Category Archives: Blog

Natural Therapies for Insomnia

It’s so nice to tuck in for a good night’s rest.

The irony of insomnia is that we don’t feel good, so we don’t sleep, which makes us feel worse. The past few months have been stressful and worrisome for many of us which can make troubled sleep even more challenging. The first place to start when you are having trouble with sleep is to address your “sleep hygiene”. This means you do everything you can to make sure your bedtime ritual (which, realistically, should start an hour before you want to sleep) supports falling asleep and staying asleep for the night. If you have tried to create your ideal sleep situation and are still having trouble, we can look at three primary systems in your body to try to help: Musculoskeletal, Endocrine, and Neural. This means we make sure your muscles are not tight, your hormones are in balance, and your neurotransmitters (the chemicals that tell your brain what to do) are supporting sleep. Here are some tips for working on getting a good night’s sleep:

First thing: Look at sleep hygiene! Some strategies to fall asleep and stay asleep:

  • Screen time–put the TV, computer, and all devices to bed one hour before you want to sleep.
  • Bedtime Rituals– Just like when you were a kid.  Try a bedtime snack (see below), a warm drink such as chamomile tea, a hot bath, stretching, reading, yoga, or meditation.
  • Comfort– Make sure your pillow and bed support your structure and don’t cause pain.  Address any temperature or light issues in the room.
  • Food and Drink–
    • Alcohol may make you feel sleepy but can cause you to wake in the middle of the night–try avoiding alcohol if you are having trouble with sleep
    • Caffeine can disrupt your ability to fall asleep–stop caffeine by 11am.
    • A small protein snack can help you stay asleep through the night.  Some options are: apple with peanut butter, handful of nuts, a hard boiled egg, or a slice of cheese

If you have tried all of the above, we generally look at three systems to get to the heart of the issue: 

Musculoskeletal: If your body is in pain or your muscles are tight it can interfere with sleep. Here are some tips for the last hour before bed to get your muscles ready to relax:

  • Mental/Cognitive– Meditation, biofeedback, cognitive therapy
  • Exercise: Yoga, stretching, foam roller
  • Nutritional: 
    •  Make sure you are well hydrated! This keeps muscles relaxed and reduces muscle spasm. However, if waking in the night to urinate is a problem “stack” water consumption towards the beginning of the day and stop water by 8pm.  
    • Minerals–eat foods high in magnesium (leafy greens, seeds and nuts, tofu) and potassium (Coconut water #1, also potatoes, bananas, avocados)  *can also supplement with these, let me know if you have questions!

Hormonal

  • *Thyroid, Cortisol, and reproductive hormones can all cause insomnia if they are out of balance!*Let Dr. Grigel Know if you suspect this is the case and you would like to test for these.
  • Can try a protein snack before bed–this keeps cortisol levels low throughout the night
  • Supplements to retrain the adrenal glands, balance reproductive hormones, and normalize thyroid can make a big difference. Some examples of these are ashwagandha, chaste tree berry, black cohosh, and phosphatidylserine

Neurotransmitters 

  • When our stimulating neurotransmitters (Glutamate, PEA, Norepinephrine) are out of balance with our relaxing neurotransmitters (GABA, serotonin, melatonin), our brain can have trouble relaxing. *These can also be tested!
  • We can use amino acids (precursors to our relaxing neurotransmitters) to rebalance.  Some of these are: GABA, 5-HTP, L-Theanine, and Taurine.

*If you have questions or want to look further into these issues, feel free to contact Dr. Grigel! If you would like a printable version of this information, click below:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTfxD17oq-veN3PMLMWEKK8Az5KPk22UYKlqVFkkaRhf44RJKqJnUtIB3_gAmcY-9BphPKz4xND_A8i/pub?embedded=true

How Can I Help You?

