Dr. Susan Mathison
Recently, a friend showed me a website for a popular brand of vitamins that, supposedly, help your hair to grow, grow, grow. Just about everyone wants thick, shiny hair. It's considered a marker of beauty, virility/fertility and attractiveness in our culture. "What's the deal with these?" she wanted to know. "Do they work?" It's a good question! They were blue, sweet like candy and very cute, for vitamins. I'm sure my son would love them.
'Tis the season for resolutions, intentions and goals for the coming year. Many of us have an ambivalent relationship with goal-setting, maybe because we so often disappoint ourselves. Common sense suggests that when you've got a big goal, like committing to a new workout routine, eating better, losing weight, or perhaps writing a book or starting a business, you should tell as many people as possible. After all, if lots of friends know about your goal, you'll be motivated to work harder because you don't want to disappoint yourself or your community.
It's 2:48am. You're completely awake, tossing and turning, wishing you could slip into slumber because your alarm clock is scheduled to go off in just a few hours. You've got an immensely busy day tomorrow, and you can't afford to be sleep-deprived. But for whatever reason, you just can't fall asleep... We've all been there. It's one of the most annoying situations, especially when you feel drained and depleted, but your mind just won't "shut off" and allow you to catch some shut-eye.
During the holiday season, food is a major part of the celebration. Sometimes it becomes a guilty pleasure, and we might wonder how to counter that inherent guilt. We might even start to think about our next diet. When it comes to food and nutrition, there's always a trendy "buzzword" diet of the moment. In the 1990s, it was all about the "Zone" diet. In the early 2000s, everyone was obsessed with the South Beach diet, Atkins, and let's not forget: the maple syrup-lemon-cayenne pepper cleanse!
If you head over to Amazon.com and type "vitamins" into the search field, you'll get over 6,649 results, and that's just for multivitamins. If you're thinking about introducing vitamin/mineral supplements into your daily routine, it can feel bewildering and overwhelming. Many of my patients aren't sure what they actually need or where to begin. The basics are a multivitamin, vitamin D and fish oil. Dr Andrew Weil has a lifestyle quiz on his website that can help you decide on any extras you might benefit from.
Q: Why was the jack-o'-lantern afraid to cross the road? A: It had no guts! All jokes aside, pumpkins aren't just cheery decorations for Halloween. They are powerhouse squashes that pack many health benefits. Whether you roast them, mash them, swirl them into a smoothie or a latte, or incorporate them into your skin care regime, there are so many ways to take advantage of pumpkin season.
Fall has officially arrived. The leaves are changing and jumping off the trees, ready for the rake. The air feels crisp and brisk, hinting at the coming winter months. Every home, garden and cooking magazine has a pumpkin somewhere on the cover. And you have to be living under a rock not to know that PSL means pumpkin spice latte. And, my office is filled with clients who want to get rid of summer sun damage, including dark spots and premature wrinkles, and fine-tune their skin care regime.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of hearing my friend Cris Linnares speak about her journey back to health through movement, especially dancing. The warm-blooded Brazilian native described her first winter in North Dakota, the birth of her daughter, subsequent baby blues and her father's passing as "the perfect storm." She was down, really down, but she raised her spirits and her body by tuning into music and dancing. Ultimately, she was dancing with joy, despite her new country, the fatigue of motherhood and her family's loss.
The digital world has put us decidedly in the information age. Physicians are no longer the gatekeepers of health information as patients are able to Google and Bing and Yahoo and more. But I agree with Mitchell Kapor. "Getting information off the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant," he said. I think physicians need to come to terms with the role of "curator" as we work to source, access, screen, compile, interpret and manage information we want our patients to have.
We've all heard that sugar has been taken to task for a myriad of health problems, but that sweet tooth remains. Stevia, derived from a green plant originally grown in South America, is a calorie-free sweetener and can be used in a variety of ways. But is it a guilt-free option for some sweet satisfaction? The answer is, generally, yes.