October 25, 2021 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition
The three most fundamental things you can do for health are sleep/circadian rhythms, exercise/movement, and dietary patterns and food choices. Here are several articles that provide fundamental information no matter your age and health status.
Trips to the bathroom at night, a bedroom that is too warm, intermittent noise (sirens, pets, snoring, kids, noisy furnace or refrigerator that turns on/off), and blood sugar instability are common factors that disrupt sleep. Tech devices and blue light exposure in the hours before bed also interfere with sleep onset and overall quality. Reduction of sleep to meet schedule demands even one night on occasion interferes with your metabolism and cellular clean-up.
If you don’t sleep well or enough, your health will be challenged. Even one night of poor sleep impacts immune health, oxidative stress, and tissue repair. Disturbed sleep directly impacts your mitochondria repair and rebuilding time. This affects the bioenergetics and circadian rhythm activity of every organ in your body.
When you get a great night sleep, your body feels in sync and has a great energetic rhythm. If you have lost that response, you must restore healthy sleep patterns. It is a top priority.
Here are a few articles that do a deep dive into sleep and why it is so critical. Other articles provide insight into common concerns that may affect your sleep quality.
Supplement support may include RelaxaMag, Calm, Sleep Helper, Melatonin and TriCal. Other helpful support at bedtime may include PhosphatidylSerine, Daily DHA and Vitamin D. Consider a white noise device, black out curtains, organic cotton sheets or natural bedding, and/or a weighted blanket to help with deeper sleep.
Exercise and movement is the single best way to help your body after sleep. Movement and exercise activate and engage your mitochondria and help build new ones. Exercise supports your mood and production of endorphins. It helps turn on thyroid hormone activation in your liver and muscles. Exercise and movement helps your liver burn sugars that have turned into fats that clog up metabolism. It affects leptin and insulin signaling. When done in moderation, exercise modulates cortisol levels. Excess exercise can disrupt cortisol homeostasis.
Sedentary lifestyles cause a loss of mitochondrial numbers. The mitochondria that are working have often acquired injury and/or are less efficient at energy production and metabolic activities. Unhealthy mitochondria open the door for serious breakdown as metabolism efficiency declines lending to faster aging.
No matter what your fitness level and age, movement is important. Healthy individuals without exercise intolerance should strive for at least 30 – 60 minutes of aerobic and strength training 4-6 days per week. If your ability to exercise is compromised, start with very small increments of activity. This may be 30 seconds of moving your arms and legs while you are in bed or on the couch if you are seriously compromised with exercise intolerance. For others, 5 minutes of walking once or twice every day may be a goal.
If your energy crashes, pain worsens, heart rate goes up, or your ability to function declines during or within the next 24 hours after the activity, the exercise was too much. You will need to cut back on the intensity, frequency, and duration of the exercise and increase your antioxidant intake. Increase your activity very gradually to avoid crashes.
Dietary Patterns and Food Choices
A healthy diet is critical. There is no way around it. If your diet is predominantly high calorie/nutrient poor Western Diet, your body will lack the antioxidants and nutrients necessary to protect mitochondria, have healthy bioenergetics, detoxification, hormone function, and tissue repair. Your diet affects every cellular function in your body. It requires hydration, quality proteins, fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and cofactors from whole foods.
Sugar and sugar substitutes, preservatives, petroleum-derived/synthetic vitamins, white flour/processed foods, GMO and pesticide/herbicide treated foods, trans-fats and fried foods, added growth hormones and antibiotic treated animal products are stressful to your body and/or fail to provide quality nutrients.
Meal timing is critical to turning on sleep and body clock circadian rhythms, enhancing mitochondrial energy patterns, tissue repair, and hormone signaling. Breakfast is proven to be the most important meal of the day. Allowance of time or fasting between meals is also critical for normal, healthy function. Your body needs time to manage food just as much as it needs quality nutrient dense foods.
Think about these things. Does your diet contain regular consumption of these types of foods, a lot of processed, fast foods, or do you eat out a lot? Do you consume 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables on average each day with a balance of complex carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes, and beans) and healthy fats like avocado, olive, walnut, coconut, and butter? Do you have wide variety and seasonal foods or have the same 10-20 foods each day for months or years? Are you a grazer, one meal per day, 5-6 small meals each day, keto-diet, or have irregular appetite or have 3 regularly scheduled meals? Do you get enough fiber? Monitor your diet and do an accountability check.