Gut Health: Six Things to Do About Gut Health

Starting off the new year right can be tricky.

There are millions of messages in our everyday lives that tell us we have to look or act a certain way to be acceptable.

What we need are ways to be intentional about our health without becoming obsessed by unattainable weight loss goals.

One of the most important systems in our body is the gut microbiome that regulates the functionality of both our heart and brain.

To maintain optimal wellness (not just a focus on weight)

we must ensure the overall health of our gut.

Here are six things you can do to intentionally change your life by changing your gut:

  1. Think about your food. A diet based mostly on plants is optimal for your overall health. If at all possible, opt for food that is whole (with no added fat, sugar or sodium). Chew your food slowly and completely to aid in digestion. Consider fermented foods (probiotics) and fibrous foods (prebiotics).
  1. Listen to your body’s signals. Consider that food cravings are sometimes caused by an imbalance within your gut microbiome. Other signals like brain fog, stomach aches, fluctuations in weight, sleeplessness, a change in bathroom habits and acute inflammation can also be indicators of an imbalance.
  1. Consider your sleep schedule. Getting an adequate night’s sleep is an essential way for your gut microbiome to restore itself naturally. It is suggested that adults get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  1. Choose to drink more water. Water aids gut health naturally. It’s a simple and efficient way to repair your gut lining and the good bacteria in your intestines.
  1. Pay attention to your poop. Notice whether there are fluctuations in the way your body eliminates waste. Notice whether your stools are loose or hard. Track how often you eliminate and consider whether that is regular for your body or not.
  1. Get tested. As you become more aware of how your gut is interacting with other parts of your body, you might have questions. I can help you assess the health of your gut and how it might be impacting your life. Together we can look at food sensitivities, supplements and beneficial ways to nourish your gut microbiome. Schedule time with me here.

Whether you set goals or intentions for the new year, make it a priority to focus on the health of your gut microbiome. It could literally change your life.

If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs Dr. Fisel has to offer, call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.

INSOMNIA: HOW TO STOP THE CYCLE OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION

You feel stressed during the day and it’s hard to quiet your mind at night.

Then you can’t sleep at night because there are too many things to worry about.

The next day you feel a bit depressed because you are tired and stressed out.

So starts the cycle of stress, sleep deprivation and depression. I can tell you why this might be happening and help you get yourself back into a healthy pattern of sleep.

Here are some common questions people ask about insomnia and sleep deprivation:

HOW MUCH SLEEP DO I NEED?

It is generally recommended that you get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Depending on your age you may need more or less. It’s always important to evaluate what works best for you as an individual. I can help you figure out what is most healthy for your body.

WHY IS SLEEP SO IMPORTANT?

There are so many benefits to getting a good night’s sleep. Here are just a few things that a restful night can provide you during the day:

  • A calm mind
  • Less anxiety and stress
  • Increased immunity
  • Improved mood
  • More energy
  • Weight management
  • Healthy human connections
  • Better memory

WHAT CAUSES INSOMNIA?

Insomnia can generally be thought of as a perpetuating cycle. Lack of sleep can be caused by behavioral factors, physiological factors, or a combination of both.

For instance, it is common for people to lose sleep over stress which can bring about forms of anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are known causes of insomnia.

Another contributing factor to insomnia is the presence of poor sleep habits.

I like to get to the root of, and address, the underlying symptoms of insomnia to alleviate your issues from a whole human perspective.

HOW DO WE GET TO THE ROOT CAUSE OF MY SLEEPLESSNESS?

In looking for the root cause of your insomnia, we can look at BEHAVIORAL FACTORS such as:

  • Daytime routines that contribute to stress
  • Eating habits that may lead to heartburn, indigestion or other internal issues
  • Movement habits that may cause pain
  • Lack of movement

We can also look at PHYSIOLOGICAL FACTORS such as:

  • Hormone issues like peri-menopause or menopause
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Sleep Apnea

It is important to reiterate that sleep disorders, like insomnia, are part of a cycle that perpetuates itself. Sometimes the contributing behavioral factors create physiological factors and vice versa.

WHAT ARE SOME NATURAL WAYS TO GET TO SLEEP?

As a naturopathic doctor, I want to help you find natural solutions for your insomnia. Here are a few general tips that you can try on your own:

  1. Manage your daily stress. This may mean letting go of work or nighttime commitments, delegating responsibilities, practicing mindfulness about what you say yes or no to, and even taking a pause in your day to meditate.
  2. Practice sleep hygiene. Make a conscious effort to slow your mind down before you go to bed. Turn off screens and put away reading materials at least an hour before sleep. Wind down by taking a warm bath, turning off overhead lights, and putting a few drops of lavender oil in a bedside diffuser.
  3. Think outside the box. Acupuncture is one of the services I provide that is a supplemental therapy beneficial to insomnia and other sleep issues. Another suggestion would be to try Integrative Therapeutics Cortisol Manager, a stress hormone stabilizer, I sell in my office.

