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Pulse Check: From COVID to Cooking — What You Need to Know
Season 2, Episode 43
It's been quite a year…from the pandemic, to environmental disasters, to politics; it's hard to keep up with the news and know what to focus on that's most important for your health. In this week’s episode of Be HEALTHistic, Drs. Stephen and Drew Sinatra present another installment of their timely Pulse Check series, where they talk about trending health topics and what you need to know right now.
First, the doctors explain why vitamin D is the “unsung hero” of the immune system, how research is showing it can provide real protection from COVID-19, and how much you should take daily. They also focus on the importance of maintaining your mental health by limiting consumption of news and social media, and they provide key tips that can lift your mood and spirit — like getting out into nature, exercising, and meditating.
Next, the doctors focus on the insidious nature of plastics, and how micro- and nano-plastics are taking over our environment and endangering our health. They discuss the enormity of the issue, changes we can all make, and how we can remove toxins from our bodies. Then, in our “Ask the Doctors” segment, Drs. Steve and Drew address your direct questions from Facebook on arrhythmia and heart health — plus, they also share easy, healthy recipes to help all of us fight quarantine cooking fatigue.
You won’t want to miss this brand new episode of Be HEALTHistic!
LINKS & RESOURCES
- Visit the Healthy Directions website for more health and wellness content and information!
- Check out the Healthy Directions Articles Archive, where you can search for specific, health-related content from all of our Healthy Directions doctors and experts.
- For more resources on how to protect yourself from COVID, and during cold and flu season, read these articles from Dr. Stephen Sinatra on coronavirus treatment & prevention: nutrients that may help and how to support your immune system against coronavirus, cold and flu.
- During the segment on mental health, the doctors reinforced how important it is to spend time outdoors; check out this video from Dr. Drew Sinatra on a hike, talking about the mental health benefits of getting out in nature.
- Addressing anxiety and depression symptoms are key to feeling better during this unsettling time; check out these natural solutions for anxiety from Healthy Directions expert, Dr. David Williams.
- During the segment on plastics, the doctors explained how micro and nano-plastics can disrupt hormones; check out this article from Dr. Briana Sinatra with the “Dirty Dozen” list of hormone-disrupting chemicals.
- Toxic chemicals also have a negative impact the cardiovascular system; check out this article from Dr. Steve on the 14 most dangerous toxins to the heart.
- During the “Ask the Doctors” segment on heart arrhythmia, Dr. Steve shared lots of valuable tips; for more information, read this article on heart arrhythmia: signs, symptoms and treatments.
- Another issue Dr. Steve talked about is heart rate variability; check out this article on heart rate variability and why it matters.
- Earlier this season the doctors recorded a full-length “Ask the Doctors” episode, answering even more of your Facebook questions. If you missed that episode, you can still listen to Episode 35: Ask the Doctors: Stress, Your Heart and Your Health.
- During the Wellness Wisdom segment, the doctors shared some simple, healthy recipes to fight pandemic cooking fatigue, including Dr. Drew’s Apple Crisp. Check out this video where Dr. Briana Sinatra demonstrates how to make it.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, it's been quite a year, hasn't it? We've all been struggling with a lot — COVID-19, our kids being in school or staying home, massive fires in the U.S. and Australia, politics, mental health.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: It's hard to keep up with the news, and what you need to focus on that's most important for your health.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So today, we bring you another episode of Pulse Check, where we talk about what health topics are trending, and what we think you need to know now.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: We'll talk about vitamin D, and how it can help build your immunity and protect you from COVID-19. We'll also check in on how you are maintaining your mental health during the pandemic.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Another, more invisible pandemic we're dealing with is plastics, and the impact they're having in our environment and our general health. What can we do to make a change?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Finally, in our “Ask The Doctors” segment, we'll answer the questions that you have been asking about arrhythmia and general heart health.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Stay tuned for today's episode of Be HEALTHistic.
