9 Tips to Sleep Better When You Travel

Sleep Tips
By Dr. Frank Lipman

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, it can be challenging to fall asleep in hotel room, no matter how lovely and accommodating. Even if you’re usually a good sleeper, simply crossing time zones can throw off your sleep cycle.

To help you rest easier, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite tips to help you sleep away from home. Sweet dreams!

Set Yourself Up for Success

Some people can sleep through just about any noise imaginable. Others? Not so much. If you fall into the latter camp, ask the front desk for a room on a higher floor and far away from elevators, vending and ice machines, and outdoor patios. And don’t forget your earplugs!

Eat Earlier in the Evening

You’ll sleep better if your belly isn’t digesting dinner all night, so try to eat at least three to four hours before you plan to turn in. Stuck with a late-night dinner reservation? Remember to eat simply, choosing lighter, easy-to-digest foods that won’t make you (or your belly) toss and turn all night.

Skip the Nightcap

An after-dinner drink in the lounge is a sociable way to decompress from the day, but if sleeping well is a concern, trade the bubbly for a cup of soothing chamomile, mint, or valerian tea.

Create an “Electronic Sundown”

An hour or two before going to bed, turn off the television, and shut down your laptop, tablet, and phone. The light emitted by electronics will make your brain think it’s daytime, and achieving deep, restorative sleep will be difficult.

Get Steamed (In a Good Way!)

A hot bath, shower, or stint in the hotel hot tub an hour or so before bed is a fantastic way to prep for sleep. A bit of tub time will help relax muscles and lightly boost body temperature, which in turn promotes falling asleep faster. A sauna will offer similar sleep-promoting benefits, so if there’s one in your hotel, indulge! (more…)

Posted by on Sep 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

Dr. Lipman’s Wellness News Roundup (Sept. 23)

Wellness news
By the Be Well Team

Every day, we scour the Web looking for compelling wellness stories that provide the information — and inspiration — you need to make good choices. Here are this week’s must-read wellness articles.

Grass-Fed Beef Goes Mainstream

Driven by consumer demand for healthier meat, grass-fed beef is becoming more widely available and is sold at almost every Wal-Mart in the United States. Although grass-fed beef made up less than 2 percent of the fresh-beef market in the U.S. in 2015, sales increased by 40 percent over the previous year — compared to only a 6.5 percent growth rate for conventional beef.  (The Wall Street Journal)

That ‘Natural’ Lemon-Fresh Scent? Not So Good for Allergies

Chemicals in household cleaners used to create “natural” flavors and smells can worsen allergies — especially for people with high exposure levels — according to a new study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine. The study focused on genetically modified enzymes in household products. According to the research, Time notes, “the process of genetic modification could change the products’ allergenic properties in a way that leaves humans more susceptible.” (Time)

Veterans Struggling With PTSD Turn to Alternative Therapies

A growing number of veterans are turning to alternative modalities, including yoga and animal-assisted therapy, to combat PTSD. Many new studies have suggested that alternative therapies can be as beneficial as drugs in treating depression, the New York Times notes. “Treatment had always been someone telling me I was dysfunctional and giving me a bunch of pills. I became more withdrawn to the point where I was considering ending it all,” Mike Hilliard, a former Army sergeant who now practices scuba diving therapy, told the Times. “As soon as I was underwater, everything went quiet. Seeing the fish, hearing the ocean — there is a complete innocence about it. There are no bad memories in the water. Everything just wants to live. It made me want to live again.” (NYT)

One More Reason to Never Light Up

Smoking permanently scars your DNA, according to a new study published in the journal Circulation. Specifically, it impacts a process called methylation that can control gene expression. The good news? If you give up smoking, most of the damage will fade. “The encouraging news is that once you stop smoking, the majority of DNA methylation signals return to never-smoker levels after five years, which means your body is trying to heal itself of the harmful impacts of tobacco smoking,” the study author said. (NBC) (more…)

Posted by on Sep 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

How To Dine Out With Food Sensitivities

Food Allergies
By Be Well Health Coach Amanda Carney

When you have food sensitivities, are experimenting with eliminating certain foods from your diet, or are embarking on the Be Well Cleanse, eating out can be daunting. Trying to suss out what you can eat on a menu filled with no-go foods can be stressful — and that takes away from the enjoyment of the meal.

We want you to feel clearer on what you can eat — and have a fun time out — so here are our five tips for dining out with food sensitivities:

1. Choose the Restaurant

Do some research and get to know the restaurants in your area, particularly which ones have dishes that are in line with the way you eat. This way, when it is time to make dinner plans, you have some suggestions under your belt and can recommend ones that you know will have something you can enjoy.

2. Look Over the Menu in Advance

Whether you are dining at a new location or returning to one of your favorites, take some time to look at the menu beforehand to figure out which foods are “safe” for you to eat. Not only is this less stressful, but you can also decide what you are going to order before you sit down at the dinner table feeling ravenous. Preparing in advance allows you to sit at the restaurant, menu closed, and enjoy the ambiance and company. (more…)

Posted by on Sep 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

How to Prevent Hormonal Breakouts and Get Your Best Skin Ever

Skin Care
Written by Alissa Vitti
Reprinted with permission from Well + Good

You know how sometimes you’re a fully functioning, fabulous, have-it-all-together adult woman? And then you wake up with a giant zit on your chin and suddenly feel like a teenage girl barely surviving puberty?

It happens to the best of us. But especially those of us with imbalanced hormones. I should know: I had terrible cystic acne all over my face, chest, and back well into my 20s as a result of my struggle with my period and a hormonal imbalance called PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).

It wasn’t just embarrassing; it was painful. I tried every supposed solution on the market, from antibiotics to benzoyl peroxide to Retin-A, and nothing worked. In fact, a lot of these irritants and drugs just made matters worse.

Hormonal acne is no joke, and it’s not the same as the occasional bump or blemish everyone gets from time to time.

How Hormones Affect Your Skin

Hormonal acne is the result of a serious endocrine imbalance, and most women experience the effects around mid-cycle, when they ovulate, and/or right before their periods.

This makes sense from a hormonal perspective: It’s the two points in the cycle when estrogen and testosterone are both at their highest points. For women with optimally functioning endocrine systems, these hormonal peaks don’t wreak havoc. But for women who can’t process hormones correctly, a buildup of estrogen and testosterone can accumulate in their systems and may not be properly eliminated.

Hormonal acne is no joke, and it’s not the same as the occasional bump or blemish everyone gets from time to time.

If you’re one of these women, your body is likely unable to carry out proper detoxification (and if you’ve been chronically making poor food and lifestyle choices, chances are your elimination organs — including your skin — won’t be up to the task, either). This can lead to estrogen dominance that inflames your skin and extra testosterone that encourages your sebaceous glands to churn out more oil.

This effect can be even more pronounced right before your period because, during this time, blood comes closer to the skin’s surface, exacerbating acne and redness. You may even be more prone to unwanted hair growth or loss at this times, due to all that testosterone messing with your follicles. (more…)

Posted by on Sep 21, 2016 | 1 Comments

The Be Well Recipe: Brussels Sprouts Coconut Curry

Brussels Sprouts
(Photo: Betsy Nelson)

There was a time when Brussels sprouts were reviled by kids and adults alike. No longer. Brussels sprouts have been on trendy restaurant menus for years now, and some folks even refer to them as “the new comfort food.”

That’s great news for all of us because these miniature cabbages are nutritional powerhouses. A member of the cruciferous family, which is known for its cancer-fighting power, Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamins and minerals and have a high antioxidant quotient.

Looking for a Cleanse-friendly recipe for Brussels? Try this Thai-inspired dish, which comes together in a flash.

Brussels Sprouts Coconut Curry

Nourishing bone broth and warming spices make this a comforting dish for all. Turmeric adds a beautiful golden color to the broth and is a strong anti-inflammatory. Works beautifully with added protein, such as grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and wild-caught fish.

  • 1 lime
  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup sliced shallot
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric or 1 T. fresh grated turmeric root
  • 1 T. fresh grated ginger
  • 12 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (about 3 cups)
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 8 oz. organic chicken bone broth, grass-fed beef bone broth, or vegetable broth
  • Sea salt to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest of the lime in one large continuous strip. Cut the peeled lime into wedges for serving.

Heat coconut oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Add the cumin seeds and toast for 1 minute. Add the black pepper and shallot and cook, while stirring, until the shallot is golden and softened.

Add the turmeric, ginger, and lime peel and stir for 30 seconds and then add the Brussels sprouts. Stir to coat with the seasonings, then add the coconut milk and broth.

Cover the saucepan and simmer gently until the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and serve warm with a squirt of fresh lime juice.

Posted by on Sep 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

7 Ways to Cut Pesticide Exposure

By Dr. Frank Lipman

Much of my practice centers around guiding people back to health by giving them the tools they need to make it happen. One of the first steps on the wellness path involves reducing your ‘toxic load,’ which involves cutting the volume of chemicals and toxins that enter your body every day.

High toxic exposures can overwhelm the body’s ability to detoxify itself which, over time, can trigger a litany of diseases. To cut your toxic load relatively quickly, put chemical pesticides — and its toxic cousins, herbicides and insecticides — at the top of your detox list.

Here are some tips to start improving your health today:

Pay Attention to Your Plate

These days, unfortunately, the vast majority of people get their food from industrial-scale ‘factory-farms.’ Often subjected to pesticide sprayings throughout the growing cycle, these chemical-doused crops wind up on your plate, adding to your toxic load with every bite. So what’s a consumer to do? Try these four workarounds:

  • Buy USDA-certified organic produce: Though the certified seal system may not be foolproof, it goes a long way towards ensuring that certified organic produce, be it fresh or frozen, will contain little, if any, chemical pesticides. Another bonus: Most organics also deliver a bigger nutritional punch than conventionally grown crops.
  • Buy local produce at the farmer’s market or a community-supported agriculture group (CSA): Farmer’s market and CSA products may not always be labeled organic, but oftentimes that’s because many small producers cannot afford the cost of obtaining USDA certification. It’s always great to just ask. Small producers also typically use fewer (if any) toxic synthetic chemicals, relying instead on more environmentally friendly, natural methods of pest and weed control.
  • Buy smarter: If eating an all-organic diet simply isn’t in your budget — and for many people, it’s not — be sure to always consult the essential ‘Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen’ 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides In Produce from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The guide identifies the top 15 conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that test low for pesticide residues, as well as the top 12 that test high, so consumers can buy accordingly.
  • Grow your own produce: Veggies and herbs grown in the backyard or on the windowsill connect you with nature’s bounty — and you can create healthy, clean, and inexpensive food sans pesticides. Have a bumper crop of zucchini? Trade veggies with the neighbors, or make your own fermented veggies to carry you into the fall.

Let Your Lawn Run a Little Wild

Instead of soaking your lawn in highly toxic glyphosate — the main ingredient in the ubiquitous weed killer RoundUp — get back to nature. Switch to an organic lawn care service or implement your own chemical-free lawn care methods that won’t pollute your body, water supply, or the local bee population. Also, remember that the chemicals you spray on your lawn get tracked into your home by the entire family, including your pets, so the less you use, the better for all. To keep from spreading pesticides throughout your home, store all shoes and boots in a separate area, hallway, or mudroom. Feeling bold? Then take it a step further and ask the neighbors to stop using RoundUp as well. (more…)

Posted by on Sep 19, 2016 | 4 Comments

Dr. Lipman’s Wellness News Roundup

Health News
By the Be Well Team

Every day, we scour the Web looking for compelling wellness stories that provide the information — and inspiration — you need to make good choices. Here are this week’s must-read wellness articles.

