WELLNESS--We are well into spring which is a great time to do a gentle cleanse by eliminating sugar from the diet for 14 days. When we eat sugar there are certain bacteria, often referred to as mycotoxins, that thrive on and feed off of sugar. When we take a break from sugar, part of the reason it is so difficult for the first week or so is because the bacteria that was feeding off the sugar is dying off. This die-off period can be difficult and symptoms may include food cravings, headaches, irritability, lightheadedness and depression. The first 3 to 5 days tend to be the most difficult, and then symptoms tend to start to subside. The cravings themselves may be the longest standing symptom taking from a few weeks to a few months to fully disappear.
There are a few tricks that may help you get through that beginning phase. Be sure to have lots of wholesome, healthy, and satisfying foods to replace the sugar. Studies show that protein and fat deficiency can both contribute to sugar cravings. Before you embark, make a list of as many healthy foods and snacks that you love and be sure to fill your house up with vegetables, lean meats or poultry if you eat those, and lots of purified water. Ensuring that we don’t get hungry or low blood sugar is an important component to giving up the white stuff.
Good fat is also very helpful both for the sugar detox and for our health in general. When we consume enough fat, there is a compound that causes a signal in our brain telling us we are full. If the diet is too light in fat, we run the risk of the brain thinking we are still hungry or worse, starving. This can cause the sugar cravings can kick in more intensely as the body is dealing with sugar detoxification cravings and hunger together. It is important when we are doing a sugar detox to have a specific and healthy food plan. This usually requires a little more planning and more time in the kitchen.
Another motivator to say goodbye to the sweet tooth is that fact that water binds to sugar, and too much sugar equals too much water and weight gain. One upside those first few days of cutting the sugar is all the extra water weight that goes. This is a normal process, but it’s one we don’t want to put our body through all the time. Yoyo’ing from sugar to sugar free back and forth repeatedly can be tough on our organs and difficult emotionally and mentally. Each time someone repeats that cycle, it becomes more difficult than the previous time.
Many people think that if they only eat natural sugar they are acting healthfully, and while there is some truth to that, the cascade of bodily effects happens regardless of what type of sugar we eat. It is healthier to eat local honey compared to high fructose corn syrup in a can of soda, but the reality is when we eat sugar no matter what kind there is a spike in the blood sugar which commands the body to release insulin causing the cells to take up the sugar and store it as fat. Worse than that is the effects of sugar on the organs and the very real potential of the sugar aiding in the growth of cancer and the onset of dementia.
A 14 day sugar cleanse may be just what the doctor ordered. If you have people living with you, be sure to try to get them on board with the cleanse or at the very least ask them to support you during the 14 days. If your housemates are still bringing in sugary snacks and drinks while you are going through the detox process, it may make it very difficult to succeed in your goals.
Be sure to keep healthy snacks on hand in case you do end up feeling light headed while out and about, and always have your meals planned out at least 1 day in advance. Letting yourself get very hungry while you are detoxing off of sugar is not a good idea as hunger will increase your chances of binging on sugar. Usually when the 14 days are over you will feel less inclined to go back to your sugary ways.
WELLNESS--Our bodies cannot synthesize vitamin C (also known as L-ascorbic acid) meaning we have to get it from the food we eat. It is also water-soluble so vitamin C will flush out of the body making it challenging to take too much. There are people who take mega doses of vitamin C well into the thousands of milligrams a day to help cure or heal certain ailments but the food and nutrition board recommend 75 mg for adult females and 90 mg for adult males.
For people that want to take more, they often use what’s called a bowel tolerance level meaning that once someone takes too much vitamin C it can lead to diarrhea and it’s time to cut back to a smaller dose.
Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant meaning it helps to block the damage caused by free radicals. Cigarette smokers need to take more vitamin C as they are doing more damage to their bodies by creating more free radicals and actually lowering their levels of vitamin C. While in the US and other developed countries it is unusual to have dangerously low levels of vitamin C, it is common that people have lower than desired amounts in their bodies.
There are a number of conditions associated with low levels of vitamin C. If one is getting their vitamin C from healthy sources like fruits and vegetables, they will reap the added benefit of increased fiber in the diet as well. Ingesting higher levels of vitamin C may help avoid conditions such as heart disease and stroke by preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
While preventing the common cold can sometimes be difficult, vitamin C has been proven to shorten the length of a cold by about a day. In studies conducted using elite athletes, they found that the use of Vitamin C reduces the risk of catching a cold. Ideally, one will eat enough foods that are rich in Vitamin C making supplementation less important. The following is a list of foods highest in vitamin C. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather one showing the foods with the highest concentration of Vitamin C:
For people with chronic disease or inflammatory diseases, it may be more important to supplement vitamin C. Also, keep in mind that vitamin C helps to build collagen and is very good for the skin, so people with skin diseases may also benefit from supplementing vitamin C.
WELLNESS--The sugar industry brings in an estimated 100 billion dollars a year and on average, Americans consume up to 150 pounds of the stuff per person per year. We all know that sugar is not healthy, but what is it about this substance that makes it so darn dangerous? In addition to the negative effects on our blood, brain, and heart, sugar also makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients.
Vitamin C is a crucial compound protecting our cells, adding to collagen levels for our skin, and keeping us healthy. Dogs and cats are able to synthesize their own vitamin c so there is no need for them to eat vitamin C rich foods. Humans don’t have that ability and we must get our vitamin C from our diet or from supplements. Our cells have receptors that invite certain compounds to gain access. The specific receptor for vitamin C is the same receptor that allows glucose or sugar to enter. Because the cell has a greater affinity for glucose compared to vitamin C, if the sugar levels in the body are elevated due to poor diet, the cells will absorb the sugar disallowing room for the vitamin C to be taken up by our cells.
In addition to the above, there is a process called phagocytosis, which is the term describing the process of the body is fighting off bacteria and viruses. This process is happening 24 hours a day and without it our immunity would shut down. Studies show that when the blood sugar levels in the body are 120 or higher, the phagocytic cycle can be reduced by up to 75%. This system is crucial in fighting off disease and ailments, and when compromised the body can no longer protect itself against dangerous and possible life threatening disease.
As far as B vitamins are concerned, sugar plays a vital role in metabolizing these vitamins. B vitamins are important in the process of converting our food into fuel. While sugar doesn’t directly rob the body of B vitamins, too much sugar in the diet and not enough B vitamins make it impossible for the body to absorb and metabolize the sugar. This fact becomes increasingly important for diabetics or anyone fighting with high levels of blood sugar.
Finally, it’s true that all sugar is not created equally, but if you think that just because you’re eating brown sugar or sugar in the raw instead of white sugar you’re in the clear, you’re sorely mistaken. While it can be argued that sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup is the worst form of sugar, and natural sugars like organic honey is less damaging, it’s important to realize that all sugar causes a spike in blood sugar which in turn commands the body to release insulin. This process, when sugar intake is too high, is very damaging to the body and tells the cells to absorb the sugar and store it as fat.
The best way to handle sugar is to cut back or completely eliminate added sugars. If one does this they will still get plenty of natural sugars that occur in fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains. Even milk has quite a bit of sugar and there is none added. While the sugar content and the added sugar may seem confusing to people, the FDA finally passed a law requiring labels to specify how much sugar is naturally occurring in the food, and how much is added. This law goes into effect July of 2018.
WELLNESS--Farmers markets have been around forever with the most famous market of all being the Original Farmers Market here in Los Angeles. As novel as it is to believe that this was the first farmers market, farmers have been setting up food stands in busy metropolitan areas as far back as the start of cities. More recently in the mid-2000’s the food movement started reaching enough people causing greater quality demands to be made. People realize that getting food from the farmer that literally travelled from the farm to the farmers market that same day was a much better choice.
When buying foods or other goods at the local farmers markets, one has the ability to address any questions you may have directly to the source. When we buy produce at a grocery store it’s very likely that we have no idea where exactly this food came from, and for how long has it been pulled from the ground? We want our food, especially fruit and vegetables, to be as fresh as possible. As soon as fruits and vegetables are harvested, there are fungi that start to grow and decompose them. The longer they are stored with being consumed, the greater number of fungi and bacteria present. The less time we give them to replicate, the better.
Farmers markets tend to draw a healthier more food aware crowd of people. Therefore, the farmers know that things like pesticides and genetically modified foods would not be welcome at the market. While our government keeps telling us that these things are not dangerous, there is mounting evidence to the contrary.
It is not unusual for food at your local grocery chain to have travelled over a thousand miles to get to that store. This requires lots of energy usually in the form of fossil fuels adding to the pollution levels. In addition, there is more packaging used in grocery chains creating more garbage as opposed to the farmers market that usually has no packaging and was transported that same day by the very farmer him or herself.
Besides the obvious health benefits, we are also supporting our local farmers instead of paying our money into big grocery chains that very often take that money and send it to their headquarters bank. While these stores do employ people, they also tend to channel money away from our local communities. The farmers market is always a fun place to go walk around and absorb the positive healthy energy of the local community. In big cities like Los Angeles, we can all use more time outside in the fresh air with our neighbors.
WELLNESS--Vitamin E is an antioxidant and right after vitamin C was one of the very first compounds to be turned into a supplement. It can only be found in food or supplements and is an important factor in protecting the body against pollutants, toxicity, eye disease, heart disease, and even neurological disorders. There are also studies showing that vitamin E can be helpful in keeping cancer at bay and that it can be beneficial in treating and preventing certain types of dementia.
It is a fat-soluble vitamin meaning it dissolves in fat and can be found naturally in meat, fruit, vegetables, wheat germ, and eggs. If you feel your diet isn’t including enough vitamin E, you can supplement. Studies show that 400 IU’s a day seems to be beneficial and safe. Anything over 400 IU’s and there is some evidence that with certain patients with a history of heart issues, there can be complications. Most people however will be fine with 400 IU’s a day. As always, it is best to discuss with your primary care provider before you start taking supplements. This goes double for people with serious pre-existing conditions or for people that are taking blood thinners.
When purchasing a vitamin E supplement it may seem confusing. The trick is to find a vitamin E complex that includes all 4 tocopherols and not just one or two. We especially don’t want to purchase products with dl-alpha-tocopherol. Not all supplements are created equally, so talk to your health and wellness providers before undergoing major changes to your diet and lifestyle. Health and wellness is a moving target, and even those of us with our fingers on the pulse of health are under constant pressure to keep up with research and the ever changing landscape of wellness.
WELLNESS--By now everyone has heard of probiotics. Pro means good and biotic means bacteria, so probiotics are good bacteria that help maintain a friendly gut flora. Prebiotics are non-digestible foods that feed probiotics and are mostly carbohydrates in the form of fiber. Think of prebiotics as fertilizer for probiotics. They are found primarily in vegetables. The more prebiotics that we consume, the greater the colonization of probiotics in our gut.
By eating enough prebiotics, we ensure that the friendly bacteria in our gut maintain a healthy population. This is important for many reasons including keeping inflammation levels at a minimum and helping to keep our immunity strong. When the healthy bacteria levels drop, inflammation levels go up. When the friendly bacteria levels drop, it is more likely that inflammation will rise and we run the risk of getting leaky gut syndrome.
The health of the large intestine and gut is more important than we ever expected. Links with poor probiotic levels and the gut have now been linked to many ailments including mental health issues, autoimmune problems like colitis and chrones disease, and elevated levels of inflammation that can negatively effect every system in the body.
One of the most obvious ways to check the health of the gut is simply by looking at your digestive health. After eating is there gas and bloating? Are the stools formed and normal or do you tend to go in the direction of loose stool or diarrhea? Also, once the food is broken down it is to be used as fuel, so your energy level should tell you a lot about how efficiently your body is breaking down food. There are also blood tests to check your levels of inflammation in the blood that you can ask your primary care provider to run.
The most effective way to get all of your prebiotic needs met is by eating plenty of leafy green vegetables. If your lifestyle is set up in a way making it difficult to get the vegetables you need, there are prebiotic supplements. There has been chatter about how prebiotics and probiotics should not both be taken, but they are ungrounded. Taking both a prebiotic and probiotic will not be a problem. Ideally, take them both at the same time each day and ideally with food.
Keep your gut healthy in order to maintain optimum health mentally and physically.
WELLNESS--Too many times I hear older people or people that have always been out of shape say that it’s too late to get in shape. Some report that they have never been physically active and at this stage it’s too late to start. I’m here to tell you that is not the case. It’s never too late to start taking care of yourself by working out and eating healthy.
Among the reasons that exercise is so important are the reduction in stroke, heart attacks, and diabetes; but why else must we exercise? Newer research points to a region in the brain that is affected by cardio. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls verbal memory and learning. Cardio that gets the heart pumping and the body sweating is what is required to stimulate hippocampal growth.
Besides the brain boost, research indicates that people who work out regularly and do at least 2 hours total of cardio a week actually extend their lives by 3 to 7 years. The heart benefits and anti-cancer effects of cancer also speak for themselves. People who get their hearts pumping and the sweat flowing have a significant reduction in developing colon, and breast cancer.
Now that we have reviewed the known benefits of working out, let’s talk about why people resist doing cardio. For starters, everyones’ body is different. Some bodies take to physical activity more naturally than others. There are those people that have always worked out since a young age and it just comes naturally to them. Then we have the athletes of the world that are so passionate about a particular sport that they can’t imagine not doing it. These previously mentioned people are lucky that fitness comes with little effort.
You may be one of the groups of people that simply never had a regular exercise routine in your life, or you may be the type that used to do sports and without that group participation, fitness has fallen to the wayside. Many people can look back and remember a time when they participated in a group activity and therefore were in great shape. If this is you, then it may be necessary to join some type of fitness group. If socializing is more important than fitness, I suggest you blend the two together by doing group hikes, or fitness classes. Taking a dance class or purchasing a monthly pass to a yoga studio might do the trick. Some people simply do not want to work out alone.
The gym culture can be intimidating and it’s quite possible to get in shape without joining a gym. If you live somewhere warm all year round you can get on MeetUp.com and look for a group of people that are also getting in shape together. Could be a class taught in the park each week or simply a walking or hiking group. If those options are not around you can join other types of studios besides a gym. Most places offer yoga studios or Pilates or dance studios and these can be far less intimidating than a gym, and sometimes more social. Of course a walking buddy that you can find at work and do a brisk 30 minute walk each day during lunch is also a fun and free way to get the heart pumping!
Whatever you decide to do, the trick is to make it a habit. You want to break that 2 hours a week minimum with your cardio and ideally you will do that every week. Once it’s a habit your brain will love it and you will start to as well. Look at it as a time that you set aside that is for you. Self-care can be fun and rewarding and once you start to look and feel better, keeping it going will get even easier.
WELLNESS--Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans each year which is more than diabetes, cancer, and heart disease combined. Very often that pain is low back pain.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that weakness and tightness go hand in hand. Common sense would have us think that along with weakness comes loose flexible muscles, but the opposite is true. The muscles get weak from lack of movement and exercise leading to tight muscles that end up pulling the vertebrae’s out of alignment and causing low back pain. There are other reasons the low back can be painful, and imaging is the best way to know what is causing the pain. There are three steps one can take in order to help alleviate and potentially heal low back pain.
Assess how serious the problem is and see a doctor and get some imaging done. In some cases a simple x-ray may be enough, but know that soft tissue problems don’t show up with x-ray alone. An MRI may be needed. I am a big fan of imaging because no matter how good health care providers may be, no one can see inside the body without the proper diagnostic tools.
If you see a surgeon for your testing he/she want to perform surgery on your back. While part of staying healthy requires combining western and eastern medicine, look at surgery as a last ditch attempt to get better after all other options have been exhausted. If the doctor wants to do surgery on you it is in your best interest to get a second and maybe even a third opinion before proceeding.
In addition to more opinions, it would also behoove you to do your research into other people that have had the same surgery performed and read about actual cases and actual outcomes. Be your own primary care provider by researching exhaustively before agreeing to go under the knife.
Assemble your team. For chronic pain you may need more than one healer to help you. Acupuncture and chiropractic are excellent adjuncts to your western medical visits. Many peoples insurance now covers both, but if not, there are student clinics for acupuncture schools that will help to bring the cost of treatment down. If you’re not sure about your coverage call the number on the back of your insurance card to see what kind of coverage you may have.
Regarding movement it’s important to learn how and what to do to specifically strengthen and add flexibility to the right areas of the body to support the low back while taking the pressure off. If cost for trainers or physical therapists is a limiting factor, finding a good group fitness class or yoga class and talk to an experienced teacher before you start class to get specific guidance on exercises or yoga poses specifically targeted to help alleviate your back pain. I’m not a fan of group classes for people actively in pain unless they talk to the teacher first to let them know your situation. It is possible to make yourself worse with improper movement.
Take action. Many of you have heard that sitting is the new smoking and while I’m not sure sitting is quite that dangerous, there is not doubt that stagnation and lack of movement contribute to low back pain and all other types of pain. Once you know the proper exercises that you need to do and which movements help you, it’s time to start to exercise. Finding a work out buddy that you can walk with or do your exercises with can be helpful for those of you that are less physically inclined. Movement and exercise is a crucial element to any pain reducing regimen and finding that balance of just enough movement without exacerbating the problem can be key.
Low back pain cuts deep into ones quality of life. With the right plan and the right team in place, there is no reason that low back pain or any other pain needs to dominate your life. Start taking steps today to alleviate your pain so you can get back to life!
WELLNESS--Everyone wants to get in shape, but what if you’re one of those people that is totally out of shape and hasn’t worked out in months or even years? There is hope. We all get off track, and quite frankly, some people are just not as physically inclined as others. Even since childhood there are those of us that never felt especially excited about gym class in school or any other physical activity. No matter how many times certain people try to get excited about working out, they simply can’t.
The good news is you don’t have to love to work out in order to get into better shape. While exercise in some form does need to be a part of your life, it doesn’t need to take center stage. With all the new apps and gizmos available to us these days, strategizing exercise and diet in a well planned thought out way can help to bring up our fitness and wellness levels without cutting into our quality of life. It’s time to make technology your ally.
Activity trackers like FitBit, Under Armor, Apple watch, are just a few of the many activity trackers available to help us track our calories and the amount of exercise we get. While most doctors and fitness experts still suggest a consistent 15 minutes or more of brisk cardio, sometimes we need to start with less. Simply having this tracker tell you how many steps you take each day can be plenty of motivation to up that number even by a small margin each day until you reach the desired amount of 10,000 steps.
Using apps like MyFitnessPal, Loseit! or a number of other calorie counting apps, we are able to count the amount of calories we consume on a daily basis as well. While it may sound tedious, these apps make it simple. In the beginning there is some data entry required, but most of us don’t stray that much day to day from what we eat, so within a few days the majority of the entries are repeats and therefore already in the system. For packaged foods, the apps generally access a barcode scanner so one simply has to scan the package and then enter how many servings were consumed.
I find that with my patients, simply getting them to track their caloric intake each day will usually shift what and how much they are eating. Approaching it as simply an experiment can be helpful. You can go into it telling yourself you will only enter what you eat in order to see how many calories and what you are eating each day. It is OK not to have any plans to make changes to your diet; simply enter what you eat so that you can get a clear picture of your daily intake and needs. More often than not, these people end up eating less and making healthier choices simply by becoming aware of the calorie intake.
If you’re not a fitness person and if you don’t enjoy sweating, there is hope! Start by adding an activity tracker and an app to count calories. Simply track your steps and your calories. Think of it as a fun experiment and see what happens from there!
Many people have heard rumblings about colloidal silver, but it is still unclear for some just what it is and how it works. Colloidal silver kills fungus, bacterium, and viruses by disabling their ability to metabolize oxygen allowing the body to then flush out the toxins once they are killed.
There are many different brands out there and it is a good idea to do some research on the best ones. Like other supplements, they are not all created equally. Regarding dosage, it is a good idea to speak to your health provider and find out what the best dose is for you. If you have recently been catching a lot of colds or had the flu or needed to take antibiotics for any reason, colloidal silver may be just what you need. It is best to take this with the guidance of a health care provider.
There is evidence that silver can help boost the strength of antibiotics when taken with them. Diseases like MRSA and other antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria tend to react better when silver is combined with the antibiotics under the supervision of a health care provider. Colloidal silver can also be used for myriad reasons. Among them, common cold, rash, anti-bacterial, wound care, sinus issues, pink eye, and pneumonia.
One thing to keep in mind if one decides to use silver is that there is a possibility of experiencing what is called the Herxheimer reaction. This is when for a short time the symptoms may seem to worsen and can include headache, rash, and even fever. As the pathogen dies off these symptoms present and can last from a couple of hours up to 10 days. While this period can be very uncomfortable and sometimes feel like a bad flu, it is also indicative that the silver is doing what it is supposed it. If it’s tolerable and your health care provider is one board, it may be a good idea to ride it out and stay on the silver until those symptoms are gone.
If you think Silver is something that can benefit you, read up on it as much as possible. Find out from your health providers what they think, and as usual, be your own primary care provider. Everyone has an opinion and can give guidance, but at the end of the day you are responsible for your own health and wellness. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
*Please note that there have been reports of people experiencing side effects from colloidal silver and it is best to talk to your primary care health provider before starting on a course of silver.
WELLNESS--An over the counter painkiller is often classified as Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID). These include but are not limited to aspirin, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Celebrex, and Feldene. More than 30 million people use NSAIDs every day and they account for 60% of the over the counter analgesic drugs sold. Like most drugs, there can be side effects including cardiovascular events, blood pressure increases, congestive heart failure and gastro-intestinal issues.
According to a study put out by the national institute of health, specific gastro-intestinal issues include ulcer, perforation and bleeding. About 2% of NSAID users equaling roughly 600,000 people experience these serious complications during use, and according to the study risk of ulcer increases up to five-fold for NSAID users compared to non-users.
With this ulcer risk comes the risk of bleeding, and in some cases perforation and even death. The FDA puts the number of annual deaths by NSAIDs at 4,626 while other estimates put it closer to 16,500. Regardless of the correct number, too many people are unaware of the dangers of these seemingly harmless drugs. The pathomechanism for the damage caused consists of the drug being absorbed across the gastric mucosa and get trapped in those cells. The gastric ulcers follow and over time perforation, bleeding and death can occur.
Keep in mind that this is usually with chronic ongoing use of NSAIDs and does not usually occur with the infrequent user. Because these drugs are sold over the counter and taken so liberally, most people are not aware of they can be dangerous and even fatal.
When it comes to NSAIDs, if one feels they need to take them I tell my patients to try to take them early on for an injury or sprain along with lots of ice on the injury. If one can get the inflammation down within the first few days of injury, one will be less likely to have to deal with chronic pain and therefore chronic use of NSAID’s. These over the counter medications, like so many others are not meant for long term use but rather short periods of time to get over the initial pain and inflammation of a new injury or short illness like aches and pains.
For longer-term relief from chronic pain there are diets that can be incorporated and other less damaging supplements and even drugs. People with chronic inflammation for example have many other options besides NSAIDs for relief and will be well served to learn about anti-inflammatory diets and drugs like CBD and THC to help with pain and inflammation over the longer term.
Everyone wants to get in shape, but what if you’re one of those people that is totally out of shape and hasn’t worked out in months or even years? There is hope. We all get off track, and quite frankly, some people are just not as physically inclined as others. Even since childhood there are those of us that never felt especially excited about gym class in school or any other physical activity. No matter how many times certain people try to get excited about working out, they simply can’t.
WELLNESS—There’s no turning back. The Holidays are here. Stress less, is my advice for this harried … and hurried … season. Here’s how:
- Don’t force yourself to buy the perfect gift. For starters if you’re not sure if someone is going to buy you a gift or not, and you feel that if they do you want to return the favor, just ask! Call or text your friends and family and be direct. Ask if they were hoping to exchange gifts and suggest that if they are you just get each other something small. Avoiding big crowds and busy malls during this time of year is a great way to lower your stress and save time. The best gift you can give yourself right now is more down time.
- Continue to work out. It’s rather easy during this time of year to skip the workouts. One of the keys to managing stress and staying healthy during the winter is to continue to exercise. We don’t need those long intense workouts like we do in the summer when there is more light and warmth. A shorter work out where we simply get our heart rates up for 20 to 30 minutes and lift some light weights should do the trick to keep you slim and produce the healthy chemicals needed to manage stress.
- Don’t isolate. While it is always tempting for those of us that are single to say no to social events and parties, try to attend a healthy amount of events. This is obviously a subjective thing, but you know when you are isolating and staying home too much. The social anxiety of all the parties can seem overwhelming, and while knowing when to say no is crucial, spending time with people we love will help us stay happy during the holidays.
- Flip the script on the diet. Every year around the holidays the junk food and sugar is flowing. It’s a great time of year to practice your will and keep the junk food intake to a minimum or try to eliminate it all together. If we start working on saying no during the holidays, it will make us that much stronger and more likely to reach our health and wellness goals in 2017. I find that firming up my commitments to myself in the winter helps ensure that I am in great shape come spring and summer.
- Use common sense while driving. Regardless of the known dangers of driving under the influence, every year around the holidays more people are killed in motor vehicle accidents and arrested for DUI’s than any other time of year. Be sure to take a car service or have a dedicated driver when you attend parties and plan ahead so you don’t get stuck in a situation that you will regret later.
However you celebrate this season, I wish you happiness and GOOD HEALTH. My holiday gift to you is this advice: Adhere to my five tips. Stress less and enjoy this special time of the year.
WELLNESS--It’s wintertime and the cold outside air affects our bodies. Adding cold raw foods on top of the already cold winter weather can be tough on the system. Our bodies are more drawn to warming foods instead of cooling during the cold months. When people here warming they often think of the actual temperature of food, but what we are talking about here is the constitutional temperature of the food. Let me explain.
Take for example spicy food. Even if you eat the food cold, spicy food is still internally warming to your organs and entire system. The other most obvious warming foods are onions, garlic, ginger and alcohol.
The most cooling foods are leafy greens, cucumbers, watermelon, sushi, fruits and vegetables. Certain drinks are cooling as well like Kombucha and certain teas. Here’s a complete list of warming and cooling foods.
Patients often ask me about how to eat in the winter months, and the best way is to cook your foods and steam your vegetables. If you do insist on raw veggies, be sure to add a little bit of ginger or some pepper to help to warm them up and balance out the cooling effects.
There is no magic diet for any of us. Our bodies are the labs and we are the experimenters. I can’t tell you to avoid all salads and raw veggies all winter long. What I can tell you is to listen to your body and notice what it is telling you. When you drink that green juice in the winter, does your digestion still work efficiently, or are you getting gas and bloating and possibly loose stool? I hear all the time how difficult it is for people to know how and what to eat, but the truth is, our bodies have infinite wisdom and if we pay attention and listen to them we will see that we already know exactly what we need.
Questions to ask yourself in regards to your diet are; am I getting a lot of gas after I eat? Are my bowel movements formed and normal, or do they tend more towards loose? Do I deal with constipation instead of loose stool, and if so, do I need more oils and water in my diet? Do I have enough energy to get through my workday and my daily workout?
Keep in mind that the raw food movement touts that we are destroying the enzymes and cooking out the good when we steam and cook food. The reality is if we are not able to digest that raw food, there is no point in eating it in the first place. Steaming and cooking it, while it may reduce the enzyme and vitamin levels, allows our bodies to break down that food and use it as energy.
WELLNESS--We all have access to our breath but it’s so easy to forget to use it. How many of you notice that you are simply forgetting to breathe throughout the day, or not breathing deeply and completely? The benefits of breathing put it at the very top of the list of self-care activities needed to stay healthy, and it’s free!
The breathing we are talking about here is diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing by inhaling completely through the nose to fill the lungs and diaphragm and exhaling out the mouth. Ten minutes or more of this type of breathing will give you the most bang for your buck.
Breathing makes us calmer. Stopping during the day to breath deeply for at least 10 minutes slows down the heart rate and calms our mind so that we can focus on the issues at hand. Also, short shallow breathing can prevent the body from getting the oxygen it needs while deep breathing detoxifies our systems. The increase in oxygen that we take in during deep breathing helps to oxygenate and detoxify the lungs and blood.
There is also some evidence that deep breathing can help with pain. It’s not clear if the relief is due to a drop in anxiety, which in turn helps the patient focus less on the pain, or if there is an actual decrease in the pain response. Either way, having health care providers teach their patients about deep breathing and how to do it can have benefits extending beyond the pain response.
Breathing makes you happy. When we take some time during the day to focus on our breathing we instantly feel more present, less stressed, and more happy! There are studies indicating that deep breathing techniques can be a great adjunct to a treatment protocol for depression.
Setting an alarm on our phones is a great way to remind us to breath throughout the day. Once we start paying attention to our breath, it is surprising how often we are doing shallow lung breathing only or actually forgetting to breathe all together for short periods of time.
Many people find it easiest to have a set time during the day that they sit and breathe. A morning and evening session is often the most effective way, but if you are in a high stress job, taking time throughout the day to breath can also benefit. By sitting in a quiet space in your home or office and breathing you are also meditating.
That’s really all there is to it, so make time for yourself and set aside 10 minutes a day to begin, and start your deep breathing exercises.
WELLNESS--What if I told you that it’s possible to workout shorter and get a greater benefit? Would you think it was some type of fad workout or scam to get you to buy something? Truth be told, most of us are wasting time with long drawn out workouts that give back little benefit. It’s time to get off the ineffectual gym hamster wheel and start doing the HIIT (high intensity internal training) workout.
Please note that if you are new to interval training be sure to check with your doctor and get a physical first before training with HIIT as it is a more intense way of training your body and heart.
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. Study after study has proven that exercising this way helps to stimulate the release of human growth hormone and other chemicals that help to slow aging while strengthening the body and heart.
In order to properly train with HIIT one needs to first figure out their heart rate maximum. You simply take 220 minus your age to get your maximum heart rate. From there you multiply it by 90 or 95 percent. We can use mine as an example. 220 – 46 = 174. 174 X .95 = 165. As high as I would ever want my heart to be beating during my training would be 165, and that would NOT be for a long period of time.
They call it interval training because we only want to bring our heart rates up to our max for short intervals of 30 seconds or less unless you are a highly trained athlete.
For beginners, it is suggested to train below your heart rate max at around 70 percent and only bring your heart rate up to 90 or 95 percent of your max once or twice for the first few times you try this and for less than 30 seconds each time.
Each week, you can add one more interval of intensity until you reach 8 high intensity intervals of 90 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can work out for only 25 minutes and reach 8 without too much trouble as long as you already warmed up.
Studies show that people who train with HIIT are more likely to get stronger hearts that pump more efficiently as opposed to their slow plodding cardio friends. In addition to the positive heart effects, the release of healthy age slowing hormones is another huge benefit.
People are paying upwards of $1000 dollars a month in human growth hormone supplements, and the HIIT workout will cause your body to produce it naturally and free of charge. This hormone helps to heal the body; brain and skin making us feel more healthy younger looking.
Try the HIIT workout this week and let me know how it goes!
WELLNESS--With Chinese Medicine we are taught that as the elements change and the cooler weather moves into our environment, it also moves into our bodies. Fall is in full swing, so we need to be mindful by taking certain steps that will help keep us healthy and well as we enter the cooling months.
For starters, sleep more. Many people are noticing that they feel sleepier as we move into October and November. This is because as the days get shorter, there is more darkness and the brain picks up on the lesser amount of light. With less light during the shorter days, the pineal gland as apt to create more melatonin making us want to sleep more that normal. The best solution to this is to allow yourself more rest when possible. If you have kids, get them into bed a little earlier than usual so you can also get yourself to bed. If your single, pick an earlier and reasonable time to turn off the screens so your brain can start preparing for sleep. Your body and brain will thank you for the increase in sleep time.
Regarding foods, eat more soups and stews. As the cold weather moves in, we don’t want it to move into our bodies. Warming foods like onions, garlic, and ginger become even more important to cook with in the winter months especially considering the antiviral qualities of those foods. Try to avoid too many cool drinks and cooling foods. Fall and winter is a great time to steam your veggies instead of eating them raw, and to drink hot tea and room temperature water instead of ice cold drinks.
In Chinese medical theory, the spleen is like the gas burner on your stove and the stomach is the pot with the food cooking in it. The less cool and cold foods we add to the pot the less work the spleen has to do to heat it, so eat foods that are already cooked during these months. It will make it easier on your body to digest them and use them as energy.
As the days get shorter and the darkness moves in, the chemicals in our brain also shift causing us to feel more sleepy and less energized if we are not taking proper care of ourselves. Because of this, the temptation for caffeine in the form of that afternoon cup of coffee or sugar in that candy or muffin grows stronger during the winter months. Add holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, and we usually have an abundance of sugar and processed foods at our fingertips.
One great way to fight the urge is to find someone you work with that is also concerned about putting their health and wellness first, and create an accountability buddy partnership. Set some realist healthy goals with this person and be sure to include realistic goals without trying to be perfect.
A great example of this is “every Sunday we can eat whatever I want, but during the week and at work we will not eat sugars or refined foods.” It helps tremendously to have someone you are accountable to, and actually makes the process fun. I love to use the fall and winter as a time of increased self care and wellness. That way, when the spring arrives, I feel like I already have a jump on my summer health goals!
Omega fats are a crucial part of any diet, but what’s the deal with these elusive compounds? For starters Omega 3’s and 6’s are considered “essential” because it is essential that we get them from our diet since we can’t make them ourselves. You may remember the word “essential” from when we talked about amino acids. It is used for the same reason. Both omega 3’s and 6’s are considered polyunsaturated fats.
Some of you are confused and have been given misinformation stating that omega 6’s are good and 3’s are bad. This is not the case. The exact ratio of 6’s to 3’s is still a bit unclear, but most professionals agree that at least a 1:1 ratio of omega 3’s to 6’s is required. As usual, every body is different so our needs vary, but it is widely accepted that a diet dominant in 6’s and deficient in 3’s is not healthy for our hearts, brains, and nervous systems. Studies show that people who get more 6’s than 3’s tend to carry more inflammation in the body and have a greater risk of heart disease.
A big part of why we get more omega 6’s is because they are cheaper to obtain and they are often found in refined foods. Besides being found in nuts and seeds and some of the oil extracted from them, omega 6’s are also found in refined oils like soy and vegetable oil, which is used to make processed foods. In the United States, 90% of all oil produced is Soybean oil at 108 million metric tons. This oil has some Omega 6 fat, but it’s often hydrogenated meaning they add hydrogen atoms making the oil stay fluid even in cooler temperatures. That hydrogenation process makes the oil easier to cook with and much easier to store, but it’s very difficult for the body to break it down. Hydrogenated oils should be avoided at all times regardless of the type of oil that is being hydrogenated. It is extremely unhealthy. Omega 6 oils are also found in meat and chicken, but the Omega 3 content in these foods is much lower.
Omega 3 oils come primarily from fish. Most of you have heard of the Mediterranean diet. This diet is comprised of lots of fish and vegetables and a low intake of meats. The 3’s can also be added and obtained from healthy fish supplements and krill oils. Try to get at least a 1:1 ratio. In other words, if you are able to look at the ingredients of your food and count the Omega 6 content, try to at least match the Omega 3 intake. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least 2 times a week. It is not always easy to prepare and eat fish, so for those of you that simply don’t eat a lot of fish or don’t like fish, taking a fish oil supplement rich in omega 3 is crucial for heart and brain health. The exact amount of fish oil each of us needs is varied and it is a good idea to talk to your healthcare providers to find out the right amount of oil supplementation for you. A good rule of thumb is to try to at least match the amount of 3 to 6 that you are consuming.
In closing, omega fats are crucial for you brain, heart, and nervous system functioning. Be aware of your omega intake ratio, and for most of us, adding 3’s is necessary. Avoid vegetable and soybean oil and definitely cut any hydrogenated oils from your diet. If the food seems unhealthy but doesn’t have hydrogenated on the label, do some digging on line. More than once, I have found that the hydrogenated oil is hidden and not on the label at all. One example is Girl Scout cookies. Pay attention to labels, but also dig deeper to get all the information around the foods you are putting in your body. I am here for any unanswered questions you may have regarding supplementation and omega intake.
WELLNESS--Green tea has roots dating back 3000 years where in China Green tealeaves were initially chewed on before being used to cook with and eventually steeped to make tea. It has many compounds that make it special, primarily anti-oxidants and polyphenols. Anti-oxidants are molecules that help to protect other molecules such as Vitamin C and E. Polyphenols are a specific type of antioxidants found in plants and foods like chocolate and olive oil.
Regular green tea can actually irritate the gastric system. Very often when people drink green tea they get upset stomach or digestive issues. This is because the tealeaves come from a plant and through evolution; plants have developed what are called antifeedants. Antifeedants are compounds that when consumed by animals cause gastric irritation. In turn, the plant is consumed less and is more likely to continue thriving. Oolong tea contains far fewer antifeedants than regular green tea making it easier on the gut.
In order to minimize or eliminate the antifeedants all together, fermentation or oxidation of the green tea leaves must be done. The latter is done letting the leaves dry for up to 2 days until they brown. Green tea is not oxidized at all while Oolong can be oxidized from about 30 to 90 percent. Counterintuitively, oxidizing green tea by leaving the green tea leaves out for longer to dry actually makes the tea contain more antioxidants and less antifeedants eliminating gastritis. Oohlong also has one of the highest levels of polyphenols of all teas.
There are other studies showing the effects of Oolong tea on weight loss. One livestrong article in Oolong tea help the body maintain a low BMI and keep off belly fat. Part of the way it does this is by binding dietary fat. There are specific ways to prepare the Oolong, most importantly steeping it for shorter period of time such as 3 minutes instead of 10 and by using hot water instead of boiling it; the special compounds in the tea are more likely to stay in tact.
Finally, Oolong tea has been shows to act in a similar fashion to probiotcs by suppressing the bad bacteria in the gut while allowing the healthy bacteria to grow. When it comes to health and wellness, Oolong tea is a huge hit!
WELLNESS--Many of us have heard that catchy phrase, but let’s dig a little deeper into the science of sitting versus movement.
Besides the obvious weak bones and varicose veins that sitting can cause, it turns out that more serious diseases are associated with sitting. In a study with nearly 2500 people, they were able to link sitting and sedentary lifestyles with type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is the name of a group of risk factors that raise ones risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Another study in Europe found that sitting times were highest in males, younger age groups, and people with postgraduate educations. This can be explained through the tendency for men to exercise less and be more drawn to video games. As far as the more educated people, they tend to have more high paying and time-consuming desk jobs leaving less time to move the body.
There is also evidence showing that even for people that are exercing for 30 to 60 minutes a day, the long periods of sitting besides during that exercise time can be damaging. Just the simple act of standing up and walking helps to enhance the function of the metabolism while simultaneously increasing the bodies function.
The best thing we can do to prevent the damage caused by sitting and being sedentary is to move our bodies as much as possible all day long. That may mean taking a short 10 minute break each hour or two at work and walking around the block or simply walking up and down stairs at work a few times a day.
For the more ambitious, there are now treadmill desks. It is basically a treadmill with a large desktop platform that you have your computer and phone and anything else you may need. People set the speed at a low rate of maybe 2 mph and slowly walk while they work. One woman blogged about her experience of using a treadmill desk for a month, and the results were pretty great!
I push my patients to get a fitness buddy and use that person as someone that you can answer to as far as how much exercise you are doing.
If you have an office job, grab a friend every day during your lunch hour and go for a brisk walk around the building. If you have kids and find it tough to find time for fitness, bring them to the park with you. There are strollers for infants designed for performance walking or jogging and if you have more than once child, make it a game and take turns to see who can push the infant the furthest or fastest.
A wrist worn activity tracker is also a fun and helpful way to ensure one is getting enough steps each day. We only have one body, and when something is important enough to us, we always make time for whatever that may be. Make you and your health a priority and start moving today.
WELLNESS--Up until a few years ago vitamin D3 was little known. More recently it has made the news as a crucial compound that many of our bodies systems depend on. It is crucial for the appropriate absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus as well as being a key component to fight off disease. Illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis have all been linked to Vitamin D deficiency. More recently, mental health deficiencies like cognitive impairment and depression have been linked to vitamin D deficiency.
An estimated 40% of the world’s population has low levels of Vitamin D with African and Latin people having an even greater chance of D deficiency. There are many reasons that vitamin D levels have dropped including the fact that people are not outside as much as they used to be. The sun is a great source of vitamin D but in order to reap the benefits most studies suggest that one needs to be in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes with most of the torso exposed. That is not easy to accomplish with our busy schedules, and with all the added screen time in our lives, we have even less time to be outside.
Because of these staggering numbers, doctors have made a greater point of testing people for their Vitamin D3 levels. The test you want to ask for is the 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test or 25(OH)D test. You can ask your doctor or you can send away for a kit to test yourself.
Once you find out if your levels are low, there are many options to boost your intake of Vitamin D. The first is the sun, but if you don’t have time to get to the park or the pool, foods can also be an excellent source of vitamin D. Fatty fish like tuna, mackeral, and salmon are excellent sources along with certain mushrooms, sardines, eggs, salmon, beef liver, herring, sunshine, and finally, supplements.
The FDA recommends 600 IU’s of vitamin D a day, but ask your primary care provider what amount of supplementation would be right for you.
WELLNESS--Very often people think of wellness and fitness as a program or a series of events. A more effective way to approach health and wellness is to look at it as a practice. Studies show that the effects of exercise and wellness are cumulative. In one study, participants fitness regimes and diets were tracked for 2 decades and it showed that the people who had clocked the most hours were the healthiest as opposed to the weekend warriors that only worked out in spurts.
For some of you reading this may think that this is not good news because your track record regarding exercise is less than exemplary. A better way to look at these studies is to recognize that small amounts of exercise every day is more effective and healthy than say training for a marathon once a year for 3 months and then doing nothing the rest of the year. One need not be a marathoner to be healthy. In fact, it may be argued that the person that wakes up each day and does a pleasant and brisk morning walk for 15 minutes is healthier than the part time intense fitness trainee.
Look at your fitness schedule and wellness as a practice. Like any practice, the more we do it, the better we get. Sometimes we make mistakes when we are practicing or we don’t practice enough. Instead of focusing on what we are not doing or what we should be doing, when our wellness practice becomes challenging, we need to simply recognize that we won’t always do it perfectly, then simply move forward from there.
When getting back in shape, self-talk is an effective tool that can be used to reach your goals. A study posted on NPR noted that people who use the 3rd person when relating to self have lower levels of anxiety that there 1st person counterparts and greater levels in success towards reaching goals. Other studies show that our self-talk is important, not only in shaping how we see ourselves, but also in the action steps we take to improve. Using the 3rd person may be more effective that using the first person when we relate to ourselves. Telling ourselves something like “you are human, and while you are not in the best shape at the moment, you are getting healthier and more fit every day” is much more effective than “I am fat and out of shape.”
The important take away here is to remind you that just like life, wellness is a practice. When you are in a slump or haven’t worked out for a while simply tell yourself that you are a little out of practice, and with a little time and a brisk morning walk, you will be back on track in no time at all and feeling great. Reach out if you need advice or inspiration.
Whether it’s overeating, undereating, or making unhealthy food choices, everyone struggles with food from time to time. So many of us have food addictions and even if we don’t technically register as a food addict, we all have a relationship with food that at times gets strained.
When I am treating patients, I always ask them about their relationship with food. Because I am an herbalist, they often want me to prescribe them herbs for whatever it is that’s ailing them. Before I prescribe any herbal medicine, I request a full intake and food journal. I then make the necessary diet and lifestyle suggestions that will help them to optimize their health and wellness and lose the weight if needed. By correcting people’s diets, their illnesses and symptoms often clear up naturally and they don’t need herbs.
I recently had a new patient that was about 35 pounds overweight and had high blood pressure and borderline high blood sugar levels. Because he was a compliant patient, he was willing to change his diet and start exercising regularly. Within 6 months he lost 25 pounds and his blood pressure dropped significantly, and blood sugar returned to normal. He was able to lower his dose of blood pressure meds and his doctor said that if he continues to progress, there is a good chance he will be able to get off the meds all together.
All too often, doctors prescribe heavy pharmaceuticals to treat symptoms that are brought on by poor diet and lifestyle choices. Once on these medications, it is tough to get off. Of course, there are many health situations and diseases that require western medicine and drugs, but things like type II diabetes, high blood sugar, and obesity can often be treated with diet and exercise. Before going off any of your meds, it’s important you consult your primary care provider.
When a patient is informed and educated about what to eat and how to take care of him or herself, but they still can’t make the decision to do it, we have a problem. There is no shame in having food addictions or a challenging relationship with food. From what I see in my practice, more people are addicted to sugar than are not, and if that sugar intake is risking their health and ultimately their lives, yet they still can’t stop, we have a problem that may run deeper than just the surface.
Most of us know what to do and how to eat healthy; more veggies, lean proteins, and fruit. Less breads and refined carbs and sugars. In spite of that knowledge, we often make the unhealthy choice. When we eat sugar it actually lights up the pleasure center of the brain in a very similar manner to the way sex and drugs do. Knowing that may help one realize that the struggle to get off sugar is very real.
When a patient of mine just can’t change their ways, I encourage them to see a therapist or go to an over-eating anonymous group. Countless thousands of people have received help from these groups and if you know what you need to do and you just can’t do it, it’s OK to ask for help. Your life may depend on it.
WELLNESS--Dating back as far as 3000 years Oil Pulling has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine as a means to detoxify the blood, improve oral health, heal sinus issues and help heal wounds or illness. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine have a morning health ritual referred to as dinacharya and part of that ritual includes oil pulling. It is usually done using coconut, olive, or sesame oil by taking approximately 1 tablespoon of oil into ones mouth and swishing it around for 10 to 20 minutes then spitting it out.
In Ayurvedic Medicine as well as Chinese Medicine the mouth and tongue are used as both a way to diagnose illness and tell us what’s happening digestively. In Chinese medicine we use the tongue specifically, but the mouth in its entirety is used as an indication of overall health and wellness.
Like so many other effective natural remedies, oil pulling is worth trying. Corporations have little interest in investing in things like oil pulling because there is no profit to be found if the research comes back proving its efficacy.
Besides the above-mentioned indications, oil pulling can also help with sensitive or painful teeth, bad breath, and yellow or stained teeth. A study published by Clinical and Diagnostic Research done in 2014 proved that oil pulling was as effective in killing unfriendly mouth bacteria as chlorhexidine, the active ingredient in mouthwash.
There have been other studies showing that oil pulling is as effective as mouthwash when it comes to fighting plaque. A 2009 study published in The Indian Journal of Dental Research found that decreased gingivitis and lowered bacteria levels in the mouth and gums. Oil Pulling is an effective alternative to mouthwash since mouthwash tends to have harsh chemicals that can leave the skin inside the mouth weakened and possibly more susceptible to bacteria.
Oil pulling can be helpful for everyone especially those who have problems with teeth, gums or bad breath. Making oil pulling a part of a healthy morning ritual is a great way to naturally boost oral hygiene.
WELLNESS--Exercise of all types is your friend. Research shows that it helps with insulin resistance, inflammation, and lowers incidence of stroke and heart attacks. Of course we can’t forget the added benefit of looking better due to working out. Besides all these great advantages, research also shows that long sessions of cardio also cause brain growth known as neurogenesis (the generation of neurons).
In a study conducted at the University of Jyväskylä they used lab rats to study the correlation between exercise and neurogenesis in the brain, specifically the hippocampus.
The study showed rats that ran on the wheel for the longest periods of time experienced the greatest improvement in the neurogenesis of the hippocampal region. Rats that did strength training alone with no cardio did not show any change in that same brain region.
The rats that spent the most time on the wheel were the same rats that had the greatest rate of neuronal brain growth. It’s important to note that these rats chose to run on the wheel which is significant because it points towards the possibility that the coupled exercise and neuronal improvements may occur in rats that are more genetically programmed for exercise
The evidence was unclear as to the effect of interval or burst training, which is when one sprints or does another form of exercise to raise the heart rate to 90 to 100 percent of its maximum, then slows down and repeats.
What we know from this study is that rats that did long sessions of cardio showed neurogenesis in the hippocampal region while rats that did strength training alone showed none. Experts say that 30 to 45 minutes of cardio 3 days a week is the magic number needed to get the brain growth. If you are way under that amount right now or haven’t started, start with 10 or 15 minutes and add 10 minutes each time you go out for a brisk walk or a jog.
If exercise is tough for you, start a walking club at home or at work or get a walking or jogging buddy. There are so many people wanting to improve their fitness level, and simply asking one of them to join you in getting in shape can have a big impact on your body … and your brain.
Here are the three things that training like a boxer will do for your neck:
Ever notice the exercises boxers do for their necks? I've never seen the average gym goer attach weights to their head and bust out sets of cervical sidebends. That's because bulging neck muscles aren't the best beach look.
2) Upper back flexibility
All the punching and reaching boxers do actually keep the thoracic spine (read upper back) flexible, the most notorious problem for people with neck pain. If you have neck pain, it is almost guaranteed you have bad posture which includes a tight upper back.
3) General hip and spinal flexibility
Watch a boxer train. Slips, dips, side stepping, shuffling. A great combination of rarely used movements that will keep your spine happy, hips open, and pain away.
4) Hip strength
You might be wondering the role of strong hip muscles play in a good neck. If you are a holistic viewer of medicine, its a no brainer. If not, let me give you the house metaphor. Your neck is the roof and your hips and pelvis are your foundation. If you have a weak foundation, doesn't matter how the rest of the house is built. Its a sink hole waiting to happen. Boxers generate their power, much like golfers and baseball players from their hip muscles. Your glutes initiate the rotational movements you need for most sports and help give you power. For my last pun of the day: strong glutes will help you pack a strong punch and keep your foundation strong.
(Joshua Mazalian DPT, OCS, CSCS, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist, Strength and Conditioning Coach, (702) 788-3495)
WELLNESS--When we are out in the world we don’t have much control over what we are taking in from the different environments we visit. With all the toxins outside, it becomes even more important to optimize our home environment in order to stay healthy. If you are feeling low energy or dealing with frequent colds or flu’s it may be your home that is contributing.
If we are ill or short on energy, there could be many factors contributing including stress, sleep deprivation, poor dietary choices, or lack of exercise. Some of the less obvious but also pervasive culprits to feeling unwell are mold, pesticides, or toxic cleaning products.
People that are experiencing allergies and noticing that they are worse when they are home may have mold in the home. To find out if there is mold in your home a mold specialist can come to the home and run tests. Some ways that mold starts to grow is if there are water leaks, past flooding, or obvious condensation in the home. Mold can still be present even if none of the above mentioned signs are present.
Another way to tell if your home is healthy is by noticing the health of your pets. Animals are also affected by mold and can get chronic sinus issues if there is mold present in the home. If there is condensation anywhere in the home be sure that no people are animals are sleeping in that area.
Pesticides usually come into the home from the fruit and vegetables we purchase at the store and products used for cleaning. Here is a list of pesticides to avoid when purchasing supplies for your home. As far as fruits and vegetables, the best way to avoid unwanted chemicals is to spend a little more money and buy organic.
Finally, some estimates say that up to 70 percent of all household toxins come in from our shoes. There is a reason that many cultures remove shoes before coming into the home and it’s to prevent illness and the spread of unwanted bacteria and dirt. Besides keeping the home floors and rug cleaner, we are also preventing illness by keeping our shoes off our floors.
When we have a passion for our health and well-being, we realize that it’s not only exercise and food that keeps us well. There are many components to being healthy including our home environments as well. While it’s challenging to control the environments we visit, it’s much easier to control our home surroundings. Clean with non-toxic solutions and use non-toxic laundry detergent whenever possible.
If sinus issues are chronic, check for mold and buy a HEPA filtration air purifier. Be sure you and guests take shoes off at the door, and only use paraben free natural products on your skin and hair.
WELLNESS-The United States is a touch-deprived nation. It wasn’t until I first moved to Europe in the 1990’s that I noticed how much more people touched each other in Spain and Italy compared to the US. Even the men and boys would walk arm in arm and kiss each other on the cheeks as a way to both greet someone and to say farewell. The macho culture in the US prevents people, especially men from showing affection to each other which is tied to the violent angry culture we are dealing with today.
In Harry Harlow’s book Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection he uses monkeys to study the affects of love and affection. He creates two fake monkeys both of which are heated from the inside to the same temperature of a real female monkey mother. One of them is created soft and welcoming and the other is made with more wire and is harder and less tender. On the less tender one he adds a bottle of milk for the real baby monkey to drink.
What he found was that even though the harder model had milk attached to it, the baby monkey picked the softer more seemingly affectionate model monkey every time over the wire one. The real monkey would only go over to the wire monkey when he was very hungry. He would drink some milk and go right back to the softer model showing that longer term affection is chosen even over accessible food.
In 2014 Carnegie Mellon performed a study with 404 people to better understand the link between touch deprivation and catching a common cold. The participants were monitored and questioned about their levels of social support and the amount of hugs they got each day for 14 days. On the 15th day they were all exposed to a common cold virus strain and then kept in quarantine in order to monitor them and see who fell ill. The researchers found that the people with greater social support and more frequent hugs got sick less than their touch deprived counterparts. The evidence indicated that the hugging accounted for about 1/3 of the reason they were able to avoid illness. The other 2/3 was perceived strong social support.
Being affectionate with another human being has proven to release the hormone oxytocin, which is made in the hypothalamus of the brain. Besides making us feel great oxytocin is also responsible for healing wounds faster, reducing blood pressure, increasing tolerance for pain, and for stimulating the immune system response to heal illness and prevent us from getting sick.
Sometimes offering a hug to a friend or coworker may feel awkward or inappropriate, and in todays litigious society obsessed with sex and stories of sexual offenses, there is reason to be cautious when offering a hug. Here is a funny and eye-opening article about whether or not to hug people at work.
Studies also find that couples in long-term relationships that have more warm affectionate time together actually live longer and happier than people without affection in their lives. One therapist has his patients that are couples spend 10 minutes a day holding hands and talking about happy times they have shared, usually when they met and fell in love. This has proven effective in repairing and salvaging relationships in challenge.
WELLNESS--Lately, with all the shootings, bombings and terrorism going on, it’s been close to impossible to avoid the violent reality that is a pronounced part of our world.
It is no secret that the constant barrage of violent images and stories has its effect on our brains. In 1982 the Surgeon Generals Scientific Advisory Committee on television and social behavior concluded that people repeatedly exposed to violent images on the TV screen experience the following; higher levels of anxiety, greater chance of being violent, and a decreased ability to experience empathy making them less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.
Couple that with a discovery of a brain phenomenon in the early 2000’s called mirror neurons or neuronal mirroring. This development shows that the brain mirrors what it sees and experiences in the world. In other words, if someone is watching a violent act, the parts of the brain used by the perpetrator committing the act are also activated in the passive viewer. With this in mind, it makes sense that with repeated and long-term exposure to violent images people find themselves more likely to commit violent acts themselves and to feel less empathy towards victims of violence. The days of old before neurobiologists understood the brain to the depth they do now, there were those that said media has no effect on our brain function. With the increased understanding of neuronal mirroring, we now have a definitive understanding that what we see and take in does in fact affect our brains.
In order to be informed, it is possible to peruse the Internet or newspaper quickly to get the gist of what’s happening. From there we need to avoid going down the rabbit hole into endless bad news and details about the horrors that are our current media reality. Sadly, the news doesn’t tell us all the good news that is also happening all over the world. We are consumed with and almost feed off of negative images and information.
I found myself going down the rabbit hole during the Orlando shooting and during the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The following days when the police officers were killed, I knew I couldn’t watch any more. I had hit a bottom and was feeling sad and anxious. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand, but at the same time, if I get myself to the point where I’m full of sorrow and anxiety, what good am I in the world? With just 48 hours of no news, I felt significantly better.
I think it’s important we feel the pain and grief and then move through that as fast as possible so we can get back to doing the best we can in our own little worlds. Be kind to one another, take time to help out in our communities, and just be friendly to strangers. The world is not such a scary place, and when we shift our perspective there are always ways to find glimmers of light coming through the clouds.
WELLNESS--Green tea has been touted as a healing elixir for centuries. In China and Japan green tea is treated with almost the same respect wine is treated in other countries. One can spend hundreds of dollars a pound on the world’s most rare teas.
Green tea is different from other teas because it does not go through the same processing as black tea and ooh long teas. Trained individuals pick the more exclusive teas by hand to avoid damaging the fragile leaves. After they have been harvested, some teas are then left in the sun to dry up before they are packaged and sold. Other teas are actually damaged on purpose after they have been picked. This process is called Disruption and it’s used to promote the darkening of the tealeaves. Depending on the conditions the tea is grown in and the way it is cared for and harvested; these processes all have an effect on the flavor and the cost of the tea.
Green tea has it origins in China and has been harvested and drank in ceremony and for healing purposes for over 4000 years. How long a tea is steeped and in what type of container varies from tea to tea and generally speaking the more expensive and delicate a tea the less time it needs to be steeped. For serious tea enthusiasts, different types of tea also have different temperatures they need to be steeped in. Delicate teas need lower water temperatures while cheaper teas can handle boiling hot water during the preparation process.
Green tea contains an important chemical compound called a polyphenol, which is a phytocemical. These phytochemicals are antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory qualities that are helpful in eliminating free radicals from the body and possibly helping to avoid cancer from growing. One study in Japan showed that drinking green tea helped to stave off liver cancer. In another study, Chinese women who consumed green tea daily had a lower incidence of esophagus cancer.
Not long ago there was some research that came out that mentioned that green tea might actually be harmful. We have all heard that expression that too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Most studies agree that green tea in the form of actual tea is harmless for the vast majority of people, and that it may be beneficial to drink up to 10 cups a day. The green tea extract capsules on the other hand are where there might be a problem. The reason is the polyphonols that are present in green tea are concentrated in the capsules and the levels are so high that someone with a compromised liver may have a hard time processing them. In fact, even those without liver issues may be harmed by too much green tea extract in pill form.
A study done using green tea extract by the University of New Jersey in the March 2007 found that when healthy people took green tea extract supplements in too high a dose (from 700 to 2000 milligrams) seem to have a toxic effect on the liver. As soon as the participants ceased the mega dosing of the green tea extract, the liver enzymes returned to a healthy level.
People with liver disease or taking medications that affect the liver may need to be more careful with green tea intake, and if you are not sure if the liver medication you are on could interact with green tea, ask your primary care provider. For the rest of the population, there is plenty of evidence that green tea does indeed have powerful healing qualities, and drinking tea in place of coffee is another way to make better choices for your health and well being. Keep in mind that green tea does contain caffeine and will give you the jitters just like coffee if you have gone beyond your limit.
WELLNESS--We have heard about fiber and how it is touted as one of the most important tenets to a healthy diet, but did you know that fiber is contained in foods from rice all the way to broccoli? Let’s break down the basics of fiber to get a better understanding and you will see that not all fiber is created equal.
First, there is soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is fiber that can be broken down and digested. It draws in water and turns into a gel like substance in the body and tends to slow digestion. It is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber is fiber that moves all the way through the digestive tract without being broken down and tends to speed up the digestive process. This is the fiber some people refer to as “nature’s broom” because it helps us to bulk up our stool. Insoluble fiber is found in dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, berries, and other fruits and vegetables.
Grains are another part of the story, and while they do have fiber in them, there are many arguments against the need for grains in our diet. Grains don’t have the micronutrients that fruits and vegetables have, and they do tend to spike the blood sugar when eaten alone. On the other hand, for people with IBS or other digestive disorders, there are times when gentle foods like rice and other grains can work to calm the gut. There are also ways to cook grains to make them more starch resistant avoiding that big jump in blood sugar. While there is fiber in muffins, let’s not delude ourselves into believing that eating 5 grams of fiber by way of a muffin is as healthy as eating that same amount of fiber consuming broccoli or other fruits, vegetables, or nuts.
According to the mainstream beliefs around fiber, most health and nutrition experts say woman need about 25 grams a day and men need about 38. Other less mainstream practitioners say we need up to 50 grams per 1000 calories that we consume a day. Now before you panic and start guzzling fiber powder drinks it’s important to note that while more fiber is generally a good idea, there are other factors to consider.
If you are in the camp of people suffering with a chronic digestive disorder like Colitis or IBS you may not want to eat 30 grams of fiber in leafy greens and broccoli if you’re having a flare up. That can be too much for a system that is already compromised. If you are one of these people introduce fiber slowly with small amounts at first and be sure to steam your vegetables and not fry them. Steam them so they are relatively soft, or boil them with the knowledge that this removes even more fiber from them. Removing the fiber will make them more easily digested as apposed to raw vegetable that will be too rough on an already irritated digestive tract. Once the system is fully healed, keep your fiber intake high to prevent further problems and go back to steaming.
Finally, there are 7 billion humans on the earth, and therefore 7 billion different diets. It is your job to figure out exactly what your body requires and feed it accordingly. There is no need to make this more complicated that it is.
Ask yourself some simple questions such as; Is my digestion and elimination working well? Am I having normal and formed bowel movements and is my gas and bloating level very low? Am I exercising and is my energy level normal to high? Am I free of symptoms indicating illness? If you answer yes to all of those questions, chances are good that you don’t need to make any major changes to your diet and lifestyle.
If you know that a few healthy tweaks here and there could help then go for it, but don’t worry about trying to be perfect. That only creates stress and imbalance in our lives. Keep striving for optimal health and wellness!
WELLNESS--I just spent the weekend with my family and was reminded how each of us has different health and wellness goals and challenges. My sister is planning on losing 5 pounds where as my niece wants to stay in great physical shape and not slide back into old habits. My father is trying to cut back on salt to help control his blood pressure and my brother has just learned that he is allergic to dairy so he needs to make significant changes to his many of his food choices.
Whether trying to heal an illness or working out to get in better shape, everyone has room for improvement in their health and wellness plan. One of the main hurdles to get over is getting caught up in trying to be perfect or setting goals that are not attainable. A great way to reach your goals is using the SMART method. SMART stands for creating goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Based.
I’m not saying to set small goals for the long run, on the contrary I think goals should blend well with dreams and once they are reached they should cause you to see yourself and the world in an entirely different way. In order to reach big goals we often have to take many small steps. The SMART method will ensure that you are taking small measurable steps towards reaching a bigger goal.
For someone that is trying to lose weight, using one of the many calorie counting apps can be helpful. MyFitnessPal is my favorite and it allows you to add exercise that you have done for the day altering the total calorie requirement for that day. In the beginning there is a period of tedium when entering all the foods one eats. The upside is that if there is a barcode you can scan that quickly into the app and all the information is stored. You just need to add the serving consumed. For other foods like vegetable and fruits one needs to add them once, and then when the same foods are consumed again, the app will automatically populate the item after entering the first few letters. Most of us don’t vary too much from day to day, so usually after a few weeks, the foods are added, and the app is much more simple to use.
Awareness is the only thing we need in order to change our ways. I have suggested these apps to countless patients of mine and without fail every one of them with weight loss as the goal were surprised at how many calories they were consuming. Some of them don’t even need to use the app after a few short months. They simply use the app to become aware, change their lifestyles and the weight comes off.
For other goals like cutting certain things like sugar or alcohol one has options. Sometimes a “hard reset” is just what the doctor ordered. For example, a specific goal to cut sugar for 14 days cold turkey resets the mind and detoxes the body and brain so that by the end of the 14 days the cravings have subsided substantially. For others slowly cutting back may do the trick, but when it comes to sugar specifically, I find that my patients have the most success when they do a full sugar detox for a minimum of 14 days. One way to measure success is to rate your energy level at different times throughout the day from 1 to 14.
Set goals that are attainable and get the support you need from the people around you. Whether it be a lifestyle program like Weight Watchers, or a 12 step program like Overeaters anonymous, support is crucial to reach your health and wellness goals. I’m always available to answer questions or give support.
WELLNESS--Distilled water is water that is boiled first then the steam is condensed. This process not only kills any bacteria that may be present, but it also removes various impurities including radioactive particles, minerals, and even heavy metals. The reason it is so effective is because in this boiling and steaming process the water is removed from the impurities by turning it into steam and then capturing it instead of trying to remove impurities from the water.
Spring water on the other hand has other compounds in it besides hydrogen and oxygen (h2o). It also contains important minerals that we need such calcium and magnesium among others. Depending on the source, spring water can also have impurities and even heavy metals and other dangerous compounds.
Because distilled water is hydrogen and oxygen (h2o) only, the chemical make up of distilled water is more fragile making it easier for distilled water to attract and absorb carbon dioxide from the air making the water more acidic. It is important to remember to keep the container closed at all times besides when one is taking a sip of distilled water.
Like so many other health topics, wellness professionals often fall on one side or the other when it comes to whether or not we should drink distilled water for our health. I for one am a huge fan of distilled water for short periods of time. Because the water is so pure and there are no minerals in it, distilled water works as a way to powerfully flush the system. It can be used as to cleanse, or to heal acute and even chronic health issues. Because distilled water is “empty” it attracts impurities in the body tissues and flushes them out. I do not recommend drinking only distilled water for more than 3 weeks at a time, but if someone is trying to heal a health condition, using it for 3 weeks straight followed by a break for a week or two and then repeating the use of distilled water can be very helpful to detoxify, cleanse, or assist in healing chronic disease.
It is also a good idea to buy a gallon of distilled water once a week or every other week and drink that for a couple of days until it is gone. It is a simple way to purify the body. If someone is fasting however, I do not recommend using distilled water during the fast as it can alter the blood pressure and cause dizziness and even fainting. When fasting, minerals in spring water become even more important because one is not getting them from food during the fast. Using distilled water would be considered a change to your health routine and it is always a good idea to talk to your health professionals before starting. This is especially true for people with blood pressure or heart issues.
The reason I do not suggest staying on distilled water all the time is because while on it, we are not getting the important minerals that we get from Spring Water. Some of the distilled advocates will tell you that we should get all the minerals we need from food anyway, and that water is not meant to supply us with minerals, but the fact of the matter is that we have gotten used to getting minerals from our spring water and without knowing exactly what foods and what supplements would be needed in place of spring water, there is a good chance we will be robbing our bodies of important minerals if we switch over to distilled water only. Some studies show that people who are on only distilled water and supplementing with mineral replacements are still deficient in some important minerals.
Balance is the name of the game when it comes to good health and wellness. I use distilled water a couple times a month as a way to cleanse my body. Talk to your health providers first and remember to always read and research on your own. Be your own primary care provider.
WELLNESS--From dangerous chemicals leached out of water bottles to fish feeding on them in the oceans, plastics have been plaguing our oceans and environment and the problem is only getting worse. (Photo above: plastic patch in the Pacific.)
In a new study published in Science they found that certain fish larvae exposed to plastic particulates are eating and feeding on them. While plastic is not biodegradable, is does degrade into smaller sized micro plastics that are edible by small fish larvae. Even more disturbing is that they continued to eat the plastic particulates and choose plastic over real food. The scientists speculate that there is a chemical compound in the plastic that tricks the brain of the fish larvae causing them to stuff themselves with the small plastic particles. One of the scientists in the study was quoted as saying "I remember looking at them under the microscope and just seeing so many little plastic pieces in their stomachs, fish after fish. It was terrifying."
After these larvae have been eating plastic for long enough their behavior changes and they become less likely to spot and avoid prey along with changes in their eating habits. Along with these changes comes a notable decrease in the hatching of new larvae. Larger fish eat smaller fish and we eat larger fish, so we have already been consuming plastic via fish for a number of years.
The great Pacific garbage patch is a massive area in the ocean that has been growing for years. From north America to Japan there are two vortexes of trash, each one roughly the size of Texas that are comprised mostly of plastics. The plastic breaks down into tiny particles called microplastics that are not be easy for us to see, but they are easy for the fish to eat. Because they are not biodegradable, the small fish mistake them for food, and the larger fish consume the smaller fish and humans then consume the larger fish.
These plastics are coming primarily from North America and Asia. A big chunk of the plastics come from boaters and cargo ships that are dumping trash. Plastic fishnets are the other culprits of plastic waste in the trash. North America is slowly adopting bans on plastic bans city-by-city and state-by-state. Some countries in Europe have banned plastic bans or put a price on them since the early 2000’s. Both have a powerful impact on cutting down on plastic pollution.
To find out the status of plastic bag bans in your state check out www.bagtheban.com. You can put in your state or zip code of your city to see if and when a ban of plastic bags will go into effect in your city. If there is no ban the site also gives you the option to take action and start a ban in your hometown. More and more people are waking up to the dangers of plastics and within the next 4 years or so most cities and states will adopt a ban on plastic bags.
WELLNESS--For the past half-century we have been treating our oceans much like we have been treating our rainforests. Fishing has destroyed the natural habitat of the oceans and we have depleted roughly 50% of the ocean of its fish. With fish like swordfish and tuna that number is closer to 90% that have been depleted with a risk of complete collapse.
Farm raised fish or aquaculture has been exploding in popularity over the past decade, and while it may be helpful in certain aspects to the health and sustainability of our oceans, it does have its own drawbacks. The fish in these fish farms need to eat, and what some of these farm raised fish eat may not please the savvy eater. The fish feed can be anything from chickens to wild caught fish. Very often fish farms are using wild caught fish and lots of it to feed their farm raised fish like salmon. Aren’t we buying farm-raised fish in order to stop all of the over-fishing, and doesn’t feeding farm raised fish with wild caught fish defeat the purpose all together?
Certain fish have been hit harder than others. Tuna is one of the only fish, along with sharks, that has the ability to warm its muscles when swimming fast to go after its prey. Tuna can swim up to 40 miles an hour and they often live to be about 50 years old. In order for tuna to be healthy, and delicious for that matter, it needs open water to swim. It also needs 15 pounds of food to eat for every pound of tuna making it less than sustainable when it comes to farm fishing. Tuna is also a big fish and a predator meaning it is eating other smaller fish as it’s growing and maturing to a sometimes 15 feet long and 1500 pound fish that needs a lot of smaller fish to grow. Many of these small fish that the large tuna are eating contain mercury and the larger and older the tuna gets the more mercury it contains.
Swordfish have also been hit hard and is a large fish that also that can measure 14 feet and 1400 pounds at full maturity. Both of these fish when caught in the wild are delicious which is part of the reason they have been pillaged from the sea by 90%. More and more companies are now using poles to catch and sell these fish and “pole-caught” tuna and swordfish is definitely a more sustainable choice. Whether or not these fish will be able to make a comeback without international support by outlawing net caught tuna is yet to be seen.
Know that the most overfished fish are tuna, swordfish, shrimp, monkfish and sharks. Like cattle, not all farms are created equal. When you buy fish at the market ask them where the fish is coming from. If it is farm raised ask where the farm is located and what they are feeding the fish. Are the fish eating chicken pellets or unsustainable wild caught fish? As the consumers, we have the power to change the food supply system because every time we spend a dollar we are voting for what we believe in. Good food and good fish are not cheap, but isn’t it more costly over time to destroy the oceans just so we can buy cheap fish? We used to just buy meat at the best price possible. Now, more and more people have realized that if we are not part of the solution then we are part of the problem so they are shopping and buying more consciously.
Generally speaking fish need about 1.5 kilos of food to create 1 kilo of fish making fish a much more efficient food for farming. Cattle on the other hand need about 10 kilos of feed to create 1 kilo of meat. Eventually the fish market will be sustained by aquaponics, which is a closed self-sustaining system that feeds and cleans itself. This already exists in certain places and is quickly picking up steam. The powers that be will only make changes when we spend our money on fish and all food decisively and intentionally.
WELLNESS-Canadian researcher Simon Lajeunesse PHD uncovered that most boys seek Internet porn by age 10. The problem is they could not find a control group because almost all young men are using porn.
The Coolege effect is the automatic response to novel sexual images meaning each new sexual depiction is a genetic opportunity causing the brain to release dopamine to keep him stimulated. In nature this works so that the male animal can continue to inseminate female after female helping to grow the population of his particular species. In the male brain this process carries over with porn and with each click and each new type of sexual image, another surge of dopamine is created in the male brain.
Over time too much dopamine will be present causing an over-ride in the natural systems of the brain leading to cravings for more and more pleasure because the pleasure response is weakened. Once the brain is overwhelmed with dopamine it works to bring balance by taking away some of its dopamine receptors causing the addict to seek more porn with less of that warm happy feeling.
For the male using porn frequently, porn will no longer set off that same dopamine burst and instead of feeling happy, the porn user ends up feeling sad and isolated. In order to try to keep the same level of dopamine and pleasure, the porn addict will often escalate and seek out hardcore pornographic images.
Even more troubling is that there is evidence of the porn addicted brain actually changing in structure much like the drug-addicted brain. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is where we experience the higher affects of humanity. Things like peace, love and altruism all register in the frontal cortex, and the research shows that with porn and other addictions, the frontal cortex literally shrinks in size. The good news is the brain changes do reverse when people stop using porn.
One reason men are giving up porn is because of porn induced erectile dysfunction (ED). Dr. Carlo Foresta is the head of the Italian society of Adrology and Sexual Medicine and was quoted as saying “it starts with lower reactions to porn sites. Then there is a general drop in libido and in the end it becomes impossible to get an erection.” The studies are showing that younger men take longer to heal from the ED than older men. The theory is because the young brain is more vulnerable to addiction and because older men have had more experience with real intimacy and affection than their younger counterparts.
The overall effects of porn on ones health can be substantial. Along with the need for internet porn comes a need to be alone and isolated eventually leading to depression and loneliness. With the intense need to keep searching and clicking on the next image, the porn addict is caught in the clutches of porn addiction depriving them of important sleep, which stacks one more reason for depression, social anxiety, and depression.
Due to new research in brain plasticity, we now know that when a person finally gets off the porn, the brain will actually heal and go back to normal. The process can take between 2 and 6 months depending on the individual and their age. The younger mans brain actually takes longer to return to normal that the older man making it more difficult for the prior to wean himself off porn. Making time to be more social and not isolated and staying away from screens all together when possible are two ways to help the porn addict redirect their lives in a more healthy way.
WELLNESS--By now every one of us has heard of the benefits to meditation, but why is it so hard to start a meditation practice? The brain benefits span wide from helping to grow the cortex, which is that that ribbed looking outer part of the brain where all the higher human thoughts occur, to pulling us out of fight or flight and helping us enter a calmer more mindful state. There are even links to meditation slowing down the aging process.
All of this information begs the question, if meditation is so good for us, why is it so hard for us to do it? The answer also comes back to the brain. In today’s busy electronic world filled with screens of all kinds from our cell phones to our tablets to our computers, the eyes and brain are used to being stimulated during almost all of our waking hours. The problem is that as the pleasure centers of our brains are being stimulated by screens (and often sugar) while the pre-frontal cortex of the brain is not being used or stimulated in ways to develop us towards a higher awareness and a more altruistic lifestyle.
While sitting quietly and breathing has myriad proven benefits, it’s just so tough to get that practice going. Our brains are addicted to the quick fix and quick stimulation. Unless you are actively reading your kindle, the research shows that passive TV viewing in kids actually causes changes in their brains that lead to a weakened ability to communicate verbally. There is also evidence that the children watching hours of TV a day are more apt to violence.
Here are two highly effective ways to get your practice going once and for all. Find a meditation buddy. This doesn’t have to be someone living with you but if so, that’s even better. This person is someone that you both check in with each other every day where you each take 5 minutes or less to talk about your meditation practice, let each other know if you meditated or not, and give each other feedback and ideas on what’s working and what’s not. Research shows that having someone to be accountable to increases people’s chances of actually completing a task.
Another little trick that I have picked up through the years and I find very useful for me and my patients is to go to the area that you meditate every single night even if you don’t plan on meditating. The act of sitting on the cushion or stool every night even if it’s just for a few seconds before you go to bed will increase the chances that eventually you will sit for longer.
The trick is to go to that area of your home with no pressure on yourself to sit for a great length of time. You can actually sit down to meditate and then get right back up and go to bed. The next night try to increase your time from 5 seconds to 30 seconds and then each night increase your time that you meditate another 30 seconds until you eventually reach 20 minutes.
If there are mornings or nights, depending on your preference, that you fall back and really don’t want to meditate, then simply go to the cushion, sit down to meditate and then get directly back up and leave. Then you will start over again at the 5 seconds and you will start again to build from there. The trick is to get on the cushion every single day no matter how short the duration. Over time this will tell your brain that this is simply a part of your every single day and with time you will be meditating and breathing regularly.
WELLNESS--There are close to 9 billion people on the planet and that means 9 billion unique and specific diets. We are constantly getting flooded with fad diet books and food systems claiming to be the holy grail of health. We’re told to add just 1 specific nutrient to change our entire lives. Narrow reductive studies are put out regularly “proving” that this new food or that new vitamin will change our lives over night.
Some studies tell us that an alcoholic drink a day is good for us. After all they drink in Europe and they supposedly live forever and are all skinny, right? The next day we see a study claiming that alcohol, even in small amounts, is dangerous for our health and especially our livers. We see these “studies” repeated with coffee and chocolate. They are healthy one day and the next they are not.
There are of course some general dietary guidelines that work for us a whole. Things like less saturated fats, more whole grains, low sugar and no processed foods are simple rules to follow, but when it comes to specifics like do I eat meat or not, and are certain vegetables better for your body than others, people get confused. What about things like fruit? Some people notice certain fruits agree more with their body types than other fruits. Others report things like melon or pineapple actually making their mouths sore or swollen and they wonder if they are allergic. Then there is dairy. Many say avoid it all together but some day the vitamin D we get from it is healthy. I can go on an on.
It’s no surprise that people are confused about good health. The truth is, our bodies are the labs and we are the scientists. We need to choose foods carefully and pay attention to how that food makes the body feel. General rules like eat plenty of vegetables and fiber and steer clear of simple sugars are helpful reminders. So is using low to no alcohol and staying away from saturated fats and greasy foods is also a safe bet.
Outside of these basics, the rest needs to be determined by each individual.
Paying close attention to digestion and elimination is imperative as they are the best indicators to how good a food is for our bodies. The two other big indicators as to whether a food is good for us or not is to notice our energy levels throughout the day especially after eating meals. Also taking note of how well the immunity is working over all. Then we have the ever so famous Gluten. Many people have jumped on the gluten intolerance bandwagon. While it is true that some people are gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive, the percentage of those people is very low compared to the number of people avoiding gluten.
Regarding vegetables, there are so many different types, and certain ones can cause inflammation in some people. Nightshade vegetables for example can be very inflammatory for people with inflammatory diseases like crones and colitis and need to be avoided all together by them. Books like Eat Right for Your Blood Type and Nutrition textbooks like Eat Drink and be Healthy are also great places to start if you are in the process of turning your diet around.
No matter how much you read or how many people give you advice about diet and nutrition, the most crucial data you receive is free and coming to you every day from your own body. Take time to notice and be honest about how your body is working or not working. Notice your energy levels or if you get an afternoon slump after lunch. If so, what choices are you making and how can you make better choices? Are you supported towards good health at home, or is your partner bringing junk food into the home? Good health is easier to attain if you feel supported by the people around you. Ask them to help you, and if they are willing to help ask them to join you!
WELLNESS-The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) in January about a somewhat alarming rate of Elizbethkingia Anophelus. Elizbethkingia itself isn’t that rare or unusual, but this new strain is different because it is killing people. So far 20 of the 59 cases in Wisconsin ended in death and it seems to have spread to neighboring Illinois and Michigan. There are normally about 5 cases of infection a year reported in each state nationwide making this an unusually large outbreak.
WELLNESS--Did you know that heart disease is the number 1 killer of Americans today? With February being Heart Awareness Month let’s talk about a few ways to increase our heart health and add to the longevity of the most important muscle in our body.
WELLNESS--As tempting as that midnight snack might feel when we can’t sleep, late nights coupled with eating is the 1-2 punch your weight and wellness do not need. A study published in PubMed this month shows the link between obesity and sleep called Chronobesity. For a long time we thought that exercise and dietary shifts were enough to squelch obesity, but a growing body research shows otherwise.
WELLNESS--It was 1996 when the infamous Monsanto introduced a “drought resistant” crop, which is really just another way of saying GMO or Genetically Modified Organism. Ever since that, there has been a war going on regarding labeling our foods containing these organisms.
There are over 64 countries worldwide that already enforce strict labeling laws in regards to GMO’s. Those countries include 28 nations of the European Union, Japan, Australia, Russia, and even China. While the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization continue to pander to greedy corporations like Monsanto and others that make these chemicals and GMO foods, the American people are becoming more and more outraged.
In 2014 Vermont became the first state to make GMO labeling mandatory. Connecticut and Maine have also passed similar laws that will go into effect once their neighboring states also pass similar laws. Since these laws have come to pass, there are congress people that have introduced federal legislation developed by powerful food corporations with the intent of denying our right to know what we are eating by making it perfectly legal to not label GMO foods.
Last week, that law was defeated and activists and other people nation-wide are pushing for a bill that would make labeling GMO foods mandatory. The bill is designed as a win-win even for small companies that labeling fees can hit hard in the pocket book.
For now, in place of passing nation-wide laws, activists have been more successful taking on companies one by one to get them to label GMO foods. Not long ago Campbell’s Soup agreed to start labeling their GMO products and last week General Mills also bowed to the needs of consumers by announcing that they too will start labeling their GMO foods nation-wide.
GMO’s should be labeled so people can at least know that the food they are eating contains GMO’s or not. The FDA and WHO may say they are safe, but we all know they have said the same thing about many drugs over the years that have done real damage to people’s health. Drugs like Accutane and Phen-fen to name a few. I for one prefer to know what I’m putting in my body, and I will continue to work to get the word out on the unknown potential dangers of GMO’s and the real need for labeling laws.
(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
WELLNESS--Cloud seeding has been around for decades, but the general public has not known about it until recently. In 1946 it was discovered by a General Electrics lab that Silver Iodide could be used to make already existing clouds put out more rain. It was the 1950’s that this technology started to be used en force to battle drought. Since that time it is used as needed all over the world depending on the drought levels, and with the increasing water shortages worldwide, cloud seeding is becoming more and more common.
In order for cloud seeding to work, there has to be rain clouds already present. By filling the cloud with silver iodide, they can increase the rainfall by 5 to 30 percent depending on where they clouds are located. It’s easier to make more rain from a cloud near the coast as opposed to inland.
Today, companies like the North American Weather Consultants, Inc create and set up cloud seeding stations that are portable and easy to transport so they can get them where they are needed most. In Los Angeles there are currently 10 towers set up between Sylmar and Pacoima.
These portable generators shoot Silver Iodide into the already existing clouds, which bind to the water molecules creating an instant freezing of the water particles. The now heavy frozen water vapor falls from the sky as rain.
The concern over silver iodide in our water and air supply is a real one. While the studies are still being conducted around this topic, what we do know is that silver iodide is highly susceptible and when it drop and falls into our atmosphere it quickly breaks down. The US Public Health Service claims there is a negligible environmental impact by cloud seeding. That said, silver iodide when studied in labs is a different story all together and is indeed toxic and dangerous.
There are other studies showing that silver iodide is toxic especially to fish and wildlife. This particular study is quoted as stating that “repeated exposure of animals to silver might produce anemia, cardiac enlargement, growth retardation, and degenerative changes in the liver.” (Seiler, H.G., H. Sigel and A. Sigel (eds.). Handbook on the Toxicity of Inorganic Compounds. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker, Inc. 1988. 622)
This same study says that silver is not known to be carcinogenic to humans. From what most of the studies show, the one known risk humans take by being exposed to silver is called Argyria which is a grayish blue discoloration of the skin. If you look at the pesticide info website you will see that silver iodide is not shown to be toxic for humans but it does show an accumulation in fish.
Most of the government sites say that this chemical can only cause skin discoloration, but it proves challenging to find any other information regarding silver iodide and it’s possible toxic effects on humans.
In spite of claims that the long-term effects of this procedure are said to be harmless, it still feels like we are something of test subjects in the area of cloud seeding.
WELLNESS--Proton Pump Inhibitors, also knows as antacids are used by an estimated 15 million Americans and they rake in roughly $13 Billion in sales a year. These drugs are commonly used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, and peptic ulcers. While there is any number of PPI’s out there, the most commonly used are omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), and esomeprazole (Nexium). PPIs help reduce the amount of stomach acid made by glands in the lining of the stomach.
While there are times this medication is called for, these drugs are often taken casually and as an adjunct to offset a poor diet. Up until recently, side effects of PPI’s have not involved the mind, but in a recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine, an association between Antacids and dementia has arisen.
The study included 75,000 adults aged 75 and older. In order to qualify to be in the study, the participants needed to be free of dementia, and their use of PPI’s needed to be considered chronic which meant filling a prescription every 3 months for each 18 month period. After an 8-year follow up, the chronic PPI users had a 44% increased risk of dementia compared with those who did not take any medication. Woman had an overall lower risk of dementia than men, and the occasional PPI user had a much lower risk over all.
It’s important to note that this study does not prove that taking PPI’s causes dementia, but rather that there is an association between long term PPI use and dementia. There may be other factors involved such as people that tend to need PPI’s may have a generally unhealthy diet which could also contribute to dementia. This study did not include what other drugs these elderly people were on, and with more thorough research they may have discovered other links and associations with drugs and dementia.
It is important to go through all of the medications you are taking at least once a year and talk to your doctor to see if you still need to be on said drugs, or if the dosage could be reduced. Too many people, especially the elderly get used to taking their meds and don’t think to ask their doctors if they can stop or cut back. Of course, never stop taking a medication until you consult your doctor. No one will be more concerned about your health and well being than you, so take responsibility for your health and be your own primary care provider.
WELLNESS--Pro means for or in favor of, and biotic means bacteria. Probiotic is a favorable bacterium for your gut. Most people think they are only great for your digestion and elimination, but more and more studies are indicating that probiotics are an important component in order to help many of our health functions.
Bones are one example of the wide array of probiotic health benefits. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 54 million Americans are currently living with or at risk of developing Osteoporosis. The NOF estimates that 1 in 2 woman over 50 and 1 in 4 men will break a bone due to osteoporosis. By the year 2020 it is estimated that 50% of Americans will have low bone density.
There are many reasons Osteoporosis occurs. The causes range from low calcium, imbalanced hormones, inflammation, poor diet, and an unhealthy gut. Regarding gut health, there have been multiple studies as of late indicating the link between healthy probiotics and better bone health. The mechanisms by which this happens includes a decrease in gut inflammation in turn leading to an increase in bone density among other reasons.
While there are some medications for osteoporosis, they have not proven very effective, and many people agree that the best way to avoid and often treat this disease is through nutrition and supplementation. It is important to start with healthy vitamin D levels along with Calcium and probiotics in order to prevent the initial thinning and weakening of bones in the first place. These days many doctors are checking vitamin D3 levels, which is crucial in maintaining many health and immune related functions in the body.
There is a powerful link between bone weakness and cigarette smoking so adding bone health to the already long list of what people should not smoke cigarettes is fair. Exercise is another way to strengthen those bones. Lifting weights and even brisk walking is a great way to add strength to our bones.
Adding probiotics will decrease inflammation and in turn help to prevent leaky gut. This occurs when the body is not absorbing nutrients because the mucosal lining of the gut is not fully healthy and in place. Probiotics also help to build the short chain fatty acids, which in turn help to strengthen the bones.
Very often the probiotics in yogurt are not enough to reach the levels needed for optimum health. There are many options out there for probiotics and I like Mercola. His do not need to be refrigerated and they work very well in building the probiotics levels in the gut. Take your probiotics and keep active as a couple of ways to maintain bone health well into old age.
WELLNESS--When I mention to friends and patients about the dangers of a specific food or cleaning agent they are using I often hear the comment that “everything causes Cancer.” This is simply not true and below I’m going to give you some pointers on how to take the purification of your home and body to the next level.
WELLNESS--In today’s busy world, there never seems to be enough time for us. Add the stress of family on top of work and bills, and it makes getting out of town more challenging than ever. What people don’t realize is there is a clear link between over-working, not taking down time, and coronary heart disease.
WELLNESS-In a study done with 89,283 people they found that whether or not we are energized in the morning or more prefer to sleep in is linked to our DNA. The study was published in the Journal of Nature Communications on February 2nd.
"In this study we set out to discover more about an individual's preference toward early rising and were able to identify the genetic associations with 'morningness' as well as ties to lifestyle patterns and other traits," Youna Hu, Ph.D., who led 23andMe's research on the paper, said in a statement.
15 areas in the human genone that are associated with “morningness” were isolated and studied. They drew a link for the first time between people that held certain genes and being a morning person. 7 of those 15 genes were associated with circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings that is generated from within.
Like other types of genetic links, just because our genes pre-dispose us towards a certain type of behavior does not mean we are predestined to act those behaviors out. The study also showed that people who were night owls tend to be less healthy in very specific ways. They have a greater tendency towards depression and insomnia for example than their early to bed counterparts, and the people staying up late into the night also have a lower BMI and a greater tendency towards obesity.
Further studies along the same lines may help the health community get a better understanding of diseases and disorders such as insomnia, depression, and obesity that have been linked with sleeplessness for years.
More people than ever are seeking and using Acupuncture and Chiropractic to heal their bodies. It is estimated that over 30 million people use Chiropractic every year and according to an Acupuncture Today survey the same is true of Acupuncture.
The reasons for people seeking care from healers outside of their western medical route is varied. Many people report that they don’t want to continue taking medications or going through obtrusive surgeries in order to get better. More still simply don’t get the relief they want from the standard western model.
In addition to trying to heal an illness, the more savvy and health conscious individuals are well aware that using Acupuncture and Chiropractic as well as staying healthy and fit are some of the best ways to stay out of the hospital.
With studies like the one put on by The Journal of Public Safety showing that the number of accidental deaths in hospitals may be over 400,000 a year it is no wonder that people are doing whatever they can to stay healthy and avoid them.
The Hospital Safety Score put accidental hospital deaths as the 3rd leading cause of death in America and their number is 440,000.
To help patients avoid getting sick in the first place, wellness centers across the country have been popping up that offer everything under one roof. Very often the primary focus is to treat the person using the most non-invasive and drug free methods possible and this usually includes chiropractic and acupuncture along with physical therapy and others modalities.
Illness can have many roots and in today’s busy world many people are living their lives with elevated levels of stress hormones over prolonged periods of time. The primary stress hormone associated with illness is Cortisol. This hormone is linked to many ailments including weight gain, sugar imbalance, immunity suppression, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, and fertility problems.
By getting regular treatments of acupuncture, chiropractic or massage people are lowering their stress levels, taking their bodies out of fight or flight and therefore lowering the amount of cortisol. Part of the challenge in the Unites States is that many people wait until an illness is already starting to manifest before they seek help. At that point too many people are still deciding to simply take pills instead of participating in their own health and wellness.
The medical system in this country is stressed due to the sheer volume of people that doctors need to see every day. Many people are going to outpatient clinics or emergency rooms making it close to impossible to see the same doctor more than once. Doctors have a hard time getting to know patients due to time constraints and too many patients, and ultimately patients tend to slip through the cracks of the broken western medical model.
Thankfully, more and more people are learning that they need to be their own primary care providers and in doing so seek out a healthy lifestyle and connections to health providers that have time and energy to spend on their patients.
WELLNESS--We have known for a long time that late night eating has a negative effect on our blood sugar and has even been linked to diabetes and other diseases, but this study clearly puts late night eating and brain memory impairment in the spotlight.
The research indicates that those munchies just might be wreaking havoc on your mind. "We believe that late-night snacking may affect our learning capabilities by affecting the parts of the brain responsible for learning and memory, specifically, the hippocampus," Dr. Dawn Loh, a scientist at the University and lead author of the study said.
The hippocampus is one of the key anatomical parts of the brain responsible for memory, and while this study has not been confirmed on humans but only on mice, there is surprising evidence that this part of the brain that supports memory is adversely affected by late night eating.
In the experiment they used two groups of mice. One group of fed during the day when they were most active and the other was fed late at night during normal sleeping hours. While both groups received the same amount of calories and the same amount of sleep, they found that the group of mice that were fed in the middle of the night had less of a chance of remembering to avoid a chamber in their cage that provided a mild electric current when they walked into it. The ones that ate during normal hours had no problem remembering and avoided that chamber.
The other test they did was to introduce a novel object to the mice and then remove it from the cage and repeat at a later hour. The mice that ate while they should have been sleeping forgot that they had already been exposed to that object while the ones on the normal eating schedule had no problem recollecting the object.
"By consuming food at the 'wrong' time of day, we induce misalignment between the various clocks in the brain and body," Loh said. "This is known to affect physiological processes like metabolism. We demonstrate for the first time that this food-induced misalignment leads to profound impairment of hippocampal-dependent memory as well."
One great solution to late night eating is to simply pick a time in the evening and don’t eat past that hour. Many people complain that they work late hours and don’t get home until 8 or 9pm. While this is a challenging situation, if you know that you are not to eat past 7 pm or even 8pm, you can have the opportunity to bring lunch and dinner to work with you and eat before you leave the office to head home. Ideally, we start work a little earlier and get home at a more reasonable hour, but for those of you where that is impossible, maybe bringing a health and delicious dinner to work is the answer!
Vol 14 Issue 4
Pub: Jan 12, 2016
Last night someone got shot in my neighborhood. I don’t think they were killed but it was still very disturbing to hear a gunshot right outside my building. I was hopeful that it was just a firework, but I knew it wasn’t When I heard the police show up and heard people crying outside I knew that I was not mistaken about what I heard. I never saw an ambulance so I don’t know if the upset people were just scared or if someone was actually hurt.
The whole thing is sad and horrible and makes Hollywood feel like a war-zone. I walk my dog all the time and it was a reminder that anyone living in a big city or anywhere else is not ever totally safe from harm. We can make choices to reduce the danger as much as possible, but beyond that we need to continue on our path as gracefully as we can.
It would be easy to get down on the city or on all the guns and violence, but instead I will make a point today to let the people I care about know. Staying positive in the face of violence is not easy, but I choose to take this as a reminder of how precious life can be and will do my very best to choose my focus wisely.
When the wind is up and the air is cooling down, we are more likely to contract upper respiratory infections. For those of you familiar with Acupuncture, you may already know that the points around the neck and throat are susceptible to wind moving in and contributing to colds. One way to protect ourselves from catching a cold is to protect our necks and throats with scarves and to bundle up properly.
In addition to dressing properly, eating warming foods like soups and stews is another way to keep our bodies strong during the fall and winter. Foods that are very cooling such as too many raw veggies or cold drinks should be substituted with foods like hot soup and stew. Our bodies are already working hard to stay warm, so adding cold food just gives our systems more work to do in an already challenging season.
Bundle up and stay warm, and let me know if you have any questions regarding a healthy diet during the fall.
Recently, I have made many big changes in my life including moving to a new city, buying a new car, and moving my Acupuncture practice to a new location. All of these changes gave me a good reason to put certain projects in my life on hold. The challenge began when the dust finally settled and I still wasn’t engaging in accomplishing my goals. At that point, the “break” turned into good old fashioned procrastination.
In doing some research on the subject I have discovered that procrastination is not only inconvenient, its also damaging to our health and well being causing elevated levels of stress and anxiety. Needless to say, that was all I needed to read to get off my heinie and implement a plan!
In at article from the Association for Psychological Science, http://bit.ly/1stefbl one of the most effective ways to move past procrastination is to begin with forgiving yourself for whatever it is that you have been putting off. Nine times out of ten, stress and fear are the underlying emotions of procrastination with the fear of “maybe I won’t do it right” usually the leading reason people procrastinate.
I invite all of you to implement a simple reward system for yourselves. In order to get things done, I am now using desktop calendars to help me accomplish goals in different areas of my life. I have a list of things I get a star for, and when I accomplish a goal, I write it on the calendar and put a star sticker next to that accomplishment. I aim for a certain number of stars a week, and if I get them I allow myself a healthy reward of my choosing. If I don’t reach my goal, I forgive myself and move on.
Let me know if you have any questions about this system or if you have a system you use that may help other people, please share!
There is so much information out there today about Ebola, and most news outlets seem to be choosing to hype it up and instill fear.
On the other hand, there are people saying that there are many other things to worry about more and that Ebola is a minor problem. The truth falls somewhere in the middle.
It would be unfair and inhumane to minimize the Ebola Epidemic especially considering how many people have lost loved ones to this awful disease.
At the same time, focusing too much attention on this problem and obsessively watching the news for updates doesn't do anyone any good at all and can arguably be bad for your health.
For me, I decided to find a way to donate money to the cause and refocus my attention right here at home where I can make a bigger difference in the day to day lives of my patients and the people around me. There is a way to stay informed without allowing the news to dominate our thoughts.
What we put our attention on grows, so let's choose to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
If you are interested in donating money, I used Unicef as it is a tried and trusted charity.
WELLNESS-If you have been watching the news lately you may have seen the recent reports stating that red meat and processed meats have been linked to cancer.
Before we get into the risk associated with eating animal products and getting cancer let's look a little deeper at the reporting. First, comparing red meat and processed meats is like comparing water to sugary drinks. Processing any food always changes the composition of the food into something different than before it was a whole food; hence the importance of eating whole foods. A cut of unprocessed meat that was obtained from a healthy animal that was fed a non-GMO diet to a slice of processed bologna is erroneous and irresponsible.
You will also notice that these reports often use the words "linked to." Just because there is a link between a condition and an external element does not mean that there is causation. Saying red meat is linked to cancer is not saying that red meat causes cancer.
Responsibly farmed red meat consumed in moderation has many benefits. For example, there is heme and non-heme iron, and the iron obtained from meat, poultry and fish is about 40% heme which is easily absorbed by the body. The heme iron in red meat supplies vitamin B12, which helps make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy. It also contains zinc, which keeps the immune system working properly. Besides iron, Red meat also provides protein, which helps build bones and muscles.
Many studies show that iron derived from heme sources make up two-thirds of the average person’s total iron stores despite only constituting one-third of the iron that is actually ingested. This likely explains why vegetarians are more prone to iron deficiency than those who regularly consume red meat. There is a reason that 1.6 billion people on our planet deal with anemia (low iron) and not having access to animal products is the reason.
Not all meat is created equal. Too many of our animals are locked up in the equivalent of concentration camps for animals. They are fed GMO corn and other foods not natural to their normal dietary needs. They are also kept in small spaces locked up where they are fed antibiotics so they don't get each other sick. Adding insult to injury many of these animals are not offered room to graze properly on land making them fat and unhealthy.
Taking time to find out where your meat comes from in order to purchase meat that has been raises responsibly and fed a healthy non-GMO diet of grass is crucial. This meat tends to be more expensive but eating small amounts of meat 2 or 3 times a week at most is plenty. If we eat less red meat and purchase the meat eat from responsible cattle farmers, the animals will be treated better and we will be consuming an animal with less GMO's, antibiotics, and fat.
Vol 13 Issue 87
Pub: Oct 27, 2015
WELLNESS-You can’t get more American than Campbell’s soup. This company has been gracing our grocery shelves since 1859. With iconic artists like Andy Warhol using the soup can designs to create art that now sells for 15 million dollars, there may not be one American unfamiliar with Campbell’s.
When the CEO of Campbell’s recently announced in a board meeting that they would be changing the ingredients of Campbell’s soup, it caused quite a stir. Turns out Campbell’s has been using Monosodium Glutamate for decades along with many other canned and package food companies. The problem is, study after study shows that MSG just might be killing you.
While the FDA still claims that consuming MSG is harmless, there are many experts that disagree, the most well known of these being Dr. Russell Blaylock. He is a board certified neurosurgeon and author of “Excitotoxin: The Taste That Kills.” In his research he discovered that flavorings like MSG actually excite the cells in our brains to the point of damage or death causing brain damage in varying degrees. This could also mean that by consuming foods with MSG we may be contributing to learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more.
Campbell’s had already stopped using preservatives and also is known for using real vegetables in their soups. Campbell’s acknowledged that the next big step is to cut out the use of chemicals used for flavoring and coloring. High Fructose Corn Syrup will also be removed from their soups , which has recently been linked to liver damage. Campbell’s is also aware that General Mills is on the same track to remove these items from its products, and they don’t want to be left out.
Make no mistake here people, Campbell’s soup is yet another example of a company that is responding to pressure from the community at large. If their products were flying off the shelves like they used to there is a good chance they would not be cutting these dangerous ingredients.
The fact of the matter is sales of Campbells have been down, and they know if they want to stay relevant, they need to meet the new needs of consumers that are waking up to the importance of good health and chemical free ingredients. Thanks to the consumer, Campbell’s will now bending to pressure and make their soups healthier. There are plenty of other companies that make packaged and frozen foods with this chemical inside, and they are more likely to follow suit of a behemoth company like Campbell’s.
Vol 13 Issue 69
Pub: Aug 25, 2015
WELLNESS-The quest for low calorie sweeteners has led to the creation of chemicals that sweeten drinks and foods but that simply don’t break down in our bodies which is why these chemicals don’t fatten the people up that are consuming them. The problem is that much of these compounds go right through the consumer and into our water supply.
The world’s rivers and lakes are loaded with artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, Sweet’N Low and Aspartame in a converted form. These sweeteners are a dangerous problem facing our environment today for two main reasons. First we are drinking this water as it comes around for a second time through the water cycle and second, the fish are living in these chemicals and there is evidence that they are taking these chemicals into their tissues.
The Canadian Journal Plus One published the study proving that these 4 sweeteners cyclamate, saccharin, sucralose, and acesulfame not only pass through humans without being properly broken down, but also through advanced wastewater systems that are designed to remove chemicals from our water. After this sewage is treated, much of it is released back into our water supply through rivers and tributaries. It turns out that this fresh water is now anything but.
In the study, researchers collected water from homes near the Grand river, which empties into Lake Erie and found all of the above mentioned sweeteners coming out of the tap. We have all heard about antidepressants in our water supply and how that is affecting the fish’s ability to reproduce. In regards to sweeteners in the water scientists still don’t know the full impact in regards to the health of the fish. Nor do they know exactly how damaging it will be to humans to eat these fish that are contaminated with chemicals used to sweeten foods.
The idea of our water supply being contaminated with the chemicals and sweeteners that we consume should not surprise us. We live in a delicate ecosystem and everything we eat and drink will eventually become a part of that system.
While it is tempting to compartmentalize everything and think we can keep certain parts separate from others, it doesn’t work that way in nature, nor in our bodies. If someone gets an infection in their toe for example, rest assured that over time it would infect their entire body.
The earth is the same way. We can’t pollute and destroy certain parts of the world and think it will stay isolated to that part. Earth is a big ecosystem with the entire planet being interconnected through an intricate web of waterways and jet streams in the air and the ocean. Science is helping us grasp this idea of an interconnected earth.
Vol 13 Issue 59
Pub: Jul 21, 2015
WELLNESS-Up until recently, Costco was sourcing 90 percent of the salmon it purchased from Chilean salmon farms. Every week that added up to roughly 600,000 pounds of salmon. The problem is that these Chilean fish farms have been upping their use of antibiotics by 25 percent in response to Piscirickettsiosis (or SRS) bacteria. Since 2013 there has been a surge in SRS bacteria found in the coastal waters off Chile causing a spike in disease-laden fish. American consumers are ever increasingly concerned about drug resistant superbugs, which has put the squeeze on Costco to source from the lesser drug doling Norwegian farms instead.
SRS was first reported in 1989 and since then scientists have developed a better understanding of this bug. This particular bacterium affects a variety of cells in salmon and causes inflammation in the fish’s organs and brain. Initial diagnoses can be obtained by spotting lesions on the fish and erratic swimming patterns due to the bacteria attacking the brain.
While the use of antibiotics can control the bacteria in the short term, it is proving to be a losing battle against SRS causing fish farmers to administer more and more drugs. The Salmon farmers in Chile have had to boost their antibiotic use, and in 2014 they used over 1 million pounds of antibiotics to produce 895,000 pounds of fish. The FDA said it has "concerns about the improper use of medically important antibiotics in food products derived from animals, as this practice is one factor that can contribute to antimicrobial resistance in humans."
In response to this epidemic, Costco has begun to source 60 percent of its salmon from Norway and has dropped down to only 40 percent from Chile in 2014. This has cost the Chilean farmers tens of millions of dollars. Brazil on the other hand imports 3.6 million kilograms of salmon each year from Chile. With concern for cost superseding the real threat of a superbug epidemic, Brazil has no plans of curbing their appetite for affordable Salmon purchased from nearby Chilean providers. Costco on the other hand is moving forward with deep cuts in Chilean Salmon and huge increases in Norwegian purchased salmon.
To battle Piscirickettsiosis (or SRS) bacteria, which causes hemorrhaging, swollen kidneys and spleens, and ultimately death in infected fish, Chilean farmers are using ever increasing amount of antibiotics to try and keep their fish stock healthy. Concerns about drug-resistant superbugs have led many American consumers to seek out antibiotic-free products.
With an estimated 2 million people being infected with superbugs a year in the US alone and 23,000 of them dying, drug resistant superbugs are a grave concern. In spite of the fact that there are many more people dying of cancer each year in the US, some experts speculate that death by drug resistant superbugs could overtake the cancer statistics in the next 10 years.
Vol 13 Issue 62
Pub: Jul 29, 2015
WELLNESS-A study posted in the journal of behavioral medicine linked procrastination with hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Specifically people of older age, lower education levels, and higher procrastination scores were more likely to experience HT and CVD than their more accomplished and task minded counterparts.
While the study focused more on the link between heart disease and procrastination and less on the why; it can be surmised that people who tend to put things off until the last minute would also tend to have a more stressful life. The affects of stress and inflammation in the body are widely known, and if someone is procrastinating daily, they just may be causing unnecessary inflammation. In addition to inflammation, these individual is also more likely to put off important check ups and physicals.
Procrastinators also tend to put off going to sleep. When we sleep our body repairs itself through a cascade of crucial healing processes. The brain secretes human growth hormone when we sleep which heals our organs and rejuvenates our bodies. Recent research has also proven that the brain actually removes dangerous toxins during sleep and just may help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Any behavior can be changed, but in some cases the behaviors that make up our personality are genetic. While psychologists and scientists are not saying that procrastination is genetic, they do agree that our genes influence procrastination.
The good news is that our genes influence all of our other personality traits as well, and we can get help and exercise our will to change those along with our tendency to procrastinate.
One crucial step that most experts agree needs to be accomplished in order to stop procrastination is to get organized. An unorganized desk or home is a sure fire way to avoid accomplishing tasks.
Creating a to do list the night before helps people who tend to procrastinate. Studies also show that the higher someone’s stress level, the more likely they are to procrastinate. By taking steps to reduce stress in ones life, they will be more likely to attack a project head on. Finally, setting up some type of reward system upon accomplishing tasks also helps to stave off procrastination.
Vol 13 Issue 52
Pub: Jun 26, 2015
WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time soon. With big cities becoming more and more populated and news of climate change and drought and war, there is a good chance that anxiety is on the rise. Besides getting help from doctors and other health care providers like acupuncturists, there are other things you can do to help stave off anxiety.
Exercise. Studies show that through regular exercise we aid the brain in releasing endorphins, which help to reduce the perception of pain. Endorphins don’t only affect the brain. They also affect the body. Many people who exercise report a feeling of euphoria during or shortly after their workout. This is often referred to as runners high. Endorphins also have a sedating affect on the body, which help to pull us out of fight or flight and into a more relaxed state.
Besides the chemical affects, exercise is also a way for people to get a break from their normal way of thinking. Many report exercise as feeling like a form of meditation. At the very least, it is a break from our usual cycle of thoughts. When exercising vigorously it is required to think about the physical body and pay attention to the breath. Both of these behaviors are normally acted upon when one is in meditation, and meditation is another highly affective way to combat anxiety.
If one exercises outside, they are also getting a change of environment, which has the ability to drop anxiety levels. Throw in some fresh air and exercise and it often works as a quick way to take the edge off. If it’s not an outdoor park but rather a gym, this will still be helpful. Simply changing your surroundings and getting out of the potentially stress producing space you are in, whether it’s your home or work, can help to decrease anxiety levels.
Part of feeling anxious is also feeling a lack of control in ones life. Exercise is another way to feel like you have control. Going to the gym or the park and working out is something you are doing for you and only you. Your partner or boss or family has very little to do with your exercise regimen therefore giving you a stronger sense of control in your life.
It has been well documents that people who exercise more experience lower levels of anxiety. This does not have to mean spending a fortune on a gym membership or personal trainer. It can be as easy as picking a time every day and going for a brisk walk or jog outside.
The important thing is that you get your heart rate up and hopefully break a sweat. The sweating helps us to eliminate toxins from our body and the elevated heart rate will strengthen your heart and allow for the brain to release endorphins.
A morning workout is recommended because those great chemicals you get will help to carry you through your day feeling less anxious and more confident.
Vol 13 Issue 39
Pub: May 12, 2015
WELLNESS-Last week Pepsi announced that it was removing the sweetener Aspartame from Diet Pepsi. I wish I could say that this corporation was discontinuing the use of this chemical because of the numerous studies showing potential links it to diabetes and cancer, but the real reason is declining sales of their diet Pepsi line. Volumes fell over 5% last year motivating the company to look at why
What they found is that consumers are becoming more health conscious and savvy to what is and isn’t good for them. An Italian study put on by the European Ramazzini Foundation on aspartame was published in the European Journal of Oncology in June of 2005 titled “Aspartame induces lymphomas and leukemias in rats.” In 2007 the FDA discredited the study and then in 2013 they completed a full review of aspartame and ruled out any risk of cancer.
As far back as 1980 there was an FDA inquiry that comprised of three independent scientists. Each one found that Aspartame “might induce brain tumors.” Previous to these studies the FDA had banned Aspartame only to have it legalized again in 1983 after some potentially nefarious political restructuring. In 1987 a renowned neuroscientist named Dr. John Olney (the same guy that helped ban monosodium glutamate) pleaded with the FDA in an open letter to ban Aspartame. His attempts fell on deaf ears.
Any search you conduct on the history of this chemical indicates that it is unhealthy at best and outright dangerous at worst. There are studies showing that Aspartame damages the brain and others pointing to an Aspartame and Leukemia link. More information continues to flow in and none of it is good. Consumers of this chemical also report myriad conditions potentially related to Aspartame, and the addictive quality keeps people coming back for more.
By now we realize that each time we spend money on food or beverages we are voting. Voting for what we want on the shelves at our supermarkets. It would be naïve to think that the powerful corporations that are controlling so much of our food and beverage content are solely concerned with our health. Equally or more important to many of these companies is the bottom line financially. If we are to stay healthy and ensure that only healthy compounds are included in our foods, we need to “vote” carefully.
Pay attention to what’s in the food you are purchasing. If there is any question about the healthfulness of a food or chemical, do your own research. While many people make fun of “the university of google,” there is much information to be gleaned from the internet and your local library. Be your own primary care provider. If there is any question about something in your diet talk to your health and medical providers, but also realize that we are all products of our education. Do your own research for no one will care for your body as well as you do.
Vol 13 Issue 35
Pub: Apr 28, 2015
WELLNESS-It only took 50 years of research indicating that fluoride is unhealthy, but the US government finally responded by demanding a lowering of fluoride levels in our drinking water. Currently almost all of Western Europe drinks non-flouridated water with at least half of the countries listed NEVER allowing fluoride in their water. These places include: Denmark, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Scotland, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and almost all of the UK and Spain. Water fluoridation also stopped completely in Japan, Isreal, and even the soviet union over 25 years ago.
For those of us that grew up in the 60’s and 70’s we have been getting fluoride in the tap since childhood. The department of Health and Human Services announced in 1962 that tap water be fluoridated with between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water. The new recommendation that they are making will not allow fluoride to exceed 0.7.
Back in the 60’s and even as recently as the 80’s and 90’s most of us were drinking tap water and getting those high doses of flouride. These days more people are drinking bottled water but statistics show that 61% of Americans still drink tap water. Facts provided by the USDA indicate that the biggest consumers of tap water is the poor. This comes as no surprise.
The CDC used to tout fluoride in the water as the reason the US has less teeth decay than other countries, but recent studies show that teeth decay is decreasing at the same rate in western European countries as well pointing to better health care as the reason as opposed to fluoride.
There is a reason the fluoride controversy has gone on as long as it has. The Flouride Action Network states that “Fluoride is a highly toxic substance that can cause a range of adverse health effects. Certain members of the public are at particularly high risk of harm.” Their site goes on to list all the potential nasty effects of consuming fluoride included but not limited to arthritis, bone fracture, brain effects, cancer, diabetes, endocrine disruption, hypersensitivity, pineal gland, flourosis, thyroid disease and others.
The department of health and human services issued a statement on April 27th saying that “While additional sources of fluoride are more widely used than they were in 1962, the need for community water fluoridation still continues,” said U.S. Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. “Community water fluoridation continues to reduce tooth decay in children and adults beyond that provided by using only toothpaste and other fluoride-containing products.”
There is no mention of any types of danger or disease risk by the use of Flouride in the water, but at least the reduction in the fluoride levels in tap will expose our poorest Americans to this potentially dangerous chemical a little bit less. In time with more pushing, fluoride will probably be removed all together from our water supply confirming once again that what is often deemed “safe” by our own government agencies isn’t always the case.
Vol 13 Issue 36
Pub: May 1, 2015
In Chinese Medicine we learn that the environment has a direct impact on our health and often can be the culprit in making us sick. If it is cold and damp and windy outside, it is very important to dress properly and especially to cover up the neck with a scarf. The neck is where many of the "wind points" in acupuncture are located, and because of this, the neck is an especially sensitive area of the body that can be attacked by the elements making us vulnerable to colds and flu.
In the winter we need to be sure to take advantage of the early sunsets and get extra rest. Curl up with a blanket and movie more often and keep warm. Enjoy the longer nights and the chance to spend more time indoors with loved ones. It's nice to follow the lead of mother nature and slow down. Stay warm and stay well this winter season!