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Family health General

Drinking Tea Is Good For Your Brain

Tea has been shown to positively impact our health, but a new study has come out that links drinking tea with better brain health.

“Upon analysing the participants’ cognitive performance and imaging results, the research team found that individuals who consumed either green tea, oolong tea, or black tea at least four times a week for about 25 years had brain regions that were interconnected in a more efficient way…

We have shown in our previous studies that tea drinkers had better cognitive function as compared to non-tea drinkers. Our current results relating to brain network indirectly support our previous findings by showing that the positive effects of regular tea drinking are the result of improved brain organisation brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections.”

And with so many delicious tea options, what an easy, low-cost, and pleasant way to do something good for both your body and brain. So the next time you come in for an appointment, sample one of our complimentary teas.

Drinking tea improves brain health, study suggests

A recent study led by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) revealed that regular tea drinkers have better organised brain regions — and this is associated with healthy cognitive function — compared to non-tea drinkers. The research team made this discovery after examining neuroimaging data of 36 older adults.

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Emotional health-Finding peace Family health General

How Much Sleep Is the Right Amount of Sleep?

How many hours of sleep did you get last night? 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged between 26-64 years, should receive 7 to 9 hours of sleep but not less than 6 hours or more than 10 hours. 

In clinic, l will often discuss sleep quantity and quality. Although l consider sleep to be a non negotiable and one of the pillars of health, I do appreciate the fact that sometimes personal circumstances will impact an individuals ability to sleep soundly. 

Some of us are going through a stressful time and are struggling to settle at night. Some of us have health issues that prevent us from getting the rest that we need. Some of us have little ones and are simply doing the best that we can.

I encourage those not having to navigate through extenuating circumstances to start small. Try going to bed 15 minutes earlier for a week or so and see how that goes.

National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times

National Sleep Foundation Email: nsfmedia@sleepfoundation.org WASHINGTON, DC, ( February 2, 2015)–The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), along with a multi-disciplinary expert panel, issued its new recommendations for appropriate sleep durations. The report recommends wider appropriate sleep ranges for most age groups. The results are published in Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation .

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Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Categories
General

How Does Stress Affect the Gut?

Feeling stressed, anxious, angry or sad while eating will have a short and long-term effect on the functions of the gastrointestinal tract. 

Research continues to report that exposure to stress results in alterations of the bidirectional microbiota-gut-brain axis interactions (“brain-gut axis”). 
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“The major effects of stress on gut physiology include: 

1) alterations in gastrointestinal motility; 2) increase in visceral perception; 
3) changes in gastrointestinal secretion; 4) increase in intestinal permeability; 
5) negative effects on regenerative capacity of gastrointestinal mucosa and mucosal blood flow; and 
6) negative effects on intestinal microbiota.”
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Although functional GI disorders (FGIDs) are not considered to be psychological diseases, the research continues to support to notion that the brain plays an important role.  
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Dr. Emeran Mayer, MD recommends that: “we can each take care with what, when, and how we eat to promote healthy diversity in our gut microbiome. We can seek to maintain a positive emotional state as much as possible by relaxing and enjoy mealtimes. There are many simple forms of stress reduction that can be employed such as regular exercise, abdominal breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.”
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In clinical practice, I not only focus on what an individual is eating but will delve into when and how they eat. There is a significant difference between eating mindfully and slowly, and what l refer to as “inhaling” food. I encourage all of my patients to step away from their televisions, multiple screens and distractions, and eat in silence. Even if it begins with 5-10 minutes at a time, it is progress. 

https://iffgd.org/?fbclid=IwAR1cWYXEM6EdpbZ1Y5D0K8obYJyr7pVIS2WNl3-graOVEgumlPVDkQYUMHQ

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/cns.12490?fbclid=IwAR1zZTUrXcYuftgh3yHPhIYBgWmHLmqnfpKeAHl9nL8bVibfH2HMGVIxS3o&

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Categories
Family health General

Fibromyalgia and the Microbiome

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a prevalent syndrome, characterised by chronic widespread pain, fatigue and impaired sleep. Those that suffer from FM also have to contend with the fact that it is an “invisible disease” and not immediately apparent to others. FM can be debilitating and will often have a significant impact to the quality of life. It also continues to be challenging to diagnose and difficult to treat. 
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A study recently published in Pain (June 18, 2019) reported an altered microbiome composition in individuals with fibromyalgia. There were differences in the serum levels of butyrate and propionate in patients with FM compared to those without FM.
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The promising news is that the study was the “first demonstration of gut microbiome alteration in non-visceral pain”, which is an observation that is likely to pave the way for further studies. The hope is that future studies will foster the exploration of new treatment modalities and offer some hope to FM patients.

https://journals.lww.com/pain/Abstract/publishahead/Altered_microbiome_composition_in_individuals_with.98647.aspx?fbclid=IwAR2Ro7xDzy-YXwl-Tqp1I7MTS01j9bXVRAa4zDc6iVRh5aqsWjJZWdVr0Go#pdf-link

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Categories
Family health General

Does It Matter What Time You Eat?

The old adage ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper’ could be the best way to lose weight and stay healthy.
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A new study in the journal of Sleep (April 12 2019) demonstrated that a daytime eating schedule promoted weight loss and a positive profile for fuel oxidation, energy metabolism, and hormonal markers, compared with a nighttime eating schedule, independent of caloric intake.
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The research found that individuals who followed a daytime eating schedule (food consumed between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m) had a better metabolic profile than those who followed a delayed eating schedule (food consumed between 12:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m). 

The other key focus was sleep. The participants in the study were asked to maintain a sleep-wake cycle between 11:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.

So if you’re struggling with weight gain, examining your eating schedule could be a good next step. For more nutritional and mind/body help, book an appointment with us at https://awakeningshealth.com.

https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article-abstract/42/Supplement_1/A15/5451138?redirectedFrom=fulltext&fbclid=IwAR3tBR58kBq3aLHT7Dpm4rQpGLn4NC4HLYLaS4vkzoCl4AnxRcF4RxwT3Qg

Daytime eating schedule found to help with weight management

daytime eating schedule promoted weight loss and a positive profile for fuel oxidation, energy metabolism, and hormonal markers, compared with a nighttime eatin

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Categories
Family health General

Microbiota and Circadian-Metabolic Axis

There is an emerging amount of evidence in gastrointestinal research that associates gut microbiota with factors that impact host circadian-metabolic axis, such as light/dark cycles, sleep/wake cycles, diet, and eating patterns. 
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Researched published in the journal Microorganisms (January 31, 2019) outlines how “gut bacteria possess their own daily rhythmicity in terms of composition, their localization to intestinal niches, and functions.”
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“Current evidence indicates an increase in total gut bacterial mass and firmicutes, in response to the food ingested during the waking/eating phase, and an increase in bacteroidetes, proteobacteria and verrucomicrobia during the sleeping/fasting phase.”
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The research discusses the importance of adhering to a healthy diet. It also stresses that a regular eating schedule and adequate sleep (quality and quantity) are essential for maintaining gut microbial balance.
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NB: We want to see higher bacteroidetes and lower firmicutes as higher firmicutes are associated with elevated intestinal pH, decreased levels of short chain fatty acids, increased dysbiosis, weight gain, obesity, metabolic disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression and a higher incidence of gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS and IBD.

Potential Role for the Gut Microbiota in Modulating Host Circadian Rhythms and Metabolic Health

This article reviews the current evidence associating gut microbiota with factors that impact host circadian-metabolic axis, such as light/dark cycles, sleep/wake cycles, diet, and eating patterns. We examine how gut bacteria possess their own daily rhythmicity in terms of composition, their localization to intestinal niches, and functions.

The Gut Microbiota Clock: the close connection between gut microbiota, dietary patterns and the circadian rhythm

The circadian rhythm regulates our body’s energy expenditure, appetite and sleep. In simple terms, it is our internal clock.

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Categories
Family health General

Are Energy Drinks Safe?

Energy drinks are a growing industry with a market value predicted to reach $61 billion by 2021. 

Although commonly promoted as supplements that can boost performance and cognition, it is well known that excessive consumption of energy drinks can result in numerous and detrimental side effects.
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It is estimated that about 30% of teenagers between the ages of 12 through 17 years in the United States consume energy drinks on a regular basis. Many teens admit to consuming more than two energy drinks a day. The research reported that a high percentage of teens consume 32 oz cans, which on average, contain 320mg of caffeine. Two or more cans equates to 640mg of caffeine which significantly exceeds the FDA recommended safe dose of 400 mg.

The research found that although a high level of caffeine intake can carry its own risks, it is the combination of caffeine and additional non-caffeine ingredients which are the greatest cause of concern. 

