5 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays

1.   Keep to a healthy diet, but don’t obsess
-Don’t go to parties hungry! This will result in way too many appetizers and overfilling of the plate.  Have a healthy snack or smoothie before you go.
-Every meal should consist of half a plate of vegetables. This will keep your digestion moving and lower your calorie count.
-Indulge a little bit.  The holidays are about celebration, so go ahead and have a piece of grandma’s pumpkin pie.  But just one.  Consider prepping yourself with digestive enzymes or taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar before meals.

2.   Move your body EVERY DAY
-Keep to your exercise routine as much as possible.  The holidays are a time for exceptions, but don’t make this one of them.
-Get your family moving!  How about proposing a family walk after dinner? Or a touch football game in the park?  Or joining in on that local 5K run?
-If you can’t get anyone else to join you and you can’t get to the gym, do yourself a favor and do some fun exercises for 20 minutes in your home: burpees, situps, plank holds, jumping jacks, karate kicks, running the stairs, whatever you can think of!

3.       Solid sleep schedule
-Try to maintain a schedule of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.  Optimally, this is from 10pm to 7am.  There will be blips, but make a conscious effort to make this happen!
-Too amped to sleep?  Limit caffeine to 1-2 cups BEFORE noon.  Don’t over-indulge on alcohol, and don’t drink later than an hour before bedtime.
-Exhausted in the morning? Get your cortisol pumping right away by getting in your daily movement!

4.       Mental health time
-This is very important.  Take time for yourself during the craziness.  Spend at least 15 minutes a day on yourself, whether that is meditating, taking a bath, praying, napping or simply walking.
-Take a moment to be thankful for all that you have, every day.  The holidays are a special time for reconnecting with friends and family, family traditions, letting go of grudges, and acknowledging the passing time.

5.       Natural immunity boosters
-Have an arsenal on hand.  Most people could benefit from taking a daily probiotic, vitamin D, and a multivitamin/mineral.  Brands I like: Integrative Therapeutics Probiotic Pearls, Genestra D-Mulsion 1000, and Innate Response One Daily Cap. {I have no financial affiliation with any of those products}.
-Contrast hydrotherapy: alternate hot and cold water in the shower (ex: 1 min hot, 10 sec cold, repeat 3 times).  Always end on cold.  This stimulates your circulation and causes your immune system to fire up.
-Wash your hands! Use soap and water to wash your hands several times per day, especially after being in public spaces and before eating.  No need for antimicrobial soaps, just regular soap is the best!

{Disclaimer: this is not considered personal medical advice, and you should speak with a physician before making diet and lifestyle changes. I’m happy to be that physician; all you need to do is schedule an appointment with me}

Diabetes and Blood Glucose Stabilization

Diabetes is a prevalent condition throughout the world, but is becoming much more so in the United States and other western countries.  The increase is partially attributed to better diagnostic methods, but unfortunately the “western lifestyle” is also to blame.  The CDC reports that 8.3% of the US population has diabetes, and almost 2 million adults are diagnosed every year.

There are several types of diabetes and blood glucose imbalances, outlined below.  Some people do not have a diagnosis of diabetes but are considered pre-diabetic, hyperglycemic, or hypoglycemic.  Much of the information below can be useful for any type of blood glucose disorder.

  • Type I diabetes is an autoimmune condition, often diagnosed in youth.  In a typically short period of time, the pancreas will stop making insulin and the patient must inject it.
  • Type II diabetes is generally more gradual and occurs in adulthood, and is often a result of diet and lifestyle factors. If caught early, it can sometimes be reversed or halted with treatment. Pre-diabetes is the very early stage of this disease.
  • Type 1.5 diabetes is a combination of the above two types.  It often begins in late childhood or adulthood, and has an autoimmune component as well as lifestyle component.
  • Glucose stabilization issues: this is a catch-all term to include hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, episodes of low or high blood glucose.  These are often described symptomatically with dizziness, lightheadedness, low energy, fatigue, decreased athletic performance, and food cravings.  Although difficult to diagnose, diet and lifestyle changes can make dramatic improvements.