Oh my goodness look at that face. To me, it says “What’s going on? Please tell me all about it and I will do what I can to make it right.” Which is why I chose it for this spot– that is exactly how I feel about how you are doing right now. While the puppy can’t lay on your feet while you are in the office right now, we can still transmit that intention through our phone and video chats.
What is most important to you right now for your health? Are you concerned about supporting your immunity? Are you feeling anxious and needing support for your mental health? Are the health issues you had before the stay at home order still needing to be addressed? Are you generally doing ok but feeling like this would be a great time to transform some habits to make you feel even better? Let me know! I am here for you. My mission is to help you be vibrantly healthy through all times of life. 
Feel free to contact me anytime by phone or email! 303-704-2649, drkaycierosen@gmail.com

Specific Diet for Crohn’s Disease

Over the years, I have seen many people who have been able to heal their digestive tract by augmenting their diet; different conditions and individual variability tend to necessitate individualized dietary plans but overall many GI conditions improve just by changing what people eat. 

Although in the US the usual treatment of Crohn’s disease includes biologic or immune suppressing drugs, many studies have shown that using an Elemental diet (ED) can have comparable success.  Elemental diets are generally a powdered mix of carbohydrate, fat, and hydrolyzed protein, plus vitamins and minerals that are mixed with water and replace traditional meals. While this is effective, it is very expensive and difficult to tolerate, as generally at least half of the people taking an ED need to be tube fed.

However, a new Israeli study compared children with Crohn’s disease who were treated with ED alone to those who received half their calories from ED and half from a Crohn’s-disease specific exclusion diet.  In the first six weeks the treatments were equally successful. As the ED only group returned to normal foods, however, those who remained on the exclusion diet were more successful at staying in remission.

The Exclusion diet is interesting because it keeps out some very specific categories of foods that have recently been found to dramatically increase inflammation and disrupt the microbial balance of the digestive tract. It removes elements that increase inflammation and microbial permeability, and includes foods that improve microbial diversity and decrease inflammation. The specific components of the diet plan include:

Fiber and pectins from fruits and veggies which helps to produce butyrate and other short chain fatty acids which reduce inflammation in the gut. A low fiber diet also promotes the invasion of pathogenic bacteria into the lining of the gut: “depriving colonic microbes from fibre in rodent models will favour taxa that can use alternative carbon sources found within the colonic mucus; this then leads to depletion of the mucus layer, disruption of the barrier, immune activation and tissue damage”

Extremely limited animal fats and moderate intake of fats from vegetable sources. A diet high in animal fat is associated with a higher incidence of IBD, whereas a diet high in Omega 3 fats decreased risk. High fat diets also encourage the accumulation of secondary bile acids, which inhibit the growth of healthy bacteria. 

Exclusion of Gluten containing grains. The specific carbohydrate diet, which excludes all grains, has been a popular option for Crohn’s patients who are seeking dietary treatment, and has shown some clinical success. Gluten and wheat specifically are described by the authors of this study as alpha amylase/trypsin inhibitors that encourage inflammation in the gut and promote intestinal permeability.

Exclusion of processed foods There are a number of food additives that have been shown to impact intestinal permeability and the integrity of GI mucosa.  This includes two common emulsifiers, carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80, and thickeners such as maltodextrin and carageenan. Martino JV et al write “Animal studies consistently report that carrageenan and CMC induce histopathological features that are typical of IBD while altering the microbiome, disrupting the intestinal epithelial barrier, inhibiting proteins that provide protection against microorganisms, and stimulating the elaboration of pro-inflammatory cytokines.“ 

Feel free to contact me if you want more specific information on the Crohn’s Specific diet used in this study!

Bright Light: Depression, Insomnia, and the sleep/wake cycle


I recently wrote an article for the Natural Medicine Journal about a study that showed the positive effects of wearing bright light glasses to treat depression. Bright light therapy has been popular for the past few decades to treat seasonal as well as non seasonal depression, but this is the first study to utilize a device that is worn like a pair of glasses and shines light down into the eyes of the wearer. In the past, subjects have used light boxes which work equally well, but the glasses have the advantage of allowing the wearer to be able to do other things during treatment.

While this study is interesting in itself, it brings up some fascinating questions about the role of light and dark, the sleep/wake cycle, and the establishment of a healthy circadian rhythm in mood regulation.

