Pulse Check: Animals, Alcohol, Avocados & Afternoon Naps
04/21/2021 | Season 3, Episode 66
The lifestyle choices we make each day have a big impact on our physical and emotional 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 discuss trending health topics and what you need to know right now. Today, the doctors delve into some noteworthy new articles and studies that reinforce the importance of making healthy choices.
First, the doctors discuss the latest research on alcohol and AFib, and how a drink a day may actually raise your risk. But what about red wine? Our resident heart expert Dr. Steve weighs in. The doctors then talk about a new study on the positive impact of avocado on gut health — and how one delicious “Sinatra Salad” can cover all your daily fruit and veggie needs.
Next, the doctors talk about the vital role our pets play in our lives, and the powerful effect that animals have on our emotional and physical health. They also discuss the virtues of an afternoon snooze, and the new research that shows how napping can also sharpen our cognition. Finally, Dr. Steve gives his “pearl” of wisdom about the link between mental health and heart disease, and why a good cry is the best medicine.
You won’t want to miss this informative, 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 information about the first study the doctors discussed, read about how a drink a day may raise AFib risk. Plus, to learn more about AFib, check out this article from Dr. Steve on what you need to know about causes and treatment for atrial fibrillation.
- For more information on the segment about avocado, check out this article on how avocado may help improve gut health, as well as this additional research from The Journal of Nutrition on avocado consumption.
- Dr. Steve mentioned his “Sinatra Salad,” which packs an immune-boosting punch with nine different types of fruits, vegetables and olive oil; check out this video, where he prepares the salad.
- Dr. Drew mentioned that prebiotics help support a healthy microbiome; read this article with more information on prebiotics — what they are and why you need them.
- Check out the Huffington Post story that inspired our segment on the lifechanging benefits of pets — I Adopted A Dog To Feel Less Alone During COVID-19. He Ended Up Changing My Life.
- Need more reasons to love the pets in your life? Check out this article from Dr. Steve on pets for heart health, and watch this video from Dr. Drew on how pets can improve your health and overall quality of life.
- For more information on the new research on napping, check out this Science Daily article on how afternoon napping is linked to better mental agility.
- Our Wellness Wisdom segment was about the mind/body connection; read this report from the American Heart Association on how the head is connected to the heart — and can influence health. Plus, check out this additional information from Dr. Steve on how heartbreak's emotional stress can affect you physically.
- Our very first Pulse Check episode addressed a variety of health concerns impacting our lives right now. Whether you missed it the first time or you want to listen again, check out Episode 3: Pulse Check: From Poop to Pot.
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Want more healthy and delicious recipes from Drs. Stephen and Drew Sinatra? Check out this FREE EBOOK: Cooking Your Way to Better Health: Favorite Heart Healthy Recipes from a Family of Integrative Doctors.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Hey, everyone, welcome to Be HEALTHistic. Today on the show, my dad and I are bringing you an all-new episode in our Pulse Check series, where we discuss trending health topics and share with our listeners what you should know, right now.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: We often talk on this show about how the lifestyle choices we make each day have a huge impact on our physical and emotional health. Today, we’re going to delve into some interesting new articles and studies that reinforce the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices.
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. And finally, we have more with me, Dr. Drew Sinatra, my dad, Dr. Steve Sinatra, and other health experts at HealthyDirections.com.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right, the first topic is...it’s about the heart. And it’s…a drink a day may raise AFib risk. So this came out of the European Heart Journal, and these European researchers looked at 100,000 adults that were free of AFib, so no prior history of atrial fibrillation.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And they, basically, follow them for 14 years. And what they found was that if these people had one drink per day, it raised the risk of developing AFib by 16%. And if they had more drinks per day, like two drinks, the risk went up to 36%. And if they had three drinks or more per day, it went up to 52% risk of developing AFib. So that’s pretty significant, and that goes against what we’ve been taught for so long, in that maybe a drink a day might be heart-healthy.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, it depends…if it’s red wine, yes. Because the red wine contains resveratrol, a lot of polyphenols, that prevents the oxidation of LDL. And that’s why the French paradox is so unusual, because the average French cholesterol is 275, but they got the lowest incidence of heart disease in Western Europe. But this journal article, you say it went on for 17 years, or so?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: 14 years, they followed.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: 14 years, and it was published when, Drew?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I don’t know when it was published. It was recently…I can look that up.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, if it was recently published — see, what I’m thinking about is this, everything is sort of...there’s synergism going on. And look, in the age…this day and age of electromagnetics, and computers, and cordless phones, and cellular phones, etc. This electromagnetic soup that we live in, I think, is contributing to the one, two or three drinks a day. And I’ll tell you why.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: As a heart specialist, we are very privy to the holiday heart syndrome. I mean, a heart specialist...it doesn’t make a difference where you live, we knew that during the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, that we would see more cardiac arrhythmias, more atrial fibrillation. And that’s the time when people are drinking more. They’re going to parties, they’re drinking more alcohol, etc., etc.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And we know that alcohol lowers the arrhythmia threshold, where...it’s just incredible. So, I guess if this study was published this year, in January…that means that, hey, look, there’s got to be a contributing factor. So I have a feeling, maybe the authors didn’t mention it, but there’s other extenuating factors. And not only is alcohol...not only can that render you more towards arrhythmias, one, two or three drinks a day — but it may be worse in the presence of electromagnetic fields.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Absolutely.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I can tell you, I’ve been getting calls from my colleagues where, all of a sudden, they got a cordless phone, or a DECT phone, or something like that, and the atrial fibrillation has occurred in the house. Or meters are put outside the house. You know those meters?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yep.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And it’s driving the EMF in, and they got atrial fibrillation. So anyway, I think there’s a connection between the two. And I hope our listeners, that if they do, do more than three drinks a day, that they watch their EMF exposure, as well. That’s my bottom line on that.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That’s a great point, Dad. And also, too, reading this article — I was hopeful that they would mention what type of alcohol would lead to the incidence of AFib development. And apparently it’s all forms of alcohol. So hard alcohol, beer, wine. And I was thinking in my head that maybe they’d find out that wine would be a contributing factor. I know resveratrol is great…but I don’t know about you, Dad, but in my practice, I hear about people having insomnia, and heart palpitations, and pounding heart, late at night after they’ve had a glass of wine. That’s like the number one alcohol association that I see, is red wine, not sleeping well, and heart palpitations at night. So I was curious to see if red wine would come up, but it didn’t.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well the other thing, too, is in California, if they’re drinking a lot of California wines — I always worry about insecticides, pesticides, heavy metals, things like that. So one thing about your brother, Step, he’s involved in organic wines. And I think organic wines bring something to the table, because not only are you getting lower sulfites…and with the biogenome explosion, we’re finding all these people with inborn errors in metabolism, especially during...in that cystoscione-sulfite pathway.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So, basically, yeah. If you’re going to drink alcohol, I would say, the cleaner the better. And if you can get organic, I would go with organic to just lower it down a notch, where you’re not getting a lot of excess substances in your body that could cause harm over time.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. No, I agree. And also, the researchers, too...before we move on to the next subject. They also said that one possible mechanism for this is really that alcohol activates the fight or flight response, right? So they were saying that the heart may become electrically unstable from consuming alcohol. And I thought that was a pretty interesting piece there.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: No, it can happen. Let’s face it, if you down a bottle of alcohol, or a case of beer, you might be so drunk that your sympathetic nervous system doesn’t even act. But, your point is well taken. Just a couple of drinks, that’s not going to tone down the sympathetic nervous system. It may in some people, but it could have the reverse effect — because remember, alcohol is sugar. And sugar will drive the sympathetic nervous system even higher because of the insulin relationships, and the epinephrine, and adrenaline relationships. It’s a complex biochemical pathway.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah…and lastly, I mean, I don’t want to talk about this too much, of course. But really, what you said from the beginning too, Dad — there’s other variables that could be present. So we need to take into mind, too, that with studies…sometimes one study will show this, another study will show this, five years later it shows the opposite effect. So things change with research all the time. And so, this is just one study, but I think it is an important study to discuss, because perhaps drinking one drink a day isn’t as good for our heart as we’ve been led to believe.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Agreed.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Okay, let’s move on to topic number two. And this is — an avocado per day may help improve gut health. And this came out of the Journal of Nutrition, and what they did was they looked at overweight and obese subjects, and they gave them isocaloric meals, which means the same calories; this is in the experimental group versus a control group. And in the experimental group, they included one avocado per day.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And, essentially, what they found was that those who had one avocado per day, they had an increased abundance of gut microbes that break down gut fiber and that produce metabolites, which supports gut health. And also, they noticed an increase in diversity of the gut microbiota, which is really what we’re searching for when it comes to foods or supplements or whatever, in terms of a health favorable effect.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: No, well said…and you’re the gut microbiome expert. And to me, that was new knowledge about avocado. I mean, I’ve been privy to the cardiovascular advantages of avocado. I mean, it’s monounsaturated fat, you don’t get an insulin response, it contains a lot of flavonoids and carotenoids. And I just…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Potassium.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: …yeah, I just love avocado. In fact, I’m in the group of people...or I would say, a lot of my cardiological colleagues, they ingest avocados like I do, almost on a daily basis. I would say, Drew, I have avocado at least six out of seven days a week.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And you’re privy to the salad that I make. I mean, I did videos on this. But…you know how hard it is to get nine fresh fruits and vegetables a day?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, especially in the winter time.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: But it’s so easy…if you do the “Sinatra Salad,” right? I make this salad six out of seven days a week. It’s amazing. But avocado is part of it, right?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I use lettuce, I certainly use...and I get this mixture of cabbage, and kale, and a little bit of broccoli. And then I add the berries…blackberries, blueberries. I don’t add strawberries unless they’re organic, because those are in the top three that are sprayed. And, basically, I use raspberries, as well. And I add onion, because onion is just...it’s an incredible healer. And sometimes I’ll chop up some garlic.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So at the end of the day, I have nine fresh fruits and vegetables in a salad. I top it off with a little olive oil, which is the “secret sauce” of the Mediterranean diet. And we talked about changing pro-inflammatory genes, and we talked about the Mediterranean basin, having more than 100-year-old people in the world.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: But if you look at the health benefits of avocado, and all the berries thrown in, it makes a perfect salad. And it’s one way to get nine fresh fruits and vegetables a day — and avocado is the kingpin of that salad.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Oh, I want to eat some of that salad for lunch right now, Dad. Now, Dad, I don’t know if you knew this, and perhaps you did, but the authors of the article said that there’s 12 grams of fiber per avocado.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I mean, I knew that there was fiber in avocado. I didn’t know there was 12 grams of fiber per avocado.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well I thought it was 6 to 12…it depends. We have the Hass avocado, and then we have these bigger avocados, actually, in Florida. And I’m just wondering what particular avocado they were talking about. The other good thing about avocados is, this is one fruit that doesn’t have to be organic. I mean, I prefer to buy organic all the time…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Great point.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: …but if people want to save a little money at the supermarket, this is one fruit they can get that doesn’t have to be organic.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, and we should mention too, Dad, other...let’s call them prebiotic foods, right? Which are foods that help support a healthy microbiome. And you mentioned one of those, which is onions, already. And of course, garlic is always part of the Sinatra dinner or lunch. And leeks are good, asparagus, dandelion greens, and also, one of your favorites, Jerusalem artichoke.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yep, they’re all good. And don’t forget sauerkraut, as well.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And sauerkraut. Yep, yep.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I mean, sauerkraut will feed not only your probiotics, but your prebiotics, as well. I mean, it’s an amazing vegetable to have and it really detoxifies the gut. And being a gut expert, all those things I’m sure you do on a...at least some of those, on a weekly basis, or a daily basis.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I try to, as much as I can.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right, let’s move on to topic number three here. This is the life changing benefits of pets, the magical healing of a pet. And I know we’re going to have a lot to talk about this one, Dad.