Volume 2, Issue 15 – Leading Authority in Naturopathic Endocrinology

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July 22, 2010
Volume 2, Issue 15

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A Note From Dr. Christianson
Hi  !  

Hope you’re having a great summer!  As I mentioned last week, we went on a “voluntourism” to Costa Rica. It was such a remarkable experience for the whorace resultsle family – one we’ll never forget!  We spent our time with an amazing group of school kids and one family in particular.  Anything lacking in terms of material resources they more than made up for with social ingenuity.  People there pitch in to help each other constantly, never thinking anything of it.  “Pura vita” is their response for thanks and literally means “pure life” but is taken as, “everything is good” (like the English expression, “it’s all good.”)  These words truly embody the Costa Rican way of life.

Of course I couldn’t stop seeing the culture through the eyes of a Naturopathic Physician.  Although healthcare access is minimal, there were few overt signs of chronic disease and obesity.  Their diet is a blend of traditional and modern foods, with traditional meals being called tipico plato, which means “typical Costa Rican plate”.  The healthy dish consisted of a small scoop each of rice and black beans, a few slices of sautéed plantain, cubed yucca root, a few ounces of fresh fish or chicken and a small green salad. 

Costa Ricans didn’t seem to have a formal exercise plan, however they’re always moving around. Every few blocks there’s a field for soccer where anyone and everyone jumps in to play a game, and they play well!  Getting around town on foot or bike takes up a large chunk of the average day.  Many parents travel with their kids perched in various ways on their bikes – we even saw a few dogs traveling this way!

During our stay neighborhood kids really took notice of the unicycle I brought along.  They found it very strange, but great fun.  One young man was so obsessed in learning to ride that we worked on it for hours! I’m proud to say I helped complete his training in one of life’s most valuable lessons: how to ride a unicycle. I can’t wait until he receives the unicycle we sent him – I know he’ll love it. 

The two big life lessons that were reinforced on this trip are that happiness really is about your social network and sense of community.  To lift your spirits lend a hand.  The other is that good health is about fresh food in the right amounts, filling your day with lots of ways to move your body and a positive mental attitude – a.k.a. pura vida!  

In good health,

Dr. Christianson

Fuel Your Day With 3 Steps!

Dr. Phil Wazny

ith summer in full swing, we’re all trying to pack more activities into the long days and enjoy our time together. The Arizona heat, however, can zap your energy pretty quickly, leaving you feeling run down and unable to keep up with the rest of the family.  Here are some steps you can take to improve your energy and get you feeling like your old (young) self again.

1. Exercise!  At first thought, this might seem absurd.  My patients often ask, “How can I exercise if I’m feeling so tired?  Won’t burning what little energy I have make me feel more tired?”  Unless you’ve been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, exercise will actually improve your energy.  

You may have noticed Dr. C and I commute to work on our bicycles.  While cycling has a great environmental impact by taking a couple more cars off our congested roads, I have more selfish reasons and there are plenty of studies to substantiate them:  I have more energy AND significantly improved mental clarity from daily exercise.  So simply find an activity you enjoy and get moving! If you need encouragement or moral support to keep you going, join an online fitness forum or start a training log, which is an online diary of all your training routines. People will chime in, give some pointers, and cheer you on when you need it most.

And as an interesting side note for those who spend a fair amount of time exercising indoors during the summer months, a study earlier this year found that music and dim lighting not only improve overall performance during exercise, but also makes the experience more enjoyable.

2. Get Quality Sleep: We’ve all been there – we wake up feeling like we never slept!  What was it about the previous night’s sleep that makes us feel like it “didn’t take?”  Sleep is quite a complicated phenomenon and there are hundreds of theories of why we sleep and all the physiological changes that occur as a result of both good and poor sleep.  

There are two major types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement, which is further divided into N1, N2, and N3 that our bodies cycle throughout the night.   A normal sleep pattern follows this sequence of events: N1>N2>N3>N2>REM, with REM occurring later in the night.  It’s during this REM sleep that most people have memorable dreams, while the N3 stage is the so-called “deep sleep” that we all strive for, but unfortunately don’t always accomplish.  Those mornings when we wake not feeling rested is when we never reached the N3 or REM stages of sleep.

Luckily there are things you can do to make sure your body reaches the N3 stage and REM.  Avoiding alcohol is an important first step.  Alcohol tickles a part of the brain that allows us to reach the N1 and N2 stages more easily, but later there’s a rebound effect that prevents the brain from reaching the deeper stages.  Also avoid stimulating compounds, such as caffeine and sugar, which keep the brain awake and prevents it from even reaching the N1 stage.  Melatonin can be helpful for falling AND staying asleep.  An interesting fact about melatonin supplements: they have their greatest effect 2-5 hours after taking them.  In other words, if you are trying to use melatonin to induce sleep, consider taking it 2-5 hours before you want to fall asleep.

3. Good nutrition: The importance of good nutrition cannot be overemphasized.  Every day in my practice I see the benefits of a healthy diet, as well as the dangers of an unhealthy one.  By adding the following energy foods to your diet, you can feel significantly better.

First, drink plenty of water.  Water has zero calories, is perfectly natural, and vitally important to every single function in the body.  Without it, we’re toast.  Nearly 80% of the U.S. population does not drink enough water.  To know how much to drink, take your weight and divide it in half, which will give you the number of ounces you should drink each day.  For instance, a 160-pound man should drink 80 ounces of water a day, or 10 cups.

Second, take a bag of almonds with you to work.  A handful of almonds (approximately 10-12) for a mid-morning or afternoon snack packs a healthy 83 calories, 3 grams of good carbs, 3 grams of protein, and 7 grams of healthy fats. This helps the body create more fuel for the brain to run more efficiently while at the same time keeping blood sugar levels stabilized.  

Finally, try to eat as many colorful foods as you can, a.k.a. fruits and vegetables.  The more colorful the better – all the great antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that they carry pack a powerful nutritional punch.  Check out the organic produce section at your local grocery store or scope out the farmers markets around town (www.arizonafarmersmarkets.com.)  

Although you’ve heard these three simple steps before, they cannot be overstated.  With regular, enjoyable exercise, effective sleep, and a nutritious diet you’ll have all the energy you need to enjoy the rest of the summer days and beyond.


(c) 2010- Integrative Health Care, PC

Would you like to use this article? You may as long as you use the following information along with the articlYosemitee:  Phil Wazny, NMD is a naturopathic physician at Integrative Health, a clinic in Scottsdale, AZ.  His areas of specialty are permanent weight loss, natural pediatrics, allergy solutions, hormone balancing, and pain control with prolotherapy and PRP therapy.  He can be reached at www.MyIntegrativeHealth.com and (480) 657-0003

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