Risë Rafferty, RDN - Archives

The CHIP Highway

May 2, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Carl had the typical cardio metabolic syndrome profile: diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. He approached me after a week into the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) that I was leading at the Adventist Health Medical Center. “I am not going to change the way I eat,” he said. “I have eaten beef and chicken every day of my life. I rarely eat vegetables. I don’t cook and I’m not going to start. This program isn’t going to work for me.”

I assured Carl there was no pressure to stay in the program. He could drop out at any time, but I encouraged him to keep coming. Maybe there would be something worthwhile? We also enjoyed having him in the group.

A couple weeks passed, and I noticed Carl was contributing more and more to the discussions. His attitude had clearly changed. He was interacting with other participants. He began including some fruits and vegetables into his diet. One evening he told the group about the chili and …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Detoxing the Lifestyle

April 4, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

A 24-year-old male teacher began to have deviant thoughts of doing harm to his students. He sought professional help and complained of depression, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and anxiety along with the thoughts of inflicting harm. The counselor referred him to a psychologist. Thinking that perhaps he was possessed, he also sought help from a religious leader. After intensive therapy, the psychologist referred him to a physician who prescribed medication. However, the young man’s experience only worsened. He left work on “sick leave.” Side effects from the medication included weight gain, persistent nightmares, fatigue, and intractable constipation. With no family history of mental health problems, the patient was devastated to hear he had a chronic mental illness, requiring he take medication for life. His thoughts took on a suicidal nature.

The young man was then referred to a physician trained in environmental medicine, a branch of medicine that studies environmental inputs and the individual’s responses to them. Testing revealed high levels of mercury. It was disclosed that he’d been eating one …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

PFCs – Perfluorinated Compounds

February 28, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

It was the Native Americans who first made popcorn in this country. They popped it over fire on flat rocks. Today we microwave it in bags lined with substances called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), also referred to as perfluorochemicals. PFCs are a class of persistent organic pollutants. There are 853 different perfluorinated compounds—PFOA, PFOS, PFBS, PFOSA, and PFDA are just a handful.

PFCs are not naturally present in nature. Their production began about 50 years ago. They’ve since become ubiquitous. They are used to produce water, oil, and stain-resistant coatings in many textiles; in cooking utensils, oil-resistant coatings for culinary paper products, and non-stick coatings; and in photographic emulsifier, aviation hydraulic fluids, and fire-fighting foams. They aren’t reactive and don’t degrade easily, making them persistent and able to bioaccumulate. Their presence has now been found in nature in various bodies of water, in wild animals, human blood, and even breast milk.

PFCs are toxic to humans and animals. In research using rats and monkeys, it was found that the liver, kidneys, …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Energy

January 31, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Found within all human cells (with the exception of red blood cells) is the ability to produce energy—energy that enables action, maintenance, movement—and life in general. Microscopic structures called mitochondria are the key players in these processes and produce 95 percent of the cell’s energy. They dwell, sometimes in the hundreds and thousands, in a single cell. The number of mitochondria in a cell depends on how active that cell is. For example, an active brain or muscle cell may contain thousands of mitochondria, whereas a blood platelet may contain only two. Mitochondria make up 80 percent of the volume of the photoreceptors in the cone cells of the eye, again numbering in the thousands. Each mitochondrion is tailored to meet the needs of the specific type of cell it’s in. The purpose of breathing, eating, and ensuring a steady supply of fuel in the blood is fulfilled in these seemingly unnoticeable structures. Like tiny factories, they take the components of foods we eat and the air we breathe to …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

It’s the Oats

January 3, 2018 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Holidays are over. The time to excuse our excess is behind us. Now, with a few extra pounds and a sense of guilt, we are on to making enthusiastic compensatory resolutions. It’s reported that the majority of resolutions pertain to weight and health. The sad part is only 8 percent of these resolutions succeed, while 80 percent fail in a couple months.1 Trying to lose weight has become a cyclical affair, at least for those who haven’t given up.

Resolving to change, failing, gaining more weight, and starting the process again at New Year’s is so common that the National Institute of Health has given it a term: the false hope syndrome.

