WELLNESS--Many of us have heard that catchy phrase, but let’s dig a little deeper into the science of sitting versus movement. 

Besides the obvious weak bones and varicose veins that sitting can cause, it turns out that more serious diseases are associated with sitting. In a study with nearly 2500 people,  they were able to link sitting and sedentary lifestyles with type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is the name of a group of risk factors that raise ones risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. 

Another study in Europe found that sitting times were highest in males, younger age groups, and people with postgraduate educations. This can be explained through the tendency for men to exercise less and be more drawn to video games. As far as the more educated people, they tend to have more high paying and time-consuming desk jobs leaving less time to move the body. 

There is also evidence showing that even for people that are exercing for 30 to 60 minutes a day, the long periods of sitting besides during that exercise time can be damaging. Just the simple act of standing up and walking helps to enhance the function of the metabolism while simultaneously increasing the bodies function. 

The best thing we can do to prevent the damage caused by sitting and being sedentary is to move our bodies as much as possible all day long. That may mean taking a short 10 minute break each hour or two at work and walking around the block or simply walking up and down stairs at work a few times a day. 

For the more ambitious, there are now treadmill desks. It is basically a treadmill with a large desktop platform that you have your computer and phone and anything else you may need. People set the speed at a low rate of maybe 2 mph and slowly walk while they work. One woman blogged about her experience of using a treadmill desk for a month, and the results were pretty great!  

I push my patients to get a fitness buddy and use that person as someone that you can answer to as far as how much exercise you are doing. 

If you have an office job, grab a friend every day during your lunch hour and go for a brisk walk around the building. If you have kids and find it tough to find time for fitness, bring them to the park with you. There are strollers for infants designed for performance walking or jogging and if you have more than once child, make it a game and take turns to see who can push the infant the furthest or fastest. 

A wrist worn activity tracker is also a fun and helpful way to ensure one is getting enough steps each day. We only have one body, and when something is important enough to us, we always make time for whatever that may be. Make you and your health a priority and start moving today.

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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WELLNESS--Up until a few years ago vitamin D3 was little known. More recently it has made the news as a crucial compound that many of our bodies systems depend on. It is crucial for the appropriate absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus as well as being a key component to fight off disease. Illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis have all been linked to Vitamin D deficiency. More recently, mental health deficiencies like cognitive impairment and depression have been linked to vitamin D deficiency. 

An estimated 40% of the world’s population has low levels of Vitamin D with African and Latin people having an even greater chance of D deficiency. There are many reasons that vitamin D levels have dropped including the fact that people are not outside as much as they used to be. The sun is a great source of vitamin D but in order to reap the benefits most studies suggest that one needs to be in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes with most of the torso exposed. That is not easy to accomplish with our busy schedules, and with all the added screen time in our lives, we have even less time to be outside. 

Because of these staggering numbers, doctors have made a greater point of testing people for their Vitamin D3 levels. The test you want to ask for is the 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test or 25(OH)D test. You can ask your doctor or you can send away for a kit to test yourself.  

Once you find out if your levels are low, there are many options to boost your intake of Vitamin D. The first is the sun, but if you don’t have time to get to the park or the pool, foods can also be an excellent source of vitamin D. Fatty fish like tuna, mackeral, and salmon are excellent sources along with certain mushrooms, sardines, eggs, salmon, beef liver, herring, sunshine, and finally, supplements. 

The FDA recommends 600 IU’s of vitamin D a day, but ask your primary care provider what amount of supplementation would be right for you.

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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WELLNESS--Very often people think of wellness and fitness as a program or a series of events.  A more effective way to approach health and wellness is to look at it as a practice. Studies show that the effects of exercise and wellness are cumulative. In one study, participants fitness regimes and diets were tracked for 2 decades and it showed that the people who had clocked the most hours were the healthiest as opposed to the weekend warriors that only worked out in spurts. 

For some of you reading this may think that this is not good news because your track record regarding exercise is less than exemplary. A better way to look at these studies is to recognize that small amounts of exercise every day is more effective and healthy than say training for a marathon once a year for 3 months and then doing nothing the rest of the year.  One need not be a marathoner to be healthy. In fact, it may be argued that the person that wakes up each day and does a pleasant and brisk morning walk for 15 minutes is healthier than the part time intense fitness trainee. 