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, in fact, I did a radio show yesterday, radio/TV show, last night. And the people that sponsored the show were from Baltimore. And that’s where Jim Lynch grew up…and, Jim Lynch, I met him 30 years ago. He wrote The Broken Heart.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And he was the one...he’s a PhD. And he was the one that really enlightened me, so to speak, about the healing power of pets. I mean, he was amazing. And remember when you grew up, in my house, you always had a dog. I mean, we had Charlie, we had Chewy, we had…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Multiple dogs. Yes.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: We had Labrador Retrievers, I had Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. I mean, I’ve had dogs all my life. And, as a heart specialist, the data is there, Drew. I mean, I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again, in case people haven’t heard it. But if you come...if you have a heart attack, whether you’re male or female, it doesn’t matter. And if you come home to a lonely house, nobody’s there. Or you come home to where there’s a lot of argumentative behavior in the house, and you’re fighting with your spouse. This increases the incidence of death by 400%. I mean, think about that. I mean, that’s like unbelievable.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Because when you have a heart attack, the first year, you’re in a vulnerable situation. You’re prone to arrhythmias, you can be prone to heart failure, if the heart attack was extensive. So you have to really be careful. But the data showed that if you come home to a loving dog, that loves you unconditionally...and I’ve mentioned this at loads of conferences. And if you take that energy in, from a loving pet, this unconditional love is just awesome.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I mean, I just saw an anti-aging doctor here today, here in Essex. And when I walked into his office, he had three dogs. Reminded me of my office, when I used to bring my dogs. And I said to his wife, I said to her...I said, “You know, can I see the dogs?” And she says, “Are you serious?” Because I heard them barking, and then she says, “Yeah.” They came running out of the room, they were wagging their tails, I was petting them all, and everything else. And again, it just opens your heart. So, pets are incredible.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, Dad, you mentioned coming home to a lonely house. And that’s really what this article was about, was a woman who...she had PTSD, abuse in her past, and she was feeling incredibly lonely from the pandemic. She was isolated from her friends, her family, and she wasn’t feeling like she was connecting on Zoom, or even…it was brilliant, I’m going to read a quote, actually, that she talked about when walking through a grocery store. She said, “Some days, even though I walked in the same vicinity as other people at the supermarket or post office, I felt as if I existed behind a thick pane of glass. An impenetrable partition, separating me from the world.”
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And I think we can all relate to that, where during this pandemic, you go to a grocery store and you’re just kind of...everyone’s walking around like a zombie, in a sense, of just like, really minding their own business, and with their mask on. And you don’t really connect to anyone, even though you’re sort of in contact with everyone, you’re not connecting. And I think everyone’s just craving this deeper connection with humans right now.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And, of course, pets are the great solution for this, because we can bring them into our homes. And like you said, we can pet them, and they bring a lot of love, and joy, and happiness into our life. And I think that...I encourage everyone to read this article that this author wrote, because she was a brilliant writer. I really got a lot out of it, in fact. And I mean, I’m all about what you said, Dad, in terms of having a cat, a dog, whatever it is…an animal that you come home to, that you can unconditionally love. And it’s just...it’s fantastic.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: No, it’s great. And you had Ruby there for a good part of your life. And I’ll never forget the day we went clothes shopping, and when we saw those dogs come out, and you fell in love with that type of dog. It was amazing. You just saw it, and bingo, you wanted a Ruby.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Exactly.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So it’s great. And you know, Drew, one of the things I did as a heart specialist, frequently…when I would see a husband or a wife, and a spouse would lose their partner after 30, 40, 50 years, from a heart attack or a sudden death. And if their kids were dispersed all over the world and they were lonely, I used to sit in the office and sometimes I would have Chewy with me, and I would always recommend a dog to these people.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I said, “Just going to a Bideawee home or a shelter, and just let the dog choose you,” I used to always say. Don’t you choose the dog, let the dog choose you. And if you felt that you had a heart connection, go with it. And I got to tell you, Drew, so many times these patients would come back three months, six months, a year later, and say, “Doc, I followed your advice, and I’m so happy right now.” I mean, I heard that so many times. And our four-legged friends can do wonders for our heart and our life, there’s no doubt about it.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, I looked up some other studies too, because I was really curious around the potential heart benefits of having a pet. And they can improve heart rate variability.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yes.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: They can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, in fact.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right. The science on this...the mere petting of a dog, could lower your blood pressure. Think about that!
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yep.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: That’s good stuff.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And one more thing I should mention, too, is...I read this phenomenal article, Dad, I’ll send it to you actually. It’s a whole compilation of this relationship between human-animal interactions and the health benefits — going outside the heart, as well. And they were saying that a lot of the benefits are actually due to oxytocin release that you get from petting a dog, right? Or coming up and hugging that dog, or being in the presence of that dog, or other animals. So I thought that was really fascinating, about that oxytocin release, which everyone knows is really, the hormone that’s released when you hug someone. Or breastfeeding women have a release of oxytocin.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: It’s the hormone of connection.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Or during sex.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: The hormone of connection.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Connection.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I have a suspicion, that if the love is felt internally, that maybe phenylethylamine might be released from the brain, as well. And that’s the love hormone. So the connectedness hormone of oxytocin, and the love hormone of phenylethylamine. I mean, dark chocolate for example...I mean, dark chocolate can elicit phenylethylamine. That’s why small pieces of dark chocolate, on an every-other-day basis, or a little bit after your dinner meal, is a wonderful way of taking in bioflavonoids. And I love dark chocolate. I mean, actually, it’s one of the things we just got out of [inaudible]. I found a 72% dark chocolate, organic, that’s absolutely outstanding. I mean, I’ve been tasting these dark chocolates from all over the world, you wouldn’t believe it — Mexico, Italy, Peru. I mean, I’ve been tasting these things, and now I finally found one that I really like, that’s 72% dark cocoa.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Because again, in small quantities…you don’t want to eat a whole chocolate bar in one serving. A couple of squares is all you need to give your body, not only a nutritional value, but again, especially, in this day and age, oxytocin and phenylethylamine, are the hormones that we need to connect. Because how can you connect with somebody when you’re wearing a mask? And I really fear this in our young children. Our young children…as a psychotherapist, I really fear that if young children see people wearing a mask, that’s going to create suspicion in them.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And we don’t want young children to grow up with the energy of suspicion because that in itself, is not a good thing. So, the more you can show your kids...or bring them to places where you don’t need masks. This is a very important activity, because something’s got to give if people are wearing masks all the time, and our younger children are suffering the most.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: No, and I don’t want to talk about this too much, of course, because we’re on the topic of pets and health. But you’re...Dad, you’re absolutely correct about that. I mean, I’ve been reading all these articles about the potential issues down the road with children, in terms of not trusting other people. And so that is a huge factor moving forward. So I guess the takeaway for this article is get a pet, if you’re feeling lonely during the pandemic. Or eat more chocolate!
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right. Well, the last topic we’re going to be discussing is, an afternoon nap is linked to better mental acuity, or agility. So this came out of the British Medical Journal, and they...this is kind of funny. They defined an afternoon nap as a period of at least five consecutive minutes of sleep, but no longer than two hours, and that’s taken after lunch. Now I thought five minutes was kind of funny, because I mean...maybe I’ve seen you sleep for maybe five, ten minutes, Dad. But that’s not that much of a nap time.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: That’s a power nap.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: It’s a power nap. But what they did is they, essentially, interviewed these people. And they found that those that did take a nap, according to those parameters, they had improved visual-spacial skills, working memory, attention span, problem solving, and verbal fluency. So a lot of cognitive factors were improved.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: It makes sense, because you’re giving your autonomic nervous system a rest. I mean, it just makes a lot of sense to me. In fact, when I wrote my book, Heartbreak and Heart Disease, I was studying different cultures for heart attack. And when I came across the island of Crete, in the Mediterranean…there wasn’t a heart attack reported over a 10 year period. Now think about that, just think about that. On the whole island, there’re a few thousand inhabitants, but there wasn’t a heart attack recorded. And if you look at what people do in the island of Crete, they would have their biggest meal during the afternoon, and after their biggest meal they would either play games, like chess or checkers, or go back, or take a nap.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And, basically, again, it just made a lot of sense because you’re toning down the autonomic nervous system. And whenever you do that, you’re giving ammunition in preserving your heart. So that’s the key.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. And, Dad, it’s kind of funny because I look at you, and you’re able to nap at the drop of a hat. I mean, you can fall asleep…
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, you’ve seen me sleep on stones when I was surfing!
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah…and I think the beautiful thing is that everyone’s so different, because I need complete quiet. I can’t have any noise in the background, or there’s no chance of me napping. And so what I do is I throw on an air purifier for some white noise, and I try to get a half hour, 45 minute nap in. But that’s pretty rare, especially with three kids these days, it’s kind of really difficult to get in a nap.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, Drew, I grew up in the days of the Iron Men when...I’m going to be 75 in a few months. And when I was an intern in medicine, oh gosh, that’s like over 50 years ago. We had a night call, every other night on some rotations, and every third night on others. And I’ll never forget the interns a year or two before me, they were on call every other night. Now think of that.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: At least I had every third night for a few months. And they used to look at us, and they thought we were wimps. They said, “You guys...you guys had it so easy.” You know what I mean? And that’s how I learned to sleep…I can sleep anywhere when I’m tired, I don’t care whether it’s in the middle of a traffic jam and the horns are going off. Because I learned that when I was at a very young age, and I was up all night, all the time. I mean, 36 hours straight with no sleep at all. If I was able to catch 5 or 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, oh my god, it would really supercharge me.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That’s efficiency right there.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: …it worked out, I got to tell you.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah…well, the takeaway of this article is really, if you find that you want to improve your mental agility, right? Your cognition, focus, everything, you might want to take a nap every day or every other day. That’s okay.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah. And just...and I would take it a step further. I would say listen to your body.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Listen to your body.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: There are so many people that fight off naps because, whatever reason...they need to perform, they need to do this, and I don’t care what it is. But just listen to your body. If your body wants to let down and be tired, now, with this new research, there’s a dividend in taking a nap, as well.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Dad, it’s funny because I feel like, in our culture, you can think of yourself, at least judgment-wise of being lazy, if you’re taking a nap, in a sense, right? Because, oh, you should be getting done, you should be getting work done, be more productive. But you’re absolutely correct, give yourself that time if your body’s asking for it, because ultimately it’s going to help you.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right, Dad. Well as we wrap up our show here, we’re going to get to our Wellness Wisdom. So, one of the other trending items that we came across was something that you talk about all the time, which is how our mental health can directly impact our heart health. And now, more and more, the medical literature is confirming that this is the case. According to a recent statement published in the journal, Circulation, there is evidence of biological, behavioral and psychological pathways that link mental health to heart disease. So Dad, do you want to share some advice for the listeners on what they can do here about that?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, I mean, this is something that cardiologists, I think, are really privy to because we know that there’s conversations between the brain and the heart. They’re going this way all the time. Now the heart has the vagal nerve and everything else, and there are direct hormonal connections between the brain and the heart. And a lot of people think that the brain rules the body. Nuh-uh…as a heart specialist, the heart rules the body. And whenever you do good things for your heart, you’ll be doing good things for your brain. And the reverse is true. And one of the things is, if you can get into your heart feelings, in other words, if you can...like suppose you’re feeling sad, and when you’re having a lot...especially, during this pandemic.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: There’re suicides going on, people are feeling trapped, there’s panic going on, there’s depression going on. And my advice to anybody during this pandemic, especially if they’re locked up and they’re lonely. If they’re feeling sadness, and if they give themselves permission to cry...this is so important, and I know I’ve mentioned this before in other podcasts, but it’s so important. Because we all have heartbreak during these situations, and if you can let down into your tears, then your heartbreak won’t lead to heart disease.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Do you remember when you were eight years old? When we saw the movie Hoosiers, do you remember that?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Of course, yes.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Now when you were eight years old, how old was I? I was in my 40s, maybe.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: You were 42.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I was 42, that’s right. And I was in a gestalt training program, 10 years before that, and a bioenergetic training program. And then when I republished that paper…that paper I did in Connecticut Medicine, showing that men who don’t cry get heart disease because we tested urines, and adrenaline, and cortisol, and we did a workshop and blah, blah, blah. That was one of my issues, Drew. That was one of my issues. So I was seeing Dr. Alexander Lowen, and I was seeing John Pierrakos, and I was seeing the world’s best therapists. I became a certified bioenergetic therapist…but I couldn’t cry!
