Monday, December 06, 2004

Power Napping Need Not Be Sapping

When I was in college, I was exhausted. Yes, we stayed up too late at night, but even on the nights when I went to bed at 10:30, I was tired during the day. So tired, in fact, that I had trouble concentrating on my reading and writing assignments.

A wise counselor suggested that I take a 5 minute nap every hour.

This sounded just about impossible, but it also sounded quite glorious -- a nap was just what I felt like I needed, and the break in studying was more than welcome.

Why impossible? Because it seemed unlikely that I would actually fall asleep within the 5 minutes, let alone be ready to get up again.

But despite the hypothetical challenges, I tried it.

I don't recall now, 40 years later, just how long it took me to perfect the art of instant sleep and instant reawakening, but it wasn't long.

Once I got the knack of it, I'd lie down, close my eyes, and in exactly 5 minutes reawaken. And best of all, reawaken refreshed.

I think most of us have had the experience of taking an hour-long nap only to awaken groggy and out of sorts for the rest of the day, maybe even with a headache.

These mini-naps are different. Instead of sapping me of my consciousness, they give it back to me.

Yes, I still take these naps now, whenever I have the need. On long trips, I stop frequently to take these 5 minute minis, and I always wake refreshed for the road. And there are some days when I need them to revitalize my day. It's a glorious thing to know that I will wake refreshed, not groggy.

So how does one get started? Here are some tips:

1. Expect success! Even if you hate the way you feel after naps, know that this kind is different!

2. If you like, put on some music. I'm pretty sure having music going helps me from sinking into complete unconsciousness. But I also know I don't need it, as in the car. Try it both ways if you like.

3. Lie down with the full knowledge that if you fall asleep you will be able to wake yourself up at the 5 minute mark. It's best not to set an alarm, but if you need to the first few times, go ahead. (Most people who do this find they wake up just before the alarm to turn it off.) The reason I don't recommend an alarm is that it's a terrible jolt to the nervous system when it goes off, and who needs that?

4. Close your eyes and go with the flow.

5. Get up after the 5 minutes, even if you haven't slept.

6. Do this every day you can, but no more than 5 minutes.

7. Enjoy the refreshment, and practice often.

That's it. It's lifechanging, delightful, and effective, and the price is right. - Studies: Lost sleep equals gained weight - Dec 6, 2004

This study makes so much sense! And it contains in it a kernel of hope for people who keep adding pounds. Here's the link: - Studies: Lost sleep equals gained weight - Dec 6, 2004

The study says that below a certain threshhold of sleep in 24 hours (the amount is different for men and women), certain hormonal changes lead to increased consumption of sweets and starchy foods.

The hormone leptin, responsible for telling the brain the body doesn't need more food, is reduced in subjects allowed less than their normal amount of sleep (4 hours two nights in a row).

There was also an increase in ghrelin, which triggers hunger.

The subjects' response was to eat simple carbs.

In a second study, it was found that people who slept the least weighed the most.

Researchers were perplexed about the food choices.

However, it may be that the stress of less sleep caused a cascade of effects that resulted in the subjects craving sweets. Here's what I have in mind:

Step 1. The subject is stressed due to lack of sleep.
Step 2. The subject uses up B vitamins at an accelerated rate. This happens normally during periods of stress. Or another way to look at it is that stress is experienced more when the body is short of B vitamins. Since we don't know anything about the diets of the subjects, we can assume it was a 'normal' diet -- which is typically low in Bs.
Step 3. A lack of B vitamins leads to craving sweets, also a known phenomenon.

Why would the body crave sweets when short on B? Or in other words, when stressed?

Most carbs in nature are in packages (so to speak) that contain B vitamins. Think grains, or sugar cane. The B vitamins are removed in processing foods made with simple carbs: things go from brownish (containing Bs) to white (no Bs).

But the body doesn't know this. Millions of years of searching for nutrients has taught our cells to expect to find Bs in association with grains, and in some cases sweet things (sugar cane, maple sap).

So when we're stressed, we reach for the closest potential source of Bs. Except these foods no longer contain the Bs our cells expect them to.

Why don't we just reach for whole grains? I think this has to do with digestion, on the one hand, and the speed of delivery on the other. Here's what I mean:

When we're tired, we don't digest well. Our systems shut down when we sleep so our bodies can repair themselves. If we don't get enough sleep, as in these studies, our digestion may not be ready to function again. More on this in future articles.

Also, now that we've subjected our bodies to 'quick' foods, those that are manufactured (flour, sugar), we expect a quick response, and grains, etc, take a while to process.

The result is that when we're stressed, we crave sweets.

OK, back to gaining weight when we don't get enough sleep. What can we do about it? Here are some suggestions:

1. Try to get some more sleep! (See the accompanying article on Power Napping).
2. Get enough B vitamins by eating whole grains, and keep whole-grain foods around for the next snack attack.
3. Deal with stress. See accompanying article, Ways to Deal with Stress, for suggestions.

Usually the only time we can get enough vitamins and other nutrients from food is when we're eating our own organic produce and experiencing only intermittent stress. Supplementation is almost not an option in our culture: it is a necessity. But choosing the right vitamin is important, or you'll just throw away your money. This site discusses how to choose a vitamin in great detail:

The weight problem is obviously out of hand. What if more sleep made just a little difference -- every day? Would you make the change? I have become a little more forgiving of myself at 5 a.m. and have begun to go back to sleep for another hour. I hope it pays off with pounds off. PL

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Nursing home or Holiday Inn? An economic analysis, from a fellow blogger

Scheiss Weekly. Just as it says.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Heritage Turkeys: another way to avoid factory foods

Use this link to find out more about heritage turkeys.

Today's mass-produced factory turkeys are an example of what has happened to our food supply.

When breeding selects for quick growing turkeys, as in this example, then it does not select for taste or nutrition.

The same is true for fruits and vegetables. This is why we eat more than we should: our bodies stay hungry till their need for nutrients is satisfied, and if the food we eat contains fewer nutrients, then we eat more. Along with more food comes more calories, and the result is more weight.

Stay tuned for more examples, and meanwhile, think about heritage turkeys: they taste good. PL

Monday, November 15, 2004

Chocolate : food or drug ? An interesting idea...

Chocolate : food or drug ?

For a discussion of main points of this message, please visit

This site is dedicated to the appreciation of chocolate. You'll see. PL

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The World's Healthiest Foods: Feeling Great (on Vitamin E)

The World's Healthiest Foods: Feeling Great

This link takes the reader to an excellent site on the importance of Vitamin E and how to get it from food. Check out the list, and if these are not your favorite foods, or if you have any of the symptoms of low Vitamin E listed on this site, you might consider a supplement.

You will note that the site recommends the consumption of mixed tocopherols, such as alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols. For more information about a supplement that contains mixed tocopherols, please visit: Vitamin E Complex with Mixed Tocopherols.

This post may be reproduced in an email or newsletter only without changes and as long as it contains this statement and the following:
(c) Peg Lewis 2004. To subscribe to this service, please visit and join the Southwest Wellness Center mailing list.

This book provides an excellent jumping off point for families and individuals who would like to begin to eat for health. It's a simple program to transition to these SuperFoods, and the family won't even know they're doing it for health. Substitutions abound, so if your bunch doesn't like one of the foods, pick something else in the group and they'll still get the benefits.

Vitamin E in the News: Preliminary Interpretation


Study: Vitamin E may do more harm than good
Research finds those taking supplement died earlier
Wednesday, November 10, 2004 Posted: 11:48 AM EST (1648 GMT)

How true is this study? Who did it, and why? (Studies are expensive, so they're likely funded by some agency or group with a reason an agenda.) What should we now do about Vitamin E?

I have been sorting through the facts to see if I can answer these important questions for you. (Please see the next post for basic facts about Vitamin E.)

Dr. Edgar Miller, from Johns Hopkins Univerisity, led the study, which he presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association. Here's what he said about the need for Vitamin E:

"We don't think that people need to take vitamin E supplements, that they get enough from the diet," he said. Nuts, oils, whole grains and green leafy vegetables are all rich in vitamin E.

The average U.S. diet supplies six to 10 IU of E, Miller said. The Institute of Medicine, which sets recommended doses of vitamins and minerals, gives 1,500 IU of E as a daily upper limit.

"I would say it is too high," Miller said.

It is a common litany in medical circles to state that people get enough nutrients from their diets, so Dr. Miller's statement here is no surprise. It does suggest a prejudice to the study, however.

In an article elsewhere in the medical press* , the upper limit criticized by Dr. Miller, is explained:

The Institute of Medicine has set an upper tolerable intake level for vitamin E at 1,000 mg (1,500 IU) for any form of supplementary alpha-tocopherol per day because the nutrient can act as an anticoagulant and increase the risk of bleeding problems. Upper tolerable intake levels represent the maximum intake of a nutrient that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects in almost all individuals in the general population.

So Dr. Miller has taken a stance based on opinion ("I would say it's too high.") that is at odds with a guideline established within the medical community and based on observations in patients.

Coupled with his comment about getting all we need from foods, this study seems to be more about opinion than fact.

But what about the study itself? Dr. Miller re-analyzed 19 studies that had occurred between 1993 and 2004 in three countries, including the US. He found a slight INCREASE in deaths among those taking Vitamin E supplements.

One variable that may be key to understanding the study concerns who takes supplements. Not everyone takes supplements, and of those who do, not everyone takes Vitamin E. It is not unreasonable to consider that those who take Vitamin E may have an enhanced reason to do so.

For example, they may have heard the news over the years that Vitamin E helps prevent heart disease or cancer. Someone with heart disease or cancer in the family might be more likely to spend the money to take an E supplement, and it is exactly these people who are at increased risk of premature death from these causes.

If this is the case, the small increase in mortality noted by Dr. Miller's study may reflect this self-selection of Vitamin E consumers.

Another issue I have with the study is that I don't know -- yet -- if he took all the studies that occurred during those years, or a random sample of them, or just the ones that appeared to support beliefs he already held.

I will continue to look for more information about the nature of this study. Meanwhile, I would like to address two other details from this press release that have bearing on the warning about Vitamin E.

Getting Vitamin E from food:

Vitamin E is naturally occurring in a few classes of food. (See accompanying post on Vitamin E facts). These include nuts, some oils, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Any statement today that we can get all we need from foods is literally true, but not practical in application. Foods consumed today are hardly the direct-from-the-garden variety. Most are processed, few are fresh, and any component with anti-oxidant qualities (such as Vitamin E is known to have), when exposed to air for a time, has already experienced oxidation of those anti-oxidants: they're used up.

Plus, food choices -- our diets -- rarely consist of such wholesome foods as those that appear on this list of vitamin-E foods. One example is mustard greens. If we eat them at all, it would be rare to eat them every day.

So what is possible is not what is likely to happen, when it comes to using food as a source of nutrients!

The medical community already knows we need to supplement:

Almost everyone who is medically trained, including physicians and nurses, will state firmly that we can get all we need from food. But here are some supplements routinely 'prescribed' by doctors:

Calcium - to prevent osteoporosis, and now to help prevent colon cancer (see related article in an early posting)

Folic Acid - to prevent neural-tube defects in embryos, and sometimes to prevent heart disease

B-12 - for a variety of ills

Vitamin D - added to milk products for years because milk is consumed so widely (not naturally available in milk)

Iron - widely prescribed for women and supplemented in infant formulas

These are just 5 examples of the supplements doctors already recommend widely. So the sweeping generalization that we can get all we need from food is not correct, yet Dr. Miller of the Vitamin E study apparently went into the study with this point of view.

YOU may get all the E you need from your food, or you may need to supplement.

To find out if you need a supplement or to see what ills are associated with low amounts of vitamin E, read the list of symptoms at The World's Healthiest Foods: Feeling Great . You can find out about your own need by taking the Wellness Profile, or by clicking and following the links here for more information: Vitamin E Complex with Mixed Tocopherols.

Please Email This (click on the little envelope below to the right) if you know someone who would like to keep up with the news about Vitamin E. PL

*Medical College of Wisconsin Healthlink at

This post may be reproduced in an email or newsletter only without changes and as long as it contains this statement and the following: (c) Peg Lewis 2004. To subscribe to this service, please visit and join the Southwest Wellness Center mailing list.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Calcium for polyps, heart, cholesterol....

Calcium has been shown to have many positive benefits, including helping to build strong bones and teeth, aiding in weight loss, and now, staving off intestinal polyps, according to research published in a recent issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers studied just over 900 patients assigned randomly to receive 1,200 mg/day of calcium carbonate or placebo. Follow-up colonoscopies were administered to each patient, approximately one and four years after the initial assessment.

Results: Researchers found that polyps occurred less frequently among the calcium group than the placebo group, and that calcium reduced the risk of all polyps by 14 percent and advanced polyps by 35 percent!

The authors also suggest that intakes over 1200 mg of Calcium a day may be necessary to maximize its benefits, and that dietary fiber and dietary fat may also play a role.

Still not convinced about the value of calcium? Well, guess what? It also helps regulate heart function and lower cholesterol. So don't delay! Be kind to your colon, and start your calcium regimen today.

Wallace K, Baron JA, Cole BF, et al. Effect of calcium supplementation on the risk of large bowel polyps. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, June 16, 2004; 96 (12): 921-925

Frank M. Painter, D.C."The Doc on The Block"

This post may be reproduced in an email or newsletter only without changes and as long as it contains this statement and the following: (c) Peg Lewis 2004. To subscribe to this service, please visit and join the Southwest Wellness Center mailing list.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Entrees to Exercise: The Mailbox Technique

This cool technique for getting into an exercise program is based on a true story, so I'll tell you the story and you'll instantly understand how to adopt it. This is an exercise program for people who haven't exercised for quite a while and might be tempted to start too fast -- or not at all.

The true story starts with a 68 yr old man's return from the doctor, where tests showed he had serious heart disease. No wonder! He was of signficant size, and spent most of his life on the couch -- when he wasn't getting a snack.

The news of heart disease motivated him to start an exercise program. He decided to start with a walk, so he headed out the front door. But he didn't make it past the mailbox before he was out of breath and feeling he couldn't go farther.

He returned to the couch, but before 24 hours had passed, he found within himself the resolve to continue his exercise program. He figured that if he could get to the mailbox the first day, he could get to his neighbor's mailbox the second. He did manage to do it before returning to his couch.

The next day, he did it again. He went to one more mailbox, turned around, and went home. So after that, that was his program: just one more mailbox.

He continued adding mailboxes until he was going quite a distance every day. He felt better, looked better, sounded better, and even slept better.

Finally he left his neighborhood and headed down the county road where the mailboxes were further apart. Still he added one a day, no more and no less.

The days went by. He felt better and better, and went faster and faster, and farther and farther. And what do you know? At the end of the year, he ran in and finished an actual marathon! No more heart disease for him!

This is a true story. The technique doesn't need much explanation. Remember: one mailbox a day (5 days a week will do). Don't cheat by going too far. Just add one.

I tried this. I took my dog and he loved it. We went quite far, over time. I never felt oppressed by the program because I always knew where I would be stopping.

I don't know if it will work for you, but what if it does? Set out for the next mailbox today! PL

This post may be reproduced in an email or newsletter only without changes and as long as it contains this statement and the following: (c) Peg Lewis 2004. To subscribe to this service, please visit and join the Southwest Wellness Center mailing list.

Vioxx is gone -- now what? - Arthritis drug Vioxx being pulled - Sep 30, 2004

Drugs have side effects. How much harm is done while a drug is in use, until a health risk is found?

What can you do if you've been using Vioxx? Take the Wellness Profile and see what your body is missing to put it back on track to booming good health.

Wellness Profile compares your answers with a large database of other people, then issues you a snapshot of your health today. You will receive a free report and free 15 minute phone consultation (optional).* This is a service of Southwest Wellness Center, based in Tucson AZ.

Wellness Profile may suggest lifestyle, dietary, and other changes. You may retake Wellness Profile 60 days later to see if these changes are working for you.

Here's one example of how it has worked for someone. If you take the profile, please add your story here:

A 58 year old woman who was careful with her diet and used supplements found that every spring she felt as though she were coming down with the flu. She ached so much that she found work difficult, but then she never really came down sick. She took the Wellness Profile and found she was low in magnesium, which she added to her supplement routine. The aches went away. But why just in the spring? Because then she began to exercise again, each year, and exercise uses up magnesium. It also was lost in her sweat.

The doctor had prescribed ibuprophen and bedrest. But what she needed was magnesium.

If the doctor has prescribed Vioxx for you, now would be a good time to find out what you really need. Go to and take your Wellness Profile today.

Your turn! PL

*We do not prescribe or diagnose. We simply share the patterns the Wellness Profile detects, and the suggestions it makes.

This post may be reproduced in an email or newsletter only without changes and as long as it contains this statement and the following: (c) Peg Lewis 2004. To subscribe to this service, please visit and join the Southwest Wellness Center mailing list.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Wellness Profile -- get a snapshot of your health today

This is a free service of Southwest Wellness Center. Click on the link, fill out the questionnaire, and a report will be sent to you.

Here's the link:


This post may be reproduced in an email or newsletter only without changes and as long as it contains this statement and the following: (c) Peg Lewis 2004. To subscribe to this service, please visit and join the Southwest Wellness Center mailing list.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Iron a major culprit in Heart Disease?

Are we rusting to death?

In an Oct 2002 health article, reported that high levels of iron in the blood apparently contribute to heart disease. The iron is an oxidant, and in clinical tests was shown to damage the artery lining of healthy men, while removing iron was shown to improve the health of the artery lining of men with heart disease.

Premenopausal women may have an edge in avoiding heart disease exactly because they lose blood -- and hence iron -- every month. The fact that this edge disappears at menopause strengthens the argument.

The study was conducted by Dr. Hidehiro Matsuoka, chief of the division of hypertension at the Kurume Medical School in Kurume, Japan.

"Our study shows that we should recognize iron as a risk factor for atherosclerosis and understand the need to control our body iron levels to prevent cardiovascular disease," Matsuoka said in a statement.

The well-known correlation between heart disease and the consumption of red meat, a rich source of iron, adds further weight to the argument.


This post may be reproduced in an email or newsletter only without changes and as long as it contains this statement and the following: (c) Peg Lewis 2004. To subscribe to this service, please visit and join the Southwest Wellness Center mailing list.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Cool site for free heart health info

Here's a site I came across that has free samples of booklets on many health topics. Here's the link:

Hope Health, the source of this information, provides health tips for employees across the country.

If you order one of the booklets, come back here and let us know how you liked it. PL

This post may be reproduced in an email or newsletter only without changes and as long as it contains this statement and the following: (c) Peg Lewis 2004. To subscribe to this service, please visit and join the Southwest Wellness Center mailing list.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Bill Clinton's heart, and yours

What happened to Bill Clinton this week is a good example.

Bill 'got religion' about his health about a year ago, and set about to make lifestyle changes.

Was it too little?

Or too late? It was certainly almost too late. A major heart attack was imminent. His first, and most likely his last.

He changed his diet by cutting out fatty foods, and began to exercise. It wasn't enough. His arteries were still clogged, 90% shut down, with so little blood flow that he began to have chest pains.

It was too little.

So was his situation hopeless? Is it too late for those who have put off diet changes or exercise? Can we change our heart health profile?

The answer is that it's not too late, not ever. But it was too little.

Bill could have done a few simple things that he didn't do that might have resulted in no clogged arteries at all -- even if he didn't start till last year.

That means you can do a few simple things to put off a heart attack, even if your wake up call happened only this week.

We'll post suggestions here that actually work for people. Meanwhile, you can always visit www.southwestwellnesscenter/whatsnew.

Visit often, post your comments and experiences, and we'll find ourselves at the cutting edge of health, the healthfrontiers.

This post may be reproduced in an email or newsletter only without changes and as long as it contains this statement and the following: (c) Peg Lewis 2004. To subscribe to this service, please visit and join the Southwest Wellness Center mailing list.