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Before you crawl into bed tonight, turn out the lights and power down your devices. Exposure to artificial light — from sources such as overhead lights, smartphones and televisions — was associated with higher rates of obesity, according to new research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study included almost 44,000 women between the ages of 35–74 over a six-year period and found women who were exposed to artificial light while sleeping had a 17% higher risk of gaining approximately 11 pounds compared to those who slept in the dark; their rates of obesity were 33% higher. Women who fell asleep with a television or light on were also more apt to gain weight and become overweight or obese over time.
LIGHT AND CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
“Humans are genetically adapted to be active during daylight and sleep in darkness at night,” explains lead author Dr. Yong-Moon (“Mark”) Park, MD, postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health. “Exposure to light at night while sleeping could alter the body’s 24-hour body clock leading to changes in hormones and other biological processes that regulate sleep, appetite and weight gain.”
While the study focused on exposure to artificial light in the bedroom but Park notes that light coming from outside the room — from other rooms or street lights, for example — was also associated with a slightly increased risk of weight gain. The study did not explore whether overall exposure to artificial light, including daytime exposures, had an impact on weight.
THE SLEEP-WEIGHT CONNECTION
Several studies have linked sleep issues, including insomnia, sleep duration and sleep disruptions, to higher rates of obesity. Research published in the journal Sleep Medicine found the incidence of obesity was higher among those who slept fewer than six hours or more than nine hours per night; chronic insomnia was also associated with higher BMI, according to one study.
The link between sleep and obesity is one reason to make improving sleep a priority, says Lu Qi, MD, PhD, director of the Tulane University Obesity Research Center. But sleep is just one of the known risk factors for obesity. Lifestyle factors such as an unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress and smoking are also linked to an increased likelihood of being overweight or obese.
“Even if you improve your sleep habits, you still need to pay attention to other risk factors,” says Qi. “We also need to be cautious in interpreting these results; artificial light might be a factor but it could be correlated to other habits that were not part of this study.”
Park agrees, adding, “While our study provides stronger evidence than other previous studies it is still not conclusive. Even so, it seems reasonable to advise people not to sleep with lights on. Turning off the lights at bedtime may be a simple thing we can do to reduce the chances of gaining weight.”
by Jodi Helmer
While walking is an excellent low to moderately intense workout that’s easy on the joints, you’ll still need to recover properly to improve fitness and avoid injuries. Here, seven steps to include in your post-walk recovery routine:
Whether you’ve gone for a long endurance walk or thrown in some intervals, it’s important to take time to let your body cool down before you head back inside. This allows you to slowly lower your heart rate and get rid of any lactic acid that could potentially cause soreness and a heavy feeling in your legs. A 10-minute walking cool down or completing a few yoga poses are great options post-workout.
One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of recovery is hydration. Even during low-to-moderate intensity workouts, the body loses fluid through sweat that needs to be replaced. If you don’t, recovery takes longer and your performance for your next workout will be negatively affected. In the hour that follows your walking workout, drink plenty of water. If you’re doing long distance training for a walking marathon or have completed a particularly intense workout in hot weather, an electrolyte replacement drink might also be needed. If you’re unsure exactly how much fluid you’ve lost during exercise, weighing yourself before and after workouts is one way you can gauge how much fluid you need to drink to rehydrate properly. You can also track your hydration with an app like MyFitnessPal.
REPLENISH YOUR ENERGY STORES
Consuming healthy, nutrient-rich food after a walk is a must to allow your muscle tissue to repair and get stronger. Skip processed, sugary foods and load up on leafy greens, lean protein like chicken, fish or even a post-workout protein shake.
Stretching as soon as your workout is finished and while your muscles are still warm can help reduce muscle soreness and improve your flexibility — both of which can help you improve your overall fitness and decrease your chances of injury. If you don’t have a ton of time to go through a series of stretches, concentrate on your weak spots. For example, if hamstring tightness is normally an issue, put most of your attention there. When you have the time, try this seated routine that targets many of the common sore spots for walkers.
REDUCE MUSCLE SORENESS
While nutrition and stretching are big pieces to this puzzle, there are other things you can do to help prevent soreness so you can feel better and work out more frequently:
- Massage: This helps improve circulation and relax aching muscles.
- Recovery tools: If you don’t have money or time for a professional massage, try recovery tools like foam rollers, lacrosse balls or a Theragun to loosen up sore spots.
- Ice: Try taking an ice bath or simply icing any sore spots like your knees, lower back or shoulders post-walk.
TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
Setting goals and tracking your progress is an important part of the big picture. Instead of waiting and possibly forgetting about it all together, upload your workout info to your favorite fitness app shortly after you’ve finished your walk. This allows you to see the work you’ve put in and can provide a mental boost when you realize how much you’re progressing.
by Marc Lindsay
The chiropractor. A lot of people swear by chiropractic treatments as the only way they get relief from back pain, neck pain, headaches, and a host of joint problems. Others aren’t so sure about this holistic wellness discipline. Regardless of what camp you’re in, allow us to demystify this type of care for you.
Chiropractors Train as Long as MDs Do
That’s right, a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) studies for four years of undergraduate and four years of chiropractic school, using similar books that MDs use for study, says Scott Bautch, DC, president of the council on occupational health for the American Chiropractic Association. Chiropractors must also pass a licensure test and take continuing education courses to stay abreast of the latest trends in their field and maintain their credentials.
Chiropractors Can Help with Overall Wellness
People mostly see chiropractors for pain relief, but it’s becoming more popular to see a chiropractor for general wellness. “Chiropractors are increasingly becoming overall wellness advisors — advising patients about their eating , exercise, and sleeping habits,” Bautch says. Since chiropractors focus on the health of the nervous system, particularly the spinal cord, they are treating the entire body. Therefore, they are addressing both acute injuries (such as low back pain), as well as general, chronic issues (such as fatigue).
The First Appointment Will be Really Thorough
Chiropractors use comprehensive intake screenings to learn not just about what ails you, but also to get a complete picture of your overall health (hence the “holistic” descriptor). This will include health history questionnaires as well as functional and neurological assessments to see how your body moves, how well you can balance, etc. The doctor may also take x-rays. Finally, there will be a discussion about cost and course of treatment.
This thorough first appointment was experienced by New York City resident Karl Burns. In a tennis game, Burns swung his racket too forcefully and injured his low back. He was referred to chiropractor Cory Gold, DC. “At first, I thought, ‘I’ve never been injured before, I don’t need a voodoo doctor,’” says Burns. “But Dr. Gold and I immediately gelled. After many tests and questions, he told me, ‘Your treatment plan will be three times a week for a couple weeks, then two times a week for a couple weeks, then once a week — this is not a lifetime injury.’”
You’ll Likely Be a Regular, Initially
In most cases, people see chiropractors for acute injuries (like throwing your back out) or chronic conditions (like headaches), so it may take a few of weeks of multiple visits to stabilize the problem. After a few weeks of multiple treatments per week, treatment tapers gradually to once per week, then once per month for maintenance, until the spine is able to stay in alignment without the chiropractor’s adjustments. The course of treatment and length of time until stabilization vary from person to person.
That said, visits are often quite short — an average of 15 to 20 minutes — of hands-on manipulation. “Chiropractors aren’t trying to fight an internal battle against infection the way medical doctors are,” says Burns. “The treatment consists of much smaller movements and adjustments to your body and alignment of the spine.” Burns points out that he experienced pretty significant pain relief from the get-go. “Every time I walked out of there, I felt amazing,” he says. “The benefits are instant and can be perceived better [than with conventional doctors].”
You Won’t Be a Patient Forever
There’s a general belief that chiropractors want to make you reliant on them, but Bautch and Burns believe otherwise. “There are three phase of care,” Bautch says. “Acute — let’s get you functional; corrective — let’s adjust you so that it doesn’t happen again or as frequently; and then maintenance — maybe down to once a month.” Indeed, this is what Burns experienced — but he also learned the hard way the importance of self-maintenance. “Chiropractors take the approach of ‘let me teach you how to fish,’ not ‘let me just give you the fish,’” says Burns. He, like most patients, was given exercises to compliment and maintain his recovery — and he only ran into trouble again once he stopped doing them. “If I skip my exercises, sure enough, my lower back gets tight,” Burns says.
BY: Amy Roberts
Sometimes we take our body’s for granted, so I found the illustrations and captions below, put it all into perspective.
Thanks to My Mother for sharing this with me.
Low iron could be part of the root cause of your fatigue. It could be a matter of absorption, health of the red blood cell, or compounding factors like thyroid, poor sleep, and related heart issues. There is preliminary evidence that iron supplementation might improve unexplained fatigue in non-anemic women. Low iron is one of the top reasons for fatigue, but it is not the only reason. Dr. Laura M. Brown ND can help you dig into the root cause of your fatigue.
Who is at Risk?
- menstruating women
- vegan and vegetarians
- high performance athletes
- those with Celiac, gluten sensitivity, Crohn’s or colitis
- long term use of proton pump inhibitors
- H.Pylori infection
- internal bleeding of any kind
Food Sources of Iron
Food Sources: meats of all kinds, liver and organ meats (animal sources best absorbed), kelp, legumes, tofu, whole grains, molasses, nuts and seeds, wheat, millet, dark leafy greens, sardines, prune juice and oysters.
Iron absorption depends on proper stomach acid and the ability for the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to absorb. The body will only absorb what iron it needs, and pass the rest along in the stool. Animal based heme (iron) is best absorbed. Vegetable based iron sources are absorbed at a fraction of animal based sources. If there are stomach acid issues, like an H.Pylori infection or prolonged use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s), or issues with the GI lining like in Celiac, Crohn’s or Colitis, then absorption of iron and other vital nutrients may be impaired.
Your iron could be low if you have these symptoms:
Dizziness, especially on rising quickly
Shortness of breath on exertion, chest pain
Coldness in your hands and feet
Pale skin, tongue, conjunctiva
Swelling or sore tongue, cracks at side mouth
Enlarged spleen, frequent infections
Why do I feel this way?
Iron is also a cofactor in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. This is why low iron has the potential to contribute to low mood.
Iron deficiency may affect selenium absorption, which could then affect thyroid hormone production. Low thyroid function can can contribute to a state of fatigue.
Iron deficiency can also cause restless legs, contributing to poor sleep, which means less healing in sleep, more hormonal imbalance and compounded issues of fatigue.
If you don’t have enough hemoglobin-carrying red blood cells, your heart has to work harder to move oxygen-rich blood through your body. This can lead to arrhythmias, murmur, enlarged heart, or even heart failure.
Iron is used to make the hemoglobin complex on the red blood cells.
If your red blood cells are breaking down or not enough are made, you will not have the ability to use the iron to make the hemoglobin.
There are four “parking spots” for Oxygen and carbon dioxide on your red blood cells – this is the iron binding capacity or “TIBC” you see on your blood work.
When the TIBC is high you iron might be low.
Sometimes serum iron is fine but the ferritin is high. The body squirrels away iron when there is an infection. This is because virus and bacteria use iron to help replicate. What a smart body we have! Inflammatory factors of infection and low iron contributes to fatigue.
Diagnosing Low Iron
Clinical presentation (your signs and symptoms) are the first clue to low iron. A simple blood test including a CBC and Iron Panel will help dig into the root cause of your fatigue. Further exploration and tests may be required to diagnose other contributing factors of health as mentioned above. A naturopathic doctor is always on the look out for the true root cause of your health concerns.
CBC – complete blood count
Number, size of red blood cells (RBC) (iron def. anemia red blood cells are smaller than normal)
Number, size of white blood cells
Number of platelets
Reticulocyte count – immature RBC – tells if bone marrow production rate of RBCs is normal
Hemoglobin- iron rich protein on your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues and carbon dioxide away
Hematocrit – measures how much space your red blood cells take up in your blood
Serum iron – amount of iron in your blood. Not always indicative of the total amount of iron in your body.
Serum ferritin – think tin is something you store things in– this is your iron storage.
Transferrin – trans for transfer – this protein carries iron in your blood
TIBC – measures how much of the transferrin is around and not carrying any iron