5 years and the results are the same.

On average we live for another 10 years like this. THIS is where the costs are found. PEI is not unique. This long period of disability is what all of us can expect in this epidemic of chronic illness that is our new normal.

And when we are disabled, who is going to look after us? Will we burden our kids? And by the way, what Kids? With low birth rates, there are not many of them. And where do our kids live? Near us? So maybe then the state? But when we look at their costs, we know that they cannot help us either.

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There will simply not be the tax payers or the  tax dollars to pay to look after us.

This is why I am millions of people are starting to take charge of our own health. Suffering from chronic illness is not inevitable if we make the changes that are discussed in detail in this blog.

More on this later.

 

Healthcare – How the numbers work – A Horror Story

February 5, 2013 Context, Personal Health No Comments

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This chart shows the monthly health care premiums for a friend of mine in the US. They are now $1,700 a month with a $7,000 deductible. There are 2 adults in their 40’s and a 4 year old child. All have excellent health records.

As you can see this chart is exponential. It is likely that the increases in the next 5 years will accelerate even further. How will this family cope? How will you cope?

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Now let’s look at how the healthcare costs of Canada’s smallest province are growing (The current data is taken form government sources). It’s the same curve. The red bars are PEI’s tax revenues. Health costs are 78% of current tax revenues. Only the $600 million subsidy from the Feds keep PEI going. In 2015 it is likely that health costs will equal PEI’s tax revenues. By 2020, it will be double.

PEI is the canary in the mine. Canada’s larger provinces will take a bit longer but the trends are the same. Individuals and even states cannot live with the rate of increase of health costs. Nor can they live with the results. For the epidemic of chronic illness is getting worse and lies on the same trajectory.

At the moment, all the hopes are set in somehow reducing waste and ion increasing efficiency. I don’t think we have tome for this. The crunch is here now. And even if we did and could find 30% in savings, it does not challenge the curve. The model is wrong. Fix when we are ill is the wrong model.

Personal Health will replace this quickly, just as personal news and music replaced mass market news and music.

Mass Market Health vs Personal Health – The Future is Near

Personal Health is going to replace Mass Market Medicine.

One of the great trends of our time is how personalization is trumping the mass market. Albums go to songs. CD’s to downloads. Downloads to streaming. 32 kids in a class. How many are in tune with the teacher? Maybe 2 or 3. The rest either lag or get bored. Now more and more kids go online to sites like Khan Academy where they can learn at their own pace and learn what they don’t know. Health Care is going the same way. Think of what this means.

All medication is like an album or a class at school. But all people are different. What does your doctor know about you as well? Maybe she sees you for 10 minutes at a time. She uses paper files. She cannot look at your data at all except from her paper file. What tests you take are yearly at best. She knows nothing about your ancestry. You know nothing about it either but your ancestry is what drives so many of the differences that we have in our health. She knows nothing about your social life. She knows only what you tell her about your daily life. She cannot track you week by week, so she will only see when you are really sick when you are so sick that it is obvious. She cannot keep you well because she cannot know enough to care for you as a person.

In truth your doctor is guessing most of the time. She can do no better for she hasn’t the data. She cannot see a gradient of small changes that will indicate early that there is the start of a problem. So you go to her when you are ill. Then the treatments are the same. Medicine is a broad spectrum and mass market deal today. What is YOUR real dose? Antibiotics kill ALL your bacteria. Not a good thing at all. (See Gut Health). Breast Cancer Chemo kills all your fast growing cells. Not a good thing for your immune system or your joints.

All this is changing. Personal health will be a massive change for the better. Here is an article on Larry Smarr who is an early adopter of this approach. He tracks all his vitals all the time. At the moment this is a costly and challenging process. But Larry is at the front end of the trend.

What will make this happen is of course the web and neat tools. Already there are measurement tools that use wireless to hook up to your iPhone and measure some of your stats. Here is a link to Fitbit that shows us the way. Here is how your doctor will see your data soon.

What this will mean soon is that each of us will be able to have the kind of data that will enable us to see small indicative changes EARLY. So as we move towards say Type 2 Diabetes, we can make the right corrections. This approach will also show what works and what doesn’t. WE will know soon what diet works and what doesn’t for the data will support it. Here is how this is working now.

Science will change as a result. At the moment all health science is done in the context of finding a treatment that can be patented and sold. Anything that does not fit this, is not funded. Anything that does not show the new pill in a good light is suppressed.  Science has been hi jacked. But As we move more to Personal health, and so more and more real data is generated, we will truly see what works and what doesn’t. In particular we will see what works that does not cost much.

