Sleep - The Unconscious Workout

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Sleep - The Unconscious Workout

sleep - The unconscious workout

May 16th, 2016

The equivalent of not sleeping well is like running in the same place but not going anywhere. Oh no wait, I just described a treadmill. Welcome to the workout that doesn't require any squats, weight lifting, or burpees. Besides if you can't sleep, then you don't get all the benefits of that hard work anyway.

Last week I attended the Annual Institute for Functional Medicine Conference in San Diego, California. This year's theme wasn't fancy or complicated. There was no focus on the human genome or the biochemistry of a tomato. Even a non-medical person could have attended and found lifestyle gems to apply to their own life.

It was about going back to the basics. The foundation of what it truly means to live a healthy life. Movement. Fitness. Sleep. Restoration. And how to balance it all. Functional medicine is about getting to the root of disease and to heal from within. This approach to medicine can sometimes get a bad rap due to cost. The high cost of lab tests, office visits, and supplements which insurance doesn’t often cover. It is easy to get caught up in the newest fancy test to determine whether you have leaky gut syndrome or heart disease. While I find these tests to be extremely valuable when I work with patients, when I go to sleep at night I think about the millions of other people who are still suffering.

I believe the day will come when functional medicine is just plain medicine. That it will be accessible to anyone with health insurance and not just those that can afford to pay out of pocket. Until that day comes though, I was reminded this weekend that we already have all the tools and knowledge we need to start living a healthier life. Today.

I usually attend these conferences with a notebook full of new insights to help heal my patients. This time I found myself taking notes just as much for myself. I kept asking these questions. Do I sleep enough? Do I move enough? And if not, why? Intellectually I know all the statistics about why I should eat healthy, sleep well, and move often. That poor sleep increases my risk of heart disease and increased weight around my middle. But how often do I truly practice what I preach?

Most of the time I do the right thing. But I am human. And like you, I too fall off the wagon. I often run into my patients when I’m at the grocery store. While usually my cart is filled with vegetables and lean protein, sometimes a bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips sneaks in there and I literally shield my cart with body lest I be judged.

One of my biggest downfalls is not getting enough sleep on a consistent basis. I decided to be my own doctor and write myself a personalized sleep prescription. To recommit to myself that sleep is a top priority.  To commit to making sleep a restorative and healing ritual at the end of the day instead of falling into bed exhausted.

I physically wrote out my top 3 priorities on my personal prescription pad that I use to prescribe medications to my patients. I taped it to the wall above my nightstand as soon as I got home from the conference. Having it front and center will make me more accountable to stick to my plan.

 
 
Sleep is the 5th vital sign.

When you see a doctor, they usually check your temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and weight. Sleep is just as critical to your health. If we don't get enough sleep, studies have shown we can go clinically insane.

This sleep prescription is universal. Among the top complaints I hear from people is that they don’t sleep well or are always tired. You may need to be looked at more closely by a functional medicine doctor. However, you can start sleeping better tonight with a few simple tips.

 

Your Homework. At your next doctor’s appointment, ask them to write down a personalized sleep prescription for you on their prescription pad. It is important that it is an actual prescription versus some random piece of paper that could get lost in the shuffle of your life. Force your doctor to be specific. For example, adjust settings on your iPad or computer to decrease blue light emissions at night which can suppress melatonin. 

If your doctor "doesn't have time" or doesn't know, I highly suggest to run (not walk) to your nearest functional medicine doctor. 

Want more? Sign up for The Unconscious Workout - The HIIT Workout for Sleep.

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Your Digital Detox Prescription

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Your Digital Detox Prescription

Your Digital Detox Prescription

April 16, 2016

Listen, I think technology is absolutely phenomenal. I honestly can’t imagine my life without it. And I am old enough to remember when email didn’t exist, when I had to go to the actual library to do a book report for school, and only rich people had cell phones.

I also know that technology has a dark side. The constant beeping and notifications that pop-up can put us into constant fight-or-flight mode. This increases our cortisol, the stress hormone, which makes us gain weight around our middle and feel irritated at the slightest inconvenience.

 

 
Offline is the new luxury.

Today, the average American spends more than half of their waking life staring at a screen. MORE THAN HALF. This can negatively impact our relationships with our family, partners, and even ourselves. Our culture has become one big FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that can create a sense of anxiety that we must constantly be plugged in.

During the last year, I have tried to take a 24-hour digital detox at least 1-2 times a month. After each period, I always feel more energized and renewed. My favorite day to do this is Sunday and I completely unplug. I mean no TV, no phone, no iPad, nothing, nada, zilch. The struggle can be harder for some than others.  

 

 
Phone OFF. Life ON.

I found it easier to be successful when I followed these 12 steps.

  1. Choose a day that works for you. Weekends are usually the best.

  2. Choose a time. If you can’t do 24 hours, pick a specific period like 12-4 PM.

  3. Let your people know so they don’t freak out. Set an email  “out-of-office” autoresponder if needed.

  4. If you plan to travel during your digital detox time, plan ahead. Print out any maps, instructions, or recipes you might need.

  5. Before you go to sleep the night before turn off all your digital devices. Put them in a drawer or high place where it will inconvenient for you to cheat.

  6. Set a goal or intention of what you would like to gain from your digital detox. This will help keep you focused because it can feel very unnatural the first few times.

  7. In the morning, go to the local store and grab a newspaper to read along with your morning coffee.

  8. Get out into nature after breakfast. When is the last time you took a walk without your phone? Go alone and appreciate the beauty of nature. Or take a friend to keep you company and reconnect with them without all the usual distractions.

  9. Make a nourishing meal. I have an old school record player that I only play during my digital detox days. Previously it would simply collect dust b/c my natural instinct would be to turn on my favorite Spotify playlist.

  10. Enjoy your meal without watching TV or checking your email. If you are alone, just let your mind wander and really take the chance to taste your food. Maybe even have a small notebook or journal to jot down any brilliant ideas that come to you.

  11. Spend the time you would normally watch TV to relax to read that book or magazine you have been “too busy” to finish.

  12. Commit to the entire time period you set for yourself. I know it’s tempting to want to post the amazing thing that just happened on social media. You can do it later.

 

Did you do it? Was it hard or easy?

Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

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10 Days. 100 Cups. 10,000 Steps.

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10 Days. 100 Cups. 10,000 Steps.

