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Circadian Rhythms Part II— When Your Internal Rhythms Are Out-of-Sync

At the end of the first blog about circadian rhythms we concluded that in order to be healthy it was necessary:

  • To get a good night’s sleep
  • Sleep in the dark
  • Be up during the day
  • Be on a regular eating schedule—no later than 8:00 PM

Now let’s look more in depth at what can occur as a result of a daily schedule that does not fit the above description.  John Hogenesch, a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania said, “Disconnecting from daily rhythm strikes the body at the most basic level: the cell.”¹ He made an amazing discovery, “Nearly half of all gene activity is timing-related.”²  “This means the circadian clock could be influencing most, if not all, of our physiology and many of our behaviors,”³ Hogenesch said.  His team found that the organs in our body do not work at a steady pace.  They have certain tasks during the day and some at night.  They also have a type of “rush hour” at dawn and dusk.

For most people to have normal rhythms it would mean a change of habit patterns and this is not easy.  “But if more people understood the potential long-term benefits to their mood, sleep quality, cardiovascular health, weight loss goals and mental sharpness they might make the effort.”⁴, said neuroscientist Christopher S. Colwell of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Here are some of the actual conditions that have been proven by research to be caused in part by disrupted circadian rhythms:

Depression:

  • For years psychiatrists have made the connection that people with mood disorders, and especially depression, tend to have difficulty sleeping and other problems with their circadian rhythms.
  • “A recent analysis of 19 studies found that treating sleep apnea with CPAP devices significantly reduces symptoms of depression.” ⁵
  • Given all the research it is clear that lack of sleep, as well as interrupted sleep, is a significant cause of depression and other mood disorders.

Decreased alertness and difficulty with short-term memory:

  • The number of industrial accidents is highest between 2-4 AM.  At these hours of the morning experts say, “…people should not be doing anything that requires vigilance.”⁶
  • Studies show that emergency room doctors working the night shift have difficulty with short-term memory.
  • Research has shown that, “…the hippocampus, the part of the brain central to learning and memory, is highly sensitive to circadian disruption.”⁷
  • This information lends much credence to the old fashioned concept of going to bed at a reasonable hour, getting a good night’s sleep and having three balanced meals during the day.

The Heart:

  • Blood pressure decreases at night when we sleep in order to give the heart a rest.  This is a great reason to get to bed at a reasonable hour—how about 11 PM or earlier—and sleep 7 – 8 hours!

Alzheimer’s Disease:

  • According to research at the University of Rochester Medic al Center, in 2013, it was discovered that when a person has a good night’s sleep the space between brain cells increases.  This allows for a good flow of cerebrospinal fluid between the brain and the spine.  As a result waste products can be removed from the brain decreasing a person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Pregnancy:

  • In April of 2015 scientists at the University of Warwick in England tested 70 women who had all suffered multiple miscarriages.  All these women also had disrupted circadian rhythms.  This work suggested, “…that a misalignment of daily rhythms in the womb hampers the ability of the fertilized egg to implant.”⁸

Weight Gain/Increased Appetite/Diabetes

  • Multiple studies at various universities  have shown that when people get only about 4 hours of sleep, or have interrupted sleep and have lights on:
  1. Body temperature, hormone production and blood pressure no longer followed regular patterns.
  2. The hormone leptin, that tells us when we have eaten enough, decreased.
  3. The hormone ghrelin, an appetite stimulating hormone, increased.
  4. The ability to clear glucose from the blood decreased.

In consideration of this information, we can see that reduced amounts of sleep and imbalanced circadian rhythms, even for short periods of time, can lead to weight gain—possibly obesity in the long run.  Also blood sugar problems, including diabetes, can occur.  These conclusions are supported by more than 50 studies.

After reading these two blogs you may be relating to some of the symptoms and wondering if your own circadian rhythms (body clock) are “out-of- sync”.  If so, I encourage you to consider putting some of the recommendations I’ve made into place in your life.   I’ll also be giving more ideas for improved circadian rhythms in “Tips for Circadian Health”, Part III of this series.  As always, I’d be happy to answer your specific questions and help you get started on the road to better health.  Feel free to call me at 773/262-7611.

 

References:

¹Out of Sync, by Emily Laber-Warren, “Scientific American Mind”, Sept/Oct 2015, p. 34

²Ibid, p. 34

³Ibid, p. 34

⁴Ibid, p. 39

Sleep on It, by Robert Stickgold, “Scientific American”, Oct 2015, p. 56

Out of Sync, p. 37

⁷Ibid, p. 37

⁸Ibid, p. 37

 

Biochemistry of Inflammation Part I

As part of our ongoing conversation regarding factors that impact our health, I want to spend some time addressing the biochemistry of inflammation.   The understanding of this process can help you in your quest for good health. Let me explain how it works.  Our bodies are composed of 50 trillion or more cells.  Every single hour approximately 1 billion cells die and another billion are made—a process that goes on 24/7.  When even a single cell dies it releases histamine, which in turn produces a microscopic amount of swelling.  Histamine and the swelling or inflammation it produces is normal and necessary.  On the biochemical level, this swelling signals white blood cells (your immune system) to be drawn into the area.   Why does this happen?

When cells die there’s a mess, and it needs to be cleaned up.  White blood cells are designed to do just that.  The swelling is their sign to move into the area.  They take into themselves foreign matter, not just viruses, bacteria and fungi but also dead cell debris.  The type of white blood cell that ingests foreign matter is the neutrophil.  After completing their task, the neutrophils die and more arrive to continue the process.  When these cells have finished their work another type of white blood cell—basophils—come into the area.  They release histaminase, an enzyme that stops the release of histamine.    

Now your body is ready to bring about repair in the area of the dead cells—a process initiated by a third type of white blood cell, the lymphocyte.  Since cells are constantly dying this process never ends.  The biochemistry of inflammation is an essential process that takes place continuously in our bodies.

What I’ve just described is the perfect scenario.  If the biochemistry of inflammation works 24/7, as described, we will be healthy.  It takes a strong immune system to reach this goal.  What can we do to help our bodies successfully complete the process?  Here are the key points:

  1. Move toward eating more whole foods while reducing refined and processed foods.
  2. Start taking whole food supplements based on your individual needs.  
  3. Drink plenty of pure water—half your body weight in ounces (e.g., 100# = 50 oz. of water)
  4. Get plenty of sleep—a minimum of 7-8 hours.
  5. Make exercise a regular part of your schedule—a minimum of 30 minutes/3 times a week.
  6. Think positive.

Be sure to check out Part II in this series.

Why Restricted Calorie Diets Do Not Work

Why Restricted Calorie Diets Do Not Work

It is not uncommon to lose dramatic amounts of weight during the first days of a restricted calorie diet. Unfortunately, it is mostly water, protein and glycogen that are lost, but very little fat. Over the next several weeks or months on this type of diet it often becomes progressively harder to lose weight.

This happens because our bodies think a famine has arrived. Therefore they do everything to conserve energy and calories:

• Metabolism slows down.
• Fat is stored as much as possible in the event the famine continues.
• Energy levels are turned down to conserve energy, just as a thermostat is turned down in the winter.

Another reason it is difficult to lose weight eating fewer calories is binge eating. Why binges? Reduced calorie diets tend to result in low blood sugar—reducing the level of glucose in the brain. This becomes a real problem. All parts of our bodies, except the brain, can use proteins, fats or carbohydrates for energy. The brain can only use glucose and if it doesn’t have enough we will tend to feel light headed or dizzy. This creates a desperate call for blood sugar and usually results in a craving for sweets—a quart of ice cream or package of cookies!

If low calorie diets are not the answer what is? See my upcoming blogs in the next few weeks for the tips you’ve been looking for in regard to weight loss.

Vitamin E – It’s So Complex!

Vitamin E – It’s So Complex!

Most people have heard that vitamin E is very important. In supplement form it is normally sold as d-alpha tocopherol. The latter is only one part of the E complex. Alpha tocopherol is taken from soybean or cottonseed oil. Once separated from the whole complex it is very unstable and could break down and be unusable. To stabilize this product it is combined with an alcohol by a chemical process known as esterification. The newly stabilized substance is given the name d-alpha tocopherol and sold under the name vitamin E.

