Affecting approximately 125 million people – or about 2-3% of the global population – psoriasis is one of the most common autoimmune diseases in the world.
This condition also affects several members of my family, so I have very intimate knowledge of how painful, uncomfortable and irritating it can be. Its especially hard to watch your children suffer and, in turn, extremely satisfying to be able to do something about it.
Have you ever felt that way? Do you or someone you love suffer from psoriasis and are you looking for something you can do to help them? If so, you're in the right place! The answer to the above question is YES and if you read on I hope you will be pleased to learn more.
Psoriasis is characterized by the chronic formation of skin lesions, red patches, papules and plaque. These formations may appear in localized areas of the body or throughout the entire body, depending on an individual's condition.
Psoriasis is known to trigger intense bouts of itching. The sensation can be so intense that it causes the individual to scratch infection-prone sores into his or her skin. Regardless of how bad it itches, you should never scratch your psoriasis, as it will only make the condition worse.
As with most autoimmune diseases and disorders, psoriasis is caused by an overactive immune system. The immune system is responsible for fending off potentially harmful viral and bacterial infections. It does this by producing key inflammatory hormones. Normally, it produces the right amount of these hormones, but there are times when it produces too much; resulting in conditions such as psoriasis.
Acupuncture Offers Good News for Those With Psoriasis
The good news is that acupuncture may offer relief of psoriasis and its related symptoms. Acupuncture can have very positive effects on the immune system. When we are sick or dealing with chronic illness, our bodies are not able to function properly. This can be due to the body’s natural energy being restricted or blocked. Acupuncture works by treating the whole body and releasing any abnormalities through acupuncture points. By doing so, the body is able to function as it should and the immune system is strengthened because of this.
With psoriasis, the Spleen 10 xue hai acupuncture point located just above the knee is a popular choice because it targets the immune system.
One study found acupuncture to be effective at treating psoriasis, particularly when western medicine has been exhausted. “Our experience indicates that acupuncture is induced an effective therapeutic modality for psoriasis, particularly when the western medical management is unsuccessful. We speculated about the possible involvement of the cutaneous reticuloendothelial system in the clearance of the skin lesions,” wrote the study's researchers.
Give me a call today to learn how you can get back on track to better health!
Despite my profession and calm demeanor, "calm" is not my base nature. It is something that I've learned and something that I've practiced through many years of martial arts, meditation and QiGong training.
Do you ever feel like it is hard to calm down and focus your mind? Like the hustle and bustle of the digital world is overwhelming you? Like you have too many obligations and not enough time, and like even when you DO have time to rest and relax that it takes a long time to quiet your mind and be present?
I still have times when I feel this way too. My dad always used to say, "We get good at what we practice, but most of the time we don't know what we're practicing." What are YOU Practicing today and in this moment? Happiness? Sadness? Joy? Overwhelm? Distraction?
If you want to make a conscious choice to practice calm and focus, Meditation is a true and time tested way to achieve this. Based upon Taoist meditation practices, the Inner Smile Meditation can have profound effects on your body and mind. This simple meditation suggests that you “smile” to all of your internal organs and glands. It is a way of saying “thank you” to your body for working 24 hours, 7 days a week!
Focusing your attention and smiling in this way can calm the autonomic nervous system, revitalize the internal organs, and increase the flow of blood and Qi.
Below is the Inner Smile Meditation for the main Meridian Organ Systems. For more information, please refer to Mantak Chia’s book, Taoist Ways to Transform Stress into Vitality.
It is ok if you don’t know the exact locations of your organs. Just bringing awareness to your organs is benefit enough. Your body will love you just the same.
Perform each exercise 9 times, twice a day. These exercises can affect your body and mind, so it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider, but meditation is a safe way to practice calm and change negative thought patterns by connecting your calm inner center.
Want to know more or have questions? Contact me anytime. As a veteran martial artist and a certified Thousand Hands Buddha Qigong instructor, I'm here to help!
Are you an athlete looking to optimize performance? Increase speed, stamina or recovery time? As an intense martial artist and cardio-kickboxing instructor in the past myself, I can relate AND I am super excited to share some evidence that Acupuncture can make a difference. I can also tell you anecdotally that my Iron Man competitors and Ultra Runner patients can attest to the validity of this research.
