Simply Buckhead’s publisher, Joanne Hayes, takes us on a journey to a more holistic lifestyle.
I consider myself healthy. I exercise and eat well, but with age, I’ve started to face my fair share of health issues: genetic high cholesterol, early osteoarthritis and a hip replacement (resulting from congenital hip dysplasia), not to mention post-menopausal sleep deficit. Eighteen months ago, I started researching holistic options to treat my ailments, and the natural alternatives brought me to a happier and healthier place. Here’s a look at the steps I took to change my life.
Pitched the prescriptions
Insurance may not cover natural medications such as vitamins and supplements, but I’ve learned that the investment value in preventative health is priceless. Many of us will go out and buy a pair of expensive shoes or a new car, but don’t stop to realize that investing in our health is what makes enjoying life’s luxuries possible. Under a doctor’s care, I decided to rid myself of my prescriptions for arthritis, cholesterol and sleep issues. Instead, I turned to supplements—turmeric for joint comfort, red yeast rice for high cholesterol, Siberian rhubarb for nighttime sweats, B12 for energy levels, to name a few—with stellar results. I now have no joint pain, my cholesterol is under control and the hot flashes are gone.
Said farewell to metal fillings
As a child, I struggled with soft tooth enamel and lots of cavities. This led to several amalgam fillings (“silver” fillings made from a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and copper). Research now shows these are harmful, particularly the mercury which makes up about 50 percent of the formation. Mercury can carry into the body and bloodstream in the form of a vapor, which is inhaled and absorbed by the lungs. This can result in mercury toxicity, a condition that affects the brain, kidneys and other organs.
For advice on how to make my mouth healthy, I turned to Dr. Michaela McKenzie, a certified cosmetic dentist who runs Dazzling Smiles, a mercury-free biological dentist practice in Buckhead. In biological dentistry, decisions are made with the big picture in mind. Rather than simply treating a dental problem, the techniques, materials and care are based on whole-body health. Dr. McKenzie’s goal is to provide effective dental treatments in the safest, healthiest manner, and she did just that by removing all my old mercury fillings and replacing my stained and damaged upper teeth with beautiful all ceramic veneers and crowns.
I’ve read a bit over the years about tonics and their benefits and was curious to learn more. Tramell Smith, a trainer at Buckhead’s Pinnacle Fitness and the subject of the March 22 episode of the new A&E reality show, Fit to Fat to Fit, shared his knowledge with me.
A competitive bodybuilder, Smith grew interested in tonics while researching probiotics and holistic medicines as a means to alleviate joint soreness and aches from weightlifting.
He experimented with different ingredients at home to create a tonic he touts as being a bacteria-killing antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory and a potent antiviral formula. He says it helps cure colds and flu, and improve blood and lymph circulation. When Smith began making his own tonic, he was already using ingredients such as turmeric, ginger and apple cider vinegar for their health properties, and knew that including them in a single concoction would ensure he got them into his system daily. Eight weeks ago, I started taking this “Master Tonic” (one teaspoon a day) and am looking forward to enjoying its positive results.
TRAMELL’S MASTER TONIC
YIELDS: 32 ounces (192 teaspoons), enough to last almost 6 months
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped purple onions
2 Habanero peppers
1 cup chopped ginger
1 cup chopped turmeric root
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tablespoons horseradish root
32-ounce bottle of Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
DIRECTIONS: Place all ingredients, except vinegar, in a food processor until it’s the consistency of a relish. Pour vinegar over the relish. Seal and let it sit seven to 10 days, longer for more potency. Strain and store in a bottle at room temperature. Drink 1 teaspoon daily, on its own, or in a “tea” with 6 ounces hot water and honey to taste. The strained leftover ingredients can also be dried and made into powder for “Tonic Seasoning” or mixed with olive oil as a dressing or marinade.
Detoxed my dwelling
Along with these internal changes, I took a closer look at detoxifying my surroundings. To start, I turned to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization with a mission to empower people to live healthier lives in healthier environments.
According to EWG, Americans are polluted with hundreds of industrial chemicals, including known carcinogens and substances that are toxic to the brain or reproductive system, resulting in babies being born prepolluted when they enter the world.
EWG aims to expose and reverse this dangerous course by educating the public and building a system of public health safeguards requiring companies to prove their products are safe in order to get, or stay, on the market.
The average person uses 10 personal care products daily, applying approximately 126 unique ingredients on our skin. These take just 26 seconds to get into the bloodstream. By applying EWG’s claim to my own life, I discovered that within the first two hours I was awake, I’d used 19 personal care, cleaning and food products. With an average of six ingredients per item, that’s a whopping 114 products that touch my skin each morning. To get some advice on how to minimize the chemicals in my daily life, I turned to Buckhead resident, international environment advocate and eco-living expert Laura Turner Seydel, who is also a busy wife and mom of three:
JH: While building your home, the first LEED gold certified home in the Southeast, you, your father (Ted Turner), and your son participated in the first ever inter-generational toxic burden study that tests chemical toxicity in the body. What was the lesson?
LTS: We were already committed to the process, and the results were shocking. My son tested high for flame retardant and Teflon. I had high levels of artificial musk from cosmetics and personal care products, and Dad was in the 95th percentile for mercury and 85th percentile for lead. After this, we looked at products to reduce our carbon footprint, like low VOC paints, kitchen cabinets not made with formaldehyde, which take 15 years to off-gas.
JH: When and why did you become involved with EWG?
LTS: More than two decades ago, I saw the documentary by EWG founder Ken Cooke, 10 Americans, where 10 individuals chosen from a cross-section of socio-economic demographics had their blood tested for chemicals and toxins. Over 300 industrial chemicals were found in each, and many, like PCB’s, were banned 20 to 30 years ago. Our family foundation began supporting their work, and I joined the board nearly eight years ago. I want to educate women [especially] and drive them to the EWG website where they can learn how to limit their children’s exposure to cocktail chemicals in our environment. Chronic childhood diseases are epidemic, and I want to share the knowledge I have with others.
JH: What do you feel is the single most important item to be aware of in our surroundings?
LTS: Food is really critical. Hippocrates said “Food is thy medicine,” and eating right can ward off toxins and diseases. We should eat organic as much as possible where it makes sense and fits in your budget. Atlanta has local government and community agencies coming together to make organic produce more available to lower-income communities through community gardens.
JH: Are there “over-the-counter” tests to warn us of any imminent danger?
LTS: There are lots of companies that can test for mold, which is a problem here in the South. But there is also a third-party verification company, Greenguard, which comes in and tests products for the home, like mattresses, furniture and carpeting, and lets you know which are off-gassing.
JH: Do I need to reevaluate my cleaning products?
LTS: EWG has a Green Cleaning Guide, updated annually, but for pennies on the dollar, you can make your own products with ingredients such as lemon, baking soda, and vinegar, which are potent natural antibacterial cleansers.
JH: Are there other issues in the home you are passionate about?
LTS: Yes, fluoride in drinking water. While proponents say it’s efficacious in preventing cavities, research shows it is as much a developmental neurotoxin as lead or mercury. Over 210 million Americans are exposed to fluoride in drinking water.
JH: What about makeup?
LTS: The FDA did a study on over 100 different lipsticks, and 99 percent contained lead in trace amounts. It’s not required to be on the label. Women continue to use products because of brand name or performance, not realizing that no amount of a developmental neurotoxin is safe.
JH: What are your tips for staying healthy when you travel?
LTS: I’ve built a foundation by taking Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B12 for boosting my immune system and making sure my hormones are in balance. I’m also now taking a supplement when I travel to protect me against EMF radioactive waves found on airplanes. EMF radiation is a topic I am concerned and want to be more informed about.
JH: Do you love to cook?
LTS: I do love to cook, but don’t get to cook as often as I would like. When I cook, it’s all from scratch.
JH: Our readers will want to know, what’s your favorite restaurant in Buckhead?
LTS: I love the bison at Ted’s Montana Grill; it’s higher in protein and iron than beef and has less fat and cholesterol than chicken or fish. I like True Food Kitchen, Café Anis, Café Sunflower for vegan fare, R. Thomas for the Thai Quinoa Bowl with Vegetables, and Bistro Niko for a romantic date night. We’re very blessed in Buckhead with great restaurants.
Dr. Michaela McKenzie
2986 Grandview Avenue
3215 Cains Hill Place N.W.
Laura Turner Seydel
STORY: Joanne Hayes
Simply Buckhead is an upscale lifestyle magazine focused on the best and brightest individuals, businesses and events in Buckhead, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Chamblee. With a commitment to journalistic excellence, the magazine serves as the authority on who to know, what to do and where to go in the community, and its surroundings.