Look at your fitness schedule and wellness as a practice. Like any practice, the more we do it, the better we get. Sometimes we make mistakes when we are practicing or we don’t practice enough. Instead of focusing on what we are not doing or what we should be doing, when our wellness practice becomes challenging, we need to simply recognize that we won’t always do it perfectly, then simply move forward from there. 

When getting back in shape, self-talk is an effective tool that can be used to reach your goals. A study posted on NPR noted that people who use the 3rd person when relating to self have lower levels of anxiety that there 1st person counterparts and greater levels in success towards reaching goals. Other studies show that our self-talk is important, not only in shaping how we see ourselves, but also in the action steps we take to improve. Using the 3rd person may be more effective that using the first person when we relate to ourselves. Telling ourselves something like “you are human, and while you are not in the best shape at the moment, you are getting healthier and more fit every day” is much more effective than “I am fat and out of shape.” 

The important take away here is to remind you that just like life, wellness is a practice. When you are in a slump or haven’t worked out for a while simply tell yourself that you are a little out of practice, and with a little time and a brisk morning walk, you will be back on track in no time at all and feeling great.  Reach out if you need advice or inspiration. 

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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Whether it’s overeating, undereating, or making unhealthy food choices, everyone struggles with food from time to time. So many of us have food addictions and even if we don’t technically register as a food addict, we all have a relationship with food that at times gets strained.  

When I am treating patients, I always ask them about their relationship with food. Because I am an herbalist, they often want me to prescribe them herbs for whatever it is that’s ailing them. Before I prescribe any herbal medicine, I request a full intake and food journal. I then make the necessary diet and lifestyle suggestions that will help them to optimize their health and wellness and lose the weight if needed. By correcting people’s diets, their illnesses and symptoms often clear up naturally and they don’t need herbs. 

I recently had a new patient that was about 35 pounds overweight and had high blood pressure and borderline high blood sugar levels. Because he was a compliant patient, he was willing to change his diet and start exercising regularly. Within 6 months he lost 25 pounds and his blood pressure dropped significantly, and blood sugar returned to normal. He was able to lower his dose of blood pressure meds and his doctor said that if he continues to progress, there is a good chance he will be able to get off the meds all together. 

All too often, doctors prescribe heavy pharmaceuticals to treat symptoms that are brought on by poor diet and lifestyle choices. Once on these medications, it is tough to get off. Of course, there are many health situations and diseases that require western medicine and drugs, but things like type II diabetes, high blood sugar, and obesity can often be treated with diet and exercise. Before going off any of your meds, it’s important you consult your primary care provider. 

When a patient is informed and educated about what to eat and how to take care of him or herself, but they still can’t make the decision to do it, we have a problem. There is no shame in having food addictions or a challenging relationship with food. From what I see in my practice, more people are addicted to sugar than are not, and if that sugar intake is risking their health and ultimately their lives, yet they still can’t stop, we have a problem that may run deeper than just the surface. 

Most of us know what to do and how to eat healthy; more veggies, lean proteins, and fruit. Less breads and refined carbs and sugars. In spite of that knowledge, we often make the unhealthy choice. When we eat sugar it actually lights up the pleasure center of the brain in a very similar manner to the way sex and drugs do. Knowing that may help one realize that the struggle to get off sugar is very real. 

When a patient of mine just can’t change their ways, I encourage them to see a therapist or go to an over-eating anonymous group. Countless thousands of people have received help from these groups and if you know what you need to do and you just can’t do it, it’s OK to ask for help. Your life may depend on it.

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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WELLNESS--Dating back as far as 3000 years Oil Pulling has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine as a means to detoxify the blood, improve oral health, heal sinus issues and help heal wounds or illness. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine have a morning health ritual referred to as dinacharya and part of that ritual includes oil pulling. It is usually done using coconut, olive, or sesame oil by taking approximately 1 tablespoon of oil into ones mouth and swishing it around for 10 to 20 minutes then spitting it out. 

In Ayurvedic Medicine as well as Chinese Medicine the mouth and tongue are used as both a way to diagnose illness and tell us what’s happening digestively. In Chinese medicine we use the tongue specifically, but the mouth in its entirety is used as an indication of overall health and wellness. 

Like so many other effective natural remedies, oil pulling is worth trying. Corporations have little interest in investing in things like oil pulling because there is no profit to be found if the research comes back proving its efficacy. 