I look to the music model for guidance. Not only will we get what we want when and how we want it, but communities will spring up that focus on helping each other get healthy and cope with this or that.

 

Taking Charge of your Health – Good Books – On Wheat and on Sugar

Getting back control of your health is more complex than simply changing your diet. But changing your diet is the best way to start. The new/old diet is also like a church with a spectrum of focus. Here then are two very helpful books that lie along this spectrum.

Wheat Belly by William Davis  – that looks at wheat

Fat Chance  by Robert Lustig –  that looks at sugar

It is important to take both out of your diet.

 

Humans are carnivores – get over it – and get well

Wise Traditions London 2010 – Barry Groves from Wise Traditions London on Vimeo.

An outstanding review. Everything you need to know about what we are meant to eat and why in half an hour.

Barry Groves shows how we adapted to a mainly meat diet – millions of years of ice age when there were few plants that we could have eaten – and the result. A large brain and a small gut.

Since the dawn of agriculture we have been shifting away from the food that we are best suited. Since 1980, and the advent of industrial food. we have made a dramatic shift away from fat and meat. And so have set up the epidemic that confronts us.

Strength versus Fitness – A Critical Distinction

From Chris Highcock’s wonderful short PDF book which you can buy here.

Chris’s book opens with the best context for Fitness and its link to health and how we grow old that I have yet seen.

This site has talked a lot about the false claims for diet – “Eating Healthy Grains” etc. The real diet is to give up the modern foods!

Chris shows how our modern obsession with “Exercise” has taken us down an unhelpful alley too. The real issue is “Strength”.

Our  ancestors did not “Take Exercise”. They led active lives and they carried a lot of stuff and they moved around a lot. They did not need a gym not expensive kit.  Chris shows us how we can do this again. And he shows a focus on strength this will help our health in a way that “Exercise” does not. This approach also then deals with the issue of time. For to get strength the requirement is intensity and not time. In fact as we get stronger we need to use less time and increase the intensity. We don’t have to spend hours a day.

Oh and don’t forget that we are designed to walk – a lot!

Parenting – Fitting the Child into the World vs Fitting the World to the Child

What is the historic way of parenting? The late Jean Liedloff made the study of Traditional Child rearing (The Continuum Concept) her life’s work.

Here is the central difference between what we do – make the child the centre but also disconnect physically – and the traditional – attach physically but fit the child into the larger adult world. Snip here:

How do they do it? What do the Yequana know about human nature that we do not? What can we do to attain non-adversarial relationships with our children in toddlerhood, or later if they have got off to a bad start?

The “Civilized” Experience

In my private practice, people consult me to overcome the deleterious effects of beliefs about themselves formed in childhood.1  Many of these people are parents keen not to subject their offspring to the kind of alienation they suffered at the hands of their own usually well-meaning parents. They would like to know how they can rear their children happily and painlessly.

Most of these parents have taken my advice and, following the Yequana example, kept their babies in physical contact all day and night until they began to crawl.2  Some, however, are surprised and dismayed to find their tots becoming “demanding” or angry — often toward their most caretaking parent. No amount of dedication or self-sacrifice improves the babies’ disposition. Increased efforts to placate them do nothing but augment frustration in both parent and child. Why, then, do the Yequana not have the same experience?

The crucial difference is that the Yequana are not child-centered. They may occasionally nuzzle their babies affectionately, play peek-a-boo, or sing to them, yet the great majority of the caretaker’s time is spent paying attention to something else…not the baby! Children taking care of babies also regard baby care as a non-activity and, although they carry them everywhere, rarely give them direct attention. Thus, Yequana babies find themselves in the midst of activities they will later join as they proceed through the stages of creeping, crawling, walking, and talking. The panoramic view of their future life’s experiences, behavior, pace, and language provides a rich basis for their developing participation.

Being played with, talked to, or admired all day deprives the babe of this in-arms spectator phase that would feel right to him. Unable to say what he needs, he will act out his discontentment. He is trying to get his caretaker’s attention, yet — and here is the cause of the understandable confusion — his purpose is to get the caretaker to change his unsatisfactory experience, to go about her own business with confidence and without seeming to ask his permission. Once the situation is corrected, the attention-getting behavior we mistake for a permanent impulse can subside. The same principle applies in the stages following the in-arms phase.

