News You Can Use
From
Janet Alexander and Chris Maund
February 2012  

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Janet on her time trial bike
In this newsletter we discuss how to improve the quality of your sleep, we continue our review of blood tests and we ask "Why Do I Get Lightheaded When I Stand Up?"
Why Don't I Sleep Well?
Many people find that as they get older (and busier!) their quality of sleep suffers. The two most common complaints that we hear all the time are:

1. I cannot get to sleep.
2. I can get to sleep but I wake up after a few hours and cannot get back to sleep.

Sleep problems like these are often due to a combination of higher than desirable cortisol (a hormone produced by your adrenal glands) and lower than desirable melatonin (a hormone produced by your pineal gland).

So what are we to do about this problem? Firstly, stop doing things that make the problem worse! Exercising after 6pm will often cause cortisol levels to rise...in some people this behaviour contributes directly to a sleep problem. Drinking coffee (or consuming things that contain caffeine) after 12noon can also cause the same type of problem. Another common culprit is working late into the evening. This does two unhelpful things...it gets your brain going at a million miles per hour and the white light from the computer screen can contribute to the delayed release of melatonin i.e. that computer screen makes your body think the sun is still up!

Here are some other things you can do to help improve your sleep quality:

1. Eat protein and fat at dinner. It's a bad idea to eat a carbohydrate dominant meal in the evening e.g. soup and salad. This will result in elevated blood sugar then a rebound hypoglycemia a few hours later. The rebound hypoglycemia requires cortisol secretion to release glucose from the liver. This process is called gluconeogenesis and is a recipe for a bad night's sleep. Better dinner choices are fish with vegetables and avocado or steak with vegetables and cheese. These meals should result in stable blood sugar and thus nice low cortisol levels.

2. Exercise early in the morning within 60 minutes of rising. This will stimulate your adrenals to secrete cortisol. Cortisol makes you feel alert and alive...you want that feeling in the morning (but not at night!) Vigorous exercise every morning creates a level of physical fatigue that makes it much more likely that you will feel tired and sleepy by 10pm.

3. Taking a 30 minute Epsom salt bath around 8-9pm has a very sedating effect on the central nervous system. The sedating effect is due to magnesium. Through trial and error we have found that 6lbs of Epsom salts is needed in order to get a noticeable effect. We have also tried shorter baths but it seems that a full 30 minutes is required in order to get the effect we are looking for.

Try these ideas and get your sleep back on track. Think how much more productive you could be during the day if you slept like a baby every night...  
 
Making Sense Of Blood Tests Part 2    
Last month we covered cholesterol, HDL, LDL, lipoprotein (a) and triglycerides. This month we'll go over albumin, globulin, TSH and homocysteine.

Albumin and globulin are serum proteins. From the alternative health standpoint what is of interest is the ratio of albumin divided by globulin. This is often referred to as the A/G ratio. An AG ratio of 1.5 or less may indicate an h. pylori infection. H. pylori is a nasty bacterial infection that attacks the parietal cells in your stomach. These cells produce hydrochloric acid which helps you digest things like red meat.
If you have noticed a reduced ability to digest red meat as you got older AND over the same time period you have seen a decline in your AG ratio it may be worth getting tested for h. pylori. It is a VERY common infection and OFTEN goes undiagnosed for years. Elevated lipoprotein(a) is another sign of h. pylori.

TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone is the chemical messenger sent by the anterior pituitary to the thyroid telling it to produce thyroid hormone (thyroxine). Although the "normal" range is often quoted as 0.35-5.00µIU/mL, it is now recognised that it is not "healthy" to be over 2.0µIU/mL. This is because a correlation has been found between TSH over 2.0 and increased chance of hypothyroidism later in life. Many cases of hypothyroidism have their route cause in heavy metal toxicity. More on this in a future newsletter.

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is a marker of inflammation. High levels are associated with cardiovascular disease. What is "high"? Generally speaking lower is better with some alternative health experts suggesting that below 6.0µmol/L is optimal. It is not uncommon to find elevated homocysteine in people who are low in B12 and folic acid. If you have high homocysteine it's worth trying a B12 and folic acid supplement - it might be all that is needed to bring your homocysteine levels down.

In March and April we'll go over C reactive protein, creatine kinase, ferritin, white blood cell count, haemoglobin A1C and 25 hydroxy vitamin D.
Why Do I Get Lightheaded When I Stand Up?      
This is quite common and in the abscence of any serious health problem is usually a sign of adrenal fatigue and depleted mineral status. The medical term for this condition is benign postural hypotension (BPH). If you exercise vigorously every day you are more likely to develop BPH because you lose lots of minerals in sweat. Competitive endurance athletes almost always suffer from BPH at some point each year, usually when they train harder or more frequently than normal. What can be done? BPH is merely your body telling you that you need to add minerals to your diet. Add sea salt liberally to all meals and start taking a good quality electrolyte capsule 3 times a day. We usually use either Metasalt made by Sport Quest or Endurolytes made by Hammer Nutrition. Take 2 capsules 3 times a day. Once your BPH symptoms become less severe, reduce this dosing to 1 capsule 3 times a day. Any time the symptoms intensify go back to the original dose of 6 capsules a day.
That's all for this month. Happy Valentines Day...remember it is possible to be happy without chocolate...difficult but possible.