Wellness

Women, Alcohol Abuse And 4 Coping Skills For Recovery

by Soroya Bacchus, M.D

A recent study that showed even moderate alcohol consumption can take years off your life not only attracted a lot of media attention, it also caused other studies about drinking to seem even more worrisome, especially with their findings about women.

We aren’t talking about harmless social sipping with friends here, and as the nation observes Women’s Health Care Month in May it’s worth exploring the growing negative role that alcohol plays in the lives of American women.

“My favorite line of all time is: ‘I don’t drink that much,’ ” says Dr. Soroya Bacchus (www.soroyabacchusmd.com), a psychiatrist and author of How to Detox Yourself from Alcohol.

“Sometimes the people who say this are right; they really don’t drink that much. More often, though, people say this to make themselves feel better about how much they do drink.”

Just last year, a study published by JAMA Psychiatry reported that more Americans are drinking high amounts of alcohol, and some of the greatest increases are among women.

In addition, about 5.3 million women in the United States drink alcohol in a way that threatens their health and safety, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

For those women, just trying to get sober won’t fix the fundamental problem that caused them to drink too much to begin with, Bacchus says.

“I don’t care about sober,” she says. “I care about healthy. No one drinks or uses drugs in a vacuum. Usually there is an underlying mental disorder that causes and worsens the alcohol or drug use.”

It’s important that women with serious drinking problems seek medical assistance so they can detox in a safe manner, Bacchus says. Detoxification from alcohol has more complications from withdrawal than any other drug, and the death rate for alcohol withdrawal is between 5 and 8 percent, she says.

Even after detoxing, Bacchus says, a therapist can help women develop healthy psychological coping skills to avoid a relapse.

Among the ways they can do that include:

  • Biofeedback therapy. This teaches you to develop voluntary, conscious control of physiological processes that are typically involuntary and unconscious. “If you have alcohol cravings, biofeedback teaches you how to identify the physical sensations associated with them and allows you to deploy strategies to counter them,” Bacchus says.
  • Hypnosis or hypnotherapy. Through hypnosis a therapist can explore the potential root causes of alcohol abuse, such as previously unknown disorder, a hidden memory or a past trauma. Bacchus offers a caveat: Only undergo hypnotherapy with a trained professional you trust completely.
  • Exercise. Every time you exercise you build yourself up both psychologically and physically, Bacchus says. “Before you know it, you have a positive habit that sustains you through tough times,” she says. “Instead of taking a drink, you go for a walk. Instead of falling into a rabbit hole of negative emotion, you hit the gym.”
  • Yoga. Yoga is both a great exercise for muscles and joints, but also an excellent way to deal with stress. “This makes it a perfect practice for recovery,” Bacchus says, “because you need to rebuild your body from the ravages of alcohol abuse and rebuild your mind from the negative thought patterns you developed over years of addiction.”

“The goal is to replace the negative coping mechanisms of addiction with the healthy coping mechanisms of recovery,” Bacchus says. “You need your mind and body working in harmony so your soul can be at peace.”

About the author:

Soroya Bacchus, M.D., (www.soroyabacchusmd.com) author of How to Detox Yourself from Alcohol, is a triple board-certified psychiatrist specializing in addition and psychosomatic medicine. She has treated patients with addiction issues for 22 years. She has been interviewed on such television shows asGood Morning America and has been quoted in the New York Times, the Huffington Post and other print and online publications.

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The Aging Brain: A Road Map for Keeping A Sharp Mind Into Old Age


The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind

Growing older is inevitable, but many of the afflictions associated with old age—including dementia, disability and increased dependence on others—don’t have to be. So if you could, would you choose to break the mold of aging?

Psychiatrist and international speaker Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., may have some insights. Dr. Jennings prescribes simple, everyday actions we all can take to stave off disease, promote vitality, and prevent dementia and late-onset Alzheimer’s. “The choices we make now can help us to keep our minds sharp and maintain our independence as we age,” says Jennings.

An easy-to-use guide to maintaining brain and body health throughout life, The Aging Brain is based on solid, up-to-date scientific research, and the interventions discussed may help prevent progression toward dementia, even in those already showing signs of mild cognitive impairment. The recommendations also may help reduce disability and depression.