In this particular study, the participants (who were all teenagers receiving inpatient treatment for depression) were asked to complete a “Chronicity” questionnaire to establish their most productive time of day. None of the participants were found to be strongly morning people. There are many studies that have found a link between “eveningness” and depression. Additionally, insomnia (which is associated with eveningness) has been found to have an even greater impact on negative emotions.

So how does bright light impact the body to influence emotion and the circadian rhythm? In studies of bright light therapy, the light used emits 10,000 lumens, which is roughly equivalent to sunlight 40 minutes after sunrise on a clear day. When light hits the retina of the eye, the retina itself actually produces serotonin and dopamine, which help to maintain a good mood. The glasses in particular (as well as sunlight) emit blue light, which is the part of the visible light spectrum that is most stimulatory. We can surmise that if a person is spending the majority of their most wakeful hours when it is dark, it is possible that they aren’t making as much of these chemicals.

Conversely, blue light in particular suppresses retinal production of melatonin, which is one of the primary neurotransmitters responsible for sound sleep. Most of us have heard that watching screens such as the computer, TV, or phone before bed can impact sleep. This is because blue light emitted from these screens prevents the body from making melatonin which is necessary for sleep. Studies have found that people who wear blue-light blocking glasses for three hours before bed can correct insomnia and have more restful sleep.

Regardless of your light source, starting the day with exposure to healthy bright light will help you to make the chemicals you need to keep your mind feeling happy and at ease. At the end of the day, minimizing exposure to bright light and blue light in particular will help your body fall asleep more easily and have a more restful night!

IgG Food Sensitivity Testing and Reducing Inflammation

Food Antibody testing is one of my favorite tools for helping patients take charge of their own health, especially if there is a chronic inflammatory concern such as eczema, joint pain, digestive upset, or even mental agitation. Virtually all chronic disease has an underlying inflammatory component–that is, any long-term health issue, regardless of what system of the body it effects, is the result of ongoing inflammation.

So what is inflammation?  

It is the natural process the body uses to repair damage to the system and get rid of organisms that make us sick.  When an infectious agent such as a virus or bacteria enter the body, our immune system will recognize that foreign agent and attack it.  White blood cells are our immune cells that mount this attack. Specialized white blood cells will make a “flag”, called an antibody, that recognize certain proteins as foreign.  When they recognize a protein, those antibodies will attach themselves to those proteins (that often are part of a virus or bacteria) and signal the rest of the immune system to eradicate it.  Other white blood cells will engulf the protein, digest it, and then spit out the remains of that protein to be eliminated by the lymph system. This process produces inflammation, which we experience as redness, swelling, heat, and the production of mucus.  

How does this relate to foods?  

Well, in some cases, the body will recognize other proteins that come into the system as foreign.  This can include things like pollen, cat dander, mold spores, or proteins in foods. The body will mount a similar type of attack as described above on these proteins in the body even though they aren’t necessarily pathogens (bugs that will make us sick).  Instead, we call them allergens. If we are continually exposed to these allergens, the body will chronically produce inflammation. While a food may not be the agent that initially triggered the inflammatory response, the body may continue to have an inflammatory response if the food is eaten regularly.  Although foods may not be the only cause of chronic inflammation, they are one factor that can easily be changed without medication that can make a great impact on reducing the inflammatory response.

So what is IgG testing?  

IgG is a type of antibody–the “flags” the body uses to tell the immune system to make inflammation in a specific place.  Our body makes a range of types of antibodies that all do something slightly different. For instance, IgE antibodies are associated with immediate sensitivity reactions–if you know anyone allergic to peanuts or shellfish, for example, you may have seen that type of immediate reaction where the body reacts right away. IgG is a delayed antibody that may take several hours or even a couple of days to react, so it can be quite difficult to pick it out which food is causing the inflammatory response.  For this reason, a delayed food sensitivity can manifest as some of the more ongoing types of reactions, such as joint pain, IBS, eczema, chronic sinus issues, asthma, autoimmune thyroid disease, and even chronic mental agitation. Of course, we can eliminate and reintroduce foods to our diet without any testing, but elimination diets can be laborious and confusing. When we test first, it gives us an idea of the best foods to eliminate first instead of choosing blindly.  Several clinical trials in recent years have found that using IgG testing to guide food elimination can have a positive impact on many chronic issues, including inflammatory bowel disease, eczema, and migraine headaches.