Specifically, researchers have discovered that acupuncture can stimulate the release of biochemicals that help prevent athletic fatigue due to intensive exercise. The study showed that electroacupuncture can affect the free radical metabolism process in athletes and increase antioxidant activity.
Researchers in the study came to the conclusion that electroacupuncture - a form of acupuncture - increases enzymes that have antioxidant properties and decreases the body’s biochemical response to stressors, resulting in a decrease in athletic fatigue.
These results are significant for any serious athlete or person who regularly exercises at an intense rate and is looking to improve performance and endurance. If you feel this issue applies to you or someone you know, contact an acupuncturist (like me??!!) to begin alternative treatment and improve your sport performance.
A coach once gave me an analogy I never forgot - that life is a juggling act and while most of the balls will bounce, health can be made of glass; if that ball breaks, it might never go back together quite the same.
The key message? Health MUST be a priority in the juggling act we call life because of all the things we can recover from, a true health crisis can change our lives irrevocably and irreparably.
Take a Lesson from the Heart - Put Your Health First
Another good way to bring this message home, is to take a lesson from our own body processes - from the heart specifically. In our own bodies, the Heart actually pumps blood to itself first before it pumps blood anywhere else in the body. This is because the body knows that without proper nourishment of the Heart, everything else in the body will fail.
Our lives are the same - if we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot take care of anything or anyone else in our lives. Its imperative to put your health first, to have an eye on preventative care and stress management in particular, so that you know you are doing everything within reason in this moment in time to take care of yourself. If you can do that, you are much more likely to continue leading the long and healthy life you want to live.
A Plan for Self Care that Works For YOU
If you don’t want to drop that glass ball, you’ve got to keep your eye on it, and the best way to do that is to have a plan for self care. I believe a successful self care plan needs to be simple and flexible because at different times in our lives (or even day by day) sticking to our plan can be more or less difficult. Your self care plan needs to assist and support your health, not stress you out, but you also have to be accountable to your goals to succeed in them. Having a plan can help you in all these areas.
Devising your plan can be a simple exercise in assess, plan, execute. Then revise and repeat whenever necessary.
STEP ONE - ASSESS
You might know this right off the top of your head, but if you don’t take 5-10 minutes to make a mental tally (or physical list, your choice) of the areas you feel you are successful with your self care and the areas you feel you could improve. It should be something simple like this:
It doesn’t need to be exhaustive, but I do recommend including these categories - diet, exercise, sleep and stress. You can include as much or as little detail in these areas as you want, and you can also include any other areas you like that directly affect your health, such as self care, family time, sport, etc.
If STRESS is in the “weak” list, meaning it is too high or uncontrolled, make another list like this:
Now you have a clear picture of your strongest and weakest areas. Your goal? Create a plan that will shift more into the “strong” column and the “stress reducing” columns of your lists.
STEP 2 - PLAN
You can be as simple or as complex as you want with your plan. The most important part is that you are devising a plan you can achieve. You can revise your plan as often as you want, so set goals you can reach in a reasonable period of time to ensure success and motivate you to keep making positive changes.
For example, if Sleep and Stress are the biggest items in the “weak” column, choose these two areas to focus on and pick one or two activities that will help you improve them. Better yet, choose one activity that can help with BOTH. For Sleep + Stress there are two primary activities that come to my mind - Exercise and Acupuncture. Exercise and Acupuncture can both drastically improve sleep and stress, and if you combine the two its a magic double whammy!
Schedule time for these activities as part of your plan - for example, decide that you are going to exercise 2x/week on specific regular days/times or book an acupuncture appointment once a week.
To complete your plan, choose a timeline for these activities during which you are going to focus on doing them and not worry about assessment or about what comes next. For this length of time, you are just going to walk the walk. You’ll look back and see what happened later. It could be 3 weeks or 3 months, but whatever it is set it, schedule a reminder when the time is up, and forget it.
Now its time to EXECUTE.
STEP 3 - EXECUTE
Okay, execute the plan! Some days or weeks it is going to work great, other days and weeks its going to be hard. That’s okay. Right now all you have to do is do the doing and accept that all you can do is all you can do and that’s just how it should be.
REVISE AND REPEAT
Once you reach the date you set to look back, take a moment to go back to step 1. Run your list again and see how you did. Did anything shift out of “weak” into “strong?” Are your plans working for you in your life or do they need to be revised? Do you just need to walk the walk a little longer on these goals or is it time to choose a new focus to get in line?