Tips for stabilizing your blood glucose:  Diet and lifestyle changes can be incredibly effective!

Physical activity: A mix of aerobic and resistance training is the most effective.  Studies have shown that high intensity interval training works well.  This type of exercise is quick, easy and doesn’t require any special equipment.  Plus, studies have shown that just 150 minutes of physical activity per week lowers the risk of diabetes (that’s only 22 minutes per day!).

Diet:  There are a ton of studies on what to eat and what not to eat with diabetes or blood glucose issues.  I’ve found that it’s not just what you eat, but how you eat that affects your blood glucose the most. These are the tips that I find are most successful for my patients:

  • Follow the anti-inflammatory diet guidelines as much as possible (see last post)
  • Protein, Fat and Fiber at EVERY MEAL!
  • Eat a small portion every 4 hours during the day
  • Do not eat at least an hour before bedtime
  • AVOID: high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, soda, energy drinks
  • MINIMIZE: baked goods, corn, alcohol, caffeine

Nutritional and botanical medicine:  Many individual nutrients have been studied rigorously and determined to be helpful with blood sugar stabilization.  Although most of these nutrients are part of a healthy daily diet, some are notched up to therapeutic doses.  Botanical therapies are used regularly in Naturopathic Medicine.  Discuss these with a physician before beginning;  to find healthy and safe doses tailored to you.

  • Chromium: improves insulin sensitivity, central obesity, and glucose control
  • Vitamin D: Supplementation improves insulin sensitivity and reduces inflammation
  • Magnesium: Deficiency independently associated with the development diabetes. Supplementation lowers fasting blood glucose
  • Botanical therapies: Curcumin/turmeric, fenugreek, bitter melon, berberine/Oregon grape are used to lower blood glucose.

{Disclaimer: this is not considered personal medical advice, and you should speak with a physician before making diet and lifestyle changes. I’m happy to be that physician; all you need to do is schedule an appointment with me}

National Diabetes Fact Sheet.  CDC.  http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/factsheet11.htm

The cost-effectiveness of lifestyle modification or metformin in preventing type 2 diabetes in adults with impaired glucose tolerance. Herman WH, Hoerger TJ, Brandle M, Hicks K, Sorensen S, Zhang P, Hamman RF, Ackermann RT, Engelgau MM, Ratner RE; Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Annals of Internal Medicine 2005 Mar 1;142(5):323-32.

Acute high-intensity interval exercise reduces the postprandial glucose response and prevalence of hyperglycaemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. Gillen JB,  Diabetes Obes Metab. 2012 Jun;14(6):575-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2012.01564.x.

Blood sugar and insulin stabilization. Pizzorno, J. Presentation from 11/2012.

What is the optimal diet?

This might be the hottest health question today, and for good reason.  The human race facing new and worrisome health statistics concerning cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.  These health concerns have been present for generations, but their likelihood is undoubtedly increasing.  The rise of these issues cannot be attributed to one single factor.  The changes to our food system (genetic engineering, pesticides, food importation), air/soil/water pollution, and public health practices are just some of the issues that may be contributing to the rise in these conditions.

So what can you do?  The best things you can do for yourself is to minimize your risk and exposure.  One way to do this is to abide by the Anti-Inflammatory Diet.  There are many versions of this diet, but I have compiled the most evidence-based version for you, below.  If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact me.  Other ways to minimize your risk include using responsible health and beauty products, aiding your body’s methods of detoxification, and maintaining a healthy home (future articles to come!).

{Disclaimer: this is not considered personal medical advice, and you should speak with a physician before beginning a new diet. I’m happy to be that physician, all you need to do is schedule an appointment with me}

Anti Inflammatory Diet HANDOUT