Sleep: It’s Healthy

Are You Sleeping Enough?

The National Institutes of Health inform us that about 30% of the American population complains of sleep issues.  Unfortunately, the consequences of poor sleep have more impact on our health than simply feeling worn out the next day.

What is the “right” amount of sleep for a person?  The answer is not definitive but some research has shown an increase in disease in people who get the fewest hours of sleep per night.  People who sleep 6 hours of less per night run an increased risk of developing diabetes.  The group of people who reported 6 or fewer hours per night had a 28% increased risk over people who reported sleeping 7-8 hours per night (1).  Another study following people 7 to 25 years also showed an 48% increased risk for coronary heart disease in people who slept less than 6 hours compared to people who slept 6 to 8 hours per night (2).  Clearly, we can limit some of the risk of major lifestyle diseases by getting a sound 7-8 hours of sleep per.

What you can do to improve the quality of your sleep:

  • Exercise- 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week.  Don’t have time for 30 minute chunks?  Breaking it up into smaller periods has just as much health benefit.
  • Valerian root- so far the jury’s out.  But tinctures (extracts of the plant made from soaking it in ethanol) may have a more potent effect over capsules.
  • Melatonin- There is no magic sleeping pill.  Melatonin however, has been shown to help people reset their sleeping schedule.  It is most effective when a person is staying up late and can’t seem to get sleepy earlier in the night.
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine- both may disturb sleep in some people.  Caffeine can affect sleep even when consumed early in the AM.  Alcohol causes a decrease in quality of sleep.

If you are having trouble sleeping, you are not alone.  Make an appointment to see me at the University Health Clinic and we’ll get to the bottom of the issue.

Primary Care Doctor at Seattle's University Health Clinic

 As a naturopathic primary care physician, Dr. Justin Steurich sees patients with varied conditions.  His clinical interests lie in working with patients with muscle and joint pain, heart problems, diabetes, and gastrointestinal disease.  He is dedicated to patient education and will spend time helping you understand your problems and your options.

Dr.Steurich is currently seeing new patients and accepts most insurance plans.  Call The University Health Clinic at (206) 525-8015 to make an appointment today.

1)Diabetes Care 33:414, 2010

2)Eur. Heart J 32:1484, 2011

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Managing Your Weight by Managing the Weight of Your Food

You may have heard the following buzzwords: calorie density or volumetrics.

Calorie density is simply the amount of calories contained in 1 bite.  Fruits and vegetables have very low calorie density while candy, oils/fats, and meats are calorie dense.  Who cares, right?  How is helpful to me?

Scientists have discovered that people tend to eat the same weight/volume of food at a meal no matter the type of food.  Using this information to plan meals is called volumetrics.   A person will tend to eat the same weight of french fries as they would a garden salad at a given meal.

And this is how calorie density matters.  Foods high in water (again, fruits and vegetables) have a large volume, but few calories.  Foods low in water will have fats,protein, carbohydrates making up the bulk of their weight and providing calories.  In a study by Barbara Rolls, PhD, participants ate close to 25% less calories in low calorie-dense meals while reporting the same levels of satiety.

How to use this to your advantage?

If your body recognizes being full because of the weight of your food, not the density of calories, then eat a larger proportion of vegetables to grains, meat, and fats.  And feel just as full.  At least half of a plate at every meal should be covered with vegetables.

Instead of entire plate of pasta, make a 1/2 to 1 cup serving with 2 cups of mixed vegetables including spinach, zucchini, bell peppers, and fresh herbs for flavor.  Not only will you get more vitamins and minerals, you’ll also get more fiber and water while minimizing calories.

Primary Care Doctor at Seattle's University Health Clinic

Dr. Justin Steurich, Primary Care Physician at Seattle’s University Health Clinic

 

As a naturopathic primary care physician, Dr. Justin Steurich sees all patients with all conditions.  His clinical interests lie in working with patients with muscle and joint pain, heart problems, diabetes, and gastrointestinal disease.  He is dedicated to patient education and will spend time helping you understand your problems and your options.

Dr.Steurich is currently seeing new patients and accepts most insurance plans.  Call The University Health Clinic at (206) 525-8015 to make an appointment today.

 

 

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Exercise for diabetic health, dementia prevention, and so on…

Exercise.  What is it about that word?  For many of us the idea of moving our bodies on a daily basis seems quaint or too simple to actually work.

Fortunately, scientists have been working their hardest to perform controlled experiments to measure the health benefits of exercise.

Exercise provides the following health benefits for which we have strong scientific evidence:

  • Lower risk of early death
  • Lower risk of coronary heart disease
  • Lower risk of stroke
  • Lower risk of hypertension (and the accompanying diseases)
  • Lower risk of high cholesterol (and the accompanying diseases)
  • Lower risk of diabetes (and a method for controlling blood sugar)
  • Lower risk of colon and breast cancer
  • Prevention of falls
  • Reduced depression
  • Better cognitive function

The list is much longer and specified in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans at health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf.

The CDC recommendations for adult physical activity are:

  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous- intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
  • For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate- intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous- intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

If you are looking for a reason to exercise, then look no further.  If you want a doctor who will work with you to avoid getting sick in the first place, look no further.

We are here for you, at The University Health Clinic.

About the author

Primary Care Doctor at Seattle's University Health Clinic

As a naturopathic primary care physician, Dr. Justin Steurich sees all patients with all conditions.  His clinical interests lie in working with patients with heart problems, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, and muscle and joint pain.  He is dedicated to patient education and will spend time helping you understand your problems and your options.

Dr.Steurich is currently seeing new patients and accepts most insurance plans.

Call The University Health Clinic at (206) 525-8015 to make an appointment today.

 

 

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Is extra weight protective against disease? No

Watching the headlines versus watching one’s weight

You may have heard that a recent study published in March 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association has concluded that being overweight is protective against death.  How can this be accurate?  The answer: It isn’t.

Where did the researchers err?  First, they included smokers in the study even though people who smoke are at a disproportionately higher risk for many life-threatening illnesses and early death.  However, the smokers in this study were unevenly distributed between the normal-weight group and the overweight group of participants, with the normal-weight group having more smokers than the overweight group  Thus, the normal-weight group appeared to have a higher risk of death associated with it compared to the overweight group.

Second, the researchers included in their study individuals who were at advanced stages of disease.  People who are at advanced stages of disease tend to have lower body weights as a result of their illness. Once again, the normal-weight group was stacked with people who were already at an advanced stage of disease and at a greater risk of death.

What does all of this mean for you?  Carrying extra bodyweight is not protective against disease. In fact, being overweight with a Body Mass Index greater than 25 is associated with increased risk for diabetes, gallstones, hypertension, colon cancer, and heart disease. This is your call to action: Prevent a multitude of diseases with diet and exercise.  For help with your diet and exercise goals, come to The University Health Clinic.  Now is your time to set up an appointment with us; we accept all major health insurance plans.  Don’t hesitate, call us today!

 

About the author

Primary Care Doctor at Seattle's University Health Clinic

As a naturopathic primary care physician, Dr. Justin Steurich sees all patients with all conditions.  His clinical interests lie in working with patients with heart problems, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, and muscle and joint pain.  He is dedicated to patient education and will spend time helping you understand your problems and your options.

Dr.Steurich is currently seeing new patients and accepts most insurance plans.

Call The University Health Clinic at (206) 525-8015 to make an appointment today.

 

 

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Stage Fright and Acupuncture

Stage Fright and Acupuncture

Are you one of the many artists who struggle with performance anxiety and stage-fright?

How can acupuncture help you cope?

  • It is a natural treatment that is drug-free (so no side effects)
  • Clears your mind to concentrate and focus
  • Grounds you in your body
  • Centers your energy
  • Consolidates  your will power
  • Builds your confidence
  • Lessens fear and anxious thinking

Musicians, singers, actors, dancers and speakers all can benefit.  Try an acupuncture performance- anxiety treatment with Nancy before your next stage appearance.  Painless, relaxing and calming – you will feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to go on!

 

About the Writer

University Health Clinic AcupuncturistAs the University Health Clinic’s acupuncturist with more than 10 years experience practicing Chinese Medicine, Nancy’s special interests include helping you with pain management, fatigue and using acupuncture as an effective adjunct therapy for mental health. She believes in holistic treatment plans that will lead you to a more balanced state of wellness.

 

Depression and Autoimmune Disease

Depression and Autoimmune Disease

The drug Prozac was released for public consumption in 1988 for the treatment of depression, alcoholism, and weight loss, among other things.  While there is a great deal of debate as to whether clinical depression,  and related diseases, such as bi-polar disorder, require permanent pharmaceutical intervention, one thing is perfectly clear:

There is a critical point, or a tipping point you might call it, past which the body will require chemical assistance in order to maintain a healthy brain neurotransmitter level, without which the patient will suffer loss of cognitive function and emotional extremes.  The important questions are when and why does this happen?

Every human being will become ill under an undue amount of stress. Tolerance for stress levels vary from person to person, but every human being has the point at which, under constant, persistent, repeated stress, something in their body will begin to break down.

We’ve notice that mental illnesses, like many other forms of illness, often run in families. This is because any chain under stress tends to break at its weakest link. In this case we are talking about the genome chain.  If a person has a genetic predisposition for depression or mental illness, the disease may or may not manifest itself. If it does, that manifestation may, or may not be a permanent condition.

But if we push that person’s body past it’s breaking point, here is what happens: The immune system will actually start to attack serotonin, which the brain needs to function, and destroy it as though it were a foreign substance or a disease!  The patient experiences a greater and greater depletion of the serotonin it requires until pharmaceutical and other intervention methods are put into place to restore balance.

Surprisingly, not only do anti-depressants like prozac keep serotonin in the brain longer, but they have an additional beneficial side effect as well. It has recently been shown that this class of drugs happens to also decrease inflammation. Decreasing inflammation calms the immune system. Calming the immune system means killing off less serotonin.

So these drugs have actually been pointing the way to disease prevention, as well as symptom mitigation, provided we are looking at the problem from the naturopathic perspective of the body as a whole.

If we know that a person under long term stress, prone to depression, is at risk of one day hitting that tipping point, how to we provide support for the patient so that the permanent condition never develops?  Lowering external stress is one obvious choice. This may include:

  • Job stress
  • School stress
  • Home stress
  • And the addition of therapy to develop skills for dealing with historical stressors

But there are internal and bodily stressors to be taken into consideration as well such as:

  • Eliminating foods which cause internal inflammation
  • Eliminating habits which cause bodily inflammation – abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Eliminating environmental conditions which cause bodily inflammation, such as constant exposure to allergens or pollution
  • And paying attention to blood sugar, which will play an important part in bodily inflammation

Then, after eliminating those things to which one should not be exposed, or which one should not ingest, then there are the steps one takes toward actively training the body and mind for stress management through practices such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Tia chi
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Art

There are multiple ways to cultivate a robust, active, but less stressful lifestyle. You might want to consult your local naturopath if you, or someone you love is dealing with mental illness. There are far more tools available to help support the patient with these illnesses than are commonly known.

 

About the Writer

Dr. Mona Fahoum of TheDispensaryOnline.comAs a naturopathic family practitioner, Dr. Monawar Fahoum’s interests and specialties include homeopathy, diet and nutrition, botanical medicine and physical medicine (bodywork, adjustments, etc). She views healing as a dynamic process, unique to each person, with different treatments appropriate for different patients.

 

 

UHC Weight Loss that Works– An Update!

