Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year! Top 10 Health-olutions from Dr. Jody


I have never been good at New year's Resolutions. Over the years I have gone from making far too many, making just a couple impossible to reach goals, to forgetting to make them altogether...

This year, I thought instead, I would choose a theme. This year, I want to feel better!!! I want to feel better than I did last year – physically, mentally and spiritually. It's really a very simple goal, but so important, and one I wish for all of you in the upcoming year. Here are 10 easy ways to get you there.

1. Keep the winter blues away with Vitamin D. I can simply never say enough about the importance of vitamin D. It is pretty much the coolest vitamin out there. (Can you call a vitamin cool?) Besides supporting the immune system, including prevention of cold and flu, it plays an essential role in bone integrity. There is new research supporting its role in prevention of certain cancers, especially colorectal cancers, and it has been found effective in the prevention and treatment of diabetes and other autoimmune conditions. Research is also showing that there is a link between low vitamin D levels and depression, as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This same research is also finding promising results using vitamin D for both prevention and treatment of these pathologies. During cold Canadian winters, we simply cannot synthesize vitamin D through the skin and therefore supplementation is required during these months. 2000IU is a safe and therapeutic dosage.

2. Clean out after a holiday of sweets. We all over-indulge during the Christmas season and I, for one, need to start the year off right with some healthier eating habits. In general,we eat far too many sugary treats over the holidays and subsequently, we start to crave sweets. The only way to kill the craving altogether is to CUT IT OUT! Cut out the refined sugar! - ALL of it, meaning you will have to read a few labels. You'd be surprised where this nasty stuff is hidden. You may initially find it VERY difficult to go without, but I assure you after one week, the cravings will disappear. Your immune system will be stronger, your waistline will be smaller, your sleep will improve and you will be a happier person. That sounds like a pretty great way to start off the year, doesn't it? If you want to get more valuable vegetables into your diet, consider pulling out that dusty juicer and juicing your breakfast every morning. It's a great way to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need to start your day. Get creative – you can come up with some pretty great combinations. Try apples, beets and raspberries. Yum! Don't forget about SOUP, another healthy and comforting way to get your vegetables. Get out the cutting board and start chopping – load it up with veg and spices. Add some brown rice or brown rice pasta, a little chicken or fish and one of your favourite organic soup broths and you have a low cal, nutrient dense dinner and/or lunch for days.

3. Recuperate from a (fun but) stressful season with Rhodiola. I don't want to lead you astray in saying that it may possess magical powers, but.... it sure comes close. Stress can come in many forms, wearing many disguises and unfortunately there is a certain amount of stress that is inevitable over the holiday season. Besides getting back to a "normal" diet and catching up on lost sleep, an adaptogen, such as Rhodiola goes along way in supporting the adrenal glands and regulating cortisol levels (the stress hormone) both during and following a stressful period. Regulating cortisol helps to increase energy, mood, improve sleep and may even support weight loss. Rhodiola is calming without being sedating, in fact, it should improve your energy. It is also extremely safe. 100-200 mg/day is an effective dosage.

4. Journal! This year, try journaling again (get back on that horse...or something like that!). Done before bed, it can help to clear your mind, set aside the worries of the day and to-do list for tomorrow and facilitate better sleep. Julia Cameron, author of the Artist's Way, recommends writing in the morning ('morning pages') as a way to flush out all the junk and unleash your true creative self. Anytime or anyway you do it, there is something very freeing about venting all your emotions/thought/worries on paper. Keep in mind that it is equally important to write about positive things, as it is to purge the negative. A gratitude journal in which you write at least one thing you are grateful for each day, can help to put a bad day into perspective, alleviate stress, improve relationships and strengthen the immune system.

5. Stop colds and flus before they start. No one likes being sick. Two of my go-to supplements for preventing and treating the cold and flu this season are Andrographis and Sambucus (Elderberry). Both have been shown to aid in prevention, as well as shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms. Sambucus can be found in great tasting syrups for adults and kids. Andrographis can be taken in capsule or tincture form. Keep your medicine cabinet stocked this season. You won't be sorry.

6. Get outside. We all have a tendency to want to hibernate during the winter months, but getting outside, getting some fresh air and getting some much needed exercise can do so much to improve mood, self esteem and help you to lose some of that holiday weight. Cardiovascular exercise to the point of sweating is a great way to aid in detoxification, and fresh air helps to improve dull winter skin, giving you a healthy, rosy glow. It's fun, and a great stress relief. Just bundle up and frolic!

7. Eat your fish ... or take your fish oil. Omega 3 essential fatty acids EPA and DHA are both anti-inflammatory. DHA is vitally important for brain function, vision, and joint health. EPA helps to optimize the immune system and increase circulation. Studies have shown that fish oil can be used effectively to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, lower cholesterol (while raising "good" HDL cholesterol), and reduce risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Research is also showing benefit to using fish oil in treating a variety of autoimmune diseases, depression, PMS, arthritis and various skin conditions.

8. Morning lemon water. This is something I have honestly been doing for the last 8-10 years. I rarely go a day with it and I have converted more than a few others to the lemon water way of life. It helps to stimulate the liver, increase bile production and support regular elimination – a great aid in detoxification. Squeeze one full to one half lemon into a large glass of room temperature water (not hot or cold) and wait another 20-30 minutes before eating breakfast. It may seem counter-intuitive, but lemons are also very alkalizing to the body. To put it very simply, optimal functioning depends on optimal pH balance. Lemon water can help!

9. Drink your tea ... Green tea, that is. Green tea is high in antioxidants, fighting free radical damage and helping to promote detoxification. It has also showed promising results in terms of supporting weight loss. Research has shown that, even after accounting for the thermogenic effect of caffeine, extracts of green tea exhibit moderate weight loss effects. It is also a much healthier alternative to coffee, if you are looking for that morning pick-me-up without the jitters! Suntheanine, an extract of theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and and improve sleep quality without causing drowsiness. Drink up.

10. Be nice to yourself ... and let go of the guilt. There are literally physiological effects from experiencing different emotions, guilt being no exception. So what if you had a couple extra drinks over the holidays? Who cares if you forgot to take your vitamins but instead had two pieces of fudge for breakfast? As long as you enjoyed yourself, I say GOOD FOR YOU (in moderation, of course!)! Let go of the guilt. Research has shown that guilt and shame can actually increase pro-inflammatory cytokines (immunological messengers), which in the long term can put you at risk for a whole list of disease. It doesn't have to be specific to the holidays, either. As important as healthy eating, supplementation when needed, and regular exercise are, so is relaxation and 'you time'. Relaxing with a book, taking a warm bath, treating yourself to a massage, these things are all equally important to your health and well-being and can do more than any vitamin C capsule I've ever heard of. So go ahead, give yourself a break. Doctor's orders.

Have a Happy & Healthy 2011
Dr. Jody Snider

No comments: