Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reason #6: Goop? Yes, Goop.

Remember when you were young and you use to post pictures on your walls of your favorite rockstars and celebrities. New Kids on the Block posters anyone? Oddly enough, my sister and I were obsessed with Gwyneth Paltrow and taped pictures of her on our walls. Sure there were pictures of her with Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, but our real focus was on Gwen, not the guys she dumped. Anyway, I got extremely excited when I heard she came out with her own lifestyle website (me too, Gwen! Me too!) However, I was baffled by the title of...wait for it...GOOP (goop.com). Apparently it stands for her initials, but goop sounds like, well you know.

The website offers advice on all areas of life – eating, exercising, fashion, traveling, and parenting. Specifics include turkey meatball recipes, a detox plan, and a post-holiday workout video. While she has taken a lot of heat for this website (some calling it arrogant and too practical), I quite frankly enjoy it. DISCLAIMER: The purpose of my site is not to tell you how to live your life, but just to offer information that sparks my interest and may possibly spark yours!

Below is an article in Gwyneth’s “DO” section about Dr. Frank Lipman’s interesting look at why so many of us are fatigued, irritable and, spent and what we can do to change it. Dr. Lipman is a pioneering New York physician and dynamic healer, who blends Western and eastern approaches to heal his clients. I particularly enjoyed this article as it focuses on harmonious living, restoring balance and wellness by tuning in to natural patterns of daylight, seasons, productivity, and rest. The article was found on http://goop.com/newsletter/22):

Dr. Lipman's words on “Spent" from goop.com

“Spent” is the word I use to describe people who are overwhelmed, fatigued, and feel older than their years. Does this scenario sound familiar? You wake up in the morning groggy and need coffee or something sugary to get going. Then you need more of the same later in the day to keep going. Your brain feels foggy, you’re not sleeping well; your body aches all over, your cold never goes away. You are running on empty, your energy account is tapped out, you are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted…you are spent. Interestingly, most people think it is normal to feel like this. Our ancestors lived in harmony with day and night and the seasons. As a result, the cycles and and rhythms of nature became imprinted in their genes. We still share this DNA with our ancient ancestors, but we are living at a radically different pace and rhythm.

With the rise in technology in the last 40 or 50 years, we have begun to live more and more out of sync with these fundamental rhythms and continually give our bodies the wrong cues. For instance, we spend too much time indoors and have too much artificial light at night; we are typically either sedentary or over-exercising; and we rarely experience nature’s rhythms.

Your body has more than 100 circadian rhythms, which are 24-hour cycles that influence many of your body’s functions, including hormone levels, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, even pain threshold. These rhythms are maintained by internal body clocks, which are controlled by a “master clock” in our brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Our body clocks use signals such as light and darkness to know when to release certain hormones and neurotransmitters that tell us when to wake up and be active or to withdraw and go to sleep. Thus, when we are out of sync, hormone production and body functions become imbalanced. But the good news is that our genetic clocks can reset themselves, and you can feel vibrant and alive again.

When I started seeing so many patients who were exhausted, with no energy and low immune systems, I obviously started thinking about why this was happening. And I realized that the only time I never saw patients who had these symptoms was when I was working 28 years ago in Kwandebele, a rural area in South Africa. I was seeing diseases symptomatic of poverty and malnutrition, but not the same types of problems I see today in New York City or when I worked in urban areas in South Africa, where patients are more likely to come in complaining of fatigue, insomnia, depression or various aches and pains. There was no electricity, indoor heating or refrigeration in Kwandebele. They went to bed when it got dark, they arose with the sun, they ate whatever foods were available in season. They lived in accordance with the cycles and rhythms of nature. From going to the game parks while growing up in South Africa, I knew that animals who live in the wild don’t get chronic diseases, whereas caged animals do. I also had learned in Chinese medicine that we humans are microcosms of nature, a smaller universe per se. From there, I started learning about the new science of nutrigenomics, which is the science of eating for our genes. It says that the further removed foods are from nature, the more problems our genes have with them and the more likely we are to have chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.

So, then I went “A-HAH!”…...it all made sense. Music was how I first experienced rhythm, but I realized nature’s rhythms are everywhere, including in our genes - we just live so removed from them with our modern lifestyles.

Some practical things does Dr. Lipman suggest to get back in rhythm?
Frank Lipman:
a) Eat in accordance to your body’s rhythms. Since your metabolism peaks at about noon, it is better for your body to have a bigger breakfast and lunch and smaller dinner. Eat good fats and protein for breakfast because that is what your body needs for fuel during the day. Smoothies are a great way to get both of these into your diet. The typical sugar and carb-laden breakfast of a bagel, muffin, toast or sugary cereal are just about the worst things you can have, so avoid those at all costs.

b) Have an “electronic sundown.” At around 10 pm, turn off your computer, charge your cell in the other room and turn off the TV. Scan your bedroom for blinking or glowing lights – the alarm clock, the charging indicator on your cell phone, the DVD clock and timer, etc. Turn these off or cover the lights. Each little bit of light can stop your melatonin levels from rising, which you need to induce sleep and to reach the deep restorative sleep your body requires. If you can’t darken your room, wear a sleep mask. This period of darkness will help reset your natural rhythm.

c) Slow down with relaxing music. Music is one of the best ways to retrain your body to chill out. Our internal rhythms will speed up or slow down to match the stronger external rhythm around us. For instance, research has shown that when you are at a beach, your rhythms slow down or when you are in a busy city, they speed up. This is called entrainment. We are entraining all the time to our surroundings and the rhythms around us. Music is a wonderful way to help your rhythms entrain. Relaxing music slows heart and breathing rates and creates a feeling of well-being.

d) Invite ease with restorative yoga. Restorative yoga is the perfect solution to the over-stressed state we all are in. As you are supported in the poses, one gets the profound effects of yoga without having to exert any energy. Restorative yoga is one of the most physically reviving things you can do when you feel run-down, burned-out, stressed-out and spent. These poses are particularly good to chill you out at night before bed.

e) Add an adaptogen in the morning. Adaptogenic herbal formulas have been used by Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. They serve as energizing tonics to help energize people who are weak or aging. These herbs increase the capacity of the body to adjust to the stresses of life. Lately, there has been much research confirming their positive effects. My favorite adaptogens are Panax ginseng, ashwagandha and rhodiola. Because they combat stress and are anti-aging, they are the perfect antidote to spent. (Note: Please consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements)

f) Practice ubuntu. “Ubuntu” is an African term that means what makes us human is the humanity we show each other. It’s a worldview that sees humanity as a web of family rather than a mass of individuals. When you relate in this way, you feel connected, energized and have a sense of abundance.

ARE YOU SPENT? TAKE THE TEST http://www.spentmd.com/index.php?page=49
Dr. Lipman’s book “Spent” provides a 6-week whole-life makeover, packed with dozens of daily tips on topics that range from preparing fast, nutrient-rich meals, to restoring a natural sleep rhythm that conquers insomnia, to maximizing your physical activity without punishing your body.

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