Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We all know this old adage and many health professionals such as chiropractors agree that it is true. But what is often left out of the story is the importance of what that breakfast actually consists of. Some breakfast foods like sugary cereals or overly greasy meats may actually be bad for you. One oft overlooked dish that is both simple but also tremendously nutritious is oatmeal. Oatmeal can come in all sorts of varieties and can be mixed with other healthy foods such as fruits. There are numerous benefits that you can gain from eating this simple food staple.
One of the more notable impacts that oatmeal has on many people is that it may help reduce cholesterol levels. Part of this effect is due to the mere replacement of less heathy foods, but part of it also has to do with the macronutrients that make up oatmeal. Namely, the food has a lot of fiber which can help reduce cholesterol absorption in the gut and keep your blood from ever seeing some of the fatty particles that you may be consuming.
Oatmeal can also help boost your immune system by helping with the gut microbiome and promoting growth of good flora. They may also help increase neutrophils in your body, which help fight infections/
In addition to the cholesterol and immune impact, oatmeal is full of antioxidants. These small molecules can help neutralize free radicals that can otherwise wreak havoc on our cells and cause things like cardiovascular disease and even aging.
A fourth benefit of the food is that it helps with blood sugar levels. The fiber is one of the key mechanisms by which oatmeal can have this impact. By promoting a more stable blood sugar, fiber may also remove some of the sugar highs and lows (or crashes) that many people experience every day and which can lead to a worsened quality of life (and potentially further drive poor nutritional choices).
This stability of impact of sugar levels and the effect of the fiber make oatmeal a good choice for those who need to watch their sugar due to poor insulin sensitivity. It is also a good choice for those who may have Celiac’s disease or poor gluten tolerance as it is naturally very low in gluten and studies have shown that even those with diagnosed disease generally tolerate it pretty well.
Oatmeal may be cheap, it may be simple, and it may not look very special when sitting alone in a bowl, but it is clear that it has tremendous benefits for consumers and can be a very strong staple in a healthy diet. The economic benefits (low cost and high availability) make it a prime option for people of all means to really give their diets a boost. From the heart protection to immune boosting properties, it is hard to find another food that is an effective as oatmeal is in helping promote healthier lives.
Stretching is a staple of sports injury prevention. From kids’ sports leagues to professional teams, every organization in the world of sports seems to espouse the benefits of stretching before play. Stretching increases the blood flow and allows for faster transport of necessary nutrients and signaling molecules to areas of the body that need it when under the stress of strenuous physical activity. While this is the common sentiment around stretching, a lot of it is just based on tradition as opposed to scientifically studied fact.
That is until now. A new meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the effects of exercise intervention in preventing sports injuries has some compelling data. The study concludes that strength training and proprioceptive exercise fact protect against injury, but stretching programs have shown no effect in the literature. That’s right- stretching shows no effect in the scientific literature. It may be that longer term strength training is really what the focus of sports leagues (especially for older athletes) should be.
This does not mean that people should stop stretching right away though as it is still a low cost intervention which may still have some upsides yet to be found in studies. The important takeaway of this new study, however, is that strength training should be considered a lot more than it currently is as a preventative measure for sports injuries. Right now, general sentiment sometimes runs completely opposite of this with people thinking that weight training actually worsens your outcomes as far as weakening your body and making it more susceptible to injury- that just isn’t true!
The interesting thing about this is that in the professional sports world, weight training is a normal part of the job and expected training. It is at levels below pro where this really breaks down. This is where there is the greatest room for impact for health professionals, coaches, parents, etc. to help their patients or loved ones avoid injury. A health professional that is especially trained to help out with coming up with the right type of exercise and prevention plan is a sport chiropractor. These professionals can help make customized programs for individual patients that is part of a holistic program of wellness. Other professionals which may be able to help include personal trainers, physical therapists, nutritionists (as diet is very important as well, especially when it comes to strength training), and your primary care doctor as well.
Next time you are stretching, remember that that is likely still a good idea, but the real gains (figuratively and literally) will come from lifting weights, especially as sports injuries are concerned. There is scientific literature to support that and more work in the future may help validate that idea. Until then, we have to stick with the best level of evidence available and for now that seems to point to the pros of weight training outweighing any potential downsides. Stay safe and best of luck in your athletic endeavors; may the strength be with you!
Image credit: sergofoto
There can be many causes of pain. One of the oft-forgotten causes is pain associated with weather changes. Many chronic sufferers will feel increased discomfort or sensations of hurtful muscles when it becomes humid (often during rain) or cold. Pain with weather changes can be a difficult ailment to diagnose and perhaps even harder to treat since it often has to do with mechanics as opposed to neurological issues (problems stemming from nerves). While traditional medications may sometimes help (especially NSAIDs which can help reduce inflammation), certain practitioners may be able to provide customized treatment to the specific weather-associated pain and the location where it occurs.
Chiropractors are especially equipped to help with this sort of thing due to their training in the musculoskeletal system. They can help assist in figuring out what types of compresses (hot or cold) will be most effective and help create an overall wellness plan centered around the pain. They may also be able to perform some procedures which reduce the hurting in the short term. Chiropractic professionals can also offer advice on lifestyle changes in order to prevent recurrences of this type of pain- things like offering tips to improve posture (bad posture is often correlated with worsened pain), dressing appropriately for different types of weather, and doing exercises to help strengthen certain muscles.
While other healthcare providers may also offer some solutions, a chiropractor’s alternatives will likely be aimed at a longer term solution. The traditional medical literature still focuses on treatment with short-lived pain medications which often just mask the issue for a few hours until the body naturally starts repairing what is wrong. This can be effective too, but will not help prevent future pain or issues with weather related discomfort. To really get a full care plan it is important to consult with your primary care doctor in addition to your local chiropractor and possibly other health professionals who you see such as your physical therapist, pharmacist, and nutritionist or dietician. Issues of pain can be tremendously complicated and all of these professionals have their areas of expertise through which they can help develop a comprehensive care plan for you and your loved ones, especially in times of need. Best of luck with your pain issues and know that you are not alone- literally millions of Americans suffer from similar issues and are going through the same sort of hurdles both physically and mentally.
Image source: Jozef Polc
More and more people are turning to alternative therapies for all sorts of ailments from common colds to obesity. It is a growing part of not only treatment but even part of daily living regimens to promote improved wellness. This trend is especially apparent in the younger population and points to increased growth looking forward. One in every 9 kids under the age of 18 does at least one of the following: partakes in yoga, uses supplements such as fish oil, or goes to a chiropractor. This is according to a recent government survey.
The most common type of alternative therapy in this group are non-vitamin products including fish oil, flaxseed oil, and probiotics. The widespread availability of these products in pharmacies and grocery stores around the country make this a pretty unsurprising fact. One of the more surprising statistics is that about 3 percent of children see an osteopath or chiropractor. But given what chiropractors can do, it really should not be surprising even though it is to many people. From helping with spinal issues to nutrition management, chiropractors can play a very large role in the wellness of patients.
The survey findings have many interesting implications. It may be a sign of a changing shift in attitude and perhaps a greater embracement of living well from younger generations. It will also be interesting to see how the traditional medical establishment reacts to the news. One of the downsides of this survey is that it really is concerning that children are using these or any therapies, especially with a shortage of data in that particular population. Any child thinking of using any supplement or even approved medication should really consult their primary care doctor first to make sure that the data are really there in the younger aged population as many things can affect them much more from a safety standpoint relative to adult users.
A final interesting insight of the findings is that this likely means that parents are now also becoming more open to their children pursuing alternative treatment. Alternatively, they may even be driving some of this increased demand. More studies are really needed to further quantify that. Whether we are talking about a chiropractor or supplements, it is important for every parent to do their due diligence and to make the right decisions for their children (or with them if they are a bit older).
Image credit: Sebastian Duda
Millions of Americans suffer from some sort of neck pain each and every year. There aren’t any bulletproof ways that have caught on to mainstream popularity when it comes to reducing neck pain let alone getting rid of it. There are a number of pain medications out there which are often used in such cases, but they are not at all targeted to the neck, instead offering very blanket solutions that come with a number of side effects to boot. From over-the-counter agents such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen to prescription only drugs like tramadol and oxycodone, they all have their side effects and limits on what they can actually accomplish.
Another option beyond drugs is physical therapy. This is an underrated and possibly underutilized option that can help alleviate pain, especially if it is the result of a particular injury. While physical therapy, drugs, and other treatment options that are suggested by medical doctors are pretty well known, one option is much less known even compared to PT, yet it might have some of the best efficacy results for certain patients.
This option is chiropractic care. Chiropractors, who are specifically trained in back, neck, and joint problems, can offer a number of potential solutions that are not well known or appreciated in the traditional medicine community. Some early research is starting to support this viewpoint, although more studies on the matter are needed. Even when it comes to chiropractic care, the options are very misunderstood. Most people thing of spinal manipulations as the bread and butter of chiropractic care, but it turns out that there are other even simpler things that chiropractors can help patients with that seem to have positive outcomes associated with them. This includes simple exercises which help move certain parts of the body such as the neck in ways that it usually doesn’t move but maybe should. This, when done properly, can help increase blood flow and reduce any neck pain or other pain that a patient is suffering from.
A chiropractor’s specialized training in somatic functions of the body allows them to customize exercise regimens for patients and to offer solutions that will specifically target the area that is bothering them instead of being a blanket like drugs which are often not as effective due to the lack of ability to target the root cause or even root area of pain. Some medical professionals and researchers are really surprised by some of the new information coming out but when you consider this simple idea of targeting it makes sense. Other professionals are still resisting the data saying that it is not enough to overturn what has been well known for so long and they may have a point until new, larger studies are conducted, but the downsides of chiropractic care in this arena are really very small so most patients would not be hurt by at least trying these techniques- even in addition to medication if they want. We may be at a new frontier in the treatment of neck pain and the chiropractic professional may just be at the center.
Image credit: inesbazdar
Do you suffer from back pain? Is the pain keeping you from doing your job properly or even from partaking in daily activities of living? You are not alone. The ailment plagues many, many people all around the world and of many different backgrounds and ages. It is a very common ailment but one that does not have a ton of effective options unfortunately. There are, however, numerous things that could be tried and different things really do work for different people. This is largely because back pain is a general manifestation which can result from a number of different root issues. These include but are not limited to nerve issues, muscle or ligament problems, or spinal misalignments.
These issues can arise from a number of behaviorally as well as other issues. Acute trauma such as that from car accidents or other physical injuries can often be a cause of pain anywhere including the back. These are pretty hard to avoid, but certain precautions depending on what you are doing (e.g. wearing a seatbelt in the car or appropriate safety gear when doing things which pose risks) can help reduce the risk of permanent injury.
Poor posture is another cause- one that is easier to do something about. It is important to work on keeping your correct posture by forming good habits. Part of this includes realizing what activities you do where your posture is especially bad and either avoiding them or trying to change something when you do them (e.g. stand instead of sit) and see if that helps you become more aware of the issue and in turn correct it.
Poor lifting habits are a third cause of back pain and one that can be especially common with males. Here it is all about just learning to do things the right way (e.g. lift with your legs, not your back) and stretching before you try to lift something that is heavy.
If you do develop back pain, solutions can vary greatly and some people may not find anything that works, but the key is really to keep trying things if the pain is really that bad. There are some medications that help with pain, but these are often just short-term remedies and sometimes can have many unwanted side effects. It is really better to try to manage the pain by other means including mediation or relaxation, techniques to reduce stress on the painful body parts, and warm or cold compresses. For more serious cases it may be a good idea to seek professional care.
While a traditional medical professional such as a doctor may be helpful, there are many other options as well. A physical therapist can help with some types of issues, especially when they are muscle based. Another option that is sometimes overlooked is chiropractic care. Chiropractors are trained to help with issues of the spine and joints and often deal with many patients suffering from back pain. If you have tried different options and still suffer from back pain, consider reaching out to your local chiropractor to see what they might be able to do for you!
Image credit: Mauricio Jordan De Souza Coelho
With the fall and Halloween seasons here, everyone is thinking pumpkins once more. From the local coffee shop to the microbrewery to the grocery store, pumpkins are everywhere and in all sorts of delicious drinks and foods. Luckily for us, pumpkins have quite a good amount of health benefits, making them (at least on their own) a healthy food choice (now remember that things consumed with pumpkins may not be healthy and it is important to be able to differentiate between pumpkin dishes that are healthy and are not). Pumpkins are after all a vegetable full of many vitamins and other good things.
Specifically, they are high in fiber and low in calories making them excellent choices for gastrointestinal health. This combo also is especially good in those trying to lose weight or not gain it as pumpkin can be filling without having the number of calories that an equal amount of other foods may contain. Fiber aids by slowing digestion making us feel full for a longer amount of time.
The low glycemic index food is a good source of food without too much sugar, making it a good option for diabetics and again those looking to lose weight. In addition, they may help lower bad cholesterol (also known as LDL), particular if you eat the seeds (a fun tip: pumpkin seeds can be toasted and lightly salted, making them a fun snack to enjoy that can also be healthy). Some studies suggest the seeds may also help people feel better, but further study is needed to really make that claim.
Pumpkins also contain the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is what gives them that distinct orange color. Beta-carotene is a component of vitamin A and can help with eye health and younger looking skin. They also contain other vitamins as most vegetables do and can help you fulfill your vegetable serving requirements per the national nutrition guidelines. They also provide a good amount of energy even compared to other vegetables due to their high potassium content.
Overall, pumpkin is a great choice when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Just be sure that you don’t couple it with too much butter, salt, sugar, or fat that may otherwise negate the benefits you get from the vegetable. Find healthy recipes to get the maximum benefit from pumpkins this holiday season and enjoy yourself while also meeting or exceeding your health goals.
Image credit: Frenchtowner (Wikipedia)
Chiropractic care has had an interesting history within the United States. It never quite kept up with traditional medical care in terms of popularity and even acceptability. Things may be changing as some recent data show that more Americans are choosing chiropractors to help them deal with certain ailments. A Gallup report on the matter shows that over 30 million, or ten percent, of the United States population has sought chiropractic care, especially when it came to relieving ailments like back and neck pain.
Previously studies estimated the percentage to be much lower- more around 20 percent, so if this poll stands true, it may really change the way we think about how Americans seek healthcare. One of the things that may be driving the growth in chiropractic visits is the relative access to these professionals. 31 percent of the people polled actually sought regular care from their chiropractor, while others opted just to go when they had symptoms such as pain. Those under 50 were more likely to visit a chiropractor for pain, further reinforcing the idea that there is a population trend towards more acceptability of chiropractic care (as younger people utilize these professionals more).
This is of course good news for chiropractors who believe they can really have a positive impact on many patients’ lives. With a minimum of 7 years of higher education, many chiropractors do go through a lot of training to get where they are and patients seem to be noticing the value that they can bring as part of a comprehensive care and support system. It is important to remember that chiropractic care should not replace your primary care doctor, but should instead be used as a supplement for certain ailments and issues. A doctor can help you better understand how a chiropractor on the team may better improve your outcomes in regards to overall health or management of specific conditions or diseases.
This new poll data is very encouraging to those in the chiropractic field but also reflects the strides that have been made over time. People are starting to realize the impact that a chiropractor can really have and they are starting to notice a difference in their lives from these visits. If you are unsure of what to do, you may want to stop by your local chiropractors office and set up an appointment to see what they can do for you.
Image source: Alexander Raths
Losing weight can be an uphill battle as anyone who has struggled with weight issues can likely attest to. There are all sorts of crazy pills and alternative treatments out there, but many of them do not work because ultimately it comes down to net caloric intake. It takes effort and something more than fad diets to really lose weight and keep it off and it can be an incredibly hard thing to do.
Thankfully, there are supportive options for those looking to get and stay healthier. Positive messaging and coaching is a very important part of keeping a person on track, especially when they inevitable come to face those urges that strike us all. A trained professional such as a chiropractic professional or nutritionist can really be the kick in the arm that some people need to stay in the game. They can help coach you on your dietary habits, exercise regimens, and staying healthy in general. They can also be a great support system when you need it most.
As for the actual actions that they may suggest- along with eating fewer calories than you use, they will likely give some tips to make that possible by eliminating the most self-destructive behaviors like poor food choices or overeating. One good tip in that regard is to eat plenty of fiber and to drink lots of water. These things can keep your digestive health optimal and will likely also lead to less eating. It is especially good if the fiber can be derived from foods such as vegetables, but fiber supplements over the counter such as Metamucil are not a bad option either.
In addition to that, try to reduce your carbohydrate intake, especially when it comes to excess sugar in things like candy, sweets, and desserts. Bread and pizza are also not great options. When it comes to carbs, if you do want to eat them, try to stick with those that are healthier and have a lower glycemic index- things like sweet potatoes as opposed to regular potatoes.
One of the most important drivers of achieving weight loss is to eliminate temptation by only stocking your house with healthy foods. A chiropractor or dietician can help make healthy choices so that when you open the cupboard all you have are good options. They can also help you understand food labels in order to make better shopping choices. Good luck with your journey!
Image credit: Marti Sans
Do you suffer from back pain? If so, you are far from alone. Millions of Americans suffer from the effects of aching backs with a wide range of severity in how it impacts ones daily activities. There are a number of things that play into back pain and can aggravate it or make it better. It is important to tackle all of these or as many of these factors as possible if you are someone who suffers from back pain or you have a family history of it, which may put you at risk for the future.
The first factor that you need to focus on is simple: food. It is very important to stick to a healthy diet in order to maintain good back health as well as good health in general. Access to healthy foods is often available, but unfortunately access to unhealthy foods often seems even great and even more convenient. With fast food on every corner and quick ready made options packing the shelves at the supermarket, it is easy to just grab something easy on the go. But in the end, your body and back may pay. This is why it is important to take the time to get the foods that will really help you live a better life- eating plenty of vegetables and fruits and limiting the amount of sugar, salt, fats, and foods in high cholesterol that you consume. Add some foods that are high in antioxidants to get an extra boost of energy and to fight degenerative illnesses. Freshness is very important.
Beyond food, it is important to get a certain amount of physical activity everyday or on the majority of days at least. This amount can vary by person, so it may be important to talk to your healthcare provider on what is best for you, but generally 30 minutes a day, five days a week is a good minimum for most people.
Once you have a solid diet and exercise plan in place, you will see much better results. Getting started is often the hardest part. If you need help in getting these things in place to improve your life and set yourself free from (or at least reduce) the effects of back pain, chiropractic help can be a great thing to help you get along your way. Chiropractors are trained to help you make good living choices that will impact your back and body. Consider talking to your local chiropractor as well as doctor and see what can be done for you!
Image credit: magiceyes