Flu Shot…. or Not?

Posted: 543 days ago in Health

flu-shot-not

It’s that time of year again:  “Doc, should I get a flu shot… or not?”

Well. That’s a great question.

I don’t – and can’t – counsel patients on the use of pharmaceuticals, as chiropractors don’t utilize drugs as part of our natural healing approach.

Let me share with you what I tell my patients.

If you have great health and practice good health habits to keep your immune system strong, you quite likely will not get the flu or any other type of winter nasties. Need I remind you of the good habits I am speaking of? Eating well, getting adequate sleep, exercising, managing your stress and washing those damn hands again and again! For more on this, see my article ‘The Non-Flu Season’.

Does this sound like you, or are you sheepishly averting my virtual gaze, because your car is littered with fast-food wrappers, you haven’t broken a sweat since “Magic Mike” came out and the last time you slept more than 6 hours was when your alarm clock failed? If so, I can promise you that your defenses are down, and if you are unlucky enough to come into contact with the flu, you are much more likely to get it.

Bottom line? People with healthy, strong immune systems are much less likely to get the flu than their less-healthy counterparts. They are also far less likely to have any adverse reaction to ingredients in the vaccine itself. Did you ever think about that? Immunocompromised folks – the young, infirm and elderly – are more vulnerable to the both the flu and reactions to the vaccine.

In fact these flu two studies made me go, “Hmmmm”:

studyChildren Who Get Flu Vaccine Have Three Times Risk Of Hospitalization For Flu, Study Suggests

 

studyCurrent Flu Vaccine Less Effective in the Elderly, CDC Says

 

The gist? Kids who get the flu vaccine are more likely to be hospitalized than their non-vaccinated peers. Vaccinated elderly adults are just as likely as non-vaccinated seniors to visit their doctors for flu-like symptoms. So what in the hell should you do?

You should make informed decisions about your health – always!

Here are some facts and figures to ponder on the flu:

The Truth About the Flu Shot“In a review of 48 reports including more than 66,000 adults, “Vaccination of healthy adults only reduced risk of influenza by 6% and reduced the number of missed work days by less than one day (0.16) days. It did not change the number of people needing to go to hospital or take time off work.”

Key Facts on the FluThe flu shot: Some minor side effects that may occur are: soreness – redness, or swelling where the shot was given – fever (low grade) – aches. The nasal spray: In children, side effects from the nasal spray may include: runny nose – wheezing – headache – vomiting – muscle aches – fever. In adults, side effects from the nasal spray vaccine may include: runny nose – Headache – Sore throat – Cough.

The last one did go on to say that these symptoms are ‘short-lived’, but still….

Another little tidbit that I found interesting is that each year’s flu vaccine is derived from prior years’ flu virus. For instance, the 2013 flu vaccine was made from strains from 2009, 2011 and 2012. That’s all well and good, except that the flu virus is a crafty little bugger, and mutates quickly and often. So something that may have worked against a strain in the past quite likely won’t work at all in future strains.

Again, hmmmmm. When all is said and done, read and ask questions, but ultimately, go with your gut. It will rarely lead you astray.

Be well!

Sitting: The New Sugar

Posted: 553 days ago in Health

Sitting: The New SugarWhaaaat? Are you confused? Don’t be.

All of you know that sugar is not good for you. There is no upside. You should minimize your intake, though that can be difficult because it is hidden in so many things. Sitting should be approached with the same apprehensions.

The best advice I can give you, bar none, is to move more, sit less. And by move more, I don’t mean that you have to exercise! Of course, dedicating 5-7 hours each week to exercise is a beautiful thing, but if you sit all day, it is simply not enough.

Did you know: People who seldom sit, but never exercise, are generally far healthier than those who sit a lot, even if they exercise regularly! A.k.a. the moms of toddlers, teachers, and construction workers are healthier than commuters, and desk jockeys (even if the latter are avid movers).

Let me repeat: if you rarely sit but don’t exercise, you will quite likely be healthier than those who exercise regularly, but sit all day! This actually blows my mind, but it shouldn’t. Our bodies were designed for movement, and depend on it to keep our muscles, bones and organs healthy, and our minds sharp.

Don’t panic if you are one of the millions that sit for many hours each day! You have many opportunities for movement – you just have to take them.

  • Stand or walk with every phone call
  • Practice active sitting on an exercise ball
  • Walk to a colleague’s office instead of emailing them
  • Stand on the train
  • Walk on your lunch break
  • Set an alarm on your iPhone reminding yourself to move at least once an hour

I did a sugar elimination diet and, well, it was hell for a few weeks, but then I began to realize how good I felt without it. Minimizing how long you sit can be a similar process, but I promise, you will be healthier for it.

Move more, sit less. Period.

