Hi! I’m Raena

My earliest memories are wrapped in the aroma of bacon! The smell permeated our house when I was a child growing up in the South in the ‘50’s. In addition to bacon for breakfast, we fried everything in the leftover grease, which we saved in jars. We fried chicken in bacon grease, pork chops, and potatoes and then made gravy from the drippings! So, looking back on that, it is astonishing to me that I wound up in the field of natural health. Some natural inclination or intuition led me down a healthier path, thank goodness—hypertension and strokes are common in areas where that kind of fat is eaten on a regular basis. Now it’s good fat like olive oil, flax seed oil and EFAs that predominate in my diet, along with lots of healthy vitamins and minerals.

The big payoff for me at this stage of my life—early 60’s—is that all of my annual tests come out normal. Not only that, when I am asked the typical question during my exam: “And what medications are you taking?” I can smile and say, “NONE.” Thanks to the path I’m on of keeping my body healthy with the help of Mother Nature, and thanks to the information I gather from interviewing leading authors and scientists in this field for iHealthTube.com, I’m in the fortunate position of being drug-free.

Here's A Convenient Way to Fight Fat AND Fatigue!

Friday, October 4, 2013 by Raena Morgan

Too Fatigued!

It's a common complaint: fatigue! Our motorized, mechanized American lifestyle seems efficient at getting us around but often fails to energize us. What a paradox! An interesting article in the July 22, 2013, issue of First for Women magazine was entitled "The Alkaline Water Cure for Tiredness." It cited a recent study that indicates that as many as 90% of women are clinically dehydrated, regardless of how much water they drink. The culprit—our water supply—is allegedly too acidic to be absorbed by our cells. Dehydration manifests itself in such common ways as low energy, poor sleep, mental fogginess, achiness, depression and weight problems, just to mention a few of the maladies that assail our population. And we can assume that if this is true for 90% of women, it must also affect men and children as well.

The article cites two excellent authors for its research: Robert O. Young, Ph.D. (The pH Miracle), and Howard Murad, M.D. (The Water Secret). In addition, the article offers a two-pronged quick and easy way to get, and stay, properly hydrated: First, consume plenty of fluid-rich fruits and veggies, of course. Second, and most convenient, pH Alkaline Drops added to water and other beverages are strongly recommended for re-hydrating the body and restoring its vitality.

 

Too Fat!

Now to the other oft-heard complaint: too fat! Certainly the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., must have an entire wing devoted to diet books! However, yet another new book appeared on the market this summer addressing the obesity epidemic: 60 Seconds to Slim: Balance Your Body Chemistry to Burn Fat Fast! by Michelle Schoffro Cook, Ph.D. Dr. Cook sounds the obesity alarm with the prediction that 75% of the nation will be overweight by 2015, and that 41% of that number will be obese! And she definitely pins the blame on both our high acidic lifestyle and food supply. Balancing body chemistry against the onslaught of acidic foods and beverages is key to slimming down. As she states, "Our bodies have found a way to buffer the acid by making us fat." The body, in its wisdom, as it were, packs the acid away in places like bellies, hips and buttocks—not to mention thighs, arms, backs and chins!

Nonetheless, this can be countered with both changing the diet, which Dr. Cook outlines both thoroughly and extensively, as well as a couple of other alkalizing tactics: pH testing tape for both urine and saliva, as well as adding the very convenient alkalizing pH drops to food and beverages. Another author, Christopher Vasey, N.D., in his book The Acid–Alkaline Diet, strongly suggests the use of the pH testing tape as a simple means for monitoring body chemistry.

 

Early Origins of Acid/Alkaline Diet

This health concept has been around for a long time. Back in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the psychic healer and natural nutritionist Edgar Cayce proposed that we try to eat a diet that was comprised of approximately 80% alkaline foods to 20% acid-forming foods, warning us against eating "too many starches and sugars." Yes, way back then it was being recognized that high glycemic carbs could be a real problem! There have been many other books addressing this concept since then, and, could it be that it's back in the popular consciousness because we need it more than ever as the nation grows fatter and more exhausted?

Luckily, we currently have some convenient and simple products at our disposal like pH tape and pH drops. And here's another simple way to alkalize: deep breathing. Yes, our breath can actually alkalize us through brisk walking, singing and laughing out loud!

 

What's your take on the whole "pH balance" and acid/alkaline phenomenon? Do you actively monitor yourself and your diet? What have you found to work the best for controling fat and fatigue?

Sweet Potato Power: How Alkalizing Sweet Potatoes Fight Inflammation

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 by Raena Morgan

When we think of sweet potatoes, very often we are reminded of Thanksgiving and a sweet potato casserole with brown sugar, marshmallows and cinnamon that looks something like the picture at right (credit: myrecipes.com). While cinnamon is gaining a good reputation these days for helping control blood sugar, marshmallows and brown sugar continue to remain high-carb villains! Furthermore, the acidity of the two takes away from the natural alkalinity of sweet potatoes. They are also rich in potassium—342 mgs in just one! Indeed, there are much better ways to serve up this delicious tuber and preserve its nutritional value at the same time.

In Sweet Potato Power, author Ashley Tudor gives a thorough account of what she refers to in chapter 2 as "The Story of the Lowly Sweet Potato". It's an informative and entertaining read. She explains the difference between yams and sweet potatoes—there really isn't much—as well as touting its smart carb value. After all, in these days of Paleo, low-carb and low-glycemic load diets, potatoes are on the do-not-ingest list, though we now have an exception.

As it turns out, sweet potatoes do not have the high starch content of regular potatoes. What they do have is fiber—more than a serving of oatmeal. They also have anti-inflammatory properties. Chapter 5 is devoted to the very common health condition known as "chronic inflammation," including the many ways that sweet potatoes can remedy the situation, due to their high amounts of the powerful antioxidant, vitamin E and of bioavailable beta carotene. Not only that, but they actually rank higher in nutritional value than either spinach or broccoli! This book has some wonderful recipes too, like Sweet Potato Frittata, Sweet Potato Slaw, Sweet Potato Bars, and Sweet Potato Gratin Stackers, just to name a few.

All that yumminess aside, this book ties in with a couple of other books that bring up the value of the sweet potato as well. In The Paleo Answer, well-known founder of the "Paleo" movement, Dr. Loren Cordain, says that "sweet potatoes and yams represent a good source of carbohydrates, which are necessary to replenish your muscles' spent glycogen stores." Dr. Cordain even goes on to indicate that "all tubers are net base (alkaline) yielding vegetables." This is, of course, what caught my attention, since I believe keeping our bodies out of the acidic pH range, and more to the alkaline side, is essential to our health and well-being. Actually, this health principle struck me as so crucial to wellness that it led to my creating the Body Rescue Alkalizing Formula, which contains sweet potato flakes, along with other alkalizing nutrients.

The other book that caught my attention as I've continued to research alkalizing foods is called The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. This author traveled the world to investigate what are referred to as “blue zones”. The common denominator in these blue zones is the longevity factor and how prevalent it is among the populace. People in these geographic areas are living into their 90s—even to 100 or more—and they are in good health, too!

One of the blue zones that Buettner investigated was on Okinawa. The staple of the Okinawan diet for the older generation, as it turns out, is sweet potatoes. Ironically enough, when the Americans set up shop in Okinawa after WWII, they gradually introduced commercial fast food into the dietary culture of the Okinawan people. What’s happening now is that those in their 90s are outliving those in their 50s. The younger generations, who have more commonly consumed the western diet, tend to die of heart disease more frequently than the old timers who are eating sweet potatoes and fresh vegetables instead of burgers & fries. Go figure! 

So what to do with sweet potatoes? Here are a couple recipes you can try at home...