Once I find out which foods I’m reacting to, what do I do?  

This is my favorite part, because it allows us to be scientists with our own bodies.  In a nutshell, the scientific method involves taking a system, changing something within the system, and observing the changes. When we actively change the diet, and pay attention to what happens, we do a little scientific experiment on ourselves that gives us the power to decide how we are going to feel each day based on the decisions we make.  When we do a food elimination, I like for you to eliminate all the potential offending foods that may be causing inflammation in your body. We give your body a few weeks–usually 4 to 6 weeks–to help the system come to a more neutral state. At this point, you note how you feel without all of those foods.

How Do I Reintroduce Foods? 

Once you have eliminated foods for an appropriate amount of time, we will  start to reintroduce foods one at a time. You will find that one of three things happens: 1. You take away a food, feel no different, then add it back, and feel no different.  2. You take a away a food, feel better, then add it back and feel obviously worse. Or 3. Somewhere in the middle–you take away a food, feel better, then you can add it back in a dose-dependent fashion and feel ok. (for example–you can tolerate eggs in baked goods but don’t feel well when you eat scrambled eggs for breakfast). When you reintroduce a food and find it bothers you, I recommend continuing to stay off of that food for at least 6 months.  For some people, a food intolerance will last for life, but for some, if the body becomes healthier and more robust overall they will be able to successfully reintroduce foods.

The knowledge you gain from eliminating and reintroducing foods helps develop what I view as the most powerful tool you have to maintain your health:  self awareness. The more aware we are, the more powerfully we can act. When we understand how our actions influence our overall state of health, we gain the ability to work as our own doctors.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your health journey!

 

Zar S1, Mincher L, Benson MJ, Kumar D. Food-specific IgG4 antibody-guided exclusion diet improves symptoms and rectal compliance in irritable bowel syndrome.Scand J Gastroenterol. 2005 Jul;40(7):800-7.

Aydinlar EI1, Dikmen PY, Tiftikci A, et al.  IgG-based elimination diet in migraine plus irritable bowel syndrome. Headache. 2013 Mar;53(3):514-25.

Alpay K1, Ertas M, Orhan EK, et al. Diet restriction in migraine, based on IgG against foods: a clinical double-blind, randomised, cross-over trial. Cephalalgia. 2010 Jul;30(7):829-37.

Mitchell N1, Hewitt CE, Jayakody S, et al.  Randomised controlled trial of food elimination diet based on IgG antibodies for the prevention of migraine like headaches. Nutr J. 2011 Aug 11

Liu Y1, Yan H2, Shao F3,et al. Correlation between childhood eczema and specific IgG antibody level. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2018 Mar-Apr;32(2):341-344.

 

The Medicinal Uses of Honey

Over the past two years, our family has embarked on an adventure into the world of beekeeping–and an adventure it has been! We have all enjoyed suiting up and walking out to the field to tend the hives. Between observing their behavior, learning how to care for bees and beehives,, collecting swarms, and processing honey we have learned and enjoyed so much about having these amazing and beneficial creatures in our backyard.

While honey has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties, there are many scientific studies that have recently established its utility for a number of issues. It is anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, antimicrobial, and promotes healing. In my mind, honey is best used to heal the skin and membranes of the mouth and nasal cavity from wounds and infections. Honey promotes wound healing by killing bacteria, reducing the size of the wound, improving the growth of healthy new cells, and decreasing scarring. It is postulated that antioxidant properties of honey improve wound healing by decreasing free radical damage.

There have been many studies that have shown the ability of honey to kill infectious bacteria, primarily because of the presence of hydrogen peroxide in the honey. When tested against mupirocin (a common topical antibacterial), honey worked equally well to kill meticillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA) that was growing in the nasal cavity. Some types of honey, such as manuka honey, also contain a chemical called methylglyoxyl, which is not as easily deactivated by enzymes in human blood. This gives these types of honey even greater antibacterial activity.