Besides the above-mentioned indications, oil pulling can also help with sensitive or painful teeth, bad breath, and yellow or stained teeth. A study published by Clinical and Diagnostic Research done in 2014 proved that oil pulling was as effective in killing unfriendly mouth bacteria as chlorhexidine, the active ingredient in mouthwash.  

There have been other studies showing that oil pulling is as effective as mouthwash when it comes to fighting plaque. A 2009 study published in The Indian Journal of Dental Research found that decreased gingivitis and lowered bacteria levels in the mouth and gums. Oil Pulling is an effective alternative to mouthwash since mouthwash tends to have harsh chemicals that can leave the skin inside the mouth weakened and possibly more susceptible to bacteria.  

Oil pulling can be helpful for everyone especially those who have problems with teeth, gums or bad breath. Making oil pulling a part of a healthy morning ritual is a great way to naturally boost oral hygiene.

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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WELLNESS--Exercise of all types is your friend. Research shows that it helps with insulin resistance, inflammation, and lowers incidence of stroke and heart attacks. Of course we can’t forget the added benefit of looking better due to working out. Besides all these great advantages, research also shows that long sessions of cardio also cause brain growth known as neurogenesis (the generation of neurons). 

In a study conducted at the University of Jyväskylä they used lab rats to study the correlation between exercise and neurogenesis in the brain, specifically the hippocampus. 

The study showed rats that ran on the wheel for the longest periods of time experienced the greatest improvement in the neurogenesis of the hippocampal region. Rats that did strength training alone with no cardio did not show any change in that same brain region. 

The rats that spent the most time on the wheel were the same rats that had the greatest rate of neuronal brain growth. It’s important to note that these rats chose to run on the wheel which is significant because it points towards the possibility that the coupled exercise and neuronal improvements may occur in rats that are more genetically programmed for exercise 

The evidence was unclear as to the effect of interval or burst training, which is when one sprints or does another form of exercise to raise the heart rate to 90 to 100 percent of its maximum, then slows down and repeats. 

What we know from this study is that rats that did long sessions of cardio showed neurogenesis in the hippocampal region while rats that did strength training alone showed none. Experts say that 30 to 45 minutes of cardio 3 days a week is the magic number needed to get the brain growth. If you are way under that amount right now or haven’t started, start with 10 or 15 minutes and add 10 minutes each time you go out for a brisk walk or a jog.   

If exercise is tough for you, start a walking club at home or at work or get a walking or jogging buddy. There are so many people wanting to improve their fitness level, and simply asking one of them to join you in getting in shape can have a big impact on your body … and your brain.

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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You would think after getting hit in the head all day, you would get a strong order of neck pain with a side of concussion constantly. But boxers usually have relatively healthy necks (considering). What can we learn from a boxer's routine that will give us, the average joe, a shot at the title (that is of World's Cervical Champion - I know, very cheesy).

Here are the three things that training like a boxer will do for your neck:

1) Strength

Ever notice the exercises boxers do for their necks? I've never seen the average gym goer attach weights to their head and bust out sets of cervical sidebends. That's because bulging neck muscles aren't the best beach look. 

2) Upper back flexibility

All the punching and reaching boxers do actually keep the thoracic spine (read upper back) flexible, the most notorious problem for people with neck pain. If you have neck pain, it is almost guaranteed you have bad posture which includes a tight upper back.

3) General hip and spinal flexibility

Watch a boxer train. Slips, dips, side stepping, shuffling.  A great combination of rarely used movements that will keep your spine happy, hips open, and pain away.

4) Hip strength

You might be wondering the role of strong hip muscles play in a good neck. If you are a holistic viewer of medicine, its a no brainer. If not, let me give you the house metaphor. Your neck is the roof and your hips and pelvis are your foundation. If you have a weak foundation, doesn't matter how the rest of the house is built. Its a sink hole waiting to happen. Boxers generate their power, much like golfers and baseball players from their hip muscles. Your glutes initiate the rotational movements you need for most sports and help give you power. For my last pun of the day: strong glutes will help you pack a strong punch and keep your foundation strong.

 

(Joshua Mazalian DPT, OCS, CSCS, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist, Strength and Conditioning Coach, (702) 788-3495)

WELLNESS--When we are out in the world we don’t have much control over what we are taking in from the different environments we visit. With all the toxins outside, it becomes even more important to optimize our home environment in order to stay healthy. If you are feeling low energy or dealing with frequent colds or flu’s it may be your home that is contributing. 