 

Sweet Potato Hash
recipe credit: "The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf
image credit: http://www.cookincanuck.com

 

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 medium sweet potato or yam, diced into small cubes
  • 1/2 chopped green pepper (optional)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • fresh ground pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and bell peppers and 1 tbsp of water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Toss often to prevent burning. Serve, sprinkling with fresh ground pepper.

 

 

Sweet Potato Coconut Soup (a simple variation on the above recipe)

The above recipe can easily be made into a delicious coconut/curry soup. Instead of olive oil, I use coconut oil. Once the potatoes are softened, I add a can of coconut milk with about 1/2 tsp of curry powder, or to taste. Let simmer for 10 minutes and thicken with a little coconut flour made into a paste. Or, simply sprinkle in about a half tsp of Xanthum Gum or other thickener of your choice. It's an alkalizing, nutritious, and very filling soup!

The Issue of Acidity: Everything True... Is New Again!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 by Raena Morgan

Back in the early part of the 20th century, a psychic healer by the name of Edgar Cayce emphasized the need to prevent the body from falling into an acidic state due to the many negative health repercussions an acidic pH level created.

Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1877, Cayce moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia , where the A.R.E (Association for Research and Enlightenment) was established as a center for Cayce's healing and psychic work. Cayce was known as the "Sleeping Prophet," as he went into a hypnotic trance when he did a psychic reading. Prior to his death in 1945, Cayce recorded some 14,000 psychic readings on holistic health and metaphysics over a period of 43 years.

In his many readings on holistic nutrition, Cayce repeatedly stressed a health principle that captured my attention, appealing not only to my sense of reason, but to my intuition as well. In a nutshell, Cayce advised: "Eat 80 percent alkaline foods to 20 percent acidic foods for optimum health."

This was back in the 1920's and 1930's when America's diet wasn't even remotely as acidic as it is today! People ate organic, local and fresh--there were no processed foods or fast foods. The Cayce readings also informed us that "all high starch and protein foods are acid-forming, especially combined with each other or in combinations with fruit." Furthermore, he recommended that people with weight problems (not an epidemic then) should stay away from "too many sugars and starches."

Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD, published just last year and recently re-published in 2012 as Lose the Wheat--Lose the Weight, devotes an entire chapter to the formidable acid-promoting properties of wheat, a ubiquitous grain that seems to be in just about everything! 

Chapter 8 is entitled "Dropping Acid: Wheat as the Great pH Disruptor." Dr. Davis discusses the acidic/alkaline balance at length and how our bodies need to maintain an alkaline pH of ideally 7.4. Having evolved into a nation of “wheataholics”, as he terms it, is having a dramatic impact on the body's natural ability to stay balanced. According to Dr. Davis: "Acids drive pH down, triggering a panic mode response from the body to compensate."

As I have learned from my previous research and interest in the acidic/alkaline balance, the body will draw from its own alkaline reserves to maintain its bloodstream pH at 7.4, which is critical since death can result from a blood pH that is too acidic.

Consequently, the body will leach calcium, an alkaline mineral, right out of its skeletal system to survive. As Dr. Davis puts it: "Because maintaining a normal pH is so crucial, the body will sacrifice bone health to keep pH stable....your bones will be turned to mush before pH is allowed to veer off course." Hello osteoporosis! Dr. Davis goes on to say that not only will our bones be better off if we stay alkaline, but our joints will be as well.

In addition to maintaining bone health, my research indicates there are a host of reasons why we need to keep our bodies on the alkaline side of the equation. For example, it is difficult to absorb nutrients from our foods, as well as from the supplements we take, with an acidic pH.

Not only that, but when cells become saturated in acid, it sets the stage for disease. The pH of the cell should be slightly alkaline at 7.1 and if that is not maintained, the cells become starved for oxygen, again setting the stage for disease.

