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Healthy Eating in the Valley: Statins, Stats, and Stewardship

IN THE November 16 ISSUE

FROM THE 2013 Articles,
andHealthy Eating in the Valley,
andTom Sims
SECTIONS

by Tom Sims

We are trying out a new column with Tom Sims–Healthy Eating In The Valley. Let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions of your own for us to check out!

It is a beautiful valley where we live. Can we eat our way to better health here so that we can live in it longer? We have only one life, but we have a multitude of choices that are ours and ours only to make. The basic stewardship of our choices and our bodies will have much to do with enhancing the quality and length of our lives in this lovely place.

A rather disturbing report about cholesterol and heart disease emerged Tuesday. The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have released a report that recommends that as many as 70 million Americans receive statin drugs as a preventative to heart attack and stroke.

70 million!

I know the stats on statins. There are strong indicators that they work. I am neither a doctor nor a scientist. I am
no expert. I do not know why they work. They seem to work statistically even when LDL and HDL are not presenting issues.

Many will rush to their health care provider to check this out and many will be anxious to begin a regimen of drug therapy. No one wants stroke or thrombosis.

As one who took statin drugs in the past and no longer does because my weight management intervention and program have brought my cholesterol levels under control, I am interested in the conclusions. You can read more for yourself starting with the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times For the dead serious student, stay up on the subject at Medline Plus from the National Institutes of Health. One can also track a wide range of news items on the subject using the Medical News Today search engine.
There is even an online risk calculator.

I am skeptical and I am not going to go out and try to get script for another medication when food seems to be doing such a good job.

Web MD lists the side effects of statins as:

• Headache
• Difficulty sleeping
• Flushing of the skin
• Muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness (myalgia)
• Drowsiness
• Dizziness
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Abdominal cramping and/or pain
• Bloating and/or gas
• Diarrhea
• Constipation
• Rash

And that is not all. According to the site, “Statins also carry warnings that memory loss, mental confusion, high blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes are possible side effects. It’s important to remember that statins may also interact with other medications you take.”

The whole issue is going to be controversial. See this article from the BBC.

For a while now, I have been focused on prevention and building my one personal health through nutrition, exercise, rest, and attitude. What has been encouraging is the support I have received from my doctors, my friends, and a growing community of health conscious “foodies” right here in the San Joaquin Valley.

Tom before getting healthy

If there was ever a place to get good, plant-based food and nutritional information, it is the greater Fresno area. Yet, some of the very people who produce our food go hungry and malnourished. That is the subject of another article or some of my Facebook or Twitter postings and an occasional article on my blog, The Dream Factory.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could decide to eat our way to better health with or without the help of medications? What if Hippocrates, the founder of “modern medicine” was right? Do you remember his words?

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

I posed the question of our challenges and opportunities on Facebook.
David Plassman, (Social Work Supervisor at Fresno County Department of Social Services) had this insight, which he authorized me to use by posting.

“I think that there are two responses to the increasing awareness of consumers. One is to provide access to plant and nutrition based diet resources such as organic fruits and vegetables. As for eating out it is quite a challenge but often ethnic (Ethiopian, Indian etc.) have some good options.

“The second is for processed foods to slap on a health label and identify things such as low fat or no cholesterol but contain high amounts of some other unhealthy item such as sugar or sodium. Consumers need to be aware that they will need to be savvy label readers because most corporations care more about their bottom line than your waist line.”
I agree with both statements.

Sharon Riechers Gaston offered a word about how to improve community health awareness for the article.

Tom after

“I want to see a statement that says ‘No peanuts processed at this facility.’ TOO many food allergies with children in this valley.”

Ta-raw Chef Hamilton contributed this statement,
“Just that the cottage food law gives home cooks the ability to produce and market food at home so we can promote homemade foods without the expensive startup costs of a small business. Buying local has never been more accessible. Homemade jams etc instead of commercial things.”

The cottage food law is a great opportunity that we will explore in a subsequent column. It opens the door for local growers and food artisans to express themselves and produce local, healthy, organic foods for sale. For local implementation, go to the Fresno County site.

According to the Sustainable Economies Law Center, California’s new law opens the door for these sorts of products.

• Baked goods without cream, custard, or meat ?llings, such as breads, biscuits, churros, cookies, pastries, and tortillas
• Candy, such as brittle and toffee
• Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruit
• Dried fruit
• Dried pasta
• Dry baking mixes
• Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales
• Granola, cereals, and trail mixes
• Herb blends and dried mole paste
• Honey and sweet sorghum syrup
• Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations
• Nut mixes and nut butters
• Popcorn
• Vinegar and mustard
• Roasted coffee and dried tea
• Waf?e cones and pizelles
• Other foods that the Director of the California Department of Public Health chooses to add

Some of these products will now be turning up in places like local farmer’s markets, health food stores, and Peeves Public House.

Rachel Carpenter, local food activist with CCLUCK, in the same discussion, offered, “I always am focused on nutrition and using clean, safe food to heal and build bodies and relationships. Sarah Ramirez and Ta-raw Chef Hamilton are great examples of how communities are improved around food access and security.”

The slow food movement, healthy gourmet food trucks, entrepreneurial ventures, community gardens, whole food restaurants, support groups, and advocacy organizations are proliferating in the Valley that is the breadbasket for the world. Stay tuned for links, events, and features.

Learn about interesting and good places to eat on YouTube. Some of these actually have healthy options such as their review of Revive Cafe:

Don’t wait for everyone else to change. Make healthy choices. Keep it interesting. Try new foods. Eat internationally. Ask questions. Buy local. Buy in season. Exercise. Limit consumption of meats and processed foods. Choose brown rice over white rice and quinoa over both from time to time. Eat rawer. Order intelligently. Read labels. Reduce portion size. Put down the sugary soft drinks.

Do all of this before, during, or after consuming statin drugs and you will reduce your risk of heart disease. It is the basic stewardship of you choices that will make the biggest difference in your health. You can make a difference next weekend for those who remain hungry and needy in a valley of plenty.

Hope Starts Here in Fresno, your community, your neighborhood. The Convoy of Hope – Fresno is just the beginning of a long-lasting movement that has the power to transform people’s lives, inspire compassion and service, and bring people and organizations together like never before. Fresno Fairgrounds 1121 S Chance Ave Fresno, California 93702. Want to volunteer? Show up at the Fresno Fairgrounds on Friday November 22 at 6:00 p.m. for our Rally!!!

You can find more of Tom’s columns here. Keep up with all of Tom’s writing by following him on Twitter @tomsims

Tom Sims is a local pastor (and Grandpa!), writer, and blogger. His congregation, “The Fellowship of Joy,” is part of a larger collaborative called “4141 Ministries,” of which he is Executive Director & he is an active Toastmaster. You can also find him on Facebook.

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