Orthorexia Nervosa

Posted: 789 days ago in Health Lifestyle Wellness

orthorexia-nervosa

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen…

As long there have been “modern” foods (fast, processed, junk, etc.) available, there have been issues surrounding food.  Overeating, binging, anorexia, purging, guilt, deprivation – it’s an epidemic that effects an estimated 8 million Americans (who are mostly women). Hence the reason why February 22-28 is National Eating Disorder Awareness week.

NEDAAs a health care provider I have pushed, cajoled and encouraged my patients – okay, and my family – to adopt healthier eating habits, and I know many of my colleagues in the health care professions have done the same.

Perhaps we’ve gone too far with some of you? There is an emerging trend of a new breed of eating disorder called “Orthorexia Nervosa”.

What the heck is that???”, you say?

Well, if you are feeling a bit neurotic about eating ONLY healthy foods, or find yourself becoming super-picky about where your food comes from or how it’s prepared, or even find that obsessing about food starts to nudge out other things in your life, you may be exhibiting signs of orthorexia nervosa.

Houston, we have a problem.  

In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s a far lesser problem than the food issues on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Eating McDonald’s every day or being anorexic can kill you; eating only pastured beef and organic veggies will not – but if you are obsessing about what you put in your mouth, you (or your friends and family!) may begin to wish you were dead.

Most of us can benefit from a little more ‘healthy’ in our diet, but if you find yourself having some of these behaviors, it may be time to regroup, and get some help if necessary:

  • Planning your entire day around your food intake
  • Feeling like a failure if you eat something that you deem unhealthy
  • Refusing to eat something if you don’t know where the ingredients come from
  • Judging others for their food choices
  • Eating well for the sense of control it gives you, instead of to nourish your body and satisfy hunger

But, and this is a BIG but – must we make a mountain out of every molehill?  Why must every behavior be diagnosable? Can’t we just be quirky?  Quirky, schmirky.  Of course, any behavior that interferes greatly with living life should be addressed. The rest of you? Just please, take a chill pill.  Life is all about a healthy balance.

And if you find that it’s harder than just a simple decision (I in no way want to discount your struggle) please seek professional help. NEDA, The National Eating Disorders Awareness organization can provide you just that.

Love ya lots,

Thank You. Gracias. Danke. Merci.

Posted: 879 days ago in Parenting

grateful-board

Wowzers!  

What a difference a year makes! 12 months ago I was doing a back handspring as we approached 3,000 Facebook likes. Can you imagine how excited I was when we hit 10,000 fans recently? I might just have peed my pants a little.

I am humbled. I am excited. But most of all, I am so incredibly grateful for all of you.

Whether you just occasionally read a post or come back day after day after day to support me, you are the reason I have a love affair with my laptop. When something funny or profound happens to me I can’t wait to share it with you. When I stumble upon a great recipe or piece of advice I immediately start working on a way to get it to you, ASAP.

boardYou are my people. And I am so, so grateful we found each other.

I wanted to share a little art project my hubs and I put together last year for Thanksgiving. We love it so much that we left it up all year, and our friends and family continue to add to it. Check it out:

We nailed a few pieces of barn siding together, added tacks and twine, and voila: art with a (grateful) attitude! I find myself going back time and again to feel the love. The love of: pumpkin pie, hot yoga on a cold day, dark chocolate, holding hands with my husband, being fortunate enough to help others, happiness, love.

There’s aren’t guidelines for this sort of thing because what you’re grateful for is unique to YOU. I wish you and yours a day filled with full tummies, close friends and family, and a whole boatload of things to be grateful for.

Hugs and kisses,

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Posted: 892 days ago in Lifestyle

sleep

Are you sleeping well every night? Do you wake up refreshed and ready to face the day?

Ha! Yeah, right. Me neither.

One of the most common complaints I hear from patients – and one that I sometimes have myself – is the inability to get to sleep or stay asleep.

Zzzzzzzzz…… WHAT!? HUH!? WHO!?

Since sleep is the only time that your body has to rebuild and rejuvenate, it’s critical that you get adequate, good quality sleep most nights.

How’s that, you say?  

Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Adopt a relaxing ritual before bedtime. For me, that means a warm bath and / or a cup of camomile tea.
  • Don’t have any caffeine or alcohol after dinner.
  • Turn off all screens (phones, iPads, TV’s, etc.) at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Have a small, high-protein snack before bed, like some cheese or a few nuts.
  • Keep a notepad by your bed to jot down things that may keep your brain spinning all night.
  • Keep your bedroom on the cool side (for me, that’s around 68 in the winter and 70 in the summer).
  • Try to wake up at the same time each day. On weekends if you’d like to try to ‘catch up’, take an afternoon nap rather than sleeping a few hours later.

Despite doing most everything right, it’s still not unusual to have an occasional sleepless night because life is a complicated bi-atch, isn’t she?  If that happens to me, I take a natural sleep aid like melatonin or valerian root.