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And, basically, no matter how hard these therapists worked on me...but guess what? Remember during that movie, it was like a David and Goliath movie, where the basketball team from Indiana, they only had six guys. And they took on the Indiana State Champs, they had maybe 25 or 30 guys on their basketball team. And it just reminded me of my days of high school wrestling and stuff like that. And that movie touched me. And I remember you were sitting next to me and I was crying, and you said to me, “Dad, you’re crying.” And I said, “Drew, I need to do this right now. I need to release my heartbreak.” And after that, I saw the movie five times. I saw the movie five times. And I was able to discharge.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And that’s the point I want to tell our audience. We all have locked, internal sadness. A lot of it comes from unresolved issues in childhood. You can have a death of a parent, an early divorce, you could be sick, you can lose a dog. I remember I had a heartbreaking experience when I was 12 years old, when my dog was put to sleep. I still haven’t gotten over it, Drew.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And I have to tell you, when you stuff sadness, when you stuff tears, you are actually increasing the heartbreak phenomena in your body. And the only way to release it, is to cry. And I have to tell you that one of the reasons why a lot of corporate women, right now, are getting heart disease, is that...and I believe this strongly, that one of the greatest assets a woman has is that she can let down easier than a man, and let down on the sadness. Women also have greater intuition than men, where they rely more on their right brain. But when women get into the workplace, and if they get higher levels, like CEOs, etc., etc. If they turn off their right brain and become more left brain oriented because they have to perform, and improve the bottom line, etc. And if they shut off their femininity with tears, that is a dangerous cause for heart disease.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And unfortunately, we’re seeing more heart attack in women today than we did over 20 years ago. And that really bothers me, because women are always worried about breast cancer, "I’m going to get breast cancer." Now, one in three women die of heart disease. One in eight to nine women perish from breast cancer. But it’s heart disease that’s going to get women. So, my plea to women is — yes, there’s conversations between the brain and the heart. And basically, don’t forget that your inner-heart feelings are the most important thing in your body.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Ah, that’s such a...that was beautiful, Dad. A couple of comments I want to make here around that. You mentioned discharge, and I think crying is just such a fantastic way to discharge. Have you also mentioned laughter? Like, deep belly laughter is another way to discharge?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Oh yeah, belly laughter is great. I remember I did a piece of work with Dr. Alexander Lowen, and he bent me over this bioenergetics stool, and he’s tickling my chest, right? He was putting pressure on...actually, he was working on my diaphragm, to free up energy in my diaphragm, get me to breathe better. And because he believed that breathing was the aspect of the Type A behavior pattern. He was absolutely right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: He’s right. He’s correct.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I had dinner with Meyer Friedman, and we flipped a coin on this one, about buying a bottle of wine. And thank god I won, because he bought a nice bottle of wine. But I’ll never forget that he was absolutely right about breathing, and the coronary prone personality. Lowen took it a step further, and he worked on people’s diaphragms and chest. And I’ll never forget it, he started to tickle me, and I was laughing. And he says, “You think this is funny, huh?” And I almost got to the point where I was laughing so hard, I almost cried.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And as soon as I got into my head, where I verbalized it to him, it took it away. And that’s what happens with people. Once you have a body emotion that overwhelms you, go with it. Don’t go into your head and think about it. Once you go into your head and think about it, now you become disconnected. You cut off the heart-brain hotline, and you go into your head. So the most important thing is, and I hope that people take this in — when people have sadness, or if they cry, please don’t ask yourself…I shouldn’t be crying, I’m a happy person, I have a good job, I have a good spouse, my kids are great. No, do not go into your head. If the feeling of sadness comes up, give yourself permission to cry, it’s the healthiest thing you can do for your heart and longevity.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And, Dad, I got to thank you because, yes, I did watch you when I was eight years old as you cried during Hoosiers. And of course, I watched Hoosiers again, I think it was like a decade ago, and I was just bawling. I was crying so hard during…
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Really?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Oh, yeah…I mean, what an amazing movie. And then other movies too, like Rudy. Whenever I see Rudy, and they’re chanting Rudy to come on the field near the end. I mean, oh my gosh, I just start pouring tears. And of course, I feel great after I shed some tears like that. And so, I think I learned from you how to cry during movies.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Oh no, that’s great. That’s great. That’s awesome.
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 listening to Be HEALTHistic, powered by our friends at Healthy Directions, with Drs. Drew and Steve Sinatra. 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
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy.