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  • Seven Tips To Beat Insomnia

     

    Written by Dr Sandra Miranda, ND

    Insomnia can range from mild to chronic. Mild insomnia can happen if you are feeling stressed about relationships or if you are having problems with finances or trouble on your job.

    Insomnia that is ongoing and continues to prevent sleep needs to be evaluated. Sometimes, insomnia is brought on by side effects of a medication or by a chronic hormonal imbalance.

    Whatever type of insomnia you might have or the reason behind it, you need a good night sleep in order to be able to function the next day. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to poor ability to function at home or work and it is been linked to numerous health problems.

    Following these 7 tips can break the cycle of sleeplessness and get you back on track so that you get a good night rest.

    1.- Shut off your thoughts. We are so busy during the day that it is easy to push aside thoughts of things that weigh on us. But at night, when our body is still, our mind often gets busy fretting about whatever is going on in our lives.

    If the anxious thoughts start, do not entertain them. Imagine yourself shoving all the worries into a closet and barring the door. If that still does not help, get out of bed and meditate. Do something that relaxes you - but do not start watching television .

    2.- Avoid eating a heavy meal right before you go to bed. Overeating can cause you to wake up throughout the night.

    3.-  Make sure your room is a sleep haven. Have a comfortable bed. Keep the room dark and block out any noises that might disturb you. Keep your room temperature at a level that you find comfortable to sleep in.

    4.- Exercise - but not right before you go to sleep. Exercise can stimulate and invigorate your body - the opposite of what you want before bed.

    5.- Set your internal clock by maintaining a bedtime schedule. Go to bed at a set hour. If you do this regularly, your body will begin to crave to sleep at that time.

    6.- Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed - and do not smoke, either - because nicotine is a stimulant that will keep you awake or cause you to wake up once you have dozed off.

    7.- Have a warm, relaxing bath before bed. Soak in the tub and listen to relaxing music while the water massages your muscles.

     

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  • How to Ward Off Stress & Anxiety Before They Happen

    Written by Dr Sandra Miranda, ND

    If you suffer from stress and anxiety, you probably want to avoid future run-ins with these problems. Of course, stress is inevitable, but you can learn to cope with it in a functional, healthy way. Here are some tips for warding off stress and anxiety before they catch up with you.

    1. Good Nutrition

    This is listed as number 1 for a reason. It is one of the most important and effective means by which you can cope with stress and anxiety and prevent them from taking over your life. Some nutrients and foods that are good for proper brain and body function are:

    -Essential Fatty Acids, such as those found in olive oil, salmon, flax seeds, fish oils and other coconut oil should be sought out and deliberately included in the diet.

    -Vitamin D - This vitamin plays a significant role in mood regulation. In fact, has been used to treat people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Ask your medical or naturopathic doctor to test your vitamin D levels – they should be over 120 ideally!

    2. Regular Exercise

    This is also very important for avoiding the negative effects of stress and anxiety. Don't wait until you feel stressed or anxious; like good nutrition, make exercise a part of your regular routine. Exercise increases circulation, and also induces the body to produce endorphins. These brain chemicals profoundly affect your mood and response to stress.

    Exercising with realistic goals is also important. You don't want to bring on anxious feelings by "failing" at an enormous exercise goal like running a marathon right away when you've never run before. Keeping your goals realistic - say running a around a quarter-mile track once and walking another 3 laps - can boost your confidence and give you a sense of accomplishment. These are great weapons against stress and anxiety.

    3. Positive Self-Talk

    You may need help in learning how to break negative self-talk patterns. Many of us have developed patterns of thought that automatically involve self-abasement. For example, if you make a mistake on a piece of paperwork, your mind may automatically begin "beating you up," and you'll have thoughts that you can't do anything right, you are terrible at paperwork, and so forth. Learning to recognize this pattern and redirect your thoughts to more positive ones can help prevent further stress and anxiety.

    4. Deep Breathing

    It may seem silly to focus on breathing as part of preventing stress and anxiety. Everyone knows how to breathe, right? Yes, everyone knows how to breathe, but few people know how to breathe properly. Deep breathing is the deliberate taking in of breath that helps focus your thoughts and energy. It also promotes the circulation of oxygen throughout the body. Exhaling deeply and fully is also important, as this more thoroughly eliminates toxins from the body.

    5. Rest

    Getting adequate sleep is essential for helping your body cope with stress. Everything seems bigger, scarier, and more worrisome when you are exhausted. 

    6. Know the Symptoms

    Learn to recognize your body's cues that it's experiencing too much stress and its resulting anxiety. Pay attention to things like feelings of restlessness, fatigue, anxious thoughts, and muscle tension. Once you learn to recognize the stressful trend, you can stop it before it takes hold.

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  • High Cholesterol Treatment Options

     

    High cholesterol is one of the most common ailments plaguing Western society today. Millions are spent every year on treatment. If you've been diagnosed with high cholesterol, there are quite a few different treatments you can choose from.

    On a most basic level, treating cholesterol begins with your lifestyle. It involves reducing the fat in your diet, eating more fibers and exercising more. This will help eliminate the things that caused high cholesterol in the first place from your life; then start to reverse the process.

    That said, treating high cholesterol also often involves using one or more supplements.  Supplements can speed up the way you lower cholesterol instead of relying on diet and lifestyle alone.  

    Here are a few of the most common treatment options.

    1.  Niacin

    If for some reason you're unable to get a prescription for other high blood pressure drugs, niacin is a popular alternative.

    Niacin interacts directly with your liver, causing it to produce less cholesterol than it normally would.

    The niacin in a pharmacy might also be labeled Vitamin B3. It may cause a temporary flushing which may be uncomfortable but it is harmless.  Taking niacin with food will reduce the chances of flushing.  It should be taken at a minimum dose of 1 g per day.  Niacin lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) by up to 30 percent, but unlike statin drugs, it also substantially boosts HDL (good cholesterol) and reduces triglycerides. 

    1. Sterols

    Sterols interfere with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.  Two daily grams lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) by 9 to 20 percent.  There are supplements which vary in composition and dosage of sterols. The food and Drug Administration FDA allows food and supplement lables to clam they reduce the heart disease risks if they supply at least 400 mg of sterols per serving. 

    1. Red Yeast Rice Extract

    Used in Asia as a heart remedy, the extract is made by fermenting red yeast on rice.  Its main compound is monacolin K which lowers cholesterol production in the liver.  It is marketed in purified form as the drug lovastatin.  The effect of the supplement is unpredictable.  The amount of the compound can vary greatly.  Making sure you get a good brand would be very important in the effectiveness. If you take it have your blood tested regularly to make sure it is working and not having adverse effects.

    1. Soluble Fiber Supplements

    Guidelines recommend to eat grains rich in soluble fiber.  One is psyllium, sold as a laxative and fiber supplement, which can lower LDL cholesterol 5 to 15 percent and has other heart-healthy effects too.  The key is to have the fiber before each meal.  This will make the fiber bind to the cholesterol in your food and decrease the absorption.  This habit can also help to lower blood sugar levels through the same mechanisms.

    Another beta glucan, in oats and barley, which lowers LDL cholesterol.  Fiber rich oat and barley products can bear a heart-health claim, but you need 3 to 6 daily grams for significant effect.  Many supplement provide beta glucan or other soluble fibers. 

    Remember if you increase fiber you must increase water too.

    1. Choosing Your Treatments

    The first step to determining which treatment(s) you should use is to figure out what level of risk you're considered. If you're a Category I high risk case, you'll need very different kinds of treatments than if you were Category IV, low risk.

    Talk to your naturopathic doctor about your various treatment options. Research options recommended by your doctor and make an informed decision as to which treatments you ultimately want to use.

    By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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  • Diabetes Myths

     

    There are a lot of myths associated with diabetes that can easily be cleared up. It's important for people to understand that the medical community is not trying to hide the cure for diabetes from you to keep you on diabetes medication. The truth is, before treatments were available many people simply progressed until they died of complications from diabetes. Today, with the right knowledge you can live a long and normal life with diabetes.

    Eating Sugar Causes Diabetes

    While eating sugar is not the only cause for diabetes, those with diabetes (or people who want to live a healthy lifestyle) should avoid white sugar as much as possible. Instead of a high sugar dessert or drink, choose something else. Eating whole fruit for dessert, and fresh filtered water for hydration is just a much better choice. But, eating sugar is not the only cause of diabetes. However, eating too much can lead to a higher risk for diabetes along with other illnesses.

    All Overweight People Have Diabetes

    Many people are overweight their entire lives and never develop diabetes. While it does seem to be true on the surface, and being overweight you should seriously do something about it to avoid diabetes, the truth is that all overweight people will not develop diabetes. This is not an excuse to stay overweight, though. Instead, cut down on your calories, eliminate high fat, high sugar, highly processed foods from your diet and enjoy better health longer.

    Living with Diabetes Is Hard

    While having diabetes (especially Type I diabetes) makes life more challenging, it's not really hard. Simple tools have been invented to help you test and medicate in privacy without much problem. You'll have to be more careful with some things, but if you're aware you may live out a much healthier and full life than otherwise.

    Testing and Injections Hurt

    Needle sizes for injections and testing are pretty small. Many can't even feel the testing needle or the injection needle. It's hard to make yourself inject yourself to start with but once you get used to it, it will be much easier. It'll be second nature, and it will save your life.

    Diabetes Is Contagious

    While there is a high coloration of first degree family members having diabetes and you eventually getting it, it's not contagious. There is no worry about being around others with diabetes. And there is no reason someone with diabetes can't be around others. They are not at risk of contracting communicable diseases at a higher rate.

    Diet Always Cures Diabetes

    While diet and exercise can contribute to better blood sugar results and a healthier life overall, sometimes diet doesn't improve your numbers - even when you are doing everything you're supposed to do. Try not to be discouraged, listen to your naturopathic doctor, and do the best that you can.  In these cases, supplements can greatly help to control your numbers quicker and more consistently.

    While a lot of myths prevail about diabetes, it's important if you or someone you know has diabetes to read the literature and keep up to date on the most advanced treatments available to you through reliable sources. Check out anything someone tells you about a "cure" and always talk everything over with your naturopathic doctor.

    By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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  • How to Help a Diabetic Child Live a Normal Life

     

    Having diabetes as a child is a tough road to have to travel. But, thankfully you can make it a little easier by planning ahead and speaking openly to your child and others about their disease. The child has nothing to be embarrassed about, and this issue should not be hidden. In fact, hiding it can be a lot more dangerous than letting everyone know, plus being open will make your child feel more normal rather than as if they have a bad secret to keep.

    Plan Ahead

    Every day has to be planned ahead to include meals, snacks, testing, and injections. For small children there are risks all over the place in terms of food that they cannot have. Because of this, it's important to let your child have some planned treats occasionally so they don't feel left out. The truth is, what's good for your diabetic child is also good for other children.

    They're Not That Different

    Children should eat a healthy, balanced diet, stay hydrated with non-sugar sweetened beverages and get plenty of activity each day. The only difference is that your child will need to monitor their blood sugar, and take breaks to either give themselves insulin or take medication. Oftentimes this means an adult will need to assist them.

    Dealing with Other Children

    If your child has diabetes, the best way to deal with other children is to make them part of helping your child say safe and healthy. Offer to teach your child's class about diabetes. Bring a fun interactive presentation and make your child feel special. A nice party with appropriate and healthy food to top it off will help.

    Talking to Teachers

    Teachers and administrators need to know everything they can about your child's condition. Some schools today do not have nurses on staff. Sometimes, if your child is not on a pump and you can't leave work to administer insulin injections, the teacher will be the one to do it and it'll be up to you to train them how to do it appropriately. Plan to spend a day or two at your child's school so that you can go through every procedure, and watch them do it as well so that you can feel assured.

    Be an Example

    Don't eat foods in front of your child that they cannot have. Don't have food around the house that your child cannot have. Live a healthy life along with your child, and let your home be your child's safe place away from temptations and being left out. It's not right to have those things around or at the dinner table if your child can't have them.

    Most children with diabetes will live long lives and maintain their health as long as they're taught how to care for themselves appropriately. Pay attention to their meals, calculate and teach them to calculate their carbohydrates, and ensure that they get their insulin on time in accurate dosages every single day.

    By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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