Sleep is sacred. Don’t skimp on this very important factor in your quest for good health!

I’m Listening…

Posted: 935 days ago in Sex & Relationships

Imlistening
After years of running a practice, meeting and talking with people day-in-and-day-out, I think I’ve come to an understanding of what it takes to really connect with someone.

This, coming from a girl whose inner child is as introverted and shy as can be – but as a doctor, you almost have to be outgoing. Think about it: how could I help others without first asking them questions about themselves? You can’t, so that’s exactly what I do. I spend a lot of time asking my patients about their health and any concerns they are having. What I find is that this mentality clears the path for them to share even more about themselves, and about their lives.

The secret, my dear readers, is in asking questions and then listening!

Can you believe it? One of the greatest skills in becoming a people person isn’t necessarily what you have to say about yourself. Instead, it’s the questions you ask others, and then, how well you listen to their answers!

Not to mention, it gets you off the hot seat. When you ask someone – anyone, a question about themselves and then truly listen, you can learn a lot about them. After all, everyone has a story they’re just dying to tell, if only someone would ask.

If anyone says I’m a good conversationalist, it’s only because I asked the right questions. Asking someone, “where did you get that cool looking yoga mat?” or, “what do you think of this conference so far?” – all of these things get people to open up, ultimately sharing their realities with you.

Don’t be calculated, either. Just be truly curious about people! There is nothing more awkward than sitting in a room full of people who aren’t talking. So I challenge you! Be the person who breaks the silence. Find something that you like about someone else, or something that intrigues you and then use that as a way to spark up a conversation.

You’ll be surprised at who you meet and what you learn. Good stuff!

Gluten Free Me (Part II)

Posted: 951 days ago in Health Lifestyle

gluten-free-me-p2Gluten is not my friend. 

I am grateful that I don’t have Celiac disease, but I do have a wicked intolerance for the stuff. What does that look like? Well to start, if you haven’t already read Part 1 of ‘Gluten Free Me’, please do.

When I eat gluten, I feel like I have a big ball of dough in my belly – which, I guess is true. I feel poofy and gassy, topped off with a dose of sluggishness and dopiness.

Snow White’s dwarves have nothing on me! 

Worse, since gluten is found in so many products, I end up feeling like that most of the time, and not just after eating pizza or Italian bread. A lot of people complain of feeling like I do after eating gluten, so I thought I was, ya know, ‘normal’. Then a nutritionist friend suggested I do a gluten elimination diet, and so I rose to the challenge.

Holy gluten free transformation, Batgirl! I felt like a new woman!

I committed to eliminating all sources of gluten for one full month. In addition to the obvious sources such as breads, crackers, cereals, cookies and pasta made with wheat, barley or rye — I was careful to avoid the hidden sources as well. Can you believe that there can be gluten in:

  • Deli meats
  • Sausage
  • Dressings and sauces
  • Beer. Sigh, beer
  • Flavored coffee and tea

It was tough for the first few days, but I started feeling great fairly quickly, which motivated me to keep it up. I had much more energy, less brain fog, more regular bathroom habits and a tummy that was no longer feeling like the Michelin man’s twin sister.

The kicker at the end of an elimination diet is to do a ‘challenge’ – eat some gluten and see how you feel. Well, it was like someone stuck an air hose in me with sleepy gas. The bloat and fatigue came back with a vengeance.

My take on eating gluten-free is fairly simple. Instead of focusing on what I can’t eat, I make a list of what I can eat, and find, easily.


Here’s what I had to eat for the last 2 days of living gluten free:

Day 1:

  • Nonfat Greek yogurt, blueberries, gluten-free (GF)d granola.
  • Cashews and an apple
  • Kale salad with chicken, oil and vinegar
  • Clementines
  • Peanut butter and a banana
  • Grilled fish and asparagus
  • Ice cream…oh yes you can, but only the good stuff!

Day 2:

  • Omelet with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Almonds
  • Salad with walnuts and feta
  • GF protein bar
  • Clementines
  • GF sausage with cauliflower and potatoes
  • More ice cream

For a more comprehensive list of foods containing gluten, check out this article by WebMD.

I do try to make the best of available food choices always, but I also try to balance that with living a full life – and for me that sometimes includes an amazing loaf of Italian bread slathered in butter, a big slice of pizza from a New York City street corner, or ice cream two nights in a row (it’s summertime people!).

Life is so damn short, and I want to eat it all up, literally!

To keep that balance in check, I try to go gluten-free for a month a couple of times a year, and that really works for me. But remember, if you have Celiac disease, you MUST avoid gluten at all times.  

Best of luck, let me know how it goes!

Gluten Free Me (Part I)

Posted: 952 days ago in Health Lifestyle

gluten-free-me-p1What’s all the to-do about gluten free, anyway?

Gluten is a protein that is found primarily in wheat products, though it sneaks in to some other grains like barley and rye, and products like soy-sauce.

Soy sauce? Yup.  

A small segment of the population has an autoimmune disorder called Celiac disease. Celiacs suffer damage to the lining of the small intestine with the ingestion of gluten. Think of gluten as ‘glue’, which is how it acts on the hair-like cilia of the intestine, interfering with the absorption of food.

Though only 1 in 100 people have Celiac disease, it is theorized that many more of us have a gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance.

What are some indications of gluten sensitivity, you say?

  • Chronic digestive issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Musculoskeletal pain liken to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Laboratory tests can rule out Celiac disease, but the only way to determine if you have a gluten sensitivity is via an elimination diet. I did one for grins and giggles many years ago, and was happily shocked by how much better I felt without gluten in my life – and I felt pretty damn good with gluten in my life, so that’s saying something!

Since life is short and pizza is so, so good, I don’t practice living gluten free all the time. There is a price to pay for indulging though, so I try to do a gluten-free month once or twice a year. Mainly to give my body a break, but also to hit the ‘reset’ button on my diet so I’m less inclined to eat the stuff.

So, alas it’s time for another little gluten free cleanse in my life.

Interested in doing a gluten elimination diet yourself? I’ll talk more about that later this week, and give you an idea of what I’ve been eating in lieu of bagels, pasta and bread.

Currently eating gluten-free? Let me know what your go-to meals and snacks are!

xo.

FALLing Apart

Posted: 962 days ago in Everything Else Lifestyle

falling-apart

I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day this past week.

I had a mini-freak out this morning when I realized that since Labor Day has now passed, my favorite summer breakfast – fresh berries, yogurt and granola – wouldn’t be possible for much longer.

Attempting to eat only seasonally fresh produce means you have to change what you eat a few times a year. But I love my summer breakfast! And I love summer! And long days! And since I’m not relocating to Southern California anytime soon, I will attempt to transition into fall gracefully.

Here are some things that I look forward to in the upcoming, chilly season:

  • Sleep: Follow the sun, people, and embrace your circadian rhythms. More dark = more sleep.
  • Comfort food: I will miss my fresh berries, but I also love my cool-weather, go-to breakfast: steel cut oats with apples, walnuts, cinnamon and a bit of agave nectar. So warm and hearty on those cool mornings. If you throw it in the crockpot at night, you will wake up to the most delicious smell.
  • Hot yoga: You know I love me some yoga, but the idea of hot yoga on a hot summer day does not make me happy. But on a bone-chilling, fall or winter day? It’s blissful.
  • Fireplaces: There’s nothing like reading or snuggling in front of a fire.
  • Skiing: I get a little wiggy if I don’t get outside enough, and not much can beat being on top of a mountain on a crisp day.
  • New boots!: Shallow, I know, but come on….

If you can’t beat it, you may as well join it, right? Enjoy your last bits of summer in the upcoming weeks!486975527

A Rude Wake-up Call (Turned Silver Lining)

Posted: 963 days ago in Everything Else Lifestyle

rudewakeup

This post is being awkwardly written, as my left hand has been in a cast, and then a splint for the last eight weeks.  

Eight. Long. Weeks.

Flash back to an amazing summer morning on the water. The paddleboard yoga class I was taking was nearing its end, and I decided to get fancy and do a “behind the head” bind. It’s tough enough to do on land, but I’d worked on it for the better part of a year and felt pretty confident about it. That is, until I lost my balance, rolled off my board, and damn near tore my thumb off. One semi-emergent surgery later, and my exercise regime came grinding to a halt. Hence my rude wake-up call.

————————————- Oh, shit. ——————————————

Exercise keeps me feeling and looking healthy, but much more importantly, it keeps me from being a raving bitch/lunatic. So I knew I had to get on top of things, and quickly.


Yoga and weightlifting, my two go-to activities of choice, were an obvious NO.

Running didn’t work either, as the cast made me majorly lop-sided, and once I was splinted, the fear of catching or bumping my  thumb made me cringe.

I walked a lot, and took the opportunity to get back in the pool, awkward though it was.


Still, I felt a bit like a caged lion.179275702

And then, I exhaled. Maybe, just maybe, the universe gave me exactly what I needed. A little more time and space to stop and smell the roses. Our oldest just left for college, and the ‘baby’ is now a junior in high school. We had some pretty magical moments this summer, many of which probably wouldn’t have happened if Mama was at the gym all morning.

So though I’m still pissed that I’m not firing on all cylinders, and likely won’t be for a few more months, I can see that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And therein lies the silver lining, my friends.

What’s not going well for you that you could find some silver lining in? Please do share!