If you have followed my blog or taken a peek inside my book, you may already know my belief that food is true medicine. I don’t feel I can over emphasize the significance of diet as the single most critical component of managing our health.
We have never needed an understanding of this more than we do right now.
Over half of Americans have type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) ; almost half have hypertension or high blood pressure, and 3 out of 4 are obese or overweight. These sobering statistics have only worsened during the pandemic. Diet and lifestyle are the main causes of the rise in these numbers. Yet, statistics have shown that those with the worst outcomes from covid 19 and those who have required hospitalizations are those with these very conditions. In fact, nearly two thirds of covid cases requiring hospital care are attributable to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.
We also know that changes to diet and lifestyle, even without weight loss can rapidly improve inflammation markers and health outcomes. Read that again. The reality is we can not have a disease defying, healthy body while ignoring the direct connection between food and the current and future state of our health.
In my last blog, Build a Foundation for Health, part one, I discussed the primary driver of most chronic diseases, and degenerative diseases of aging. It is our daily choice of nutrition as well as stress, toxins other lifestyle habits that are fueling inflammation.
If we are consuming literally pounds of food every day, how can we continue to deny its impact on our health and longevity?
The question I am asked frequently is what about vitamins and supplements? What should I be taking? What role do supplements play in safeguarding my heath?
My short answer is food (must come) first!
Rule #1: We can not rely on supplementation if our diet is atrocious! It is akin to bailing water from a sinking boat without first patching the gaping holes!
We should be receiving most or all of what we need from a healthy diet, high in phytonutrients, micronutrients, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Notice I say ‘should’. The average american does NOT. Just 1 in 10 adults meet the minimum requirement for fruit and vegetable consumption. The risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers increases dramatically as fruit and vegetable consumption goes down.
This is a problem with many threads. It is often based on cultural, socio-economic status, and lack of affordability and availability or access to fruits and vegetables . We need to expand access and affordability in our communities and improve educational outreach efforts. Rather than subsidizing giant fast food companies and falling prey to the endless media promoting food propaganda on television and radio, we need to step up our advertising and education for healthier options. Enacting simple changes can potentially reduce Health care costs and the scourge of chronic disease that is lurking in our future.
Of course, personal choice is always involved. We can not deny that we have grown fond of the synthetically engineered, highly palatable food-like substances concocted by food scientists, and recognize how they have hijacked our brains’ reward centers! Standing alone, change is difficult, but even more so because of the addictive nature of foods and the cravings they create. We understand that human nature is not fond of change, and therefore making changes to lifestyle and diet is also a deep dive and multifaceted issue. That is a topic for another discussion and one that I address in my book.
It is also true that agricultural and food manufacturing practices have changed dramatically. Our genes have not. The types of ‘foods’ we have access to now are quite different than 75-100 years ago. While we may not have a shortage of foods in most parts of our country, we have a shortage of nutrient dense foods in favor of calorie-dense, manufactured foods. Our bodies barely recognize much of what we are consuming.
There are very real and verifiable nutrient deficiencies in our population and not just in communities where healthy food is scarce. Deficiencies exist despite most of us having access to food on demand. Many highly processed foods contain added sugar, harmful inflammatory seed oils, chemical flavor enhancers, and other undesirable additives. These are considered anti-nutrients and rob the body of essential minerals and vitamins. Foods are grown in nutrient depleted soils and sprayed with an array of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
Deficiencies are prevalent with the use of alcohol, common over the counter and prescription drugs, which further aggravate many common deficiencies. Symptoms of deficiency are not always readily apparent. Many biochemical and metabolic pathways will be disrupted or halted if certain nutrients are not present to act as co-factors in the reactions. The first sign of trouble may be symptoms of fatigue, frequent infections, headaches, mood changes, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias or breakdowns in some other area or system of the body.
How are these “diagnoses” treated in mainstream medicine? Often with more drugs that bring with them additional health concerns. Unfortunately, in our current medical disease care system we are not looking for root causes or underlying factors that are literally interrupting the body’s ability to heal and function as designed.
What are the common nutrient and micronutrient deficiencies?
Unless your diet is absolutely healthy at least 90% of the time, meaning it is rich in phytonutrient and fiber rich plant foods, and quality protein sources, you may have a nutrient deficiency brewing. In this case, it becomes necessary to understand what the body is lacking and supply it for the body to function optimally. The body has miraculous healing properties when we remove the bad and provide the good.
Here is a short list of the common deficiencies and the potential side effects of deficiency.
- Magnesium: It is estimated that at least 60% of the population is deficient in this important mineral. It is difficult to get enough magnesium from diet alone. Magnesium is a cofactor in an estimated 400 reactions in the body. Magnesium is depleted by sugar, alcohol, caffeine, stress and many common prescription and over the counter medications.
Magnesium has important metabolic functions and regulates our response to stress. Magnesium helps manage insulin levels in the body and can prevent blood sugar and insulin spikes. Magnesium is a big player in blood pressure control, preventing high blood pressure especially when combined with enough potassium in the diet.
A Magnesium deficiency is associated with decreased immune cell activity and an increase in inflammation. Magnesium is critical for proper electrical and mechanical functioning within nerve and muscle tissues. It is a natural relaxant and is helpful for anxiety, muscle cramps, migraines, and insomnia.
What are a few of the symptoms of Magnesium deficiency?
Muscle cramps, anxiety, migraines, high blood pressure, muscle pain ( fibromyalgia), type 2 diabetes, insomnia, and osteoporosis.
2. Vitamin D: This powerhouse vitamin functions as a hormone, having body wide effects. Vitamin D supports blood glucose balance, the brain ( mood, memory and cognitive function), the cardiovascular system, the skeletal system ( increases calcium absorption strengthening bones), the muscular system ( increases muscle strength) and the immune system. There are over 70 clinical trials underway worldwide looking at the role of vitamin D to prevent and treat covid-19. A recent study reported that 82% of people hospitalized with severe covid infections were vitamin D deficient compared to 47% of controls in the general population. A major study conducted in 2017 involving over 11,000 patients showed Vitamin D supplementation protected against upper respiratory infections.
It is challenging to obtain adequate vitamin D by diet alone. Exposing the skin to sunlight is your best bet however if you are over 50, have dark skin, or are obese you are less efficient at producing Vitamin D.
What is the correct dosage of vitamin D? Dose should be determined by your doctor after a blood test called the 25 hydroxy vitamin D test. If you have not had one lately, you can request one at most labs.
3. Co-enzyme Q10 is the important anti-oxidant produced in the body that you may not be familiar with. This is an important cofactor for the generation of energy within energy factories in the body called mitochondria. Levels of this anti-oxidant decline with age and are depleted by many common medications such as statin drugs ( Lipitor_) used for reducing cholesterol. Co Q 10 is an important molecule in every cell in the body and most notably for energy generation in heart, kidneys and brain. Heart muscle mitochondria MUST have CoQ10 to function. Indeed, statin users and heart-failure patients share something in common – they’re both deficient in CoQ10. It has been shown in double blind studies to improve insulin sensitivity, improve glucose tolerance and reduce toxic free radicals. It has demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of migraines and periodontal disease. The active form of Co Q10 is called Ubiquinol, and is much better absorbed.
4. Omega 3 Fatty acids ( DHA, and EPA) are the anti-inflammatory fatty acids our body requires for healthy cell membranes, normal communication between cells, healthy brain function, normal platelet function, healthy blood vessels and blood flow, and the regulation of harmful blood fats such as triglycerides. Omega 3 fats can target inflammation and neutralize free radicals that lead to aging and disease.
Our diets consist largely of omega 6 fats which are pro-inflammatory. All processed foods and fast food establishments use industrialized seed oils such as canola, corn, sunflower and soy. These polyunsaturated fats ( PUFAs) increase inflammatory cytokines and free radicals, accelerating the aging of membranes and tissues. Free radicals are damaging to vessels and impair circulation to the heart, and brain and increase the risk of obesity, stroke and diabetes. Omega 6 oils must be balanced with omega 3 fats to prevent the disastrous inflammatory effects on muscle, bone, blood vessels, the heart, liver, kidneys and brain.
Support your cardiovascular and nervous system appropriately with an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich diet and the use of purified omega 3 (EPA & DHA) supplementation.
Of course there are many other potential deficiencies not listed here, and these are based on the current state of health and symptoms. Specific recommendations for nutrients are based on certain conditions. For example, osteoporosis requires many different nutrients for prevention, management and reversal. Type 2 diabetes is often reversed with a combination of proper diet, supplementation and lifestyle changes.
For prevention of infections such as covid, and the multitude of other respiratory viruses we are exposed to, certain nutrients such as N-acetyl Cysteine ( or reduced glutathione- a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier), Vitamin C ( therapeutic doses) Zinc and Quercetin ( an anti-inflammatory plant flavonoid) which acts as a zinc ionophore, have already proven to be highly beneficial.
In addition, each person is genetically unique and many of us have something called SNPS, or Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms. SNPs are common genetic variations where one piece of DNA is altered from its original copy. These tiny amino acid base pair changes can impact the way the body produces energy and whether the body can detoxify itself and even how it responds to stress, drugs and foods. We are truly unique so our diet and any supplementation should reflect these differences. True health care is not “one size fits all.”
The real magic pill we are seeking, the one that will reduce a tremendous amount of chronic disease can be found at the end of our fork. Getting our nutrition right is crucial, supplementation is available to round out the deficiencies that may be present from our unique genetics, drug or toxin overload and finally, to mitigate the side effects of living an increasingly stressful lifestyle.
There is much we can do to support our health, prevent disease, and bolster our immune system. We do not have to accept sickness as our fate. We deserve better. This is a valuable mission and undertaking that is worthy of our understanding and attention.
I am delighted to announce that My Amazon bestselling book, Staying Healthy, Living Longer- 7 Powerful Principles for a Healthier You! is the WINNER of the 2021 International Book Award for the Healthy aging over 50 category!
It is available on Amazon: https://amazon.com/dp/b08vc6pywj/
Available on my website and also at Barnes and Noble and Independent book sellers.
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#healthydiet #chronicdisease #healthylifestyle #nutrition #supplements #bestseller #physicaltherapy #functionalmedicine #diabetes #highbloodpressure #obesity #weightmanagement #
Can you guess the first foundation for creating optimal health?
What is the number one driver of inflammation, disease, and immune deficiencies? I will offer a hint. It is something you may not think about, yet you engage in this behavior 3 times a day! Of course it is the food you are eating!
When I initially see a patient or client who is experiencing joint pain or muscular aches and pains, I will perform a thorough exam of the joint structures and surrounding muscles. I will look for, and usually find imbalances of soft tissues and areas of excessive restriction or functional weakness. I look for imbalances in the way the joint is being used such as alignment or postural dysfunctions.
The second investigation I undertake which ranks just as high in importance, is the person’s nutritional state. Are the foods they are consuming pro-inflammatory and nutrient deficient or are they anti-inflammatory and provide the essential building blocks for resilience, rebuilding, and repairing? Here again, it is about balance. Optimal well being and harmony for each individual depends on balance; balance in the body, mind, spirit, in nature and in the environment. We should be asking, what is out of balance? Most Americans are consuming far more inflammation promoting foods compared to inflammation reducing foods.
I think you would agree that we spend a great deal of time worrying about many things we can not control, yet very few people focus on what they can control and the most basic and essential foundation of good health, which is diet.
How do I know this is true? You need only look at the exploding number of those with type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease ( heart disease). 70-80 % of these diseases are preventable with dietary and lifestyle changes that reduce rather than fuel inflammation! In this short blog, I will focus only on the dietary component, a very potent contributor to health and disease that IS within our control.