One devoted mother on the East Coast, when beginning sessions with me on the telephone, was near the end of her tether. She was at war with her beloved three-year-old son, who was often barging into her, sometimes hitting her, and shouting, “Shut up!” among other distressing expressions of anger and disrespect. She had tried reasoning with him, asking him what he wanted her to do, bribing him, and speaking sweetly as long as she could before losing her patience and shouting at him. Afterward, she would be consumed with guilt and try to “make it up to him” with apologies, explanations, hugs, or special treats to prove her love — whereupon her precious little boy would respond by issuing new ill-tempered demands.

Sometimes she would stop trying to please him and go tight-lipped about her own activities, despite his howls and protestations. If she finally managed to hold out long enough for him to give up trying to control her and calm down, he might gaze up at her out of his meltingly beautiful eyes and say, “I love you, Mommy!” and she, almost abject in her gratitude for this momentary reprieve from the leaden guilt in her bosom, would soon be eating out of his dimpled, jam-stained little hand again. He would become bossy, then angry and rude, and the whole heartbreaking scenario would be replayed, whereupon my client’s despair would deepen.

I hear many similar stories from clients in the United States, Canada, Germany, and England, so I believe it is fair to say that this trouble is prevalent among the most well-educated, well-meaning parents in Western societies. They are struggling with children who seem to want to keep their adults under their control and obedient to their every whim. To make matters worse, many people believe that this phenomenon bears witness to the widely held notion that our species, alone among all creatures, is by nature antisocial and requires years of opposition (“discipline,” “socializing”) to become viable, or “good.” As the Yequana, the Balinese, and numerous other peoples outside our cultural orbit reveal, however, such a notion is utterly erroneous. Members of one society respond to the conditioning of their culture like the members of any other.

The Way to Harmony

What, then, is causing this unhappiness? What have we misunderstood about our human nature? And what can we do to approach the harmony the Yequana enjoy with their children?

It appears that many parents of toddlers, in their anxiety to be neither negligent nor disrespectful, have gone overboard in what may seem to be the other direction. Like the thankless martyrs of the in-arms stage, they have become centered upon their children instead of being occupied by adult activities that the children can watch, follow, imitate, and assist in as is their natural tendency. In other words, because a toddler wants to learn what his people do, he expects to be able to center his attention on an adult who is centered on her own business. An adult who stops whatever she is doing and tries to ascertain what her child wants her to do is short-circuiting this expectation. Just as significantly, she appears to the tot not to know how to behave, to be lacking in confidence and, even more alarmingly, looking for guidance from him, a two or three year old who is relying on her to be calm, competent, and sure of herself.

A toddler’s fairly predictable reaction to parental uncertainty is to push his parents even further off-balance, testing for a place where they will stand firm and thus allay his anxiety about who is in charge. He may continue to draw pictures on the wall after his mother has pleaded with him to desist, in an apologetic voice that lets him know she does not believe he will obey. When she then takes away his markers, all the while showing fear of his wrath, he — as surely as he is a social creature — meets her expectations and flies into a screaming rage.

If misreading his anger, she tries even harder to ascertain what he wants, pleads, explains, and appears ever more desperate to placate him, the child will be impelled to make more outrageous, more unacceptable demands. This he must continue to do until at last she does take over leadership and he can feel that order is restored. He may still not have a calm, confident, reliable authority figure to learn from, as his mother is now moving from the point of losing her temper to the point at which guilt and doubts about her competence are again rearing their wobbly heads. Nevertheless, he will have the meager reassurance of seeing that when the chips were down, she did relieve him of command and of his panicky feeling that he should somehow know what she should do.

Put simply, when a child is impelled to try to control the behavior of an adult, it is not because the child wants to succeed, but because the child needs to be certain that the adult knows what he or she is doing. Furthermore, the child cannot resist such testing until the adult stands firm and the child can have that certainty. No child would dream of trying to take over the initiative from an adult unless that child receives a clear message that such action is expected — not wanted, but expected! Moreover, once the child feels he has attained control, he becomes confused and frightened and must go to any extreme to compel the adult to take the leadership back where it belongs.

When this is understood, the parents’ fear of imposing upon their child is allayed, and they see that there is no call for adversariality. By maintaining control, they are fulfilling their beloved child’s needs, rather than acting in opposition to them.

It took my East Coast client a week or two to see the first results of this new understanding. After that, generations of misunderstanding and the force of old habits rendered the family’s transition to non-adversarial ways somewhat uneven. Today, she and her husband, as well as many of my other clients similarly afflicted, are happily convinced by their own experience that children, far from being contrary, are by nature profoundly social.