If we are ill or short on energy, there could be many factors contributing including stress, sleep deprivation, poor dietary choices, or lack of exercise. Some of the less obvious but also pervasive culprits to feeling unwell are mold, pesticides, or toxic cleaning products. 

People that are experiencing allergies and noticing that they are worse when they are home may have mold in the home. To find out if there is mold in your home a mold specialist can come to the home and run tests. Some ways that mold starts to grow is if there are water leaks, past flooding, or obvious condensation in the home. Mold can still be present even if none of the above mentioned signs are present.  

Another way to tell if your home is healthy is by noticing the health of your pets. Animals are also affected by mold and can get chronic sinus issues if there is mold present in the home. If there is condensation anywhere in the home be sure that no people are animals are sleeping in that area. 

Pesticides usually come into the home from the fruit and vegetables we purchase at the store and products used for cleaning. Here is a list of pesticides to avoid when purchasing supplies for your home. As far as fruits and vegetables, the best way to avoid unwanted chemicals is to spend a little more money and buy organic.

Finally, some estimates say that up to 70 percent of all household toxins come in from our shoes. There is a reason that many cultures remove shoes before coming into the home and it’s to prevent illness and the spread of unwanted bacteria and dirt. Besides keeping the home floors and rug cleaner, we are also preventing illness by keeping our shoes off our floors.   

When we have a passion for our health and well-being, we realize that it’s not only exercise and food that keeps us well. There are many components to being healthy including our home environments as well. While it’s challenging to control the environments we visit, it’s much easier to control our home surroundings. Clean with non-toxic solutions and use non-toxic laundry detergent whenever possible. 

If sinus issues are chronic, check for mold and buy a HEPA filtration air purifier. Be sure you and guests take shoes off at the door, and only use paraben free natural products on your skin and hair.

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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WELLNESS-The United States is a touch-deprived nation. It wasn’t until I first moved to Europe in the 1990’s that I noticed how much more people touched each other in Spain and Italy compared to the US. Even the men and boys would walk arm in arm and kiss each other on the cheeks as a way to both greet someone and to say farewell. The macho culture in the US prevents people, especially men from showing affection to each other which is tied to the violent angry culture we are dealing with today. 

In Harry Harlow’s book Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection he uses monkeys to study the affects of love and affection. He creates two fake monkeys both of which are heated from the inside to the same temperature of a real female monkey mother. One of them is created soft and welcoming and the other is made with more wire and is harder and less tender. On the less tender one he adds a bottle of milk for the real baby monkey to drink. 

What he found was that even though the harder model had milk attached to it, the baby monkey picked the softer more seemingly affectionate model monkey every time over the wire one. The real monkey would only go over to the wire monkey when he was very hungry. He would drink some milk and go right back to the softer model showing that longer term affection is chosen even over accessible food. 

In 2014 Carnegie Mellon performed a study with 404 people to better understand the link between touch deprivation and catching a common cold. The participants were monitored and questioned about their levels of social support and the amount of hugs they got each day for 14 days. On the 15th day they were all exposed to a common cold virus strain and then kept in quarantine in order to monitor them and see who fell ill. The researchers found that the people with greater social support and more frequent hugs got sick less than their touch deprived counterparts. The evidence indicated that the hugging accounted for about 1/3 of the reason they were able to avoid illness. The other 2/3 was perceived strong social support. 

Being affectionate with another human being has proven to release the hormone oxytocin, which is made in the hypothalamus of the brain. Besides making us feel great oxytocin is also responsible for healing wounds faster, reducing blood pressure, increasing tolerance for pain, and for stimulating the immune system response to heal illness and prevent us from getting sick. 

Sometimes offering a hug to a friend or coworker may feel awkward or inappropriate, and in todays litigious society obsessed with sex and stories of sexual offenses, there is reason to be cautious when offering a hug. Here is a funny and eye-opening article about whether or not to hug people at work.  

Studies also find that couples in long-term relationships that have more warm affectionate time together actually live longer and happier than people without affection in their lives. One therapist has his patients that are couples spend 10 minutes a day holding hands and talking about happy times they have shared, usually when they met and fell in love. This has proven effective in repairing and salvaging relationships in challenge.  

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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