All food will ultimately break down. This is a normal part of the life of foods. It is not healthy to stabilize a food or change it in any way. There are actually many side effects that may occur from taking d-alpha tocopherol. A few are as follows:

• Decreased endurance during exercise
• Osteoporosis
• High blood pressure
• Severe fatigue
• Bleeding due to problems with blood coagulation
• Decrease in a woman’s ability to reproduce

Delta Tocopherol
Delta Tocopherol
Alpha Tocopherol
Alpha Tocopherol
Beta Tocopherol
Beta Tocopherol F1
Xanthine F2
Selenium E2
Lipositols E3
Lipositols F1
Xanthine F2
Selenium E2
Lipositols E3
Lipositols
Gamma Tocopherol
Gamma Tocopherol

See functional architecture of Vitamin E Complex, at left, to illustrate this point.

The best food sources of E complex are:
• Wheat germ oil (that has not been stearinated or had hexane added—which is very hard to find)
• Organic whole grains, organic raw seeds and nuts (especially almonds and brazil)
• Organic peas, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, sweet potatoes, corn, avocado
• Organic whole eggs (especially the yolk), organic butter, organic liver

Naturally occurring E complex, which you find in all the above mentioned foods, includes an abundance of selenium. It is the trace mineral activator in the vitamin molecule. Accompanying this vitamin in foods, you will also find vitamins A, B, C and K as well as zinc and iron.

Vitamin E complex has many important functions:
• Increases exercise tolerance
• Restores normal heart rhythms
• Reduces edema
• Lowers blood pressure
• Prevents and improves atherosclerosis
• Helps to reduce angina pain
• Greatly helps neuromuscular disorders
• Helps women carry a child to full term
• Supports the immune system
• Reduces the risk of heart attacks
• Inhibits tumors (it is the selenium as part of the E complex that facilitates this action)
• Improves testicular health and sperm production

Vitamin E complex has a steroid hormone precursor. The latter helps the body produce estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisone and other adrenal hormones. As you can see by its many functions, vitamin E complex is a very important supplement to take regularly or include in your diet. Please call my office for an excellent vitamin E supplement. After much research, it is the only source I feel comfortable recommending.

References:
The Real Truth about Vitamins and Antioxidants, Judith A DeCava, MS, LNC, pgs 114-130

Some Amazing Facts about Cholesterol—Part II

Some Amazing Facts about Cholesterol—Part II

We’ve been taught to eat low fat diets in order to lower our cholesterol levels and reduce our chances of having a heart attack. Does research bear this out? Let’s look at some studies.

Dr Russel L. Smith, states in his publication, Diet, Blood Cholesterol and Coronary Heart Disease that a critical review of the literature proved that low cholesterol diets do not reduce blood cholesterol or reduce coronary heart disease.

Dr E. H. Ahrens, Jr., of Rockefeller University, maintains, after 40 years of research, that there is no scientific evidence to show that low fat diets recommended by the American Heart Association will reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Numerous other studies and research projects revealed exactly the same information.

The next question we want to answer is: Does saturated/animal fat lead to coronary heart disease (CHD) or heart attacks? Let’s look at what studies say:

Having collected a tremendous amount of data from numerous studies, the International Atherosclerosis Project concluded that animal fat was not related to CHD or heart attacks.

France, Italy and Switzerland are among the world’s leading consumers of cheese (very high in saturated fat). Yet these countries have extremely low rates of coronary heart disease and heart attacks. Many other studies substantiate these findings.

So, does the cholesterol in the blood cause heart attacks? Check out Part III in our on-going series for the answer!

All About Vitamins

ALL ABOUT VITAMINS
An On-going Series

The History of Vitamins

The healing power of food has been recognized throughout history. As far back as the 1500’s BC people observed the ability of certain foods to heal specific conditions. Let’s look at a few instances that have been recorded:

• 1500 BC – People used goose liver to treat night blindness.
• 1757 AD – Dr James Lind discovered fresh fruits and vegetables cured scurvy.
• 1757 AD – Marzari of Italy observed diets high in refined maize (corn) led to pellagra, diets high in unrefined maize did not.
• Mid 1800’s – Cod liver oil was reported to cure rickets.
• 1893 – Whole grain rice was used to treat beriberi (a type of paralysis).
• 1912 – Dr Casimir Funk isolated 1 part of the B complex from rice.

As a result of his research, Dr Funk proposed that scurvy, rickets, pellagra and beriberi were the result of a lack of 4 different essential substances in the diet. About the same time, F G Hopkins (a biochemist in England) was conducting experiments with animals. He fed one group refined food and they were unable to reproduce, became ill and died. He fed a second group of animals unrefined, whole foods and these animals thrived. Through this research it was proved that what is in whole food is necessary to sustain life and good health. Many doctors and scientists continued this type of work and finally identified the substances in foods that were helping people be healthy. Their research led to the discovery of vitamins and minerals.

Based on these findings many researchers believed that the vitamins and minerals that were isolated could cure illness. Studies were performed using the isolated vitamins in an attempt to heal various diseases. The results were overwhelmingly disappointing as the subjects never regained their health, but grew worse—some even died. When whole foods (containing the entire vitamin complexes) were used to treat these illnesses, the subjects regained their health.

Many years ago a newspaper headline read: “Lack of vitamins causes many ills.” This is as true today as it was then. But there is good news, and I want to give it to you now rather than wait until the end of the article. Eating unrefined food along with whole food supplements leads to a correction of the “ills” and maintenance of good health.
What actually is a vitamin?

A vitamin is an organic, living complex which consists of the nutrient (A, B, C, D, E and so on), enzymes, co-enzymes, phytonutrients and organic trace mineral activators. All the parts mentioned, except the nutrient itself, are called synergists. A vitamin needs all of them in order to function. Scientists have only discovered a few. Yet there are hundreds in each vitamin complex. Although all of these synergists have not been discovered they are very important. Vitamin complexes, which exist only in food and whole food supplements, are needed by the body to support normal growth, activity and healing. They cannot be created synthetically and are not toxic, even when taken in excess.

What are synthetic or crystalline pure supplements, and how are they made?
Synthetic means that a chemist made vitamins from sources other than food. For example, they make vitamin B₁ from a derivative of coal. The chemical structure does not come out the same. This is a key point to remember because the chemistry of the body is specific. When your body needs vitamin B₁ it is looking for the chemical structure of the vitamin B complex as it is found in food. Another example is synthetic vitamin E—known as d-alpha tocopherol. This is made from a by-product of materials used by Eastman Kodak to make film.

Crystalline means that a whole food has been treated with chemicals, solvents, heat and distillations to reduce it down to one specific, pure vitamin. The synergists, which some scientists call impurities, are destroyed. There is no longer anything natural in the action of crystalline vitamins. To be accurate, these vitamins would be best called pharmaceuticals or drugs. They are toxic. An example of this would be ascorbic acid, the crystalline form of the vitamin C complex. When taken into your body, it performs the same action as any antihistamine drug.

Synthetic vitamins tend to create deficiency states. When consumed, the body will try to change them into a biologically useful form. In order to do this the body must draw from stored vitamin complexes, which leads to the creation of deficiency conditions. If there are no stores of complexes the synthetic vitamin will be sent to the liver to be detoxified. This puts an additional load of healing and processing on the body which detracts from its ability to be healthy.

In summary, in order to be well our bodies need only small amounts of vitamin complexes from whole foods, not mega doses of synthetic vitamins. The topic of vitamin supplementation is very complex. We’ve only touched on it in this article. Please call my office for more information and my recommendations to help you meet your particular nutritional needs.

1. Empty Harvest, Dr Bernard Jensen and Mark Anderson, p 20
2. The Real Truth about Vitamins and Antioxidants, Judith DeCava, MS, LNC, pp 9-11
3. “What is a Vitamin?”, Dr Royal Lee, Applied Trophology, August 1956
4. Dr Janet Lang, 2003, Lang Nutritional Seminars
5. “The Truth about Vitamins”, Royal Lee, DDS
6. “Vitamins: The Real Story”, Ron Carton, D.V.M., M.S.

