Saturday, July 19, 2014

I Want to Learn How to Draw

Art class was something I missed out in school.  I did band from 6th grade til my sophmore year of high school, and band took the place of any required art credits.  I did take one drawing class in college, but other than that I missed out on formal drawing lessons throughout my schooling--which is a bummer.

Lately I've been trying to improve my skills in hopes that I can illustrate my own apps more skillfully.  I've picked up some art books at the library, but one that has intrigued me the most has been Carla Sonheim's work.  She has a few book (affiliate links to the right) filled with art lessons and she has online classes as well.  At the beginning of this summer I signed up for her imaginary creatures class.  Her style is intriguing and interesting and learning her techniques have been fun.

Here are some various things I have drawn, some from both the lessons in her books, some from her class, and some on my own.  I really want to do her year long fairy tale class, but the $200 tag plus supplies is a bit much for me right now.  I'll just keep hoping a large fortune comes my way before the end of the year. :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Healthy Teeth and Sun Protection for Your Skin

*I am not a medical professional and supplements can have unintended consequences.  Please do your own research and consult a health professional for advice.

When Selena was five years old I noticed a big black hole in her tooth.  I took her into the dentist and she had 10 cavities.  $2000 dollars later she had had a lot of work done in her poor little mouth.

I stumbled across some people who swore that Vitamin K2 is the go to vitamin for dental health.  It is a vitamin that is not found in many foods.  The foods with the highest amounts are butter made from the milk of grass fed cows, and fermented soy beans.  The claim is that this vitamin is essential to the remineralization of your teeth.  That just like bones are constantly regenerating and growing, your teeth are doing the same, assuming they have the necessary supplies.  I did not know yhis was possible, but a hygenist friend said it was. There is some limited research that K2 helps with bone regrowth, but overall it isn't a well studied vitamin. Most of the evidence for teeth health is anecdotal.

I decided that I might as well try it.  One recommended supplement is a High Vitamin Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil mix.  It is pretty expensive but after spending $2000 on dentist bills and Selena had yet another black spot on her tooth--I figured it was worth a $50 shot to see if it worked as it could potentially save us a lot of money (what with us not having dental insurance).

Here is a picture of the black spot on Selena's tooth.  She had gone to a free dental cleaning that was being offered to the community and the dental assistant who cleaned her teeth said it was a cavity.  I gave her a small bit of the "chocolate" vitamin every day for a few weeks after that but before she went in for a scheduled cleaning. The spot was gone and she was deemed cavity free.  She also has a small spot on the front of one of her teeth, that gets noticeably smaller when I am consistent in giving her the supplement, but gets larger if I forget.

I too have had some spots on my teeth that I have been able to get rid of by consistently taking the supplement. One year ago some x-rays showed a cavity between the teeth. In the name of science I have refused to get them fixed because I want to see if they will go away.  If they still show up on my next x-rays, then I will have them taken care of.

The other benefit I have noticed from the Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil supplement is that my skin doesn't burn as easily.  I have had quite a few days that I have spent 30 - 40 minutes in the midday sun and have not gotten burnt, which historically has not been possible with my fair, freckled skin. I struggle with knowing what is more risky, no sun exposure, or too much, and I have settled on trying to get as much as possible without getting burnt.  Cod liver oil contains vitamin D, which is supposed to help prevent you from getting burnt (the reasoning on why tanning helps to prevent you from getting burnt), and there are some studies that show that vitamin K2 and vitamin D have a synergistic affect that could explain the positive affects in sun protection.

Overall the supplement tastes and smells awful, which is part of the reason I sometimes forget to take it for a while.  I buy the "chocolate" flavored kind so I can tell my kids it is a chocolate vitamin, but I still serve it up in a bite of applesauce.  That way you can slurp it down without having to taste it.

The positive affects I have seen on both mine and Selena's teeth could be coincidence.  There aren't really any scientific studies on its efficacy for cavity healing and/or prevention, and most of the proponents of it are from single group of people*, but I have had enough periods of me or my kids taking it versus not taking it to make me feel like I do see a positive difference that I am willing to spend 50 or so bucks every six months to buy it.

*Weston A Price was a dentist who did some anthropological like research and determined that populations with the healthiest teeth had some sort of "X-Factor" that he seemed to think was found most often in cow's milk during the spring.  The Weston A Price Foundation thinks that Vitamin K2 is the name of the X-Factor Price discovered as it is found primarily in milk/butter of cows that eat fresh grass.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hacking My Health

*I am not a medical professional and supplements and exercise programs can have unintended consequences.  Please do your own research and consult a health professional for advice.

I have been writing these posts in my head for years, but the concepts are so interconnected that I find it really hard to succinctly explain all the connections and relationships, but I am going to try.

I am 33 years old, which isn't very old, but ever since having kids I started feeling old.  My joints are stiff, my back aches, and I can't physically do things that I used to be able to do, and it doesn't seem right.  If my life expectancy is 78 (or whatever) then I shouldn't start feeling old till I am 40ish, not 27ish.

When I first started this blog I did not think supplements were useful and that eating whole foods was good enough for overall health. But over the years I have adopted a new theory about the difference between surviving and thriving. You can survive on many nutritiously deficient diets, and even a nutrient dense whole foods diet can lack in some areas and supplementation can allow a person to thrive versus just survive.

One major complaint against supplements is that many do not "work" and any results are only a placebo effect.  I do not have an issue with this.  If a supplement can provide someone with a way to use the placebo effect to their own benefit then I think that is a good thing.  Most of the supplements I will use, I have had noticeable positive affects, they have a compelling scientific basis for how and why they work though may not have a double-blind placebo study to back it up, thus I do admit there is a possibility that I am simply experiencing a placebo effect.

Nutrition isn't the only health hack available.  Movement and nutrition go hand-in-hand.  The general consensus is that exercise is good for cardiovascular health, but I go a step further and think there is strong evidence that movement is integral to mental and brain health.  Recently I have been convinced even further, that the simple mechanics of how we position ourselves throughout our day has a real affect on a multitude of common ailments and degenerative diseases.

I plan on doing a series of posts sharing some of the "health hacks" I have discovered, and I am going to start with that last idea first, because it is the one that I have just discovered and the results are mindbogglingly impressive.

Hacking Your Period - Alleviating menstrual cramps, reducing the length of your period, and how heavy it is.
Healthy Teeth and Sun Protection for Your Skin
Sensitive Sense of Smell Could be a Zinc Deficiency