Wow!  It continues to amaze me.  I now have at least 20 people on or finished with the initial phases of the Ultra-lite plan and I can honestly say that everyone feels better and is losing weight!  I have lost some weight, my husband and a family friend have lost almost 50 pounds each, and they are looking great.  The best part is that because you are guided through it by me, not only are you motivated and held accountable throughout the program, it is my job to help you find the right maintenance plan so that you can keep it off!

If you don’t keep it off, what is the point of losing it in the first place!  You don’t have to be a patient here at UHC to participate in the diet program, so feel free to enlist a co-worker, a friend or your mom to do the plan with you!  Call the office to set up a free 10-minute consult to hear more about my program for health!  206. 525.8015.

About the Writer

Dr. Mona Fahoum of TheDispensaryOnline.comAs a naturopathic family practitioner, Dr. Monawar Fahoum’s interests and specialties include homeopathy, diet and nutrition, botanical medicine and physical medicine (bodywork, adjustments, etc). She views healing as a dynamic process, unique to each person, with different treatments appropriate for different patients.

Losing weight the right way!

I have never been one for programs, in fact, no practitioner here at The UHC has ever been into one-size-fits-all programs.  Then I tried out this diet plan…now I have to run an informal clinical study on it!!!

This plan takes the diet advice I’ve always given patients for healthy, low-glycemic eating to a new level.  Now, losing weight (fat, not muscle) can be ramped up for faster results, then we can work on long-term nutritional goals.  This way we get results quickly which creates a happy, motivated you, and lasting results!

I have run about 10 patients, friends and family members through the plan already and everyone has lost weight, not been hungry, feels great and ready for phase two (maintenance).  I have done it myself and lost the stubborn 10 pounds I’ve put on in the years of owning a small business in a recession!  This is not HCG, this is not Pre-packaged food, this is not a plan full of pills, bars or shakes!

You can schedule a free consult with me to discuss your needs, or you can attend a free talk I’m giving on the plan at the clinic.  Please call the office to RSVP, 206.525.8015 if you can attend, Tuesday, September 4th at 6pm.  And your friends and family are welcome too!  This is open to the public!

–See you soon, Dr. Mona Fahoum

Depression and Your Gut

Have you even been anxious and had your stomach hurt?  Depressed and had no desire to eat, or craved certain foods?

How many brains do you have?

You have two.   Most people don’t know about their 2nd ‘Gut’ brain.  Your GI tract produces neurotransmitters like Serotonin that have local and systemic actions, similar to those in your brain.  Dysfunctions in your intestinal tract can have a tremendous impact on neurotransmitter balance.  In other words, the emotional state of your gut can affect the emotional state in your head and vice versa.

Go with your Gut

When depression and anxiety just won’t go away, there is often an overlooked connection to your Gut.  This can take the form of food allergies, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s, colitis, or celiac disease’.  Resolving the inflammation created by food allergies, IBS and IBD, can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety dramatically!  Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Nexium, Prilosec and others affect digestion downstream, and have a direct correlation to increased incidence of depression.  PPIs are meant as short term treatment!  Taking these medications long term will adversely affect how your GI tract works.

If your depression or anxiety are not resolving with treatment, then its time to get to the root of the matter.  Depression and anxiety are NOT incurable conditions!  Talk with your provider about testing for gastro-intestinal issues that may be preventing you from resolving your depression and anxiety.

 

About the Writer

Dr. Jana Hagen brings more than a decade of knowledge and experience in Naturopathic Medicine and Clinical Laboratory Medicine to her family medicine practice and addiction relapse prevention.  Dr. Hagen is not seeing patients at this time.

Copyright notice. The contents of this article may be reused, but must be reused in full (and full credit given to its authors). If you have specific questions, please contact us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boost your Immune System

The 12 Best Ways to Boost Your Immune System

When the weather gets wet and dreary, our gathering places become
incubators for the spread of viruses, like colds and flus. 
Is sickness
inevitable in winter? Not necessarily, if you have a strong immune system,
you can make it through the season, staying bright and robust in your good
health.

How?
1.  Get adequate sleep. Most people need 7-8 hours a night. Some need
more. We do very poorly on less. Sleep gives the body the chance
to repair itself and rejuvenate energy stores. During the winter, our
bodies have historically needed more sleep in response to lowered
temperatures and less light. Give your body the rest it needs.
2.  Drink plenty of water. When it’s cold and rainy, we often forget to
hydrate. None-the-less, our body needs to be flushed of toxins,
especially when we are exposed to sickness more often. Stay
hydrated and stay healthy.
3.  Watch the sugar intake. During the winter, it’s tempting to reach for
sugar to boost our energy. But refined sugars depress the immune
system. Opt for fruit instead.
4.  Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. Root vegetables and squashes
are in season, and are naturally sweet complex carbohydrates.
Dark leafy greens and frozen dark berries provide anti-oxidants,
and freezing preserves most of their nutrition. They boost the
immune system with vitamins, minerals, and bioflavonoids, which
help improve white blood cell function and decrease reactions to
allergens.
5.  Maintain basic hygiene. The physical action of washing your hands
with water and soap helps to sanitize them, and does a better
job than prepackaged hand sanitizers. Sanitizers promote more
resistant bugs. Don’t use them unless you have no other option.
6.  Train yourself and others to sneeze/cough into the arm. We have
been taught to cover our mouths when coughing or sneezing, the
problem though, is that it’s into our hands. Then we touch other
people, doorknobs, keyboards, etc. The solution is to re-train
yourself, your kids and others to sneeze and cough into the crook of
the elbow. Don’t pass the germs.
7.  Rinse your sinuses. If you don’t already use a neti-pot, or a squirt bulb
to rinse your nasal passages and sinuses, put this practice into
your routine. These tools remove germs and allergens, and should
be used 1-2 times a week, especially if you fly. Rinse with a mild
saline solution. You can find inexpensive, pre-measured saline
packets and sinus rinse kits by Niell-Med at most drug stores over
the counter.
8.  Load up on vitamin C. Drink Emergen-C, or take vitamin C capsules.
Take 500-1000 milligrams a day. It will help boost your immune
system and white blood cell count. You will know you are taking too
much if you have loose bowels.
9.  Use a humidifier. Heating our homes dries out the air, and thus our
mucus membranes, which are designed to catch germs and
allergens. Put a small quantity of tea tree, eucalyptus, or thyme
oil in the vaporizer, or in the depression that is on the top of most
vaporizers. These herbs are anti-viral and anti-microbial.
10.  Have a good immune support product ready. As soon as you
feel the slightest symptom of anything wrong, take your immune
system booster. We tend to wait 2-3 days, thinking it will pass
on its own. It never does. If you have a run down, achy feeling,
a little headache and a little sniffle, don’t try to ride it out. If you
take immediate action, you’ll end up with the minor version of the
illness. Good immune system products include: Barlean’s Olive Leaf
Complex Peppermint Oil, BioGenesis’ Phyto Immune, IT’s Thymucin
or Ayush’s Flucomune.
11.  Stay home. Take a day off work when you get those first symptoms.
It’s your body telling you that you’re exhausted. You can miss one
day in the early stage – or 4 days if you try to force yourself to go in.
Nobody wants you to pass it on to your coworkers. Just stay home
and take care of your body.
12.  Stay healthy. Ultimately, nothing cures the common cold, or virus.
Prevention, as always, remains the best medicine.

 

About the Writer

Dr. Mona Fahoum of TheDispensaryOnline.comAs a naturopathic family practitioner, Dr. Monawar Fahoum’s interests and specialties include homeopathy, diet and nutrition, botanical medicine and physical medicine (bodywork, adjustments, etc). She views healing as a dynamic process, unique to each person, with different treatments appropriate for different patients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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