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7 Tips for a Heart-Healthy Holiday Season

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Woman smiling during the holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unless you end up in the hospital. Suddenly those extra cookies and cocktails become your biggest regret. Instead of waiting for Santa, you’re waiting for your cardiologist.  

Did you know that cardiac events spike during the holidays? Poor diet, increased stress, reduced sleep, and low sun exposure create the perfect storm for health problems. You don’t have to be a statistic, though. Follow these seven simple tips, and you will be well on your way to enjoying the holidays with a healthy heart. 

The landslide that brings down health

Have you ever wondered why flu season typically peaks between December and February? As daylight decreases, we enter the season of sugar that begins in late October. Just as we finish raiding our kid’s Halloween stash, we jump right into pumpkin pie and stuffing. There is barely a break before we hit the homemade cookies, holiday parties, and spiked eggnog. Add in an argument with Uncle Joe and a few late nights, and you’ve seriously hampered your immune system. Viruses love the cooler weather, and you now are the prime host. 

It should come as no surprise that the heart is compromised during this season as well. A recent study in the British Medical Journal found that the risk of having a heart attack is 37 percent higher on Christmas Eve. Heart attacks aren’t the only cardiac complications that arise around the holidays, either. Heart arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation increase so significantly around the holidays that it’s nicknamed “holiday heart syndrome.”

How to have a heart healthy holiday season

You don’t need to wait until January 1st to get right with your health. You can enjoy a wonderful and healthy holiday season with just a bit of planning. So get started with these seven tips! 

Eat (organic), drink (organic), and be merry 

The holidays are a time to enjoy the sweeter things in life, like food and family. So there’s no reason that you can’t indulge a bit during this special time. When planning your holiday meals, focus on organic, local, grass-fed, and gluten-free. Enjoy a beautiful turkey, but avoid antibiotics and growth hormones by buying organic. Let vegetables be your friend, focusing on the abundance of fall and winter veggies, such as parsnips, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and other roasted roots. Don’t forget to add in winter greens like chard or collards. 

If you want to enjoy a sweet treat, like pumpkin pie, make sure it’s organic and gluten-free. Eliminate processed sugar intake by using honey or maple syrup in recipes instead. Don’t overindulge, and keep it to one slice. 

Stay away from conventionally bought sugar-filled beverages, like eggnog and hot chocolate. Instead, make your own at home using ingredients such as organic pasture-raised eggs, organic dark chocolate, and raw milk. 

Avoid “holiday heart” by steering clear of alcohol. If you choose to celebrate with an alcoholic beverage, make it a single glass of organic, sulfate-free red wine. Better yet, enjoy a beautiful holiday spritzer mocktail. Check out this article for our heart-healthy Christmas dinner menu, including recipes!

Have many silent nights 

The human body functions best when it follows the rhythm of the sun. This internal 24-hour clock, referred to as circadian rhythm, is essential for cardiovascular health. We would sleep and rise with the sun in an ideal world, just as our ancient ancestors did. 

Unfortunately, sleep often gets put on the back burner during the holidays. Most Americans get much less than eight to nine hours of recommended sleep a night. The body doesn’t have much time for rest between travel, online shopping, and late-night holiday parties. Not only does sleep allow for vital repair, but it also reduces the amount of time that one could spend eating or stressing out. 

Run, Rudolph, run (and you go with him!) 

For some, the colder weather of the winter season makes it more challenging to get outside and exercise. Instead, many of us simply want to hibernate under a warm blanket. However, studies show that the more time that you spend in nature, the longer you live. Not to mention, outdoor exercise is also associated with lower cardiovascular health risks. 

Be sure to fit in a long walk, a hike in the woods, or interval training each day. Also, make heart-healthy choices such as parking further away at the grocery store or taking the stairs instead of an elevator. Adding small bursts of exercise in your day will help to keep you healthy throughout the year. 

Bring joy to the world – and get some back! 

