Mindful Approach to Nutrition

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In a few of my previous post, I’ve discussed the topic of Nutrition. Over the next several post, I’d like to discuss a mindful, self compassionate approach to nutrition and making better choices.

In the practice of Yoga, one very simple and power practice we use is observation. Sometimes during a Yoga session, students are asked to observe the breath entering the nostrils. A very nice way to start a Yoga class is simple observation of the body, or a Body Scan. This is done by mentally scanning over the body and how every part of the body feels. When this is done, we seek to observe, but not to judge (for example, call “good”, “bad”, “short”, “tall”, etc.).

After practicing Yoga for nearly 20 years, I remain fascinated that the practice of simple observation (without judgement) can be soothing and relaxing.

The practice of Mindfulness is becoming very popular. Mindfulness can start to sound fancy and complicated, but its simply making observation without judgement.

This week, I invite you, as I will myself to make non-judgmental observation of your diet. Throughout this week, maybe make a mental note, or even a real note of what you are eating or will be eating. Over the next week, don’t judge the food at all. Try not to consider any consequences of what you eat. Maybe even 30 seconds before eating, simply observe the meal.

Thank you so much for stopping by. I always have so much gratitude for you taking time to spend with me here on this blog.

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Finding Peace within through Yoga

I’ve talked before on other blogs about my quest for finding peace in this busy society that we all currently experience. Every event and every person appears to be rushed and I want to slow things down for myself. I find that I can find that moment of peace through yoga and meditation.

My physical body is riddled with dance injuries from when I was younger. I hurt many joints starting from my waist down including a hip, both knees and one foot. But, I kept dancing because I loved the way it made me feel. The movement from dance gave me an outlet from my worries and it also helped make me feel whole as a person and gave me purpose. I learned quickly that movement allowed me to find strength within me that I never knew I had.

As I have mentioned before in other blogs, yoga outside in nature for me is like bliss. It takes me outside of my head and reminds me that I am alive and well. It reminds me that I can rely on my body, even if there is pain. It also reminds me that there is much more to this life than just work and the normal hustle and bustle of a busy life.

While taking a moment for yourself today, find a comfortable seated position that is right for you. Maybe it is outside or in a quiet room. Place a small cushion or folded blanket under your hips to stabilize them and lift through the crown of your head to elongate your spine. Now, begin to breathe slowly while at the same time relaxing your jaw and releasing your shoulders.

Place your right hand on your heart and your left hand on the earth. Connect with Mother Earth for a moment and allow her to connect with you. Imagine that you can send her negative energy from your feet. Next, imagine that Mother Earth can recycle that negative energy into positive and send it back up your spine from your feet to your head. Imagine a surge of happy and peaceful energy flowing freely throughout your body. Continuing to breathe softly and slowly for the next several minutes.

Begin each day with this practice or a similar practice that promotes peace. It only takes a few minutes. Setting your intention during this moment may help relax you as well. Try this for 30 days and see if you don’t notice a difference for yourself in this busy world.

Namaste

Dealing with the Root of Insomnia

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Insomnia is one of my favorite topics because it is multifaceted. When you experience insomnia, its simply “I can’t sleep”, then the awareness of the affects this will have over the next several hours.

Please see the above illustration of the Chakra system. This pictures shows the location of each one of these energy centers. The Root Chakra, or Muladhara, is located very low in the pelvis, somewhere near the rectum and anus. The Root Chakra is associated with a deep red color. The emotional energy of the Muldhara is usually associated with survival, being on a tribe/family and feeling safe.

In this post, I would like to explore issues that may arise from the Root Chakra, and how this can lead to disrupted sleep.

Diseases at the Root

My list by all means is not exhaustive. Disease that may arise from disrupted energy flow in the root. I include:

  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Anemia
  • Lower back pain from lumbar disc degeneration
  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency
  • Peripheral Neuropathy

This list will seem eclectic. My understanding of the Chakra center, blood is affected most by the Root Chakra. Interestingly, some of the common causes of insomnia come from blood disorders.

Anemia, B12 Deficiency, and peripheral neuropathy can all come from blood disorders. Anemia most commonly comes from iron deficiency. B12 deficiency is can cause anemia, but may exist without anemia. Peripheral neuropathy (sometimes called Nerve Pain) may arise as a symptom of anemia, B12 deficiency, or other nutritional deficiency.

The end result of these disorders is overactive nerve endings that tend to hurt, ache and burn at night. Many patients describe sensations such as “marching ants” or “lightening shocks”.

It is easier to relate structural disease like Low Back Pain to the Root Chakra. Low back pain frequently is cause be disruptions in the lumbar disc of vertebra that put pressure on a peripheral nerve.

Mind/Body Connection

Long before I studied Yoga, I patients often presented with “1st Chakra Insomnia”. They typically were experiencing big life changes (marriage, divorce, job change, a move). They may also be experiencing financial stress. These stresses would occur around the same time insomnia would occur. The complaint may present as follows:

“I’m so exhausted at night. As soon as I lay down, I drift off to sleep, then bam, a terrible, lightening pain shoots through my legs and wakes me up”

Assessment and Treatment

For “1st Chakra” insomnia, although the main complaint is I can’t sleep, the ultimate reason must be determined. This requires an extensive workup to determine if an anemia exist, and why. Neurological assessment may be required as well.

What’s Next?

I am working on some very exciting things. Please keep checking back.

As always, much gratitude for your time. Please feel free to leave comments or replies.

Intermittent Fasting for Breast Cancer Recurrence Prevention

I’m very excited to start discussing real topics that come up during my practice. Please check back under the Q and A section frequently for more real world topics.

A patient asked me about a topic I was completely unaware. She asked if anyone who has had a personal history of breast cancer should start doing a 16 hour fast.

Until researching this topic, I actually had not heard of fasting in dealing with cancer.

I discovered that there could be some benefits from Intermittent Fasting in terms of Breast Cancer Survivor-ship. There is a potential benefit from fasting while being treated for breast cancer.

Before delving too deeply into this topic, I have a few of my own caveats. I typically don’t recommend intermittent fasting in patients who don’t have a PRISTINE diet. If I have patients that are following a nutritionally sound diet, that are not diabetic, and not being treated with medications that lower their blood sugar, I think Intermittent Fasting can be beneficial.

Patients that are Diabetic likely can’t perform intermittent fasting. Several diabetic medications cause the body to release insulin in an uncontrolled manner. If you aren’t eating and take these medications, blood sugars may drop unexpectedly.

If you don’t regularly consume a healthy quantity of fruits and vegetables daily, fasting means you will become further deprived in necessary nutrients.

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I was able to find the article, Prolonged Nightly Fasting and Breast Cancer Prognosis. This link will take you the article which can be accessed by the public. Breast cancer survivors were asked to keep track of their diets for up to 4 years. The researchers collected data on how long these women fasted overnight. The researchers discovered that women that fasted less than 13 hours per night had an increased risk of breast cancer recurrence.

“…prolonging the length of the nightly fasting interval could be a simple and feasible strategy to reduce breast cancer risk recurrence”

Marinac CR, Nelson SH, Breen CI, et al. Prolonged Nightly Fasting and Breast Cancer Prognosis. JAMA Oncol. 2016;2(8):1049–1055. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0164

This study excluded diabetic patients. Prolonged overnight fasting (ie, not eating late at night) was not associated with weight loss, but there was a drop in inflammatory markers in the blood.

I stumbled across a related article concerning short-term fasting while being treated with chemotherapy. The researchers here examined the role of short-term fasting while receiving chemotherapy. The theory here is that cancer has a higher metabolism than normal tissues, and will take up more of the chemotherapy than regular cells. Human cells tend to go into a quiet state during fasting. The researchers found that short term fast while receiving chemotherapy in certain cancer types (HER2-Negative) had less markers of DNA damage during chemotherapy treatment.

Summary and Recommendations

  • If you are a breast cancer survivor, consultation with a nutritionist can play an important role in your future care
  • If you are a breast cancer survivor, you may want to consider avoiding late night eating.
  • If you are a Breast Cancer Survivor with Diabetes, discuss with your doctor dietary changes that may prevent recurrence.
  • If you are undergoing treatment for Breast Cancer now, discuss with your Oncologist, General Surgeon, and Nutritionist if you should consider short term fasting. Keep in mind, you nutritional status affects healing, and your doctors may not wish for you to to this.

References:

Marinac CR, Nelson SH, Breen CI, et al. Prolonged Nightly Fasting and Breast Cancer Prognosis. JAMA Oncol. 2016;2(8):1049–1055. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0164

de Groot, S., Vreeswijk, M. P., Welters, M. J., Gravesteijn, G., Boei, J. J., Jochems, A., … Kroep, J. R. (2015). The effects of short-term fasting on tolerance to (neo) adjuvant chemotherapy in HER2-negative breast cancer patients: a randomized pilot study. BMC Cancer, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-015-1663-5