My favorite use of honey is for assisting in the healing from upper respiratory infections. It soothes the mouth and throat, decreases the cough response, and decreases any bacteria that could be aggravating the infection. Most people are familiar with the old time remedy of honey and lemon in water to soothe a sore throat and decrease a cough. Multiple studies have shown the ability of honey to decrease coughing, particularly at night. When tested against dextromethorphan (robitussin), diphenhydramine (benadryl), levidroproprazine (an antitussive more common in Europe) salbutamol (albuterol) and placebo, honey worked as well or better than all of these except dextromethorphan for decreasing cough and helping to sleep without being woken by that cough. Given the potential for side effects of all of the above medications and the efficacy of honey, it a no-brainer to try this first for treating that cough that’s keeping you up at night.

With this in mind, I use honey as the base for my cough and cold syrup that I make for my patients and my family during the cold and flu season. I make an herbal extract with a combination of herbs, including licorice root and yerba mansa to assist in healing the lining of the mouth, throat, and nose, osha to clear out mucus, wild cherry bark to decrease the compulsion to cough, and elderberry to stimulate the immune system. This mixture is combined with local honey and turned into a tasty and effective syrup that I call “Dr. Kaycie’s Slime Buster”. It is safe and effective for kids over the age of 12 months as well as adults. Feel free to let me know if you want to know more about it!

Molan P1, Rhodes T2.Honey: A Biologic Wound Dressing.Wounds. 2015 Jun;27(6):141-51.
Morroni G1, Alvarez-Suarez JM2,3, Brenciani A1 et al. Comparison of the Antimicrobial Activities of Four Honeys From Three Countries (New Zealand, Cuba, and Kenya).Front Microbiol. 2018 Jun 25;9:1378.
Willix DJ1, Molan PC, Harfoot CG. A comparison of the sensitivity of wound-infecting species of bacteria to the antibacterial activity of manuka honey and other honey.J Appl Bacteriol. 1992 Nov;73(5):388-94.

Abd Jalil MA1, Kasmuri AR, Hadi H. Stingless Bee Honey, the Natural Wound Healer: A Review.Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2017;30(2):66-75.
Oryan A1, Alemzadeh E2, Moshiri A3.Biological properties and therapeutic activities of honey in wound healing: A narrative review and meta-analysis.J Tissue Viability. 2016 May;25(2):98-118.
Poovelikunnel TT1, Gethin G2, Solanki D3, et al. Randomized controlled trial of honey versus mupirocin to decolonize patients with nasal colonization of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. J Hosp Infect. 2018 Feb;98(2):141-148.
Honey for acute cough in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Mar 14;(3):
Miceli Sopo S1, Greco M2, Monaco S2 et al. Effect of multiple honey doses on non-specific acute cough in children. An open randomised study and literature review.Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2015 Sep-Oct;43(5):449-55.
Oduwole O1, Meremikwu MM, Oyo-Ita A, Udoh EE. Honey for acute cough in children. Evid Based Child Health. 2014 Jun;9(2):401-44.

Oduwole O1, Udoh EE, Oyo-Ita A, Meremikwu MM.:Honey for acute cough in children.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Apr 10;4

Women Need More Protein In Pregnancy

This article was originally printed in the Natural Medicine Journal–if you would like to see the references, Click here
Especially during a first pregnancy, many women have a pronounced concern about diet: how to eat, what to eat, and when to eat. As providers, we have the opportunity to help guide them towards optimal nutrition and provide reassurance that they are making sound choices. Within the context of so many “don’ts” regarding maternal nutrition–foods to avoid because of possible bacterial contamination, mercury, lead, pesticides, nitrates, blood sugar dysregulation, insufficient or too much weight gain etc–it is good to also have some advice that helps women relax and trust their intuition. This study finds that the protein needs of women throughout pregnancy is higher than previously recommended and possibly closer to what women may be craving.

IAAO is a relatively new method that has become popular for determining protein requirements in human subjects.1-4 In the past, protein requirements were assessed by the nitrogen balance method which can be difficult because it requires that all nitrogen intake and output is carefully recorded and that the subject stays in the testing facility for the duration of the testing to measure nitrogen loss from urine, feces, saliva, and wounds. This testing takes much longer to perform and requires that subjects are put in a deficiency state for longer, which makes it unsuitable for pregnant women. For this reason, the current recommendations for protein intake during pregnancy (Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) of .88 g/kg and RDA of 1.1 g/kg) have been based on nitrogen balance studies of nonpregnant adults that have been extrapolated with total body potassium studies of protein deposition during pregnancy. 5 With the development of IAAO, researchers have been able to more accurately determine protein needs during pregnancy because they can run this study on pregnant women. Additionally, this is one of the first studies to distinguish maternal needs during early and late gestation.

Understanding protein requirements during pregnancy is important because protein is the macronutrient with the most influence on birth weight. This study assumes caloric sufficiency; for well nourished non-diabetic women, increasing protein intake is the macronutrient most likely to increase birth weight.6,7 In addition to neonatal complications and increased mortality, low birth weight is also correlated with long-term health problems such as type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory problems. 8-11 Ensuring that pregnant women have a protein-sufficient diet is therefore crucial for the short- and long-term health of their children.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that while this study showed protein needs to be higher than current recommendations, it is still by no means extraordinarily high. The average weight of the subjects during early pregnancy was 64.4 kilos, indicating a need for 78.6 grams of protein per day, or 314 calories. Calculated resting energy expenditures (REE) averaged 1370 calories per day, so subjects were given an average of 2329 calories (1.7 REE), putting sufficient protein consumption at 13% of calories. In late pregnancy, average weight was 71.1 kg, with a need for 108.1 grams of protein or 432 calories per day. REE was 1480, so subjects were given an average of 2516 calories, with sufficient protein consumption at 15% of calories. 13-15% of calories from protein is far lower than the recommended amounts in virtually any contemporary dietary plan save for some raw, vegan and pritikin diets which are rarely recommended or undertaken during pregnancy.

Based on these new recommendations the example below provides sufficient protein sources on average for late pregnancy with far fewer calories than necessary for a day; a pregnant woman could be encouraged to include these foods within the context of whatever other foods she prefers to meet her additional caloric needs:

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 slices toast=21g

Snack: One ounce of cheese=7g

Lunch: 1 cup cooked lentils with steamed veggies=18g

Snack: 2 Tbsp peanut butter on 2 rye krisp crackers=12g

Dinner: 1 cup cooked chicken breast with 1 cup quinoa and steamed veggies=51g

Total: 109g protein, approximately 1300 calories

With this in mind, practitioners may find that their patients may intuitively be eating an appropriate amount of protein: a current Canadian study found pregnant women generally eating amounts of protein more consistent with the findings of this study, rather than the current DRI.12 This assumes, of course, that women have adequate caloric intake and the financial and practical means to choose what foods they eat.

One question that is relevant to how complete the information is from the study is the possible impact of the types of food consumed rather than just macronutrient content. On the day of the study, all of the calories for the day were consumed as a shake consisting of the protein supplement which was based on an egg-white composition, kool aid or tang, and a shake base powder consisting of palm, soy, coconut and sunflower oils, corn syrup, corn starch, sucrose, calcium phosphate, sodium citrate, vitamins and minerals, plus unspecified “protein-free cookies.” This does meet the requirements of the macronutrient breakdown desired for the purpose of the research study, but certainly doesn’t resemble a dietary plan that would be advocated by most providers who would be counseling a pregnant woman. While this study certainly gives us a good baseline from which to advise patients, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that a pregnant woman’s metabolic and protein needs will shift if fiber, complex carbohydrates, and phytonutrients are present in the diet.

While it can be confusing to create an optimal diet for each individual during pregnancy, the findings from this study indicate that advising for protein intake may be a little more intuitive. For women who are adequately nourished with the financial means to choose what foods they eat, as long as they feel well enough and remember to eat some protein-containing food every few hours, they will probably be able to approximately meet their protein needs each day. For women who struggle to meet this recommendation for increased protein intake, it is important to instruct them on which foods contain protein and remind them to eat these foods every few hours. This will help to optimize the health of their baby as a newborn and throughout life.