I can help you find natural solutions and relief if you are suffering from insomnia, and help you get out of the cycle of sleep deprivation naturally.

If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs Dr. Fisel has to offer, call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.

Why Your Injuries Aren’t Healing Properly

injuryOveruse injuries are something I see in my practice on an almost daily basis.  Whether it’s low back pain from running, shoulder pain from lifting weights, or neck pain from being in the wrong position for too long, most of us have experienced an issue related to muscle pain.  Most of us have been told what to do when it comes to dealing with the immediate trauma-rest, ice, compression, elevation, etc.  But what about the majority of you who aren’t getting relief weeks, months, or sometimes years after the initial trauma? What I’m finding is that the typical approach to soft tissue injuries (muscles, tendons, ligaments) is actually leading to further damage, and a long-term weakening of tissue.   [Read more…]

Digestive Health In Early Life Linked To Allergies

dandelionAs a naturopathic physician, I’m always paying close attention to the connection between intestinal health and systemic complaints. Allergies in particular are something that our profession has recognized as having strong ties to the digestive tract. When people present to my office complaining of allergies, one of the first things I ask about is whether or not they’re having any digestive symptoms. I also want to know about their history of antibiotic use, their diet, if they were breastfed as an infant, and whether or not they were born via Caesarean section. So, what do these birth-related issues have to do with someone’s current allergy symptoms? Well, we know that allergies are symptoms that result from antibody responses to antigens (dust mites, pollens, mold, etc.) that our body recognizes as foreign. But what your doctors don’t often discuss is why this occurs in the first place. [Read more…]

Light Therapy Not Just For Seasonal Affective Disorder

Since it was first described by psychiatric journals in 1984, artificial light therapy has been used successfully to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This therapy is meant to simulate exposure to sunlight in winter months, preventing people with SAD from suffering as much during periods where exposure to sunlight is more limited. In the past few years, more evidence has suggested that light therapy may be beneficial for other types of depression as well. In 2005, for example, a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry reported that the effects of light therapy are comparable to those found in many clinical studies of antidepressant drug therapy for mood disorders. [Read more…]

Are Annual Exams Really Necessary?

I hear it at least every week, if not more. “My doctor gave me a clean bill of health.” OK. So maybe the annual battery of tests and exams didn’t reveal any serious underlying diseases, but that hardly equates to being healthy. Unfortunately, we’ve become so accustomed to physical exams, even the insurance companies consider them “preventive care.” The chief cited rationale is that the annual offers a regular opportunity to address risk factors and health or life concerns. There may be some truth to this, but both insurance companies and doctors could be doing so much more to provide preventive care for patients. [Read more…]

Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance?

When people are experiencing nutritional deficiencies, anemia, weight changes, and/or other symptoms that seem to be of an unknown origin, it’s fairly common practice for doctors to rule out the presence of celiac disease with a small intestinal biopsy. While this is certainly considered the “gold standard” for identifying the pathological changes associated with celiac disease, many experienced physicians are finding that patients can still have a sensitivity to gluten containing grains, making celiac disease and gluten intolerance separate entities altogether.  This led experts at the recent International Celiac Disease Symposium to define the term gluten insensitivity for patients who don’t meet the criteria for celiac disease or wheat allergy, yet improve dramatically when following a gluten-free diet.

The incidence of Celiac disease has doubled since 1974, and gluten sensitivity alone is estimated to be 6 times the prevalence of celiac disease. Fortunately, for patients and doctors who have recognized this phenomenon for quite some time, there is finally a more established definition of gluten sensitivity. Some of the criteria being used to separate gluten sensitivity from wheat allergy and celiac disease include: Negative testing for the presence of IgE antibodies to wheat; Negative endomysial and ttg antibodies (typically present with celiac disease); Negative small intestinal biopsy; Resolution of symptoms following as gluten-free diet. Researchers have concluded that the genetic makeup and immune response of gluten sensitivity patients is unique, and may be more enzyme mediated (like lactose intolerance), rather than immune based.

Since objective testing is still lacking, people who are symptomatic should consider implementing a gluten-free diet. Some of the most common symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity include abdominal pain, rashes, headaches, “brain fog”, fatigue, depression, anemia, and joint pain. If your doctor tells you that celiac testing is negative, don’t give up hope!

 

Allergies-Understanding Causes and Risks

allergies, food allergies, environmental allergies, children, alternative medicine, natural medicine  The incidence of allergic rhinitis seems to be increasing every year, among both infants and adults. Most doctors will simply treat the symptoms, but it’s important to look more closely at some of the underlying causes, and how you can prevent allergies from affecting your quality of life.

Benefits of pets, siblings, and farms

To look at this question, researchers questioned 8,486 adults, aged 20 to 40, from 13 countries, about their childhoods and their current respiratory health. After nine years, the study participants completed these questionnaires again and also were asked whether and when they developed nasal allergies or hay fever.