Stress is as detrimental to heart health as a poor diet and lack of exercise. Multiple studies have linked stress to heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiac issues, such as AFib. In addition, financial burdens, family dynamics, and packed schedules contribute to stress during the holidays.

Find moments of joy during the busy season by spending time with people you enjoy and minimizing time with those who create stress. Share the workload with family and friends by having potluck dinners. Minimize financial stress by creating a budget and sticking to it. Finally, find time for quiet, which will allow you to refuel and cultivate a positive mindset around the holiday season. 

Deck the halls with non-toxic holly

We live in a polluted world, but you may be surprised to hear that our homes are some of the most toxic environments. Unhealthy chemicals from paint, carpeting, furniture, cleaning products, laundry soap, and air fresheners all contribute to high levels of indoor air pollution. Poor air quality in the home is linked to adverse cardiovascular outcomes.  

The holiday season can add to poor air quality that impacts your heart health. While the smell of gingerbread candles and cinnamon-spiced air freshener sounds delightful, the chemicals in these artificial items are highly toxic. Likewise, the beautiful poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe are likely laden with pesticides.

It’s important to know that even your Christmas tree is possibly toxic. Artificial trees are often made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a major source of endocrine-disrupting phthalates. To make matters worse, they are typically covered in chemical flame retardants to avoid fires. 

While you don’t need to avoid decorations altogether, it’s helpful to be aware of what you are bringing into your home. For example, instead of using candles to create the smell of the holidays, you can make a stovetop potpourri by boiling a few cinnamon sticks, cloves, orange slices, and a few sprigs of rosemary. When seeking out a tree, consider that there are currently 47 organic Christmas tree farms in the United States. Alternatively, you can start new traditions that save the trees and keep the chemicals out of your home. 

Believe in the magic of sunshine

The benefits of sunshine are genuinely magical. Many of us are aware of the health benefits of vitamin D. What some people don’t realize, however, is the importance of sunlight in producing nitric oxide (NO). When UV light from the sun hits the skin, it releases nitrite, which gets converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide has cardiovascular benefits such as vasodilation and reduction in blood pressure. Sunlight also boosts serotonin production in the brain, leading to improved mood. 

While the holidays fall during the shorter days of the year, it’s essential to get outside and take in the sunshine, especially in the morning hours. Morning sun exposure helps to regulate melatonin production, allowing for better sleep at night. Getting regular sunshine is one of the best ways to have a heart-healthy holiday season.

There’s no place like the chiropractor’s office for the holidays

While the holidays are a busy time, don’t forgo your regular visit with a chiropractor. Travel puts strain on your body, as does carrying holiday packages. Getting adjusted helps decrease stress and optimize health during an otherwise chaotic time. 

Next Steps

The holidays should be a time to nurture your heart with friends, family, and food. It’s never too early to begin a New Year’s resolution. So, starting today, resolve to give your one-and-only heart your very best. That way you’ll be around to enjoy many, many holidays to come. 

Eat well, Live well, Think well

Medical Review: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD 2022

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Dr. Keith Smigiel is a regenerative medicine physician and pain management specialist. He takes an integrative approach to medicine, focusing on customized solutions tailored to individual needs. Using advanced, non-surgical treatments, Dr. Smigiel stimulates your body’s ability to naturally heal itself.

Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

Dr. Smigiel is married to Angela and has two children, Sophia and Larz. When he’s not busy helping patients, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, motocross, and boating.

About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

Beyond guideline-directed therapies, Kneller is passionate about optimized personal health. With a deep interest in complimentary alternative medicine (CAM), he strives to reduce the need for pharmaceuticals, invasive procedures, and exposure to harmful radiation. With Natural Heart Doctor, he strives to help each and every client to Live Well, Eat Well, and Think Well to attain their 100-year heart!

About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

Dr. Lattanza Office Visit with Patient

As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

Dr. Wolfson Office Visit with Patient

Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

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Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.

Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Acupuncture

Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.