Narrator: Welcome to Be HEALTHistic, the podcast that's more than just health and wellness information — it's here to help you explore your options across traditional and natural medicine, so that you can make informed decisions for you and your family. This podcast illuminates the whole story about holistic health by providing access to the expertise of Drs. Steve and Drew Sinatra, who together have decades of integrative health experience. Be HEALTHistic is powered by our friends at Healthy Directions. Now, let's join our hosts.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Hi, folks…if you like what you hear today and you want to listen to future conversations on all things integrative and holistic health, subscribe to our podcast at BeHealthisticPodcast.com. Also, check out and subscribe to the Healthy Directions YouTube channel, which features video versions of our episodes, plus extra videos you won’t want to miss. Finally, we have more with me, Dr. Drew Sinatra, my dad, Dr. Steve Sinatra, and other health experts at HealthyDirections.com.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Be HEALTHistic. In today's all new Pulse Check, which is our series on trending health topics, we're going to be discussing vitamin D and COVID, the pandemic's impact on mental health, and plastics in the environment. We'll also be having an “Ask the Doctors” segment on arrhythmias. So, Dad, welcome to the show.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Hey, it's great to be here, Drew.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right, well let's dive right into this vitamin D level and COVID-19 topic that we're going to be discussing.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I'm glad we're talking about vitamin D in terms of immune system function. I mean, remember 10 years ago, it was always about vitamin D building strong bones, and calcium metabolism, and stuff like that? But in the last 10 years, researchers have realized that vitamin D is an unsung hero, and it's vital for the immune system. And when it comes to COVID-19, it's absolutely incredible. We must take vitamin D.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: In fact, I just reviewed a bunch a papers, and if you look at the vitamin D levels by age, I mean, the ideal vitamin D level should be about 40, when we measure it. And I used to measure this in my patients a lot when I was doing clinical practice. But the average child has a vitamin D level much less. In fact, 95% of children and 87% of adults have subnormal levels of vitamin D. Now, that's huge…and if we think about the flu season, I mean, one of the reasons why the flu season seems to rocket during the winter time, could it be a coincidence is because we're not getting enough sunlight and we're not getting enough vitamin D absorbed through the skin via the cholesterol synthesis mechanism? That could be plausible.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: What we do know about vitamin D, it supports both innate immunity and adaptive immunity. This is really important, because when it comes to COVID, we need a strong immune system. You can get the vitamin D from your food a little bit, and you can get it from sunlight. But, I'll tell you, for health insurance, I take a minimum of 5,000 units a day, as extra health insurance. And I take it with magnesium, because vitamin D and magnesium are cofactors. They have a little synergism together. So I take both, and I think it's really vital that our listeners strongly consider additional vitamin D daily, because it just makes so much sense.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, Dad, that's an excellent summary of vitamin D. I remember back in naturopathic medical school, it was 2003, I had an instructor that told me that vitamin D acts more like a hormone in the body. And so, from that standpoint and that time on, I thought to myself, "Okay, this is not just a vitamin. This is a substance that's acting like a hormone in the body." It really does have powerful effects on the immune system, like you talked about, with the modulation effect in the adaptive immune system.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Oh yeah, and it lowers the risk of cytokine storms. I mean, one of the things I've been doing on the radio quite often is talking about COVID-19. And cytokine storm is a problem, where you get too much destruction of, actually, the lung tissue. The way it works, we have ACE receptors in the lung, and we have them in the brain — and by the way, a lot of brain insults are caused by COVID-19, because of these receptors, where the virus locks into a receptor.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: But again, if you look at the vitamin D level...I just want to real this paper. This paper was done by some of my colleagues, it's called “Stealth Strategies to Stop COVID Cold.” I reviewed this paper, and one of my colleagues is Dr. Mercola, he was one of the authors of the paper. What was incredible was that, if you looked at this study, there was 780 cases. I mean, not a large sample, but not a small sample, by any means. And they looked at these cases, and they looked at COVID-19 mortality. And this is amazing…there was 100% mortality when the vitamin D level was down to 17 or 18, what we call, ngs per mL. Now, we should have a minimum of 30, and I used to strive for 40. When I was in clinical practice on a day-to-day basis, I wanted all my patients to have at least 40 to 60. That was my goal.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: This is an amazing situation. When people got their blood levels up to 32, 33, 34, was the cutoff, there was no mortality. Think about that, Drew. That's something you can take to the bank. So I hope our listeners, again, I mentioned this before, I'll say it again — just take extra vitamin D a day. I mean, you can take this one to the bank. It's harmless.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Remember this, vitamin D very, very, rarely can cause hypocalcemia. So if we have people who are concerned, if they had, let's say, breast cancer in the past, or stuff like that. Or they had problems with their parathyroid glands, get a calcium level checked. I mean, that would be important. And people with severe kidney disease, you got to be cautious about taking vitamin D — and magnesium, as well. So those are my carve-outs, in a way, my cautions for people. Again, I think taking magnesium with vitamin D is just a knockout punch, because, remember, magnesium acts like a cofactor. I take my broad spectrum magnesium, I take two to three capsules every night before bedtime. And I wake up in the morning, I throw down another 5,000 units of vitamin D.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Exactly. Yeah, another piece of that Dr. Mercola article that I really liked, Dad, was it talked about how vitamin D can activate these antimicrobial peptides, which are the substances in the body that can have antimicrobial — meaning antibacterial, antiviral-like properties to them. A lot of the research with vitamin D has shown that the higher your level, the more protective effect you're going to have against viruses. Even in the last two weeks, we've seen a couple studies come out on vitamin D and COVID. There was one study that looked at the positive rate of testing for COVID, and if your vitamin D level was below 20, that marker, that level that you just mentioned, you had a higher risk of testing positive for COVID. So what you said, it makes absolute sense to supplement with the vitamin D, to get out in the sun more while we can before we enter the fall and winter season, to eat foods that are rich in vitamin D, to really boost our levels, to protect our immune system.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, and unfortunately, there's not a lot of foods that have...there's a lot of dairy that's fortified with vitamin D, and some migratory fish and salmon are good sources. But again, there's not a lot of foods out there, unless you're a dairy user.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Dad, we've talked about this before on previous podcasts, but what's your take on combining vitamin D with vitamin K2 in supplements?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I mean, I don't see a problem. I take K2 every single day myself. I mean, I just feel K2 is vital, because again, K2 takes calcium out of your blood vessels where you don't want it, and puts it back in bones where you do want it. Again, vitamin D will help build strong bones, that was the scenario over a decade ago. So I don't see any problem…because remember, in aging men and women, a hip fracture is devastating. Osteoporosis is devastating. So, I see no reason why you can't take those two together.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Okay, great, great. And so, in summary here, Dad, with vitamin D — we would like our listeners to protect their immune systems, boost their immune systems, for that matter, with vitamin D. You were saying that 5,000 IUs per day, generally a safe dose to take. And if you are concerned about elevated calcium levels in the blood, get your vitamin D tested regularly to check on that.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, it's so easy. Basically, shoot for a number of 40. 40 to 60 ngs per mL. I mean, boy, that's a good blood level. Remember, less than 5% or 10% of adults don't have that level, I mean, children and adults alike. So you want to strive for that level if you can, especially during COVID.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Great. Anything else you want to add to the vitamin D segment here, Dad?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: No. I think we've knocked it out of the park on this one. It's easy. This was an easy segment.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right. Well, topic number two is going to be the pandemic's impact on mental health. I'm sure that you've read up on this too, Dad, that the consequences of having an economic shutdown, and having quarantines, and fighting this virus is really causing a lot of mental health issues to arise, like anxiety and depression. Suicide rates are on the rise, dependency with alcohol, drugs are on the rise. So we've got a secondary problem here that we need to deal with.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: You're absolutely right, Drew. I mean, I went to funeral yesterday in a situation, and I'm sure COVID-19 could've been, what we call, a predisposing factor. It's very, very, sad, but suicide is on the rise, depression, anger, parents getting angry, children not acting appropriately. They take their anger out on their kids. It's a domino effect. What I would say to people is get outside more, try to get outside. Ride a bike, do some walking. If you have a dog, walk the dog. I mean, do something with exercise to get yourself outdoors. Remember, if you're outdoors and the sunlight is hitting your skin, you'll be getting a little more vitamin D, as well.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, exactly. I couldn't agree more with the exercise piece, Dad. And getting out in nature, too, because, when people get out in nature, things just calm down. Their nervous system begins to calm down a little bit, and they can destress from all the stress around, the anxiety and the depression happening with all the media. And so, what I want to mention here is the media aspect. I find that people are spending too much time on social media.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I don't know if you saw this documentary, Dad, on Netflix called The Social Dilemma. I highly recommend that our viewers and our listeners watch this documentary, because I find that, for teens particularly, if they're on social media a lot, and they're just hearing about the virus, and how bad it is, and how many people are dying, they're isolated from their friends, they can't go hang out with their buddies. Let's say someone's in college, and they're just so excited to be in a dorm with their friends, and they can't even be there, right? So these kids, these teens particularly, are under tremendous stress, because their life has been put on hold. If you add on the social media aspect of that, when you're comparing things, you're looking at how bad the virus is, how bad it's affecting our society, our economy, etc., it's putting added stress on people.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And so, my recommendation around this whole stress and anxiety piece is to really reduce the amount of social media that people are using. Set a timer. If it's 10 minutes during the day, you set it for one time during the day, and that's it. You do your 10 minutes of social media and you're done. Because, if you keep tapping into your phone over, and over, and over again with those notifications, it's never going to allow you to rest, and to recover, and to destress. And I find that that's something we really need to do these days.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, you said, in a heartbeat. It never allows you to rest. And what you don't need is an overactive sympathetic nervous system, because it drives up blood pressure, it creates arrhythmias, it creates more sudden death. That's why grounding is really important during this epidemic, putting your bare feet on the ground, taking in the Schumann Effect, the Mother Earth energy. You want to do things to attenuate the autonomic response. Remember, the hyperactive response of the autonomic nervous system. So certainly, prayer, meditation…any time where you can put your body in motion, like Tai chi or qi gong, or any of those therapies, will calm the overactive sympathetic nervous system. So I agree with you 100%.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: This is also a time to not feel shame, or not feel guilty about asking for help. So if you are feeling depressed, a little anxious, which I think everyone is these days — it's time to talk to a friend, talk to a family member, even maybe a therapist, and discuss what's going on in your life. Because I find that if you talk about these issues that are going on, it makes things a lot easier.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I agree 100%. People are keeping their feelings in, and when you keep your feelings in, sometimes they can just explode. That's why people have fits of rage, and anger, and stuff like that. And remember, when you have rage…rage is uncontrolled anger, and events happen. I can tell you, as a heart specialist, I saw this all throughout my career of sudden death, and heart attacks, or arrhythmias, or hypertensive crises, aortic dissection occurring during fits of severe anger, and again, uncontrolled rage. You want to avoid that.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: We've had all these recommendations for our physical health with the virus — washing our hands, social distancing, protecting your physical body like that. But we also need to protect our mental and emotional health, and I think all these things we talked about today are really essential for that. I think I wanted to bring up one more thing, too, with this pandemic is that people don't know when it's going to end. And I think that's one of the major stressors that's contributing here, because we have no idea how long this is going to go on for. And not knowing something, that fear of not knowing something, can really drive the anxiety and the depression.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well said, Drew. Because again, a typical, viral flu is cyclic and it usually burns out…it can take up to two to three years, unfortunately. Hopefully, a vaccine will be developed that's safe to take, and maybe that's the answer for many of us, if a safe vaccine is developed.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Right, right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right, Dad, let's move on to the third topic, which is plastics in our environment. This is a big one that I'm really happy that we're talking about today.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I remember that…I remember you and I went to a conference back in Arizona a couple of years ago. And remember, they were talking about bisphenol A (BPA). That was one of my favorites, because I had Healthy Directions run a test on my marinara sauce, because I was concerned about bisphenol A, because it's found in a lot of cans. I was so glad when we tested bisphenol A, and it wasn't found in the food product. It gave me a lot comfort. But, bisphenol A is a real problem. Our listeners need to realize that these plastics in the environment are so pervasive, and they cause not only hormonal derangements but birth problems, as well. So, it's a major problem. I'm sure you can address those problems, as well.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And the plastics that we're talking about here are really microplastics and nano-plastics. Microplastics are really defined as plastics that are less than five millimeters in size, and nano-plastics are even smaller than that. So most of these plastics we're even talking about today really can't even be seen by the naked eye. What's happening is, let's say a water bottle or something like a plastic bag goes into the ocean, over time with the motion of the water, the sunlight hitting it, it degrades and breaks down into these smaller plastic fragments, which are the micro and the nano-plastics. And so, we really can't see these, but what we're finding is that there's spots in the oceans, particularly one of them is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This thing is 1.6 million kilometers squared in size. I mean, that is just huge, right?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: What do they say, twice the size of Texas or something like that?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I heard that a couple of years ago, it was twice the size of Texas. The research that I did on this, there's actually two of them right now in the Pacific Ocean. There's one between California and Hawaii, and the other is off the coast of Japan. And so, you've got these massive garbage patches, which we think of, "Oh, it's like a massive island of trash," but it's not even that. It's basically these micro and nano-plastics that are just congregating in little areas, including fishing nets. Fishing nets, apparently, are a big source of plastics in the oceans, as well. And we don't know what to do with these things, they just keep getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger. And the problem is this, Dad, we eat from the ocean. We eat fish, we eat shellfish, we use salt. So the microplastics are beginning to be found in these fish, in these different shellfish, and salts. And so, we're consuming them, and we're getting plastics via that route.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right, right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: We don't really know the effects of these plastics. I mean, we know in animal models that, yes, there might be some infertility, there might be some issues with reproduction. But we really don't have any human studies yet to look at the adverse effects of these plastics. So, we really need to be more mindful of the plastics that we are using, to really minimize their use.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, and I think that's the takeaway we want to give our listeners. Whenever you drink out of a plastic bottle, you want to think twice about it. I remember in my newsletter, years ago, I would recommend Saratoga waters or Acqua Panna water, because they're in glass bottles. Whenever you drink out of glass…I prefer glass over plastic.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I remember, young in my age, you would tell me all about using glass instead of plastic, so I thank you for that.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Okay. It's never too early, right?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Exactly, exactly. So Dad, what do you think about in terms of actionable steps that people can take to, number one, minimize the amount of plastics that they're using? I mean, I know you mentioned using glass over plastic water bottles. But also, what are ways to get this stuff out of the body?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, it's tough. Radiation is another toxic situation in the environment. Eating a lot of seaweeds combined...seaweeds contain alginates, and it can pull radiation. And I'm sure seaweeds might be helpful here, as well. We just have to have people just to be more mindful that plastics, in general ,need to be looked at. And reading labels, I mean, right now, there's lots of labels out there. It'll say bisphenol A free, for example, BPA free. Well, when I see that on a, let's say, a plastic bottle, or a can, or something like that, I mean, that's great news. Because again, that's environmentally positive. Again, reading labels will help a lot of our patients sort through this stuff, which is tough. It's really tough.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: It is tough, it is tough. You know, Dad, I remember this experience when I was 19, I just went to FNM, Franklin Marshall College, your alma mater. And I remember going into the grocery store, and I came home with 18 plastic bags from one grocery trip. I had this moment, this epiphany of, if I keep doing this, I'm one person out of billions doing one shopping episode during this week, and I brought home 18 plastic bags. That was a wake-up call for me to really start bringing my own bags into the grocery store to use, reusable bags. I can't even imagine how many plastic bags I would've used during the last 20 years, if I hadn't made that one change. So I think, for our listeners here, bringing your own reusable bags back into the grocery store is a major step that you can take to reduce plastic in the environment, right?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Because ultimately, these plastics, they degrade, they break down into our oceans, into our landfills, into those microplastics and nano-plastics. And it ultimately becomes part of us, so if we really want to reduce the plastics in our environment, we really need to reduce the use of plastics.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Now, in terms of reducing use, that's one thing. And then, the other thing is really getting the stuff out of your body. I mean, I don't know how you feel about saunas? I don't know if we really have research on saunas in getting rid of plastics, I'm not even sure if we do. But I would still suggest doing saunas on a regular basis, or any kind of sweating mechanism, to help detox the body in that way.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah. Certainly, like heavy metals, like mercury for example, and lead, they usually reside in the subcutaneous layer of the skin. Well, I believe plastics will also get into that area. So sweating is one way of detox, and I think it's a major way. You're absolutely right, a far infrared sauna is incredible. On hot days, if people want to take a bike ride and put an extra sweatshirt on and sweat. Sweating is one of the healthiest things you can do of ridding the body of a lot of toxins and chemicals, no doubt about it.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: You know, Drew, I remember, all through junior high, high school, and college, when I was in athletics and I was sweating a lot. When I realized every day I was sweating and sweating, I had to change my clothes, I mean, change my sweats, my t-shirt, my sweatshirt, etc, etc. And then years later, when I became a doctor, I realized how therapeutic sweating was at an early age, because we take on a lot of chemicals and a lot of heavy metals at an early age. Sweating is just one of the healthiest things we can do, and I just feel that this is something I think our viewers can, again, take to the bank. Because a lot of people, especially women, they feel like sweating is not a good thing. Certainly, they have it during the premenopausal situations, and menopause. But the reframe here, the reframe for our menopausal women is, if you are sweating, and you are hot, and you're having hot flashes, and you really do sweat, you're detoxing at the same time. So, I just wanted to mention that.