“This book isn’t just for people hoping to slow the aging process,” says Jennings. “It’s also for anyone who is a caregiver to someone at risk of or already beginning to suffer from dementia. It offers a hopeful, healthy way forward.”

“Great advice and excellent science on aging! It’s well worth following and applying these principles so as to age the way we are supposed to.”
– Dr. Caroline Leaf, Cognitive Neuroscientist, Communication Pathologist and Author

“A well-researched and commonsense book aimed at helping one understand the complexities of dementia, while offering recommendations for maintaining healthy brain function into our later years.”
– Rodney A. Poling, MD, DFAPA, medical director, Behavioral Healthcare Center, Columbia TN., and board-certified geriatric psychiatrist

“Dr. Jennings clearly describes how to practically manage the medical and lifestyle variables that can positively impact brain health and the process of aging. Age is a number, but getting old is a lifestyle.”
– Michael Lyles, psychiatrist, author, and speaker

About the author:

Timothy R. Jennings, MD has been in private practice as a Christian psychiatrist and certified master psychopharmacologist since 1997. Board certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, he is a specialist in transcranial magnetic stimulation, a drug-free treatment for depression. Dr. Jennings is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and past president of both the Tennessee and Southern Psychiatric Associations. He has spent more than two decades researching the interface between biblical principles and modern brain science and is a highly sought after lecturer and international speaker and the author of The God-Shaped Brain and The God-Shaped Heart. He is in private practice in Chattanooga, Tennessee. For more information about Dr. Jennings and to hear his lectures, please visit the website: www.comeandreason.com.

About the book:
The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind
Baker Books
Release Date: June 19, 2018
ISBN-10: 080107522X
ISBN-13: 978-0801075223

 

 

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Couch Potatoes Are At Risk for Diabetes, So Here’s How to Motivate Yourself Fit

Now that 2018 is finally a reality, you’ve decided that this year you’re finally going to better manage your diabetes, starting with that dreaded word: exercise. According to Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, FACSM, if you suffer from diabetes or are at risk for developing the disease, deciding to commit to fitness could be a real lifesaver. That’s why it’s more important than ever that you make sure this resolution sticks.

“Considering that more than 29 million people have diabetes and 84.1 million American adults have prediabetes, it’s crucial that a large number of people make lifestyle changes for the sake of their health,” says Dr. Colberg, who partnered with the American Diabetes Association to write the new book Diabetes and Keeping Fit For Dummies® (Wiley, February 2018, ISBN: 978-1-119-36324-8, $22.99).

“If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing it, exercising regularly is the single most important thing you can do to keep your blood glucose levels in check, reduce your risk of developing complications, and slow down the aging process,” she adds. “And the new year is the perfect time to commit to doing more physical activity.”

Although having diabetes increases your risk of getting health problems that can greatly reduce your quality of life, Dr. Colberg says you can fight back by keeping fit. Exercise enhances your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Many chronic diseases in addition to type 2 diabetes are associated with reductions in your insulin action, like hypertension and heart disease. Exercise may also enhance your body’s ability to produce more insulin. Plus, it lowers your risk of premature death, heart disease, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and severe arthritic symptoms.

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“Beyond just the physical benefits, exercise can have a positive impact on your mental and emotional health as well by lessening feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression,” she adds. “Being active can also positively affect your self-confidence, body image, and self-esteem.”

Knowing all those benefits may not be enough to get you motivated to start exercising more. So many find that the hardest part can be trying to find the motivation to begin. Read on for Dr. Colberg’s tips to get you moving in the new year and beyond.

Choose activities you enjoy. It’s human nature to avoid doing the things you really don’t like to do. If you absolutely hate running, it’s probably not the best activity to choose to get started with. Most people need exercise to be fun, or they lose their motivation to do it over time. By actually having fun with your activities, you will more easily make them a permanent and integral part of your routine. Try picking activities you truly enjoy, such as salsa dancing or golfing (as long as you walk and carry your own clubs).

“Maybe you haven’t found any activities that you enjoy much,” says Dr. Colberg. “If that’s the case, choose some new ones to take out for a test run (so to speak). Also, be sure to choose an exercise that suits your physical condition and overcomes or works around your limitations.”

Start off with easier activities. Dr. Colberg warns that exercising too hard right out of the gate will likely leave you discouraged or injured—especially if you haven’t exercised in a while. Instead, start slowly with easier activities and progress cautiously toward working out harder.

“If you often find yourself saying that you are too tired to exercise, your lack of physical activity is likely what’s making you feel sluggish,” says Dr. Colberg. “But after you begin doing even light or moderate activities, your energy levels rise along with your fitness, and your physical (and mental) health improves.”

Check your blood glucose for added motivation. When starting a new exercise, use your blood glucose meter or continuous glucose monitor to check your blood glucose before, during (if you’re active for more than an hour), and after your workout. Why? A reading that changes—especially in the direction that you want it to—can be very rewarding and motivating. You will be able to see evidence of real results. If you don’t check, you may never realize what a positive impact you can have on your diabetes simply by being active.

“Let’s say your blood glucose is a little high after you eat a meal, and you want it to go lower without taking (or releasing) any more insulin,” says Dr. Colberg. “You can exercise after your meal and bring your blood glucose down within two hours after eating and taking insulin, or you can avoid or lower post-meal spikes in your blood glucose. You wouldn’t know the extent of the effect you can have without using your blood glucose meter or continuous glucose monitor to check.”

Spice up your routine. One of the chief complaints about exercise is that it is boring. Feelings of boredom with your program can be the result of repeating the same exercises each day. To keep it fresh, Dr. Colberg suggests trying different physical activities for varying durations and at different intensities. Just knowing that you don’t have to do the same workout day after day is motivating by itself.

“You may want to do a variety of activities on a weekly basis, an approach known as cross-training,” says Dr. Colberg. “For example, you can walk on MondayWednesday, and Friday but swim on Tuesday and take dance classes on Saturday. In addition to staving off boredom, adding variety to your workouts has many other advantages as well, such as using different muscles so more muscles get the benefit of exercise training.”

Find an exercise buddy (or several). You don’t have to go it alone when being active. Having a regular exercise buddy keeps you accountable, increases your likelihood of participating, and also makes your activities more social and fun. Get your spouse, family members, friends, and co-workers to join in your physical activities. Having a good social network to support your new or renewed exercise habit helps you adhere to it over the long run.

“Your community may be a good place to look for other exercise options,” says Dr. Colberg. “Take the time to find out what’s available in your area. You can often find groups of health-conscious people walking together during lunch breaks, or you may be able to join a low-impact aerobics or other exercise class offered at your workplace, community center, or recreation center. The more you can get involved in making your lifestyle changes a part of a larger community, the more likely you are to be successful in making them a lifelong habit.”

Set goals… Setting goals can help keep your interest up and be a great motivator. For instance, if you walk for exercise, you may want to get a pedometer and set a goal of adding in 2,000 more steps each day. But when laying out your fitness goals, be realistic and avoid setting unreachable goals that will sabotage you from the start. That said, if you do have large goals, great! Break them down into smaller, realistic stepping stones (such as daily and weekly physical activity goals). This will help keep you on track and keep you from becoming too overwhelmed with trying to accomplish your goal.

“Using a fitness tracker, activity log, or fitness app may also be a good idea for helping you reach your exercise goals,” says Dr. Colberg. “Figure out what works best for you.”

…And don’t forget to reward yourself. Having goals is great, but with no reward, what motivation do you have for reaching them? When you reach an exercise goal, be sure to reward yourself (but preferably not with food!).

“No one ever said that sticker charts and non-food treats are just for kids,” says Dr. Colberg. “Maybe you can promise yourself an outing to somewhere special, the purchase of a coveted item, or another treat that is reasonable and effectively motivates you to exercise. If you do miss one of your goals, try to make the rest of them happen anyway. Then reward yourself when you meet any of your goals, even if you don’t make them all happen.”

Have a Plan B ready just in case. Always have a backup plan that includes other activities you can do in case of inclement weather or other barriers to your planned exercise. For example, if a sudden snowstorm traps you at home on a day you planned to swim laps at the pool, be ready to walk on the treadmill or try out some resistance activities (like abdominal crunches and leg curls). Even if you don’t enjoy your second-choice exercise as much, you can always distract yourself to make the time pass more pleasantly. Read a book or magazine, watch your favorite TV program, listen to music or a book on tape, or talk with a friend on the phone while you’re working out.

“Keeping an exercise routine can be a slippery slope—especially when you’re starting out,” says Dr. Colberg. “One roadblock can be all it takes to set you back. By having a backup plan, you are still keeping your body active in some capacity and are less likely to quit altogether.”

Schedule your workouts. You show up for your doctor’s appointments, so why should scheduling your physical activity be any different? Write your exercise down on your calendar or to-do list just like you would any other appointment. Scheduling it into your daily activities will help keep you from making excuses. If you already have the time blocked off, you will be more likely to do the activity.

“Never make the mistake of assuming exercise will happen just because you claim that you want to do it a certain number of days per week or month,” says Dr. Colberg. “It takes some planning ahead and the commitment to make it a priority.”

Take advantage of opportunities for “SPA time.” How many times have you driven around a parking lot to find a spot close to the door instead of just parking farther away and walking? When you do that, you’re missing out on an opportunity for spontaneous physical activity (SPA). There are plenty of ways to incorporate SPA into your daily routine. If you have a sedentary desk job, take the stairs rather than the elevator whenever you can. Walk to someone else’s office or the neighbor’s house to deliver a message instead of relying on the phone or email. Guess what? You’ve just gotten yourself more active without giving it much thought.

“Keep in mind that you don’t have to do activities at a high intensity for them to be effective,” says Dr. Colberg. “Adding in more daily movement in any way possible is likely to benefit your health. These could include gardening, doing housework, walking the dog, or even just standing while talking on the phone.”

Take small steps to get yourself back on track. Even after you’ve developed a normal activity routine, it can be easy to get off track. If you’re having trouble getting restarted, simply take small steps in that direction. You may find you need to start back at a lower intensity by using lighter weights, less resistance, or a slower walking speed. Don’t overdo it to make up for lost time. Starting out slowly with small steps will help you avoid burnout, muscle soreness, and injury.

“If you don’t want to exercise on a given day, make a deal with yourself that you’ll do it for a short time to get started,” says Dr. Colberg. “After all, getting started is often the hardest part. Even doing only 5 to 10 minutes at a time (rather than 30 minutes or more) is fine. After you’re up and moving, you may feel good enough to exceed the time you planned on doing in the first place. The key is to begin through any means possible.”

“When it comes to living with diabetes or prediabetes, exercise is very powerful medicine, and the side effects are all good ones,” concludes Dr. Colberg. “This is why it’s so important to get motivated and commit to an exercise routine, because it will change your life and put you on the road to wellness. Make 2018 the year that you take charge of your life, get fit, and discover better health at last.”

About the Author: 
Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, FACSM, is the author of Diabetes & Keeping Fit For Dummies®. She is professor emerita of exercise science from Old Dominion University and an internationally recognized diabetes motion expert. She is the author of 12 books, 25 book chapters, and over 300 articles. She was honored with the 2016 American Diabetes Association Outstanding Educator in Diabetes Award. Contact her via her websites (SheriColberg.com and DiabetesMotion.com).

About the Book: 
Diabetes and Keeping Fit For Dummies® (Wiley, February 2018, ISBN: 978-1-119-36324-8, $22.99) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797. For more information, please visit the book’s page on www.wiley.com.

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Winter Blues and Broken Bones

How to Make Sure You’re Getting Enough of The Protective Power of Vitamin D 3

By Kristin Grayce McGary LAc., MAc., CFMP®, CSTcert, CLP

 My family and I lived in a suburb of Chicago when I was a child. The weather was often overcast and gloomy. When it was sunny, my parents applied sunscreen. Unfortunately, when I was 10 years old I fell off a jungle gym and fractured my right arm. It wasn’t a big fall, I shouldn’t really have broken any bones, but looking back I suspect my vitamin D levels weren’t optimal.

Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”. It is produced in your skin in response to sunlight and is a vital organic compound supporting the absorption of calcium and protecting bone strength, supporting immune function, and regulating mood. Deficiencies in Vitamin D can lead to weakened bones, autoimmunity and conditions like osteoporosis, and mental illness such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as SAD.

Vitamin D-eficiency can also lead to:

  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease including heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancers of colon, prostate, ovaries, esophagus, and lymphatic system.
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Broken bones
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Hoshimotos Thyroiditis, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Allergies

There are two forms of Vitamin D; ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Of the two, Vitamin D3 is the preferred form for human consumption.

Vitamin D3 is Good for Your Brain

D3 helps regulate the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, which is the essential neurotransmitter affecting a variety of cognitive functions including mood, decision-making, social behavior, impulsive behavior, and social decision-making. Many psychological disorders associated with brain chemistry and function, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, show low brain serotonin. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is positively impacted by combining light therapy with Vitamin D 3.

So how can you help your body get the right amount of protective Vitamin D?

While sun exposure is helpful, it is often not enough. It is worth considering a daily dose of a good quality Vitamin D3 supplement. Obviously, dosing Vitamin D3 depends on your weight and current Vitamin D3 status. The first order of business would be to get tested and look at the data. Generally, children need less than adults.

In my experience, most doctors order 25 dihydroxyvitamin D test but this is the inactive form and may not give you all the information. I suggest also getting your Calcitriol 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D blood levels checked and if required ask your doctor or holistic health care provider to recommend an appropriate dose of Vitamin D3 for supplementation.

A healthy vitamin D blood level is about 45-75 ng/ml, depending on an individual’s unique biological needs. The Vitamin D Counsel recommends an average of 50 ng/ml. As part of my practice, I’ve learned to individualize things, some people do better with vitamin D levels that are 75ng/ml, and others lower. People with known autoimmunity, autoimmune disease, immune dysfunction or those living in northern states should have their levels tested regularly.

In order to work optimally, it is worth supporting Vitamin D3 supplementation with other important mineral co-factors that help the body to utilize D3 properly. In addition to the D3 supplementation I also suggest adding magnesium, boron and zinc. Here’s why:

Magnesium is necessary for your body to make energy from the food you eat. It helps to control blood pressure, blood sugar levels and it keeps your heart beating regularly.

The Vitamin D Council believes that the daily amounts of magnesium recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board aren’t enough to keep your body healthy and supplementation is recommended. Some research studies show that your body needs between 500 and 700 mg a day.

Zinc is a mineral mainly found in the muscles and bones. It helps the body perform many vital functions such as fighting infection, healing wounds, making new cells, facilitating the use of carbohydrates, fat and proteins in food, promoting strong growth and development especially in babies and young children through adolescence and helping with taste and smell.

Zinc isn’t stored long-term in the body so it’s vital to eat foods that contain it or to supplement. Zinc helps vitamin D work in cells as well as strengthening bones. Oysters have a high concentration of zinc.

(*If you are taking any medications that are intended to suppress your immune system consult your doctor before taking zinc.)

Boron is a trace mineral needed in small amounts by the body. Fruits, leafy vegetables and nuts contain boron. It works with vitamin D to help bones use the minerals they need such as calcium.

To reiterate, vitamin D3 plays a central role in a healthy mind and body which is why a balanced diet and supplementation is vital.

SUPPLEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS

There are a few on the market that have a very healthy carrier oil called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) or olive oil. Look for this in your supplement. Avoid products that contain soy, cotton seed, canola, and safflower oil.

Some doctors believe an adult dose of 2000 IU/day is adequate, others promote 5000 IU/day, some individuals may temporarily need as much as 10,000 for a short period of time to help boost their levels.

About the author:

Kristen McGaryKristin Grayce McGary LAc., MAc., CFMP®, CSTcert, CLP is a highly sought-after health and lifestyle alchemist. She is renowned for reversing annoying and debilitating health conditions and helping people to live with clarity and vitality. Kristin Grayce is also a speaker and author of Ketogenic Cure; Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Life. www.KristinMcGary.com

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