Sun, May

WELLNESS--Lately, with all the shootings, bombings and terrorism going on, it’s been close to impossible to avoid the violent reality that is a pronounced part of our world. 

It is no secret that the constant barrage of violent images and stories has its effect on our brains. In 1982 the Surgeon Generals Scientific Advisory Committee on television and social behavior concluded that people repeatedly exposed to violent images on the TV screen experience the following; higher levels of anxiety, greater chance of being violent, and a decreased ability to experience empathy making them less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others. 

Couple that with a discovery of a brain phenomenon in the early 2000’s called mirror neurons or neuronal mirroring. This development shows that the brain mirrors what it sees and experiences in the world. In other words, if someone is watching a violent act, the parts of the brain used by the perpetrator committing the act are also activated in the passive viewer. With this in mind, it makes sense that with repeated and long-term exposure to violent images people find themselves more likely to commit violent acts themselves and to feel less empathy towards victims of violence. The days of old before neurobiologists understood the brain to the depth they do now, there were those that said media has no effect on our brain function. With the increased understanding of neuronal mirroring, we now have a definitive understanding that what we see and take in does in fact affect our brains. 

In order to be informed, it is possible to peruse the Internet or newspaper quickly to get the gist of what’s happening. From there we need to avoid going down the rabbit hole into endless bad news and details about the horrors that are our current media reality. Sadly, the news doesn’t tell us all the good news that is also happening all over the world. We are consumed with and almost feed off of negative images and information. 

I found myself going down the rabbit hole during the Orlando shooting and during the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The following days when the police officers were killed, I knew I couldn’t watch any more. I had hit a bottom and was feeling sad and anxious. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand, but at the same time, if I get myself to the point where I’m full of sorrow and anxiety, what good am I in the world? With just 48 hours of no news, I felt significantly better. 

I think it’s important we feel the pain and grief and then move through that as fast as possible so we can get back to doing the best we can in our own little worlds. Be kind to one another, take time to help out in our communities, and just be friendly to strangers. The world is not such a scary place, and when we shift our perspective there are always ways to find glimmers of light coming through the clouds.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)





WELLNESS--Green tea has been touted as a healing elixir for centuries. In China and Japan green tea is treated with almost the same respect wine is treated in other countries. One can spend hundreds of dollars a pound on the world’s most rare teas

Green tea is different from other teas because it does not go through the same processing as black tea and ooh long teas. Trained individuals pick the more exclusive teas by hand to avoid damaging the fragile leaves. After they have been harvested, some teas are then left in the sun to dry up before they are packaged and sold. Other teas are actually damaged on purpose after they have been picked. This process is called Disruption and it’s used to promote the darkening of the tealeaves. Depending on the conditions the tea is grown in and the way it is cared for and harvested; these processes all have an effect on the flavor and the cost of the tea. 

Green tea has it origins in China and has been harvested and drank in ceremony and for healing purposes for over 4000 years. How long a tea is steeped and in what type of container varies from tea to tea and generally speaking the more expensive and delicate a tea the less time it needs to be steeped. For serious tea enthusiasts, different types of tea also have different temperatures they need to be steeped in. Delicate teas need lower water temperatures while cheaper teas can handle boiling hot water during the preparation process. 

Green tea contains an important chemical compound called a polyphenol, which is a phytocemical. These phytochemicals are antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory qualities that are helpful in eliminating free radicals from the body and possibly helping to avoid cancer from growing. One study in Japan showed that drinking green tea helped to stave off liver cancer. In another study, Chinese women who consumed green tea daily had a lower incidence of esophagus cancer. 

Not long ago there was some research that came out that mentioned that green tea might actually be harmful. We have all heard that expression that too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Most studies agree that green tea in the form of actual tea is harmless for the vast majority of people, and that it may be beneficial to drink up to 10 cups a day. The green tea extract capsules on the other hand are where there might be a problem. The reason is the polyphonols that are present in green tea are concentrated in the capsules and the levels are so high that someone with a compromised liver may have a hard time processing them. In fact, even those without liver issues may be harmed by too much green tea extract in pill form. 

A study done using green tea extract by the University of New Jersey in the March 2007 found that when healthy people took green tea extract supplements in too high a dose (from 700 to 2000 milligrams) seem to have a toxic effect on the liver. As soon as the participants ceased the mega dosing of the green tea extract, the liver enzymes returned to a healthy level. 


People with liver disease or taking medications that affect the liver may need to be more careful with green tea intake, and if you are not sure if the liver medication you are on could interact with green tea, ask your primary care provider. For the rest of the population, there is plenty of evidence that green tea does indeed have powerful healing qualities, and drinking tea in place of coffee is another way to make better choices for your health and well being. Keep in mind that green tea does contain caffeine and will give you the jitters just like coffee if you have gone beyond your limit. 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS--We have heard about fiber and how it is touted as one of the most important tenets to a healthy diet, but did you know that fiber is contained in foods from rice all the way to broccoli? Let’s break down the basics of fiber to get a better understanding and you will see that not all fiber is created equal. 

