TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Vitamin D and Early Morning Sun
- The Power of Walking
- Adopting Habits Using Healthtech
- Intentional Connection & Nutrition
Vitamin D and Early Morning Sun
As humans, we evolved under full-spectrum light; however, we’re in quite the opposite light environment in today’s world. We find ourselves under primarily blue lights being indoors, in front of computers and working behind windows that ultimately block harmful as well as beneficial rays. Our light diet plays a crucial role in almost every facet of our health – from longevity to our hormones – so let’s dive in!
First, get your vitamin D levels checked, if you’re like 50% of the population, you may be deficient. A meta-analysis of 18 randomized controlled trials, including over 57,000 subjects, found that daily doses of vitamin D supplements decreased total mortality rates (2). Although, be aware that vitamin D toxicity can happen, although purely in relation to supplementation and not the sun. If you’re choosing to go the supplement route – make sure you’re doing it wisely (3). You know what they say – “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”.
Viewing sunlight in the morning, and again in the evening, helps to keep your clock in harmony so that your sleep, energy, and mood, can all remain stable. Your body clock can really only keep time by measuring the signals which come mainly from body temperature, nutrition and, crucially, light.
We know that a whole host of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral issues can ensue when your eyes are deprived of consistent sunlight. One of the main reasons is that sunlight is essential for creating vitamin D, also called prohormone D, which facilitates dozens of positive reactions throughout the body. Serotonin and dopamine are two such end-products and important mood-regulating hormones that are supported by consistent exposure to sunlight (4,5). So to feel better, try getting outside more and take off those sunglasses every once in a while, assuming your light-informed functional medicine practitioner thinks it’s a good idea.
The Power of Walking: Mental Space and Movement
“Forward ambulation” in the words of Dr Andrew Huberman, tenured Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford University School of Medicine, should be a part of your morning routine (6). It brings us into awareness, allows us to get outside and starts to wake up our brain.
On his podcast, Huberman Lab, Dr Huberman says that “what we do in the waking state determines when we fall asleep, how quickly we fall asleep, whether or not we stay asleep, and how we feel when we wake up the next day.” If you need to reduce ruminations, mental stress or debug your anxiety – long walks can work wonders. So can notching down your stress in real-time w/ physiological sighs: nasal inhale two times and then exhale until your lungs empty.
Habit Adoption using Healthtech
While a majority of people know that getting sufficient movement has a positive impact on your health and directly linked to longevity – it is still a habit that needs nurturing. As a practitioner working with Wall Street executives, I still believe adopting a movement practice is one of the best long-term investments you can make for your healthspan and wellbeing. Working with patients on lifestyle modification involves consistency in coaching them on positive habit-formation and behavior design. We use Heads Up Health at my practice to align this, wearables and a notification system to keep teams and individuals accountable.
Something as simple as using the Apple Watch 6 to track three different goals each day – like standing hours, exercise minutes, and a distance goal. When you see your progress visually represented as percentages on a ring, the abstract goals of “working out” is quantified as “exercise 20 minutes today”, and it makes it much easier to stay accountable.
If you’ve read Atomic Habits, you’ll remember James Clear’s reminder to form habits: If you want to become fit, don’t aim to lose 20 pounds; aim instead to be a person who works out every single day. Focus on the systems that help you achieve the goal and align similar behaviors to support the action. Start parking far away from the post office or gym so you have to get in an extra 1000 steps before you get there. Set a timer to go off every 45 minutes so you get up from your desk or shift to a standing position from a sitting. The options are endless.
You can use data and healthtech to support building intuition into your habits like adding in a continuous glucose monitor to learn more about how certain foods are impacting your metabolic health.
Here’s the hard truth. You could get it all right: sleeping 8 hours, drinking water, exercising, and religiously setting coffee down well before 2pm. If your sugar levels are out of whack, you’re going to battle fatigue. This is why I always test HbA1C alongside fasted blood glucose when a patient doesn’t have the energy “they once did” and encourage the use of wearables or a CGM to individuals to understand the immediate impact of their behaviors.
“ A life filled with movement, with constant motion and no rest stops, isn’t a life at all. It’s tourism. ”
— Jeff Goins
Intentional Connection + Mindful Nutrition
If you haven’t read Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazi it helps align specific steps and mindset to create meaningful connections in business and life. We often get so focused on building our world we don’t connect with the world of others. I also know a lot of patients who eat in front of the TV after a long day of grinding on their business. With that, I challenge you to make 2 dinner plans next week either at home or out of the house. Now you have two opportunities to intentionally connect and grab some healthy sustenance with a friend or supporter in your life. You won’t regret it.
This roundup was inspired by a recent 34 year old female client in LA. She was stressed out from running her own business, exhausted from taking care of her toddler, was low on vitamin D from being inside too much and eating table scraps. We set up on a multifactorial protocol to help her create space in her day to relax, workout, go outside and adjusted her micronutrient ratios to bring them back into balance.
- Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/
- Vitamin D supplementation and total mortality: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17846391/
- Overview of vitamin D https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56061/
- Sunshine-exposure variation of human striatal dopamine D(2)/D(3) receptor availability in healthy volunteers https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20875835/
- Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12480364/
- Andrew Huberman’s Lab https://hubermanlab.com/
- Heads Up Health https://headsuphealth.com/
- Atomic Habits by James Clear https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits