My Blog Has Moved!

Good news! My blog has moved to my very own web site. New posts will come from janiceboekhoff.com. If you’ve signed up to follow me through WordPress, you should still receive all my blog posts from the new web site (if you aren’t getting those please contact me at janice.boekhoff@gmail.com to let me know that something isn’t working).

Hope to see you soon at my new site. Click here to visit now.

Blessings,

Janice

 

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Dangerous Diet Coke?

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At a conference I recently attended, I sat next to a woman who told me about the terrible side effects of drinking diet soda. I’d honestly never thought much about my love for Diet Coke and how it might be affecting my body. So, I decided to see if she was right (and not just some naturalist espousing the philosophy that I should only drink water and only eat tree bark with a side of seaweed).

Turns out, she might have a good point. Here are some of the results researchers have seen in studies on diet soft drinks.

  • Kidney trouble—processing the chemicals in diet drinks stresses the kidneys. A Harvard Medical School study found that women who drank two or more diet drinks per day doubled the risk of kidney decline. This concerned me because I’m prone to kidney stones already.
  • Metabolic Syndrome—according to a University of Minnesota study, consuming just one diet soda a day puts you at a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome (symptoms include belly fat, high cholesterol and higher risks of heart disease).
  • Headaches—most of the evidence on this one is anecdotal, but drinking diet soda has been known to trigger headaches and migraines in susceptible people (some of this may also be due to the caffeine in the soda, not the artificial sweetener).
  • Teeth—all soft drinks are acidic and diet soda is no exception. The citric acid in soda (pH of 3.2, compared to water with a neutral pH of about 7) will weaken and destroy tooth enamel. A case study in the journal General Dentistry compared the mouths of cocaine/methamphetamine users with habitual diet soda drinkers and found similar levels of tooth erosion in both.
  • Bones—the phosphate in diet drinks leaches the calcium out of your bones, putting you at higher risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
  • Type 2 Diabetes/Obesity—this is the big one (pun intended). Drinking diet soda can actually make you gain weight. Researchers have seen these effects but aren’t sure exactly why it happens. The leading theory is that the artificial sweetener in diet soda fools the body into thinking it is sugar, which triggers a flood of insulin to counteract the sugar in the blood stream. This then causes the body to go into fat storage mode, turning anything you eat into fat, plus it makes you more likely to overeat. One study from the University of Texas found that over 10 years, diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference when compared with non-diet drinkers.

Whew! That was a long list. Based on all of this, I have started a Diet Coke fast. It’s only been a week and it’s been harder than I thought it would be. Apparently, there’s something in there my body is craving (I don’t think it’s the caffeine because I usually drink caffeine-free diet). But I’m determined to stick with it for at least a month and see how my body feels after that.

How about you? If you’re a diet soda drinker, are you up for fasting with me?

As more research is done on the chemicals in our food and drink, it becomes more obvious to me that what God put down here for us to eat originally are the best things to put in our body—water, fruits, vegetables. I get it. I really do, but I just wish all the other stuff didn’t taste so good.

References: http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/diet-soda-bad-you/obesity, http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/10/29/10-reasons-to-give-up-diet-soda/

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/58596940@N00/273375137″>IMG_0244</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

 

Painful Landing

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I don’t get migraines, but I get another type of headache that’s less common. I thought it was just me, until I was talking to a friend while we were on a flight this past weekend. She said she hoped she didn’t get a splitting headache when we landed. My mouth dropped open and I said, “I was just thinking the same thing.”

She described the pain and it sounded just like mine—sharp, stabbing pain in the sinus area just above the eyebrows. On the two occasions this has happened to me, I’m doubled over, holding my forehead, praying for it to go away. And just after landing, it does. It disappears as quick as it came.

During an episode, it literally feels as if someone is repeatedly stabbing ice picks into the front of my skull. I tend to have a pretty high pain tolerance (I know everyone says this, but my first naturally delivered baby was 10 lbs 5 oz, so I know what pain is) and even so, the first time it happened, I thought there was something drastically wrong in my head, like a tumor maybe.

I figured it had something to do with pressure since it happens on landing, but I never looked into it. My friend told me it has an actual name. Aerosinusitis, also known as Barosinusitis, is pain or damage to the sinuses usually caused by a negative pressure gradient, such as when landing a plane. If you’re sinuses are blocked in any way, the air inside them contracts on landing and the pressure can’t be equalized, resulting in the negative pressure gradient and a squeezing of the sinuses.

Most people don’t have this issue and I don’t have it every time I fly. Isn’t it amazing how God made our bodies to compensate for the pressures of high altitudes? Still, I’m glad to know this has a name and is a real issue, although I suppose my career options are limited now. I’ll never be a flight attendant.

Has this ever happened to you? Does it happen every time you fly?

P.S. If this happens to you, it’s probably a bad idea to sky dive or go deep-sea diving without talking to a doctor because the same type of pressure is involved in those activities.

References: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/862964-overview#a5, http://www.cnbc.com/id/47226552

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/99713555@N00/9176684046″>7dd_6309680-big-bif</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Conference!

This week, I’ll be at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writer’s) Conference! I’ll be having a great time visiting with other writers who totally understand the craziness of this writing life (and who don’t judge me when I talk to myself…ahem… I mean my characters). There’s also wonderful classes to help me make every novel my best one. So, I’m taking the rest of the week off because my brain will be like jelly after shoving all that information in at once.

Have a  great week and I’ll see you here next Tuesday, September 22nd, with a new devotion.

Blessings,

Janice

Amazing Eyes

170299448_58cd484b32_mOur eyes are nothing short of amazing, astounding and awesome. Here are some facts about your eyes you might not have known:

  • Computer usage won’t damage your eyes. According to the American Academy of Opthamology, the feeling you have of eyestrain after using a computer has more to do with dry eyes than with actual strain. While using a computer, most people blink less often than normal, causing their eyes to dry out.
  • It’s very rare, but two blue-eyed parents can produce a brown-eyed kid and two brown-eyed parents can produce a blue-eyed kid.
  • Your eyes are not full size at birth. This one was a surprise even to me. At birth your eyes are approximately 16 millimeters wide and they grow to 23 millimeters by age three. They will be full grown at about 24 millimeters wide by the time you hit puberty—a size that is slightly smaller than a gumball.
  • The length of your eye determines what type of eyesight you have. Nearsighted people have longer eyeballs, while farsighted people have shorter ones. Even a change as small as a millimeter will change the prescription for your eyes.
  • Having 20/20 vision isn’t the same as having “perfect” vision. What it means is that you can see at 20 feet what an average person can see at 20 feet. The best recorded vision was about 20/10, meaning what most people can see at 10 feet, this person could see at 20 feet.
  • The visual center of your brain (the occipital lobe) is actually located in the back of your head. If you fall hard and hit the back of your head, it’s possible to go temporarily blind as a result.

How did our amazing eyes form? To fit the timeline of evolution, many evolutionists subscribe to the theory that eyes evolved spontaneously multiple times. This is the only way to account for the development of the eye in many different and divergent branches of the evolutionary tree.

But this isn’t a theory that makes much sense. The eye is only useful as a complete structure. What evolutionary advantage would non-functional parts have to cause them to evolve once, much less multiple times?

What makes more sense is that the eye is an awe-inspiring structure that speaks to the beautiful design of our creator.

References: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/eyes/vision_facts_myths.html, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/20/eye-facts_n_4441884.html

Photo Credit: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/19013087@N00/170299448″>eye_1</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

The Science of Generosity

dreamstime_s_33068655The Bible says to love others as you would love yourself (Matthew 22:39). I don’t know about you, but I treat myself pretty well. If I work hard, I get a Starbucks coffee. When I’ve got a function coming up, I get a new dress. But am I as generous with others as I am with myself?

I usually try to be and when I am generous with others, it makes my day so much happier. From experience, most people know the joy that comes from being generous and claim it as a life principle, often without realizing God told us to live that way.

And guess what? Scientists have started to look into the neuromechanics (did I just make up a word?) of generosity. Recent research has linked the good feeling that comes when we’re generous to a chemical in our brain called oxytocin—the so-called love hormone. Turns out our brains are flooded with this chemical when we give to people generously, which is partly why giving feels so good.

Some people might say this is an evolved trait that came when we realized that we could live longer lives if we cooperated in community. But I don’t buy it. Those who look out for themselves alone usually get along just fine in the world and sometimes they prosper. I can’t see any selective advantage to generosity. In fact, the tendency to give away more than you must should be a negative selection factor because it leaves you with fewer resources to survive. Plus, if you help everyone else survive, then you have more competition for limited resources.

No, this reward for generosity didn’t come from evolution. The oxytocin is a gift from God to encourage us to follow His word. Proving once again, God’s ways are the best ways to live.

 

References: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275795.php, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moral-molecule/200911/the-science-generosity

Photo Credit: ID 33068655 © Nicoleta Ionescu | Dreamstime.com

Vacation Science

During my blog break in July, my family and I took an amazing trip to the Colorado Springs and Denver areas, so I thought I’d share some cool stuff about it. Here is a somewhat sciency (I love to make up words) run down of our vacation:

  • It’s possible to fall on Pikes Peak without falling off of it (my chiropractor was happy for the extra income). I fell at the top while walking around on some slippery boulders. It might have had something to do with me holding hot chocolate while climbing, but it’s really cold up at 14,115 feet.
This is close to where I fell on Pikes Peak, although it looks scarier than it was.

This is close to where I fell on Pikes Peak, although it looks scarier than it really was.

  • Rafting during a thunderstorm is still not a good idea, but nobody told the Colorado rafting guides this. It was sunny when we got on the bus to go to the river and pouring down rain with lightning when we got off the bus. Even so, our guides put the boats in the river and said get in. We did and thankfully, no one got electrocuted, although my son tried to drown himself, but that’s another story. (Sorry, no rafting pictures because frankly, rafting and my camera are just not a good mix).

 

  • Royal Gorge Bridge survived a wild-fire a couple of years ago with only some singed planks. This bridge is a suspension bridge with wooden planks that don’t fit together completely perfect, so you end up with enough space between the boards to look down 1,200 feet to the Arkansas River. It’s enough to scare the pants off this Acrophobe (fear of heights).
This is Royal Gorge Bridge over the Arkansas River.

This is Royal Gorge Bridge over the Arkansas River.

 

This is a view from the bridge looking down 1,200 feet at the Arkansas River.

This is a view from the bridge looking down 1,200 feet at the Arkansas River. The colored things you see in the water are kayaks.

  • Garden of the Gods is full of amazing sandstone spires, some rising up 300 feet. It’s constantly changing because it’s constantly weathering. I was shocked by how many people were attempting to climb in areas that were clearly not stable. But maybe that’s just the cautious geologist in me.
Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

  • The decrease in humidity makes such a difference on a person’s comfort level. Really, 85 degrees with 85% humidity in Iowa is totally different than 85 degrees with 30% humidity in Colorado (and it makes a huge difference in my hair).
  • Last, but not least, the mountains affected me psychologically. I miss the mountains so much that I wonder if there’s a Pining-For-Mountains syndrome. And if I’m diagnosed with it, will my husband move us to Colorado? (seriously, if anybody knows if this is a real syndrome, please let me know).

Someday, I plan to live in Colorado so I can indulge my mountain obsession every day. Oh, and by the way, if you’d like to contribute to the Janice-moving-to-Colorado-fund, feel free to e-mail me to let me know your desired contribution (this is just a joke, people, please don’t send me money).

Bonus Picture:

The only double rainbow I've ever seen (Colorado Springs)

The only double rainbow I’ve ever seen (Colorado Springs)