I recently watched a delightful movie called “The Green Book” that one writer described as “a love letter to the endurance of the embattled human spirit.” I found the movie to be down to earth and heavenly at the same time.  More than anything, it gave me renewed faith and hope in us.

We all experience suffering and injustice, but we also experience how the Divine provides help and hope every day, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. At Easter, Passover, and spring, we celebrate the season of renewal and hope. My prayer is that we grow, together, in faith, hope, love, and understanding.

“Hope is always loving and faith is always loving and hopeful.  Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing. We are in it.” ~Richard Rohr

“Flowing River” by Sigmar 32

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Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are among the 10 most widely used drugs in the world. In 2012, there were 157 million prescriptions written for these stomach-acid inhibiting drugs.1 More than likely, either you or someone you know is taking these medications.

While PPIs may alleviate the problem of excess stomach acid, many people don’t realize that these drugs are associated with an increased risk of gastric cancer, pneumonia, c. difficile infections, osteoporosis (you need stomach acid to absorb nutrients such as magnesium and calcium into bones), and vitamin B12 deficiency, among other serious diseases.2

The Rationale Behind PPIs

The stomach secretes digestive fluids with a pH2 value, which creates a highly acidic environment. These acidic gastric secretions sterilize bacteria in foods that are eaten, and are essential for the digestion and absorption of various nutrients, including protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin B12.

Obviously, stomach acid that can digest food can also damage delicate intestinal mucosa. The body has protective mechanisms—including mucosal mucous/bicarbonate secretion and sphincter contraction of the gastroesophageal junction—to prevent gastroesophageal damage. But if the sphincter is weakened, stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus. The backwash of acid irritates the esophageal lining, causing heartburn and the regurgitation of food. If the condition persists, it may cause chest pain, difficulty swallowing, chronic cough, hoarseness, and disrupted sleep. Left untreated, GERD can lead to esophageal ulcers, narrowing of the esophagus, and precancerous changes known as Barrett’s esophagus. 


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 I discovered that technology’s quest towards the unknown
requires us to accumulate more and more control,
whereas growing in virtue requires an altogether different capacity:
more and more surrender.
~Nipun Mehta

 

 

Believe it or not, I do not own a smartphone. I’m not averse to technology. But I spend so much time on my computer engaged in research and writing that when I take a break from my work, I truly take a break. I want to be fully present in life without the temptation of looking at my smartphone. Instead of focusing on my phone, I walk down the street enjoying my surroundings and smiling at people as I pass by. If I need directions, I ask someone directly, engaging in real communication with another human being.

Along with the benefit of being engaged in life, removing myself from the seductive pull of technology frees up time for my mind to wander, which is essential to creative thought and wellbeing.

On average, people in the U.S. check their smartphones 46 times per day (up from 33 times per day in 2014). And it’s worse for users in the U.K. A study by Nottingham Trent University found that adults ages 18-33 checked their smartphones 85 times a day, or once every 10 minutes—and they don’t even know they are doing it.1

We are giving up our uniqueness as individuals, becoming mere facts and statistics plugged into technology and artificial intelligence. Many believe this is a good thing and will improve our lives. But as we create smarter robots that are increasingly human-like, humans are at the same time becoming more robot-like. What happens to the human spirit in this race for technology?

I am deeply concerned about the physical, emotional, and spiritual price we are paying for technology, which is advancing at a speed that is impossible for us to adjust to. Drug addiction, drug overdosing, and suicide are epidemic in our society, and feelings of isolation are a primary cause. Social interaction is emerging as perhaps the single most important factor to a long, healthy and happy life, but overdosing on technology leads to isolation, not interaction.

My new motto has become: “Together we heal.”


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Understanding Neutrophil to Lymphocyte Ratio (Part 2): Research Demonstrating its Role as a Valuable Prognostic Marker in Cancer

A large body of research (as well as my clinical observations) point to chronic inflammation as a powerful force in the initiation, growth, and spread of cancer. As a result, an essential component of my protocol for health includes addressing inflammation.

As I discussed in part 1 of this series, there are three points to consider when evaluating the role of inflammation in cancer. First, a chronic inflammatory state can initiate cancer development. Second, it’s important to discover and address the root cause of the inflammation—for example, pathogenic (chronic infection), life-style, stress, and/or poor dietary habits. And third, recognize that the cancer itself creates inflammation—as the cancer energy mutates and gains intelligence, it manipulates the immune system, creating a pro-inflammatory micro-environment favorable to cancer growth.

