21 Oct

Trouble Sleeping? There are answers.

By Tim Arnott — The average adult sleeps six hours and fifty-seven minutes. However, one in five sleep less than six hours per night. Additionally, 37 percent of young adults sleep less than seven hours a night. This proportion doubled between 1960 and 2002. There has been a significant increase in short sleep duration for all age categories from 1970 to present. Sixty million US adults have difficulty sleeping. Only 10 percent seek medical attention. The indirect costs from insomnia are estimated at $60 billion annually, including presenteeism (at work, but not productive), increased long-term disability, mistakes, errors, and accidents.

Now that we’ve looked at some sleep statistics, how much sleep do we need? The Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours for adults. Recommendations vary depending on the age. It is recommended newborns sleep 14 to 17 hours, infants 12 to 15 hours, toddlers 11 to 14, preschoolers 10 to 13, school age children 9 to 11, teens 8 to 10, young adults and adults 7 to 9, and, finally, older adults 7 to 8 hours. Thus, sleep requirements and recommendations change throughout the lifespan.

We cannot get far into the subject of sleep before we need to discuss circadian physiology. Our circadian rhythm governs sleep. Our circadian internal clock is made up of central and peripheral oscillators. These tissues produce oscillating (alternating) currents that create the circadian rhythm. The central oscillators are found in the suprachiasmic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus of the brain, which is the body’s main “clock”. Further, peripheral oscillators are present in every major organ, namely, kidney, liver, heart, adrenal glands, and pancreas. These facilitate synchrony and alignment between the central and peripheral clocks. The purpose of these clocks is to align physiologic functions and processes with the solar light-dark cycles for maximal efficient function.

Our circadian rhythm, and, thus, the wakefulness-sleep cycle is entrained by the day-night cycle. For example, the cortisol spike that wakes us up in the morning is regulated by our central “clock”. There are nerve pathways connecting the retina to the suprachiasmic nucleus (SCN), allowing sunlight to modify the internal oscillators or clock. Another nerve bundle runs from the SCN to the pineal gland which controls melatonin secretion, thus, allowing sunlight to adjust the melatonin levels. Specifically, melatonin secretion and timing may be changed as the melanopsin photopigment in the retina absorbs short wavelengths of light, especially blue light, stimulating neurons in the retina which are connected to our internal clock, in turn, activating it.

It’s not just light intensity and wavelength that influence our internal clock, entraining our circadian rhythm. Food can do it, mainly carbohydrates (found only in plants), the concentration of sodium, potassium, and chloride in the blood plasma, and the temperature of the surrounding environment. Furthermore, modifiers change the input the central clock receives. For example, our pupil limits the amount of light getting to the retina. Sunglasses and backlight on electronic devices change the intensity of light reaching the light-sensitive proteins in the back of the eye. These modifiers can weaken or alter the entraining process, throwing off our circadian cycle and, thereby, compromising sleep quality.

Interestingly, not everyone’s light sensitive proteins are identical. The DNA that encodes these proteins can vary in a single nucleotide of “letter”, shall we say. These differences are called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPS), and they represent a slightly different blueprint for making our proteins. Thus, each person may make slightly different light sensitive proteins with slightly different shape and function. These proteins may have enhanced or reduced function, and this can alter the circadian clock effectiveness. For example, PER and CRY proteins are a critical part of the molecular machinery controlling the circadian rhythm in the peripheral oscillator or clock. PER and CRY proteins work against proteins “clock” and “cycle” until they break down. This process takes 24 hours. More light into the eye causes more PER protein to be made, and this is an important factor in training our internal clock. Individual variation in these proteins can change one’s ability to adjust their internal clock, which may hinder sleep quality.

With all this talk about circadian physiology and individual gene variation, what can actually be done to optimize sleep? It turns out there are multiple things we can do. Simple things. It is important to get bright intensity daylight onto our face within 30 minutes of awakening and continue this for 30 minutes. From late Fall to early Spring, one may need to use a 10,000-lux light box to simulate sunlight intensity for this purpose. One should not look at the light, but simply face it while eating, studying, or reading. Keep the light box 1 ½ to 2 feet away from the face, and, again, do not look directly at the light. Morning sunlight and/or the light box will shut off melatonin, so sixteen hours later one will get a melatonin spike, helping to put the body to sleep. One can do another 20-to-30-minute session in the late afternoon to help the body remain asleep longer, or you can simply go outside and be in bright sunlight at that time.

One of the ways the body puts itself to sleep is by cooling the core temperature and warming the extremities. Thus, if one is dehydrated, blood vessels in the arms and legs constrict, making it more difficult to transfer heat from the core. This hinders ability to fall asleep. So, stay well hydrated, but drink most water before lunch. For example, drink three glasses of warm water first thing in the morning. Then, starting an hour after breakfast, drink another glass every half hour until one hour before lunch. So, if you take three glasses at 6am, eat breakfast at 7am, then, restart water intake at 8am. You would be able to drink 6 more glasses between 8am and 11am. Thus, before your lunch at noon, you could drink your daily 8 to 10 glasses. It’s probably best to drink most of your daily water before 3pm to maximize sleep duration.

In addition to optimizing hydration, it’s easier to transfer heat from the core to the extremities as one loses weight. Thus, a whole food plant-based diet, with less than 10 percent calories from fat, especially if low glycemic, will ultimately help one shed pounds naturally, and with each pound that goes, it will be easier to transfer heat to the arms and legs, helping the body to fall asleep. Limiting sodium (salt) at dinner may help one fall asleep. Excess salt causes constriction of the blood vessels in arms and legs, again, hindering heat transfer from core to extremities.

There are other steps we can take to optimize sleep. Sleeping in a cooler room will assist the body in cooling the core temperature and wearing a pair of wool socks, over even one wool sock, may assist in transfer of heat to the extremities. Again, cooling the core and warming the extremities is a big part of being able to fall asleep. A temperature of 68 degrees in the sleeping room is recommended, but this recommendation should be individualized.

Not only is falling asleep without delay a priority, but staying asleep longer is desired because during later sleep stages REM sleep predominates. During REM sleep the amygdala gets rid of the memory of fearful events, thus, helping to extinguish fear and, thereby, reduce anxiety. If sleep is cut short, REM may be reduced, leading to increased anxiety. For the student, memories of an educational nature are consolidated during REM, thus, whatever shortens REM will also impair learning and memory.

Physical exercise also enhances sleep and memory. I can personally attest daily exercise and strength training will so fatigue the muscles sleep will come more quickly, be deeper, and one will sleep longer, so, take time to exhaust your physical body most days of the week. Every hour you exercise, you can expect to live that hour over again plus two or three to boot.

In summary, simple principles, such as drinking adequate amounts of water early in the day, taking a brisk walk toward the rising sun first thing upon awakening, getting outside again in the late afternoon and walking toward the late afternoon sun, sleeping in a cool room, wearing warm socks to bed, choosing a whole food plant-based diet, enjoying a judicious weight training program that exhausts the muscles on most days, avoiding caffeine and alcohol will all work together to improve sleep quality and quantity, which, in turn, will improve mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance memory and learning.

References:

Param Dedhia, MD, John Kelly, MD, MPH. Sleep Health Science and Interventions, Section 8, Foundations of Lifestyle Medicine Board Review Manual, 3rd Edition, © 2021 American College of Lifestyle Medicine, pp. 267-294.

Dr. Arnott is available for lifestyle consultations, at the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center or via telemedicine. Now is the time to optimize your immune for COVID and other chronic diseases.
Make an appointment on our website rmlc.online or call 303-282-3676.

13 Oct

IT TOOK A TRAGEDY

By Tim Arnott — “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”[1]  These words, as they pertain embracing the values and purposes of Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN), came true for me on November 8, 2018.  That day the Paradise Camp Fire disaster closed forever my medical practice in Paradise, California.  We lost essentially everything but the clothes on our back.  I was unemployed for nearly six months.  Then, I received an email that was to forever change the way I practiced medicine, but let me stop and give some background to this story.

For many years the Lord graciously gave me the opportunity to participate in short-term mission projects.  I was able to participate in the first mission trip organized by Students for International Mission Service (SIMS) at Loma Linda University.  Three medical students, using ophthalmoscopes, assessed visual acuity and fitted patient with glasses that had been generously donated.  It was so gratifying to see the immediate joy of many patients when the world suddenly changed from blurry to sharp.  Optometry was the focus of those visits, but not much else.  Providing appropriate medications to treat diagnosed conditions was the focus of other early mission trips.  However, it wasn’t so satisfying to simply provide patients with medication, knowing the underlying cause of their medical condition had not been addressed.  For this reason, I decided to start providing nutrition and lifestyle education as part of my mission trip medical visits.  This practice increased patient satisfaction and my own.  Additionally, my translators were learning enough that soon they were instructing the patients in principles of healthy living without my needing to tell them anything!  Still, I sensed something was missing.  I decided on future mission trips, I would make a series of handouts I could show the translator to depict NEWSTART® principles, including trust in Divine power.  In short, I decided to teach my patients, after making a diagnosis, providing indicated medication and lifestyle education, how they could get to know Christ for themselves and how important that exercise was to their eternal destiny.  In short, I began teaching patients the practical aspects of John 17:3, namely, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”[2]  I first included this aspect of patient care on a mission trip to Bolivia.  I was stunned at the reaction.  After instructing the translator in this gospel presentation, I watched as the translator began sharing with patients how they could get to know Jesus Christ for themselves and how this was God’s chosen method to save them eternally. To my surprise, patients began weeping!  Patient after patient had similar responses.  It was as though the Holy Spirit joined the medical visit when we shared themes of eternal import with patients.  Wow.  I was amazed, and I was hooked!  I decided, from now on, the spiritual presentation would be part of my medical visits on future mission trips.  What I didn’t realize was that decision would soon transform my medical practice back home.  Yes.  I had been praying with patients on mission trips all along, and I continued to do so, and patients greatly appreciated this, but, explaining the simple gospel to patients was new for me and so rewarding.  When I realized the practical aspects of salvation were largely unknown to the majority of patients coming to mission clinics, I was deeply moved and motivated to go on future trips just to share with patients how they can take hold of eternal life with Christ for themselves. 

It wasn’t long after the experiences above that the wild fires closed my medical practice in Paradise, and I received an invitation to serve at Guam Seventh-day Adventist Clinic.  As it turned out, a family member of an AMEN officer traveled to Guam for meetings and dropped my name.  I subsequently received the email I referred to above from the medical director, inviting me to consider coming to Guam.  We accepted this invitation, but I didn’t realize God was setting me up to take what I had learned on mission trips and incorporate it into regular medical practice. 

When I arrived on Guam, the retiring physician whose practice I was to take over remained for several months and during that time my schedule was rather light.  This allowed me to see patients for 30 minutes each visit.  It is important to mention that it took a few months to become licensed and credentialed for Guam.  I spent this time with family in Loma Linda.  During this waiting period, the Lord impressed me to make a handout[3] to share with patients.  I labeled it simply, “New Patient Handout – Guam.”[4] This became my tool to transition from sharing with patients about nutrition for healing the physical body on the front page to explaining food for saving the soul from the back page.  I was not sharing doctrines, but the simple steps found in books like Steps to Christ[5], To Know God: A Five-Day Plan[6], and It’s All About Him.[7]  Amazingly, I found patients in Guam as open to this discussion as the patients in Bolivia.  I remember a young man who came back to see me after I shared the simple gospel with him.  He went home and shared this precious message with his girlfriend who gave me a wonderful endorsement, though we had never met, simply because I had shared with her boyfriend how to get to know Christ for himself.  I recall another patient who was visibly touched during the gospel presentation and began expressing his appreciation in real time, and later after the visit ended, he came back and found me in the hall and began expressing again how thankful he was I had shared how he could get to know Jesus for himself.  After having a some of these positive encounters, the Lord then arranged for me to give a presentation to the Guam AMEN members and clinic staff.  I was a novice, but almost immediately, I was asked to share my journey and experiences.  This tells me God is passionate about His medical providers sharing with patients simple steps of how they can get to know Christ for themselves. 

