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Nurse Bridgid

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The "new" superfruit

Prunes are basically synonymous with old people and pooping, and that is a tough pill to swallow as a 30 year old!  Before the past few weeks, the only true memory I had of prunes was when my brother and I were younger and went to my Nana's house, my Grandfather was home alone and offered to get us something to drink. What he pulled out of the fridge was a huge bottle of prune juice, an due to the horrified looks on both our faces, opted to forgo the juice and give us water instead.  Now, that I am completely obsessed with prunes, I wonder if my life would be any different if I had accepted that glass of prune juice?  Although, I can't imagine my life being all that different :)

Prunes have a high fiber content (hence the pooping), which we all know, but prunes also have two times the amount of antioxidants as blueberries do.  Antioxidants are important to aid in maintaining health and preventing diseases like coronary artery disease and cancer (the studies are pretty ambivalent, but there is no downside to taking in antioxidants!!) They are also low in saturated fat and cholesterol and full of vitamin B6 and A.

I was watching 'The Pregnancy Pact' on Lifetime (yeah, the premiere...I was all about it) and every commercial break for "natures candy" and I remember balking at it; they could never be as good as candy.  And, whilst not even comparable to chocolate, I look forward to may daily prune because it is super delish and it is a good quick snack that fills me up (when you eat it and drink a glass of water- due to fiber content) and the individual wrapped ones are so easy to throw in my bag so I can have a portable snacky (the most amazing types of snacks!) when I'm out!

Trust me, try them?  You totally won't regret it....and know that you are eating something yummy that is good for yourself AND your colon :)

Yours in good Health


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chocoholics get stoked!!!

Ok, so usually I read these "studies" that are sent to me daily and 90% are total crap and really show nothing super important that will effect my life or my patients in any way. BUT last week (sorry guys I just got around to reading it today) I was sent a study related to chocolate and how it is actually GOOD for you!  This makes my life...I love chocolate and have to have a small nibble daily or I want to eat a bucket of it!!

The study was done using participants who eat chocolate frequently (about 7.5grams/day- a square of chocolate) had a significantly lower risk of heart attacks and strokes versus those who only ate chocolate in small amounts (1gram or less/day).  Cocoa helps to reduce blood pressure, so your risk of stroke is actually more effected, but still both risks are reduced.

The bad news? Milk chocolate lovers...not so much good for you; the higher the cocoa content the better, so dark chocolate is the way to go.  AND, I am not telling you guys to solely consume chocolate at this time, based on this study...because it does have a high calorie content and fats, but if you are craving something sweet, instead of eating a handful of jellybeans (or insert your go to quick sweet snack here) eat a couple of dark chocolate cubes and totally don't feel guilty about it!!

I hope this made your day as much as mine!

Yours in Good Health!


In Honor of Earth Day!

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I am not the most 'one with the earth' kind of person ever born, but I am eating a raw food diet, again, starting May 1st, AND, in general I try to eat organic.  I know that 'organic' has a LOT of different meanings and there are tons of brands that tout organic ingredients, or that fruits/veg are grown organically, but different states/countries have different definitions of what organic farming entails.  

Since I have recently moved, I have been shopping at Whole Foods (Whole paycheck, more like it) and my local organic vegan grocers, which are great, but I still run into the problem that I don't know where my food is coming from, and I don't know that they are adhering to truly organic farming.  When I lived in the UK, I had a great thing going, where I paid this woman 6GPB/week and every Thursday she left a huge sack of veg on my doorstep. Most of the time, I had the usual veggies (potatoes, carrots, beets, some type of lettuce, etc) but then she would put in these veg that I had never heard of.  She would include a little slip of paper that had the name of the veg and a suggested recipe.  It was AMAZING!  I fell in love with celeriac and found all of these cool recipes (some were total busts, but some were keepers) and found a new addition to my diet.  it kept basically every meal exciting because I was trying something new...and it was healthy, and most often yummy.

Long story, short: I found a CSA (community supported agriculture) near me just yesterday, that will do the same thing!  So, even though i live in a city, I will get my organic, LOCAL, farm fresh veg dropped off weekly, and will get new and different fruits, veg, eggs each week.  Some of the CSA's have work requirements, and some are just a shareholders fee.  You can buy a full share, which can feed 2-3 people (I did because I eat a lot of veg, my dogs eat a ton of veg, and I love to entertain) but you can buy a half share and get enough for one person.  So, not only am I doing something good for my body but also I am supporting local farms/local economy, and I can go SEE where my food is being grown. I can see the cows, chickens, etc and how they are being treated before I get the meat. You are encouraged to go check out the farm and get to know the owners; it is a friendship along with a business deal.

So, check out your local farmers and see if they still have room for more shareholders and if you are not interested in committing to a share of a farm (which can run from $400-650 for 22 weeks of fruit/veg/meat), check out each farm and their philosophy, how they grow, what they grow, and see where/when they sell at your local farmer's market and support them that way.

So, I hope that some of you go check it out and help sustain small local farmers AND your bodies :)

Yours in Good Health


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

now that it's warm.....

I love that it is finally getting warm here in New England. The flowers are starting to bloom, trees are blossoming...and now my runs outside require way less clothing, I am coughing, sneezing, and feeling a bit dazed. All due to the dreaded allergy season that is once again upon us. Awesome!

So, allergists always say that the best way to prevent allergy attacks is to avoid the, how, is that possible when we choose to not live like bubble boy?  Well there are various different options, some modern medicine options, and some that are homeopathic/alternative medicine.  I don't happen to think that one os better than the other, with seasonal allergies, whichever alleviates your symptoms and makes you feel better is OK with me!!

So, to start, some people feel rather cranky and irritated but don't realize that they are actually suffering from allergies.  The symptoms can include itchy, watery eyes along with a runny nose, itchy throat, and watery eyes BUT people can also get (very mild)headaches, along with ear popping or feeling fluids in their ears, and sometimes your head just feels..."fuzzy" (as my mother puts it). Some of the symptoms are so mild that people just feel rather BLAH and don't realize that they are suffering from allergies, so they are cranky, when they should be enjoying this beautiful spring season!! The American Academy of Allergy and Immunology report that an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from allergies!  That is astounding!!

What can we do to prevent these issues and live outside the bubble??  Well, the FDA has made it sooo much easier to treat our symptoms with over-the-counter (OTC) meds:
such as Zyrtec and Claritin (for non-drowsy)
 Benadryl (can cause drowsiness)
 Ocu-hist are eye drops 
If you prefer to see your HCP and get a script:
 Allegra, Clarinex, or Xyzal (non-drowsy)
Alestin is a nasal spray
Emadine is an eye drop
Now, if you are congested along with the regular allergy symptoms, for OTC:
 Zyrtec D (non drowsy)
Afrin (nasal spray) **I highly recommend NOT EVER using this product- it can cause more issues than it 'corrects' and can become habit forming*
Visine (eye drops)
Allegra D or Claritin D

There is also the option of allergy shots, where your HCP will administer a series of injections, with small amounts of the allergen that affects you, and your body slowly builds up an immunity to it.  The problem?  Not 100% effective and quite expensive (most insurance plans will not cover for seasonal allergies....some will cover for anaphylactic food/drug allergies, but if it is something you are interested in, it is worth looking in to!!)

So, what are the natural treatments I was referring to?  There is something that has shown great improvement in allergy reduction in clinical trials which is a European herb called butterbur (Petasites hybridus); there were trials done by the British Journal of Medicine and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (which are pretty big in the medical world, FYI) and they showed that patients had decreased hay fever and grass allergies (respectively) without the drowsiness that can occur.  Also, freeze dried nettles and goldenseal have been reported by users to decrease seasonal allergies.  And, the ever-growing-in-popularity nettie pot can help with sinus allergies, by clearing the nasal passages (I have no  personal experience, but have patients and friends that swear by it...I'm thinking of giving it a go, and I will let you all know how it works out!!)  Some HCPs tout the importance of grape seed in combating allergens and Querciten (which is found in red, YAY to all of us red vino drinkers out there!!) which can help to regulate the release of histamines, which cause allergic reactions.  Also, eating spicy foods can thin mucous secretions and help your body clear the allergens faster, so bring on the cayenne, garlic, ginger, jalapenos!!

Also, most allergists recommend an air filtration system at home or at work (if possible) to reduce the rate at which you are exposed to the, when you can control it, do it!!  Also, acupuncture is a great option (also, a lot of insurances are now covering acupuncture- so check it out, and it is worth a try); the American Journal of Chinese Medicine did a small study with 26 patients that had hay fever, and all 26 patients reported a significant decrease in their hay fever symptoms after undergoing just two acupuncture treatments, a follow up study showed that out of 72 patients over 50% had a reduction.

So, however you choose to wage your battle with allergies, remember to start your treatment BEFORE you start getting symptoms (if this happens to you yearly) because it is easier to prevent they symptoms from starting than to treat them once they occur!  Also, be very careful when taking natural supplements and talk to your HCP if you are combining them with any sort of medication, OTC or prescription.  Good luck, and let me know what works best for you, if there is something that I didn't list...I am sure that we will all find it helpful!

Yours in Good Health!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

carcinoma, melanoma....I don't know some kind of "noma" Part II

Basal cell carcinoma is found 3.5 million times in 2 million people in the US alone yearly, which is a 300% increase since 1994 and it is the most common skin cancer. Basal cell carcinomas occur in the top layer of the epidermis.  Basal cell carcinoma IS caused by sun exposure and usually occurs in places that are most exposed: faces (noses!!), shoulders, backs, ears, necks, scalps.  But, they can occur in places that aren't super exposed to sun due to exposure to radiation, chronic inflammatory skin conditions, and complications of burns, scars, tattoos, infections, etc.  Who is at highest risk?  Those of us with light/fair skin and hair, blonde and red hair, blue/green/grey eyes.  Basal cell carcinomas are usually easily treated in their early stages, but they can spread to other areas and metastasize to internal organs requiring major surgical interventions and can even cause death.

Also, once you have a basal cell carcinoma, the risk of recurrence is quite high.

What do they look like?

 An open sore that bleeds, oozes, or crusts and remains open for a few weeks only to heal up and then bleed again. A persistent, non –healing sore is a very common sign of an early basal cell carcinoma. open2.jpg
redish1.jpgA Reddish Patch or irritated area, frequently occurring on the face, chest, shoulders, arms or legs. Sometimes the patch crusts, and it may also itch or hurt. At other times, it persists with no noticeable discomfort.redish2.jpg
bump2.jpgA Shiny Bump or nodule that is pearly or translucent and is often pink, red or white. The bump can also be tan, black or brown, especially in dark-haired people, and can be confused with a mole.bump1.jpg
pink1.jpgA Pink Growth with a slightly elevated rolled border and a crusted indentation in the center. As the growth slowly enlarges, tiny blood vessels may develop on the surface.bccnose.jpg
scar1.jpgA Scar-Like Area which is white, yellow or waxy, and often has poorly defined borders. The skin itself appears shiny and taut. This warning sign can indicate the presence of small roots, which make the tumor larger than it appears on the surface.


Why is this information important to us?  Well, more and more adults in their 20's and 30's have been recently diagnosed with the cancer.  The rate is becoming alarming, and despite knowing the risks of sun exposure, there are so many specifically women (but in light of 'Jersey Shore' apparently a decent amount of men too) that go to tanning beds and expose themselves to high amounts of UV A/B rays to get a little bit of "color", and they look good, but they are putting themselves at an extremely high risk for basal cell carcinoma.

How else can we prevent basal cell ca?

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM (or just limit total sun exposure...if you do, lube up with sunblock!)
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking, that's why big glasses are totally in!!
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day (fair skinned people should probably use SPF 25)
  • Apply sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head to toe every month.
  • See your doctor every year for skin mapping!!
Try using Jergen's face and body self tanner....or Mystic Spray Tan!  You don't have to have that horrible orange glow anymore and you are saving yourself from a future of surgical interventions and skin cancer!!

Yours in good Health


Monday, April 12, 2010

carcinoma, melanoma...I don't know, some kind of "noma" Part I

A common misconception is that melanoma is caused by sun exposure. Not so, my friends, melanoma is related to genetic risk factors such as number of moles present on ones skin( more than 100 is considered high risk), family history, and skin type (us fair skinned folks are at higher risk).  Melanoma is a malignant tumor that first starts in melanocytes which are the cells that  pigment our skin, hair, eyes and they are located in the bottom layer of the epidermis (the stratum basale).  These are the most serious of all forms of skin cancer, in that it is one of the least frequent forms of skin cancer, but has the highest number of deaths per year.  The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2008, there were around 8,420 fatalities in the U.S., 5,400 in men and 3,020 in women. The number of new cases of invasive melanoma yearly is estimated at 62,480; of these, 34,950 will be in men and 27,350 in women.  The good news?  It is 100% curable if found and treated early. The bad? It can advance quickly and spread to other parts of the body and cause massive problems, leading to death.  If you have a family history (direct link- like mom, dad, sibling, etc) you have a 50% higher chance of getting a melanoma than the general population, and even an indirect link (like grandmother/father, aunt, uncle) your risk is increased.

The best way to prevent is to look for the ABCDE of each mole:
Asymmetry: if you imagine a line side to side/up and down through the mole, the sides should match, if not...get it checked out
Border: is the border raised or uneven (scalloped edges)
Color: having different colors in one mole, or the appearance can black, red, blue, or change
Diameter: melanomas are usually larger than the head of an eraser (6mm or 1/4in) but they can be smaller too....
Evolving: has a mole changed in shape, color, size over time?  Is it itchy or scaly sometimes but not always?

A good thing to do is give yourself a look over every month, and if you notice something, go get it checked out.  But, the best thing to do is to go to a dermatologist and get your body mapped.  I will be honest, it is not the most fun MD appointment ever...they literally map every mole/skin difference on your body, and they look in EVERY nook and cranny on your body, but you have the ease of mind to know that it is documented and when you go back in six months (or a year depending) they will compare what you have now to what you had.  if you are anything like me, you'll see something and think "oh, that was there last month....right?" Going to a dermatologist ensures that it is being done properly and it will get assessed and taken care of post haste!!

And, I still expect you all to be wearing sunblock...just because melanoma isn't related to sun exposure doesn't mean that other cancers aren't a direct relation!

Stay tuned for other forms of skin cancer that effect us all, prevention, and how to spot it!!!

Yours in Good Health

Friday, April 9, 2010

how many calories do you need??

I have never been a calorie counter in my life, I don't really weigh myself...I eat a healthy diet, and I totally have downfall nights like last night (Ben & Jerry were calling to me...), and I gauge my weight gain/loss based on my clothes and how they fit.  But, I must say, that I did a boot camp a year or so ago, and the trainer made me calorie count, and he gave me a number of calories that I could eat daily.  Want to know what that number was?  1100.  I was allowed 1100 calories a day.  I was STARVING!  (Just an FYI, someone my size who works out the amount I do, should take in about 1950 calories daily)  He told me that pickles didn't count towards my daily intake, so eat pickles I did. I must say I lost 11 pounds in one month, I also must say that the weight came back on, mostly because when we were done with the weigh-ins, I ate to my hearts content.  That was the longest month of my life, and I was the crankiest girl EVER!!  But, I must say, that actually reading labels, and looking at serving sizes/calories really opened my eyes to foods that I thought were good for me, and they actually weren't so good; they just happened to look like they would be, and were sold at Whole Foods.  It was a really eye opening experience, and while I don't still calorie count, I basically know the calories of what I am eating.  And, I think that it is a good idea to read labels, in general, make sure what you are putting in your body isn't full of preservatives and fillers; make sure you are getting real fiber and whole grains, not a ton of fat/calories, and that you are eating the right serving size.

But, I did find this great tool created by the Mayo Clinic for people to figure out their caloric Remember, that if you are trying to lose weight, you should be increasing your activity level, and decreasing your calorie intake.  I am NOT suggesting that you only eat 1100 calories a day and do over an hour of intense exercise a day, as I did, it wasn't healthy at all, and it all came back in spades! To be successful, your goal should be no more than losing a pound a week, and while you are exercising and lowering your intake, it is important to allow yourself 'cheat' meals...if you are craving chocolate, have some! There is no point in denying your body its cravings, just don't go crazy with them, and try to eat the recommended serving size.  And, I like to justify some dark chocolate, by reminding myself that it has antioxidants, thus it isn't entirely bad for you ;)

Also, I think that it is important to note that people always only equate calories with food, but remember that alcohol and most beverages other than water contain calories (I know that diet soda doesn't have calories, and the like, but I will never advocate for or not, it is horrible for your body and I do not recommend drinking it at all!!).  For example, (approximately) a glass of white wine is 120 calories, a shot of most hard alcohol is 125 calories (mixed with tonic boosts up calories to about 175), and beer has 150 calories (non light).  So, one drink isn't horrible for you, but two or three basically replaces the calories of a meal.  It goes back to eating in moderation, ensure that you are exercising, and try to cut calories where you if drinking plain water is too boring for you, throw in a few squeezes of lemon or lime, or a couple slices of cucumber- it gives it a little zip without adding any calories!

Try to get 25-30 grams of fiber daily, it will fill you up, AND your colon will thank you later in life!  And, there are actually certain foods that help boost your metabolism and/or fill you up so they are great if you are looking to lose an extra few pounds:
-green tea is a metabolism stimulant
-soup has few calories but helps to fill you up and in studies women who ate soup for lunch consumed at least 100 calories less a day
-Grapefruits are packed with vitamin C and fiber, and help to stabilize the bodies insulin levels, thus you curb your hunger
-Apples and pears are full of pectin (fiber) and when eaten with a glass of water can fill you up and be a healthy snack!
-Turkey is a lean meat, full of protein ( a 3 oz serving has only 120 calories and 26 grams of protein- better than chicken!!)
-Hot peppers contain capsaicin which is in jalapenos and cayenne peppers, and it causes your body to release a stress hormone temporarily and boost metabolism
-Oatmeal has cholesterol lowering insoluble fiber (steel cut and rolled oats- stay away from instant, it doesn't have as many nutrients), it's full of vitamins/nutrients, and it allows you to feel full and boost energy!
And, as always raw veggies are full of fiber, vitamins/nutrients, and it takes your body extra energy (in the for of calories) to break it down!

So, I hope this helps those of you who are looking for some weight loss tips, and I know it came be frustrating, but go slow and take it day by day, meal by meal, to lose weight in a healthy, attainable way.  Also, don't set weight goals for yourself...go by how your clothes fit and how you feel, don't get frustrated by numbers on the scale!

Yours in Good Health



I was asked a question related to the risk of hyponatremia, directly related to a CNN story on the risks of hyponatremia and water intake.  Most of us do not take in the amount of water that we should, so drinking too much water isn't usually an issue, but it is important to know the risks, side effects, treatments, and prevention.  I know that when I do hot power yoga during the summer, I learned my lesson of hyponatremia because I drank a ton of water to replete the fluids lost, but I didn't even think about replacing the electrolytes I lost.  After a gallon of water, an unquenchable thirst, a headache, and a little wooziness, it hit me that I needed a gatorade STAT to replete my sodium, and the problem was fixed!

Hyponatremia is a condition in which there is not enough sodium (salt) in the body fluids outside of your cells which can cause issues with blood pressure, along with nerves and muscles working properly. When the sodium levels outside of your cells drops, the free water in your body fluids moves into the cells and causes them to swell. Most of your bodys cells can appropriately react to this situation, but the cells in your brain can't, which can make this situation really dangerous.  AND, this is the most predominant electrolyte imbalance in the US...I just learned that little factoid today!!

 The possible causes are heavy sweating with poor electrolyte replacement (as noted above- my lesson learned!), burns (because you lose fluids through the open skin), Congestive Heart failure (due to low sodium diets, and the medications used to treat it), Diarrhea/vomiting (due to fluid shifts and intracellular electrolyte shifts), use of diuretics ( medications that make you pee- can cause havoc with electrolytes), Liver and kidney disease (also low sodium diets and the medications/treatments can cause sodium imbalances), and SIADH (Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone- usually a syndrome that affects hospitalized patients in which the posterior pituitary gland excessively releases antidiuretic hormone which can cause fluid overload and hyponatremia). Also, patients with certain cancers (tumors) can cause hyponatremia, to which the treatment is to remove the tumor surgically and the situation usually corrects itself,

Symptoms are a change in mental status (i.e. confusion, fatigue, hallucinations, coma), convulsions, irritability, loss of appetite, muscle cramps/spasms, muscle weakness, nausea, restlessness, vomiting.  OK, so these side effects are also similar to the ones that some of us ladies get when PMS'ing or from a horrible hangover.  So, they are really generic and maybe not noticeable at first,  but acute hyponatremia can lead to death within 48 hours because of the brain swelling.  Which is why I felt that it was an important topic for you guys to know about and keep in mind when (if you do have any of the possible causes) to drink plenty of fluids  like, water and anything with electrolytes- vitawater (zero, 10calorie, full calorie), gatorade/powerade, etc. And, when you can eat, saltines are a great source of sodium, as are most crackers (but that it how my mom always fixed us!!) If you can't keep anything down, call your HCP, or go to an urgent care clinic for IV fluids. They will draw some blood to check for electrolyte abnormalities and treat them appropriately.

It really is better to be safe than sorry, so use common sense, and take in lots of fluids, but if you have any of the side effects, please get in to an HCP and get checked out!

Yours in Good Health


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's just breathing... right?

I have a guest blogger who wrote in today for you all, he has lived all over the world, is a master of Kung Fu, a Licensed Massage Therapist, and has extensively studied Traditional Chinese Medicine in China. I have never seen such control of one's body, I learn from him daily, but he still amazes me! So, read up, learn, and please ask ANY and all questions of him!! Thanks for reading!

Yours In Good Health


Since we have been seeing eye to eye on the general publics basic rules of health, I would figure that the more information you have the better. Leaving aside those who are in critical health to those who aren't, pain is something we all deal with on a daily basis. In comparison to the recently discussed, “fevers, coughs and colds,” I figure it would only be right to give you a follow up on a similar spectrum.

Be it you have a sprained ankle, tendonitis or your run of the mill obese citizen, there are certain details that are pertinent to every day life that seem to have been overlooked through these perilous times; that is our inability to maintain a proper breathing pattern. Everyone is so quick to pop an Advil or Tylenol or unfortunately an OC, and lets face it, this kind of dependency has created more problems than it has solved. Like the common cold that’s meant to be fought off through our body’s antibodies, I feel pain should be dealt with through a more hands on, mental capability.

Like the tortoise’s “slow and steady” winning the race, so should be the same with ones breathing. Something as simple as inhaling for 5 to 8 seconds and exhaling for a few seconds longer is the cornerstone of practicing good health. To the Chinese this practice is known as Chi Gong. Literally translating to “breath work”, through said practice men and women have taught their bodies to maintain strength on both a physical and mental standpoint. However the mental is strongly regarded to be more important than the physical, because lets face it, in the end our body is just a vessel of crap, blood and water that is carried throughout every day life mainly through our central nervous system i.e. our brain and spinal cord. The more we give our brain what it needs (oxygen) the more harmoniously our systems work (circulatory, integumentary, lymphatic, endocrine etc…). I myself have seen and benefited from said practice, and it HAS kept me alive on more than one occasion.

I am not trying to preach a guided meditation either, the powers that be know that not all can take a few minutes out of their day to take the edge off using means other than drugs or alcohol. However, the definition of meditation is focusing on a single point in time. That being said, with the breathing method included, any action can be turned into a meditative state of being. Be it running, sitting, or taking apart and putting together a firearm; if it relaxes you don’t deny yourself the simple pleasure of keeping outside influences on the outside.

I reiterate, 5 to 8 seconds inhaling (I recommend the latter) and 10 to 12 seconds exhaling. At a medical standpoint, you slow down the system in your body that creates lactic acid. To those who don’t share a strength in biology and my lovable skeptics, I took it upon myself in this life practice of mine, to find other explanations of why this has consistently worked for me in the past years. I only needed to go as far back to my sophomore year of high school biology to get the answer, or at least a part of it, because lets face it, there are just so many questions out there.

Lactic acid is a substance in our body that is responsible for causing fatigue, pain, and physical stress. You feel it after that last 50-yard sprint or the final bench press repetition or even over-clicking the mouse during your “World of Warcraft” fun. ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), the process responsible for creating lactic acid, transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. In short it’s the very activity taking place inside us that is beginning and end of our energy spurts. And what pray tell, is the secret to curbing this problem, and keeping it on the sidelines… If you said anaerobic respiration you guessed right!! Anaerobic respiration or fermentation entails the generation of energy via the process of oxidation in the absence of O2 as an electron acceptor. In most eukaryotes (that is any organism having as its fundamental structural unit, a cell type that contains specialized organelles in the cytoplasm, a membrane-bound nucleus enclosing genetic material organized into chromosomes, and an elaborate system of division by mitosis or meiosis, characteristic of all life forms except bacteria, blue-green algae, and other primitive microorganisms) glucose is used as both an energy store and an electron donor… Simply put, with proper training and a proper diet infused of course; there are infinite capabilities to your body’s potential. When you think about it, it’s pretty sad that there have been millions of years of evolution and we have barely even tapped into the vastness of human potential.

And it all starts with a simple 5 to 8 seconds of inhaling, and a 10 to 12 of exhaling.

I will conclude this blog with a Da Vinci Codes history recall and modern day uses of Chi Gong… It is everywhere, you just have to look deeper into that “Last Supper” portrait. Symbolically speaking, proper breathing has leaked into many religious and physical practices. Starting with my favorite fighting styles of Kung Fu, originating in the 500 AD era by the Shaolin Temple monks. The very root of their practice is breathing and by simply mastering this mundane task, it retroactively corrected their posture, flexibility and overall stamina, and in the end, through rigorous practice discipline and religious trepidation were they able to transform themselves into virtually indestructible life forms. If you don’t believe me I ask you to go on and type in anything that concerns Shaolin Practice. My personal favorite is Chris Crudelli’s Mind Body and Kick Arse moves Chi Gong demonstrations. There you will find four or five Chi Gong masters bending steel with their throats and their eyes or breaking brick on the back of their neck while the front of their neck is placed on top of a guillotine. As much as the Chinese would like to take all the credit for their inner strength capabilities, The Shaolin would not be as successful today if it were not for the traveling priest Dohmer Bodi. This man of Indian origin, was single handedly responsible for the teachings the Shaolin Masters hold today. His Style, which is less known today, is called Kalarippayat, which is roughly translated to “Strange Animal Styles”. It is claimed to stem from all fighting styles we hold true today, basing from the styles such as Yoga, Kung Fu, Taek Wan Do, Boxing and basically anything you can think of. It’s main objective is to be the warrior that has no limits, feels no pain, and knows no bounds when it comes to physical, emotional, and mental capabilities. The main teachings and first lesson, if one were to read further into it, is to remain an unstoppable force or an immovable object by merely living life as it should it should be lived. A better example, which everyone might be more familiar with, is Bruce Lee’s style of Jeet Kune Do. He called it the formless form, and developed this style when he was strapped to his bed in a hospital for months on end. His doctors told him he would never walk again, let alone fight and despite all odds walked and fought anyway. He did this through exercises he called “power breathing.” These breathing methods have permeated through time, for the same reason that the great white shark has never had to evolve…it’s perfect. Simply put… Don’t ignore the needs to a life force, we survive solely on breathing and nourishing and the only way we can disrupt this is by allowing it to be disrupted in the first place… I.e. it’s all on us from the beginning until the end to lighten up. Ride with the wave instead of against it; welcome all trials, positive or negative, and see how your behavior measures up. Yoga, Pilates, Tae Bo; do whatever it is that keeps you happy in the end, just know that the same basic principles apply.

Now, all this can be taken however one chooses. Hold your breath as long as you want, but you will still turn blue, and take the big gasp. All I suggest is 5 to 8 seconds inhaling, and 10 to 12 seconds exhaling. If you don’t feel your shoulders correcting themselves, your neck straightening, your sleep improving, or your overall life just getting simpler. The ways you deal with pain is less stressful then by all means try a new method.

Just remember in the end… to breathe

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Better OUT than IN....but do you need an assist??

So, I know that I mentioned a guest blogger for today....but that will come tomorrow, apparently a little editing was needed ;) Plus, I received and interesting text from an unnamed friend, who was looking for some advice on one of my favorite topics: poop. She wanted to know my feelings on colonics, if they were good for you, and also a cleanse to lose some weight. So, here we go!!

There are are multiple type of colonics that are done at various "clinics" out there. There are colonics, colonic irrigations, high colonics, colonic hydrotherapy, colon hydrotherapy, colon lavage, and enemas. The first six mentioned colonics are are basically the same thing, the process consists of going to a clinic, and they have you remove clothes from the waist down and drape your body. A probe is inserted into our rectum, and a constant flow of water is released high into your colon and the evacuation tube drains out all of the contents of your colon into a basin. They sometimes massage your abdomen to help the fluid drain out. Most places require you to take herbal supplements and only eat raw fruits and vegetables, and no caffeine, for a few days before the procedure. An enema can be done at home, and consists of filling a bag with water (either it comes pre-filled like a Fleets enema or you can fill the bag with tap water) and, again, insert the tip into your rectum, the difference here is that you let the water release into your rectum and you retain it for as long as you can, then release into the toilet.

The clinics and alternative medicine practitioners that encourage colonics and enemas claim that the benefits are relief from gas, fatigue, headache, irritability, skin irritation, lethargy, and constipation. They also state that the process removes toxic parasites from your colon which allows you to feel better, and that is what is creating the overall sense of feeling better. They state that you will have a flatter belly, you will feel lighter, and you will restore the body to its natural balance.

So, to each his/her own, but I don't believe that this process is necessary to "restore the body to its natural balance". I think that you all know my feelings as far as a healthy, balanced diet, exercise, plenty of water (at least 2 liters a day), and NO SODA!! People who are on a raw food diet have the same claims that the colonic clinics do, and I must say, when I was on a raw food diet, I felt great! I had tons of energy and felt great, granted it was a very difficult diet to obtain in everyday life, because I hate being a pain at restaurants, and I don't want to force friends to eat raw food because of me! So, do you feel better because you had water put into your colon and poop flushed out instead of letting your body go itself, or because you were on a healthier diet before you had the procedure done?

As well, your colon goes through something called peristalsis, and that is when the colon contracts and relaxes, and gives you the feeling that you have to go to the bathroom. By taking that process away, and letting a machine do it, your colon will slow on its own, because just like any other muscle, if it doesn't have to work, then it will get weaker and slow. Your colon will work optimally if you eat fiber (in the form of whole grains, fresh veg/fruit, beans, etc), drink plenty of water, and exercise. Some people do not poop as much as they would like, but it is usually lifestyle related. Granted some people have medical issues, but work with your HCP to discuss lifestyle and medication regimes that will help you with a healthy digestive system.

And, as far as the weight loss, flatter stomach, etc related to the procedure. Yup, you will have weight loss and a flatter stomach, that is totally transient because it is related to fluid loss and as soon as you start eating and drinking again, your body goes back! There is no magic with losing weight- we all know that, so stop trying to mess with your body to lose weight! You make yourself miserable, completely imbalance our body, so you don't feel well, all to fit into your skinny pants for one day? That is why celebrities do these fads...the week before red carpet events- only to fit into a dress!! I can see why it is easy for people to get hooked on them, people begin to link feeling good with a colonic, but if you live a healthy lifestyle, it is cheaper, you aren't hooked on going to a clinic to get something stuck up your butt twice a week, and you have that extra hour of spare time to relax, exercise, or go to a farmers market and make some healthy yummy food for yourself!!

And finally, the 'toxic parasites' that the clinics refer to and say that they are detrimental to your health, are actually organisms that live in your colon and create an overall colon health. Take those organisms out of the colon, they are not good little organisms, but they all work together to help breakdown food stuffs, and maintain homeostasis in your gut! An overgrowth of one or more is not good, so why are you having them flushed out? What are probiotics? Yogurt? All are ACTIVE living cultures of the organisms that are good and healthy for us. These organisms are like the yin and yang of our colon and you don't want to have too many one of and not enough of the other. Bodies find their own balance, they don't need modern medicine/science messing with them...remember, these people are running a business and want to make money. Living a balanced life is easy, free, and you can do it on your own time!

So, eat fiber, drink water, exercise, and POOP ON YOUR OWN!! :)

Yours in Good Health


PS- To prove a point that you don't need a colonic for the results they claim, I am going to go back to eating raw foods strictly on May 1st (when my local farmers markets are back!) and I will give you guys a follow up!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Can't Sleep??

I was asked a question regarding Ambien (or Lunesta- basically prescription sleep aides) and the side effects. Now, I am going to give you medical facts regarding their use AND some stories regarding these drugs usage in patients. So, for those of you who don't know, Ambien (Zolpidem Tartrate) is a sedative used for short term sleep problems. Now, the manufacturer information lets you know that the major side effects are allergic reaction, for which you should seek immediate medical attention, you should make sure that you have 7-8 hours to sleep, and that you should never take Ambien during normal waking hours. In more recent months, they have also added that you may find yourself participating in activities that you may have no recollection of later. And the usual warning that you should not drink alcohol as it can increase the drowsiness effects of the medication, and to never take the drug and operate heavy machinery, operate a motor vehicle, or pilot a plane (that was a new warning...not sure if there was litigation based on this one, but I think it falls under the 'heavy machinery' clause). If you have liver disease you should not take this drug, as it is broken down in the liver (along with kidneys) and can have prolonged effects. With kidney or lung diseases you will be cautioned when taking this drug due to the metabolization in the kidney and it can slow breathing. If you have sleep apnea (obstructive) you may not be able to take the drug due to risk of losing your airway (risk of obstructing your throat and not waking up as you normally do due to a sedated state), and a history of Mysathenia Gravis (an autoimmune neuromuscular disease that inhibits muscle function and is worsened with activity) due to risk of causing an activation (or 'flare-up')of the disease. Also, there are risks of chemical dependancy, so anyone who has a history of mental disorders/suicide, or chemical dependency shouldn't take this drug. And, no one under the age of 18 should take these drugs.

So, that is the straight poop on the drug, its effects, etc that the manufacturer warns you about. I will tell you that especially when these drugs first came out about 8 years ago, EVERYONE was taking them. I would like to point out that one of the major issues with this drug is that people don't use it for short term useage as it was created, they use it every night long-term which can enhance the side effects. Every patient came in and was asking for Ambien by name, those same patients, who were usually over the age of 65 (I am not being ageist here, I am point out that drugs are metabolized differently by persons of different ages, and has similar effects on those over the age of 65 which has been studied extensively) would be getting out of bed in the middle of the night, falling and breaking hips, talking nonsensically....One night I heard yelling from a patients room (who happened to be a police officer that had gotten injured on the job who was casted hand to shoulder and directly a little sleepy himself), so I go in, and lo and behold, my little old man who had 3 hours earlier taken his nightly Ambien was in the wrong room, totally wrong hallway, cuddling this 35 year old who was NOT happy, and the older patient had NO recollection of the whole scene in the morning despite having a whole conversation with me and the other patient! I have had patients who were not supposed to be eating the night before surgery be totally normal, happy go lucky people, who get this drug early so they "can get a good sleep" and then find them chowing down in the fridge at 3am, totally confused as to why their surgery had to be delayed.

I am sure that some of you have heard about court cases where people use the 'Ambien Defense' to get off for killing people...basically using a mental disease defense because they are taking this drug to sleep, then go out an kill someone, but they have no memory, so it wasn't their fault. And, the people who have killed others are not over 65; these drugs can have this effect on anyone of any age who use them. People binge eat in their sleep and gain weight and have no idea why, people call others (the way some of us would 'drunk-dial' in our younger years!), and act completely out of character, yet are apparently not under the influence of any drugs....which is the scariest part of these drugs.

Now, I am not saying that insomnia is not a problem at all. I have had those times in my life where I would go weeks without getting more than cat naps all night, constantly felt exhausted, but couldn't sleep, and really just wanted to do anything to get to sleep. I totally understand that some people feel this way all the time, and I couldn't imagine never feeling refreshed, or the way you feel after an amazing night of sleep, and just popping open your eyes in the morning not wanting to throw your alarm through the window. And, let me tell you, the hangover associated with Ambien is unreal; you feel dazed for hours after waking up, despite caffeine! So for true insomnia, you need to see a sleep specialist who can study your sleep patterns and work with you on different methods to best treat your insomnia.

For those of us who are just wicked stressed out, can't shut their mind off, and need to get to sleep, there are different alternatives to taking an Ambien/Lunesta. First of all, you shouldn't try to fall asleep with the TV on, should you read in bed. Your mind needs to be trained to be turned off, therefore your beds should be used for sleep and sex only! Any stimulation like reading or TV will only keep your mind stimulated and will slow the shut off mode. Try drinking warm milk, or if that creeps you out, chamomile (or your fav NON caffeinated herbal tea), cut down caffeine to only in the am- stop before 12pm, and set a bedtime for yourself, just like when you were a kid. Bodies like routines!! If you do want to take something to try to sleep, try Benadryl; most OTC (over-the-counter) nighttime sleep aids are just that with extra additives. Benadryl is an antihistamine that causes some people to get drowsy and sleep, I must tell you that is does have the opposite effect of some and make people excited and jittery (there is no way to tell how you will react unless you take it). Some people swear by taking melatonin supplements, they say that it takes a week of taking them nightly to get the full effects, but by now you should all know my feelings regarding non-FDA approved supplements, I think it is a little psychosomatic in the effects of melatonin, BUT if it works for you, then great! Also, one overlooked, but very helpful for of relaxation is meditation...I have a guest blogger tomorrow who is trained in Kung Fu and Tradition Chinese Medicine, who will get into great detail about it!! Also, despite being exhausted, try to get some exercise, just even can help to de-stress, relax, and maybe even help you lull into sleep later that night.

I truly believe that the body can be trained to do anything, it just takes time and effort. So, for those of you who are exhausted and can't sleep, these aren't quick fixes, but give them a try, and let me know how you feel....if your problem is more serious than a few nights of crappy sleep, please go see your HCP and talk about other alternatives including sleep studies!!

Yours in Good Health!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thank you for being a friend....

So, not only did I title this post using the theme song from 'The Golden Girls' because it is my favorite show of all time, but also because I think that part of a healthy balanced lifestyle is having friends to keep you in check. Your friends are the ones that questions what you are doing with your life, support you, and are there for you whether you succeed or fail. That is why, during your journey to obtain a balanced healthy lifestyle, picking one friend or a group of friends to join you is the best way to achieve your goal!

Along with eating healthy, and trying to stay healthy, exercise is the next key to having a balanced healthy life. I try to find exercise in everything I do; especially f I have a day where I am so busy that I can't get to the gym or don't have time to go out for a run. Park far away in a parking lot so that you have to walk, use stairs instead of elevators/escalators, walk instead of driving (when possible), etc. It might not seem like a lot, but it takes a few minutes more, and gives you that bit of exercise that you might not have done otherwise!

Why is exercise so good for you? Your heart is a muscle, and just like your abs, biceps, etc. it needs to be exercised too. As it gets stronger from aerobic exercise, it works more efficiently, which is one of the reasons that you are sucking wind when you first start running/walking/exercising, then you get to a point where you are going farther and farther before feeling that way, and everyday events (i.e. walking up stairs in your house/work, carrying groceries, etc.) is SO much's because you have been working your heart and the muscle is becoming stronger, and more efficient. Your heart is quite literally the plumbing to your body, and helping that pump work optimally only helps you keeps your plumbing in tip top shape for longer! People who are really in shape have lower heart rates because their heart is so efficient that it takes less effort for their hearts to pump blood out to the rest of their bodies. It decreases our risks for heart disease, helps decrease cholesterol levels, reduces inflammation in arteries, and helps to keep blood vessels flexible (they can get hard and smaller in size due to build up of fat plaques), decreases risk of stroke, and can help to lower blood pressure. These are the effects of moderate exercise for only 30 minutes daily on your heart (and the rest of the plumbing) alone :)

Exercise also has effects of decrease risk of Diabetes Mellitus Type II (also known as adult onset Diabetes Mellutis or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus), helps to strengthen bones and muscles, and despite feeling soreness after working out really hard, it can help to decrease chronic pain, strengthens the lung muscles, can help improve oxygen absorption, and helps your body use calories more efficiently.

Now, we all know it is so good for us, so instead of watching an hour-long episode of 'The Biggest Loser' and cheering people on, why aren't we getting our own 30 minutes of exercise? For the same reason that we don't always eat really healthy....we're busy!! This is where your friends come into play!!!

This winter, despite my gym being all of 200 ft from where I live, I was going less frequently than really I should have, and I noticed the same of one of my best friends. We are both pretty athletic and love to workout but really got stuck in a rut this winter, so we made a pact that weather be damned, we were going running or doing some for of exercise at least 5 days a week. There are days when I just don't want to slap on my shoes and run. Why? I have no idea, I just don't feel like it, but when I know that someone is coming knocking at my door at a certain time and I am doing it, I get myself revved up for it and I always feel amazing afterwards, and most of the time run further/faster than I expected. We are not super competitive with each other, which is so against my nature, but just yesterday we were at mile 1.5 and I had such a horrible cramp that we walked for a few, let my cramp dissipate and kept on going. There is no shame between us if we need to take a break, or when we do sprints and I am so far behind ( I need to work on my sprinting!) But, despite that we are not training for a marathon, or anything specific, we just go for our leisurely runs, and chat about anything and everything. It feels so much better to me that when I used to go to the gym daily and have to take Advil before running because I knew that I was going to have so much leg pain because I was pushing my body do hard to run harder and faster each really wasn't healthy, it stressed me out, and it got to the point that it wasn't fun so that's why I was doing it less and less frequently, then getting frustrated that I couldn't run as hard. Not good.

Our daily runs not only make me feel better because I am getting out in the fresh air, but it is like daily therapy for me. I get an endorphin rush from the run, but I have such stress relief from just talking about silly things that are bothering me, or discussing my stressful week ahead. We help each other thinks things through, plan, and talk about the latest episode of 'Wife Swap'. It's not a big deal, but I am held accountable to go and get my exercise, and so is my friend because I do for them what they do for me. And, let me be clear, we are in no way on the same level of running; he can sprint for miles and feel great, me? Not so much, but we find a pace, run with it and challenge each other at times. It's fun, I'm spending time with a friend, and we are both getting health benefits out of it, and de-stress, which is so important in our lives.

We are all so busy and jam so much into our daily lives; we need to take time for ourselves to be healthy and spend time with friends, that is how you have a balanced healthy life. So find a friend that likes to run/bike/walk/dance/do whatever exercise you want and do it together, make time in your schedules for each other and for your own health, I promise you that you will feel better for dong it, and you will be more inclined to do the exercise than only being accountable to yourself!

So get out there in this beautiful weather and start getting healthy and exercise!!

Yours in good health!


PS- I enjoy running, but ANY form of exercise is cool: walking, yoga, biking, rock climbing, hiking, etc. I don't want people to think that I am a running "pusher" that is just my personal preference!