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Wellness Journey with Joe

Week 1 - We Begin!

Week 1 - We Begin!

Week 1
A) Under the Influence
B) Bread; Our First Hurdle

So here we go!  It might be a good idea at this time to take those “before” photos, record your measurements, and save your blood chemistry results if you’ve had your cholesterol, glucose, etc. checked lately.  Also write down your current aches and pains along with your life’s frustrations; because in one year it will be great to look back and compare.

A)      Under the Influence
When we hear the term “under the influence” what most commonly comes to mind is alcohol or drugs, something that alters our mental perceptions and physical performance.  But what are we really under the influence of?  Ultimately we are under the influence of the behavior of our cells.  Certainly alcohol and drugs alter our mental perceptions and physical performance by altering  cell function, but so does an apple, sugar, and trans fats, self-esteem, anger, and happiness, and even posture, muscle tone, and the amount of rest you get.  It all manifests in the cells of your body.  This is where the action is, the processes that keep us alive. 

For example, when we consider our digestive system we think of our mouth, stomach, and intestines.  Specifically it’s the cells of these structures that are doing the work.  In the mouth the cells within the salivary glands secrete digestive enzymes that break down starches and begin the digestive process.  The cells in the lining of our stomachs secrete hydrochloric acid and enzymes that continue digestion.  The cells that line our intestines secrete more enzymes and absorb the released nutrients and subsequently dump them into the blood stream for transport within the body.  Cells within accessory organs such as the pancreas and liver (via the gall bladder) secrete digestive enzymes and bile that aid in the absorption of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

As the nutrients travel in the blood stream they are transported from the capillaries into the cells of our bodies’ structures, giving nourishment to the cells of the brain, kidneys, spleen, muscles, bone, etc.

You can take any system of the body, the nerve system, the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, genitourinary system, etc. and break each system down to the cellular level and find out where the actual duties of that system lie.  And here is the point I want you to understand; The collective experience of your cells’ behavior determines your state of health.   If the cells of the intestine are not functioning to their maximum efficiency how can the nutrients get transported to our bodies’ tissues?  If the cells of the heart or walls of your arteries are not functioning properly you again are limited in getting the nutrients to the tissues.  If the cells of the pancreas are not secreting proper amounts of insulin the sugar in your blood stream will not efficiently get transported across the cell walls of muscles, liver, etc. resulting in high blood sugar.  If the brain cells are not functioning properly how can it direct the activities of other organs throughout the body in our constant need to adapt to our environment? 

You see, each system of the body depends on the integrity of other systems for maximum efficiency.  And ultimately it’s the integrity of the cells of these systems that determines how that system, and therefore, the body functions.  That is why I say that ultimately we are under the influence of the behavior of our cells.

So then, what determines the behavior of our cells?  Certainly our genetics play a role in the function of cells, but the greatest influences on our cells’ behavior are the food we eat, the thoughts we think, and the healthy stress we put on our cells through reasonable exercise.  You see, YOU have control of your destiny.  This year-long program is designed to help you understand your experience as a human being better, so that you may be mindful of the choices you make in your life that directly influence the behavior of your cells.  This means YOU have control over your level of vitality, contentment, and happiness!  The problem is many of us haven’t been properly educated.  And, as a matter of fact, you have been encouraged day in and day out to make unhealthy decisions from all the profit motivated television advertising, billboards, and fashion pressures.  Corporations know your weak spots, diabolically studying them in the laboratory in order to find what is called the “bliss point”.  Taking advantage of our evolutionary need for sugar, salt, and fat these substances are addded, raised just to the right amount in order to provide that moment of bliss, but at the same time shamefully disregarding the detrimental effects this now "processed" food has on our health.

We can’t expect to change overnight.  Old habits are hard to break and new ones need to be reinforced by results, and that takes time.  That is why I want you to view this as a one year experience.  There will be victories and setbacks, but if we keep the conversation going I know you will succeed; appreciating and enjoying this human experience much greater when we complete the year.  We will begin with nutrition since it is imperative that we get our diets under control.  From there we will go to stress management as it seems the number one roadblock on a journey like this is TIME.  And we’ll need to free up some time in order for you to squeeze in the exercise portion that we will address down the road.

So, remember, our number one goal is to support the healthy functioning of our cells, and that is what we will relate all of our information and suggestions to.  Please post comments and concerns as we move forward.


B)       Bread; Our First Hurdle
As I said we will begin the journey for a month or so with nutrition.  Many who commit to this Wellness Journey With Joe are concerned with how they are currently feeling and how they look.  And nothing will affect both of these more than the food we put in our bodies. 

I realize when it comes to my suggestions on food there needs to be a balance between what we need to give up and what we need to add to our diets.  I don’t want to discourage you by just telling you what you have to give up so I won’t dwell disproportionately on that, but I believe we do need to start with the big one.  Bread.

Yes, this is a tough one.  The cultural aspect that surrounds bread is huge.  It’s ingrained in us! (pun intended)  We all grew up having sandwiches, toast, rolls, buns, bagels, English muffins, cereals, scones, pasta, pancakes, pies, cakes, cookies, crackers, flat bread, sweet bread, bread pudding, etc.  I sure hope I haven’t lost you already!  We have a saying, “It’s not what you do some of the time, it’s what you do all of the time.”  In other words, if you are always wary about bread in your diet then you can go ahead and treat yourself some of the time.   I can’t say I never eat bread products, but it is rare.  And when I do eat bread I realize it’s a treat and I TOTALLY enjoy it.

So here’s the deal with bread.  Our bodies did not evolve with grains as a staple.  The kernels were too small just to pick and eat.  The birds ate the grain, and then we ate the birds.  But humans did not begin eating grains until around 10,000 years ago when we began living in settlements, dividing up work duties, domesticating our animals, farming, etc.  And while 10,000 years may seem like a long time it is a small fraction compared to the millions of years it took for humans to develop.  And during that developmental time our evolution was guided by three basic things; the food that was eaten, the problem solving skills that helped develop our big brains, and the physical demand necessary to stay alive.

So if we look at the differences in what we ate prior to farming and what we are eating now we can see the physiological problems with the foods introduced in the past 10,000 years.  Namely grains, milk after being weaned, and now processed foods.

We know that many people are gluten sensitive.  Many of these folks have experienced dramatic positive changes in their health by avoiding wheat and other grains that contain gluten.  I argue that we are all gluten and grain intolerant but that some of us are just more sensitive than others.  It’s not that there are no healthy nutrients in grains.  We know that fiber is good for us along with the minerals and vitamins inherent in grain.  However, there are other substances that are harmful, and grains are basically carbohydrates that break down as sugar and stored as FAT!  Cows are fed grain to fatten them up to produce a greater profit at market time!  More on that later.

Grains are considered “inflammatory”, containing various amounts of phytic acid which encourages an acidic pH in the body.  This acidic pH fosters inflammation.  Also gluten is a large glycoprotein, often recognized as an invader and attacked by the body’s immune system.  This reaction also causes inflammation along with damage to the walls of the intestines, resulting in leaky gut syndrome.

Even “whole grain” products are rarely whole grain.  Processed grain (grain that is stripped of many of its components/nutrients to allow a longer shelf life) is usually added to “whole grain products”.  And the pulverizing of grain results in a quicker absorption of the broken down glucose, leading to acute high blood sugar which we will address later.

The internet is full of information on the damaging effects of grains if you’d like more information.  Just respect the fact that our species, homo sapiens, evolved eating certain foods, and grains were not one of them.  If we want to continue to evolve as a species we need to consider the foods that our ancestors ate, foods that fueled our genes as we evolved into the king of the forest, foods that are genetically congruent with our cells.

So for this next week just observe how often you consume bread and bread products.  BE HONEST with yourself.  In my practice when I mention bread more often than not I hear, “Oh, yeah, I really don’t eat a lot of bread.”  But under further questioning it is revealed that most of these folks are eating some bread daily. 

You may not kick this habit in a week, it’s a long journey, but know that this is important enough that I’ve put it first in your minds as we move toward healthy living.  Use this week to fully observe all the bread eating opportunities that arise and take at least one day eating NO bread products.  Then try for two in a row, etc.  I guarantee you will feel a difference.

For more you can always read through the Nutrition Module in my Wellness Mini-Course.

It’s a beautiful world, see you next week. 


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