The reason for this is that energy drinks are considered to be arrhythmogenic – producing or tending to produce cardiac arrhythmia/ irregular heartbeat, and have been associated with cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, spontaneous coronary dissection, and coronary vasospasm. This association is strengthened with studies showing increased platelet aggregation, increased systolic blood pressure (SBP), and QTc prolongation which places additional pressure on the heart.
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The greatest message in the current research is that energy drinks should be used with caution. 

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6074217/?fbclid=IwAR1uL6woAOuPPiNrd04F5DV4lrr7Ip_tTHaDqkteusKAcDWumwYbruasIE4
https://www.ahajournals.org/journal/jaha⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6074217/⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀https://www.mdedge.com/familymedicine/article/201730/arrhythmias-ep/energy-drinks-increase-bp-and-disrupt-hearts-electrical?utm_source=Clin_FPN_eNL_053019_F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Energy+drinks+disrupt+heart%27s+electrical+activity⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.116.004448

Energy drinks increase BP and disrupt the heart’s electrical activity

Consuming caffeinated energy drinks leads to a prolonged QT interval and an increase in blood pressure, according to a study of young volunteers who had their hearts tested after drinking either energy drinks or placebo. “Further investigation is warranted on whether an individual ingredient or a unique combination leads to the observed electrophysiological and hemodynamic changes,” wrote Sachin A.

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Categories
Family health General

Vitamin D and Hypertension

Is there a link between low vitamin D levels and resistant hypertension? 
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A study published in the journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypertension (April 2, 2019) believes that there is, and found a statistically significant association between Vitamin D deficiency (levels lower than 20 ng/ml) and resistant hypertension (a blood pressure >140/90 mmHg despite the concurrent use of 3 antihypertensive agents of different classes). 
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Based on my research, an optimal level of vitamin D is between 60-80 ng/ml, but most labs will consider a Vitamin D above 30ng/ml as within normal range. l encourage my patients to aim for optimal rather than the low end of the range. 
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As always, my message is: please be mindful when supplementing. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and over supplementing can result in toxicity. Please discuss your supplementation regime and lab work with your primary care provider, functional medicine doctor or other health professional.

The association between vitamin D deficiency and the risk of resistant hypertension.

Clin Exp Hypertens. 2020;42(2):177-180. doi: 10.1080/10641963.2019.1601204. Epub 2019 Apr 2.

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Categories
Emotional health-Finding peace Family health General

Burnout

Burnout is now classified as a disease. 
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“The World Health Organization (WHO), an agency which guides many health providers and organizations, now includes “burnout” in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) Handbook, where it is described as “an occupational-related condition resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
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According to the WHO, doctors can issue a diagnosis of burnout if a patient exhibits three symptoms: feeling depleted of energy or exhausted; feeling mentally distanced from or cynical about one’s job; and problems getting one’s job done successfully. The WHO notes that burnout is to be used specifically “in the occupational context” and that it “should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.” 
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I don’t agree with the limited context as l feel that if you have reached a point of burnout at work, you have also reached that point in other areas of your life. Feeling stressed, depleted, exhausted and mentally distanced cannot be confined and isolated to the workplace.
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If you are feeling this way, please reach out for help. There are many caring and experienced practitioners out there who can support and help you navigate your way back to health. 
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https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2158244017697154

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark

Categories
Family health General

What Does Moxibustion Feel Like?

Because I work at a holistic health center, people ask me regularly what the different treatment modalities feel like. So, like last week’s post about acupuncture, I’m going to give you an idea of what moxibustion feels like.

If you’ve ever walked into an acupuncture office or holistic wellness center and smelled smoke and wondered what it is, chances are pretty good that it was burning moxa, which is called moxibustion.

Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried Moxa (mugwort) is burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences. When burned, it smells a little bit like marijuana, though it’s not related. It comes in several different forms, from a sort of compressed charcoal looking stick, to little capsules that rest on the skin. You can even put it into what looks like a little birdhouse to warm larger areas (see pictures below).

Note: normally, you wouldn’t be wearing all of this clothing and you’d be draped with towels, but we were taking pics just for this post, so…

So what does it feel like? Warm. Deliciously so. The warmth starts locally but kind of spreads out around the area. It doesn’t hurt, and I actually like the smell. I have a little bit of a phobia about fire, but the way the moxa is used isn’t scary. When used on my forehead in particular, it’s soothing and could easily put me to sleep. Honestly, even if it weren’t effective in helping treat various conditions, I’d still like it done just because it feels good.

So my opinion on moxibustion? Um, yes please!

Wishing you wellness,

Emily