Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Choose your Doctors Wisely

First off, I must apologise for posting as infrequently as I am at present. I will be sailing across the South Atlantic Ocean in January, competing in the Cape to Rio yacht race from Cape Town, South Africa, to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Ahead of my departure for the start of that race I am very busy completing as much work as I can and working very long hours. That leaves little time for writing on my Psoriasis Spot blog.

Yesterday I was chatting to someone who had called me to talk about psoriasis. He is very seriously afflicted and is on one of the biologic drugs. I don't use any prescription drugs of any kind because I don't want to intentionally put anything into my body that will weaken my immune system in any way. I believe that weakening my immune system is going to open the doors to all manner of possible infections and one of those infections will be serious enough that it may be the cause of my demise.

I am a very active person and hardly a month goes by that I don't open up a big hole in my skin through some activity or other. Last month it was a collision with my surfboard that left my head bleeding and my left ear ringing for 4 weeks. This month it has been a big gash in my hand when a socket spanner exploded under load while doing a brake job on my wife's car. Both were in situations that can definitely not be described as clean conditions, so infection is a very real possibility. Anyway, you get the message. I am not going to undermine the sterling job that my immune system is doing in protecting me from my own stupidity.

While chatting to this man I asked him about his diet and he told me that his doctor had told him that diet has no effect at all on psoriasis. The doctor put him onto various prescribed medications and eventually onto the biologic drug as a last resort. I agree with this in only one respect. The biologic drug should have been the last resort. But, the last resort option means that you have already tried everything else and none of it worked. The fact that this doctor said that diet does not affect psoriasis means that there was an option that he did not try before choosing the "last resort" drug option. It also means that he is uneducated in the research that has been going on for decades into diet and psoriasis and it means that he has a closed mind to alternatives outside of his drug solutions.

I have a major problem with this. It may come from the fact that I spent most of my life in South Africa, where the doctors are not trained in schools that are heavily sponsored by the drug companies. The result is that in SA the doctors that I was able to choose had an open mind about options outside of the influence of the big drug companies. Here in USA the drug companies hold too much financial influence over the training of the medical profession, so there is a strong leaning toward popping pills and jabbing flesh with hypodermic syringes instead of encouraging healthy eating habits.

I have also noticed that many of the doctors and nurses here really aren't as healthy as they should be. They are health-care professionals and should know what is good and what is bad for people. It is very apparent that many of them don't know, or they really don't care. Whichever it is, I don't want any doctor or nurse who is in self-inflicted bad health to give me any advice about how to treat my body.

If your doctor is unfit, obese, drinks heavily or smokes, why would you want them to look after your health? They obviously don't know how to treat their own bodies and will do no better on yours. I say, walk out the door and find a doctor and nurse who are in prime health to take over your care.

I know that I am not the "average person" when it comes to my health-care habits. I very seldom visit doctors of any description but when I do I want it to be a doctor in whom I have confidence that the advice will be balanced and well considered by someone who knows good health options from bad ones.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sensible Lifestyle Decisions

I have written before on this blog about the need for people to take responsibility for their own health and to make sensible lifestyle decisions. Most of this comes down to educating ourselves about the likely outcome of stuffing all sorts of junk food, sweet drinks, chemicals etc into our bodies and of becoming rolly-poly couch potatoes instead of getting outside into fresh air and sunshine to do some kind of physical activity that will keep our muscles and joints working. It also means having some interests in life outside of the home and away from the TV or computer games.

Beyond that, it also needs this information to be passed on to our children, so that they can live long and healthy lives. This information is passed on by setting a good example and by enforcing standards that are healthy within the home. What kind of parenting is it if a child is allowed to consume whatever tasty snacks they want from the almost infinite variety that the $-hungry food and drink industries have been able to concoct? The child doesn't know what is good or bad, other than what their taste buds are advising them. Don't blame an over-weight 10-year old when their health starts to break down, blame whoever was in charge of them and allowed that to happen.

The manufacturers of those products are somewhat to blame for bringing them to market but don't rely on those factories to have your health at heart, their financial bottom line is all-important to them. They will not change the formulation of their products until their bottom line starts to hurt. The best way to help that happen is to just stop consuming those junk products.

How often don't we hear people say that their excess weight is "in my genes". They are taking the easy way out and blaming their heritage for the bad state of their health. "I come from a long line of chubby people." Another one is "My family is big-boned." No, you come from a long line of people who have passed on unhealthy eating habits and family recipes that have done harm to all of them before you and will continue to do the same to your children and grandchildren and those who will follow them. It will not stop until someone breaks the chain and accepts that it does not need to be that way.

Bad health can come from inherited conditions for those unlucky to inherit those genes but most who use that excuse are simply too uninformed to know better or too stuck in their ways to do do anything about it. A rut is a terrible thing to break out of, in all walks of life. It is easier to continue along the same comfortable route, no matter how much we realise that we should do different, than to make the effort to climb out of that rut onto ground that allows us to travel in whatever direction we want.