I know these are a lot of questions, but they will be intuitive as you look at your list and seek to shift more items into the strong column. It will only take you a few minutes, and it will help you keep that glass ball in play as long as you can bring yourself to focus on it.
You Don't Have to Go It Alone
At a minimum, I recommend doing this exercise quarterly with the change in seasons - it is a natural time to assess your health and your goals. If you reach your goals quickly or want faster change you could repeat it weekly or monthly even - its totally up to you.
If you look at this exercise and feel too daunted, then don’t do it alone - your friendly neighborhood Acupuncturist is an expert in preventative medicine (we have 3,000 years of clinical data behind us which supports living a healthy balanced life!)
In my practice, in addition to helping my patients reach their immediate health care and pain relief goals, I always have an eye on improving my patient’s health long term. As a holistic medicine tied to the seasons and body rhythms, in my mind there’s just no other way - Acupuncture can’t treat anything without treating a little bit of everything. If you’re looking to keep your eye on the ball, Chinese Medicine has a plan to help you.
If you have questions or want help devising your own plan, contact Rebecca via email anytime, or book online anytime! You can also post in the comments section and I’ll do my best to address your concerns.
Until next time,
Spring is in the air - as the fragrant Daphne at my front door reminds me every day! Tomorrow, March 20th, marks the official first day of Spring 2014. Can you believe its here already? Spring is the Wood Element season in Chinese Medicine; a time for growth, change, detox, renewal and celebration of creative endeavors. For our health, Spring marks the beginning of allergy season, and the beginning of body taxing Spring cleaning projects, gardening and renewed efforts to get out and get fit as the weather warms up.
The result? A number of Spring ailments such as:
If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms above or getting ready for a Spring project requiring some elbow grease, consider including Acupuncture in your health regime in the coming months both to treat and avoid common Spring ailments. Chinese Medicine is a natural medicine which is tied to the seasons - treatments in the Spring are actually different from treatments in the Fall, Winter and Summer specifically to help the body handle the environmental and energetic changes associated with the season. Acupuncture can make you healthier this Spring by:
Spring Health Tips
As the Wood Element season, Spring is also a critical time for Liver and Gallbladder health in Chinese Medicine because the Liver and Gallbladder are considered Wood element organs. That means Spring is the perfect time to detoxify the body and focus on Liver health. Also critical to Liver health? Stress and Stress management, because stress affects the energy of the Liver first and foremost.
So here are some tips to help you manage the change of seasons and support the Liver and Gallbladder this Spring:
If you’re interested in getting some help managing stress, aches, pains, allergies or just preparing the body for the change of seasons, please come in for a free consultation or appointment. You can book online anytime! Also, check out my pinterest Healthy Eating board for more detox drinks and health recipes for the season.
Yours in Health,
#SpringHealthTips #HealthTips #AcupunctureandHealth
In Chinese Medicine Winter is dominated by the Water element which governs the Kidneys and the Bladder. The transition from one season, or element, to the next is the most delicate time for your health and the time when the most care needs to be taken if you want stay well.
This last week before the official start of Winter, therefore, is an especially important time to be minding your Winter health P’s and Q’s if you want to avoid winter colds and flu’s.
Fall, the season we are leaving, is dominated by the Metal element which governs the Lungs and the Large Intestine, so we are currently leaving the Metal season and moving into the Water season. The Lungs are connected to the skin in Chinese Medicine while the Kidneys are connected to the ears. If either organ is having trouble energetically with the seasonal change, viruses that include skin rashes and ear symptoms are more likely to be present.
Its especially important, therefore, to take care of both of these energetic systems right now, and I’m happy to provide you with some acupuncture tips on staying healthy through the change of seasons!
Acupuncture Health Tips for Staying Well into Winter
Staying well through the transition of seasons is dependent upon caring for both the Metal and Water elements in the body, primarily the Lungs and Kidneys which are the Yin or “substantive” organs in the pairs listed above. A few simple tips can go a long way to helping you maintain the best health possible as Fall makes its final turn to Winter this week:
Remember that a little bit goes a long way. Try to incorporate one of two of these tips into your regime the next few weeks and give yourself a great immunity boost as the weather turns.
Happy Winter Solstice!
Oregon and Washington Individual & Family Health Plans Offering Acupuncture under the Affordable Care Act
Wow, what a week its been - opening of the Health Care Exchange sites, government shut down, a new hurricane?!! Eventful to say the least.
Despite the brouhaha, the Affordable Care Act is in effect NOW and new plans are ready and available for review and enrollment. It is a landmark for our nation and fundamental shift to the way we approach health care in the U.S.. Despite the glitches and kinks, I can't help but be excited about what is to come.
10 Essential Benefits
With the Affordable Health Care Act EVERYONE has access to quality insurance that covers the basics, and "the basics" refers to 10 categories must be included in every plan nationwide:
What exactly is included in these categories is slightly different state to state, however. In Washington these essential benefits include ACUPUNCTURE, 12 visits a year in fact. This means ALL PLANS be they individual or group that are purchased in Washington state will include Acupuncture benefits. How awesome is that?
In Oregon the essential benefits category inclusions do not include Acupuncture specifically, so I've done my best to review the Individual and Family plans available in Oregon to give you a quick list of which plans include Acupuncture towards helping you choose the best alternative care benefits available.
Group plans will be subject to employer review and approval so I have not combed through those here. If you are insured through your employer, however, and will be having a coverage switch in the coming year, I highly recommend you tell HR that you would like Acupuncture benefits included in your package if at all possible. Acupuncture is usually bundled with Chiropractic and Naturopathic care, as well as Massage in some cases, so advocating for alternative care coverage will help you get the best wellness maintenance and stress reduction treatment options out of your new benefits.
Oregon Individual & Family Plans Covering Acupuncture in 2014
Many of the insurance websites have been having glitches with the high volume of traffic this week, and some sites just don't list every benefit online, so my list isn't perfect but its as good as it can be in this time and place.
Here, therefore, is a list of Oregon Individual and Family Plans currently including Acupuncture coverage:
If your insurer isn't listed, don't worry. Remember that this is a review of Individual and Family plans only and does not include group insurance plans many of which will have options to include Acupuncture and alternative care through your employer.
You can review plans and get quotes through the exchange websites here:
Rebecca Accepts Insurance!
Want to make sure treatments at All Ways Well are covered? They are! I am a preferred provider with all the networks listed above except for OHP.
Stay Tuned! Until next time.
As further information about alternative care under the Affordable Care Act is available I will endeavor to keep posting updates on my blog so please stay tuned. If you have questions about your care or coverage and treatment at All Ways Well please don't hesitate to contact me via email anytime.
Have additional questions you'd like answered that I can help with or resources you need help finding? Just ask in the comments section below and I'll be happy to do my best to help you.
Yours in Health,
When I first saw this acronym and heard about MTHFR from my dear friend Cathleen my first thought was, "you have the Motherf***er disease?" I mean, if someone texted you the letters "MTHFR" you could think that was the word they were communicating, right? Hm...
I was admittedly embarrassed that my first gut-shot interpretation of this acronym was such a dirty word and did not share that with her for a while, but as her symptoms progressed and she shared more of her story with me it actually seemed like a reasonable correlation so I did tell her eventually. Luckily she found it pretty amusing so we are still friends and general health-focused mommy co-conspirators.
[Picture by chagniel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]
The more I learn the clearer it becomes that MTHFR is a missing piece of a huge portion of the population's health puzzle - its estimated that 30% of people carry the gene mutation though not everyone expresses it (high stress events such as pregnancy, childbirth, trauma etc. can epigenetically trigger the change) - and the more motivated I feel to learn more and explore how Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help.
My goal with this post today is simply to raise awareness, communicate my (limited) experience in treating MTHFR with Acupuncture in the Portland area, and ask for any and all local resources and connections for people with MTHFR or suspect MTHFR.
What is MTHFR? How does it affect me? The short answer.
If you don't know what MTHFR is, the short answer is that it is a gene mutation which results in a lack of the MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase) enzyme which deals with methylation in the body. Methylation plays a role in how the body deals with environmental stressors, how it detoxifies, adapts and rebuilds. MTHFR is therefore essential for processing a number of things in the body, primary among them B vitamins such a B12 and Folate. There are many resources online that give you the long answer so I won't belabor that here. If you want more details try one of these links below:
Loving Our Guts
Life With Spirit
A MTHFR genetic disorder can cause or contribute to a myriad of symptoms and disorders including:
If you want to know if this could be affecting you, the best way to find out if you have this genetic glitch is to get simple and inexpensive genetic testing done. It costs $99+ if you do it independently of your regular physician depending on the vendor you go with. Here are a couple resources for testing:
23 and Me $99
Lab Testing Direct $149
Holistic Health International $495 (much more comprehensive test)
If you have a combination of the disorders above, or especially if you are fatigued all the time, have tried taking B vitamins but find that they don't help or make you feel ill, you could very well have an MTHFR gene mutation and testing might help you get answers and guide you on a new path to wellness. Oh yeah, getting tested can make you feel less like a crazy person too because you aren't insane or just overly stressed - you may have a genetic disorder that you can do something about.
Knowledge really is power and even though it can be scary to think that you might have a genetic disorder, it is better to get tested and find out sooner rather than later. If it is MTHFR, lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Testing can also help you avoid a misdiagnosis of something else from your western physician such as Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue which might herald pharmaceutical interventions that may or may not be favorable to your constitution over time.
Current Treatment for MTHFR
Treatment for MTHFR is varied depending on the severity of any individual's symptoms, or so it seems from what I am learning slowly but surely. It is clear, however, that there are a number of lifestyle changes that can help you manage the cascade of symptoms, heal, recover and find a new healthier more manageable baseline.
There is an exhaustive list HERE on the MTHFR.net site. It starts with a list of 30 dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health with relation to MTHFR and is based on Dr. Lynch's experience treating patients with this disorder and I trust his recommendations.
Some of the items on this list are understandably specific to MTHFR, such as supplementing specific forms of B12 and Folate and limiting your protein intake to 0.7 grams per kilogram of weight per day, but many others are good recommendations for basic health and for decreasing general inflammation in the body such as:
1. Find a physician - MD, ND - who is experienced in treating this disorder
Your symptoms and journey, or that of someone you know or love, with MTHFR is going to be unique. You need a guide to recovery and care who is going to listen to you and recommend reasonable interventions based on your symptoms and your lifestyle.
MTHFR & Acupuncture Treatment
At this point there is no research or evidence supporting acupuncture treatment for MTHFR specifically. I have literally found one article which mentions an increase in MTHFR mutation found in patients who have migraine with aura, which mentions acupuncture as a known favorable treatment for migraines - but does not specifically link acupuncture with MTHFR.
I have one confirmed MTHFR patient right now, one who has been told by her ND that MTHFR is highly suspect but isn't recommending testing and a dozen more that I suspect based on their symptom pictures. I don't consider myself an expert, but I'm setting out to become one so I want to share what I see and how I think acupuncture can help. I hope to have the opportunity to treat more confirmed MTHFR cases in the coming years so I can compile further data and case studies.
As a 3,000+ year old traditional medicine, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has a lot going for it. While no single mechanism of action has been identified by western science for its efficacy, there have now been over 10,000 scientific acupuncture studies. It is increasingly accepted that acupuncture is worthwhile in the treatment of pain, in down-regulating the sympathetic nervous system or "fight or flight" reaction, in treating migraine, PTSD, fertility, gut issues from inflammation to constipation, diarrhea and gut motility disorders and more.
Even this short list shows a correlation between these accepted issues for acupuncture treatment and the list of disorders that MTHFR can produce. This, combined with the hallmark of Chinese Medicine as a tradition which treats every individual uniquely based on energetic diagnosis, makes it a natural fit for the MTHFR road to recovery.
Thus far I feel that my clinic experience shows the same. My confirmed MTHFR patient often comes in with insomnia, back pain, anxiety and nervous energy, high stress, headache and fatigue. I generally see her walk out of treatment with a different gait and posture and she reports feeling better than when she walked in. There have been a couple instances of a detox-type reaction to treatment where she will feel worse for a day but when it happens it does pass and there has always been a net positive response over the course of the week in-between treatments. I see her sleeping better, feeling less anxious and experiencing fewer headaches in particular.
My highly probable yet unconfirmed MTHFR patient right now saw a marked difference after just one treatment. Her symptoms are highly stress related/stress activated - high stress type A personality and high pressure job, neck and shoulder pain, insomnia, anxiety, gut issues clearly increased with stress - and she walked out of treatment feeling relaxed which she found very surprising with a marked decrease in her pain.