80 % of the Standard American Diet is processed or highly processed food-like substances. If it is coming out of a bag, box or bottle ( unless it is water) it is processed. Processed foods are high in sodium, sugar, chemical additives, preservatives, flavor enhancers, and inflammatory oils and fats. The risk of chronic disease and cancers increase significantly in proportion to the amount of processed foods being consumed.
Here are 7 ideas for making simple, yet powerful changes to your daily diet & building a solid foundation for health!
- Eat, whole foods as close as possible to their natural state. Ditch packaged foods with multiple ingredients. Refuse to eat Genetically modified foods as they are often sprayed with chemical herbicides. Processed foods contribute to the growing burden of toxins our bodies have to deal with and drive up inflammation.
- Eat a predominantly plant-based diet. Fruits, and especially leafy green, non starchy vegetables provide a bountiful supply of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and other compounds we need for energy, metabolism, repair, recovery, detoxification, and optimal functioning of our cardiovascular system, immune system and brain! 2/3 of your plate should be plant based. Yes, that much!
- Reduce the intake of added sugars. For this one you will have to be a food detective. Check all labels for grams of added sugar. Remember that 4.5 grams is about 1 teaspoon. I aim to keep my ‘added’ sugar intake at or below 15 grams per day. Sugar is a sneaky villain and is in most processed and packaged foods, sauces, baked goods, and condiments. It is the number one contributor to body wide inflammation.
- Reduce /eliminate pro-inflammatory oils like vegetable oils, examples are corn oil or soybean oil. Replace oils with olive oil ( for dressings, marinades and light sauteing) and high smoke point oils like coconut oil and avocado oil for higher heat cooking.
- Choose wild caught fish such as salmon and trout ( avoid farm raised), organic chicken or grass fed and finished beef when possible for additional healthy sources of protein.
- Hydrate! A vast majority of people are chronically dehydrated. This is often a cause of fatigue, poor concentration, muscle and joint pain. Your tissues are comprised of 65-80% water. Soft drinks and caffeinated beverages do not help with hydration and can often cause more dehydration.
- Supplementation is often necessary when our dietary choices are less than ideal, and since many of our foods are grown in nutrient deficient soils. Most will lose many nutrients during shipping and processing. If you are taking medications for any condition or if you are under stress, you are depleting many essential nutrients your body needs for maintaining normal function and detoxification. One simple example is magnesium which is essential for over 350 chemical and metabolic reactions. Stress, a high sugar and processed food diet, and medications will deplete this essential mineral. I will dedicate another blog to the supplements I recommend for maintaining health of the heart, brain, and immune system and for assisting in the detoxification of the body.
For now, choose 2 of the 7 ideas above to focus on and put them into action for the next 2 weeks. Then try 1-2 more for the next two weeks. Journal what you notice after one month. Your future health will thank you!
Habits are changed when you discover your ‘why’ and take small positive steps that move you toward what you desire most.
For a more in depth and detailed explanation of how diet impacts your health, and how to change habits, check out my Amazon best selling book, Staying Healthy, Living Longer- 7 Powerful Principles for a Healthier You!
Also available through my website: https://www.mdtherapyandwellness.com, Barnes and Noble and wherever books are sold.
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive-to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”- Marcus Aurelius
“Your body is your most faithful friend…the sacred vessel that holds your spirit. I can think of few things more worthy of your devotion.” – Tieraona Low Dog, MD Center for Integrative Medicine
I have wrestled with the question of why I am witnessing a profound increase in conditions like diabetes, chronic joint and bodily pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, auto-immune conditions, and many other chronic conditions in my patients. Despite being told we have a sophisticated and technologically advanced health care system, we have an undeniable epidemic of chronic disease, that is stealing our health and the health of future generations. Where do we begin, when attempting to unravel the causes for this stark increase?
Over the last year, we have heard almost continuously about the “novel coronavirus.” We have come to fear this invisible enemy.
However, I believe it is not the latest microbe, virus, or pathogen we should be worried about. In fact, the viruses that plagued our ancestors are living symbiotically within, and among us right now. Viruses in particular have been continually mutating and present a moving target for scientists to attempt to subdue or eradicate. Viruses depend on a host to replicate and therefore they do not aim to kill their host.
In earlier times, we had plagues of all kinds and the focus was on creating medicines to eliminate or subdue the disease-causing pathogens. This is what the practice of early medicine was based on and thankfully, it was highly successful. Because of this, we may come to view all viruses and bacteria as disease-causing. The truth is some cause life-threatening diseases, and some do not. Some may actually help us fight other diseases. Many become part of our microbiome, along with bacteria and fungi. We are just beginning to understand the importance of the microbiome in our overall health.
So, in summary, Science will always need to work on advancements in controlling deadly contagious diseases, however, I feel we have neglected the factors that have led to the dire predicament of escalating disease that is slowly and steadily stealing our health and longevity.
The foundational problem lies with Systemic Inflammation and a toxic body burden that creates a perfect internal environment for disease to take root. It is not the latest ‘bug’ that is threatening us as much as it is the fact that we have ignored the internal milieu of the body and have failed to create a healthy internal terrain that resists disease. Unlike the earlier days, when most deaths were caused by microbes, and doctors and scientists saved the day, present-day medicine does not enjoy a successful track record in preventing and reversing chronic disease, the primary cause of death, shortened life spans, and reduced quality of life.
As a health care practitioner and also a patient within the health care system, I have both experienced and witnessed the shortcomings of traditional medical practices. I have taken on the mission of researching the ways we can reduce and reverse this chronic disease trend. What are the practical ways I can positively influence my patient’s health trajectory? I walk this road every day myself and would not ask any of my patients to do what I am unwilling to do.
After many years of clinical experience, education, and enduring countless hours on my computer, I am excited to share that I have published a best-selling book, Staying Healthy, Living Longer- 7 Powerful Principles for a Healthier You!
Using my own health challenges, stories of patients I have treated, and my studies in Functional Medicine I have outlined a framework that can set you on course for a healthier life.
My book will teach you how to:
- Build a Body that Resists disease using 7 time-tested and proven principles, regardless of your age!
- Unlearn the beliefs and habits that contribute to sickness, dis-ease, and lack of fulfillment.
- Gain the tools necessary for healthy eating to reverse disease and attain lifelong health.
- Learn to love movement and reap the rewards of exercise in simple, practical ways.
- Build muscular strength and resiliency and restore your energy reserves.
- Awaken to how you might heal the body, mind, and spirit, which is the essence of true and complete healing.
I believe we can positively affect our healthspan, life span, and the aging process with some simple strategies. Regardless of your present health status, you can make a positive difference if you apply the information in this book.
It is available on AMAZON as a paperback, hardcover, and Kindle download. For a limited time during the launch period, Discounts are available! Please share with family and friends!
You can also find it through my website: mdtherapyandwellness.com
To your healing, health, and peace.❣
DO you know which diet has been studied extensively for its health benefits?
Can you name which regional foods have proven in repeated studies to reduce heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and even chronic pain?
The diet consumed by those who live near the Mediterranean sea has earned the reputation of reducing inflammation, improving diabetes, reducing the incidence of heart disease, obesity, and even reducing chronic pain and the bone-thinning of osteoporosis. This mostly plant-based diet boasts many benefits. See the illustration below.*
With Valentines Day, right around the corner, now is a wonderful time to think about heart health. Take a moment to consider how your diet, sleep quality, stress levels, emotional state, relationships and connections, are nurturing your heart health. Do your self care activities need a boost? What can you improve?
I believe nutrition is a key element in preventing and even reversing many of the chronic lifestyle diseases we have come to associate with ‘normal’ aging. Aging is an accumulation of inflammatory insults that are brought about by our environment, lifestyle, stress, toxins, and the diet we consume.
3 times per day we have an opportunity to fuel health, vitality and longevity or fatigue, disease, and premature aging, simply by the foods we consume.
Next week I will discuss, Osteoporosis, just one of the many conditions, like heart disease, that have been shown to benefit from the Mediterranean diet. I invite you to learn what the latest studies and evidence are suggesting on how to prevent, manage and reverse bone thinning and frailty. You can sign up for the class “Building a Strong Skeleton, A Holistic Approach to Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis“, and attend at home through ZOOM. You may sign up at http://www.grandlearning.org/
In my soon to be released book, Staying Healthy, Living Longer, I discuss the critical decisions we make, all within our control, that significantly impact our health, energy levels, and quality of life as we get older. In my book, you will learn powerful, yet practical tools to slow the aging process and reduce body-wide inflammation. The Mediterranean diet is one important piece of the ” lifestyle medicine” we must adopt if we are to avoid the normal increases in inflammation as we age.
Pre-Order my book on AMAZON at a discounted rate for a limited time! http://amazon.com/dp/B08VC6PYWJ/
Below is a useful Infographic from Shapeable that clearly illustrates just some of the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore
Make it a healthier day! ❤ Contact me: https://mdtherapyandwellness.com
*Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet:
Image via: ShapeAble
Image via: ShapeAble
Exciting Update on Book Launch!
Regardless of how you have classified this past year, “good”, “terrible” or somewhere in between, it is now for all of us, in the rear view mirror. The infamous year, 2020, is in the history books and we are now about 2 weeks into a New Year. As humans we have always looked forward to new beginnings and a fresh slate on which to construct a better way. What is your vision and hope for this year?
We can only thrive when we have hope and trust that our actions will move things in a positive direction. We may not be able to control many things that are happening all around us, but we can control our thoughts and actions.
Now more than ever in my career, I am seeing a genuine interest among people, in building better health and reducing the chances of disease. Despite this, I am also seeing now more than ever, increases in physical pain and ailments like back pain, neck pain, and muscular pain. What is contributing to the rise in chronic pain in general?
There is no simple answer for this. What we do know is that since the arrival of this virus, people are experiencing heightened levels of stress, anxiety and fear. There have been increases in consumption of sugars, alcohol, and processed, comfort foods with concomitant decreases in exercise, positive social interactions, and outdoor recreation. Can this unfortunate combination of conditions increase inflammation and with it, the bodily response of pain?
I believe it can. Let me explain just a couple of the mechanisms at work, so we can focus on solutions.
- Diet is the number one cause of systemic inflammation, which is the precursor to disease and pain. This is an undisputed fact. Processed foods, are notoriously high in inflammatory omega 6 fats like the seed oils ( corn, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, soybean…) and low in anti-inflammatory omega 3 oils such as avocado and olive oils. In addition, processed foods have an abnormally high content of sugar and simple carbohydrates. Sugar and it’s counterparts, brown rice syrup, and corn syrup are inflammatory to cells, causing a rapid rise in insulin, promoting insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. Many of these foods are void of nutrients, cause nutritional deficiencies, and yet are high in caloric density.
2. Exercise and Muscle Building activities are Anti-inflammatory and provide a host of countless benefits. Exercise is a potent outlet for stress reduction, release of toxins, oxygenation to the tissues, improved lung and cardiovascular capacity, and improved function of mitochondrial cells ( our energy manufacturing cells) and therefore energy production. Exercise enhances mobility, strength and bolsters the immune system, provided it is not a prolonged or extreme intensity. Exercise, especially when outdoors in the sunshine, improves mood, stress coping skills and reduces pain perception. Strength training enhances how joints function, reduces the strain on the joints and often prevents or halts the progression of arthritis.
3. Stress, you will often hear me say, is the Unofficial Grim Reaper. What does this mean?
Unabated, chronic stress and worry pack a perilous punch of lowering the immune system, ramping up inflammation, increasing the incidence of insomnia, and escalating chronic pain and disease. Need I say more? Our perception of the events that are occurring around us gives rise to a physiological response by the body. If our interpretation of events is negative, resistant, critical, angry, or feeling victimized, the resulting biological response will be elevation of blood pressure, elevation of blood sugar, activation of the fight or flight mechanism, and reduction of immune disease fighting cells.
Many of us are living in the future or past and are precariously perched on the edge of our worries and fears. The brain is designed for our survival and therefore fear and worry may easily be our default mode. Our minds are the first frontier to conquer if we are to be successful in any area of our life. Our minds will offer up many thoughts in the course of a day, we don’t have to believe them all. Although difficult, we can choose the thoughts and beliefs that move us in a positive direction.
If you are finding that your health goals are off to a slow start or if you are feeling mentally or physically unprepared to tackle the habits and behaviors you need to succeed, you are in good company.
Here are 5 simple ways you can move toward a healthier future and manage pain significantly better.
- Move. Exercise, even if it to simply get outside and walk. Perform body weight exercises, or work out with resistance bands or weights. Since many gyms are closed, this will be challenging, but you knew that already. Do it anyway. Even if 10 minutes twice a day is all you can do.
- Meditate. Start and end the day with 5-10 minutes of mindful breathing and visualization. Perhaps include a meditation like the loving kindness meditation. Many studies have demonstrated that meditation is highly effective for chronic pain, especially when exacerbated by stress. It changes the structure and function of the brain by decreasing activity in the fear brain and brains’ pain processing center.
- Nutrition first. This must be a priority! Reduce inflammatory sugars and omega 6 inflammatory oils. Stop eating nutrient void, dead, processed foods from a box or bag. Instead, eat lean protein sources and increase vegetable intake. This is not a diet, it is a decision. Watch your motivations for eating, often they will circle back to an emotional state. Understanding this is the first step to over ruling it.
- Stay hydrated. Our organs, tissues, discs and cartilages are 60-80% water and we require adequate water for normal functioning of our cells and detox organs. Dehydration contributes to pain and stiffness.
- Sleep, Rest, Relax. Seems easy enough but for many who find themselves in the midst of challenges, or experiencing pain, it is far from easy. Sleep is restorative to the body and reduces pain. You have to move your nervous system away from ‘fight or flight’ or the state of sympathetic dominance, toward the parasympathetic state of ‘rest, repair, and digest’. If you want to feel your best, you MUST make sleep and relaxation a priority! For starters, turn off all electronic devices at least 1 hour before bed. Stop watching the news, which is designed to hijack your fear brain and cause rumination and anxiety. Create a space that is conducive to sleep and relaxation. Use your favorite music track, nature sounds, essential oils, a cool, dark atmosphere, a weighted blanket, centering meditation and/or prayer or a warm bath of Epsom salts. Find something that is most comforting for you, that promotes peace and tranquility.
Be kind and gentle with yourself as you embark on change. Small steps, repeated consistently over time, reap BIG results. Every new day is a gift that we are given. We get to choose how to show up.
I am excited to announce that my new book, Staying Healthy, Living Longer 7 Powerful Principles for Living Longer! will be released within the month. This book will deconstruct the mysteries of why we are tired, overweight, in pain, or simply not feeling our best. You will learn the tools you need to transform your health and achieve a longer, healthier life!
You can pre-order my book NOW! (with discounts) at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08VC6PYWJ/
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Happy Fall, and joyful season of Thanksgiving! Today is Halloween, a day for maximizing Treats and minimizing Tricks! This Blog is a continuation of my blog of October 24th on building strong bones for life.
Today, I will outline 2 of the most critical strategies for you to implement today to reclaim your bone health and stay strong, regardless of your current status and age!
To review, Here is the short list of the many factors that contribute to osteoporosis and low bone density. These are the ones that we can control.
- An Inflammatory diet,- Sadly, what most of us are eating; along with
Poor nutritional status or nutrient deficiencies ( Mineral deficiencies, Vitamin D….)
- A Sedentary lifestyle and inadequate weight-bearing exercise; loss of lean muscle, also called Sarcopenia
- Excessive soda or alcohol consumption
High-stress levels ( increased cortisol)
- Leaky gut, food sensitivities, and Celiac disease.
- Certain Medications
- Hormonal Imbalances
First, let’s dive into Nutrition and our Inflammatory Standard American Diet (SAD)!
Trick #1 It would not be an exaggeration to say that many of the foods we eat should scare us! Food manufacturing giants have mastered the science of creating fake, highly palatable foods that stimulate the “bliss point” in our brains and hijack our pleasure and reward centers. Many of these foods are high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats and are designed to be addictive in nature.
Sugar is one of the most inflammatory and acidic foods we can eat. Excessive amounts of added sugar is a problem for our bones, not to mention just about every other bodily system from our heart, and blood vessels to our brain.
Processed foods contain large amounts of added sugars, as well as many other unsavory, and down right toxic substances that are harmful to our bone health.
If we are to win the battle of our bones, we must break our addiction to sugar and processed foods that are so prevalent in the SAD. I know this is bad news.
So, what should we eat for healthy, strong, fracture resistant bones?
Treat #1 Nutrient dense, bony building Foods! Foods to include in a bone healthy diet: Plenty of green vegetables, fruits in moderation, adequate protein in the form of lean, grass fed meats or high omega 3 fish such as wild salmon, and sardines.
Foods high in calcium and magnesium are natural winners. Foods like swiss chard, collards, bok choy, spinach, almonds, sesame seeds and chia seeds are great sources of calcium, magnesium and many phytochemicals and anti-oxidants needed for warding off bone loss, increasing alkalinity in the body and reducing inflammation. Win-Win!
What about dairy?
Current scientific studies no longer support the consumption of large amounts of dairy for bone health. In one of the largest studies of our time, The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, it was concluded that women who drank 2 or more glasses of milk per day had a 45% greater risk of hip fractures compared to those consuming only 1 glass per week.