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, as an aside note, too, and a clinical pearl here — I found that when people exercise regularly and they sweat regularly, they have less body odor.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Exactly.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So if you've got a lot of excessive body odor, sweat more, exercise more, and you might smell a little better.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, is there anything else you want to mention about the plastic issue in our environment, Dad?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: No, I think we've covered it. What we want to do with our listeners is just give them this information, so they can lead more productive lives without being self-destructive at the same time.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right, for our last topic here, this is the “Ask the Doctors” segment. And what we're doing here is answering some questions that our listeners have posted on Facebook, particularly about arrhythmias. So Dad, let's start off with atrial fibrillation, because a lot of people ask about that. What's the cause of that, and then how is it treated?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, atrial fibrillation is something that is increasing more and more in this environment. In fact, many doctors have called me about their wives, or themselves getting atrial fibrillation. Basically, what atrial fibrillation is, is that the heart rate speeds up, it's irregular, and the pacemaker mechanism inside the atria, or the atrium of the heart, kicks off and it takes over. So instead of your normal heart rate being between, let's say, 60 and 80, now your atrial rate can go up much higher, and the heart rate can be 150, 110, 120. It can be troublesome.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: One of the reasons why we're seeing a lot more atrial fibrillation today is that we're seeing a lot more thyroid illness today. And a lot of it could be due to the electromagnetics — in other words, the WiFi in the environment, the cordless phone, the cellular phones. Because these frequencies, they can be harmful frequencies to the body. When our glands take them on, or our heart can absorb the frequency, it can trigger an arrhythmia in the heart. Unfortunately, we're seeing a lot more atrial fibrillation today than we did 20 or 30 years ago.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, that makes sense, because the heart is an electrical organ.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Exactly.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And electromagnetics are certainly going to have an effect on electrical organs, like our heart and our brains.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: That's right, yeah.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So atrial fib, would you say it's the most common arrhythmia?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, it's getting more and more common. I mean, atrial tachycardia is more common. In other words, it's a step below atrial fibrillation, it's not as virulent. You see, the problem with atrial fibrillation, Drew, if it's in and out, or if it's prolonged, blood may clot inside the left atrium, because the left atrium, instead of having a synchronous contraction, it's almost like a bag of worms, so to speak. In other words, it's quivering. So when the atrium is quivering, blood clots can form, and that's why it can be dangerous. Because a person can present with a stroke, from what we call a clot inside the left atrium. If it flakes off and it goes to the brain, it can cause devastating situations. So atrial fibrillation is not to be taken lightly. It can be very, very, threatening to one's health.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, let's talk about, first, conventional treatments for it, and then more natural treatments.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, the conventional treatments are simple. The easiest treatment, if your left atrium is not significantly enlarged, there's a cardio version, where patient goes into the doctor, the doctor admits him to the hospital. You get a little IV sedation, and you get an electric shock to the heart. Sometimes, we'll put people on medications to keep the heart rate regular. But a lot of these medications, unfortunately, like any medication, can have hazards as well.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: If we do have to use medications, there's lots of medications we can use, but basically doctors tend to have a favorite choice, because they'll choose medications that might have less side effects, for example. I mean, there's all sorts of medications. I mean, there's amiodarone. There's digoxin. There's high class antiarrhythmics that you can use. Beta blockers are good in atrial fibrillation, I had a lot of success with beta blockers. We even recently used grounding in people who had atrial fibrillation, and we found out that earthing and grounding tended to support the heart, as well. So there's lots of ways you can treat atrial fibrillation. But if you do have it, the most important thing is you need to be under the care of a cardiologist — or at least an internist that feels comfortable taking care of atrial fibrillation.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: What about ablation therapy? I mean, I've had really good success, at least, with hearing from my patients that it's worked for them.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Ablation has received better and better tolerance of the years. When we first started doing ablation, when I was in practice 10 or 15 years ago, frequently you needed two or three ablations to correct a problem. Today, the ablations are better. Still a lot of people need a second ablation, but some people do get corrected on one ablation. Which is a very, very, minor electrophysiological "surgical procedure."
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Okay. Now, Dad, our listeners are pretty savvy here. They were talking about…
Dr. Steve Sinatra: They are savvy, I can tell you that, for sure.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: They are very savvy. They were talking about magnesium on Facebook here being good for arrhythmias. What's your take on magnesium? And also, what form of magnesium would be best for arrhythmia?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, magnesium has a calming relationship to the heart, it tends to calm the heart. I really like magnesium…magnesium is endothelial cell friendly. It acts like a vasodilator. Remember, high blood pressure is a cause of atrial fibrillation. Magnesium, it's amazing…but in some people magnesium can lower blood pressure, which has a positive impact. So I really like magnesium, it's something that I personally take every day.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: The forms of magnesium that I like the best are the Krebs cycle components, like the citrate, the glycinate, the taurate. Now, my favorite magnesium varietal is an orotate. When I was at a CoQ10 conference years ago, the Australians were using magnesium orotate. The reason they were using it was that it drives ATP in the preferential direction. In other words, it supports the action of ATP, and ATP is the energy that we all need to thrive. That's one of the reasons why I chose magnesium orotate in my magnesium varietals, because orotate is one of those components that is really striking in supporting the overall energy concept of the heart.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Got it. Got it. Okay. Here's another question that our listeners were asking, Dad, is frequent heart palpitations. Is this a sign of a heart problem?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: That's a great question, and the simple answer is no. I mean, they looked at this in medical students, years ago. They did Holter monitors on medical students and they found that about 5% of medical students had skipping of the heartbeat, and what we call PVCs or PACs. So in the normal heart, in the normal heart, having this palpitation awareness or arrhythmia awareness is "totally normal." However, however, if you do have long-standing hypertension, or an enlarged heart, or a previous heart attack. Or, let's say, rheumatic heart disease, or calcification of the valves in the heart, and you do have skipped heart beats — now you have a harbinger for an event that can occur. So whenever you think of skipped heart beats, do you have pre-existing heart disease? And if the answer is no, you're in a safe place.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. I'll just share, personally, for me, I've experienced it a couple times in my life. When I wasn't sleeping well, not sleeping enough hours when I was stressed. And when I would take magnesium and trace minerals and electrolytes…correcting all those things would pretty much reduce the palpitations, and I would feel immediately better.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, and that's a good message to give your patients when they come in with arrhythmia awareness. Always talk personally, Drew. I can tell you, patients love it when they see a doctor, and the doctor has the same issue they do. They want to hear from the doctor how to take care of it.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Let me give you an example. I used to have all my teeth. I'm 74 years old, and I have two wisdom teeth out, I still have two in. And I remember, about five years ago, I developed a lot of PVCs. I went to a biological dentist, and he did what we call the BioMeridian testing, the voles testing, where they measure the energy pathways in the body. He said to me, he goes, "Get that wisdom tooth out." And I go, "Why?" He says, "Because, it's low energy and it can cause problems in the body." Sure enough, the wisdom tooth that was lying on the meridian of the heart...now, think about that. All our teeth lie on meridians in the body — the pancreas, the large intestine, the heart, etc. It depends on the tooth. It was amazing, when I want to an oral surgeon and they pulled that wisdom tooth, I never had PVCs again. It's incredible.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So a lot of these "arrhythmias" can be really esoteric. Again, it could be an issue in the mouth, which can trigger an arrhythmia. Or, like yourself, and issue with potassium, or magnesium, or electrolytes. I mean, the list goes on and on.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, that story just emphasizes and underlines the importance of holistic mind-body medicine right there. I mean, you absolutely need to look at the whole physical body — the mental aspect, the emotional aspect, everything — to really figure out what's going on for someone. So that's beautiful, Dad.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right, well, for our last segment here, our Wellness Wisdom. Basically what we're going to be talking about today is that people have reached a state of fatigue with cooking at home so much. I thought from the beginning this would be great, when people are quarantined and at home, they'd be cooking most of their meals…because ultimately when you cook at home, you're eating healthier food. But what's happening is that people are reaching burnout and fatigue from cooking all the time. So you and I are going to be talking today about some simple recipes that people can use at home, using four ingredients or less to cook their meals.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I'm all in on that. I've been doing that for years.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Dad, are you up to the challenge? What did you think about in terms of recipes here?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, the first thing that came to me was guacamole, avocado. I think doing a guacamole, or crunching an avocado, or slicing an avocado. But using guac, you can add a little garlic to it, you can add some extra virgin olive oil, you can add some spices to it, capsaicin if want a little…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: A little lime in there, too?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Huh?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: A little lime.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: A little lime, and all that stuff. I think the health benefits of avocado are incredible, I mean, they're just unbelievable. And remember, whenever you do eat avocado, it helps the absorption of other vitamins and minerals in the body. It's a monounsaturated fat, so you're not going to get a lot of an insulin response from eating an avocado. Avocados bring a lot to the table, and it's so easy to do.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, for my guacamole recipe, I always use avocados, cilantro, lime, and salt. There's four for you.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, cilantro is key. I love cilantro. I mean, that's another thing that helps pull mercury out of the body, so I really like cilantro.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That's right, that's right. Now, here's a quick food recipe that you taught me growing up. This is, I remember, during our Thanksgiving meals together. You used to put sweet potatoes in the oven, and bake that for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Once that baked potato, I'm sorry…that sweet potato comes out nice and soft, you cut it open, you put some butter in there and some salt and pepper, and you thought you died and went to heaven, it tasted so good.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right, because the sweet potatoes bring something to the table. They have a lot of carotenoid in it, because of the color. I do like sweet potatoes. Remember, any potato brings potassium to the table. In fact, that's one of the advantages of white potatoes. But white potatoes, you're going to get an insulin response because of the carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes are a level above.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: A little better.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: One of the quick and easy things that I did during Thanksgiving was my quick and easy asparagus. Do you remember that? I mean, we can take asparagus, you can boil them or steam them.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Grill them.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And then you put them on a plate. Or you can grill them if you want. You put them on a plate. You squeeze some fresh lemon. You can chop up some garlic, add a little garlic salt to it. Oh my gosh, they're delicious.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: The combination of olive oil, lemon, and garlic is so incredible as far as nutritional value and medicinal value at the same time. Even that study they did on the biogenome, they looked at inflammatory genes that we all possess. We all possess inflammatory genes. And one of the things olive oil did...and that's just one of the reasons why I think it's the “secret sauce” of the Mediterranean diet, is whenever you use olive oil, you're taking pro-inflammatory genes that we all have and you're reversing them to a non-inflammatory state. So it makes sense to me.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Look, the longest living people in the world are in the Mediterranean basin, and I think we talked about this in a previous podcast. It used to be Okinawa, which had the best longevity in the world. It's now had been surpassed by Spain, and Portugal, and Italy. Those countries, other than Portugal, they're in the Mediterranean basin. We have to look at this, that it's a really good medicinal to use, and it tastes great at the same time. And again, asparagus bring a lot to the table, a lot of folic acid, a lot of B vitamins. There's good stuff in asparagus.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: No, we do grilled asparagus all the time, we love that. I wanted to share my meal last night, which is really simple here, Dad. What we did was we had some bratwurst that I grilled. I had an onion that was sauteing for about five, 10, minutes with the avocado oil, and I added chopped up kale and beet green leaves. And then, we made a simple salad, nothing too crazy, just some farmer's market lettuce, and some bell pepper, and some cucumber. And then, for dessert, we had an apple crisp, which is what we've been doing regularly lately. Which really is just cut up apples, and you put some frozen cherries in there, some frozen blueberries, and you make a little crisp on top with some gluten-free oats, and some butter, and some rice flour. Oh, you've got just the most amazing dessert. That whole meal probably took us a total of 15 minutes to prepare, total. Maybe 25 minutes total with cooking time, I think 35 minutes for the crisp.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I totally understand this whole fatigue thing. I mean, I felt it at some point too, where I felt like I needed to go out and get some takeout food, because you do reach a point where you need a little break from cooking. But the key here is to make things simple, to have a meal that can be four ingredients or less. Or like for my meal last night, just really simple things that you put together that don't take that much time to cook.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Quick and easy, and nutritious, and delicious, those are the key points.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That's our show for today, folks. If you have a question or an idea for a show topic, please send us an email or share a post with us on Facebook. And remember, if you like what you heard today and you want to be an active member of the Be HEALTHistic community, subscribe to our podcast at BeHealthisticPodcast.com, or on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you download your favorites. You can also find more great content and information from us and the Healthy Directions team at HealthyDirections.com.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I'm Dr. Drew Sinatra.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And I'm Dr. Steve Sinatra.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And this is Be HEALTHistic.
Narrator: Thanks for listing to Be HEALTHistic with Drs. Drew and Steve Sinatra, powered by our friends at Healthy Directions. See you next time.
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Meet Dr. Drew Sinatra
Dr. Drew Sinatra is a board-certified naturopathic doctor and self-described “health detective” with a passion for promoting natural healing, wellness, and improving quality of life by addressing the root cause of illness in patients of all ages. His vibrant practice focuses on treating the whole person (mind, body, and spirit) and finding missed connections between symptoms and health issues that are often overlooked by conventional medicine.
Meet Dr. Stephen Sinatra
A true pioneer, Dr. Sinatra spent more than 40 years in clinical practice, including serving as an attending physician and chief of cardiology at Manchester Memorial Hospital, then going on to formulate his advanced line of heart health supplements. His integrative approach to heart health has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands.