Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Gluten Free - Healthy or Hype??

By Emma Stafford, RN, APN-C, ACHPN, APHN

It seems that ‘Gluten Free’ is the new bandwagon everyone is jumping on and you may be wondering why. The short answer is some people feel better eliminating wheat, rye, and barley from their diet. If you lived through the Fat Free, Sugar Free craze of the 80’s, you may be a little skeptical. Let’s dig deeper. 

Gluten-related disorders are conditions caused by an adverse reaction to gluten or wheat, including allergic (wheat allergy), auto-immune (celiac disease), and immune response (gluten sensitivity). It is important to find out where you are on the spectrum of gluten-related disorders. 

Wheat allergy has typical food allergy which can include respiratory and skin reactions immediately after ingesting wheat. People allergic to wheat must avoid all wheat and watch for hidden sources. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that produces symptoms after eating foods that contain gluten, rye, barley (oats remain controversial). In the past, the ‘classic’ symptoms have included chronic diarrhea, weight loss and abdominal distention. More recent manifestations of Celiac disease are anemia, osteoporosis, joint pain, skin rash, neurological symptoms, behavioral changes, miscarriage and infertility. If you are diagnosed with celiac disease, eating gluten-free for life is the answer. No cheat days, no holidays, no missteps. In this group of people, gluten sets off an autoimmune reaction that can impact digestion and absorption of food. 

Gluten sensitivity can present as gas, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, ‘brain fog’, depression, joint pain, and anemia. Basically, if symptoms are triggered by exposure to gluten and relieved by eliminating gluten-containing grains from your diet, then it is gluten sensitivity.  

To quote Alessio Fasano, the nation’s leading expert on Celiac disease and gluten related disorders,

“Currently, the only treatment for gluten related disorders is a gluten-free diet. People with Celiac Disease must eliminate gluten for life. Depending on their symptoms, individuals with either gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy might not have to adhere as strictly or as permanently to a gluten-free diet.”

Having to go gluten-free is not the worst thing in the world. It should be done under the guidance of your healthcare provider and a nutritionist. It is manageable, symptoms will greatly improve, and the benefits will include your best health possible.  

At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, we are able to determine where you may fall on the spectrum of gluten related disorders through specialized, affordable testing. To learn more, make an appointment with me or one of our integrative nutritionists by calling 732.263.7999. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Do You Have Email Apnea?

By Sharon Yeskel, BA
Integrative Health Associate

About 10 years ago, Linda Stone, a writer, researcher and former Apple and Microsoft executive, was suffering from chronic respiratory infections. Her doctor prescribed breathing exercises which she would practice before getting on the computer.

She began noticing that when she finished her breathing exercises and started reading emails, she was holding her breath or shallow breathing. This continued to happen day after day. She called the phenomenon “Email apnea or screen apnea.” She spent seven months observing and talking to others about it and found that 80% of the people she interviewed had email apnea.

She describes email apnea as shallow breathing or holding your breath without realizing it while working or playing in front of a computer screen. It also happens when tweeting and texting, playing video games or watching an exciting movie or the 11 o’clock news. It seems people tend to hold their breath in anticipation of what they are about to read, see or do.

Ms. Stone says, “Our posture is often compromised, especially when we use laptops and smartphones. Arms forward, shoulders forward, we sit in a position where it’s impossible to get a healthy and full inhale and exhale. Further, anticipation is generally accompanied by an inhale—and email, texting, and viewing television shows generally includes a significant dose of anticipation. Meanwhile, the full exhale rarely follows.”

Why is shallow breathing or breath holding bad for us?

When breath holding is the norm day after day, hour after hour, it sabotages healthy breathing. The lungs don’t get enough exercise and can lose some of their function. If we don’t get enough oxygen into our lungs, we don’t get rid of enough carbon dioxide and toxins build up in our cells. Lack of oxygen can make us feel tired and weaken our immune systems. We feel stressed rather than relaxed.

What can we do?

Awareness is key. Check your posture when in front of a screen. Sit back in your chair. Drop your shoulders. Begin to take notice of your breathing throughout the day. Is your breathing full and deep or constricted and shallow? (Ladies, check your breathing next time you apply mascara!).

When you notice that you are holding your breath, think EXHALE. Breathe out slowly. After you exhale, you will automatically take a breath in. Inhale slowly and deeply, with awareness.

Try some healthy breathing exercises like diaphragmatic breathing or the 4-7-8 breath advocated by Dr. Andrew Weil. Watch two of our Integrative Nurse Health Coaches demonstrate this technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GenwCHKbbPw.

Happy breathing!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You Who You Are

By Mary Brighton, M.S., RDN
Integrative Nutritionist 

You have probably heard the adage “You are what you eat,” but did you know this proverb came from France? In 1825, the French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin published this now celebrated quote in his masterpiece book Physiology of Taste: “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es” which translates to "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are." The French still take their food seriously and this “you are what you eat” theme still holds true today, in France, in America and worldwide.

What you may not know is that how you eat has an influence on your health. Mr. Brillat-Savarin knew this too, and if you delve into his “meal process adds to life’s happiness” attitude you will see trends that we incorporate here at Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine. Mindful thinking and eating, living with a purpose, and life enjoyment are interrelated with food and meals. What better way to feel part of a social relationship than sharing a meal around a table? And is there nothing better to wind down from a busy day than enjoying a home-cooked meal? The meal process is as important as what foods you put into your body. Eating mindfully and with pleasure can help your whole body and overall health.

Here are a few ideas to add mindfulness around your meals: turn off screens, sit around a table, light a candle and dim the lights. Take a moment to feel gratitude for the positive parts of your day and sip and savor your dishes. Even the simplest foods can be pleasurable if we have a mindful attitude. Enjoy the meal process, just as Mr. Brillant-Savarin said, "The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all areas; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure.”

To learn more about nutrition and our Five Pillars of Health & Wellness, contact me at 732.994.7855 or visit our website at HackensackMeridian.org/IntegrativeMedicine

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Stay Healthy According to a 9 Year Old

By Isabella Kerris, age 9

Ice cream, cake, brownies, cupcakes, lollipops, smarties, skittles, jolly ranchers! 

I am sure I have named one of your favorite desserts but all of these things I listed are not healthy and they are loaded with sugar. They should not be on your plate! Maybe once in a while you can have one or two or maybe three, but it is not healthy. Keep on reading if you want to learn more about staying healthy.

My first way to stay healthy is you should LIMIT SUGAR! It is not good to eat food with sugar in it for your whole life. If you eat too many sugary foods you can develop diabetes. For breakfast you can have eggs with a side of fruit. For lunch you can have salad and some grilled chicken. For dinner you can have whole wheat pasta or maybe more grilled chicken. And always, always, always try having more fruit and veggies, they are better for you. One time I was sneaking candy when I wasn't allowed to, it was early in the morning and I did not have breakfast yet. My dad caught me and said, “Sweetie I know chocolate is very addicting but we can’t have it all the time because it is not good for us.” He was right! My favorite healthy foods are carrots and toast with sun butter. Now you know all about why you should limit sugar. On to the next way to be healthy.  

The second way you should stay healthy is by eating a lot of fruits and veggies. Here are some of the healthy things you can eat: carrots, potatoes, broccoli, spinach, kale, tomatoes, banana, olives, kale, pickles, coconuts, salad, greens, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, celery, fennel, pumpkins, blackberries, almonds, cashews, and more. My mom and dad drink a gross smoothie every day with broccoli, greens, spinach and kale. It is the color green. One time my mom made extra of that smoothie and she asked me, "Do you want some?," so I said, “NO PLEASE NO I WANT NONE!!!!!! Please no, I don't like that.” I didn't have any but I should have tried it. Now you know why you should eat fruits and veggies.

My third and final way to be healthy is that you need to exercise. To exercise you need to warm up your muscles so you can do jumping jacks or splits. You can even run around the gym. One time my coach said it was very important to warm up and if you don't your muscles will be cold so when you are trying to stretch it won't work all the way. Now you know why you need to exercise and now you know how to be healthy and you can go try it yourself! 

You are practically an expert now! Go try it! Remember stay healthy and you will feel great. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Self-Care: It’s Not a Luxury, It’s a Necessity

By Paula O’Neill, M.S., RN-BC
Clinical Program Manager

Quick…name the top 5 individuals who are most important to you. If you are like most people you did not include yourself in that list. You stay late at work, care for loved ones, drive the kids to activities… the list goes on and on. We often think of ourselves last, if we think of ourselves at all. But caring for ourselves is so important. Anyone who has flown on a plane is familiar with the safety directions given at the beginning of the flight: put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help someone else with theirs. If you can’t breathe you certainly cannot help anyone else. Likewise, if you don’t take care of yourself, you certainly cannot care for others.

According to Dossey and Keegan (2013), self-care is defined as the “practice of engaging in health related activities and using health-promoting behaviors to adopt a healthier lifestyle and enhance wellness.” Many people think of self-care as a luxury or "fluff." Nothing could be further from the truth. Taking time to care for yourself can help to decrease stress, help you feel calm and relaxed, support your physical, mental and emotional well-being, and help you to be at your best so you can be present for your loved ones. It is a necessity, not a luxury.

You can use Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine’s Five Pillars of Health & Well-being as a guide to self-care. By selecting activities in each category you will be on your way to a great self-care plan. Below are some suggestions, but it is important that you find things to do for yourself that you enjoy. That way you will be more likely to continue doing them and maintain your self-care routine.
  1. Exercise—The benefits of exercise include improving your physical and mental health and well-being and it can help reduce stress. Try a yoga class; take a walk or a run; dance; garden; when you shop park at the parking spot furthest from the store. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes, 4-5x per week. Remember to check with your physician before starting an exercise routine. 
  2. Nutrition—Food provides the nutrients for a healthy body and mind. Therefore, the quality of the food we eat has a tremendous impact on how we feel, physically and mentally. Eat three meals/day; eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (a rainbow of colors); limit the amount of sugar you consume; prepare your own meals (make meals on the weekends and freeze them so you have them readily available during the week); limit your salt intake; use herbs and spices (which have health benefits of their own) to flavor your food. 
  3. Sleep—Good quality and quantity of sleep benefits your body and mind. According to the National Sleep Foundation, being well rested contributes to being more productive and happy, and being in a better mood. Lack of sleep can contribute to heart disease, inflammation, and depression. They recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults and 7-8 hours per night for adults over 65 years of age. Create and stick to a sleep schedule; dim, or better yet turn off, electronic devices-even small amounts of light can interfere with sleep; try Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 Relaxation Breath Exercise to help you relax and fall asleep: inhale through your nose for a count of 4…hold your breath for 7 counts…exhale for a count of 8…Repeat 3 more times. 
  4. Resilience—The ability to adapt to adversity and respond to stress. Managing stress is key to well-being and self-care. Try yoga; meditate; 4-7-8 Relaxation Breath Exercise; listen to music; exercise. 
  5. Purpose—“There’s no greater gift than to honor your life’s calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” - Oprah Winfrey. Knowing your purpose leads to a more meaningful, fulfilling, and satisfying life. Determine your life purpose. 
There is no better time than now to start your self-care plan. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.

“The best health care plan is a self-care plan.” ~ Nina Leavins