First, there is soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is fiber that can be broken down and digested. It draws in water and turns into a gel like substance in the body and tends to slow digestion. It is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber is fiber that moves all the way through the digestive tract without being broken down and tends to speed up the digestive process. This is the fiber some people refer to as “nature’s broom” because it helps us to bulk up our stool. Insoluble fiber is found in dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, berries, and other fruits and vegetables. 

Grains are another part of the story, and while they do have fiber in them, there are many arguments against the need for grains in our diet. Grains don’t have the micronutrients that fruits and vegetables have, and they do tend to spike the blood sugar when eaten alone. On the other hand, for people with IBS or other digestive disorders, there are times when gentle foods like rice and other grains can work to calm the gut. There are also ways to cook grains to make them more starch resistant avoiding that big jump in blood sugar. While there is fiber in muffins, let’s not delude ourselves into believing that eating 5 grams of fiber by way of a muffin is as healthy as eating that same amount of fiber consuming broccoli or other fruits, vegetables, or nuts.  

According to the mainstream beliefs around fiber, most health and nutrition experts say woman need about 25 grams a day and men need about 38. Other less mainstream practitioners say we need up to 50 grams per 1000 calories that we consume a day. Now before you panic and start guzzling fiber powder drinks it’s important to note that while more fiber is generally a good idea, there are other factors to consider. 

If you are in the camp of people suffering with a chronic digestive disorder like Colitis or IBS you may not want to eat 30 grams of fiber in leafy greens and broccoli if you’re having a flare up. That can be too much for a system that is already compromised. If you are one of these people introduce fiber slowly with small amounts at first and be sure to steam your vegetables and not fry them. Steam them so they are relatively soft, or boil them with the knowledge that this removes even more fiber from them. Removing the fiber will make them more easily digested as apposed to raw vegetable that will be too rough on an already irritated digestive tract. Once the system is fully healed, keep your fiber intake high to prevent further problems and go back to steaming. 

Finally, there are 7 billion humans on the earth, and therefore 7 billion different diets. It is your job to figure out exactly what your body requires and feed it accordingly. There is no need to make this more complicated that it is. 

Ask yourself some simple questions such as; Is my digestion and elimination working well? Am I having normal and formed bowel movements and is my gas and bloating level very low? Am I exercising and is my energy level normal to high? Am I free of symptoms indicating illness? If you answer yes to all of those questions, chances are good that you don’t need to make any major changes to your diet and lifestyle. 

If you know that a few healthy tweaks here and there could help then go for it, but don’t worry about trying to be perfect. That only creates stress and imbalance in our lives. Keep striving for optimal health and wellness!


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)



WELLNESS--I just spent the weekend with my family and was reminded how each of us has different health and wellness goals and challenges. My sister is planning on losing 5 pounds where as my niece wants to stay in great physical shape and not slide back into old habits. My father is trying to cut back on salt to help control his blood pressure and my brother has just learned that he is allergic to dairy so he needs to make significant changes to his many of his food choices.   

Whether trying to heal an illness or working out to get in better shape, everyone has room for improvement in their health and wellness plan. One of the main hurdles to get over is getting caught up in trying to be perfect or setting goals that are not attainable. A great way to reach your goals is using the SMART method. SMART stands for creating goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Based.  

I’m not saying to set small goals for the long run, on the contrary I think goals should blend well with dreams and once they are reached they should cause you to see yourself and the world in an entirely different way. In order to reach big goals we often have to take many small steps. The SMART method will ensure that you are taking small measurable steps towards reaching a bigger goal. 

For someone that is trying to lose weight, using one of the many calorie counting apps can be helpful. MyFitnessPal is my favorite and it allows you to add exercise that you have done for the day altering the total calorie requirement for that day. In the beginning there is a period of tedium when entering all the foods one eats. The upside is that if there is a barcode you can scan that quickly into the app and all the information is stored. You just need to add the serving consumed. For other foods like vegetable and fruits one needs to add them once, and then when the same foods are consumed again, the app will automatically populate the item after entering the first few letters. Most of us don’t vary too much from day to day, so usually after a few weeks, the foods are added, and the app is much more simple to use.   

Awareness is the only thing we need in order to change our ways. I have suggested these apps to countless patients of mine and without fail every one of them with weight loss as the goal were surprised at how many calories they were consuming. Some of them don’t even need to use the app after a few short months. They simply use the app to become aware, change their lifestyles and the weight comes off.   

For other goals like cutting certain things like sugar or alcohol one has options. Sometimes a “hard reset” is just what the doctor ordered. For example, a specific goal to cut sugar for 14 days cold turkey resets the mind and detoxes the body and brain so that by the end of the 14 days the cravings have subsided substantially. For others slowly cutting back may do the trick, but when it comes to sugar specifically, I find that my patients have the most success when they do a full sugar detox for a minimum of 14 days. One way to measure success is to rate your energy level at different times throughout the day from 1 to 14. 

Set goals that are attainable and get the support you need from the people around you. Whether it be a lifestyle program like Weight Watchers, or a 12 step program like Overeaters anonymous, support is crucial to reach your health and wellness goals. I’m always available to answer questions or give support.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS--Distilled water is water that is boiled first then the steam is condensed. This process not only kills any bacteria that may be present, but it also removes various impurities including radioactive particles, minerals, and even heavy metals. The reason it is so effective is because in this boiling and steaming process the water is removed from the impurities by turning it into steam and then capturing it instead of trying to remove impurities from the water. 

Spring water on the other hand has other compounds in it besides hydrogen and oxygen (h2o). It also contains important minerals that we need such calcium and magnesium among others. Depending on the source, spring water can also have impurities and even heavy metals and other dangerous compounds. 

Because distilled water is hydrogen and oxygen (h2o) only, the chemical make up of distilled water is more fragile making it easier for distilled water to attract and absorb carbon dioxide from the air making the water more acidic. It is important to remember to keep the container closed at all times besides when one is taking a sip of distilled water. 

Like so many other health topics, wellness professionals often fall on one side or the other when it comes to whether or not we should drink distilled water for our health. I for one am a huge fan of distilled water for short periods of time. Because the water is so pure and there are no minerals in it, distilled water works as a way to powerfully flush the system. It can be used as to cleanse, or to heal acute and even chronic health issues. Because distilled water is “empty” it attracts impurities in the body tissues and flushes them out. I do not recommend drinking only distilled water for more than 3 weeks at a time, but if someone is trying to heal a health condition, using it for 3 weeks straight followed by a break for a week or two and then repeating the use of distilled water can be very helpful to detoxify, cleanse, or assist in healing chronic disease. 

It is also a good idea to buy a gallon of distilled water once a week or every other week and drink that for a couple of days until it is gone. It is a simple way to purify the body. If someone is fasting however, I do not recommend using distilled water during the fast as it can alter the blood pressure and cause dizziness and even fainting. When fasting, minerals in spring water become even more important because one is not getting them from food during the fast. Using distilled water would be considered a change to your health routine and it is always a good idea to talk to your health professionals before starting. This is especially true for people with blood pressure or heart issues. 

The reason I do not suggest staying on distilled water all the time is because while on it, we are not getting the important minerals that we get from Spring Water. Some of the distilled advocates will tell you that we should get all the minerals we need from food anyway, and that water is not meant to supply us with minerals, but the fact of the matter is that we have gotten used to getting minerals from our spring water and without knowing exactly what foods and what supplements would be needed in place of spring water, there is a good chance we will be robbing our bodies of important minerals if we switch over to distilled water only. Some studies show that people who are on only distilled water and supplementing with mineral replacements are still deficient in some important minerals. 

Balance is the name of the game when it comes to good health and wellness. I use distilled water a couple times a month as a way to cleanse my body. Talk to your health providers first and remember to always read and research on your own. Be your own primary care provider.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)



WELLNESS--From dangerous chemicals leached out of water bottles to fish feeding on them in the oceans, plastics have been plaguing our oceans and environment and the problem is only getting worse. (Photo above: plastic patch in the Pacific.) 

In a new study published in Science they found that certain fish larvae exposed to plastic particulates are eating and feeding on them. While plastic is not biodegradable, is does degrade into smaller sized micro plastics that are edible by small fish larvae. Even more disturbing is that they continued to eat the plastic particulates and choose plastic over real food. The scientists speculate that there is a chemical compound in the plastic that tricks the brain of the fish larvae causing them to stuff themselves with the small plastic particles. One of the scientists in the study was quoted as saying "I remember looking at them under the microscope and just seeing so many little plastic pieces in their stomachs, fish after fish. It was terrifying." 

After these larvae have been eating plastic for long enough their behavior changes and they become less likely to spot and avoid prey along with changes in their eating habits. Along with these changes comes a notable decrease in the hatching of new larvae. Larger fish eat smaller fish and we eat larger fish, so we have already been consuming plastic via fish for a number of years. 

The great Pacific garbage patch is a massive area in the ocean that has been growing for years. From north America to Japan there are two vortexes of trash, each one roughly the size of Texas that are comprised mostly of plastics. The plastic breaks down into tiny particles called microplastics that are not be easy for us to see, but they are easy for the fish to eat. Because they are not biodegradable, the small fish mistake them for food, and the larger fish consume the smaller fish and humans then consume the larger fish. 

These plastics are coming primarily from North America and Asia. A big chunk of the plastics come from boaters and cargo ships that are dumping trash. Plastic fishnets are the other culprits of plastic waste in the trash. North America is slowly adopting bans on plastic bans city-by-city and state-by-state. Some countries in Europe have banned plastic bans or put a price on them since the early 2000’s. Both have a powerful impact on cutting down on plastic pollution. 

To find out the status of plastic bag bans in your state check out www.bagtheban.com.  You can put in your state or zip code of your city to see if and when a ban of plastic bags will go into effect in your city. If there is no ban the site also gives you the option to take action and start a ban in your hometown. More and more people are waking up to the dangers of plastics and within the next 4 years or so most cities and states will adopt a ban on plastic bags.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS--For the past half-century we have been treating our oceans much like we have been treating our rainforests. Fishing has destroyed the natural habitat of the oceans and we have depleted roughly 50% of the ocean of its fish. With fish like swordfish and tuna that number is closer to 90% that have been depleted with a risk of complete collapse. 

Farm raised fish or aquaculture has been exploding in popularity over the past decade, and while it may be helpful in certain aspects to the health and sustainability of our oceans, it does have its own drawbacks. The fish in these fish farms need to eat, and what some of these farm raised fish eat may not please the savvy eater. The fish feed can be anything from chickens to wild caught fish. Very often fish farms are using wild caught fish and lots of it to feed their farm raised fish like salmon. Aren’t we buying farm-raised fish in order to stop all of the over-fishing, and doesn’t feeding farm raised fish with wild caught fish defeat the purpose all together? 

Certain fish have been hit harder than others. Tuna is one of the only fish, along with sharks, that has the ability to warm its muscles when swimming fast to go after its prey. Tuna can swim up to 40 miles an hour and they often live to be about 50 years old. In order for tuna to be healthy, and delicious for that matter, it needs open water to swim. It also needs 15 pounds of food to eat for every pound of tuna making it less than sustainable when it comes to farm fishing. Tuna is also a big fish and a predator meaning it is eating other smaller fish as it’s growing and maturing to a sometimes 15 feet long and 1500 pound fish that needs a lot of smaller fish to grow. Many of these small fish that the large tuna are eating contain mercury and the larger and older the tuna gets the more mercury it contains. 

Swordfish have also been hit hard and is a large fish that also that can measure 14 feet and 1400 pounds at full maturity. Both of these fish when caught in the wild are delicious which is part of the reason they have been pillaged from the sea by 90%. More and more companies are now using poles to catch and sell these fish and “pole-caught” tuna and swordfish is definitely a more sustainable choice. Whether or not these fish will be able to make a comeback without international support by outlawing net caught tuna is yet to be seen. 

Know that the most overfished fish are tuna, swordfish, shrimp, monkfish and sharks. Like cattle, not all farms are created equal. When you buy fish at the market ask them where the fish is coming from. If it is farm raised ask where the farm is located and what they are feeding the fish. Are the fish eating chicken pellets or unsustainable wild caught fish? As the consumers, we have the power to change the food supply system because every time we spend a dollar we are voting for what we believe in. Good food and good fish are not cheap, but isn’t it more costly over time to destroy the oceans just so we can buy cheap fish? We used to just buy meat at the best price possible. Now, more and more people have realized that if we are not part of the solution then we are part of the problem so they are shopping and buying more consciously. 

Generally speaking fish need about 1.5 kilos of food to create 1 kilo of fish making fish a much more efficient food for farming. Cattle on the other hand need about 10 kilos of feed to create 1 kilo of meat. Eventually the fish market will be sustained by aquaponics, which is a closed self-sustaining system that feeds and cleans itself. This already exists in certain places and is quickly picking up steam. The powers that be will only make changes when we spend our money on fish and all food decisively and intentionally.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)



WELLNESS-Canadian researcher Simon Lajeunesse PHD uncovered that most boys seek Internet porn by age 10. The problem is they could not find a control group because almost all young men are using porn. 

The Coolege effect is the automatic response to novel sexual images meaning each new sexual depiction is a genetic opportunity causing the brain to release dopamine to keep him stimulated. In nature this works so that the male animal can continue to inseminate female after female helping to grow the population of his particular species. In the male brain this process carries over with porn and with each click and each new type of sexual image, another surge of dopamine is created in the male brain. 

Over time too much dopamine will be present causing an over-ride in the natural systems of the brain leading to cravings for more and more pleasure because the pleasure response is weakened. Once the brain is overwhelmed with dopamine it works to bring balance by taking away some of its dopamine receptors causing the addict to seek more porn with less of that warm happy feeling. 

For the male using porn frequently, porn will no longer set off that same dopamine burst and instead of feeling happy, the porn user ends up feeling sad and isolated. In order to try to keep the same level of dopamine and pleasure, the porn addict will often escalate and seek out hardcore pornographic images. 

Even more troubling is that there is evidence of the porn addicted brain actually changing in structure much like the drug-addicted brain. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is where we experience the higher affects of humanity. Things like peace, love and altruism all register in the frontal cortex, and the research shows that with porn and other addictions, the frontal cortex literally shrinks in size. The good news is the brain changes do reverse when people stop using porn. 

One reason men are giving up porn is because of porn induced erectile dysfunction (ED). Dr. Carlo Foresta is the head of the Italian society of Adrology and Sexual Medicine and was quoted as saying “it starts with lower reactions to porn sites. Then there is a general drop in libido and in the end it becomes impossible to get an erection.” The studies are showing that younger men take longer to heal from the ED than older men. The theory is because the young brain is more vulnerable to addiction and because older men have had more experience with real intimacy and affection than their younger counterparts. 

The overall effects of porn on ones health can be substantial. Along with the need for internet porn comes a need to be alone and isolated eventually leading to depression and loneliness. With the intense need to keep searching and clicking on the next image, the porn addict is caught in the clutches of porn addiction depriving them of important sleep, which stacks one more reason for depression, social anxiety, and depression. 

Due to new research in brain plasticity, we now know that when a person finally gets off the porn, the brain will actually heal and go back to normal. The process can take between 2 and 6 months depending on the individual and their age. The younger mans brain actually takes longer to return to normal that the older man making it more difficult for the prior to wean himself off porn. Making time to be more social and not isolated and staying away from screens all together when possible are two ways to help the porn addict redirect their lives in a more healthy way.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS--By now every one of us has heard of the benefits to meditation, but why is it so hard to start a meditation practice? The brain benefits span wide from helping to grow the cortex, which is that that ribbed looking outer part of the brain where all the higher human thoughts occur, to pulling us out of fight or flight and helping us enter a calmer more mindful state. There are even links to meditation slowing down the aging process. 

All of this information begs the question, if meditation is so good for us, why is it so hard for us to do it? The answer also comes back to the brain. In today’s busy electronic world filled with screens of all kinds from our cell phones to our tablets to our computers, the eyes and brain are used to being stimulated during almost all of our waking hours. The problem is that as the pleasure centers of our brains are being stimulated by screens (and often sugar) while the pre-frontal cortex of the brain is not being used or stimulated in ways to develop us towards a higher awareness and a more altruistic lifestyle. 

While sitting quietly and breathing has myriad proven benefits, it’s just so tough to get that practice going. Our brains are addicted to the quick fix and quick stimulation. Unless you are actively reading your kindle, the research shows that passive TV viewing in kids actually causes changes in their brains that lead to a weakened ability to communicate verbally. There is also evidence that the children watching hours of TV a day are more apt to violence.  

Here are two highly effective ways to get your practice going once and for all. Find a meditation buddy. This doesn’t have to be someone living with you but if so, that’s even better. This person is someone that you both check in with each other every day where you each take 5 minutes or less to talk about your meditation practice, let each other know if you meditated or not, and give each other feedback and ideas on what’s working and what’s not. Research shows that having someone to be accountable to increases people’s chances of actually completing a task. 

Another little trick that I have picked up through the years and I find very useful for me and my patients is to go to the area that you meditate every single night even if you don’t plan on meditating. The act of sitting on the cushion or stool every night even if it’s just for a few seconds before you go to bed will increase the chances that eventually you will sit for longer. 

The trick is to go to that area of your home with no pressure on yourself to sit for a great length of time. You can actually sit down to meditate and then get right back up and go to bed. The next night try to increase your time from 5 seconds to 30 seconds and then each night increase your time that you meditate another 30 seconds until you eventually reach 20 minutes. 

If there are mornings or nights, depending on your preference, that you fall back and really don’t want to meditate, then simply go to the cushion, sit down to meditate and then get directly back up and leave. Then you will start over again at the 5 seconds and you will start again to build from there. The trick is to get on the cushion every single day no matter how short the duration. Over time this will tell your brain that this is simply a part of your every single day and with time you will be meditating and breathing regularly.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS--There are close to 9 billion people on the planet and that means 9 billion unique and specific diets. We are constantly getting flooded with fad diet books and food systems claiming to be the holy grail of health. We’re told to add just 1 specific nutrient to change our entire lives. Narrow reductive studies are put out regularly “proving” that this new food or that new vitamin will change our lives over night. 

Some studies tell us that an alcoholic drink a day is good for us. After all they drink in Europe and they supposedly live forever and are all skinny, right? The next day we see a study claiming that alcohol, even in small amounts, is dangerous for our health and especially our livers. We see these “studies” repeated with coffee and chocolate. They are healthy one day and the next they are not. 

There are of course some general dietary guidelines that work for us a whole. Things like less saturated fats, more whole grains, low sugar and no processed foods are simple rules to follow, but when it comes to specifics like do I eat meat or not, and are certain vegetables better for your body than others, people get confused. What about things like fruit? Some people notice certain fruits agree more with their body types than other fruits. Others report things like melon or pineapple actually making their mouths sore or swollen and they wonder if they are allergic. Then there is dairy. Many say avoid it all together but some day the vitamin D we get from it is healthy. I can go on an on. 

It’s no surprise that people are confused about good health. The truth is, our bodies are the labs and we are the scientists. We need to choose foods carefully and pay attention to how that food makes the body feel. General rules like eat plenty of vegetables and fiber and steer clear of simple sugars are helpful reminders. So is using low to no alcohol and staying away from saturated fats and greasy foods is also a safe bet. 

Outside of these basics, the rest needs to be determined by each individual.

Paying close attention to digestion and elimination is imperative as they are the best indicators to how good a food is for our bodies. The two other big indicators as to whether a food is good for us or not is to notice our energy levels throughout the day especially after eating meals. Also taking note of how well the immunity is working over all. Then we have the ever so famous Gluten. Many people have jumped on the gluten intolerance bandwagon. While it is true that some people are gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive, the percentage of those people is very low compared to the number of people avoiding gluten. 

Regarding vegetables, there are so many different types, and certain ones can cause inflammation in some people. Nightshade vegetables for example can be very inflammatory for people with inflammatory diseases like crones and colitis and need to be avoided all together by them. Books like Eat Right for Your Blood Type and Nutrition textbooks like Eat Drink and be Healthy are also great places to start if you are in the process of turning your diet around. 

No matter how much you read or how many people give you advice about diet and nutrition, the most crucial data you receive is free and coming to you every day from your own body. Take time to notice and be honest about how your body is working or not working. Notice your energy levels or if you get an afternoon slump after lunch. If so, what choices are you making and how can you make better choices? Are you supported towards good health at home, or is your partner bringing junk food into the home? Good health is easier to attain if you feel supported by the people around you. Ask them to help you, and if they are willing to help ask them to join you!


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS-The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) in January about a somewhat alarming rate of Elizbethkingia Anophelus. Elizbethkingia itself isn’t that rare or unusual, but this new strain is different because it is killing people. So far 20 of the 59 cases in Wisconsin ended in death and it seems to have spread to neighboring Illinois and Michigan. There are normally about 5 cases of infection a year reported in each state nationwide making this an unusually large outbreak.

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WELLNESS--Did you know that heart disease is the number 1 killer of Americans today? With February being Heart Awareness Month let’s talk about a few ways to increase our heart health and add to the longevity of the most important muscle in our body. 

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WELLNESS--As tempting as that midnight snack might feel when we can’t sleep, late nights coupled with eating is the 1-2 punch your weight and wellness do not need. A study published in PubMed this month shows the link between obesity and sleep called Chronobesity. For a long time we thought that exercise and dietary shifts were enough to squelch obesity, but a growing body research shows otherwise.  

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WELLNESS--It was 1996 when the infamous Monsanto introduced a “drought resistant” crop, which is really just another way of saying GMO or Genetically Modified Organism. Ever since that, there has been a war going on regarding labeling our foods containing these organisms.  

There are over 64 countries worldwide that already enforce strict labeling laws in regards to GMO’s. Those countries include 28 nations of the European Union, Japan, Australia, Russia, and even China. While the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization continue to pander to greedy corporations like Monsanto and others that make these chemicals and GMO foods, the American people are becoming more and more outraged. 

In 2014 Vermont became the first state to make GMO labeling mandatory. Connecticut and Maine have also passed similar laws that will go into effect once their neighboring states also pass similar laws. Since these laws have come to pass, there are congress people that have introduced federal legislation developed by powerful food corporations with the intent of denying our right to know what we are eating by making it perfectly legal to not label GMO foods. 

Last week, that law was defeated and activists and other people nation-wide are pushing for a bill that would make labeling GMO foods mandatory. The bill is designed as a win-win even for small companies that labeling fees can hit hard in the pocket book.  

For now, in place of passing nation-wide laws, activists have been more successful taking on companies one by one to get them to label GMO foods. Not long ago Campbell’s Soup agreed to start labeling their GMO products and last week General Mills also bowed to the needs of consumers by announcing that they too will start labeling their GMO foods nation-wide. 

GMO’s should be labeled so people can at least know that the food they are eating contains GMO’s or not. The FDA and WHO may say they are safe, but we all know they have said the same thing about many drugs over the years that have done real damage to people’s health. Drugs like Accutane and Phen-fen to name a few. I for one prefer to know what I’m putting in my body, and I will continue to work to get the word out on the unknown potential dangers of GMO’s and the real need for labeling laws.   


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.


WELLNESS--Cloud seeding has been around for decades, but the general public has not known about it until recently. In 1946 it was discovered by a General Electrics lab that Silver Iodide could be used to make already existing clouds put out more rain. It was the 1950’s that this technology started to be used en force to battle drought. Since that time it is used as needed all over the world depending on the drought levels, and with the increasing water shortages worldwide, cloud seeding is becoming more and more common.  

In order for cloud seeding to work, there has to be rain clouds already present. By filling the cloud with silver iodide, they can increase the rainfall by 5 to 30 percent depending on where they clouds are located. It’s easier to make more rain from a cloud near the coast as opposed to inland.

Today, companies like the North American Weather Consultants, Inc create and set up cloud seeding stations that are portable and easy to transport so they can get them where they are needed most. In Los Angeles there are currently 10 towers set up between Sylmar and Pacoima.

These portable generators shoot Silver Iodide into the already existing clouds, which bind to the water molecules creating an instant freezing of the water particles. The now heavy frozen water vapor falls from the sky as rain.

The concern over silver iodide in our water and air supply is a real one. While the studies are still being conducted around this topic, what we do know is that silver iodide is highly susceptible and when it drop and falls into our atmosphere it quickly breaks down. The US Public Health Service claims there is a negligible environmental impact by cloud seeding. That said, silver iodide when studied in labs is a different story all together and is indeed toxic and dangerous.

There are other studies showing that silver iodide is toxic especially to fish and wildlife. This particular study is quoted as stating that “repeated exposure of animals to silver might produce anemia, cardiac enlargement, growth retardation, and degenerative changes in the liver.” (Seiler, H.G., H. Sigel and A. Sigel (eds.). Handbook on the Toxicity of Inorganic Compounds. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker, Inc. 1988. 622)

This same study says that silver is not known to be carcinogenic to humans. From what most of the studies show, the one known risk humans take by being exposed to silver is called Argyria which is a grayish blue discoloration of the skin. If you look at the pesticide info website you will see that silver iodide is not shown to be toxic for humans but it does show an accumulation in fish.

Most of the government sites say that this chemical can only cause skin discoloration, but it proves challenging to find any other information regarding silver iodide and it’s possible toxic effects on humans.

In spite of claims that the long-term effects of this procedure are said to be harmless, it still feels like we are something of test subjects in the area of cloud seeding.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS--Proton Pump Inhibitors, also knows as antacids are used by an estimated 15 million Americans and they rake in roughly $13 Billion in sales a year. These drugs are commonly used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, and peptic ulcers. While there is any number of PPI’s out there, the most commonly used are omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), and esomeprazole (Nexium). PPIs help reduce the amount of stomach acid made by glands in the lining of the stomach. 

While there are times this medication is called for, these drugs are often taken casually and as an adjunct to offset a poor diet. Up until recently, side effects of PPI’s have not involved the mind, but in a recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine, an association between Antacids and dementia has arisen. 

The study included 75,000 adults aged 75 and older. In order to qualify to be in the study, the participants needed to be free of dementia, and their use of PPI’s needed to be considered chronic which meant filling a prescription every 3 months for each 18 month period. After an 8-year follow up, the chronic PPI users had a 44% increased risk of dementia compared with those who did not take any medication. Woman had an overall lower risk of dementia than men, and the occasional PPI user had a much lower risk over all. 

It’s important to note that this study does not prove that taking PPI’s causes dementia, but rather that there is an association between long term PPI use and dementia. There may be other factors involved such as people that tend to need PPI’s may have a generally unhealthy diet which could also contribute to dementia. This study did not include what other drugs these elderly people were on, and with more thorough research they may have discovered other links and associations with drugs and dementia. 

It is important to go through all of the medications you are taking at least once a year and talk to your doctor to see if you still need to be on said drugs, or if the dosage could be reduced. Too many people, especially the elderly get used to taking their meds and don’t think to ask their doctors if they can stop or cut back. Of course, never stop taking a medication until you consult your doctor. No one will be more concerned about your health and well being than you, so take responsibility for your health and be your own primary care provider.

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)



WELLNESS--Pro means for or in favor of, and biotic means bacteria. Probiotic is a favorable bacterium for your gut. Most people think they are only great for your digestion and elimination, but more and more studies are indicating that probiotics are an important component in order to help many of our health functions. 

Bones are one example of the wide array of probiotic health benefits. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 54 million Americans are currently living with or at risk of developing Osteoporosis. The NOF estimates that 1 in 2 woman over 50 and 1 in 4 men will break a bone due to osteoporosis. By the year 2020 it is estimated that 50% of Americans will have low bone density. 

There are many reasons Osteoporosis occurs. The causes range from low calcium, imbalanced hormones, inflammation, poor diet, and an unhealthy gut. Regarding gut health, there have been multiple studies as of late indicating the link between healthy probiotics and better bone health. The mechanisms by which this happens includes a decrease in gut inflammation in turn leading to an increase in bone density among other reasons.  

While there are some medications for osteoporosis, they have not proven very effective, and many people agree that the best way to avoid and often treat this disease is through nutrition and supplementation. It is important to start with healthy vitamin D levels along with Calcium and probiotics in order to prevent the initial thinning and weakening of bones in the first place. These days many doctors are checking vitamin D3 levels, which is crucial in maintaining many health and immune related functions in the body. 

There is a powerful link between bone weakness and cigarette smoking so adding bone health to the already long list of what people should not smoke cigarettes is fair. Exercise is another way to strengthen those bones. Lifting weights and even brisk walking is a great way to add strength to our bones. 

Adding probiotics will decrease inflammation and in turn help to prevent leaky gut. This occurs when the body is not absorbing nutrients because the mucosal lining of the gut is not fully healthy and in place. Probiotics also help to build the short chain fatty acids, which in turn help to strengthen the bones. 

Very often the probiotics in yogurt are not enough to reach the levels needed for optimum health. There are many options out there for probiotics and I like Mercola. His do not need to be refrigerated and they work very well in building the probiotics levels in the gut. Take your probiotics and keep active as a couple of ways to maintain bone health well into old age.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)




WELLNESS--When I mention to friends and patients about the dangers of a specific food or cleaning agent they are using I often hear the comment that “everything causes Cancer.” This is simply not true and below I’m going to give you some pointers on how to take the purification of your home and body to the next level.

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WELLNESS--In today’s busy world, there never seems to be enough time for us. Add the stress of family on top of work and bills, and it makes getting out of town more challenging than ever. What people don’t realize is there is a clear link between over-working, not taking down time, and coronary heart disease. 

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WELLNESS-In a study done with 89,283 people they found that whether or not we are energized in the morning or more prefer to sleep in is linked to our DNA. The study was published in the Journal of Nature Communications on February 2nd.  

"In this study we set out to discover more about an individual's preference toward early rising and were able to identify the genetic associations with 'morningness' as well as ties to lifestyle patterns and other traits," Youna Hu, Ph.D., who led 23andMe's research on the paper, said in a statement. 

15 areas in the human genone that are associated with “morningness” were isolated and studied. They drew a link for the first time between people that held certain genes and being a morning person. 7 of those 15 genes were associated with circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings that is generated from within. 

Like other types of genetic links, just because our genes pre-dispose us towards a certain type of behavior does not mean we are predestined to act those behaviors out. The study also showed that people who were night owls tend to be less healthy in very specific ways. They have a greater tendency towards depression and insomnia for example than their early to bed counterparts, and the people staying up late into the night also have a lower BMI and a greater tendency towards obesity. 

Further studies along the same lines may help the health community get a better understanding of diseases and disorders such as insomnia, depression, and obesity that have been linked with sleeplessness for years.

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)


More people than ever are seeking and using Acupuncture and Chiropractic to heal their bodies. It is estimated that over 30 million people use Chiropractic every year and according to an Acupuncture Today survey the same is true of Acupuncture. 

The reasons for people seeking care from healers outside of their western medical route is varied. Many people report that they don’t want to continue taking medications or going through obtrusive surgeries in order to get better. More still simply don’t get the relief they want from the standard western model. 

In addition to trying to heal an illness, the more savvy and health conscious individuals are well aware that using Acupuncture and Chiropractic as well as staying healthy and fit are some of the best ways to stay out of the hospital. 

With studies like the one put on by The Journal of Public Safety showing that the number of accidental deaths in hospitals may be over 400,000 a year it is no wonder that people are doing whatever they can to stay healthy and avoid them.

The Hospital Safety Score put accidental hospital deaths as the 3rd leading cause of death in America and their number is 440,000. 

To help patients avoid getting sick in the first place, wellness centers across the country have been popping up that offer everything under one roof. Very often the primary focus is to treat the person using the most non-invasive and drug free methods possible and this usually includes chiropractic and acupuncture along with physical therapy and others modalities.   

Illness can have many roots and in today’s busy world many people are living their lives with elevated levels of stress hormones over prolonged periods of time. The primary stress hormone associated with illness is Cortisol. This hormone is linked to many ailments including weight gain, sugar imbalance, immunity suppression, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, and fertility problems. 

By getting regular treatments of acupuncture, chiropractic or massage people are lowering their stress levels, taking their bodies out of fight or flight and therefore lowering the amount of cortisol. Part of the challenge in the Unites States is that many people wait until an illness is already starting to manifest before they seek help. At that point too many people are still deciding to simply take pills instead of participating in their own health and wellness. 

The medical system in this country is stressed due to the sheer volume of people that doctors need to see every day. Many people are going to outpatient clinics or emergency rooms making it close to impossible to see the same doctor more than once. Doctors have a hard time getting to know patients due to time constraints and too many patients, and ultimately patients tend to slip through the cracks of the broken western medical model. 

Thankfully, more and more people are learning that they need to be their own primary care providers and in doing so seek out a healthy lifestyle and connections to health providers that have time and energy to spend on their patients. 


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)




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WELLNESS--You may be familiar with the term “Sound Bath” as it has become more and more popular, especially within the spiritual, yoga, and meditation communities. Although it has nothing to do with getting wet, many would liken it to being cleansed from the inside out. 

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WELLNESS--Over the past few months I have been using an FDA approved, homeopathic, transdermal, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) gel. Like many people, I am always on the lookout for the next breakthrough product that will help me  remain healthy, young, and vital. 

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WELLNESS--I’ve been taking a social media vacation. I needed a break. The more people I speak with, it seems that I am not alone.

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WELLNESS--Have you ever noticed that even when you’re doing well, life seems to test you?

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WELLNESS--We have been having record breaking heat in Southern California and with the planet continuing to warm up, there’s a good chance we have not seen the end of it.

This past week Los Angeles and San Diego have felt more like Arizona with temperatures reaching 117 in some places. Heat records all over southern California were toppled and at one point in Los Angeles alone there were over 32,000 residents without power. 

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WELLNESS--For starters, the all or nothing attitude towards exercise is not the mindset we want to hold.

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WELLNESS--Last week two high profile celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain took their own lives.

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WELLNESS--There is a drug that has taken the psychiatric world by storm and it’s called Ketamine.

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