Expecting them to be so is what allows them to be so. As the parents’ expectation of sociality in the child is perceived by the child, she or he meets that expectation; likewise, the parents’ experience of sociality in the child reinforces their expectation of it. That is how it works. In a gracious letter to me, the husband of my East Coast client wrote, of his wife, their son, and himself: “[We] have grown and learned and loved together in a miraculous way. Our relationships continue to evolve in a totally positive and loving direction.”

The very best video on the choices before us

Dr Wahls is an inspiration – all the context – the practical steps – the pull of her success in curing her MS and the choice

Stress – Everything you want to know

Here are a series of videos that will show you how stress works to affect your health and what you can do to reduce its impact.

Here is the best introduction that I know of to the mechanism of stress as it affects humans. Our stress is social.

Here are 3 videos made of Dr Gabor Mate where he shows us how we humans in particular manifest it.


We tell ourselves stories. It is the meaning of events and not the vents in our lives that affects us. Change the meaning and the stress can go away. His second point is that many of the events that shape our stress patterns take place in early childhood. Mate shows us how many are rooted in events that happen before we are able to recall the memory.

I find his videos compelling – I could see how my own issues worked on me and I cous see what I coud do to reduce their impact. I think you will find the same.

What would a new food system be based on? A better fit with nature surely!

I doubt that the early users of the plough could predict what their new approach to food production would bring. They were simply addressing a problem. How could they get more output of grain along the fertile banks of the Nile?

They were also building on all sorts of other connected innovation that had taken place before. Grass had been bred to have a higher yield. Oxen had been domesticated. Pot making had enabled more storage. The plough was a capstone element that brought all of this together and made it into a system.

It is likely that most of the parts of the new system exist today. They just need to be brought together. Maybe a crisis will do that? The crisis may be driven by an oil crisis.

With expensive oil, we will not longer have the inputs that drive our system such as fertiliser and pesticides. We will not have the equipment such as tractors. We will not be able to use concentration and corn fed confinement as the basis of meat production. We will have much reduced refrigeration. We will not have the fuel to transport food and goods so cheaply.

It may also be a health crisis. For we can no longer tolerate the costs of the illnesses that stem from our making grain and corn in particular the key component in all our food and in what our animals eat.

These are the problems that we will have to solve soon. So what can we see that is going this way.

Meat – New Old/Models - We have bred animals that are designed to be confined, live in barns and eat corn. We have “Poodleized” them and made them weak. But there have always been grazers that can tolerate being outside for most of the year.

Buffalosnow
The Buffalo herd was 60 million in 1800. We slaughtered them to kill off the plains Indians and the clear the land for cattle. In 1900 there were less than 1,000 left. But in the last 20 years there has been a renaissance. In 2005 the North American Herd was about 500,000 and in Canada 2000 ranchers have a herd of about 250,000. It is even larger today and the issue that confronts the folks in the buffalo world is how to expand the herd.

Why the success and what does this teach is as an element? It is that there are animals that “Fit” our environment. Buffalo are the natural herbivore in North America. They can cope with the worst weather. They build up the grassland. They certainly don’t need a barn.

There are two reasons why the herd is booming and that more people are getting involved. Most importantly, there is demand for the meat. Meat from a true grass grazer is on the top of the health lists now for those that can afford it. On the rancher side, the costs of keeping buffalo are much less that for cattle. 

They are not easy to keep. They are to cows as wolves are to dogs. They are a wild animal. So they cannot be confined. They need large areas and really strong fencing.

BUT they offer us a clue I think to the future of meat. Today we set up an entirely artificial environment for the animals that we depend on. What if instead we selected animals like the Highland cattle seen below that fit and thrived where we live instead?

250px-Cow_on_Pupers
I am NOT saying we have to all be buffalo ranchers – though out west this could be vast. I am saying that our new paradigm might be to favor animals that fit well with local conditions and so need very few inputs and capital to ensure that they thrive.

If we can breed a Holstein to have more milk than could be imagined, we could breed more adapted animals like this Highland Cow that can tolerate cold very well.

250px-Sheep_on_the_isle_of_Lewis (1)
In the UK the Blackface Sheep is the Gold Standard meat sheep who can tolerate extreme cold and poor pasture. Their wool is also highly esteemed making it a multipurpose sheep.

Berksow
The Berkshire pig does well outdoors even in Atlantic Canada.

There are breeds of all our basic domestic animals that can be rescued from history and offer us a low input low cost alternative to the “poodle” breeds we have now.

You do not have to wait years for Organic certification to beging this way of raising animals. You can start next year. There is also a large and fast growing market for this kind of meat now. Maybe not here on PEI yet but there is an export market that will enable us to get up to scale for when we all have to eat locally like this anyway.

If you start small with other your risk is low.