Immediately following that first AMEN presentation, the Lord sent me a patient that opened my eyes.  This man was the last you would expect to have interest in spiritual things.  He was rough, crude, outspoken.  After every few words, out of his mouth came cursing and swearing.  I have had a few patients over the years I came close to reprimanding for their foul language, but I never came closer than with this patient.  Early in the visit I decided I would not be sharing the gospel steps with this patient.  I knew he’d have no interest.  I had almost decided not to pray with him.  I finally, against my better judgement, chose to offer prayer.  To my surprise, he agreed!  But what happened next, never happened before or since.  I prayed a heartfelt prayer and took in the specifics of the concerns he had expressed.  I had no sooner said, Amen, when this man literally lunged at me with outstretched arm, and taking my hand in his, began shaking it back and forth for all he was worth.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  He was so thankful!  So appreciative.  He expressed his thanks over and over again.  He told me it was the best medical visit he had ever had. At that point, I thought the visit was over.  I was satisfied.  The Lord wasn’t!  Apparently, there was unfinished business with this patient. The Lord literally delayed my always punctual and proper medical assistant from entering the exam room to complete the patient visit.  She was so delayed, I did a double take and decided there was more God wanted me to do.  I looked around for literature and saw the book Hero of Hacksaw Ridge.[8]  I returned to the exam room and offered the book to him.  He instantly recognized the title and stated he had seen the movie.[9]  I was relieved, and thought for sure the Lord would be satisfied.  I was mistaken.  Still my usually prompt, punctual, detailed-oriented MA was nowhere to be found.  I went looking for her, but to no avail.  I did another doubletake.  Perhaps there was more the Lord had in mind for this gentleman.  I went online and found my handout “Do You Want to Have Eternal Life?”[10]  I returned the second time to the exam room and offered this handout to the patient.  I had no sooner closed the door, when, instantly, my bright, cheerful medical assistant was right there walking down the hall ready to enter the patient’s room.  I stood there amazed!  The patient I thought was hopeless.  The man who seemed so far from the kingdom of God, was closer than ever I had imagined, and God wanted me to share even more than a heartfelt prayer, and orchestrated events in the clinic to get lifesaving truth into the hands of His wayward child.  This is exciting work!  To this day, I don’t know all the Lord had in mind for that visit, but I do know God is passionate about His medical professionals sharing with patients how they can get to know Christ for themselves.

[1] Romans 8:28. The Holy Bible. Authorized King James Version. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, England, ©1611.

[2] John 17:3. The Holy Bible. Authorized King James Version. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, England, ©1611.

[3] https://www.drnewstart.com/handouts

[4] ibid

[5] White, E.G. Steps to Christ. Pacific Press Publishing Association: Mountainview, CA. ©1892.

[6] Venden, M. To Know God: A Five-Day Plan. Review and Herald Publishing Association: Hagerstown, MD. ©1983.

[7] Venden, L. It’s All About Him. Review and Herald Publishing Association: Hagerstown, MD. ©2004.

[8] Herndon B. Hero of Hacksaw Ridge. Remnant Publications: Coldwater, MI. ©2016.

[9] Gibson, Mel. Hacksaw Ridge. Lionsgate, 2016.

[10] https://www.drnewstart.com/handouts

 

05 Aug

Become a Virus Fighter: Learn how to increase your Natural Killer Cells

By Tim Arnott M.D. — Natural Killer (NK) cells are a type of white blood cell with packets filled with enzymes that can kill cancer cells or cells infected with a virus, including the SARs-CoV-2 virus. Preliminary studies in COVID-19 patients with severe disease suggest a decrease in natural killer cell numbers, resulting in decreased removal of virus-infected cells, and unchecked increase of tissue-damaging inflammation.[1]

Severe complications of COVID-19 are more common in elderly patients and patients with heart and blood vessel diseases and diabetes. NK cell functions are blunted in all these patient groups.  Also, the dangerous cytokine storm is more common in these patients, as their unhealthy NK cells cannot modulate the immune response properly.[2]

Cytokine storm involves an abnormal exaggerated immune response that causes collateral damage greater than the immediate benefit of the immune response.[3] Healthy NK cells are needed to prevent the cytokine storm. NK cells working properly clear the COVID virus-infected cells more quickly and efficiently, helping to prevent the cytokine storm.[4]

The good news is that there are things we can do to improve NK cell function and increase their numbers. “Pure air, sunlight, temperance, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in Divine power are the true remedies.”[5]  Amazingly, science is demonstrating these remedies improve NK cell function and number.

Consider pure air. We understood as early as 1905 “there are life-giving properties in the balsam of the pine, in the fragrance of the cedar and the fir.”[6]  Recently, scientists have discovered that pine trees release chemicals, called Phytoncides, which increase NK cell activity. For example, alpha-pinene, released by the pine tree, more than doubled NK cell activity against leukemia cells.[7]

Thus, to improve NK cell activity, spend more time outside. Phytoncides from Cypress, White Cedar, and Eucalyptus trees had the same effect on NK cell activity.[8]  Truly, there’s life in a tree.[9] God wants to feed our bodies in the air we breathe as well as the food we eat! So, take a walk outside every day. Open the windows at night. Air out the house first thing in the morning. You’ll be better prepared to fight COVID.

Sunlight also improves NK cell function. Sunlight “dramatically stimulates the expression of potent bacteria and virus-fighting proteins, which exist in … natural killer cells”.[10] Additionally, “(vitamin D) acts as an immune system modulator”, preventing the cytokine storm.[11] So, again, be outside in the sunlight and take a daily vitamin D supplement (at least 1000 IU daily) to help protect against viral infections, including COIVD.

Temperance likewise improves your ability to clear COVID. Research shows chronic alcohol consumption decreases NK cell number and function.[12]

Another way to boost NK cell function is to get your rest. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night was associated with 30% lower natural killer cell activity compared to those sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night.[13]  Thus, proper rest may likewise improve your ability to clear a COVID infection.

Get some exercise. Interestingly enough, prolonged intensive exercise (i.e., marathon) impairs NK-cell function and blunts the immune response.[14] On the other hand, moderate-intensity exercise (i.e., walking) “has a large and positive effect on the level of NK cell cytolytic activity.”[15] So, walk, walk, walk. Gradually increase your walking time up to 30 to 60 minutes a day. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

And, of course, diet greatly affects our health. Can the food we eat improve NK cell numbers or function? Most definitely. We have about 2 billion NK cells circulating in our blood.[16] To test the affect of diet on NK cells, athletes ate 1 ½ cups of blueberries for six weeks. Then, they ran for 2.5 hours. NK cell counts “were almost doubled

(~4 billion) in the blueberry group prior to exercise, and this increase was maintained throughout the exercise.”[17]  Similarly, NK cytotoxic activity was twice as high in vegetarians than omnivore control subjects.[18]  Additionally, consuming the spice cardamom dramatically increased NK cell cytotoxicity against lymphoma cells. Thus, it makes sense, in the fight against COVID, to choose a diet of “(whole) grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables … the diet chosen for us by our Creator.”[19]

When adopting a whole food plant-based diet, remember to take vitamin B12 daily, and chew it. Methyl-cobalamin is preferred. Why?  Because “suppressed NK cell activity was noted in patients (B12 deficient) compared with control subjects”, but improved after methyl-B12 treatment.[20]

Drinking mineral water also improved natural killer cell activities compared to tap water.[21] Clearly, minerals are important for optimal NK cell function, but minerals can also be obtained from seeds, beans, greens, and nuts. Thus, enjoy six to eight glasses of purified water daily between meals. Check with your physician first if you have heart failure or kidney disease.

Finally, NK cell activity is impaired in those who have suffered a major loss, for example, in recently widowed women with clinical depression, compared with those without major depression.[22]  Thus, we would encourage all to seek rest, hope, and comfort in Christ.  He has promised, “For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”[23] Thus, take time to come into His presence each morning and “pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.”[24] Remember, “in His presence is fullness of joy…”[25]  Consider reading a chapter from one of the four gospels each morning with a prayer for the blessing of the Holy Spirit.

As you can see, there are many simple steps we can take to improve NK cell function and number, increasing our ability to successfully fight the SARs-CoV-2 virus and help avoid devastating tissue damage caused by cytokine storm.

–Tim Arnott M.D. is the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center physician; photo by UnSplash

This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment and/or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

[1] Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Sep 1;21(17):6351.
[2] ibid
[3] N Engl J Med 2020; 383:2255-2273.
[4] Market M, (2020) Flattening the COVID-19 Curve With Natural Killer Cell Based Immunotherapies. Front. Immunol. 11:1512.
[5] White E.G. Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub Assn:  Mountain View, CA, ©1905, p. 127.
[6] White E.G. Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub Assn: Mountainview, CA, © 1905, p. 264.
[7] Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2006;28(2):319-33.
[8] ibid
[9] Deuteronomy 20:19. The Holy Bible. New King James Version. © 1982 Thomas Nelson.
[10] Epidemiol Infect. 2006 Dec;134(6):1129-40.
[11] ibid
[12] J Leukoc Biol. 2017 Apr;101(4):1015-1027.
[13] Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Oct;25(7):1367-75.
[14] Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2015;135:355-80.
[15] Sports Med. 2021; 51(3): 519–530.
[16] Blood. (2008) 112: 461-469.
[17] Appl Physiol Nutr Metab Vol 36, 2011.
[18] Nutr Cancer. 1989;12(3):271-8.
[19] White E.G. Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub Assn:  Mountain View, CA, ©1905, p. 296
[20] Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 Apr;116(1):28-32.
[21] Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 May 27;409(1):40-5.
[22] Psychiatry Res. 1994 Apr;52(1):1-10.
[23] Isaiah 54:5. The Holy Bible. New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
[24] Psalm 62:8. The Holy Bible. New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
[25] Psalm 16:11. The Holy Bible. New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

24 Jun

Diabetes Undone seminars

Offered online and in person

by Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center

July 5 – Aug 6

Struggling with high blood sugars? You’re not alone. Today, more than a third of all Americans have either diabetes or pre-diabetes. If current trends continue, this will increase to half of all Americans by 2022. 

Diabetes and pre-diabetes significantly increase the risk of heart disease and many other devastating complications. 

But current trends don’t have to continue, especially not in your case. Diabetes can be undone. Type 2 diabetes is not only preventable, it’s also reversible. 

For the past 25 years, I’ve worked with thousands of clients to reverse diabetes and other chronic health conditions. What have their stories taught me? There’s hope for change and hope for you. 

Diabetes Undone will empower you to optimize nutrition, exercise, and other powerful lifestyle strategies to reclaim your health. You’ll learn how to fight high blood sugars by addressing their underlying causes. 

This course can also help those with type 1 diabetes to control the condition and prevent complications. Even better, the same strategies that fight diabetes also effectively combat heart disease, obesity, cancer, autoimmune disease, and many other health conditions. 

This course isn’t just about diabetes; it’s about experiencing optimal wellness in every area of your life—body, mind, and spirit. So, let’s get started. Today is the first day of your new health story.

In ten sessions you will learn the cause of diabetes and by treating the cause put it in remission.  Learn the importance of the right lifestyle, including exercise, sleep, fresh air and sunlight and of course the food that you eat.  Be able to make choices between Red light, Yellow light and Green light foods including delicious easy to fix recipes.  There are however side effects: wt. loss, decreased blood pressure, decreased risk for heart attack, stroke and cancer, just to name a few.

Remission vs Reversal

Even though this program uses the terms reversal and undone.  The facilitator will refer to the positive outcome as REMISSION to avoid the possible confusion that if you return to the lifestyle that contributed to the diabetes in the first place it can return.

The virtual experience will be carried out on ZOOM, allowing for the slides and videos to be shared easily but provide opportunities for questions and discussions from the participants.  However, if you miss a live session, you will be able to watch a recorded version of the class at any time.

The live sessions will be held Monday and Wednesday at 11-12:30 or 6:30-8:00pm, from July 5 to August 6

  • A Spanish version of Diabetes Undone will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11-12:30 or 6:30-8:00 starting June 29 for 10 sessions ending on July 29.
  • A ZOOM link will be provided on request by email at info@rmlc.online, for those who cannot attend in person.
  • The cost of the program is $25, and optional but recommended kit of cookbook, workbook and video is an extra $60.
  • Ongoing support will be provided by trained “Health Partners” to help you make these important lifestyle changes permanent.
  • To register: Call 303-282-3676 or email us at info@rmlc.online .

This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment and/or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

 

10 Jun

Why is it so hard to make healthy changes in your diet? (Understanding food addictions)

By Rick Mautz — So, when we casually joke that we can’t resist certain foods (from biscuits and ice-cream to crisps and cheesy/meaty ready-meals), the truth is closer than we think – brilliant scientific minds are employed specifically to ensure that our brains make it virtually impossible for us to resist the temptation to eat more than we probably know is good for us.

Let me give you a modern, everyday example of food addiction. Russ is a 36-year-old husband and father of a one-year-old son. Russ should have died from a sudden “widow-maker” heart attack. There were no warnings, no symptoms, just the crushing chest pain one day that takes the life of 88% of its victims. His doctors might tell him that it was just his bad luck from having COVID, genetics, or his sleep apnea that led to this near-death experience. But after studying a little deeper into the causes of nearly 90% of heart attacks, Russ knows that his addiction to artery-damaging foods was the main culprit. But realizes how food addictions were a driving force for his lifestyle habits for years and are making it difficult to change even now when he knows the consequences if he doesn’t change.

Russ is determined to do all that he can to stay healthy and avoid another heart attack and he wants to help others change their self-destructive path before it is too late. And that is why he has asked me to share his story with you. As he is learning about food addictions, he wants to bring hope to anyone who is struggling with this powerful foe as well.

Let’s start with the premise that all of us want to be healthy and live a long life free of disease, with vigor and happiness. A second premise is that most of us have enough knowledge of simple physiology to know that there are things that we do in life that are not good for us and will have some negative effects on us in reaching the above dream. In fact, it is God’s will also that we “prosper and are in health even as our soul prospers.”

So why don’t we just choose life and the practices that lead to health and happiness and reject the practices that lead to disease, death, and disability? Enter addictions. From the very first temptation in the garden of Eden down to our modern day, the enemy has very artfully used our God-given physiology against us to weaken and destroy us. From the first euphoric feeling that Adam and Eve felt after eating the forbidden fruit to the dopamine rush of foods and drinks today, we are being destroyed by our own choices which we may feel powerless to change.

So, tell the alcoholic, the junk food junky, or the heroin addict to “just stop; it is killing you”.  Addiction is one of the most powerful tools of the devil. Once put into motion, it perpetuates itself, and Satan doesn’t even need to be around. We just daily kill ourselves with our addiction-driven choices.

There’s no doubt that most of us believe that we are doing our best to eat with more health-consciousness, but it’s really an uphill battle when you’re fighting against Big Food and their desire for making huge profits from cheap ingredients, apparently with little regard for the devastating health implications for the unwitting consumer.

So, what is the answer?  It is only through the power of the Life-Giver that we escape the tools of the life destroyer.  The Life-Giver is willing and able to give us the power to change.

So, what are some of these physiologic laws that the devil has hijacked to use against us? It was God’s design for us to have joy and pleasure through normal, healthy lifestyle practices so he put within us dopamine (pleasure) receptors that respond to the dopamine, a feel-good hormone, that is produced by good food, exercise, positive life experiences and loving relationships. But just as in the garden of Eden, the serpent tempted Eve to question God’s motive for limiting the first couple’s freedom and encouraged them to explore a higher level of “pleasure”, outside the perfect design of their Maker, so today we are temped in the same way, also with disastrous results.  We are all too slow to learn that God’s way is always best, and the tempter is all too ready to cause us to doubt His love for us.

Let’s start with food. All foods that God designed for our diet cause dopamine to be released, giving us pleasure, but at a level that is appropriate and healthy. High-calorie, rich foods, however, spike dopamine release, flooding our body with excess levels of this hormone. The body’s response is to “down regulate” the dopamine receptors response to avoid too high of a response. Yes, we felt extra pleasure, but next time, it will take more of that food or drink to feel the same pleasure. That’s why a Lay’s potato chip ad once said, “Bet you can’t eat just one”.  In the language of the drug world, it’s called, “chasing the dragon”.  Subsequent exposures are never as good as the first one.  You keep eating, drinking, or using other stimulating experiences trying to get the same pleasure that you got from the first one. This is the driving force of addiction.

Addicting foods include refined foods like sugar, alcohol, fruit juices and white flour products. High-fat foods are also dopamine over stimulators, including all animal products.

That is one reason God gave Israel instructions on how to prepare meat without blood, extra fat or adrenaline (an almost impossible instruction to follow with animal products today).

You may have experienced the addictive nature of other practices such as video games, pornography and watching movies. But you may not have known that these addictions follow the same pathway of over-dopamine release making us desire more and more of this feel-good hormone.

What if one day you decide that you want to avoid a heart attack, cancer, diabetes, obesity and many of today’s chronic diseases by changing your lifestyle practices. Success in this quest will be difficult without understanding how the addiction works.

The first day that you attempt to give up sugar, for instance, will be difficult because those overstimulated dopamine receptors that have been down-regulated will not respond to the “normal” levels of dopamine that God designed to be released by the healthy food that He gave us for our health and pleasure. You are not just back to “normal” without a dopamine high. You feel lousy. The next day will even be worse.  It may take a week or more of normal dopamine levels for the body’s dopamine receptors to return to normal, so that you feel appropriate pleasure, as God designed, from His diet and His lifestyle. Without this knowledge, you may give up before your body recovers from its former abuse. Your best recovery plan is to avoid altogether the products that caused the addiction that you are struggling with. And avoid that tempting phrase, “a little bit won’t hurt,” if you want to succeed.

Return with me to the place where it all began. God gave Adam and Eve everything they could ever want, including a whole garden of delicious fruit, but there was only one tree that he warned them to stay away from. Is it possible that Eve kept thinking about that one thing that she couldn’t have, so it was always on her mind, instead of focusing on the whole garden of the most delicious food available? I want to encourage you to not focus on what you should avoid, but on all the good things that will bring pleasure and avoid disease. Trust God that He wants the best for you and only restricts things that may bring immediate pleasure but, in the end, bring pain, disease and death.

If you are struggling with addictions and want to experience the best life of health and peace, but need help, there is hope.

Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center was established for the very purpose of education and support for anyone desiring more out of this life and the next.  Call anytime for free help to start on the road to better health 303-282-3676.  Our lifestyle center’s temporary hours at this time are Tuesday and Thursdays 10:30-2:30 and by appointment whenever you need us. We are located at 2520 S. Downing St. Denver, CO.

–photo by UnSplash

03 Jun

Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center Reopens with a focus on Diabetes With both Spanish and English Diabetes Undone Workshops

Starting the fourth week of June, Diabetes Undone classes will begin again, in both Spanish and English at the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center (formerly the Adventist book center).

The Covid-19 pandemic reminded us of the seriousness of this reversable disease, especially in our Spanish communities.  These classes will bring hope to each of us plagued by this disease and those who want to avoid ever getting it in the first place. 

If you have believed that there was nothing that you could do about this, all too common diagnosis, we have good news for you. Many have found hope in these powerful workshops around the world.  

The first class is free to just check it out, with no obligation.  The full workshop is only $25 with optional materials of workbook and Diabetic cookbook. 

Spanish classes start on June 24 and run every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 am or 6:30 pm

English classes start on June 23 and run every Monday and Wednesday at 11:00 am or 6:30 pm

Classes are one and a half hours in length with video lectures by Diabetes Experts Dr. Wes

Youngberg DrPH and Brenda Davis RD.  Each class includes food samples and group interaction and time to cover your personal questions. 

The 10 session, workshop is followed up with ongoing personal support by trained Health Partners to help you make those important lifestyle changes last.

To register call the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center at 303-282-3676

More on Diabetes Undone

Currently, 26 million Americans have diabetes and 79 million have prediabetes. Both of these conditions significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other complications. The prevailing medical paradigm teaches that diabetes is a chronic, incurable disease, and diabetics surrender to the idea that they will struggle with the disease for the rest of their lives. In our fast-paced, money-driven healthcare system, providers often don’t have adequate time to educate patients about how to be healthy. All too often, patients are treated for the symptoms of disease, while the underlying causes of disease are not addressed.

Dr. Wes Youngberg, DrPH, has been working with diabetics for the past twenty-five years. He has found that, by addressing the cause of illness rather than just treating the symptoms, type 2 diabetics can experience dramatic health improvements, avoid complications, and possibly even reverse the condition.

Drawing from Dr. Youngberg’s extensive experience, Life & Health Network produced Diabetes Undone, a research-tested intervention in reversing type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle diseases. The Diabetes Undone curriculum includes a cookbook, workbook, and informational videos and can be taken in a group setting or on an individual level from home. Participants will learn how to form new habits and make better choices based on increased knowledge, skills, and encouragement. The program is designed to empower participants to optimize their nutrition, exercise, and other powerful lifestyle strategies, all of which enable them to reclaim their health. The same strategies that are taught to fight diabetes also combat heart disease, obesity, cancer, autoimmune disease, and many other lifestyle-related health conditions.

Really, it’s quite simple, the things I had to do. It wasn’t hardship at all. Six months later, I was declared non-diabetic. I reversed it. And since then, I had extensive tests done two months ago, and I’m still not diabetic or prediabetic. And that itself is the reward.

—Tom Zapara, 91-year old Diabetes Undone participant

06 May

What’s The Connection Between Diet And Alzheimer’s Disease?

By Raeann Leal … Through witnessing the effect Alzheimer’s has on a family member’s emotional wellbeing and their path to slow mental deterioration; spurred my desire to pursue a degree in preventative care. As a young person, I used to wonder how a patient got this disease, and if there was a solution to prevent it. Most cases of Alzheimer’s occur later in life but alarmingly, it’s beginning to also appear in younger people.

As the fields of lifestyle medicine and preventative care grow, researchers have found that a whole foods, plant-based diet is key to reduce the risk of this devastating disease. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, our genes may not be our determined destiny. The question that we need to ask is: how can we alter the course of a disease that might be lurking in the future of our overall health?

Diet and mental health

Although it’s not as often discussed, our mental health has the same degree of importance as our physical health. And, just as a good diet is key to good physical health, it’s also the key to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and shield our mental health in the long run. In fact, it has been found that diet is interrelated with many conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases of the mind. Astonishingly, studies indicate that diet can influence the body’s nervous system. A higher chance of cognitive decline is seen in patients that indulge in a diet rich in saturated fats, dairy, meat products, fat, and sugar.

Another interesting report is that neurodegenerative disease risks are lowered with a plant-based diet that is high in antioxidants, fiber, and low in saturated fats. It’s also been shown that cognitive health is improved with a whole foods, plant-based diet. Individuals in mid-life with plant-based diets low in saturated fats demonstrated a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life. The middle-aged group of low-risk patients was then compared to individuals with unhealthy diets high in meat and dairy food. The eye-opening results were that the latter group had a much higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease than the patients with a healthy diet. The healthy diet patients had an 86-90 % decreased risk of dementia and a 90-92% decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared with the patients with an unhealthy diet. A follow-up long-term study over 20-30 years found that individuals with higher cholesterol levels in mid-life had a 50% higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Even though Alzheimer’s disease is affected by genetics and age-related factors, it does not lessen the fact that the risk of Alzheimer’s is heightened by increased blood lipids, blood pressure, and diabetes.

Prevent Alzheimer’s with your diet

In 2013, the International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain agreed on evidence-based guidelines for prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Decrease saturated fats, trans fat, hydrogenated fats. They agreed that decreasing the intake of saturated fats (dairy products meats and certain oils) and trans fats or hydrogenated fats (processed foods) reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The replacements they recommended are vegetables, pulses, fruits, and whole grains.
  2. Eat foods high in Vitamin E. Vitamin E should come from food sources rather than supplements. Consume foods high in vitamin E, such as seeds, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. Vitamin B12 or fortified foods should be a part of the diet. Patients must be cautious when using multiple vitamins by choosing supplements without iron and copper. I
  3. Avoid products with aluminum. You should avoid antacids, baking powder, and products containing aluminum.
  4. Do aerobic exercise. You must add aerobic exercise to your schedule, which will cause blood flow to the brain to increase neural connections. One practical example of this is 40 minutes of brisk walking three times per week.

These are all practical and doable guidelines we can all follow, right?

Power-berries

I should add that there is one more power food that can boost the protection of the nervous system: berries. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are effective because of their high flavonoid content. Flavonoids are considered neuroprotective and only found in plants. In one study with approximately 130,00 subjects over the course of 20 years, scientists found that individuals that consumed the most berries had a significantly lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Increased intake of flavonoids slowed down cognitive decline.

The conclusion that these healthcare providers came to was that the whole foods, plant-based diet can protect the nervous system and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Compelling, isn’t it? After realizing how berries can positively impact my cognitive health, I quickly compiled a list of dishes with blueberries to implement in my meals. Here are two that are easy and creative.

 

Berry Rainbow Smoothie Bowl

Smoothie Base

  • 1 package (6 ounces) frozen raspberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 medium bananas

Toppings

  • 1 shredded coconut
  • 1 cocoa nibs (I substitute this with carob chips)
  • 2 tablespoons dried apricots, chopped
  • 35 pistachios, shelled
  • 10 fresh or frozen blueberries

Blend the smoothie base ingredients, pour the smoothie into a bowl, then top with the toppings.

 

Blueberry Cocoa Bites

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I substitute this with carob powder)
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) dried tart cherries, chopped
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • 1/3 cup (2 ounces) Driscoll’s Blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds
  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (4 ounces)

Directions

  • In a small bowl, combine cocoa and boiling water. Stir until well mixed and let stand 5 minutes.
  • In a food processor, combine dates, almond butter and salt, and process to a fine paste (about the same consistency of peanut butter), about 1 minute. Add cocoa mixture and process until well combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer puree to a medium bowl. Stir in cherries and coconut until well combined.
  • To form the bites, spray a small amount of non-stick cooking spray on the palms of your hands. Scoop 1 tablespoon cocoa and nut mixture and place it in the center of your hand and pat down to flatten. Place 2 to 3 blueberries in the center of mixture. Fold mixture over to enrobe the berries and gently roll between the palms of your hands. Roll in the toasted almonds and set on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. Chill 1 hour before serving.

— Raeann Leal is a graduate student at Loma Linda University School of Public Health pursuing her MPH in lifestyle medicine.

This article was originally published https://lifeandhealth.org/nutrition/the-surprising-connection-between-diet-and-alzheimers-disease/0911063.html

29 Apr

Restore Your Gut Microbiome In 2 Weeks

By DANNY KWON JD …Lately, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about the gut microbiome and how it needs to be healthy for our bodies to operate at optimum. How do guts get unhealthy, or healthy, in the first place? When we talk about the “health” of the gut, we’re talking about the good and bad bacteria and organisms living in the microbiome of the gut.