After taking into account other things that may affect allergies, including family history of allergies and whether their parents smoked, the researchers identified several childhood factors linked with later developing allergies:

  • Contact with children, either siblings or in daycare, decreased the risk of developing allergies.
  • The more siblings a person had, the lower his or her likelihood of developing rhinitis.
  • Sharing a bedroom with an older sibling was protective against developing allergies.
  • Having pets in the home or living on a farm as a child significantly decreased the likelihood of developing allergies.
  • Having a mother who smoked while they were in utero and when they were a child increased allergy risk.
  • Women had fewer allergies than men as kids, but more allergies as adults.

The balance between clean and not-so-clean

Some of these results may be surprising because they suggest that childhood exposure to more “dirt and germs” can keep allergies at bay. On the other hand, other studies suggest that for children growing up in urban environments, being exposed to urban pests such as cockroaches may increase allergy and asthma risk. Read on for tips on finding the right “balance of clean” to keep your family healthy.

  • If your child has been begging for a pet, don’t let the “dirt and germ factor” dissuade you. Of course, only consider adding a pet to your family if you know you can care for it properly, and pick one that fits your lifestyle. For example, cats tend to be lower maintenance than dogs.
  • Periodically taking your child out to a farm to see where our food comes from is a terrific learning experience, and it may just offer the added benefit of reducing your child’s risk of developing allergies.
  • Some parents of kids who have to share bedrooms feel they aren’t giving their kids the best of everything. But having siblings share a bedroom may be one of the best ways to allergy-proof your little ones.
I also recommend blood testing to identify potential environmental and food allergies, as this can also help to narrow down treatment options, making it more likely that you’ll experience longer term relief from hay fever symptoms.

School Lunch Reform

This article discusses how corporations are willing to sell out the health of our kids for financial interests. “Food companies have spent more than 5.6 million so far lobbying against the proposed rules.” Really, food companies? I’m sure you can find other ways to make money without promoting obesity and illness-disgusting!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/us/school-lunch-proposals-set-off-a-dispute.html?scp=1&sq=school%20lunch&st=cse

Vitamins and Death? Not So Fast . . .

A lot of hype and negative press has been surrounding the recent study that demonstrated the supposed risks of taking supplements.  This is a reprint of an editorial written by Alan Gaby, M.D. that exposes the faults of this study, and why it should be taken with a grain of salt!
An observational study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women using multivitamins or certain other common vitamin and mineral supplements had higher mortality risk over 22 years. However, while it achieved widespread media coverage, it did not provide any convincing evidence that nutritional supplements are harmful. Researchers calculated the mortality rates were by manipulating the data, and nothing in the study contradicts decades of controlled research showing healthful benefits of these vitamins and minerals.

What the study said

In this study, 38,772 women from Iowa, whose average age was 62 years, filled out questionnaires three times over an 18-year period regarding dietary supplement use.

After a total of 22 years, researchers followed up and report that the risk of dying from any cause appeared to be 6% higher among women who took a multivitamin supplement than among women who did not take a multivitamin. Additional supplemention with vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper was also said to be associated with increased mortality rates.

Two factors should be taken into consideration while interpreting these results, the method used for calculating the results and the type of study.

Interpreting mortality risk methodology

The media coverage did not note a potentially serious problem with this study: that researchers looked at “adjusted” mortality rates rather than actual mortality rates in the population of women who took supplements, adjusting for a wide range of factors including caloric intake, cigarette smoking, body mass index, blood pressure, educational level, diabetes, use of hormone-replacement therapy, physical activity, and intake of fruits and vegetables.

Studying health events to find patterns in a population (epidemiology) is a relatively inexact science, and it is quite possible that the assumptions upon which the researchers based their adjustments were not entirely correct. When they adjusted the data only for age and caloric intake, there was no statistically significant difference in mortality rate between supplement users and nonusers.

Observation only tells part of the story

The study was observational, meaning that while it might show a relationship between certain supplements and mortality, it does not provide evidence that one causes the other.

In observational studies, scientists correlate various lifestyle factors with health outcomes. Such studies help researchers develop hypotheses that can be investigated further, but the only type of study that can prove cause and effect is a randomized controlled trial, in which participants are randomly assigned to receive either a particular treatment or a placebo (an inert dummy pill) without knowing whether they are getting the treatment or not.

In the history of medical research, results of observational studies have sometimes eventually been contradicted by randomized controlled trials. In a famous example, numerous observational studies suggested that the use of hormone-replacement therapy by postmenopausal women prevents heart disease, but subsequent randomized controlled trials demonstrated that hormone-replacement therapy either has no effect or actually increases the risk of heart disease.

Should women stop taking supplements?

The new study does not negate previous research demonstrating that vitamins and minerals can have a wide range of health benefits. However, as with all substances that can affect your health, talk to your doctor about which dietary supplements are right for you.

(Arch Intern Med 2011;171:1625–33)