Posts Tagged ‘Health’

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Healthy Living Gone Too Far: The Absurdity of Cleanses

12.10.10

Living in Southern California – where some people literally become obsessed with eating healthy – it’s not uncommon to hear people talk about the various different cleanses that they do to rid their body of toxins and essentially control-alt-delete their homeostasis.  For the most part, I think that these are infomercial gimmicks at best that do very little at actually achieving their stated goals.

The most common for a while around here was the Master Cleanse.  (With a name like that, how could you go wrong?) For those venturing down this road of alternative detoxification, here’s what you do: do not eat anything for the duration of the cleanse except 6-to-12 glasses daily of a truly noxious-sounding elixir of fresh lemons, grade B maple syrup and cayenne pepper.

Yes, you heard it right: lemons, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper will scour clean your insides of those harmful toxins (not exactly which ones, though) and you’ll even lose weight — obviously, since all you’re ingesting is essentially a thick, spicy glass of fruit juice for 10 straight days and taking a daily laxative to make sure all those toxins get truly flushed out.

There will always be disputed evidence as to the effectiveness of these cleanses, but there is nothing truly conclusive that they do anything other than starve you and over-prepare you for a colonoscopy (for those of you trying this soon, do schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist so you can at least assure yourself of one benefit of this starvation trial).

I’ve heard many different outcomes from this regiment and they all fall into two categories:

I Feel Better

Okay, this is just a value statement that I can’t argue against.  If you feel better, that’s great.  But feeling fine doesn’t mean that your internal organs are in magical alignment or that there’s nothing wrong with you. You might still have high blood pressure, dangerous levels of cholesterol, and undigested meat in your gut even if you feel like you could jog up Everest without a jacket.  Since there’s no specific goal other than getting rid of toxins (now being called “free radicals” to make it sound more scientifically valid despite being especially vague) and also losing weight, which brings me to the second item:

I Lost Weight

Of course you lost weight!  You’re subsisting solely on fruit juice for a week and a half — you’re lucky you’re not in a coma. It doesn’t take a dietician to know that starving yourself triggers your body to slow down its metabolism, not speed it up; meaning that while you might be losing some weight, it’s probably just water weight and, if gone on for too long, it might include your own muscle as your body eats itself in order to survive.  Solid!

It turns out that the body is extremely competent at cleansing itself of toxins and harmful substances — your liver, lungs, and kidneys all include this in their daily job description.  And unless you’re overloading it with pure garbage like trans fats, heavily processed sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and other stuff that we know is bad for us but we tend to eat anyway, they’re going to continue to rid you of most of those toxins.

I sense that those organs will do a better job than 10 days of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup.  (Nothing quite like subsisting on large amounts of sugar to clean out that pancreas.)


The Reality

If you want to cleanse yourself, just start eating healthy. Eat greens, raw fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and limit your intake of processed foods and products — trust me: you don’t need a laxative if you eat the right natural foods (see: prunes).

That’s it.  That’s the secret.

Most likely if you’re feeling good during/after the Master Cleanse, it’s not because of what you’re putting into your body; it’s what you’re not.

Photo courtesy of fo.ol’s Flickr Photostream and ahockley’s Flickr Photostream.

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Getting Fired for Medical Marijuana Use: Why Should Employers Drug Test At All?

09.15.10

Many people are affected by the drug war.  Just take a look at our southern border.

But those aren’t the only ones.

While the states work the whole federalism angle on the legality of marijuana use, there’s bound to be some snags.  And in the case of some people, it’s costing them their jobs.

Glenn Greenwald:

In some cases, workers have been fired for failing drug tests despite having prescriptions saying, in effect, that what they are doing is legal according to the laws of their states.

Here’s the thing: for an employer, you want your employees to be efficient, dependable, and hard-working. If an employee can accomplish all of this while smoking weed — legally prescribed or not — then what’s the issue? If he’s a total wastoid (yeah, wastoid, I said it, bringing it back along with high-tops and snap braclets), then his piss-poor performance should be enough to warrant disciplinary action, regardless of its cause.

Now, I do understand that there are HR costs involved with the hiring of a new employee so companies will want to best determine whether or not this applicant will be a quality addition to their team before they hire him — but, why test current employees?  You already hired them! They already passed your rigorous interview process (so, if they’re sucking at work then you might want to look into revamping your HR department, not firing your employee cause he takes a few puffs to ease his anxiety).  They’re doing their jobs competently, otherwise you could just drag them onto the carpet for their poor job review and cut the dead weight that way.   It’s pointless.

The problem with drug testing is that – NEWS FLASH!!!not all wastes-of-office-space take drugs and not all druggies are inept at work, despite what our current drug war culture would like you to believe. (Total mindblow, I know.)  It’s the whole “well, some pot smokers are lazy and don’t get anything done at work so we’re going to punish them all regardless of their individual aptitude” way of using a gravity bong when a simple one-hitter would suffice.

But since companies fancy themselves as some sort of moral authority now, why stop at drug testing?

  • Why not require me to bring in my hard drive so they can scan it for pirated software and music?
  • Why not scour my glove box to make sure that I indeed have proof of car insurance?
  • Why not stop by my apartment to make sure I’m not illegally leeching some wireless Internet from my neighbors?

I mean, all of those morally questionable practices could affect my job performance, believe you me. Without loads of music to fill my iPod, I’ll go insane at my desk and take my co-workers with me, kicking and screaming. Without car insurance, I could get into an accident, not be able to get a new car, be stuck taking public transport, and consistently arriving late to work irritable and making everyone around my desk miserable as a result.

And without the Internet at home… well, let’s just not imagine that dark, dark world, okay? I just had a glimpse into that lifeless hell when WordPress glitched up, forcing me to re-write this blog, nearly leading me into a total meltdown at my desk — a complete over-reaction, sure, but I almost went social (the post-modern version of going postal).

But, hey. At least I’m not smoking medical herb for my migraines, right?

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Healthcare Reform?

03.02.09

Deane Waldman does a nice job of explaining why just providing health insurance to the uninsured won’t solve anything.

Suppose we could “cure” the insurance problem somehow. Would that cure healthcare? Not a chance. Having insurance does not guarantee having a nurse or doctor (personnel shortages). Having everyone insured will not produce a cure for breast cancer. Having insurance will have no effect on the medical error rate. Having universal insurance with our current system will either bankrupt our nation or guarantee government rationing of medical care.

I agree with him.  The system itself does not work.  Not when you have insurance companies wanting to make a profit, which means that they don’t want to pay for those tests that your doctors says that you need.  Waldman reminds us that the current system evolved into its current mess; it wasn’t designed at all.

I’d like to see a way to get the uninsured (Yay! I’m one of the 46 million!) insured, but it sounds like that would be just putting a bandaid on a bullet wound.

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Insomnia and Insomnia

01.26.09

What a forgettable movie.

I remember the hype for this movie: Robin Williams at the pinnacle of his “dark” phase, paying back his actorly debt for starring in such awful tripe like “Patch Adams” and “Bicentennial Man.”  Al Pacino hoo-ahhing his way through the 2000s, riding a wave of goodwill from the 70s/80s.  Hilary Swank going mainstream.  Director Christopher Nolan cashing in a big check after the “Memento” acclaim.  Based on a hit Norweigan film back when remaking every foreign movie hadn’t yet become all the rage.

Naturally it was a snoozefest.  I saw it in theaters and honestly couldn’t tell you a single thing about it other than it takes place in Alaska, Al Pacino can’t sleep because it’s bright all day and night, and he’s obsessed with catching Robin Williams because he killed somebody.  (Swank was Pacino’s partner? Maybe?  Who cares.) It was two hours of my life that I barely remember having taken place.  Kind of a waste now that I think about it.  But the whole reason that I’m thinking about it at all at 2:07am on an early Monday morning is the actual eponymous affliction: insomnia.

I’m now finding that sitting through the film “Insomnia” isn’t much different than having bouts of insomnia.  Before I know it, it will most likely be around four in the morning and I’ll have trouble remembering just what I did to occupy the past two hours of my life.  There will be fleeting images of trolling ESPN news articles, maybe an online game of backgammon, writing a blog perhaps.  Oh, look, “Dazed and Confused” just came on.  That’ll kill another couple hours.

It’s not really insomnia.  I do sleep.  It’s just not at all on a remotely healthy schedule.  If I try to go to bed before 4am, I’ll toss and turn, usually have nightmares, and wake up in a cold sweat.  That’s if I fall asleep.  I don’t take naps.  I drink caffeine but no more than I ever have and I’ve never had this trouble before.

Perhaps this is just my natural rhythm and my faux-insomnia really is just me fighting my own innate, biological clock.  Some people need eight hours of sleep to function.  Others get sleepy before Letterman and some don’t even need sleep at all.

Me?  Well, I can’t fall asleep before 4am.  And that’s okay.  That’s just how I am.

Maybe now that I’ve established this about myself,  I can shake society’s disapproving looks and just roll with it.  Maybe this is like finally catching Robin Williams.  I just hope I don’t look as tired as Pacino does.

See you around noon.