I recently met up with a friend while walking my dogs around the neighbourhood. He is my age and does way more exercise than I do. I am more active than than most men of my age but I work very long hours, which cuts deeply into available time for exercise. He is retired and spends much of his day riding his bicycle, walking or in the gym. Despite all that exercise he has a big gut. He said to me "You are so lucky you are so slim, it must be your genes". I told him that I eat healthy and that makes the difference. His response was that he also eats healthy but it doesn't help. I listed my meals for the day, which were oats for breakfast, fruit and salad for lunch and grilled fish with salad and vegetables for dinner. He said "Oh, I don't eat like that" and walked away.

My friend and his wife eat out very often, mostly at all-you-can-eat restaurants, which is likely to be a big part of his problem. My family eats at those same restaurants but we do so as a treat rather than on a regular basis. The danger  is not only a risk of over-eating at the restaurant, to get the best value for money, it is also that you have no control over what is going into your food. Most restaurants in USA use way too much salt and/or sugar in their recipes, both of which are very bad for health if not used in moderation and both contribute to obesity and risks of cancer, diabetes and other serious health issues, if taken in excess.

Eating at home is not going to solve the problem either, if you are in the habit of taking the easy way out by opening cans or TV dinners. Those easy meals are possibly even worse culprits for over-stuffing with salt and sugar. Last night my wife opened a packet of rice/pasta mix to go with salads and the chicken that I had on the grill. The rice dish was OK but it was so salty that I would never buy it. I prefer to cook brown rice with herbs, for a more flavourful dish that is also much more healthy. Salt is not a flavour. A small amount of salt will accentuate flavours but more salt does not add flavour, it only adds bad health and a dry mouth.

This morning my email copy of Bottom Line's Daily Health News arrived in my computer, with two excellent articles related to what I am writing about today. One is Dangerous Food Additives that Sound Safe and the other is The Prescription that's More Important than Some Pill . One deals with all the things that are in pre-prepared food that should or shouldn't be there and the other covers changing your lifestyle for the better instead of popping pills.

My advise is that, no-matter what rut you are in, climb out of it and you will see many more options in front of you. Don't just continue along the way that you are just because that is the way that it has always been. Every day brings new things and opportunities into your world, many of which are out of sight when you have the limited field of vision that results from being in your rut. If your personal rut is the root of ill-health, that is the best reason of all to climb out of it and improve your life.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Betaine Hydrochloride & Psoriasis

Over the past few years my efforts and experiments have gradually improved my psoriasis, to the point that nobody realises that I have the condition unless I show them the few very minor lesions that I have. I have written before on this blog about my testing methods and waiting patiently to see the results.

A few months ago my sister told me that she had been suffereing from vitiligo, a different skin condition that is also rooted in imbalances in the immune system, like psoriasis. She had done some reading about the use of  Betaine Hydrochloride (Betaine HCL) to increase stomach acid and kill off a Helicobactor Pylori (H Pylori) bacteria infection. She was seeing good results.

There is much information on Helicobactor Pylori online but it seems that there is not much that is known about what it does, except that it does increase inflammation in some people, which can lead to cancer and immune system problems. Infection is in the region of 50% of people worldwide, with higher infection rates in developing countries, lower rates in Western countries and varying rates among different population groups. Although there is such a high incidence of infection, few people show signs of illness resulting from it. Some researches speculate that it is actually a beneficial bacteria that does a job inside the digestive system.

There is much info available online if you Google "Helicobactor Pylori & Psoriasis" or "Betaine Hydrochloride & Psoriasis". I won't go into it but my sister saw good results on her vitiligo by supplementing with Betaine HCL so I decided to try it also.

Within a few days of starting with Betaine HCL supplements I started to feel changes in my skin before I could see them. Unfortunately, the changes were itchiness followed by increasing redness and lesion thickness. I persevered with the Betaine HCL supplement for 5 or 6 weeks, on the assumption that, if an H Pylori infection really was the root cause of my psoriasis then I should suffer through the deterioration to kill the infection and reach improvements once the H Pylori was gone.

Unfortunately, the improvement didn't come for me. After two bottles of Betaine HCL capsules I stopped taking them and my skin is now gradually improving again. At no time during the process did my psoriasis become more than mild but it definitely was deteriorating. This is very much in line with my past experience that acid foods aggravated my skin.

So, Betaine Hydrochloride didn't work for me. That does not mean that it won't work for you. There are people who say that it worked for them. Read up on the subject for yourself, you may be one of the lucky ones who can be cured this way. Just beware of those who claim that they have the final answer to cure all psoriasis and other immune conditions for everyone. Such huge claims are normally a clear give-away of someone wanting to separate you from your hard-earned money.