Shorter Days & Standard Time…
For good sleep, mood, energy and immunity we must be on our game at this time of year. Shorter days and the time change are a source of stress that can disrupt our otherwise healthy habits. Double-check your self-care against this list and tune-up where necessary:
- Sunlight. Take a break during the day, perhaps a lunchtime walk, to get some sunshine. When this isn’t enough, I recommend light therapy. I prefer light therapy glasses because I am not one to sit still in front of a light box. My favorite are Pegasi 2.
- Keep Up Exercise. So many patients drop their exercise program once the temps dip with real consequences for their health. I ride my bike to work year round, except when precipitation prevents it. My secret? The right clothing. REI.com is my go-to for outdoor gear. The advice from the store staff or their telephone customer service is top notch.
- Regular Meal Times are key to maintaining a proper circadian rhythm, which takes a hit with the time change. Our circadian rhythm controls our weight and metabolism. Learn more about this in my July 2022 Newsletter.
- Set Sleep and Wake Times even on weekends, are another key to maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm. I never would have believed it until I tried it. Yes, I am to bed at 9 pm and awake at 5:30 am, even on weekends. It was a key to improving my sleep, a big challenge for me since residency.
- Resist Sugar. A massage therapist friend of mine says sugar season begins with Halloween and ends with Valentines Day. Nothing disrupts sleep, mood, energy and immunity like it. It is toxic to the gut microbiome. Learn more about this in my September 2022 Newsletter.
- Watch Alcohol. It has the same effects as sugar. When used to aid sleep, it causes lighter, poor quality sleep.
- Don’t Up Caffeine. It’s oh so tempting as the days get shorter and to get through the time change! Learn how caffeine raises cortisol leading to fat gain and disrupts sleep.
- Meditate. While there are many reasons to meditate, I am interested in how it helps us handle stress better by lowering the set-point of the nervous system. Meditation increases parasympathetic nervous system activity, also known as rest, digest, calm and restore mode. Good mood, sleep, energy and immunity are all parasympathetic activities. I am a fan of the Plum Village and Insight Timer Apps. Both are appropriate for beginners. I also recommend Contemplative or Centering Prayer. Many of my patients meditate with repetitive prayers such as The Rosary or the Serenity Prayer. A daily practice is best, even if just for 5 minutes.
Considering the New COVID-19 Vaccine?
I am not recommending it for healthy people because the virus has proven to be quite mild lately. Defend yourself against COVID-19 and influenza with a vitamin D level of at least 50, 80 is preferable, a serum zinc level of 100 and adequate nitric oxide levels, which we get from good oral health and eating leafy vegetables. I recommend 6 packed fist sized servings daily. All these values can be tested. If you are thinking about getting further immunizations against COVID-19, please consider these criteria from the Institute for Functional Medicine
- Are you age 50 or older?
- Did you tolerate the previous COVID vaccines well?
- Do you have less than an ideal immune system?
- Do you have significant co-morbidities?
- Is COVID transmission status is rising locally or where you will travel?
Dr. Bethany Klug has practiced holistic and functional medicine since 2003, after it resolved health challenges that conventional medicine could not address for her. She is known for taking time to listen and to tease out the root causes that when addressed lead to more vibrant health. The name of her practice, HealthSpan, was inspired by her wish for everyone to enjoy lifelong vibrant health, instead of a long life plagued by chronic disease. She is known as an osteopath, and for her skill in natural medicine and bioidentical hormone replacement. Her practice is located in Prairie Village, KS, a suburb of Kansas City. Learn more at HealthSpanKC.com.
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