The food we eat daily contributes to this microbiome and feeds the good and bad bacteria. The key ingredient to create a healthy gut is fiber. With plenty of fiber, good bacteria abounds. Without it, unhealthy bacteria takes over, contributing to ill health. In our processed food society, our meals are designed to be as tasty as possible which means not too much fiber is found in most processed foods or restaurant food. Instead, processed foods fill our gut with unnecessary fillers, chemicals and preservatives, things unhealthy bacteria in our gut love to feed on. As a result, our guts are often unhealthy environments.

“The lack of fiber intake in the industrialized world is starving our gut microbes, with important health consequences that may be associated with increases in colorectal cancer, autoimmune diseases, and decreased vaccine efficacy and response to cancer immunotherapy,” says Katrine Whiteson, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry who co-directed a recent University of California Irvine (UCI) Microbiome research study that was recently published in the American Society for Microbiology.

Dietary fiber consists of resistant carbs found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains which are not digestible by our bodies. This slows overall digestion of our meals and makes us feel fuller longer. So, it’s also important for regulating our feeling of hunger (which means we snack and binge eat less). While indigestible, the bacteria in the gut metabolizes fiber into short-chain fatty acids and other byproducts which are important to our health.

But in an industrialized country, the average person consumes less than half of the recommended daily fiber (50 grams per day) mainly because of decreased consumption of plant-based foods. Processed foods and restaurant foods tend to have low levels of fiber. And reduced fiber in one’s diet is associated with diseases like diabetes type II, colon cancer and autoimmune diseases.

The good news is that the study found that even a short period of eating a high fiber diet restored the gut to a healthy state. The UCI researchers took undergraduate students and gave them 10 high fiber unprocessed meals each week for two weeks. They took gut samples before and after to track the microbial composition changes. The students also recorded their daily dietary intake information of macronutrients they consumed to reach 50 grams of dietary fiber per day during those two weeks.

One of the instructors marveled at how she and the students enjoyed learning which foods are high in fiber. “We were amazed to find how high in fiber berries and avocados are and exchanged ideas for how to prepare beans and lentils,” one researcher said.

After two weeks, the researchers compared overall bacterial composition using tools like DNA sequencing and gas chromatography and found that the gut experienced major changes after eating the high fiber diet. Researchers found that just two weeks of eating a high fiber diet caused “significant” gut biome changes such as an increase in the presence of Bifidobacterium, a common fiber-degrader.

So, put yourself on a two-week challenge to increase your daily fiber intake! Remember that the goal is 50 grams. But you’re not going to get there by just resolving to eat more fiber. Do the research and develop a plan to consume 50 grams every day. Common fruits like apples, oranges and bananas have about 3-4 grams of fiber. Two cups of green leafy veggies typically have 5 grams. Some vegetables like artichokes have a whopping 10 grams so do the research and eat accordingly. When snacking, snack on foods like seeds which are high in fiber as opposed to chips which are not. A serving of popcorn has 4 grams of fiber. Do the research. With careful planning, right choices, and a meal plan, you can get to 50 grams per day.

If you keep at it, not only will you restore your gut microbiome to a healthier state, you’ll reap the benefits of a healthier gut with better insulin resistancebetter mental healthbetter skin, and better sleep.

–Danny Kwon JD is the executive director of Life and Health and CEO of Carbon Biotech, the makers of black ice charcoal patch and is an attorney licensed in California and Canada.

*This article was original published on the Life and Health website. https://lifeandhealth.org/slider/short-term-high-fiber-diet-restores-gut-microbiome/1019941.html

22 Apr

Can You Become “Heart Attack Proof”?

By Rick Mautz … As we learned in last week’s story of Russ Palmer’s miracle of survival, having an almost lethal heart attack at the age of 36 can shake anyone’s world. Surviving it is one thing, but to live in fear of another in the future can haunt you for the rest of your life. Was it the result of genetics, COVID, or another condition that can’t be changed? Or is there a lifestyle factor that can be followed to, maybe, put this nightmare behind him forever?

In the cardiac world, the major options have been surgery, medication and other procedures. It was thought that you could not reverse coronary artery disease until Dean Ornish, M.D. proved that you could not only prevent it, but you could also reverse it through lifestyle.

In his landmark research “The Lifestyle Heart Trial” and his 1990 published work in the Lancet, “Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease?” it was finally shown how powerful lifestyle is in dealing with the number one killer in the Unites States.

About this same time, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic was seeing a complete reversal of severe coronary conditions through lifestyle approaches that we can also apply to our lives to bring life-changing hope and, as Dr. Esselstyn says, become “heart attack proof.”

Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., the founder of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Reversal program at Cleveland Clinic, explains that the endothelial lining of your blood vessels protects us from inflammation and plaque formation. When damaged by oil and animal products, this lining becomes inflamed which can lead to an endothelial rupture. Then a clot forms, cutting off blood supply to the downstream heart muscle causing a heart attack.  When you protect this vascular lining and keep it healthy, you can become “heart attack proof”. His track record speaks for itself with almost a perfect record from those who follow his program, putting an end to the progression of their heart disease, including former President Bill Clinton.

The short version of his dietary approach is to eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, avoiding oil, nuts, sugar and other high-fat foods. A powerful adjunct for healing and restoring these endothelial cells is to eat dark green leafy vegetables with their rich antioxidant content daily.

Some may say,” That is just a little too radical”, but Dr. Esselstyn will answer, “What is radical is cutting your chest open and cutting out vessels from your body to bypass the blocked area, or having another heart attack. That is radical.”

When considering a lifestyle change like this, we could focus on the things that we can’t eat. But just like there was only one tree in the Garden of Eden that God said not to eat from, they still had the whole garden of the most wonderful fruit that God had provided for them. And the same is true for us today when we focus on all the good food that we get to enjoy on this life-restoring diet. All the filling whole grains, delicious fruits, flavor-filled vegetables, including the antioxidant-packed, dark green, leafy vegetables, and scores of different legumes. We are truly blessed with such a variety of food that God has given us to enjoy and experience the healthy side effects that they bring.

As Dr. Esselstyn describes, “There are side effects to this ‘radical lifestyle’ which include weight loss, normalization of blood pressure, remission of diabetes, feeling better, loss of stroke risk, reduced risk of dementia, and the loss of erectile disfunction for men. So, yes, there are side effects, but only good ones”

Russ Palmer has decided that he would much rather have a long healthy life with his son and wife than continue his diet of things that almost cost him his life.  He is already learning that the foods that were God’s original diet for us can be even more enjoyable and the side effects are only good.

God knew what He was doing when He designed a heart-healthy diet, a brain-healthy diet, a cancer-reducing diet, a weight-control diet. Trust Him and experience the life that He intended for us all.

For more information on how to add this good lifestyle to your medically-supervised health care to not only prevent heart disease but to reverse the damage that you may already have, contact Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center for personalized support and follow the articles and posts on the website.

–Rick Mautz is the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center director; photo by iStock

Click here for menus for reversing heart disease.

For more information check out these resources.

The Cleveland clinic website
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/wellness/integrative/disease-reversal

Some short interview with Dr. Esselstyn

1 -The Walking Dead                https://youtu.be/oOcyuLGXd0s
2- The Cause and Solution      https://youtu.be/LoSSGr3HeYg
3- Education in Cardiology      https://youtu.be/pDVo8qgjvUo
4- Fruits and Nuts                   https://youtu.be/xs6Ak4jhCzo
5- How Much Can I Eat           https://youtu.be/bp8Z71qM9bc
6- Going Cold Turkey               https://youtu.be/BP7-syf5VRk

 

15 Apr

Testimony: SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE

By Russ Palmer (written on April 8) … Two weeks ago, today at this very moment, God set His plan into motion to save my life. It would be a carefully orchestrated tapestry of miracles that would culminate in His victory over my death and the continued beating of my heart even where there was no earthly explanation as to how or why.

It began with the most severe chest pain I’d ever felt in my life. I tried changing positions as best as I could while laid up on the couch with my torn Achilles. The pain kept getting worse until it became the most intense pressure I’d ever felt. It was a crushing pain like someone trying to stomp out my life. It was an impending doom kind of pain like I was about to die.

I started sweating profusely and it became extremely difficult to breathe. It was at this moment that I dropped to the ground from the pain. I assume this is when most people drop dead from a widow-maker heart attack.  

Then I felt the most intense, stabbing pain in my left arm and them my arm went numb. That’s when I knew it was a heart attack.  I pleaded with God for more time with Sully, my son, who recently celebrated his first birthday, more time with my family. I prayed to God for deliverance: “DELIVER ME” I almost yelled to God as I was writhing around on the floor in pain.

And even though I dropped to the floor, I didn’t drop dead. By God’s grace, I was able to pull myself back up onto the couch. I was home alone and I needed to call someone so I wouldn’t die there on the couch, alone. My phone had dropped to the floor when I fell.  When I looked down, the screen had opened up to the most recent call. And there, in red, was my wife Sarah’s name.

I would later find out that I had no missed calls from Sarah that day that would’ve caused her name to show up in red on the recent calls list. But there it was and all I had to do was push her name to call her. I could barely speak but I knew I had to tell her, “I’m having severe chest pain and numbness in my left arm and I think it might be a heart attack” and she would spring into action.

She said “I’m calling 911!” And I, while actively having a heart attack, foolishly replied, “But I don’t have insurance! Can you just come get me?” While she was still on the phone, I asked God to deliver me one more time with all the faith that I had left. Then we lost the connection. But I never lost connection with the Miracle Worker, and now He would step in and perform the most amazing miracle of this whole story.

In this sacred and holy moment, the pain in my chest COMPLETELY went away! The pain came back a few moments later, but for that small window I felt sweet, sweet relief. Zero pain whatsoever. Sarah would later speculate that it was at that moment that my blood was redirected around the LAD artery to offshoot vessels called collateral vessels. A heart scan hours later would prove that I had no such collateral vessels.

Looking back on this miraculous story, I have come to believe that when my blood had nowhere else to go, Jesus just stepped in and literally kept my heart beating! Maybe he massaged my heart as a surgeon would in open heart surgery or maybe he just spoke the words to make it so. I can’t wait to ask Him someday. But that’s why I believe the pain subsided. Almost as if God was telling me I was going to live.

From that moment on, I never once thought that I was going to die. Sarah called me back and stayed on the phone with me. I remember telling her the pain had subsided. She asked me if I could get up and take some aspirin. I tried as hard as I could to stand up, but I just did not have the strength. I felt like I was sinking into the couch. I felt like if I moved even an inch, I was going to pass out. Then she said, “I’m almost there. You have to get up and move to the front door.”

When she got there and saw me sweating profusely, my face, pale and almost lifeless, she knew I was having a heart attack. She said “Can you make it to the car?” Once I saw her, I believe God gave me the strength to stand up and walk, so I put my full weight on my torn Achilles and started to walk to the door mid-heart attack. I walked outside in shock and disbelief. Was I really having a heart attack?

It must have been pure adrenaline and the power of Jesus that was allowing me to put weight on my foot because I did it without feeling any pain. I know God was helping me walk. Maybe he was carrying me. I got in the car and she rushed out in a whirlwind going 60 mph down our little street.

Sarah swerved through traffic cones and pylons and through parking lots to get around red lights all the while asking, “God are you with us?” But all I heard were my own prayers for God to keep us safe on the road and to save my life. She knew right where to go and just who to call to warn them that I was coming. “I’m a provider,” she said, “and I’m bringing in my husband and he’s having a heart attack.”

What she didn’t know was that they had someone in the Cath lab preparing for a scheduled stent. They immediately got him out so they could prepare it for me. When we arrived, they rushed me into the ER where they placed an IV in my arm and in wrist, ran an EKG, and confirmed I was having a heart attack.

When she asked how long until I could get into the Cath lab, they said “We are taking him there right now.” I waited on the Cath lab table with intense chest pain for a few minutes as everyone kept telling me, “We’re almost ready to start. We’re just waiting for the doctor to get here.”

I would later find out that the doctor wasn’t even on site. She was driving 100 mph to get there to deliver that lifesaving stent to me. Once she arrived, she put the line through my radial artery to my heart. Then all of a sudden, the pain subsided once again, but this time for good because the stent was in.

The doctor came right up next to my ear after the procedure and told me I was going to be okay. Then she said those unforgettable words, “Now you have a second chance.”

I believe God worked so many miracles that day to make sure that I did have a second chance at life. He delivered me from death that day. The odds say I only had a 12% chance to live, but God defied the odds. Even the impossible is possible for Him.

This ordeal reminds me of Daniel’s three friends who walked through the fire which only burned the ropes that bound them. But they were not alone. Jesus walked with them. In the same way, He was with me and this “fire” of mine burned free the ropes of bondage to do it right this time, and to experience life and health more abundantly,

I almost died from this heart attack. You might not be so fortunate. Next week, let me share with you what I have learned that I could have done to prevent this and maybe save your life as well.

–Russ Palmer is a worship leader and member of the Littleton church; photo by iStock