Cardiovascular System, Circulatory System, Healthy Living, Matters of the Heart

What Lack of Sleep Can Do to Your Heart?


This is a very long overdue post that I have intended to share several months back. So now that I have gotten the time to pick up my pen and write, I want to share my thoughts with you on this post that I read way back from last year. This post is a bit long, but please read to the end because it may save you or someone you know from a serious heart attack.

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Take Care of Your Heart

This is a repost from a blog in Mumbai, India:

“Ranjan Das, CEO and MD of SAP-Indian subcontinent died after a massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai recently. One of the youngest CEOs, he was only 42.”

What killed Ranjan Das?

He was very active in sports, was a fitness freak and a marathon runner. After his workout, he collapsed with a massive heart attack and died. He is survived by his wife and two very young kids. It was certainly a wakeup call for corporate India. However, it was even more disastrous for runners. The question arises as to why an exceptionally active athletic person succumbed to a heart attack at 42 years of age.

What is the real reason?

Everyone missed out a small line in the reports that Ranjan used to manage with 4-5 hours of sleep. In an earlier interview of Ranjan on NDTV in the program “Boss day out”, Ranjan Das himself admitted that he sleeps less and would love to get more sleep.

Short sleep duration (<5 or 5-6 hours) increases risk for BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night.

Young people (25-49 years of age) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Individuals who sleep less than 5 hours a night have a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks.

Just one night of sleep loss increases very toxic substances in body such as Interleukin-6 (IL-6). Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (CRP). They also cause cancer, arthritis and heart disease.

Sleeping for <=5 hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart disease. Sleeping for <=6 hours per night leads to 8% increase in heart disease.

What is ideal sleep?

In brief, sleep is composed of two stages: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM. The former helps in mental consolidation while the latter helps in physical repair and rebuilding. No wonder when one wakes up with an alarm clock after 5-6 hours of sleep, he/she is mentally irritable throughout the day (lack of REM sleep).

And if somebody has slept for less than 5 hours, the body is a complete physical mess (lack of non-REM sleep), the person is tired throughout the day and immunity is way down.

In conclusion:

Barring stress control, Ranjan Das did everything right: eating proper food, exercising, and maintaining proper weight. But he missed getting proper and adequate sleep, minimum 7 hours. That killed him.

We are playing with fire if we a sleeping less than 7 hours even if we have low stress.

Do not set your alarm clock under 7 hours. Ranjan Das is not alone.

From: N. Silva (Senior Cardiologist)

My personal thoughts on this:

Instead of talking about how shocking this news was, let me focus on what can be done to avoid it. Personally, when I sleep for less than 7 hours at night; my body gives me a host of negative signals from migraine headaches, stomach upsets, palpitations, chest heaviness to shortness of breath. When this occurs, my automatic self-remedy is to pay off all my sleep debt just how my cardiologist taught me.

How sleep debt works?

So, when I owe myself one hour of sleep for each weekday (Monday to Friday), I add 5 more hours on top of my regular 7 or 8 hours of sleep on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) to pay off my accumulated sleep debt.

Here is a sample computation:

Monday to Friday (6 hours sleep each night) = 5 hours of sleep debt

Saturday and Sunday (8 hours per night) = 16 hours + 5 hours

Total number of required hours of sleep on weekends (21 hours/2) = 10.5 hours

This strategy really works for me because after banking on my sleep hours, I feel refreshed mentally, emotionally and physically, and most importantly, the symptoms are gone.

Additional Tips on How to Improve Sleep

“Falling asleep may seem like an impossible dream when you’re awake at 3 a.m., but good sleep is more under your control than you might think. Following healthy sleep habits can make the difference between restlessness and restful slumber. Researchers have identified a variety of practices and habits—known as “sleep hygiene”—that can help anyone maximize the hours they spend sleeping, even those whose sleep is affected by insomnia, jet lag, or shift work.” Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School

Here are “Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep” according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and WGBH Educational Foundation:

  1. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Chemicals that Interfere with Sleep
  2. Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep-Inducing Environment
  3. Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine
  4. Go to Sleep When You’re Truly Tired
  5. Don’t Be a Night-time Clock-Watcher
  6. Use Light to Your Advantage
  7. Keep Your Internal Clock Set with a Consistent Sleep Schedule
  8. Nap Early—Or Not at All
  9. Lighten Up on Evening Meals
  10. Balance Fluid Intake
  11. Exercise Early
  12. Follow Through

These tips are all self-explanatory and my guess is, everybody already knows most of them. So if you ask me what’s the most important one? It is the follow through; meaning, you have to start somewhere and then continuously and consistently do it every day. You may find difficulty following everything at the start, so what you can do is follow one suggestion after another and whatever works for you, be committed to doing it religiously.

Lastly, here’s one thing that was not mentioned on the list, but works effectively for me; I spend some quiet moments alone in my room to either read a favorite book, to have small chat with my husband or best of all, to say a short prayer of thanksgiving for all the day’s accomplishments.

I do encourage you to take a self-evaluation of your sleep pattern and make the necessary adjustments on your sleep hygiene; also, share this with your loved ones or someone you know who can benefit from living with a strong and healthy heart!

Media Graphic Credits:
It’s Your Heart—Take care of it: https://alanfitness.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/its-your-heart-take-care-of-it/

 

Cardiovascular System, Circulatory System, Digestive System, Ears, Nose and Throat, Healthy Living, Immune System, Muscular System, Nervous System, Reproductive System, Urinary System

What to Do If You Just Had a Surgery?

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Surgeries & Procedures

These past 2 months I’ve had a number of people ask me about what to do after a surgery so I’ve decided to post a blog to help others who might have similar questions that they asked.

Before I start, though, let me be clear that I am going to discuss uncomplicated surgeries like, appendectomy, excision, incision and drainage, mastectomy, biopsy, endoscopy and the like, but not limited to these. If you’re asking if a cesarean section is considered uncomplicated, the answer is – it depends. Childbirth in itself, no matter how painful the mechanism is, is considered a normal process. A good question though, is what the reason was for a cesarean procedure and how the delivery process took place, and then we can decide whether it is an uncomplicated or a complicated one. I will talk more about labor and delivery in a separate post in the future.

Now back to surgery – first of all, it will be the safest to ask your doctor if there is any ongoing or possible complication on your case. Some of the most common complications to consider include: site or wound infection, fever, embolism (lodging of a blood clot, air bubble or foreign material in the bloodstream) or worse collapsed lungs, and many others.

If it’s been determined that you have a complicated case, then the principles I will discuss may or may not not be appropriate for you.

What to Expect After Surgery:

First 24 Hours

Pain
The first 24 hours will depend on your tolerance to pain. Normally, people just sleep over this stage for the most part, but some people experience the pain sooner than expected. No worries though because you will be given pre-scheduled pain relievers during this period.

Diet
A “nothing by mouth” policy is strictly implemented to avoid sucking of food into the airway, and to wait for the digestive function to return to normal.

Activity
You will be placed flat on bed during the first few hours after surgery, and then will be turned from side to side with help after a few hours to promote blood circulation.

After 24 Hours

Pain
Here is usually the difficult part because the effects of anesthesia will begin to wear off; so be ready for moderate to severe pain. Again, pain sensation differs from person to person depending on an individual’s tolerance and threshold. Pain relievers are still on regular schedule. Your nurse or healthcare provider will be your best friend during this time.

Diet
Your diet regimen will start slowly from sips of water, liquid diet, soft diet before you return to full diet. You may find it weird whenever your nurse or healthcare provider asks you “Have you farted yet?” Surprisingly, your precious gas determines how soon your diet plan will return back to normal. Reason is, this signals the return of your bowel function.

Activity
READ THIS CAREFULLY. Contrary to common myths that you have to stay longer in bed to prevent your stitches to tear off; you actually need to ambulate early because it promotes blood circulation, and therefore, speeds up healing. But mind you, you cannot do this in haste or you might experience what is called spinal headache, dizziness or vomiting.

Ambulate by moving your arms and legs and then when you’re comfortable with it, move from side to side. After a while, add more pillows to your head to raise it up, and then move to the side of your bed to sit up and dangle your legs. Finally, try a few steps to your side chair and then your first trip to the bathroom. When you are able to do this without any symptoms of headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, then you are good to go.

atnurse
Early ambulation speeds up your healing.

Discharge Plan:

Medication
Be sure to follow your prescription up to the last dose especially your antibiotics because this will prevent infection. Pain relievers may now be taken as needed, meaning when in moderate to severe pain, take it. If it’s tolerable, you may just need a distraction.

Diet
Diet is usually as tolerated, but I suggest you take more proteins because this is important for body and organ repair and recovery. Have more fruits and vegetables too for additional boost on your immune system, plus it eases up your bowel movement. You may also take your nutritional supplements to feed your cells.

Activity
Just like your diet, activity needs to be slowed down. You can return to your activities of daily living like bathing and grooming, office working, and non-straining house chores like cooking and washing light dishes. Avoid heavy tasks like doing the laundry or lifting heavy objects like your big pans and pots; have someone do it for you.

Special Note on Fever after Surgery

Rule of Thumb: Fever within 24 hours is usually normal; it’s your body telling you it is adjusting to the trauma after the surgery. If the fever shows up after 24 hours, you have to inform your doctor because it might be a sign of an infection setting in.

We’ve covered the most part and if you make it to the second week without any problem, then you are on your way towards full recovery.

Signs of Complication:
Watch out for the following and report it immediately to your doctor or healthcare provider:

1. Fever after 24 hours.
2. Increasing pain around the surgical area.
3. Swelling that does not subside.
4. Red discoloration around the surgical site.
5. Surgical site warm to the touch.
6. Presence of discharges around the surgical site.

Media Credits:
Surgery & Procedures: http://www.estermaneye.com/services/surgery-procedures/
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com

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Basal Metabolic Rate, Calorie Counter, Healthy Living, Hope for You, Successful Living, You are Loved

We’ve Got a Makeover!

Last month marked the first year when I started blogging on this site. I remember my first post – it was in a depressing tone as it featured the passing of one of the most bubbly personalities in Hollywood, Robin Williams. It was so relevant at that time as I remembered some people who were in challenging situations in life.

This year, however, I decided to do a complete makeover as suggested by my son, Josh. We started to work on the theme to set aside the gloom of last year and to welcome the new season of life and new beginnings. From the very dense logo and “hospital-ish” feel of the website, Josh decided to do a little bit of experiment with the theme and it’s colors.

He suggested that it should be simple yet stylish, so we played with only three colors: green, blue and red. Green speaks of life, harmony, healing and safety. Blue, on the other hand, talks about clarity, wisdom, tranquility and stability. To strike a balance and a contrast with the other two colors, we used red to display energy, leadership, passion and love.

Also, and surprisingly, the past year has earned us an audience from different parts of the globe from Japan, India, Macau, South Korea, United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Canada, Australia and more. Reason why we decided to put the world map as it’s base.

After several weeks of brainstorming, here now is the finished product!

Hopefully, I would be able to reach more people to help transform their lifestyles in the coming years. So as an added treat, I am giving you a free “Health Assessment Test” for you to know where you are in your health condition and what can be done to meet your wellness needs. Answer the question: Are You as Healthy as You feel?

A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body. Proverbs 14:30 (NLT)

atnurse
Healthy Living, Reproductive System, Urinary System

Do You Have Frequent Urinary Tract Infections?

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Love Your Kidneys

I at least know five people in my life who had trouble with their kidneys; these excluding hundreds of my patient encounters back when I was in the hospital. Whether it is a simple upper or lower urinary tract infection (UTI), kidney stone or chronic kidney failure, there is a common denominator that would signal the problem, which is a simple urine test (urinalysis). This is exactly the reason why it is made part of a simple annual exam to a more complicated executive check up. Now, this article is not meant to diagnose your illness, but to simply give you something to consider and the actions you can take.

Here is a checklist of the symptoms you might be experiencing now, which is telling you, it is time to have your most dreaded visit to your doctor:

Are you experiencing any of the following?

  • painful urination
  • burning sensation on urination
  • urinary frequency
  • urinary urgency
  • pain or spasm in the area of your bladder
  • frequent waking up at night to urinate
  • pressure on the lower abdomen when bladder fills up
  • pain radiating to the groin or back
  • incomplete emptying of the bladder or inability to urinate
  • involuntary urination
  • presence of blood in the urine
  • cloudy, foul odor urine
  • stones or sand like in urine
  • flank pain (refers to a feeling of discomfort or pain from the sides below the rib cage that extends to the back)
  • fever and chills
  • in some cases nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea
  • purulent urethral discharge
  • Red Blood Cells (RBC) in the urine even without an infection

These are only some of the symptoms you might be experiencing, but have been ignoring for a long time. My advice for you is to visit your healthcare provider for a thorough medical examination. You should know that a simple UTI is easy to treat with the use of specific antibiotics – with the right dosage and frequency, you are good to go. Or better yet, a change in lifestyle like full hydration, healthy eating choices, regular exercise, enough rest and sleep, take potent nutritional supplements and most importantly – get married and have an exclusive sexual partner.

If, however, you are already in an advanced urinary or kidney problem, which I hope is not the case, you may already have the following symptoms:

  • persistent UTIs of not less than three times a year
  • frequent and consistent Red Blood Cells found in the urine even without an infection
  • presence of protein in the urine
  • pain that can be dull to a sharp stabbing pain from the flank area that may radiate to the groin
  • increase in blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine

If you have any of these symptoms, do not delay your visit to your healthcare provider as it may save your kidneys. It is the same health advice I give to a relative who has had more than three urine examinations that shows a consistent RBC, a friend who had a history of 20 years of stressful work with no time to go to the bathroom or to drink enough water during her working hours. Sadly, she now has eye, liver and kidney complications, which could have been avoided (except if it is something genetic) had she modified her lifestyle early on.

Now, it is up to you to decide whether you are taking your health in your hands or simply wait for the symptoms to worsen until you seek professional help.

Resource: Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th Edition

Media Credits:
Love Your Kidneys: https://www.flickr.com/photos/50192211@N07/5609998909/in/album-72157626086513845/

atnurse
Ears, Nose and Throat, Healthy Living, Immune System, Infectious Diseases

Warning: Cold and Flu Season Ahead

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Flu Pandemic in the Philippines in 2009

It’s the rainy season again, which also marks the cold and flu season in the Philippines. There is no better way to beat these viruses than an ounce of prevention, so I chose to re-post an informative article written by Nick Peterson on “Scientifically Speaking: What’s the Cold Got to Do with It?”. I did a few editing to make the article appropriate for a tropical country setting.

Although, there is no winter in the Philippines and the viruses do not reach their gel state, flu spreads fast during the rainy season because of the cooler temperature, and the increased humidity and moisture of the air. Therefore, the air droplets easily carry viruses and transfers them from person to person. Another obvious reason is that the cooler season tends to dry up the mucosal cavities of the mouth and nose, making them a good breeding ground for viruses or bacteria for that matter.

On another note, if you ask me what is my position on whether to stay at home or to go out during the cold and flu season? I’d say, I had better stay at home, as long as, I am sure there is no carrier of the virus in our household.

“People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

An article by Nick Peterson, which was originally posted at What’s Up, Usana?

This month’s edition of Scientifically Speaking goes out to all the moms and dads who’ve warned their children throughout the years about exposure to the cold weather, which will inevitably lead to “catching a cold,” right?

Seriously though, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to wonder if my mom was just duping me the whole time. Both a cold and the flu are caused by viral infections, so what in the heck does cold weather have to do with anything?

It looks like we’ve stumbled across a great topic for Scientifically Speaking. I did a little digging and — as always — got a few leads from our expert scientists. I’d like to say I’ve got a solid answer for you guys, but there seems to be some difference of opinion within the medical community. Let’s break down my findings, shall we?

 

Cold vs. Flu

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Cold versus Flu

Before we dive into all the cold weather talk, let’s discuss what a cold actually is. With more than 200 viruses causing it, the common cold is a viral infectious disease that usually leads to symptoms such as coughing, sore throat, runny nose, and sneezing.

The most common virus strands that cause a cold are rhinoviruses, and all of those nasty symptoms you experience are actually a result of your body’s immune response to the infection rather than the deterioration of tissue that the actual virus causes. In more extreme cases, the virus causing your cold can lead to viral or bacterial pneumonia.

The flu, or influenza, is also a respiratory infection, but it’s caused specifically by influenza viruses and usually leads to more severe symptoms such as fever, body aches, chills and headaches. There are three different types of flu viruses, all of which humans are susceptible to.

What the Experts Say

The National Institutes of Health uncovered some evidence that might back up your parent’s argument to keep warm during the cold season. These findings are specifically associated with the flu virus and its outer covering, or envelope.

The study showed that colder temperatures (in case of areas with winter – near or below freezing), cause the flu virus to form a rubbery, gel-like covering that shields the virus, allowing for easier transfer from person to person. Once the virus enters the body, usually through mucus membranes in the mouth, nose or eyes, it reaches warmer temperatures in the respiratory tract and causes the covering to melt. The virus’ outer covering then reaches a liquid phase, allowing it to infect the cells of its new host.

On the flip side, during warmer seasons the temperature is too high for the viral membrane to enter its gel state. Because of this, flu viruses often can’t withstand the elements and will dry out and weaken, leading to the end of “flu season.” This led the scientists to wonder whether people might better protect themselves against the flu by remaining indoors at warmer temperatures than usual.

What the Other Experts Say

According to other experts, staying indoors might be the worst thing you can do for yourself throughout the colder season. A leading theory is that confinement breeds infection.

“In winter, we spend more time indoors, in rooms that may not get a lot of circulation, giving us more opportunities to be exposed to respiratory viruses,” says William Schaffner, M.D., chairman of the department of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, in this Real Simple article.

Additionally, Schaffner adds, the winter air, inside and outside, also tends to be less humid, drying nasal passages and making them more vulnerable to viral invasion.

What You Can Do

atnurse
Flu Prevention Tips

These are only two opinions on the subject, but there’s a lot of information out there. Do some investigating yourself to see what the research tells us.

In the meantime, the best thing you can do to fight that cold or flu virus is take preventative measures that support a healthy immune system. Evidence suggests that a healthy dose of both vitamin C and zinc may help. Deficiency in either of these may make individuals more susceptible to impaired immune response. Healthy adults generally need at least 75–90 mg of vitamin C and 8–11 mg of zinc per day to avoid severe deficiency.

Another important way to protect yourself from a virus is to avoid any kind of hand-to-face contact. Typically, a virus enters through hand-to-eye, -nose, or -mouth transmission. And of course, don’t forget to take the obvious precautions: healthy diet and exercise, sufficient amounts of sleep, disinfecting germ-susceptible areas, and regularly washing hands.

Media Credits:
Flu Season Ahead: http://greenprescription.net/home-remedies/8-home-remedies-for-flu/
Monsoon Rains: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/694214/dry-winds-giving-way-to-monsoon
Woman with Flu: https://www.lloydspharmacy.com/en/info/Flu
Flu Prevention Tips: http://www.aboutflusymptoms.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Flu-Prevention-Tips.png
Cold versus Flu: http://www.codral.com.au/cold-and-flu-symptoms

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Healthy Eating Plate, Healthy Eating Pyramid, Healthy Living, MyPlate

My Journey Towards Health

My journey with Nutritional Supplements is one for the books, because I was the number one skeptic about it. It’s very unlikely for a nurse like me, but yes, I was a non-believer of this stuff. To me, they were all synthetic and toxic to the liver and kidneys!

atnurse
I was a Non-Believer of Supplements

Herbal supplements, on the other hand, had no benefit whatsoever; because our gastric juices simply destroy them once it reaches the gut. At least, that was what an eBook about Antioxidants I worked on for a client said.

I was a believer that a healthy lifestyle was enough: healthy diet (My Healthy Eating Plate), regular exercise, enough sleep, minimized stress and continuous hydration were all that was needed. I was not just a believer, but a serious advocate who did all these at the beginning of the year. Until – I was pinned down for more than 3 weeks because of Dengue and Enteric Fever; that was only after 2 months of strict healthy diet and high impact exercises.

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Although my Healthy Lifestyle was not in any way the culprit for my hospital admission, I thought it too be so ironic that I would be confined after almost 18 years. The last one, by the way, was when I gave birth to my son – I was not even ill at that time. This event was to be the lowest point in my life: physically, emotionally, mentally, financially and spiritually.

Until, a very good friend thoughtfully gave me some tablets to take while I was on recovery. She gave me a 10-day dose of the Usana Supplements. Skeptic as I was, I told myself there was no effect whatsoever. On the sixth day, I deliberately decided to stop the supplements to observe whether there would be any changes. Then lo and behold, my vertigo and palpitations showed up, so I told myself it must really work!

atnurse
I took Essentials and Proflavanol C for 10 days.

After that, I did a personal research on Usana and all its products; I even went as far as doing the apple test myself, even though, there were a lot of videos available on YouTube. After I gathered enough information, I thought to myself, Cellular Nutrition is really impressive and is a necessity; something that most people take for granted these days. So from that day forward, I never stopped sharing Usana to everyone I know.

Media Credits:
No Drugs Poster: http://www.usalaborlawposters.com/product/drugs-workplace-poster/
Thinking Woman: http://www.freepik.com/free-photo/thinking_20689.htm
Healthy Lifestyle: http://steppingforwardintofreedom.com/?page_id=409

Find out more about your own journey towards health here, where this article was also posted: https://irmz.usana.com

Basal Metabolic Rate, BMI, Calorie Counter, Cardiovascular System, Healthy Eating Plate, Healthy Eating Pyramid, Healthy Living, Hope for You, Lose Weight, MyPlate

Today, I Am Taking Back My Health

Today is a special day because it marks the second month after my dengue incident, and it also happens to be my spiritual birthday. Yes, I do have a spiritual birthday and I celebrate it every year, because it reminds me of God’s love and points me from where I was to where I am right now. What better day than today to embark on a new journey to take back my health!

Like a swing that never made it to the other side my health got stuck where it was four months ago. My weight started from 140 in January then went down to 128 in February as I did my healthy diet and high impact exercises. If there was any consolation I got from being sick, it was the long stopover of my weight. I was happy to read the scale at 128 pounds last night.

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Somehow, it inspired me to get back on track again, although I know it will not be easy. I guess I have to muster all my willpower to get the momentum back; this time though, I will have to take a different route. Another knock on the head, would be detrimental to my health. I don’t need to take an ice bucket challenge to have a brain freeze to remind myself that my age is not on my side. So I’ve got to slow it down.

“Your body system could not take the heavy stress: your immune system got compromised and which is why you had dengue,” was my friend’s stern remark. It took a little while before I got past my denial stage after she said that.

So today, I decide to take a slow but steady stride as a commitment to God and to myself – I want to be a better version of me.

My goal for this month and the succeeding months is to modify my diet using “The Healthy Eating Plate” as my guide; then to load up on my Essentials to fill in the nutritional gaps. I will also journal and share my progress in the hope of encouraging someone to take back their own health.

Media Credit:
Taking back my Health: http://www.sarahkayhoffman.com/2014/07/30/gaps-diet-day-1/

Note: I have no relation to GAPS diet; I just borrowed the media file from Ms. Hoffman