Grass – the opposite of the plough - The plough is all about getting rid of the existing natural system and replacing it with an artificial one. At Polyface Farm, the system is all about keeping and building on grass. Each animal has part of a rotation that uses different parts of the grass and that fits into a larger system.

220px-Pigs_at_Polyface_Farm
Pigs have their job at the edge of the system.

220px-Eggmobile_and_flock_of_chickens_at_Polyface_Farm
Chickens come in after the larger animals. All add more back so over time the grass improves and so can carry more load. The opposite of our current system As the years go by the ROI on the farm goes up. the opposite of our current system.

As well as producing meat and eggs that rely on very few extra inputs, this system produces the very healthiest of product. Why? Because the animal fits its environment. Chickens and pigs were designed to live like this and to eat like this. If we go down this road we work WITH nature.

This can all be done locally.

Imagine if we made grass our focus? We have such ingenuity. Polyface Farm is to the future what the crudest early plough is to our modern system.

So what then about crops – what about veggies, fruits and nuts? How might we tie into a grass system a system for this?

I think that the answer is in Permaculture.

Permaculture
This is what Permaculture looks like. Looks chaotic but it is not. Again the principle is “Fit”. We plant to mimic nature and to enhance nature. Most are perennials. As the system ages, it gets more productive. For the parts all reinforce each other as the animals do on a grass farm. Too many slugs = not enough ducks!

This is the DNA of the structure.

Permastructure
Ponds and woods are key to the design.

The Salatins at Polyface have discovered the importance of linking their woodland to the grass land. Both feed the other.

Both get stronger over time. Both end up needing almost no inputs. Both have an ever increasing ROI and offer the farmer more and more margin and so independence.

This is what working with nature looks like. It’s early days now. But I think that these two related ideas have great potential. Could they not work for you? If they did what would happen to you?

In the next and last post of this series, I will play with what this might do for society. For how we get our food shapes our culture and power. I will play with how this might work in small place like PEI.

I have no idea as of today how this imagining will work out – please join me in speculating.

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Comments

  • matt: isn't the "sugar" in soda high fructose corn syrup? why do y...
  • Caroline Cooper: Hi Rob, Nice to see you're writing again. I have been thi...
  • Patrick Meadows: People, can and have lived solely on meat. Eskimos go months...
  • ike: Maybe you veggies need to eat meat so your brains can develo...
  • robpatrob: Of course - but we are talking much more recently here about...
  • Rob: "I come from Northern European stock. My genes are the most ...
  • Gemma: Don't forget regular exercise! Prevention is better than cur...
  • Daniel: Nothing can live on just meat. Carnivores such as cats and s...
  • robert: Your retarded, so why is it most vegans need pills as vitami...
  • Dario McNut: It is true that erectile dysfunction can be associated with ...
  • robpatrob: Google Richard Wrangham - His book is on Amazon - much more ...
  • A Question: Thanks for this video! Half of the urban women who had a raw...
  • robpatrob: Great questions - thanks. Just as 300 years ago a few misfi...
  • Garfield: I really like the parallels too...I live like this also. Twe...
  • nj: Rob, check out the chart here for a broader perspective on a...

What is the Missing Human Manual All About?

Do you want to age well? Most of us do. If you are my age, 60, this is more important a question that if you are 30. But most of us would not wish to have heart disease, cancer, dementia when we get old.

Most of us think it is normal that we will get ill like this.

But science today tells us that this is not "Normal". Our evolutionary past designed us to be active and fit until we drop dead. Why? Because raising human children takes so long. Mature adults had to do most of the hard work enable us to invest up to 25 years in our kids.

We are designed by our evolution to reach a plateau of fitness in mid life. So why do most of us not live like this?

We don't because, we have strayed away from the best way of living that fits our evolution best. Our culture has got too far ahead of our biology. We eat foods that make us ill. We have lost our social identity and power and that makes us ill. And we have lost touch with the circadian rhythms of the Natural World, and that has made us ill too.

We have lost our fit with our true nature.

This site will be a Manual. It will show you what the best fit is. It will show you the science behind this. It will share with you some methods for getting your fit back with your true human nature.

So welcome to the "Missing Human Manual" . I hope that we can help you and I hope that you can help others as a result.

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Your baby’s gut health – the platform for good or poor lifetime health – what to know and to do about this

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Your Waistline – The key measurement for predicting Heart Disease

A fat tummy is a sign of visceral fat which is the #1 predictor of heart disease. We have posted about this before here. But here are some charts that help us see the range. It’s not just men either. More here on Mercola’s site:

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