I admire people who don’t give up. However, it’s a law of our nature that if what we’re working towards becomes seemingly impossible to attain, we’ll eventually quit trying. With the false hope syndrome, “people appear to behave paradoxically, by persisting in repeated self-change attempts despite previous failures. It is argued, though, that self-change attempts provide some initial …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Trumping Fear

December 6, 2017 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Grasping in the dark for my phone, my terrified mind sought to force my trembling fingers to dial 911. It took hours to calm my nerves even after the police arrived. Fear is not a foreign emotion. I have often felt fear in the form of butterflies and a pounding heart just before public speaking. I felt fear when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Standing in line to ride a roller coaster, a fearful dread has come over me. I was afraid as a child when my mother ran off in the dark parking lot of the LA fair, chasing two young men who had just stolen her purse. Fear comes in various shapes and sizes in response to real or imaginary situations, present and future events.

Sudden fear, like the fear I experienced while dialing 911, has the potential to cause one to freeze or jump over a six-foot fence. There are subacute, underlying, chronic fears that guide behaviors, generate insecurities, and influence our reactions to others. There …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Skinny Fat: The Dangerous Oxymoron by Risë Rafferty

Skinny Fat: The Dangerous Oxymoron

November 1, 2017 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Pretty ugly, deafeningly quiet, make haste slowly, and vegetarian meatballs are great examples of oxymorons that make you smile when you think about what the words by themselves mean in contrast to what is conveyed by the phrase. There is one oxymoron however that is pretty serious in nature and that is skinny fat.

Skinny fat describes fat tissue, found in individuals whose BMI would not sound off any alarms or raise red flags in a doctor’s office. On the scale, the numbers look decent. But when diagnoses of type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or fatty liver are given to skinny people the first question is usually, “Why? How’d that happen to me?” Our society tends to emphasize metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, type-2 diabetes, and fatty liver with being overweight or obese. Graphs show that as weight increases so do these conditions. Correspondingly, as weight is lost there is a decreased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Interestingly enough though, not all excess weight is the same. Those who are …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Salt in Circulation by Risë Rafferty

Salt in Circulation

September 27, 2017 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

From dead seas to living ones, embedded in white veins in the depths of the earth to its surface, salt is one of the world’s most precious commodities. At one time, salt was traded ounce for ounce with gold. Salt coins were used as money. Salt was even used as part of a soldier’s salary. Caravans traversed salt routes that extended from Morocco, through the Sahara Desert, to Timbuktu. Trade ships exchanged salt for spices and valuable products of the time. Salt was regarded as having the ability to repel evil and sustain life.

There are some foods that are edible and even delicious without salt, such as vine ripe tomatoes and watermelon. You may put salt on these foods, but it’s not really a necessity, right? Then there are foods that, at least to my palate, are inedible and tasteless without salt, such as potatoes, beans, tofu, and bread. If we think about it just for a second, we come to realize that while salt is no longer as …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

An Effort of Nature by Risë Rafferty

An Effort of Nature

August 30, 2017 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Throughout much of the 20th century, atherosclerosis was thought of as a disease of the inside space of arteries, the lumen. Most of us considered this hardening and thickening of the arteries to be the result of excess lipids in the bloodstream. Fat build up resulted in clogged arteries and clogged arteries don’t make for free-flowing blood to the brain and heart. As a result, fat-free was the way to be. Low-fat became the health slogan emboldened on plastic packaging in an attempt to ease fat-conscious consumers seeking to avoid the #1 killer: cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, consuming all of those low-fat, processed foods didn’t make much of a dent in our ever-escalating disease and death rate.

Yes, elevated blood lipids (fat-like compounds) contribute to heart disease in a big way.  LDL cholesterol especially is strongly associated with atherosclerosis, and reducing saturated fat in the diet does lower LDL. In fact, current knowledge is that the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk of developing heart disease or having …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers

Interconnected by Risë Rafferty

Interconnected

June 28, 2017 | Risë Rafferty, RDN

Suffering from pain, debility, loss of quality of life, destruction and/or malfunction of bodily processes and tissue characterizes disease. Medical science has devoted itself to the study of disease and in so doing has specialized in categorizing the human body so that we can see the correct specialist for the defined problem. It seems neat and tidy that way, at least in our current medical system. Unfortunately, there is not a facet of our physiology that has escaped illness.

We tend to think that if we have pain in the knee we have a joint problem. If we have pain or malfunction of the intestines we must have a gastrointestinal problem. If my heart beats irregularly, I must have a heart problem. If we have elevated blood sugar levels we must be eating too many carbs, etc. In reality, it can be a lot more complex than that. The more I study, the more amazed I am that when God designed the human body, He was less concerned about compartmentalizing …
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Risë Rafferty, RDN

Health Educator
Light Bearers