 

 

My belief in the integrity of this health concept led to developing the "Body Rescue" Alkalizing Formula nearly 20 years ago. A powdered formula with a very high pH, it contains alkalizing foods such as lima beans and sweet potato flakes, along with vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium--both alkalizing minerals--and a blend of alkalizing herbs like bladderwrack, burdock root and parsley. And, the Alkalizing Formula contains 5 grams of fiber as well.

Fiber is the big buzz word in the popular press these days when it comes to nutrition. The alarm is being sounded endlessly: people are not getting enough fiber! Again, according to Dr. Davis in Wheat Belly, this all started in the 1980’s when the USDA pyramid went bottom-heavy on grains.

And though healthy fats, like olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil and the like have been exonerated, there is still this heavy emphasis on eating lots of "healthy grains" to get our fiber needs met. This too often translates into consuming copious amounts of "pH disrupting wheat" for the populace at large, and we just keep getting larger and more acidic all the time.


What's your take on the acid/alkaline issue? Are you watching what you eat based on maintaining a healthy pH level?

Can Gluten Sensitivity Mimic IBS Symptoms?

Thursday, January 13, 2011 by Raena Morgan
There are a growing number of books addressing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) these days, suggesting that the condition is becoming more prevalent. And there are a variety of approaches for healing, or at least controlling, intestinal distress and discomfort.

For example, in “Overcoming IBS,” by Dr. Jonathan Berkowitz, the BRAT diet is presented. Easy enough to remember, it stands for Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast. These fiber rich foods have been shown in studies to help those who suffer with chronic diarrhea common in IBS.
   
In “Digestive Wellness” by Dr. Elizabeth Lipski, which deals with a variety of intestinal maladies, several herbs are presented to stem the cramping and gas that many IBS sufferers experience. Ginger, Fennel and Anise, taken as tablets or brewed into teas are suggested, as well as Chlorophyll tablets or Charcoal capsules to ease or absorb the gas.
    
Author Heather Van Vorous also has a popular website (helpforibs.com) for those who suffer from the intestinal anguish of IBS. In fact, Van Vorous states on her website that as many as 38% of people who have IBS have considered suicide due to its debilitating effects.

In addition to her website, Van Vorous has written “The First Year: IBS,” offering key strategies for controlling IBS, as well as an extensive cookbook, “Eating for IBS,” in which she provides assorted recipes that contain soluble fiber, a key player in controlling IBS. Van Vorous strongly recommends avoiding insoluble fibers, like whole grains, for example, because they can exacerbate your symptoms.
   
Visiting with a gastroenterologist might yield the suggestion to eat more fiber, too. Also, one might have to undergo a number of tests to see if there is something more gravely wrong than simple IBS, like Ulcerative Colitis or, the worst case scenario, colon cancer. Often a test for Celiac Disease will be ordered as well. If everything comes back negative (good), a form of stress relief help might be prescribed, as too much stress can also lead to tummy issues.
   
Could Gluten Sensitivity be the Real Culprit?
Dr. Shari Lieberman, author of “The Gluten Connection,” says absolutely yes! It’s an intolerance that’s long been recognized to wreak havoc in the gut. Very often it is sensitivity to wheat and other gluten containing foods that is sabotaging a person’s health.

In her book she states that blood tests for Celiac Disease do not reveal gluten-intolerance or gluten-sensitivity, and so it simply goes undiagnosed. Furthermore, as much as 20% of the population is given a diagnosis of IBS, or functional bowel disorder—characterized by bloating, cramping, gas and diarrhea—and then they are stuck with that diagnosis and no real direction.
   
In “The Gluten Connection,” Dr. Lieberman indicates that reaction to gluten can mimic intestinal disorders from IBS to Inflammatory Bowel Disease to Gastroesophageal Reflux, also known as GERD.

She offers an explanation, information on how to get blood tests that reveal gluten sensitivity/intolerance, along with a list of foods to avoid when going gluten free shopping. And she guarantees that after 14 days on her program a person can reduce, even reverse symptoms. Certainly a possibility worth exploring for the legions of people whose bowels are in an uproar!