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“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  John Quincy Adams

As an “alternative” health care provider, I have seen over the years a tendency for patients to expect miracles. I am coming out today to announce that I don’t perform miracles. My job is to educate and inspire you to work your own miracles! I’ve mentioned this before, but my favorite part of this job is watching people develop greater self-awareness, and then powerfully use that awareness to improve their health. I have noticed that people who come in with a positive outlook and strong life purpose seem to make those improvements the most successfully, so I did a little digging to see what the research shows.

There is a growing body of evidence that shows our state of mind can positively influence our physical health. Studies have found that people with a well-defined sense of life purpose are overall more proactive about their health and more frequently take the time to utilize preventative health resources. Even beyond this, people with a strong sense of purpose have a decreased risk of stroke and heart attack, spend fewer overall nights in the hospital, and have an increased lifespan. Finding and maintaining an active engagement with our inner world and the world around us improves health.

The rapidly expanding field of epigenetics explores how environmental factors influence the expression of our DNA. While we are each given a packet of chromosomes at birth, the genes that are activated throughout our life that determine our physical and behavioral traits will vary based on our experiences and physical interactions. Interestingly, we are finding that people who have an overall perspective of well-being can actually shift their genetic expression towards greater health. Not only this, but it is possible that our attitude has an even greater effect than our conscious experiences. This means we have the ability to make our own health or at least shift the course of disease just based on the way we approach life.

Creating your own health is not just about being an optimist: health creation is a practice that you can consciously work on each day. One study showed that introducing a simple practice of gratitude improved subjects’ sense of well-being, sleep, and blood pressure. Each time you choose to eat something you know will make you feel good, get up a few minutes early to get some exercise, take a deep breath and smile at someone you care about instead of thinking about how they make you crazy, or ask someone for help when you need it, you are choosing health. And making your own miracles!

Yu L1, Boyle PA2, Wilson RS2, et al. Purpose in life and cerebral infarcts in community-dwelling older people. Stroke. 2015 Apr;46(4):1071-6

Kim ES1, Strecher VJ2, Ryff CD3. Purpose in life and use of preventive health care services. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Nov 18;111(46):16331-6.

Barbara L. Fredrickson, Karen M. Grewen, Kimberly A. Coffey et al. A functional genomic perspective on human well-being. PNAS August 13, 2013 vol. 110 no. 33 13684-13689

Jackowska, Marta, Brown , Jennie, Ronaldson, Amy., et al. The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology and sleep. J Health Psychol. 2015 Mar 2.

McKnight, Patrick E.; Kashdan, Todd B. Purpose in life as a system that creates and sustains health and well-being: An integrative, testable theory. Review of General Psychology, Vol 13(3), Sep 2009, 242-251.

Kim ES, Sun JK, Park N, Kubzansky LD, Peterson C Purpose in life and reduced risk of myocardial infarction among older U.S. adults with coronary heart disease: A two-year follow-up. J Behav Med 36(2):124–133. 2013

Kim ES, Sun JK, Park N, Peterson C Purpose in life and reduced incidence of stroke in older adults: ‘The Health and Retirement Study’ J Psychosom Res 74(5):427–432. (2013)

Hill, Patrick L., Turiano, Nicholas A. Purpose in Life as a Predictor of Mortality Across Adulthood Psychol Sci. 2014 Jul;25(7):1482-6

Newsletter Fall 2010

Welcome autumn! This is such a beautiful time of year as the leaves change to shades of golden and red and the nights get cooler. Now that summer vacation is over, we all tend to buckle down and get back to work. Whether at school or in our jobs, the intensity of our lives tends to ramp up at this time of year. When things get stressful and intense, it is important to take the time to care for ourselves to preserve our health for the long-term. With this in mind, this issue of All Good Medicine is dedicated to maintaining and improving our heart health for life. Enjoy!

2010 Fall Newsletter

Newsletter Spring 2010

This spring we have renamed our organization “The Vibrant Health Alliance”, and we are a group of health professionals dedicated to serving the Golden community. In honor of our new identity and the spring season, this issue of All Good Medicine is dedicated to new beginnings and revealing our best new selves through “spring cleaning” and detoxification.
2010 Spring Newsletter