Three Keys to Successfully Losing Weight-Part III

Three Keys to Successfully Losing Weight-Part III

• What you think influences your feelings, emotions, behavior and thus the state of your body. Your mind is a powerful tool for weight loss.
• Losing weight needs to be done for yourself, not for others.
• On the other hand, studies show that dieters who enlist help from a friend or counselor are the most successful.
• Setting small goals is a great tool for consistent weight loss. Here are two examples:
• Cut out refined sugar.
• Decide to lose ½ pound a week. This gives time to succeed but also leads to patience and consistency.
• It is important to know yourself—why and when you eat. Develop strategies to change the patterns.
• Learn to enjoy your food. Eat slowly and savor the taste. This helps you feel satisfied and less deprived.
• Learn to ask: “Am I hungry?” rather than “What’s for dinner?”
• In summary let’s look at how the three keys work together:
• Good nutrition from whole food, whole food supplements, plenty of pure water and exercise, as well as how you handle stress all work together to help you heal your body and achieve—and maintain—consistent weight loss.

Three Keys to Successfully Losing Weight – Part II

Three Keys to Successfully Losing Weight – Part II

• To achieve permanent weight loss, exercise is crucial.
• 90% of those who keep their weight off exercise regularly
• During the weight loss period—30 minutes, 6 times per week
• For maintenance, at least 30 minutes, 3-5 times per week
• The best approach to exercise is to condition muscles slowly and gradually move to higher levels of performance.
• At the beginning of a weight loss program low intensity exercise—like slow walking—is best. This is especially true for those who are very heavy. As you eat better and are consistent with exercise you can progress to more energetic forms. Examples would include faster walking, bicycling, running, jogging and aerobic workouts.
• Exercise is important—not for the calories burned during a workout—but to raise the metabolic rate and train the body to burn calories and fat when you are more sedentary.
• Long-term aerobic and strength training does help build muscles and help them utilize oxygen more efficiently and burn fat more readily.
• Remember to go slowly, it is a process and making these changes can take months or even years.

Three Keys to Successfully Losing Weight – Part I

Three Keys to Successfully Losing Weight – Part I

• Establish a new eating pattern.
• Eat whole foods including:
• Vegetables
• Protein (eggs, chicken, fish, beef)
• Good fat (avocados, raw nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil for cooking)
• Minimal carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, beans and only at breakfast and lunch)
• Drink two quarts or more of pure water daily (without fluoride and chlorine)
• If you are craving something sweet choose fruit first or baked goods made with whole grain and a natural sweetener. Stevia works great and is very low in calories. Only have a small amount and eat it before noon-2 pm.
• Be creative with your meals. Add different vegetables to your salads and use seasonings to make food tasty.
• Eat slowly. Become more aware of what you are eating. Stop when you are full.
• Avoid all processed/refined foods.
• Do not skip meals.
• Have a good breakfast and lunch.
• Make the evening meal the smallest. It is best to have a large salad with many raw vegetables and some protein. For the greatest weight loss, eat just raw vegetables.
• Have some raw food at every meal.
• Learn to recognize hunger. It can be confused with thirst, boredom, fatigue or anxiety. If you are not sure, drink a large glass of water first.
• Most importantly, be consistent and enjoy your food!

The True Causes of Being Overweight

The True Causes of Being Overweight

Overeating and not exercising enough are usually thought to be the causes of being too heavy. In reality, the problem is much more complex. For most overweight people the main cause is NOT how much they eat but WHAT they eat and WHEN they eat it. Eating refined, devitalized non-foods cannot be used to build healthy tissues. As a result their bodies cannot perform normal functions. For example, this eating pattern leads to hormonal imbalances, blood sugar fluctuations, imbalances in brain chemistry and, of course, difficulty utilizing fat stores and a decrease in metabolic rate. People who are overweight are actually starving for proper nutrition.

For their bodies to function well, be healthy, be able to lose weight and maintain that weight loss they need to practice three principles:
• Eat whole food, plenty raw and organic. This helps people overcome their nutritional deficiencies and over time puts an end to the starvation.
• Exercise at least 30 minutes 6 days per week.
• Think positive.

For more details on these three principles see my next four blogs.