Research indicates that the systemic manifestations of inflammation can provide a valuable biomarker for prognosis and treatment stratification. In particular, numerous studies indicate that a simple indicator of systemic inflammation—based on neutrophilia and/or lymphocytopenia—can provide prognostic information in a wide range of cancer types. In particular, the value of one index (the dNLR) derived from total white cell and neutrophil counts, is enabling large retrospective studies to be carried out.

Neutrophil to Lymphocyte Ratio May Be a Predictor of Mortality in All Conditions

White blood cell (WBC) count is one of the useful inflammatory biomarkers in clinical practice. For example, even if WBC is within normal range, subtypes of WBC including N/L ratio may predict cardiovascular mortality.

N/L ratio is a readily measurable laboratory marker used to evaluate systemic inflammation. There are many different conditions that can affect N/L ratio, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome (1), left ventricular dysfunction, acute coronary syndromes, valvular heart disease, abnormal thyroid function tests, renal or hepatic dysfunction, known malignancy (2,3,4), local or systemic infection, previous history of infection (<3 months), inflammatory diseases, and any medication related to inflammatory conditions.

Here’s one example of how the N/L ratio can be useful as part of the evaluation of a specific cancer and the treatment protocol: not only N/L ratio but also mean platelet volume, red cell distribution width (5), platelet distribution width, CRP, uric acid and gamma-glutamyl transferase (6) are easy markers to evaluate the prognosis of colon cancer patients (7). However, one should keep in mind that N/L ratio itself alone without other inflammatory markers may not give exact information to clinicians about the prognosis of colon cancer patients. (8,9).


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Inflammation is an essential part of our body’s immune defense. When we encounter pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites, our body responds with inflammation to fight the invaders and increase immune response. In these instances, inflammation is beneficial. But inflammation has a dark side—left unchecked, it can wreak havoc on cells, tissues, and organs. For example, it’s well established that chronic inflammation is a powerful force in the initiation, growth, and spread of cancer.

There are three essential points to consider: First, a chronic inflammatory state can, over time, initiate cancer development. Second, we still need to find the cause of the chronic state of inflammation—for example, pathogenic (chronic infection), life-style, stress, years of poor eating, or a combination of the above. And third, it is important to keep in mind that the cancer energy, as it gains in intelligence, manipulates our immune system, creating a cancer-favorable, pro-inflammatory micro-environment.

Research indicates that the systemic manifestations of inflammation can provide a valuable biomarker for prognosis and treatment stratification. Numerous studies indicate that a simple indicator of systemic inflammation—based on neutrophilia and/or lymphocytopenia—can provide prognostic information in a wide range of cancer types. In particular, the value of one index (the dNLR) derived from total white cell and neutrophil counts, is enabling large retrospective studies to be carried out.

Although not informative from a biological standpoint in distinguishing cause from effect, the results of these studies are likely to be of significance in how we approach cancer. In my practice, I always consider the role of inflammation in cancer and tailor protocols for patients accordingly. The following markers are among those I consider most important:

  • Tumor-associated neutrophils (TANs)
    Bio-Markers: CD11b+, CD66b+, CD63+

Tumor-associated neutrophils (TAN) play a major role in cancer biology. Neutrophils are the most abundant circulating leukocyte in humans, and are phenotypically plastic. Neutrophils, as a key component in inflammation, often play a crucial role in inflammation driven tumorigenesis. TAN can take an anti-tumorigenic (what we are calling an “N1-phenotype”) versus a pro-tumorigenic (“N2”) phenotype. The anti-tumor activities of N1 TANs include expression of more immuno-activating cytokines and chemokines, lower levels of arginase, and more capability of killing tumor cells. N2 neutrophils are pro-tumorigenic, and secrete T2 cytokines.


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Baking cookies and sharing them with friends is part of our family’s holiday tradition. This year, I created a new recipe that I’d like to share with you. It’s a delicious holiday treat (made with spelt, walnuts, and other healthy ingredients) that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as we do!

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz butter (1 stick butter)
  • 2 oz coconut oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

    Walnut-Coconut Crescent Holiday Cookies

  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup sprouted spelt flour *
  • ½ cup Pamela’s baking mix
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts*
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, toasted on stove for 2 minutes, stirring frequently

Sugar and spice topping:

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 tsp. maple sugar
  • 1 tsp. coconut milk powder

Instructions:

  1. Soften butter and mix with coconut oil and vanilla. Beat in maple syrup and coconut sugar.
  2. Sift oat flour, spelt flour, baking mix, and sea salt and add to wet ingredients.
  3. Fold in chopped walnuts and coconut.
  4. Shape into crescents and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before baking.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F convection.
  6. Bake cookies for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven, place on rack to cool, and using a sifter, dust cookies with the sugar and spice mixture.

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