10 DAYS. 100 CUPS. 10,000 STEPS.

March 20th, 2016

Full disclosure: I absolutely, under no circumstances, want to do this. I MUST do this. 

After attending Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within (UPW) conference last weekend, I was fired up and ready to go in every area of my life except for health. Mainly because it is what I do for a living and I already try to practice what I preach. The last day of this 4 day conference was all about health. To be perfectly honest, I half listened as it was mostly review for me. Then I heard Tony's voice in my head "Do you want to be excellent or OUTSTANDING?!" Arrrghhhhhhh!!! 

Time to raise my freaking standard.

So I decided to up the ante for myself. I already work out regularly. I eat healthy, unprocessed food 90% of the time. I have a regular meditation/spiritual practice. Yet the little voice inside me knew I wasn't quite reaching my full potential.

 

10 DAYS

10 days. No processed food. No dairy. No alcohol. No caffeine. No sugar. No way is what you are probably telling yourself right now. I know. It's scary. You can do anything for 10 short days. The cookies will always be there. What if though you felt so amazing after 10 days that you wanted to keep going?! Focusing on what you CAN eat will make the first few days easier.

Since I've tweaked the challenge a little bit, I decided to share for those of you interested...and to help hold myself accountable! Given my functional and integrative medicine training, I didn't completely agree with 100% of the 10-day challenge details. For example, apple cider vinegar can be a great addition to your diet. Most people have too little acid in their stomach to digest food resulting in common complaints like belching and indigestion. Adding a little bit of healthy acid can keep your whole system in balance and in an alkaline state when you are able to fully digest all the nutritious food you are eating.

The only caffeine I will consume is organic matcha green tea. It is low in caffeine and also contains a high amount of antioxidants. You will also see my meal plan is gluten-free and corn-free as those foods can be inflammatory for the body as well.

I have also included prices in the shopping list based on serving size. There is a misconception that eating healthy has to be expensive. Yet nobody blinks when they drop $200 at their local premium steakhouse. My mantra is "You can pay for it now or later." Heart attacks are expensive. Diabetes is bankrupting our healthcare system. I would rather spend an extra $1 for an organic apple than $50K for a heart surgery. You choose.

Supplements. I have been fortunate enough to have had personalized testing done that evaluates my nutritional needs. Above all else, I try to get what I need from food. My current supplements include Vitamin D3, high-dose fish oil, broad-spectrum probiotic, magnesium, and ashwagandha for stressful times.

 

100 CUPS.

I am the worst at drinking water. I carry my water bottle around like an accessory rather than actually using it. This MUST change. I know better. I have read all the studies about how important water is to maintain health yet it still remains a struggle.

For optimal hydration you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily. This is about 64 ounces or 8 cups of water a day for me. I decided to increase my goal to 10 cups a day because I will also be working out daily. To keep myself accountable and on track, I plan to use my Up band by Jawbone which has the ability to track your water intake. I will link it to my idle timer that will buzz every 30 minutes reminding to both move my body and take a few sips.

 

10,000 STEPS.

My usual activity level includes 3-4 workouts a week. When I think back to when I felt my absolute best it was in high school. My norm was practice after school every single day for basketball or track and I felt amazing. Exercise has become something I "should" do instead of an absolute must. No excuses.

My goal is to do some type of exercise every single day for 10 days as well get in 10,000 steps a day. This will also be tracked on my Up band. Right now I average about 4,683 steps a day. You can not improve what you do not measure. It will be a combination of yoga, barre, cardio, and weight training. I also invested in a rebounder trampoline (~$40) to start my mornings off in a peak state while listening to UPW playlist. This part of challenge will probably be the hardest for me! Wish my hamstrings luck.

 

Typical Example Day

MORNING

  • Warm lemon water +/- goji berries while reading daily motivational (and scrolling through Instagram - let's be honest).
  • Rebounder/dance party for 15 min while listening to UPW playlist.
  • Healthy breakfast.

MIDDAY

  • Healthy, robust lunch.
  • Walk outside after eating for 15 minutes.

EVENING

  • Gym class of choice.
  • Healthy light dinner before 8 pm.
  • Dandelion tea (great for allergies and liver detox) for a nightcap or this.

Want to join me?

Let's do this together.


UPDATE!!!

April 3rd, 2016

I finished the 10 day challenge a few days ago. After a day of pure indulgence - including coffee and truffles - with my feet going nowhere near a gym, I missed it. There were definitely days when it a pure struggle to reach my 10,000 steps because my whole body was sore and it was already 9 pm. Pushing through what you think are your limits and reaching your goals was the biggest lesson I learned. That truly anything you desire is possible if you are willing to grind for it. I know it sounds cliche but that is because it's true! 

The hardest part ended up being the 10 cups of water a day. Usually I would end up drinking only 5-8 cups - which was still a HUGE improvement compared to my pre-challenge habits.

 

Top Insights

  1. After taking a day off, my muscles actually ache to move and I miss my daily workouts. My moods were more stable and my energy levels remained high when I made the time to work out every day.
  2. My skin is glowing, soft, and hydrated even though I didn't reach 10 cups every day. Water is better than any high priced moisturizer on the market.
  3. I did not lose any weight (and I don't need to - skinny girl problems!). However, I did feel less "puffy" and could tell the biggest difference around my eyes. I think the average person would lose at least 5 pounds on the challenge and probably more.
  4. I love coffee. I need coffee. It brings me great joy and comfort. I will balance out its acidity by continuing to eat 7-9 servings a vegetables a day but I just can not give it up completely.

 

Spring is the best time to cleanse as it is the transition of the seasons. Your body naturally wants to shed the winter blahs, be more active, and eat healthier. So go ahead and challenge yourself to eat healthier, hydrate your cells, and move your body. Grab a partner because most things are better in twos. I promise you won't regret it!



 

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A Place at the Table

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A Place at the Table

A PLACE AT THE TABLE

February 28th, 2016

What is a food desert?

“Food deserts” are geographic areas where access to affordable, healthy food options (i.e. fresh fruits and veggies) is limited or nonexistent because grocery stores are too far away. Food deserts may be under-reported because the North American Industry Classification System places small corner grocery stores (which often primarily sell packaged food) in the same category as grocery stores like Kroger and Whole Foods.

Individuals living in the lowest SES (social-economic status) areas have 2.5 times the exposure to fast-food restaurants as those living in wealthier areas. Many people living in food deserts depend on fast-food restaurants for their meals. Food insecurity has a high correlation with increased diabetes rates. In Chicago, the death rate from diabetes in a food desert is twice that of areas with access to grocery stores. Even our government has recognized this crisis. First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity has a goal to eradicate food deserts by 2017. An investment of $400 million has been dedicated toward this initiative, which will provide tax breaks for supermarkets that open in food deserts.

Want to get involved?

Check out A Place at the Table documentary and website.

Do you live in a food desert?

Even in Cincinnati, there are communities who don’t have access to healthy food. If you have ever been in the Kroger located in Over-The-Rhine, you know what I am talking about. Their produce section alone is quite abysmal, yet this is the only option available for some people have for healthy food.

Food Desert Locator

All is not lost though. We have fantastic options in our local area as well as national companies that can deliver food right to your door. Food delivery services have been trending the last few years with a marked increase in activity and availability in almost every major city. There is NO excuse not to healthy anymore. The biggest critique is the cost of these food delivery services. However, try adding up the time it takes for you to make your list, find recipes, and drive to the grocery store. These companies have already done all the hard work for you and often have nutritionists and doctors making sure you get a balanced, nutritious meal.

It can also eliminate food waste which another huge issue in our country. Although we often have the best intentions, many times our unused and rotted produce ends up in the trash. Most of these services leave you with enough leftovers for lunch the next day!

The other benefit is preventing recipe fatigue. We often end up making the same 4-6 dishes which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Exposing your palate to new vegetables and recipes can increase your confidence in the kitchen and make you healthier at the same time.

FOOD DELIVERY OPTIONS

LOCAL

Green Bean Delivery - Free delivery of organic produce and natural groceries. Multiple bin options available depending on family size. Get delivered to your home or work.

HealthSavor - Organic, meal delivery service with gluten-free and vegetarian options. They also have a wonderful catering service for your next office lunch.

NATIONAL

Plated - One of the first meal delivery services they offer flexible subscriptions and the ability to filter meals based on your preferences (gluten-free, vegetarian). No commitment required. Ingredients are pre-measured to eliminate food waste. Excellent recipe cards in case you want to make a recipe again.

Purple Carrot - If you are vegan or want to try a plant-based diet, this service is for you. Co-founded by Mark Bittman, a NYT columnist and food advocate. Options for family or a 2-person household.

Factor 75 - The 75 comes from the notion that “75% of your fitness comes from what you eat”. All dishes on the rotating daily menu are organic and hormone-, gluten-, soy-, and GMO-free.

Daily Harvest - Like smoothies but no time to prepare? They deliver organic frozen, pre-measured, and ready-to-blend whole ingredient smoothies with superfood add-ons in delicious combinations.

GoodBites - Raw and organic superfood snacks for when you need a little extra boost. Sign up for a personal subscription or get an office box!

Thrive Market - Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. Thrive is like a Costco for healthy food. It’s organic, non-GMO products that you probably already buy at deeply discounted prices. There is an annual subscription fee but most people will save much more with regular use.

Have you tried one of these services already? Let me know what you think in the comment section below!

Resources:

Originally published at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

 

 

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MTHFR Decoded

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MTHFR Decoded

MTHFR DECODED

February 1st, 2016

The success of the Human Genome Project has opened the possibility to test for disease on a whole new level. Our body has over 50 trillion cells. Each cell contains DNA, i.e the instruction manual, to decode what that cell should do. Short segments of DNA are called genes which code for specific proteins that instruct our body’s organs and tissues. Humans have about 20,000 genes.

Within our genes we also have genetic mutations called SNPs (pronounced "snips"), or single nucleopeptide polymorphisms. This is when certain alleles in our genes get switched and make an altered protein which can create havoc on the body. For example, a SNP may replace the nucleotide cytosine (C) with the nucleotide thymine (T) in a certain stretch of DNA. SNPs occur normally throughout a person’s DNA and most have no effect on health or development.

What is MTHFR?

The MTHFR gene stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase and is one of the most popular SNPs in our population. Most people have two copies - one from Mom, one from Dad.

The two most common mutations are C677T and A1298C, which denotes the placement of the mutation on the gene. Depending on whether you are homozygous (double mutation) or heterozygous (single mutation) determines how aggressive the protocol is to counteract the mutation.

Why is it important?

You are not alone. Up to 40-70% of the population have this genetic mutation. This gene controls how efficient the body's methylation of folic acid and other B vitamins. It’s important because methyl-folate plays a role in almost every aspect of the body. People with a mutation have a reduced ability to convert folic acid to it’s activated or methylated form. Researchers have linked it to an increased susceptibility of heart disease, depression, colon cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, autoimmune disease, and recurrent miscarriage.

A mutation is associated with higher levels of homocysteine, which is a marker for inflammation and heart disease. Elevated levels of homocysteine also contribute to nutrient deficiencies in vitamins folate, B6, and B12.

Methylation 101

Methylation is simply detoxification and is involved in almost every system of the body.

  • Helps your liver detox fats
  • Keeps inflammation in check
  • Assists neurotransmitters that influence mood, behavior, and sleep
  • Cleans heavy metals and toxins from your body
  • Repairs your cells and tissues

Should I get tested?

The cost of genetic testing has plummeted in recent years. The price range can be from $50-$300. Once you know your status, it never has be tested again. If you do get tested, make sure your physician is testing for both of the mutations, C677T and A1298C. 

What happens if I am positive?

If your doctor determines you have a genetic mutation, consult them for a personalized supplement plan. Also, there are other detoxification and methylation genes that you may need to get tested.

Every individual with a mutation can benefit from these general guidelines.

  1. Repair your gut. If you have any signs of leaky gut syndrome or yeast overgrowth, you probably aren’t absorbing nutrients properly.

  2. Check your supplements. You should be taking a methylated form of folic acid.

  3. Get rid of mercury. If you have any mercury amalgams, check your area for a biologically trained dentist to get them removed.

  4. Eat more greens. Pile your plate with leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard to get natural sources of folate.

  5. Get your homocysteine measured. You could also have a deficiency in B12.

Want to learn more? Check out theses resources.

  1. Dr. Ben Lynch
  2. Dr. Amy Yasko
  3. MTHFR.net
Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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Exhausted to Energized

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Exhausted to Energized

EXHAUSTED TO ENERGIZED

December 1st, 2015

Do you find yourself exhausted for no reason? 

Often the holiday season is filled with additional stressors that many of us struggle with to find a healthy balance. It has been ingrained in our society as this inevitable condition with severe consequences if left unchecked. An unavoidable reality and necessary evil that is apart of everyday life.

The overwhelming belief is that stress can make you sick. We see people everyday who suffer from a condition called adrenal fatigue. It is true that chronic stress can have a huge impact on our hormones and has even been scientifically linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Treatment options from neurotransmitter support, medications, acupuncture, and energy healing can aid in supporting this damaging type of stress..

What if going from exhausted to energized was as simple as changing your mindset? 

Health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal PhD, has turned how we THINK about stress upside down. Her mantra: Change your mind – change your body’s response to stress. She emphasizes that our stress response has a built-in mechanism for resilience – human connection. How you think and act can transform your experience of stress. A summary of her latest research is below.

Three Beneficial Types of Stress

  1. Challenge response – this type of stress helps you to rise to the challenge in a variety of situations like exercise, an academic exam, or a difficult conversation. It can increase your motivation and help you focus in a way that is different from the fight-or-flight response.
  2. Tend and befriend response – associated with increases in the hormone, oxytocin, which can decrease inflammation. This is the tendency for us to seek out friends when we are stressed or the positive stressful effects of parenting or caring for an aging parent. Women experience this more likely than men to have this type of stress response since estrogen enhances oxytocin.
  3. Growth response – This is a newer concept that stress can increase the neuroplasticity of your brain to help you learn from your experience. Research calls it the “stress index” of stress hormones (cortisol, DHEA) that can predict if you will be strengthened by a stressful experience.

Make stress your friend.

  1. Recognize your own natural capacity to thrive when under duress.
  2. Embrace your stress response instead of fighting – from sweaty palms to fitful sleep. Try to stop our natural tendency to want the situation to be something other than it currently is.
  3. Release your “shoulds” – I shouldn’t be stress out right now. I should be a better parent. I should be a better boss/co-worker. This only ramps up the harmful aspects of stress.

Learn more by listening to Dr. McGonigal’s TED talk watched by over 9 million people. Dive deeper with her books The Upside of Stress and The Willpower Instinct.

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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The MIND Diet

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The MIND Diet

THE MIND DIET

September 1st, 2015

The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet was recently published in a study done by the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. It is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to StopHypertension) diets. The results show that adherence to this diet can significantly lower a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease by 35% even if only followed moderately.

Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of people with currently no known cure and is devastating for patients as well as their families. Research has focused on being able to prevent or slow progression of this disease, mostly with medications, while this recent study showing promising results in how important diet is for brain health. Evidence has also shown that the health of the brain is closely linked to cardiovascular health. It makes sense that a diet that was originally designed to reduce blood pressure also has significant effects on the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease is also a triple threat in many ways – no definitive effective therapy, rapidly increasing incidence, and enormous health costs to provide care for patients. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and more research is vital to provide effective therapies for this condition.

The MIND Diet

It contains 15 dietary components – 10 brain healthy foods and 5 unhealthy foods. The MIND diet includes at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with one glass of wine. It also involves snacking most days on nuts and eating beans every other day, poultry and berries at least twice a week, and fish at least once a week.

The diet limits eating the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three).

Brain Healthy Foods – green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine.

Unhealthy Foods – red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

Of note, the only fruit included in this diet are berries, which are exceptionally high in antioxidant nutrients which is key for protecting the brain from free radical damage leading to diminished cognition.

ApoE Genetic Marker

Often called the Alzheimer’s gene, ApoE, is actually a protein that transports cholesterol into the bloodstream. Everyone inherits one type of allele – E2, E3, or E4 – from each parent. The combination of your alleles determines your genetic risk for Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

E2 – Protective. (~10-20% population)
E3 – The most common. (~60% population) No increased risk.
E4 – Increased risk. (~20-30% population)

Genetic risk factors are also a small part of the picture. Knowing your status can help you and your doctor determine how closely you should structure your food sources around The MIND diet.

More research needs to be done in this area to validate the results with additional randomized trials in a variety of populations. Ultimately, food is more important than your genetic predisposition. So eat real food, not too much, and mostly plants.

References:

http://www.alzheimersanddementia.com/article/S1552-5260(15)00017-5/abstract

https://www.rush.edu/news/press-releases/new-mind-diet-may-significantly-protect-against-alzheimers-disease

http://www.alz.org/news_and_events_facts_figs_told_diagnosis.asp

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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Detox Your Lymphatic System

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Detox Your Lymphatic System

DETOX YOUR LYMPHATIC SYSTEM

August 1st, 2015

Lymphatic System 101

The lymphatic system is one of the most important undercover systems in our body. This system works in coordination with our cardiovascular and immune system to aid in circulation of our interstitial fluid. It is also considered an essential part of our circulatory system. Lymph nodes are the primary “organs” that comprise the lymphatic system, with up to 700 throughout the body. There is no pumping mechanism, like in our heart, to keep things flowing smoothly. The pressure created from the movement of our muscles keeps fluid flowing smoothly.

Benefits of Detoxing Lymphatic System

The main function of our lymphatic system is to cleanse toxins from our body and protect against invaders by carrying waste from our tissue to the bloodstream. It is comparable to a toilet that automatically flushes – it collects all the wastes from the cells in our body so that they don’t accumulate and cause disease. These toxins are filtered through the largest lymphatic tissue, the spleen, which is our main immune system defense. Some conditions associated with dysfunction of the lymphatic system include cellulite, swollen glands, arthritis, lymphedema (swelling of the legs), and other chronic illnesses. Below we list some ways to make sure your system doesn’t get “backed up”.

Therapies

1. Lemon water

The lymph system is composed of about 95% water, which is why it is essential to stay hydrated. You should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces daily. Squeezing lemon into your water will speed up the detoxification process since it is an alkaline fruit.

2. Lymphatic massage

This is a special form of massage targeted towards your lymph system. It is very light pressure as the system is mostly superficial with specific movements to stimulate the system. Studies have shown it can vastly improve circulation and aids in pushing waste back into the bloodstream. We have a certified massage therapist at our center if this sounds interesting to you.

3. Dry brushing

This is an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine practice and is commonly taught in Ayurvedic medicine. Take a coarse, dry bristle brush and brush your legs, arms, and torso in the direction of your heart. This assists in the movement of lymph and blood which will help clear out built up toxins. Bonus: It also gets rid of dead skin cells!

 

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

 

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The Emperor of All Maladies

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The Emperor of All Maladies

THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES

July 1st, 2015

Cancer has affected all of us – either personally or someone we know at work, school, a friend, or family.

Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, PhD, was originally written in 2010, and is a Pulitzer Prize winner and bestseller. As the author states, it is a “biography of cancer” and attempts to answer the questions: “Is cancer’s end conceivable in the future? Is it possible to eradicate this disease from our bodies and societies forever?” ~ expert from book

The movie by the same title recently debuted on PBS in April 2015 as a three-part documentary.

“Cancer wants to live, at the expense of your entire body and your entire being,” says Dr. Suzanne Cole, an oncologist. “It doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t care if you’re a mother, or a husband, or a daughter, or if you have four children. It doesn’t care. It just cares about itself.” ~ expert from documentary

History

This documentary highlights one of the longest wars we have fought as Americans – 75 years and counting – and the gains and losses at every turn. Interspersed with real patients vignettes and heartfelt interviews with physicians who struggle to make the best decisions, it takes you on a journey of how we came to fight cancer today. Ken Burns does an amazing job of capturing all of it in an entertaining and engaging format.

The Cost of Cancer

The film only touches briefly on the exorbitant costs of these groundbreaking therapies. This topic could have been its own separate film given how this is often a key factor in a life-or-death situation. It does present a telling graphic on how pharmaceutical companies are making huge profits from people who are fighting to save their lives. And how we are one of the only countries who operates in this manner.

It also fails to highlight any potential bias toward recommending certain treatments based on a doctor’s or medical institution’s research interests or how research is financed outside of big corporations like The American Cancer Society. To delve into this darker side of medicine would have been an interesting twist.

Moving Forward

Although we have made tremendous strides to fight this often deadly disease, by the end of the film it is clear we have just tipped the iceberg for therapy options. Twenty years from now, our current standard therapies will probably seem almost barbaric. We are on the brink of exciting breakthroughs that will change the face of cancer for us and the future.

Read the book or watch on PBS for free via your computer, laptop, or mobile device.

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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Alleviate Allergies Naturally

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Alleviate Allergies Naturally

ALLEVIATE ALLERGIES NATURALLY

April 1st, 2015

Seasonal allergies are rampant this time of year. They affect up to 50 million people a year. As we welcome in spring flowers we also invite in pollen and grasses. Below are some tips to help reduce your allergen load.

  1. Acupuncture – Ask your doctor for a specific acupuncture treatment to boost your immune system and open your nasal passages to reduce congestion. You can even receive ear studs to constantly stimulate ear allergy points once you leave the office.
  2. AAT – Advanced Allergy Therapeutics is a unique, precision-based,  and highly effective approach in symptoms related to allergies. It does not treat the immune system; instead, the therapy focuses on inappropriate reactions to harmless substances in relation to organ systems. AAT produces rapid, long-term results. Schedule a consult today with one of our specialists.
  3. Supplements – To support your nasal passages naturally, we often recommend Sinu Orega – a natural nasal wash that you would use in place of a Neti pot. It contains powerful extracts of oregano, bay leaf, sage, and clove in a sea salt base that can expertly clear a stuffy nose. Available in our retail store.
  4. Diet – Avoid mucus producing foods like dairy which make secretions thicker. Other foods like chocolate and caffeine can contribute to dehydration which can also make mucus secretions thicker. Also you might be reacting to specific food allergens that your body is reacting to which increases nasal congestion. Food sensitivity testing is available to determine what specific food allergies you may suffer from.
  5. Environment – As a part of spring cleaning our home, pay extra special attention to certain areas. Dust off vents, high ledges and behind dressers. Replace pillows and wash blankets that were in heavy rotation this winter to reduce exposure to dust mites.

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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SIBO Explained

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SIBO Explained

SIBO EXPLAINED

March 6th, 2016

SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth, is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the lining of the small intestine resulting in a “leaky gut”. When our gut is working normally, as we digest food the bacteria gets transported along to our large intestine to be eliminated. If this system is disrupted and bacteria is leftover in the small intestine, we may begin to see these signs.

10 Signs of SIBO

  • Abdominal bloating/gas
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anemia
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • GERD/nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Skin rashes
  • Depression
  • Food intolerance
  • Weight gain/loss

Testing

There is no perfect test and a diagnosis can often be made from a patient’s history and symptoms.

Hydrogen breath test – the gold standard. Breath testing measures hydrogen and methane gases produced by bacteria in the small intestine that have diffused into the blood. Patients drink a sugar solution of lactulose (distal overgrowth) or glucose (proximal overgrowth) after a 1-2 day elimination diet removing likely food triggers like sugar and carbohydrates. Interpretation of the results from doctors vary widely and no universal standard exists.

Dysbiosis test – It tests the by-products of yeast and bacteria to determine overgrowth in the small intestine. A simple urine collection is all that is required.

Comprehensive stool test – A functional medicine test that determines levels of gut inflammation, diversity of gut bacteria, and pathogenic yeast and/or bacteria.

Treatment

There is a four-pronged approach to treatment, commonly known as the 4R therapy in functional medicine.

  1. Remove – Avoid common food triggers like gluten, dairy, corn, and sugar which increase inflammation in the gut.
  2. Replace – Add back essential ingredients that have been depleted like digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid.
  3. Re-inoculate – Reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria with a high dose, broad spectrum probiotics.
  4. Repair – Heal the leaky gut lining with amino acids like L-glutamine and herbal supplements like aloe vera, berberine, and marshmallow root.

We recommend working closely with a functional medicine doctor to determine your personalized treatment plan if you are suffering from any of the above symptoms.

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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Wellness Trends to Watch in 2015

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Wellness Trends to Watch in 2015

WELLNESS TRENDS TO WATCH 2015

January 1st, 2015

We compiled a short list of our favorite wellness trends to watch for in 2015. Pick one (or two) to make 2015 your healthiest year yet!

1. Food as personalized medicine.

The idea that “one diet fits all” no longer holds true. Nutrigenomics is the science of using your DNA to personalize a food “prescription” that determines which foods are best for you and what nutrients you may be deficient in.

With the popularity of such companies like 23&Me and Pathway Genomics, the idea that you can prevent or reduce chronic disease simply by what you put in your mouth appeals to the masses. We are way past sequencing our genome and jumping into the land of how that information can help improve health and prevent disease.

Even prominent healthcare centers like Cancer Treatment Centers of America are now using our genome to create target therapies for aggressive cancers. Stay up-to-date with the latest news with Genome magazine (free subscription).

We recommend working with a integrative medicine physician and nutritionist to wade through all the data should you choose to do testing.

2. Activated charcoal is the new detox superstar.

Move over coconut oil and make room for this in your wellness pantry. Charcoal is now being used in everything from skincare products to juices.

Our favorite way to use it is as part of a physician-guided cleanse to aid your gut in removing harmful toxins. It works by binding toxins as it passes through your GI tract before you have a chance to absorb them. Keep in mind it doesn’t discriminate and can also absorb nutrients. This is why it is best taken away from other supplements and medications. Discuss with your doctor if you plan to add this supplement to your regime.

Ingesting charcoal not your cup of tea? Try adding it to your toothpaste. It acts as a natural teeth whitener!

3. Functional medicine goes mainstream.

The Cleveland Clinic, one of the most renowned medical centers in the country, in conjunction with The Institute for Functional Medicine recently announced the opening of their new Functional Medicine Center this past fall.

Functional medicine is a systems approach to the body designed to get to the root of a disease. “It’s different from the model that says, ‘here’s a pill for every ill,’” says Dr. Jeffrey Bland, considered the father of functional medicine.

At Alliance Integrative Medicine, we have been practicing functional medicine for the last 15 years with many success stories. If you are looking for a functional medicine practitioner in your area, click here.

4. Wearable Technology 2.0

This is one of the fastest growing wellness industries in 2014, thanks to companies like Jawbone and Fitbit who have produced our first generation of wearable technology. Currently used mostly to track your steps and monitor your sleep via devices worn on your wrist or clipped to clothing.

Next year, you might have the choice to wear them hooked around your ear or in a pair of glasses. They will also become more sophisticated in terms of tracking wellness information that would be useful to your doctor like blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and respiratory rate.

We have yet to see if these devices actually change behavior and positively impact the rising obesity numbers in our country but this industry is going nowhere soon.

5. The Doctor Is In - Your Computer

Telemedicine will continue to gain traction in 2015 as people look for more convenient yet personal ways to connect with their healthcare professionals. From Google Hangouts to companies like HealthTap, it can not only save you gas money but even potentially save lives by quick access to healthcare.

With prices often competitive to your usual co-pay, this is an attractive option to many. The jury is still out on how the government and insurance companies will be involved in terms of regulations and keeping your health information private and secure.

6. Bone broth - the new coffee?

Bone broth may replace your morning coffee. Made popular by fans of the Paleo diet, it has many health benefits regardless of which diet you follow. This trend started in New York City with Brodo, a take-out window that delivers your bone broth in a coffee cup. Get recipe for Turmeric Bone Broth Latte.

It is easy enough to make your own at home. Not only does it support your immune system given the high concentration of minerals, but it also contains collagen which is key for healthy skin, hair, and nails.  If you suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome, a cup a day can help to heal your intestines and reduce chronic diarrhea or constipation.

7. Sugar is the next gluten.

Trans fat, dairy, and gluten have all had their time in the limelight as the villain of foodstuffs. Sugar will be the next thing to add to your list when checking the ingredients and nutrition labels. Since it comes in all different shapes and sizes while existing in healthy foods to favorite desserts, it can be a tricky thing to avoid.

Excessive amounts of sugar can not only lead to diabetes but increases inflammation, causes premature wrinkling of skin, adds inches to your belly, contributes to brain fog, and much more.

While most of us know that sugar isn’t good for us, we often still consume enormous amounts. Awareness is increasing with documentaries like Fed Up, released last year, that showed how truly disruptive even a tiny amount of sugar is to our bodies and advocates like Dr. Robert Lustig who has touting the evils of sugar for years.

Look out for companies to start advertising how low their products are in sugar in 2015 and beware of marketing claims. Struggling with sugar cravings? Check out Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar guide to weaning off the white stuff.

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

 

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Boost Your Immunity Now

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Boost Your Immunity Now

BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY NOW

November 5th, 2014

5 Steps to Stay Healthy All Winter Long

This list of natural remedies keeps our staff and families healthy throughout cold and flu season.

1. Avoid simple sugars as much as possible. This includes all desserts, pastries, and sweet treats but also refined grain products like pasta and bread. When your body eats certain grains it turns into sugar in your body. Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for up to 4 hours after being ingested.

2. Drink plenty of fluids, especially warmer liquids. Winter can be a challenging time to stay hydrated with dry air inside and outside. Drinking herbal teas like ginger and Echinacea may support your immune system and keep you hydrated. Try to avoid concentrated fruit juices.

3. Add Vitamin C and Zinc. Most of us are aware of the immune benefits of Vitamin C. Combine this with zinc for your next plane trip or party to avoid catching a bug. We recommend ImmuCore, which contains Vitamin C, zinc, and mushroom extracts – available in our retail store.

4. Add warming spices to your meals. Keep your kitchen stocked with garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon to add to your meals. These foods have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties to help you fight that cold if you get one.

5. Take Vitamin D. Adequate levels of Vitamin D are essential for optimal immune function. This is nearly impossible to achieve during the winter months without supplementation. Get your levels checked and supplement to reach ideal blood level of 50-75 ng/dl.

Bonus Tip: Add a mushroom extract and probiotic supplement for an extra immune boost!

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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Detoxify Your Home With Plants

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Detoxify Your Home With Plants

DETOXIFYING YOUR HOME WITH PLANTS

July 22nd, 2014

As the weather warms and the days get longer, thoughts tend to turn toward our gardens and lawns. Bringing the outside in can have profound effects on our health. On average, Americans spend about 85-90% of our time inside. Indoor air pollution can be just as bad or worse as outside according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Indoor plants provide essential oxygen to our cells while also cleansing our bodies of toxins. How does this happen? Plants literally soak up the toxins in our home instead of us inhaling them. This has been a brutal winter to say the least with many of us cooped up inside our homes to avoid the brutal cold. With our furnaces turned on high, this dry heat continually circulates dust and other particles that could be harmful to us. Protect yourself all year round by adding one of these detoxifying plants to your space.

  1. Areca Palm: The Living Room Plant – It removes CO2 and converts it to oxygen. Recommended to have 4 shoulder height plants per person.
  2. Mother-In-Law’s Tongue: The Bedroom Plant – Removes CO2 at night while we are sleeping.
  3. Money Plant: The Specialist Plant – Removes formaldehyde and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) from the air. These chemicals are often present in our furniture, mattresses, paint, and toys.

All of these plants are common and can be found at your local garden store.

Grow your own fresh air this year! It is recommended by NASA research that you should have one plant in a 6-8 inch diameter for every 100 square feet of your home to get maximum benefits. Meattle also recommends that you clean the leaves at least once a week and take the plants outdoors for a day every 3-4 months.

Source: Kamal Meattle – Tedx talk

Reprint in Natural Awakenings Cincinnati March 2014

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The Magic of Butter

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The Magic of Butter

THE MAGIC OF BUTTER

July 2nd, 2014

Have you seen the cover article on the most recent Time magazine? Eat Butter: Don’t Blame Fat states that for decades experts have been touting a diet that has paradoxically increased the incidence of diabetes, obesity, and clogged arteries.

A quick summary of the article highlights these key points:

  1. Cardiovascular disease continues to rank as the No. 1 killer in America.
  2. Type 2 diabetes has increased 166% from 1980 to 2012.
  3. Eating fewer calories and exercising more leads to weight loss.
  4. The type of LDL “bad” cholesterol and particle size number is more important than the calculated number.
  5. All fat is not created equal.

The type of calories you are consuming is much more important than the actual amount. When the food industry started producing low-fat foods, they had to replace the fat with something to make the foods palatable. This turned out to be sugar, which kept people coming back for more. In the last 40 years, our consumption of high fructose corn syrup, skim milk, and corn products has increased astronomically while our intake of beef, eggs, and butter has significantly decreased in an effort to reduce our risk of a heart attack.

This is not a license to go out and eat butter. Rather a call to action to be more mindful of the type of fat you are consuming. Healthy saturated fats like the types found in salmon, coconut oil, and nuts are important foods to include in your diet. At the same time, reducing or eliminating your consumption of refined carbohydrates like bread and corn is key to prevent diabetes and obesity. In the article, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian states, “A bagel is no different than a bag of Skittles to your body.” This was also highlighted in the new documentary, Fed Up, where it states the food industry has been deceiving us for years. It claims that the obesity epidemic is caused by a sugar addiction rather than simply controlling our fat intake. Our center recently took their 10-Day Sugar Free Challenge and encourage you to do the same to learn how your sugar intake is affecting your immediate and long-term health.

Lastly, one of my favorite points of the article is highlighted in this famous quote by Michael Pollan – “Eat REAL food. Mostly plants. And not too much.” If we can follow these simple guidelines, it will lead to a healthier America.

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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How Bee Pollen Could Cure Your Allergies

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How Bee Pollen Could Cure Your Allergies

HOW BEE POLLEN COULD CURE YOUR ALLERGIES

May 12th, 2014

I've always been a sensitive person who's extremely responsive to my outside environment. Growing up, I was the kid who had her own tissue box on the desk so I wouldn’t interrupt the teacher by constantly getting up to blow my nose. While I was able to moderately control my allergies with over-the-counter medications, they left me feeling foggy and tired.

After becoming an integrative medicine physician, I began to seek out natural remedies for allergies. I found dairy to be an important trigger, and by eliminating that from my diet I reduced my allergies by about 80%. Then I started adding herbs (like nettle root), enzymes (like bromelain), and real food (like bee pollen). I can now enjoy the outdoors and warm weather without taking any medications!

I know I'm not alone. It is estimated that about 40 million Americans suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies. If you haven’t tried bee pollen, consider adding it to your diet to become free and clear of your stuffy nose.

What is bee pollen?

It's actually a food. High in protein, as well as other antioxidants and vitamins, it is one of nature’s perfect superfoods. Bees go from flower to flower collecting pollen to bring back to the hive where they create the granules. No bees are harmed in the process of collecting bee pollen from the hives.

How does bee pollen help allergies?

An allergy happens when your body develops an immune response to an allergen, creating antibodies. These antibodies then activate certain receptors on your cells to release histamine, resulting in an allergic reaction (puffy eyes, runny nose, etc). Bee pollen actually reduces histamine, which is the same target over -the-counter medications act upon. It can be effective for a wide range of respiratory diseases, ranging from asthma to chronic sinus infections.

How do I choose the best kind?

Always buy local to ensure you're building up an immunity to the plants in your area. Ask your farmer, or look for a label that states it is mold and pesticide free. Also, try to get a bottle with a variety of colors to make sure they come from different plants, which improves the bee pollen's nutrient profile.

While it does come in pill, powder, or liquid form, it's best to consume the actual granules that the bees make. The granules have a sweet taste and powdery texture that can be used in smoothies, sprinkled on oatmeal or yogurt, or combined with granola.

How do I take it?

Start gradually (½ tsp.) a day and work your way up to 1-3 tablespoons by the end of four weeks. I usually take a spoonful with my breakfast or add it to my morning smoothie. It's best to take with food, especially fruit. The fruit fibers will activate the pollen faster and cleanse your colon simultaneously. Gut and immune health are closely linked in regards to severity of allergies.

If you think you might have a sensitivity to pollen or a history of hay fever, try this simple test. Place a few granules in your mouth and wait 2 minutes. If you experience no symptoms (watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing), chew slowly and swallow. Wait another 24 hours and monitor your body for any symptoms. If you don't experience any, gradually increase as stated above.

When should I take it?

If you have spring allergies, start now! If you have fall allergies, start mid to late June to give your body time to build up an immune response.

How do I store it?

In the refrigerator — sunlight and heat can destroy bee pollen's nutrient value. It should keep well for up to a year if stored properly.

Important note: If you have a history of anaphylactic shock or highly allergic to bee stings, it’s best to avoid bee pollen. If you're pregnant, breast-feeding, or on blood thinners, please check with your doctor before consuming.

Originally posted on MindBodyGreen.

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Omega-7's for Heart Health

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Omega-7's for Heart Health

OMEGA-7'S FOR HEART HEALTH

February 18th, 2014

As we wind down the month of February, we have been focusing on heart health. By now it is common knowledge that taking a quality fish oil is essential to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Adding Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet and supplement regime supports your immune system, healthy brain function, and cardiovascular health. Adding Omega-7 to your supplement regime may help reduce the #1 cause of death in America for both men and women from recent research.

Where do you find Omega-7’s?

The best supplement we have found that combines the anti-inflammatory benefits of Omega-3’s and 7’s is Mega 10 by Metagenics. This pharmaceutical-grade supplement is not available at health food or grocery stores. It is specifically designed to support healthy triglycerides and blood lipids.

Palmitoleic vs. Palmitic Acid

Palmitic acid is a saturated fatty acid that recent studies have shown may have a negative impact on heart health due to it’s inflammatory capabilities. Sea buckthorn, often found in capsules or liquid form, is a combination of unpurified palmitic and palmitoleic acid. It usually has a high concentration of palmitic acid and may not be as healthy as previously thought. Mega 10 contains a concentrated amount of purified palmitoleic acid, designed to remove the inflammatory effects of palmitic acid.

Emerging Science on Omega-7

Recent studies have shown promising results.

  • A cross-sectional study has shown a positive association between circulating palmitoleate and healthy insulin and lipid metabolism.
  • A recent open label pilot study with 16 patients participating in a lifestyle change program and who supplemented with purified Omega-7’s for 30 days showed improvements in triglycerides and both LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Preliminary results from a recent placebo controlled study with 60 healthy patients demonstrates improvements in blood lipids. This further confirms Omega-7’s role in promoting cardiovascular health. (Excerpt from Metagenics)

Learn more from this video.

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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Shed Your Invisible Weight

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Shed Your Invisible Weight

SHED YOUR INVISIBLE WEIGHT

December 4th, 2013

During this time of year many of us stress out about money and traveling to see loved ones. According to The American Psychological Association, money is the number one cause of stress in today’s society. As barren as winter trees appear, sometimes it seems our bank accounts are right in line with this. As the stressors of the holiday season creep upon us, it is easy to over-spend, over-eat, and over-think in an effort to disguise what is actually going on. 

As we try to stuff thick winter sweaters and gifts into our carry-on luggage to avoid baggage fees, what else are we unconsciously stuffing into our bodies, hearts, and minds?

Although airport scales may not be able to weigh it, many of us carry around TONS of emotional baggage that can cost us both financially, emotionally, and physically. It may be our thoughts about money that are stressing us out and not just the actual number in our bank account.

Tips to shed your emotional baggage surrounding the holidays and finances.

  1. Money does not equal security. Yes, it is fantastic to have job security and a regular paycheck. While having enough money to sustain yourself is a PART of security, there are many other factors. What actually brings you security is having a best friend you can call day or night, knowing that your child is safe, and/or the ability to buy healthy food for you and your family. When we place our security in people and experiences, it shifts our stress level down!

  2. Money is simply an exchange of energy. While some people have more “energy” than others, you get to decide what to do with yours. You are responsible for the energy you bring into a room and the same goes for money. Try changing your attitude or thoughts about a resistance you feel when paying a bill or buying a gift for someone and notice how that feels…better? Worse?
  3. More money doesn’t make you happier. Learning HOW to think about money can. Plenty of people make a lot of money at jobs that drain them. Doing work that is in line with your purpose is more important than being profitable. What would you do for free? Often times we grow up thinking that work has to be hard or difficult. Or that we work all day to be able to spend time doing the thing we actually love. What if you could reverse that? Would you be less stressed?

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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The One Secret to Overcome Your Fitness Plateau

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The One Secret to Overcome Your Fitness Plateau

THE ONE SECRET TO OVERCOME YOUR FITNESS PLATEAU

May 30th, 2013

As an avid music lover, it infiltrates every part of my life and certain songs trigger powerful memories from different stages of my life. Whenever I hear “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory I think of my dad and random dance parties in the basement when I was a little girl. Music has gotten me through some of the highest and lowest points of my life. It is a daily part of my everyday routine from what song my morning alarm plays to what inspires me to run that extra mile. No matter what type of music you like, melodies and beats have a universal language on an unconscious level that we can all relate to.

Have you ever noticed your workouts are more effective when you listen to music? Does it depend on the type of music?

Music stimulates various neural pathways in our “ancient” brain that taps into our emotions and memories. The nucleus accumbens is our pleasure center in the brain (controls sex, food, addiction) that is also triggered by music. It also activates the amygdala which is where we process emotion and the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for our decision making and personality. Research also shows that what we blast through our headphones can actually impact our endurance and perceived fatigue. “Before you become aware of the fatigue the music will block out of the sensations of fatigue and effort so you won’t fully notice them” – David-Lee Priest, a music researcher in England.

What seems to matter most are the beats per minute (BPM) of a tune as well as the synchronicity (or rhythm of the bass sound). According to Costas Karageorphis, head of research at School of Sport and Education in London and leading authority on music and exercise, he describes finding a “sweet spot” for your workout. In his most recent study (Journal of Sports and Exercise Psychology), subjects that listened to moderate temp music (BPM ~125) had 15 percent greater output of endurance than those who did not. Previous research stated the faster the music, the more intense workout and better results. Turns out not to be true! To maximize your workout, try to match the rhythm or your heart rate with the music.

BPM Fitness Guide

Warm up/Cool down: 80-90 BPM

Low-moderate intensity: 120-140 BPM

High intensity: 145-160 BPM

Whether you are a cyclist, runner, yoganista, swimmer or all of the above – the type of music you choose can have a profound psychological and physiological benefit on your health. So what are you waiting for? Create your own playlist or borrow mine! (Tangerine! app helps you create custom BPM playlists from your existing iTunes library).

Dr. Tiffany’s Shape Up Playlist

  1. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys – 94 bpm
  2. Everybody Dance Now by C+C Music Factory – 115 bpm
  3. Diamonds (Remix) by Rihanna – 126 bpm
  4. Neurotic Society by Lauryn Hill – 133 bpm
  5. Beat It by Michael Jackson – 140 bpm
  6. Gangham Style by Psy – 134 bpm
  7. Born This Way by Lady Gaga – 131 bpm
  8. Starships by Nicki Minaj – 125 bpm
  9. Hall of Fame by Script & Will.I.Am – 87 bpm

We all like different genres of music that speaks to our soul during certain parts of our day.

What’s your favorite song to work out to? Leave in the comment section below!

Originally posted at Alliance Integrative Medicine.

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