The Pros and Cons of Dietary Supplements
By Dr. Tanya Edwards
If the old adage holds true that “we are what we eat,” then Americans as a group are full of unhealthy chemicals, by-products and other harmful agents that we encounter as we live our fast-paced, stressful lives.
Fortunately, dietary supplements can help bridge the gap between the nutrients we consume in foods, and the nutrients our bodies need each day.
Dietary supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a category of foods, not drugs. Supplements can be vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals and amino acids. The compounds must be clearly labeled as such.
Americans have the poorest eating habits in the world. Not only from the standpoint of too much junk but just too much. Additionally, modern farming practices and the way that the soil is stripped of nutrients give us foods that are not as healthy as they used to be.
Often, fruits and vegetables are picked well before the natural ripening process has been completed, and then are shipped far and wide. This means produce in our grocery stores may look pretty, but is often nutrient-poor.
Not only is all that bad for the planet, but it is bad for us!
Everyone can counter these deficiencies by taking whole foods-based multivitamins every day with food.
Long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) are essential for health. Those compounds are only found in fish and algae, as well as in supplement form.
Omega-3s in fish oil are highly anti-inflammatory and have been shown to relieve skin issues, arthritis pain, and to help with memory, depression, dry eyes and possibly prevent certain cancers.
Also critical for health is consumption of appropriate amounts of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, as well as added vitamin C and vitamin D.
Research has shown vitamin C to be beneficial for human health, but it is also the most ‘labile’ vitamin, meaning that it loses its potency over time. Fruits, vegetables, and even juices may have no vitamin C left in them if not consumed after a week of being picked or opened.
Vitamin D, a compound our bodies make naturally from exposure to the sun, is also important in preventing disease. Ironically, our focus on using sunscreen or limiting time in the sun to prevent skin damage limits our ability to produce this important vitamin. Finding vitamin D in supplements will help fill the bill. Unfortunately, food is not a rich source of vitamin D.
The form our foods and supplements take is equally important to their function.
Make sure to take a whole food-based multivitamin which contains minerals.
Fruits and vegetables lose their nutritional value over time, so purchase fresh – or the next best option is frozen. Buying from local farms maximizes the nutrients and minimizes the trucking time.
Cleveland Clinic demonstrates the importance of fresh, in-season produce by holding farmers markets in several locations into the fall.
Many individuals may experience other nutritional deficiencies based on other medical conditions they are experiencing. The Center for Integrative Medicine carefully reviews and provides services to address patients’ mind, body and spiritual needs. To make an appointment, call 216.986.HEAL (4325) or visit the Center for Integrative Medicine.
Guided Imagery to increase Sports Performance
By Tom Gigliotti, MA,LISW-S,ACHT
Adding a mental training regimen to physical and sport specific training greatly increases confidence, consistency, ability and success. The famous Al Pacino monologue in the football movie Any Given Sunday includes the assertion that success is determined by inches. Mental training using guided imagery could be the key to those inches you need to outperform other athletes.
Consider that mental focus, concentration and visualization are the keys to success in any endeavor, and sports in particular. Most people are familiar with the saying that winning in a particular sport is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. That 90 percent figure should be pretty hard to overlook yet it often was until the last decade. Now, many professional sports teams employ sports psychologist to help give athletes the mental edge. By studying transcendent athletes and sports stars, it becomes apparent that the common edge they have over competition indeed does begin mentally.
True Life Examples
Priest Holmes, a NFL star running back, would use his psychology classroom to conduct his own imaging training. He would turn off all the lights, visualize where all the chairs in the room were and would beginning running in between them in the dark. Holmes stated this training gave him an edge during games. He could see seams in the defensive line because he had already visualized them earlier in the week using his own well-practiced classroom technique.
What is Guided Imagery?
Guided Imagery is also known as visualization, meditation and by many other similar names. A popular guided imagery exercise for athletes is the mental rehearsal of sporting events while “intending” a desired outcome to the game. Amazingly, research has revealed that guided imagery can actually enhance performance to nearly the same extent as physical practice.
Recently, a study was conducted by Cleveland Clinic exploring the effects of guided imagery on muscle strength. The results of that study also astonishingly revealed increases in muscle strength through the use of guided imagery, further reinforcing the fact that mental training is as effective a tool in sports performance enhancement as physical training.
How Does Guided Imagery Work?
With each life experience, a neural pathway is formed. Neural pathways, in short, are clusters of neurons in the brain that work together to create a memory or a learned behavior. As your brain conceives of an act, it generates impulses that prompt neurons to “perform” the movement being imagined by transmitting those impulses from the brain to the muscles. This in turn creates a habit, or neural pathway in the brain, programming your body’s actions as if you physically performed the activity.
We learn to walk, ride a bicycle, play golf, roller blade, ski, surf, etc., in the exact same way. This process is called muscle memory. When you combine muscle memory with guided imagery you greatly increase your success rate.
GO! to Sleep - Better Sleep
Few things feel better than a good night’s sleep. Quality time with the sandman puts us in a better mood and sharpens our brains. It also gives us the energy and the ability to run our busy lives — from exercising to keeping up with our kids to excelling at work.
Turns out that getting enough sleep can supercharge your health too. People who sleep well are less likely to become obese and are more resistant to colds and upper respiratory infections. Getting enough sleep may even buffer you from heart disease.
There’s a lot more going on when you’re asleep than meets the eye. Body cells are stocking up on substances they need to function the next day. Chemical messengers in the brain are being produced. Information gathered during the previous day is being registered in the brain as memories. “Sleep is an active process during which the brain and body rejuvenate themselves,” says Nancy Foldvary, DO, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Cleveland Clinic and author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Sleep Disorders. “Virtually every organ system in the body is adversely affected by sleep deprivation or sleep disorders. Optimizing sleep is important therefore for overall health.”
Preparing your body and room for sleep
Most of us require 7 ½ to 8 ½ hours of shut-eye each night, Foldvary says. Getting a good night’s sleep requires more than plopping down on your bed. For truly sound slumber, it’s important to respect our internal drives and do things that gear your body for sleep --some folks call this practicing good sleep hygiene. Here’s how you can ensure that you’re properly prepped for a good night’s sleep:
- Move That Body. Regular physical activity makes it easier for you to get to sleep and improves the quality of your sleep. For maximum benefit, avoid vigorous activity three to four hours before bed.
- Get Some Sun. “Sunlight is a strong stimulus for wakefulness in humans,” says Foldvary, “So getting sun exposure promotes wakefulness during the day and can help people sleep at night.”
- Lose a Few Pounds. No doubt about it — sleep affects weight and vice versa. Studies have found that people who regularly sleep less than six hours have higher body mass indexes (BMIs). Conversely, if you’re too heavy, it becomes harder to get a good night’s sleep.
- Create a Sanctuary. Think of your bedroom as your private retreat where you go every night to be renewed. Turn it into the ideal environment for sleep with comfortable pillows and mattress, by setting the thermostat on the cooler side and closing the shades to darken the room.
- Ditch the Electronics. TVs, computers and other electronics emit blue light, which can cause wakefulness at night and disrupt the body’s natural inclination to sleep. Use your bedroom only for sleep (and sex), so you won’t associate it with any other activity.
- Don’t Smoke. Nicotine is a stimulant that can keep you up at night. Smokers spend less time in deep sleep, and are four times more likely to report feeling unrested after a night’s sleep than nonsmokers.
- Stick With a Routine. Whether you soak in the tub, read a good book or listen to your favorite music, do the same thing every night, so your body gets the signal that you’re prepping for sleep. Get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends.
Improve your sleep—starting this week!
A recent study in the journal SLEEP found that 81 percent of patients who completed a five-week online program for insomnia reported improvement in sleep. GO! to Sleep, a six-week, online program developed by Cleveland Clinic sleep experts follows a similar treatment plan to those used in top sleep clinics. Now you can do it from the comfort and privacy of your home.
- Six weeks’ worth of effective sleep therapy
- Activities to help you get the sleep you need
- Daily emails from your program coach
- Personal progress charts
- An online sleep log and daily sleep score
- Daily articles to help you get the most out of the program
- Motivational tips
- Six specially crafted relaxation practices
- Daily sleep improvement recommendations
- Coming soon: A mobile app for easy sleep tracking
3 Key Aspects of Health
Integrative medicine involves several key aspects of health – mind, body and spirit - and all three are interrelated.
Rev. Mark Rogers-Berry is an ordained minister who is associated with the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Lyndhurst campus. Rogers-Berry consults with patients Tuesday afternoons about their spiritual needs. The majority of Rev. Rogers-Berry’s time is spent at the main campus conducting training and providing spiritual care to patients there.
The counseling at the Lyndhurst campus, located at the former TRW building on Richmond Road, is one-on-one and integrates a mind-body-spirit approach.
“I definitely believe in the mind, body and spirit connection,” says Rev. Rogers-Berry. “What I do is not psychological counseling; it uses a different lens.”
An example of the distinction that he shares is in the story of a heart patient Rev. Rogers-Berry recently counseled.
“We track back to the time where the heart trouble started,” he says. “What is it that ‘broke’ their heart? We don’t treat that with medicine. Spiritual counseling gets at what broke their spirit.”
Rev. Rogers-Berry says that when patients who see him can get to the bottom of what is troubling them inside, then healing can begin.
He says that the average patient will see him for three sessions. After that, patients can seek support through other means – be they a religious community, through family support, or through another social group.
“Many people are holding on to old guilt,” he says. “Spiritual health is a maintenance type of thing. We’re here to help break through spiritual blocks.”
The most common types of spiritual issues patients seek Rev. Rogers-Berry’s counseling to resolve are related to guilt, defining meaning and purpose in life, identity questions and the need to reconcile or make amends with themselves or others in the patients’ lives.
Center for Integrative Medicine patients can access this service in one of two ways. The patient questionnaire includes a separate survey about spiritual needs. These surveys go back to Rev. Rogers-Berry. A question is asked about interest in receiving additional spiritual care, and provides options for a follow-up contact.
Or, patients can contact the Center for Integrative Medicine directly, 216.448.8612.
Because of the ongoing support of the Center for Integrative Medicine’s Medical Director Dr. Tanya Edwards, the spiritual supportive services are provided at no cost to the patient.
Rev. Rogers-Berry is a South Carolina native who came to Cleveland Clinic to do supervisory training in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). He graduated with a degree in biology from Wofford College and with a Master’s in Divinity from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. He completed his CPE residency at Grady Hospital System in Atlanta, and is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).