I want to emphasize that building a healthy skeleton requires much more than simply calcium. In fact, you need at least 18 other nutrients to build healthy bone! Taking calcium as a supplement in isolation of these other nutrients can actually be harmful. Two nutrients that are instrumental to building bone are Vitamin D and Vitamin K2.
Vitamin D as cholecalciferol or D3, is more biologically active than D2 or ergocalciferol. D3 enhances the uptake of calcium and phosphorous into the bone and stimulates osteocalcin, an important protein in bone. Osteocalcin acts as a “glue” that helps calcium bind to the mineral matrix of bone, resulting in stronger bones. So, you can be literally marinating in calcium but with out D3 and other nutrients you will not absorb it. D3 is also a super hero for our immune system.
K2 also has an important role of activating osteocalcin. K2 keeps calcium out of the arteries and in the bones. K2 also stimulates the bone building cells called osteoblasts.
My next favorite topic for maintaining strong bones and overall health is Exercise!
Treat #2 EXERCISE Like your bones depended on it! Because they do!
Of course, if your remote control has gotten more of a work out than you have, and you haven’t exercised in awhile or have other health conditions, you will need to be cleared by your doctor.
In a nutshell, without sufficient bone loading exercise ( weight bearing and weight lifting) you can do everything else right but will lack the sufficient stress needed to build bone mass.
As we age the natural tendency is to lose lean muscle. That is, if we do not take the deliberate steps to keep muscle strong. When we do not intentionally work at building muscle we will begin losing it fairly rapidly, and this is termed “Sarcopenia”, which literally means “poverty of flesh”. This increases your risk of osteoporosis, frailty, falls, and fractures.
Regardless of your age, you can maintain and even build strong muscles that last a lifetime, it has been proven in numerous studies. If you already have low bone density like osteopenia or osteoporosis, it is not too late. I was able to reverse osteopenia in my spine and hips with lifestyle and dietary changes.
Bone growth will only occur when large muscles contract and place direct stress on our bones. Any exercise that loads the large muscles of the hips, legs, core, back and shoulder girdle can ward off bone loss and even reverse bone loss that accompanies sarcopenia and aging. Some examples are walking, squats, high intensity resistance training, and sitting to standing exercises.
In summary, osteoporosis is evidence of “body wide” inflammation and dysfunction caused by many factors, most of which are within our control.
This blog and the last are a short introduction to building strong bones and reversing low bone density conditions. I cover Osteoporosis, and how we can stay healthy for life in my soon to be released book, Staying Healthy, Living Longer, 7 Powerful Principles for a Healthier You!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me: https://mdtherapyandwellness.com
Thanks for reading! 😊
It’s that wonderful time of the year for pumpkin-flavored everything, ghosts, ghouls, and skeletons decorating our living spaces! With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it might be fitting to dedicate a blog to “Building a Better Skeleton” and what we can do to ward off the “scary trends in our bone health.”
Let’s get the scary news over with first.
To start with, we have a serious problem with bone thinning in the United States. The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that at least half of the U.S population over the age of 50 has osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis) or osteoporosis.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates 54 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis and low bone density conditions, and if this trend remains unchanged it is predicted to increase to over 64 million by 2030. Those who sustain a hip fracture due to osteoporosis have a 15-20% mortality rate due to complications, while those who survive, less than half of them will regain full independent function.
OK, now for the good news.
What if I told you that your bony skeleton was designed to remain strong for your lifetime? Could it be that what you believe about aging and bone health is oversimplified and no longer scientifically accurate? Yes, both statements are true!
I have spent the last few years, learning what the science is saying about maintaining strong, fracture resistant bones as we get older.
I am excited to say that I have dedicated an entire chapter to the condition, Osteoporosis in my soon to be released book, Staying Healthy, Living Longer, 7 Powerful Principles to a Healthier You! due to be released this January 2021.
This blog will give you a quick peek into the primary factors affecting whether you will have strong, healthy bones as you age or be part of a growing population of those diagnosed with bone thinning, osteoporosis, or frailty.
Bone density is measured most commonly with a special kind of x-ray called a DEXA scan. This stands for Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry. The DEXA can will give you a number called a T-Score.
For those not familiar with the terms, Osteoporosis, literally means ‘porous bones’ and is diagnosed when a bone density scan T-score measures a -2.5 or less. ( more negative). Osteopenia is when a T score is -1.0 to -2.5. This is considered early-stage or ‘pre-osteoporosis”. Anything over -1.0 ( less negative) is considered normal bone density. A T score is calculated by comparing your bone density to that of a 25-30-year-old or those who should be at “peak bone mass”.
I want to mention here that the time to start thinking about your bone health is when it is the last thing on your mind. Early childhood. Building healthy bone early in life is an insurance policy against loss of bone in adulthood.
A bone density or DEXA scan is recommended for all those in menopause especially when risk factors are present. An important point to remember is that a T score is a snapshot of what has already happened to the structure of your bone and is not a current picture. In other words, It tells a story of what has already occurred and not what is occurring.
Bone mass as represented by a bone density ( DEXA) scan, does not directly translate to bone strength or the bone’s ability to resist fracture under normal daily stress. Many other variables must be considered.
Also, it is important to note that these scans ( T scores), look only at the quantity of bone and not the quality of bone. That is an important distinction that must be understood. You can have a lower bone density, yet have strong and resilient, fracture-resistant bones, or a higher bone density and have older bone that has not undergone reabsorption, that is prone to microfractures and failure.
Normal bone is a living, dynamic tissue. It responds to the stress placed upon it ( weight-bearing loads and resistance training) by strengthening and increasing its density and resiliency. It also responds to nutritional factors, body-wide inflammation, hormonal factors, gut health and even mental-emotional stress.
Normal bone undergoes remodeling as do all tissues. Old bone is reabsorbed by the body by specialized cells called Osteoclasts and new bone is laid down in its’ place by cells called Osteoblasts. Many factors affect these cells and the rates of remodeling, reabsorbing, and rebuilding.
Let me begin by stressing that Osteoporosis, like many chronic and progressive conditions, is not an isolated disorder. Bones exist within bodies and therefore, Bone health is highly reflective of general health.
What are the risk factors for Osteoporosis? Risk factors can be divided into “Fixed” and “Modifiable.”
There are some “fixed risk factors” that we have little or no control over. Such things as having a smaller body frame, being female, early or surgical menopause, and prolonged steroid use for an auto-immune disorder, and history of a family member with an early bone fracture.
However, many of the factors that increase our risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture are modifiable, lifestyle factors. These same modifiable, lifestyle factors are in play for many of the chronic diseases of our time. They share common pathways, therefore, bone thinning can indicate the presence of other health conditions.
Does Osteoporosis have symptoms or early warning signs? Rarely, but there are some subtle clues. One of the hallmark signs are changes in posture. In therapy I look for a rounding of the upper back. There may also be loss of height, periodontal disease, and loss of grip strength.
Here is a short list of the many factors that we can control.
- An Inflammatory diet,- what most of us are eating
- Poor nutritional status or nutrient deficiencies ( Mineral deficiencies, Vitamin D….)
- A Sedentary lifestyle and inadequate weight-bearing exercise; loss of lean muscle, also called Sarcopenia
- Excessive soda or alcohol consumption
- High-stress levels ( increased cortisol)
- Leaky gut, food sensitivities, and Celiac disease.
- Certain Medications
- Hormonal Imbalances
In part 2 of this short blog, I will focus on just two of the many factors that are controllable or modifiable; nutrition, and exercise. I will briefly discuss ways of preventing bone loss, building healthy bone with diet and exercise, as well as preventing falls and fractures.
“Having Healthy strong bones for life, is possible and starts with what you are doing right now.'”Tweet
We are in chaotic and uncertain times. There is a wave of expanding collective anger and pain that is palpable.
It is an understatement to say we are all being challenged to salvage some sense of peace when confronted with social and political unrest entangled with financial, personal, and health worries. I have seen a great deal more emotional stress, headaches, neck pain, back pain, and overall bodily discomfort in my patients. It is never too long that emotional pain becomes physical pain.
We seem to have hit a pivotal point in society where hatred, destructive dialogue, division, anger, and blame are at an all-time high. Civility, kindness, acceptance, and love are strangely absent. Today and every day, we have a choice to make.
The news and social media are the platforms for expressing this discontent and anger. It has morphed into a means of spreading fear and mistrust or canceling anyone who thinks differently from us. Name-calling, ridiculing, and brandishing opinions as though they are Truth and fact has become a common thread perpetuating this growing anger and unrest.
We seem to have lost the ability to have intelligent conversations with those of differing opinions and beliefs, insisting that others who believe differently than us are “wrong”. There is vehement push back, resistance, self-righteous attitudes, and defiance when our beliefs or opinions are challenged or not accepted as universal Truth. Our ego tells us that if perhaps we shout loud enough we will change the minds of those who think differently. We instinctively know and have seen historically that this is false.
It becomes easy to bully, belittle, dehumanize, and lump groups of people into ‘categories’, as if to ‘shield’ ourselves, simply because they think differently than we do. This is a form of bullying. In doing this, we are perpetuating the negativity, anger, hate, and division that is already escalating. We have now become part of the problem.
The news and news media have always portrayed the lowest common denominator of human existence and is designed with one objective in mind: to activate the portion of the brain ( Amygdala) that creates fear.
More than ever, news media and social media bombard the fear brain, inciting anger, divisiveness, and “me against them” thinking and mistrust of others. This promotes a stress response in the body by upregulating our “fight, flight, freeze, and fear”, Sympathetic nervous system. This is our built-in survival mechanism however, it is not meant to be responding every day, all day to perceived ‘threats’. The consistent hyperarousal of this nervous system is responsible for many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, compromised immunity, depression, anxiety, muscle tension, chronic pain, and insomnia.
I sat quietly this morning in solitude considering the choices we have and the lessons we can learn during times of testing.
We have a choice to reduce the amount of time we spend watching the news or engaging in the various forms of social media. Setting time controls and boundaries can go a long way toward restoring our inner peace. Those who watch the most news, experience the greatest levels of anxiety.
We have a choice to disengage when someone is choosing to express vitriol, name-calling, personal attacks, and other bully tactics. There is no place for this in any relationship or even when expressing our views on a social platform.
We can make a choice to refuse to be offended, as carrying an offense and being easily offended brings the heavy burden of resentment and bitterness, stealing our health, peace, and joy. When we are easily offended our rational brain is hijacked, and our emotional and fear brain is in the driver’s seat. We are essentially giving our control over to someone else, allowing them to influence our reactions and remarks. We may strike out in defense as I have seen countless examples of those who have said they “Can’t be friends with someone who votes for so and so, or who believes such and such.”
We can choose to have an open mind and hold space for duality; simply understanding that two very different ideas can co-exist at the same time while understanding that there is rarely one truth that summarizes a complicated issue. As Steve Jobs has said, “Have strong opinions loosely held.”
We can choose to allow a larger perspective, as pettiness and insisting we are right, cancels our joy, and contracts our world. We need people with other viewpoints to expand our thinking. We don’t have to change our minds but new knowledge can expand our minds if we are secure enough to receive it.
We can choose to have healthy boundaries especially with those who for whatever reason, are angry or abusive. We may have to take inventory of the types of interactions we engage in, protecting ourselves as needed. Distancing from toxic relationships may be necessary if boundaries for decent behavior are not respected. Those who attack or hurt others are often experiencing pain themselves, we can have empathy. Empathy builds resilience.
We can choose to focus on the good that we can do; how we can contribute our energy positively to the greater good or a cause that is important to us. Other questions we can consider: What can I do to lift up myself and others? What is within my control and what is not? How are my underlying beliefs and prevailing thoughts contributing to my unrest, worry, anxiety, and stress? Ultimately, it will be our health that is negatively impacted.
We can choose to make peace our primary goal. If we can cultivate ways of choosing peace, safeguarding peace, and residing in a place of peace, despite external circumstances, we become a very powerful agent for change. Developing healthy habits that protect our peace of mind, may mean limiting the time we spend watching or engaging with news and social media. Instead, we can use our time to listen to soothing music, take a walk in nature, express ourselves in a journal, play with a pet, pray or meditate, or simply breathe.
We can choose to nurture our faith rather than our fears. This is not an easy task at times such as this, but this is precisely when it becomes most valuable.
” When you judge another person, you do not define them. You define yourself…When you respond with hatred to hate, you’ve become part of the problem which is hatred, rather than part of the solution, which is love. Be a person who refuses to be offended by anyone, anything, or any set of circumstances.” – Wayne Dyer.
This above quote by Dr.Wayne Dyer holds tremendous wisdom. Indeed, It is a very difficult call for us to uplevel our responses in a time of chaos and uncertainty. If we can achieve it now, it will be a skill that we can turn to, again and again during other trials.
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have perfect peace. In this world, you will have tribulation and distress, but be courageous and filled with joy, for I have overcome the world.”- John 16:33
We have merely one day within the calendar year dedicated to reflecting on gratitude, yet it has been my discovery that gratitude is one of the most powerful shifts we can make toward greater health and happiness. This one day that centers around food and football hardly seems sufficient given that gratitude is the antidote to so many of the ills that plague us as humans and within society.
In the vast majority of people that I see in the clinical setting, it is easy to see that much of the human race drags through long and sometimes tiresome days filled with more obligations and demands than our time, energy and patience can withstand. Others are challenged on a daily basis with illness, pain or failing health. This time of the year is particularly hard for anyone who has endured a loss of any kind, be it a loved one, a job, or their health. Psychologists recognize that the holidays are understandably difficult to navigate when we are missing a loved one. I agree it seems to require superhuman ability to muster gratitude even while feeling a deep sense of loss.
Despite all of this and every good reason to the contrary, our challenge is to develop a spirit of gratitude, despite our current state of affairs. Can we allow our pain and gratitude to co-exist, holding space for both? I believe we must.
For many of us, gratitude is an afterthought reserved for occasions when we receive good news relating to something we hoped for that comes to pass for ourselves or our loved ones. The birth of a child, a new job opportunity or a good health report from the doctor are experiences that easily promote a sense of gratitude.
The true test of character is what we do in moments of pain or disappointment. It is human nature to take for granted the simple blessings we all have and instead to focus instead on what is lacking or what we feel we are missing in our own corner of the world.
The rise and popularity of social media have created a false sense of deprivation and a sense of entitlement.
We view the lives of others through a make believe lens of perfection seeing only the grandeur of their experiences and then proceed to evaluate our own lives based on this highlight reel.
Gratitude can only arise from a present moment acceptance and contentment. Regardless of the current situation, we find ourselves in, gratitude says, “I accept what is”. “It is enough”, and affirms what good can be gleaned even from our disappointment or difficulty. Whenever we are in ‘non-acceptance’ of anything, it is nearly impossible to be grateful.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”- 1 Thessalonians 5:18
There is scientific evidence supporting the health and psychological benefits of cultivating a grateful spirit. We create our biological internal chemistry with our thoughts and therefore a simple shift in our thinking and how we view a situation can have a significant impact on our health. Research strongly suggests that focusing on gratitude can improve our heart health, our emotional and our physical wellbeing.
Similar to a garden that must be tended to, our minds need to be pruned of the weeds of criticism, judgment, blame, lack, and inadequacy. Since all life abhors a vacuum, while we prune these tendencies, we need to replace them with continual thoughts of thanksgiving and a redirection of our focus to our blessings. We must actively and mindfully shift from focusing on what’s wrong with something, and an attitude of rejecting or defending, to one of acceptance and appreciation. Gratitude alone packs the power to open the channels of health, abundance, peace, and joy.
You cannot be simultaneously angry and grateful, nor can you have a critical spirit and a grateful one at the same time. I challenge you to try.
A spirit of gratitude must be cultivated and practiced daily, even multiple times a day, in order to become our nature and part of our personality.
Today, as we prepare for the upcoming holidays with many obligations and distractions, I will encourage you to invest time in two simple activities that can strengthen your gratitude muscle. The activities like bookends to your day, involve spending time developing gratitude at the start and ending of each day.
Before you get out of bed in the morning, intentionally and visually in your mind’s eye, remind yourself of at least 5 things for which you are thankful. Be as specific as possible. Allow the warmth and peace that accompanies those feelings to blossom, and linger there, savoring them for a few moments. Writing them down is even better as the mind responds strongly to our written words.
Lastly, Reserve the last 10 to 15 minutes of the day to quiet the mind and review the day. If there were any circumstances or situations that you encountered that were less than favorable, ask what you could learn from them. Reflect for a moment on what they can teach you and open up your heart and mind to receive whatever that lesson might be. Then, once again direct your mind to the present moment and reflect on all of the good in your life, reminding yourself that you have much to be grateful for even in the midst of any turbulent or difficult times.
These two simple practices may not be easy at first. Unless you are a naturally grateful person, your mind will gravitate to what is wrong or lacking and will tend to reject what you are suggesting and insist on grumbling instead. Continue anyway and persist in reciting all that you have to be thankful for.
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.”- Maya Angelou
Lastly, I wish all of my friends and family bountiful blessings of health, peace, and joy!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your tribe.
Join me for a brand new class offered in 2020 entitled: “7 Keys to Managing Pain and Disease and Living ‘Younger’ Longer.”
Date and Time: February 18, 2020, from 1-3 PM @ Grand Learning, SunCity Grand, Surprise, AZ
Also, for the Thanksgiving holiday, I am offering additional savings for all supplements purchased through Fullscript. Formulations that are condition-specific for osteoporosis, and arthritis and for general health and wellness using the link below.