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Inflammatory Remarks: A Very Grumpy Naturopathic Cardiologist’s Humbugged Take on the Holidays

Written by Dr. Decker Weiss

As a naturopathic cardiologist, the holiday season has not always been the “season to be jolly.” Rather, I’ve found it’s often the “season to spend in the hospital.” Why? Well, simply put, the holidays are a time when people change their habits, and that can put them at risk.

The statistics are devastating for the holidays: fatal heart attacks increase 5% during the holiday season[1] and there’s a spike in the diagnosis of “Holiday Heart Syndrome,” an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) related to increased alcohol consumption.[2] An additional factor is that, for many, the holidays are a time of depression.

While statistics are few for depression during the holidays, here is what we do know: depression and anxiety significantly elevate, and while suicide rates tend to go down during the actual holidays, they uptick right after them.[3] Is there a link? Yes, and that link is inflammation. Cardiovascular disease and depression are both inflammatory conditions.

Inflammation can cause a depletion of protective neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which are not only linked to depression[4], but to heart attacks and arrhythmias as well.[5] Inflammation comes during the holidays in three forms: 1) stress (the body secretes cortisol, its own anti-inflammatory to “quench the stress”), 2) increased sugar and or alcohol, and 3) decreased exercise (or an increase in sedentary behaviors). All three of these risk factors are the underlying drivers to the holiday blues, and the ‘joyous’ tradition of the holiday emergency room. (I told you I was grumpy!)

My advice for fending off these inflammation factors is simple. These four steps can help anyone stay away from the hospital during the holidays (and throughout the year):

  • Exercise at least three times a week—even if it is just for a few minutes and even if it’s just a brisk walk. Exercise supports healthy neurotransmitter function and improved anti-inflammatory processes.
  • Try not to binge drink or eat other than on the holiday itself. A three-week bender of holiday parties can be devastating, so pick a day to party, and enjoy it.
  • 1 cookie is ok, 2 cookies is pushing it, and 3 cookies can punch a one-way ticket to see me. Munch in moderation!!
  • Supplement your holidays with a little extra heart-healthy nutrition. For those who wish to keep it really simple, look for products or supplements that contain Lycored Nutrient Complex for Heart, a blend of tomato-derived carotenoids and other nutrients made by Lycored. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and even anti-atherosclerotic[6],[7] properties and, when taken in a small gel cap formulation, it’s a truly simple approach to once-a-day holiday wellness.

So, let’s all stay out of the emergency room this holiday season. Follow the four-step plan and you’ll make this grumpy guy jolly.

 

A Naturopathic Physician, Cardiologist, and Professional Member of the American Heart Association, Dr. Weiss is one of the founding members of the Scottsdale Heart Institute, where he helped thousands of patients overcome heart disease and manage arrhythmias naturally. Today, he maintains a teaching-based practice to further his message of holistic healing.

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[1] AP December 23, 2013, 4:01 PM, Ho ho heart attack: Cardiac woes found to spike during holidays, David Phillips, University of California’s San Diego campus, as reported 12/14/15 at:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ho-ho-heart-attack-cardiac-woes-found-to-spike-during-holidays/

[2] Holiday Heart Syndrome: author : Adam S Budzikowski, MD, PhD, FHRS; Chief Editor: Jeffrey N Rottman, MD, as reported 12/15/15 on: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/155050-overview

[3] Holiday DepressionWritten by Michael Kerr | Published on March 29, 2012 Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD as reported on 12/15/15 on Healthline: http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/holidays

[4] Role of norepinephrine in depression.(PMID:10703757) Delgado PL, Moreno FA Department of Psychiatry, University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson, USA. de[email protected]

The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry [2000, 61 Suppl 1:5-12]

[5] The Sympathetic Nervous System in Heart Failure Dr. Eugene Braunwald, University of California, San Diego, Hospital Practice, as reported 12/15/15: http://www.icnr.com/articles/sympathetic-nervous-system-and-heart-failure.html

[6] Lycopene’s Effects on Health and Diseases A comprehensive review of the literature

By V. Kalai Selvan, MPharm, PhD, A. Vijayakumar, MPharm, PhD, K. Suresh Kumar, MPharm, and Gyanedra Nath Singh, MPharm, PhD

[7] LycoRed Awarded New Atherosclerosis Prevention Patent Sep 1, 2008 LycoRed Corp. (LycoMato(R)), as reported by New Hope Media as of 12/14/15: http://newhope360.com/ingredients-general/lycored-awarded-new-atherosclerosis-prevention-patent