Stress is one of my primary specialties, both from a lifestyle perspective and a nervous system perspective. I work hard with my patients to help them identify stressors in their life and make a plan to deal with them while using acupuncture and Chinese Medicine including herbs, dietary and lifestyle changes and general supplementation to create change physically, energetically and emotionally.
In the case of MTHFR, I feel like the MTHFR itself is such a huge stressor - having it, dealing with the lifestyle changes that accompany it and the healthcare journey associated with it - that one of the best things I can provide is a safe space to be heard, to be present, and to receive treatment that doesn't require you to actively *do* anything in the moment.
Part of acupuncture is just resting on the table and letting the needles do their work to rebalance the body energetically - i.e. stopping for a moment and just allowing yourself to *be*. When you are pursuing a health journey like MTHFR which has a steep learning curve, you can feel like you are spending all your time running from one test and doctor and obligation to next with your already limited reserves dwindling as you try to put the puzzle of your health and your needs together. The experience of acupuncture is one of relaxation and restoration - hard to come by in the heat of the healing journey, but so necessary.
As I continue to see and treat more MTHFR patients I will write more about the specific types of energetic diagnoses I see and treatments that are successful, but at this point I don't have enough cases to draw any correlations or conclusions. Suffice to say that at this stage, I feel that the theory and practice of Chinese Medicine can be a strong addition to managing MTHFR on many levels - from the mental emotional piece to the physical symptoms themselves - and I am clearly seeing results in my practice from the limited cases I can draw on.
Share Your Resources - Come In For Treatment!
Do you have MTHFR or know someone who does? Can you share specific resources or health care professionals you feel know their stuff in the comments section? I am looking to build a good referral network for MTHFR patients and cases and I would love to know who you feel is really listening to and working for you in the local area.
I am also interested in treating more MTHFR cases so I can compile data and information to share about Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in the management of this disorder. I feel very strongly that Chinese Medicine is a great fit, but I need more experience and data. I would also love to be a partner in your care or that of a loved one with this disorder. I bill lots of insurance!
I have not been tested myself and I know I handle B vitamins well so I believe I am low on the possible MTHFR mutation spectrum, but I do have IBS gut issues, gluten intolerance and a strong history of Heart Disease in my family. Its possible that I have poor methylation ability myself so I am going to pursue testing as well. We'll see what I find out.
If you have resources or a story to share please post it in the comments section or email me directly - I'd love to hear from you - and stay tuned! As I learn more I will continue to post on my blog about MTHFR.
Thank you for listening,
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, a recent OPB special sparked my interest in Intermittent Fasting for health and I've been experimenting with it and learning more about it. In the special, Michael Mosely ended up fasting 2x/week, and by fasting I mean eating only one meal a day, and derived and maintained some amazing health benefits. I'm still in the trial phase myself and once I get a little further along with my journey, I'll report in about it - I promise.
My continued research brought me to some great articles by Dr. Mercola - hence the YouTube video presentation above. Dr. Mercola has done a great job gathering recent research on Intermittent Fasting and putting it together in an easy to understand collection in the article linked to this presentation.
Intermittent Fasting - a great tool for overall health
Intermittent Fasting involves not eating on a regular or alternating basis for anywhere from 6-36 hours at a stretch. Different types of intermittent fasting are better for different people and different lifestyles. The Michael Mosely OPB special examined two different types of intermittent fasting - prolonged fasting for 3-4 days on a monthly basis and alternate day fasting where you eat one meal a day every other day, or 1-2x/week. Dr. Mercola's site gives research based evidence for 4 different types of fasting as listed here:
Variations of Fasting
The above information is quoted directly from Dr. Mercola's website HERE.
The simplest method I think most people could incorporate into their lives with ease is probably the LeanGains method which basically involves (on the eating side alone, not the exercise piece of course) skipping breakfast. Stop eating at 8pm and don't eat again until noon or later and voila - you've participated in intermittent fasting.
Recent research on intermittent fasting is extremely compelling. Take for example the study by Dr. Mark Mattson, Senior Investigator for the National Institute on Aging published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2011 which found that intermittent fasting was just as effective as regular caloric restriction for weight loss and slightly better than regular caloric restriction for reducing insulin resistance (i.e. reducing likelihood of developing Diabetes).
In summary, the participants in this study showed improvements in
All of these are pretty compelling reasons to skip breakfast, but skipping breakfast goes against all previous medical and nutritional guidelines. I mean who hasn't heard that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" before?
Well, according to this research, that may not be the case. In fact, skipping breakfast could be one of the simplest things you can do to improve your overall health and longevity. Who knew?
Of course you don't have to skip breakfast to participate in intermittent fasting - as listed above there are many different ways to do it, and even the "skipping breakfast" LeanGains method essentially involves only eating for an 8 hour stretch, and it can be any 8 hour stretch including or not including breakfast.
If you're curious about trying it I recommend you review the information on Dr. Mercola's site as well as Mark Sisson's website which probably has the most detailed information about how to actually go about it. If you have Diabetes, Hypo or Hyperglycemia or are nursing or Pregnant, it may not be the time to investigate this type of lifestyle choice, but it never hurts to read up and learn more or consult a health professional if you are interested.
I'll be reporting in about my personal experiment in a few more weeks here, so stay tuned for more information on an Acupuncturists Journey into Intermittent Fasting for Health and Longevity coming soon!
Until next time,
September is National America On the Move Month, hooray! So its time to get off your duff and get moving while the Fall weather still provides some fair weather days to do so. America On the Move, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Americans lead healthier lifestyles, is the unofficial sponsor of this event and while their website isn't perfectly user friendly, it does allow you to track your activity, set goals, participate in social media community and browse a list of articles to help you learn more about eating well, staying active and making positive lasting lifestyle change.
They have a great list of 100 ways to add 2000 steps to your day HERE and its surprising how little it can take. Did you realize that an extra 2000 steps will burn at least 100 additional calories? That might not sound like much when your average restaurant meal in the US is 1,000 calories, but hey - that's half a nonfat latte and every little bit really does count.
An extra trip encircling the grocery store as you shop for dinner, using the bathroom on the far side of the building at your office (if there's more than one) taking the stairs - everything adds steps, burns calories and keeps you moving leading to healthier you.
Lifestyle Change - its a journey
I personally find that lifestyle change towards lasting wellness is a journey. Sometimes you are motivated to change your diet, your exercise habits, the way you mentally process stressful situations, and sometimes you feel like you are struggling and slogging along. As someone who has battled an eating disorder and weight issues, I know it isn't easy and depending on the month and the day, I still struggle myself.
I remember my mom always used to get mad at me as a kid (or teen...) if I used the word "just." She could never agree with the Nike slogan, because to her saying "just do X" or "lets just have..." was grossly inadequate for all the steps and stages of any given activity. As a kid, this lead to many mother daughter arguments, but as an adult I see her perspective. Even fixing a simple one pot dinner involves shopping, cutting, chopping, measuring - with two kids hanging on my coat tails, my mom to care for and my solopreneur Acupuncture practice - I often agree with my mom that there is no "just" anymore.
At the same time I recognize that the Nike-ism "Just Do It" is a state of mind as much as a call to action. When stress and overwhelm get the best of me I feel like everything - even taking a 10 minute walk - is impossible, but when I can take a deep breath and *be* in the moment, I see that everything that needs doing is just another step, and I can only physically do one thing at time anyway. Every step brings me one step closer to whatever my goal is - be it dinner or exercise or bill paying or anything else - and that is all I need; to keep making measured progress and to recognize it as such.
I think the hardest part of any lifestyle change journey is managing those times when you find yourself in the valley, when stress and overwhelm make it feel impossible to "just do" anything. Those are the most important times to have your best wellness tools handy - to keep that (acupuncture!) appointment for self care, to decide the dishes can wait in favor of a walk or some meditation or a few yoga sun salutations.
Make Your Self Care Tools More Readily Available
If you have a hard time accessing your tools - the self care interventions you know you should do and could do easily if you *just* stopped and did them - make them a little more readily available. You can do this by programming a daily reminder in your phone during the most stressful time of day that tells you to BREATHE or reminds you to schedule self care time. You can keep a white board or bulletin board in a prominent place in your house where you post cards or pictures of 10-15 minute self care activities to remind you of things that are easy to do, or find an app for that!
My favorite app is GPS For the Soul by the Heart Math Institute. It uses the camera to track heart rate and gives you a check in with your stress level, and then you can chose any number of short guided meditations and timed breathing exercises to help you calm down and refocus in the moment. Its a simple thing, but sometimes simple works best.
In fact, I am going to make sure to use that app myself today just to check in because you can never do too much to keep yourself on track with decreasing stress and maintaining wellness.
Until next time,
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.