Archive | October, 2017

Four Tips to Eat Your Way to a Great Night’s Sleep

19 Oct

By Dr. Bill Miller

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Who has not had a restless night’s sleep? Everyone does on occasion, but for many, it is an increasingly frequent experience. The typical explanation is the unparalleled distractions of our modern lifestyle. We email compulsively, text our friends at all hours, and binge watch TV. Consequently, our sleep suffers. Studies show that the average amount of sleep that Americans currently get has fallen by between one and two hours each night over the last 60 years. Furthermore, the quality of that sleep has deteriorated. Some research even suggests that our irregular sleep patterns have led to a ‘dream’ deficit that also takes its own individual toll over time.

The crux of the issue is that there are significant health problems associated with sleep disorders that go beyond feeling tired the next day. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with higher incidences of heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and cancer. Many of us realize this and struggle to make adjustments. We experiment with changing our caffeine or alcohol intake or, in desperation, some turn to sleeping pills.

Most of us know from experience that there is some kind of link between our food intake and our sleep patterns. Sleep can be difficult if we are too full or extremely hungry. Yet, our busy lifestyle and the temptations of snack foods continuously get in the way. One thing is clear. A good evening meal with sensible portions improves the prospect of a restful night of sleep.

We have long known that there are two fundamental states of sleep and each is regulated by a different part of the brain. Both are necessary for completely recuperative sleep. We have a sleep cycle, called our ‘circadian rhythm,’ which is regulated by our brain and by metabolic cues governed by liver cells. All of these signals work together in a continuous feedback loop which is commonly called our ‘circadian clock’.  New information adds a significant to factor to that mix. Our gut microbiome has a surprisingly crucial influence on our circadian sleep-wake cycle and our sleep quality. Experiments confirm that when specific microbes in our gut are altered, our fundamental states of sleep are disrupted. This limits our ability to recover from stress and is necessary to protect against neurological diseases such as dementia. To assist in that recovery process, we now understand that our gut microbiome and our own cells form an active feedback loop and our sleep patterns are part of it.

This continuous feedback between our gut and brain significantly modulates our responses to stress. When that feedback is suboptimal, it begins a cycle that leads towards metabolic health disorders such as diabetes. Our sleep-wake cycle is part of this loop. Impaired sleep disrupts our metabolism and contributes to inflammatory states and metabolic diseases, which can, in turn, further disrupt our sleep. When our gut microbiome is off-balance our capacity to achieve restorative sleep is profoundly affected.

Here are four tips to start you on the path to a great night’s sleep:

  • Our microbes have internal clocks, just as we do. We are at our best when we find our optimal personal method of synchronizing and adjusting to each other. In effect, if you feed your microbes well, they will treat you right.
  • Stick to a firm eating schedule and limit fat content. Both of these factors can improve sleep quality. There is an added benefit. These measures help with weight management, which is also mediated by the gut microbiome.
  •  Keep calories the same, but make your meals smaller and more frequent. Studies show that this improves sleep quality and metabolic parameters such as blood glucose or serum lipid levels.
  • Try adding either prebiotics or probiotics to your diet. These offer your microbial partners the nutrients they need.

When you plan to get a good night’s sleep, you need to think of it as putting your microbes to bed. Feeding them properly is your best chance for normal recuperative sleep in the midst of our hectic modern lives.

 Dr. Bill Miller has been a physician in academic and private practice for over 30 years. He is the author of The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome. For more information,www.themicrocosmwithin.com.

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The responsibilities and Rewards of Being a Caregiver

16 Oct

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National Family Caregivers Month is an ideal time to reflect on both the responsibilities and rewards of being a caregiver.

Being a caregiver is deeply challenging. Especially when those we’re caring for cling fiercely to their independence, resisting support and insisting on remaining independent even when this is no longer a safe option.

Melanie Merriman, hospice expert and author of Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging, knows this all too well from her experience caring for her fiercely independent aging mother.

Torn between the need to protect her mother’s safety on the one hand and preserve her autonomy on the other, Melanie and her sister struggled every step of the way to find solutions that gave their mother the assistance she needed without wounding her pride or damaging their relationship. Paradoxically, her mother’s desire for independence actually created a greater strain on Melanie and her sister.

In the process, Melanie learned a lot about how to how to strike this delicate balance, and would be happy to share the lessons with your audience:

● Let yourself be human. Start by acknowledging the fact that there is no foolproof recipe for caring for an aging loved one. There is no such thing as perfection. Even professionals such as hospice care experts get caught up in minutiae and bickering when caring for their own family members. All you can do is simply do your best.

● Pay close(r) attention to the signs of aging. Some signs of aging are so small they’re barely detectable. Most of the ones you need to watch out for signal a step back from everyday life. Is your loved one canceling in-person meetings? Is she refusing to drive to unknown places? Is she skipping meals here and there? All of these can be signs.

● Be more realistic about the consequences of aging. This is tough, but crucial. Even though your father is eighty-eight and still wins the annual bridge tournament at the rec center up the street doesn’t mean this will go on forever. It’s easy to sink into rosy thinking about those we love. It’s necessary to remember that aging and decline are universal processes that we must prepare for.

● Start discussions long before it feels like it’s time. Being proactive means talking to your aging loved one months or even years before it feels “right”. As we age, mental faculties can go. Changes in health can happen quickly. It’s best that everyone discuss the game plan long before it’s needed.

Taking these steps can help improve well-being during what Melanie has dubbed “the tightrope of aging”—the stage between active independent living and end-of-life.

About the Author:

Melanie Merriman is author of Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging. She is also the co-author of Merriman’s Hawai‘i: The Chef, the Farmers, the Food, the Islands, a cookbook with stories about chef Peter Merriman. Melanie has spent much of her life as a research scientist, hospice consultant, and foundation grant evaluator—driven by a passion to illuminate, understand, and find meaning. Melanie and her husband Klein split their time between South Florida and Cape Cod, MA.

DENNY’S KICKS OFF THE SEASON OF GIVING WITH ANNUAL NO KID HUNGRY® FUNDRAISER

13 Oct

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Nearly one in six children in America struggle with hunger and go without the proper food and nutrition they need on a daily basis. In an effort to help end childhood hunger, Denny’s is teaming up with No Kid Hungry® for another year, helping give back a little this holiday season. Now through Dec. 3, more than 1,600 Denny’s locations nationwide will work together to help fight childhood hunger across the country – to-date, the brand has donated more than $4.3 million to the cause, helping provide 43 million meals to kids in need.

As part of this year’s fundraising efforts, guests visiting participating locations can make a $3 donation to No Kid Hungry and receive $12 worth of redeemable Denny’s coupons in return. There will also be various ways to support the cause online: users visiting ‘Denny’s on Demand’ – the brand’s new online and mobile ordering platform – will be able to make a $1 donation with any order placed, or make a donation of their choice through www.dennysnokidhungry.com. The diner will also offer an interactive donation option that will take place outside of its booths: The Grand Slamoji. Every time a user comments on the diner’s “No Kid Hungry video” on Facebook using their favorite breakfast emoji combinations, Denny’s will donate $1 to the cause, up to $25,000.

“No Kid Hungry is an organization that is near and dear to our hearts, and at Denny’s we are proud to once again help raise awareness and funds to end the fight against childhood hunger in America,” said John Dillon, SVP and chief marketing officer for Denny’s. “No child should have to worry about when and where they may get their next meal, even more so during the holidays. This year’s campaign serves as a great way to team up with our guests as they gather around our booths with family and friends to share in this season of thanks and giving.”

Guests visiting their nearest Denny’s to make a donation or enjoy a great meal will also have the opportunity to experience its new holiday-inspired menu “Flavors of the Season.” The festive new lineup includes a mouthwatering choice of sweet and savory Pancake dishes including the New Pumpkin Cream Pancake Breakfast, the New White Chocolate Raspberry Pancake Breakfast and New Cranberry Orange Pancake Breakfast, each served with two eggs, hash browns and a choice of two strips of bacon or sausage links. The diner will also offer its traditional family favorite, the Turkey & Dressing Dinner, featuring tender carved turkey breast, savory stuffing, turkey gravy and cranberry sauce.

Guests are also invited to enjoy a holiday treat with a deliciously sweet dessert such as Cinnamon Sugar Pancake Puppies® served with cream cheese icing, or the New White Chocolate Raspberry Milk Shake. Denny’s will also offer its classic Pumpkin and Pecan pies, available by the slice or whole throughout the holiday season.

For more information about Denny’s No Kid Hungry fundraising efforts, please visit www.dennysnokidhungry.com. Guests can order online or find out more about Denny’s seasonal menu, available all day, every day through Jan. 3, 2018, by visiting www.dennys.com.

 

About Denny’s Corp.

Denny’s is one of America’s largest full-service family restaurant chains, currently operating over 1,700 franchised, licensed and company-owned restaurants across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guam, the United Arab Emirates, Chile, Curaçao, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Philippines. For further information on Denny’s, including news releases, please visit the Denny’s website at www.dennys.com or the brand’s social channels via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram or YouTube.

 

About No Kid Hungry®

No child should go hungry in America, but 1 in 6 kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast, eat healthy summer meals, and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. When we all work together, we can make sure kids get the healthy food they need. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. Join us at NoKidHungry.org.

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