Posts Tagged ‘Exercise’

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“Take two thirty minute walks and call me in the morning…”

Monday, December 16th, 2013

There are not often studies that compare drugs and non-drug therapies in the treatment of illness. If such studies took place, the results might call the use of those drugs into question. And that is exactly what happened.

In October the British Medical Journal published a study that reveals a great deal about the tragic focus of health care in the US. In the study, the authors reviewed an astounding 304 prior studies that involved a total of almost 340,000 patients. Specifically, they looked at studies in which drug therapies and exercise programs were recommended for people who had four diseases: stroke, diabetes, heart failure and chronic heart disease. Three of these are in the top 5 causes of death in the US, and they account for hundreds of billions of medical expenses and lost productivity each year.

The majority of the studies they could find on these diseases only looked at the effectiveness of drugs. But they were able to find 57 studies, encompassing almost 15,000 patients, which looked at exercise in the treatment of these diseases. Then they compared which therapies – drugs or exercise – resulted in the greatest reduction in complications and deaths caused by those diseases.

What they found was that exercise was equally or more effective than drug therapies in reducing mortality for strokes, diabetes and heart failure. Only for chronic heart disease were diuretic drugs more effective than exercise at reducing mortality.

This is, of course, astounding news.

Perhaps in the future we will see more studies like this. In the meantime, give us a call and let our team of  medical care providers support you in learning how to exercise in the presence of chronic illness.

Give us a call today to schedule a visit: 503-287-4970


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The Marathon Experiment

Friday, March 2nd, 2012


The quick and dirty of it all is this:  I am running my first marathon in April 2012…in Paris.  It’s my honeymoon…and I am going big.

I don’t come from a long line of marathon runners. My husband does, though.  In fact, he comes from hearty German stock and very athletic parents.  His mom ran the entire duration of her pregnancy with him, through lush Bavarian forests and cobblestoned streets.  Both of his parents have competitively run many races–it was through a recent discussion with them that we officially caught the marathon bug.

I have always been a bit more of a gym rat than a marathon runner.  As a personal trainer for the past 10 years, I have preached to many the great benefits of circuit training—the idea of keeping cardio/endurance workouts in moderation with strength training and stretching.   And, as I have already had two knee surgeries earned from competitive downhill ski racing, I am maybe not the best candidate to train for a marathon.  But, at the end of the day, I really want to run one.  So I am going to.  In April.  In Paris.

I by no means hope to compete in this one-and-only marathon, but to complete it and then enjoy the rest of my honeymoon.

Here is where the plot thickens a tad: not only am I going to run this race, I am going to take the best care of my body as possible. I am assembling a team-care approach to training, that I am hoping to employ with other athletes (both professional and non) as well as myself.   I am lucky to work in a holistic clinic and have access to such a great team to take care of me, but a large portion of it will also be self care, the easiest thing to let slip as a healthcare provider.

The plan:
·      Acupuncture 1x/week
·      Chinese Herbs
·      Massage 1-2x/month
·      IV Therapy every two weeks
·      Supplements
·      Diet Change to the ‘Paleo Diet’
·      Chiropractic/Naturopathic Manipulative Therapy weekly

Throughout the following weeks you will get a taste of what I am doing to both train and heal my body as I prepare for this huge task!

Image courtesy Caitlinator


Super Supplement Strategy: Part 1

March 15, 2012

About two weeks ago, I hit the wall. My long runs have been feeling VERY long and my body has been taking days to recover. We are in the final month and counting before our trip, and I am getting a little anxious over the race… all I want to do is finish it, but on the other hand, these long runs are slowly breaking me down, making training for that hopeful finish harder by the run.

So, this week, I am going to mention the super-supplement-strategy that I beefed up even more in the last few weeks to get my through this next month.

First of all, I had been getting a mini IV Therapy treatment weekly. Seeing as how I co-teach the IV Nutritional Therapy Course at NCNM, it won’t shock many to know that this has been incorporated into my treatment plan from the beginning. In the last two weeks, I simply increased the dose of a few of the vitamins and minerals to help compensate for the increased loss of nutrients on my long runs. (This next section is going to sound like a bit of a commercial for IV Therapy, so stick with me… I figure I would just teach it outright on this blog, and anyone interested could come and talk specifics with me if need be.)

IV Therapy is a form of treatment that most naturopathic physicians learn as part of the their basic education, but not many specialize in, due to the amount of set up required to infuse nutrients and the inherent risks of the treatment. I have learned to love the benefits of IV Therapy and prescribe it with many of my patients: from Hepatitis C to GI disorders to improved athletic performance.

Potential Benefits of IV Therapy include:

· Easy access to rapid administration of solutions

· Easy to monitor delivery of fluids, electrolytes and nutrients (for those with impaired GI tracts)

· Nutrients are not affected by stomach or intestinal disease (so, we don’t have to worry about mal-absorption issues that can plague us during times of high stress…like marathon training)

· Total amount of fluid and nutrients enters the circulation, therefore it is available to the tissues.

· Higher doses of nutrients can be given by vein than by mouth without nausea, abdominal discomfort or diarrhea.
Here is an abbreviated list of a few of the vitamins and minerals that I am including into my IV Treatment and why I chose them:

Vitamin B5:

· Aids in release of energy from foods.

· Involved in the transport of fatty acids to and from cells and accelerates fatty acid breakdown in the mitochondria.

· Stimulates healing.

· Supports adrenal glands and alleviates stress.

Vitamin B6:

· Participates in multi-enzyme systems, chemical reactions of proteins and amino acids.

· Promotes normal red blood cell formation.

· Helps in energy production and resistance to stress, enhances mood.

· Co-enzyme in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.

· Relieves some joint pain and muscle spasm.

Vitamin C:

· Antioxidant, prevent muscle soreness post exercise.

· Helps in collagen tissue health.

· Supports the immune system


· Participates in metabolic functions necessary for normal activity of nervous, muscular and skeletal systems.

· Plays important role in normal heart function.


· Relaxes tight muscles and muscle spasm.

· Relieves night time leg cramps.

· Regulates normal heart rhythm.

· A cofactor in numerous enzyme systems and is involved in muscular excitability and neurochemical transmission.

I include most of the above nutrients in many of the IVs that I provide here at Nature Cures Clinic, and many more, always creating specific formulas (or, cocktails as many patients call them) for specific patients.

Stay tuned: I’ll talk about oral supplements next!


Supplements for a Long Run

March 1, 2012

For the past two months, I have been trying to find the perfect on-the-run supplements to use for electrolyte balance and calorie upkeep.  I have attempted to veer away from the sugary supplements that are out there, as the main ingredients of maltodextrin and fructose are not exactly what I would call perfect fuels for the body.  (For a reminder of why I don’t particularly love fructose, please see previous posts)

Maltodextrin:  This is a highly processed starch, derived form other starchy foods (potatoes, wheat, etc).  It is a bit of a useless, nutrition-less, overly sweet-tasting filler.  It can be converted to glucose in the body, but it is otherwise pretty worthless.

I have been using basically three supplemental food products (notice I mentioned food and not sugar-based products?) to get me through my long runs:

  • Homemade fruit and nut energy bars/bites
  • Easy to make sports drink with electrolyte replacement
  • Almond Butter Packets

Homemade Energy Bars/Bites:

Here are some recipes that I have been using with great success for a pre-run and sometimes mid-run whole foods snack:

  • 2 tbsp Coconut oil
  • 1 cup almonds
  • ½ cup cashews
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup dates
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Put all ingredients into a food processor and process until the mix is slightly sticky—enough to form small bite sized pieces.  Wrap these pieces in some waxed paper (don’t make them too big, as I have definitely had a bit of a choking fit while trying to gobble too much at once).

Sports Drink:

Use the guidelines below to make a drink that tastes good to you.  I go lighter on the honey and heavier on the salt, because I have found that at about mile 8-10 I am needing some salt replacement.  I am choosing sea salt over iodized salt for its maintained natural levels of iodine, magnesium, and other trace nutrients that are removed from iodized salt during the refining process.

  • Fill bottles to the top with filtered water
  • ½ tsp – 1 tsp of lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tsp – 1 tbsp of raw honey
  • ¼ tsp – ½ tsp of sea salt

Almond Butter Packets:

Check these out:

I have been using 1-2 of the almond and honey packets per long run and I love them.  They provide a huge burst of energy and are a pretty perfect mix of fats, carbohydrates, and protein!


Sugar Smackdown

February 3, 2012

A friend of mine recently said, “Dr. Fuller, in my house we think that white sugar and high fructose corn syrup are the devil, and that agave and honey are just fine… but why is that?”  It is a great question, especially in this time of fad diets, sugar free trends, and new sugar substitutes competing for the consumer’s attention nearly every week.  As an athlete (and now, by default, a runner…), I have been indoctrinated to think that I need quick release sugar in the form of goopy packets and sports drinks to be able to survive my runs…but is that really the case?

To start get to that answer of that question, let’s break down the idea of sugar even more.  First, lets talk about what sugar even really is. This site is a fantastic place to get a brief education on what sugar is and how it affects us:

Two vocab words to stick in your head are glucose and fructose, which are each single-molecule sugar forms. Table sugar is a combination of glucose and fructose, called sucrose.  And high fructose corn syrup is a combo of fructose and glucose with over half being composed of fructose, making it seem sweeter to our tastebuds.

Glucose is essential to life.  Glucose is the form of sugar that fuels our bodies, both during exercise and during rest.  This is where the buck stops, as all other sugar forms have to be converted to glucose to be used by our cells.  Most other fats and proteins that we eat (or that are already a part of our physiology) can also be turned into glucose…we are that awesome and efficient.

The quick and dirty (well, really not-so-quick, and pretty dirty-lookin) on fructose is as follows: “Fructose is a sugar found mainly in fruits, which undergoes metabolic processing in the liver. The main problem with fructose is that little piece about needing to be metabolized by the liver. Studies have suggested that consuming too much fructose messes up all kinds of things in the body.  Some show a correlation with obesity. Fructose tends to promote an increase in triglycerides in the blood, which are a definite marker for heart disease. Other studies have shown that fructose pulls important minerals from the blood, chelating them out of the body. This little gem also increases levels of uric acid in the body, an abundance of which brings about the symptoms of gout.

Studies have shown fatty liver disease from too much fructose, making the liver look like that of an alcoholic. And finally, fructose reduces circulating insulin and leptin, while decreasing suppression of ghrelin levels, hormones which control satiety and appetite.” Fructose, then, is a little tougher on the body, but it is also the main sugar in fruit…does that mean fruit is bad for me in this marathon training frenzy I find myself in?

Not necessarily… fruit does have sugar in the form of fructose but, couple that with some fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other goodies that you don’t get in the sweeteners, contributing bulk that limits how much you can eat.  In high fructose corn syrup there are no coupling-goodies (for lack of better word) and the body is just taxed by this form of sweet.

I asked Maria Zilka, our Certified Nutritionist here at Nature Cures Clinic, to talk to me a little more about the goods and bads of sweets in the eyes of athletic training. Here are some key points that she passed along to me:

·       Every cell in our body needs sugar for energy production—just not processed sugar.  All the essential sugar that we need for health can come from fruit and vegetable sources.
·       When you eat any processed form of sugar, you eat something that has some or all of its synergy taken away.
·       When you have sugar in nature, you have something to couple it with: either fat or fiber.  Refined sugars are completely devoid of most minerals, vitamins, and micronutrients.

Maria has also encouraged me to leave the sugary on-the-run packets behind for a more of a combination approach:

·       Fats are the logs on our metabolic fire, sugar is the kindling.  Endurance and sprint athletes know the value of sugar…but, at the end of a long ride or a huge run, it is actually the fats that have provided the power and endurance!  We need them both to keep our fires going strong!

To sum it all up:

Avoid processed sugar sources and stick with unprocessed sources. Some examples include:

·       Raw honey contains nutrients and enzymes when we filter it.
·       Grade B maple syrup (filtered one less time) has more nutrients
·       Dates (fiber and cellulose)

Stay tuned for next week’s post, where I’ll share some recipes for on-the-run nutrition that Maria has helped me develop!


The Straight Fats (errr, Facts…)

January 27, 2012

For so many years, the word ‘fat’ has been vilified in our society.  Low-fat this, non-fat that, trans-saturated-hydrogenated-confusing.  What I want to impress upon you, as I explain my fat-feeding-strategy, is that fat is so very needed and important to allow our body to function.  It is also a perfect source of fuel to use when training for an endurance sport.  We just have to make some educated choices about what fats to use and when to use them.

A fantastic site that discusses the ins and outs of good and bad fats can be found here: It is well worth bookmarking and even printing the chart they include!

Understanding how fats work in and out of the body:

At the end of the day, what it comes down to is simple biochemistry: how the molecules line up dictates how fats will fold and lay atop one another—creating solids, liquids, and gelatinous goo in between.

There are two main factors to consider when it comes to oil/fat biochemistry:

·       How easily they oxidize. The oxidation of fatty acids changes the chemical properties of the fat; it reduces the nutritional value of the fat, darkens its color, can cause off–flavors, and may be deleterious to your health.  As I mentioned in my last post, I am avoiding all things that might increase my oxidation level, leading to free radical accumulation, starting with keeping oxidized fats out of my diet.  (For a very science geeky/technical explanation of oxidation, check out this site:  Keep in mind, it is discussing machinery oil products… and I am attempting to become a better-oiled-machine)

·       Omega ratios:  The key is that omega 3 is anti-inflammatory while omega 6 has the possibility to generate more inflammation. (Again, I am generating enough inflammation on my own, without the added help from the fats that I consume…)

The quick and dirty with what to do with these fats and how to incorporate them into a diet is as simple as this:

·       Avoid trans fats.  They are gross.  Both in taste and in what they do to the body.
·       Use monounsaturated oil (olive, sesame, etc) for low heat only: they have the tendency to oxidize with high heat.
·       Avoid using polyunsaturated oils (canola, cottenseed, corn, soybean, etc). Oxidation and inflammation central.
·       Embrace saturated fats (grass feed animal fat/lard, butter, coconut, etc): worry more about the source you are getting the fat from than the fact that it is saturated (Think happy, pasture raised, grass loving animals)
·       Remember: Omega 3 is good for me, Omega 6 is ick ick ick.

Stay tuned for the Sugar-Smack down, coming soon, when I talk Carbohydrate Strategy.


Planning on Stress — Understanding the Nutritional Strategy

January 20, 2012

There are hundreds of articles and websites out there dedicated to the topic of using exercise as a stress reliever.  And as my patients know, I am always asking what they are doing for exercise and making suggestions on how to get more movement into their lives.  Exercise — cardiovascular, strength training, stretching —is undeniably important to our health and well-being. Overexercise — like one might find themselves doing as part of a marathon training program — causes its share of stress on the body, however, rather than relieving it.

Strenuous exercise increases oxygen consumption and causes disturbance of intracellular pro-oxidant/antioxidant homeostasis — generating boat-loads of free radicals.  An increasing body of evidence has implicated this oxidative stress, and the resulting free radicals, in the pathogenesis of numerous diseases, such as diabetes, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Oxidative stress can lead to damage or destruction of cellular macromolecules such as lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids (building blocks to DNA!) — it is what I spend a majority of my time attempting to mitigate with the patients that I treat.

It is no surprise that oxidative stress has been associated with decreased physical performance, muscular fatigue, muscle damage, and overtraining. High intensity exercise induces quite a bit of oxidative stress and although there is no evidence that this affects sporting performance in the short term, it may have longer term health consequences.

Free radicals are usually neutralized by an elaborate antioxidant defense system consisting of enzymes such as catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and numerous non-enzymatic antioxidants, including vitamins A, E and C, glutathione, ubiquinone, and flavonoids (I will dedicate a whole post to the topic of Glutathione in the near future).

Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radical generating processes and available antioxidants.  Several environmental, nutritional, and lifestyle choices can cause the balance to swing in the favor of oxidative stress —including high intensity and long duration exercise.  So, the question then becomes, what strategy am I going to use to counteract all of this intense training and free radical generation?

Antioxidants, as I mentioned above, are the nutrients we require in order to neutralize free radicals so they can then be eliminated from the body in a harmless form.  Many people in our society live on nutrient-deficient diets from highly processed and refined foods that do not supply essential nutrient protection.  My strategy to diminish the effects of this intense training using a highly nutritive diet strategy is 3-part, and will be discussed over the upcoming posts.

Over the next two weeks, I am going to delve into two important components of nutrition that comprise a healthy, antioxidant rich diet: macronutrients — like proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and micronutrients.

I am going to spend the following week talking about the different on-the-go nutritional aids that Nature Cures’ own Maria Zilka is helping me to create.  These will replace the traditional sugary goo packets and sports drinks that have been popularized in the sporting community.

And finally, my favorite topic, I am going to dedicate a post to the fantastic treatment of IV Therapy, a subject that I teach at the National College of Natural Medicine and one of the best ways to pump the body full of micronutrients and antioxidants that can often be a challenge to absorb in high volume orally.


1.     Exercise and oxidative stress: significance of antioxidants with reference to inflammatory, muscular, and systemic stress. Exerc Immunol Rev. 2001;7:108-33.

2.     Exercise, free radicals and oxidative stress, Biochemical Society Transactions. 2002, 30(2):280-5.

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Summer Event: Prepare and Repair

Thursday, August 18th, 2011


By Dr. Leslie Fuller
Nature Cures Clinic physician

It is that time again — summer sports event season.  And Portland has a lot of them.   We naturopaths like exercise, we even recommend it to our patients and participate in events ourselves… what we don’t like, however, are the injuries and stress to the body that improper training and poor physical body maintenance can lead to.

For the last several years, I have worked in the medical tents at the end of the Portland Triathlon and Portland Marathon, and I’ll be there again this year.  Most athletes that we see come our way at the end of the race have one of few things ailing them: extreme muscle spasm/soreness, hypothermia or hyperthermia, or blood sugar imbalance. This article is going to take a look at the specifics of preparing and repairing our bodies for big athletic events — hopefully to keep readers out of the medical tents due to intense musculoskeletal pain.

Stress reduction is a common theme of any treatment protocol for most patients.  We live in a stressful world and most of our work environments contribute to the daily stress load.  Something to keep in mind, however, is that exercise itself is also a stress.  And just like all other stressors in life, it too needs to be balanced.

First and foremost, and often most obvious from the aches and pains earned during the event training process, is musculoskeletal system balance. When a body is experiencing pain, it is hard for it to perform at its maximum output.  So keeping our bodies out of pain is a huge goal for any athletically-aimed treatment program.  Most musculoskeletal pain in tendons and ligaments is caused by an imbalance around the joint.

When a muscle is overly strong or over developed, it can cause a whole joint (and often a whole side of the body) to function improperly.  This improper function leads to poor biomechanics, and often pain.  Wear and tear around joint can be caused by overtraining — both by performing the same repetitive motion on a weak joint and by not replenishing the body when it is broken down. Cramping, muscle spasms, and even sore muscles are a sign of a potential nutritional deficiencies.

In preparing for a big event, take time during the hours of training to listen to the aches and pains in your body — they are signs that something is not right.  Often, it is simply a problem of biomechanics and posture.  Having an expert fit you into you bike saddle better or watching you run on the treadmill will help eliminate possible imbalances in your gait and posture.  Remembering that stretching and strengthening is very important — for every overly strong and tight muscle, there is an equally overly stretched and weak one.

Our muscles and tendons thrive on protein, calcium, magnesium and good food — in the form of fats and sugars — as well as many trace nutrients.  The best way to prevent nutritional deficiencies is to make sure all of these necessities are incorporated into the diet.  The key to proper event training nutrition is not a surprise: every body is different and has different needs.  Figuring out what fuels your body best both pre-event and mid-event is highly important.  And, having a well-balanced post-event nutrition strategy will help you recover quicker.  While carbohydrates such as starches, vegetables and fruit are the quickest fuel sources, healthy fats and proteins are also extremely important.

Here at Nature Cures I work with a lot of musculoskeletal pain.  Through diet, manual therapy, stretching exercises and naturopathic manipulative therapy I am usually able to help athletes avoid pain syndromes that prevent peak performance.  I also use Prolotherapy, an injection technique that helps to stabilize weak ligaments and tendons and helps re-balance possible causes of joint and muscle pain.  The modality of IV therapy can also reduce pain and inflammation, as well as provide excellent nutritional support during heavy training.

Dr. Leslie Fuller is an avid runner and athlete, and understands the needs of an athlete’s body. If you’re training for a big athletic event, consider coming in to Nature Cures Clinic for a free 30-minute consult before, during or after your training.



Image courtesy Brighton Photographer

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Yoga’s ability to improve mood and lessen anxiety is linked to increased levels of a critical brain chemical

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

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Aerobic exercise relieves insomnia

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

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Children’s brain development is linked to physical fitness

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

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Nothing beats yoga in managing mood, anxiety

Friday, August 20th, 2010

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Sweating in the summer heat promotes good health

Friday, July 30th, 2010

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Adherence to recommended exercise improves physical function, reduces pain for OA patients

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

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The Inflammatory Landscape of Cancer

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Chronic inflammation creates an environment in the body that is conducive to cancer development.  This article explains how inflammation can be lessened by basic lifestyle changes.

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Those Who Exercise When Young Have Stronger Bones When They Grow Old

Friday, July 16th, 2010

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Large-Scale, Long-Term Studies Support Roles Of Physical Activity And Diet In Dementia And Cognitive Decline

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

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Exercise reduces gallstones

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

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Teenage Physical Activity Reduces Risk of Cognitive Impairment in Later Life

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

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Exercise May Be An Effective And Nonpharmacologic Treatment Option For Alcohol Dependence

Friday, June 25th, 2010

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