Sugar Industry Paid Heart Researchers to Blame Fat

Huge news: The sugar industry bribed researchers in the 1960s to downplay the link between sugar and heart disease and, instead, point the finger at saturated fat, according to a new paper in JAMA Internal Medicine. “These tactics are strikingly similar to what we saw in the tobacco industry in the same era,” Stanton Glantz of the University of California San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, told NBC. Unfortunately, not much has changed, NPR notes: “What might surprise consumers is just how many present-day nutrition studies are still funded by the food industry.” (NBC)

To Beat Diabetes, Adopt a Low-Carb Diet

When it comes to diabetes, forget bariatric surgery and eat low-carb. That’s the upshot of a commentary co-written in The New York Times by a medical director at the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School and the medical director of the weight-loss program at Indiana University Health Arnett. The piece says low-carb diets are “a better, safer and far cheaper method” to tackle diabetes than weight-loss surgery. (NYT)

An Entire State in India Goes Organic

India, which has more organic farmers than any other country, is home to the first state in the world to receive 100 percent organic certification. Sikkim, a state in northeast India that is bordered by Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet, has pledged that its 66,000 farmers will forgo GMOs, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. (GOOD)

The Caribbean is Running Low on Coconuts

Coconut water, milk, and oil have never been trendier, which is good news for health-minded folks. The bad news? The Caribbean, which supplies many of the world’s coconuts, is experiencing a coconut shortage. “Storms, droughts and the Lethal Yellowing disease, spread by plant-hopping insects, have wiped out entire farms,” Bloomberg notes, adding that “growers have failed to invest in new trees, or fertilizers to improve yields.” (Bloomberg) (more…)

Posted by on Sep 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

How to Enhance Fertility — Naturally

By Laine Bergeson

Infertility in the United States is on the rise.

In 2013, nearly 1 in 6 U.S. couples didn’t conceive a child within a year of trying, according to a study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. That number is up significantly from just one year earlier when 1 in 10 couples couldn’t get pregnant.

Many studies support the idea that fertility rates are significantly lower than in previous decades. The only debate, notes the Pew Research Center, is if fertility rates are very low — or at their all-time lowest.

“We’re at an unprecedented moment in human culture,” says functional nutritionist and women’s hormone expert Alisa Vitti. “Idiopathic infertility – or infertility with an unknown cause – is on the rise.”

As a result, more couples are turning to medical interventions, such as fertility medication, artificial insemination, and in vitro fertilization. For example, in 2013, almost 175,000 rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) took place — that’s a 65 percent increase since 2003, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

The hopeful news? Expensive medical procedures aren’t the only route. There are effective drug-free, nutrition-and-lifestyle-based strategies that can significantly increase a couple’s chance of conceiving.

“I help women understand that they can solve their fertility issues with food and lifestyle,” says Vitti, the founder of Flo Living Hormonal Health Center in New York City and author of Womancode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source. “We’re designed to be optimally fertile for as long as possible, and fertility is something we can improve at any age.”

Women, Vitti says, can begin by understanding their periods. The color, frequency, and symptoms of your period reveal a lot about the current state of your hormones, says Vitti. (Find out what period is telling you about your body’s readiness to conceive by taking her Fifth Vital Sign quiz here.)

As for men, says endocrinologist Bradley Anawalt, MD, who specializes in male reproductive health, one of the key factors is maintaining a healthy weight: “Obesity is associated with decreased male reproductive function, including decreased testosterone and sperm production and erectile dysfunction.”

Here are some of the other top lifestyle and nutrition strategies for couples trying to conceive: (more…)

Posted by on Sep 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

The Truth About Saturated Fat: An Interview with Mark Pettus, MD

Saturated Fat
By Be Well Team

For years, mainstream medical organizations such as the American Heart Association have demonized saturated fat as a root cause of cardiovascular disease. And, for years, progressive docs — backed by meta-analyses and other studies — have shouted from the rooftops that it’s refined carbs and processed sugars — NOT saturated fat — that drive heart disease (and so many other chronic diseases).

Now, comes big news that the sugar industry bribed scientists in the 1960s to downplay the relationship between sugar and heart disease and point the finger at saturated fat instead.

“They were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades,” Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at U.C.S.F. and an author of the JAMA Internal Medicine report, told The New York Times.

Fortunately, there have been forward-thinking doctors all along who’ve tried to clear the air about saturated fat. As luck would have it, we interviewed Mark Pettus, MD, associate dean of medical education at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and director of medical education, wellness, and population health at Berkshire Health Systems in western Massachusetts, about saturated fat before the big news broke on Monday.

In this interview, he debunks the many myths about saturated fat:

What is the difference in how many experts view fat now versus 30 years ago?

What jumps out at me most is the less restrictive stance with which [the dietary] guidelines now look at fats…and, in particular, foods like eggs that contain cholesterol. I think it’s finally widely accepted that eating cholesterol doesn’t affect your blood cholesterol, so you no longer see that in the current guidelines.

I also think the pendulum has swung significantly in recent years on the whole diet-heart hypothesis: The notion that fat is the reason…for heart disease has now been more universally questioned.

And I’d say the third thing is the idea that eating fat makes a person fat — again, there’s still a lot of people that think that, but in general I think the research is beginning to shift the way we think about what makes us fat.

Can you talk a little more about the relationship between saturated fat and cholesterol levels?

We spent most of the last generation looking at total cholesterol and LDL as if to suggest that those two values give you an accurate reflection of what we know to be a much more complex and nuanced issue with lipids. But, when you give people fat from a quality source and lower their carbohydrates, generally you see their triglycerides come down. That’s a good thing. You see their good cholesterol, the HDL, go up. That’s a really good thing.

What you see in the majority of people when you give them more saturated fat is a shift from the small dense LDL particles — these are the more risky, inflammatory, atherogenic types of LDL — to larger, more buoyant LDL particles.

Your total cholesterol may go up a little bit, your LDL may go up a little bit, and most doctors are going to think that’s pretty bad, but when you look at the types of LDL, for most you see a shift from small, dense, and inflammatory to larger, buoyant, and less inflammatory. Many physicians still aren’t aware of this.


Posted by on Sep 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

Learn to Be Well

Written by Courtney Helgoe
Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.

The next time you’re stuck in traffic, take a look around. Chances are at least one driver will be fuming and fidgeting, another talking distractedly on a cell phone, and a third sitting serenely, as if perched on a meditation cushion. A fourth will see his chance to get ahead and cut in front of you while your head is turned.

We all handle stress differently. Some of us, it seems, are just born hot-tempered, easily distracted, or selfish. And certain circumstances, like a bad day at work or a lifetime of good or bad luck, can dial our reactivity up or down.

Richard Davidson, PhD, believes temperament is about more than genes or circumstances. He views well-being — the ability to be happy and healthy while contending with life’s slings and arrows — as a skill. “Like playing the violin,” he says.

And, like playing the violin, it’s something we can learn, he believes.

A professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds (CHM), Davidson has spent the last 15 years studying the brain’s response to mindfulness training and the brain circuitry linked with well-being. This growing body of research has revealed four traits — resilience, positive outlook, focus, and generosity — that contribute to our ability to be well.

For most of us, developing these traits requires some brain training, usually with meditation and other mental exercises that help reroute habitual impulses (like cutting people off in traffic). And, according to Davidson, our brains are indeed capable of learning new tricks.

So while good genes and good luck are nice, we don’t need them. To achieve lasting well-being, we need to practice — namely, we need to hone the skills that support the four traits of well-being. And while this will likely make us more content, it can also do much more than that. “Transforming our mind,” says Davidson, “will change the brain in ways that have real benefits for ­physical health.”

We’re Always Changing

Neuroscientists once assumed that our brains were largely fixed by adulthood, but today we know that the brain “changes in response to experience and in response to training,” says Davidson. Repetitive experiences, whether chosen or happenstance, modify our brains.

This capacity, known as neuroplas­ticity, can be both positive and nega­­tive.

Posttraumatic stress disorder, for instance, shows how the brain’s fear response can become so overdeveloped that even nonthreatening signals will trigger the sympathetic nervous system to react as if a tiger were leaping for our throats.

Conversely, we develop a mental habit of resilience when we practice meditation, sitting still with our stressful thoughts and simply witnessing our reactions. This supports the brain by building neural pathways to equanimity that are easier to locate — a useful skill when life inevitably tosses you into a traffic jam, or worse.

Like our brains, our genes are mutable. Epigenetics research has shown how experiences can influence gene expression, counteracting the common assumption that DNA is destiny. In a 2014 study, for example, Davidson’s team found that just eight hours of intensive meditation during a one-day retreat affected gene expression in participants, making it less likely that their bodies would activate disease-producing genes. (more…)

Posted by on Sep 13, 2016 | 0 Comments