The Health Junction Mailbox: Cat Related Sleep Disturbances and Fish Oil Confusion

I received a few great email over the past few weeks from readers with questions…which I LOVE!!  If you have any nutrition or health related questions, please send them to me at thehealthjunction@mail.com or click here for alternative ways of getting in touch.  Without further ado, here are the answers to your questions:

Cod Liver Oil vs. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Dear Health Junction,

What is the difference between Cod Liver Oil and Omega-3 capsules?
El B
Dear El B,
Cod Liver Oil comes from cod-fish and contains some omega-3 fatty acid as well as Vitamin A and Vitamin D.  Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a type of fatty acid found in a variety of fish, including Cod.  Omega-3, depending on the ration of DHA to EPA is used for to help support brain function (DHA) or mood and inflammation (EPA).  The reason it’s called an “essential” fatty acid is because we cannot make it in our body and therefore it must be obtained from diet.  Omega-3 Fatty Acids are thought to help support heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, depression, painful periods, dry eyes, and skin issues to name a few.
It is not advised to take Cod Liver Oil if you are interested in Omega-3 Fatty Acid benefits because the amount in a Cod Oil is too small.  Cod Oil should be taken if you are looking for Vitamin A or D supplementation.  If you’re interested in the benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, look for a supplement that is named as such – some good brands include NutraSea and Natural Factors.  An Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement contains a blend of Omega-3 Fatty acids from a variety of fish, but most often sardines, anchovies, or salmon.
The Health Junction
Kylie
Dear Health Junction,
 
I do believe you are a feline aficionado, of the kitty-cat variety; I have a few concerns regarding my pussy-cat, Kylie. 
 
In her advanced age, Kylie feels compelled to sleep in my bedroom at night, which would be fine if she didn’t have the habit of coming and going throughout the night, which is very inconvenient since I need to sleep with the bedroom door closed.  Consequently, I end up being woken up a few times each night to let Kylie in and out of the bedroom, which, in turn is interrupting my sleep and from our nutrition consultations together, I understand I need to get undisturbed sleep!! 
 
I’ve tried to break Kylie out of her habit of sleeping in my bedroom but she cries and scratches at the door for prolonged periods of time, and I feel guilty since she’s my cat, and I don’t want Kylie to feel stressed out or alone in her senior age. 
 
What is a feline-companion (to Kylie) to do?
CL
Dear CL,
You’re right.  I LOVE cats!
First off, I would like to make note that this reader clearly gets the connection between good sleep and good health.  In fact, you cannot have one without the other.  People who get less than the required 8 hours per night have an increased risk of car accidents, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, higher than normal Body Mass Index (BMI), and a decreased level of concentration and memory.  Impaired sleeping raises levels of cortisol (our stress hormone), over stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, increases blood pressure, increases our heart rate, decreases our ability to respond to insulin, and decreases levels of leptin, a substance that inhibits appetite.  So without getting a good nights sleep, among other health challenges, it becomes more difficult to manage weight.
Cats are wonderful, but like our reader, I can relate to the massive sleep disturbances that they can bring on at ridiculous times (like 4 am…shudder).  Here are some tips to for cat related sleep disturbances:
  • Try to tire Kylie out during the day by playing with her and making sure she has lots of toys available.
  • Start putting Kyle’s litter box, food, and water in a bathroom (or small room) far away from where people are sleeping.
  • Put some blankets and make it a nice place for her to sleep.
  • At night, bring Kylie downstairs and put her in the bathroom with her litter box and food.  She will likely meow and put up a fuss but it’s important not to respond.  After a few days she should stop making a fuss.

While you want to be nice to your cat, putting her somewhere at night where she doesn’t disturb you doesn’t mean you love her any less!  Good luck!

The Health Junction

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The Illusion of Food

A few days ago at work, a fascinating article was circulated from the Nutrition Action Health Letter (published by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest) regarding food serving size, general habits, and consumption patterns.

portion-sizes

The gist of the article is that the more food we see, the more food we eat regardless of hunger primarily due to mindless eating and a general feeling of being unaware of our hunger signals.  In large part, I blame industry for creating the level of gluttony and outrageous eating habits we are seeing today which has absolutely contributed to the increase in chronic diseases we are seeing (Type II Diabetes, Stroke, Heart Disease, Arthritis, Hyperlipidaemia, Colitis, Crohn’s, Renal Diseases, etc).

Rate of Type II Diabetes in the United States: 1980 - 2010

Rate of Type II Diabetes in the United States: 1980 – 2010

While industry certaintly plays a role, there is a lot we can do as individuals to take better control of our health…and an improvement in the amount of food ingested can significantly  improve the way you think, feel, move, and life.

In the Nutrition Action Health Letter, author  of the book Mindless EatingBrian Wansink, was interviewed and he reviewed the major findings from his research surrounding eating habits, serving sizes, and the concept of mindless eating (eating without paying attention to hunger signals).  Here are some interesting observations that might make you think, and look twice before you eat.

Mindless Eating

  • When people are given larger servings, they eat more.  In a study where people were given a large bucket of popcorn and others a small bucket, it was found that those who received the larger bucket ate 34% more popcorn.
  • Variety prompts increased consumption.  When people were presented with candy of different colours (as compared a single colour) they ate 40% more.
  • Chicken Wings Are Insightful!  When the bones of the wings consumed were removed from the table (as compared to leaving them on the table in the control group), participants ate more.
  • Health Labels Prompt Increased Consumption.  Labeling a product “low-fat” prompts people to eat more than they would have a normal product.
  • Healthy Restaurants = Underestimation of Calories.  When someone eats at Subway, and then at McDonald’s, they are more likely to underestimate the number of calories consumed at the Subway meal.
  • You are likely to eat more when eating a meal with a fast eater.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“We don’t walk. We overeat because we’ve made it easy to overeat. We have  fast-food joints on every corner. By the way, the ‘we’ is all of us. It’s not  the government. It’s all of us doing this together.”
– Dr. Oz

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When you just don’t feel like it…

There are times where, if you’re like me, you just really don’t feel like it.  What is ‘it’?  ANYTHING!

sorry-i-m-not-in-the-mood

Working, socializing, cleaning, cooking, and all the stuff in between.

For me, it happens when I’m either really stressed out or when I’m not being challenged (mind and body).  These days, it’s more a stress related response as I busily prepare to complete and test for my designation to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist.

study-stress

Stress and anxiety have such a profound impact on the digestive system and in case it hasn’t been emphasised in prior posts, I wanted to touch upon this again.  When we are stressed, our body shuts down systems that are not vital for survival.  The two systems of the body that are commonly impacted by stress and emotional distress are the reproductive and digestive systems.

Stressed

Our digestion becomes compromised and leads to malabsorption of nutrients which cascades into a ripple effect because we need the right nutrients, in the right proportions to thrive.  For example, not absorbing enough Vitamin B12 will have a negative impact on our entire nervous system which is already likely weakened due to feeling stressed in the first place.  Aside from digestion and reproduction, stress and anxiety negatively impact the endocrine, cardiovascular, nervous, immune, and respiratory systems so you can see how your entire balance can be thrown off.

Stress and Body Systems

Once of my teachers likened feeling anxious, stressed, or even depressed to having a blockage that simply needs to be released.  She said that the stagnating energy needs to be moved and actually suggested simply jumping up and down on the bed.  By the way, if you just google “Jumping on Bed” you’ll get a good laugh which should cheer you up!

Jumping on bed

I’m not into jumping up and down on a bed (what would my cats think!?) but it’s helpful to simply move when you feel emotional distress.  Do some yoga (click here for my favourite FREE online yoga resource), go for a walk, move around your kitchen (cook!), or dance (I just found this gem…you can thank me later because I’m busy getting my moves on), cycle, swim…whatever it takes.  While petting cats is the number one stress relieving mechanism (so says The Health Junction) moving is a close second in stress reduction.  So close this post down and get moving!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.” 
– Tina Fey

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