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Why You Should Eat Less Sugar

Posted on: April 19th, 2016 by owner No Comments

Why You Should Eat Less SugarSugar. It is so sweet and delightful, yet may be causing you tremendous damage in terms of your wellness. This is the unfortunate reality that is quickly surfacing as more research is done on carbohydrate consumption and the impact on metabolic diseases and weight. For years, scientists have thought that the reason we have had an obesity epidemic is due to the very high levels of fat that people were consuming in their lives- particularly from processed foods and fast food restaurants. Now, it seems like we may have gotten it wrong and that it is actually sugar that is the primary culprit.

Just go to your pantry right now and pull out five items at random. Chances are, the majority of them have sugar added (high fructose corn syrup being a type of sugar that is particularly not good). Sugar is everywhere. From our sweets foods to even our savory- things like your regular tomato sauce likely contain added sugar too. It really is astounding what we add sugar to and how much we consume per year compared to what the average human did even 50 years ago. And this really has driven many of the problems we see in our society in terms of health today.

Sugars lead to weight gain by not only contributing calories, but contributing calories which are especially bad for you and that you will likely not be able to burn off in your typical routine of work. Furthermore, sugars immediately lead to insulin release from your pancreas and over time can lead to worsening of pancreatic function as your body starts to lose sensitivity to insulin and its impacts- and those are many. This can often lead to obesity and diabetes at which point medications are often needed to continue normal processing of sugar within the body.

For those who have goals of weight loss, it is especially important to cut back on sugar. Instead, try  new recipes and ingredients which do not have added sugar or create tasty flavor profile using spices or other savory ingredients.

Beyond weight loss and metabolic issues, sugar also hurts us in terms of cavities. Cavities can be painful, visually distracting, and costly when it comes to seeing the dentist. They are caused by bacterial growth on the teeth which is often synergized with the availability of sugar- which we have consumed. While brushing and flossing are regularly recognized as ways to reduce cavities, a third and important way is to cut back on sugar consumption.

There is also an idea that sugar helps increase the aging process and makes us look older than we otherwise might. This may be due to its impact on skin proteins such as elastin and collagen. The science on this particularly impact is still very new and not heavily confirmed, but it is an interesting hypothesis.

The sugar industry for a long time has made fats the enemy, but in reality it looks like sugar is what we need to watch out for. So before you take a bite of your favorite snack stop and think of whether it contains more sugar than you should actually be eating- it might just save your life!

Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by owner No Comments

Health Benefits of Kombucha TeaKombucha is not a very well-known drink in many areas of the Western world. It is a fermented tea that has been consumed for thousands of years by billions of people, however. Kombucha tea has a long list of health benefits and should be considered if you have never tried (or heard of it) before.

One of the notable benefits of the eastern tea is that it contains a lot of antioxidants, which can help our bodies in a number of ways- everything from helping slow down the aging process by neutralizing super oxidants which can damage our body’s cells to killing certain bacteria and helping to fight diseases. The antibiotic impact against disease-causing bacteria is large driven by Kombucha’s property as a probiotic. It is prepared by adding specific strains of benign bacteria along with yeast and sugar to black or green tea. These microorganisms grow to give it a distinct flavor as well as to give it some of those health benefits, much in the way that yogurt does.

Since kombucha is often based from green tea, it also carries over the many positives of that popular tea. Green tea has become quite popular in the United States and elsewhere over the last two decades, particularly due to the taste as well as the health benefits. The tea has many bioactive compounds including polyphenols which are another type of antioxidant. Green tea, and by association kombucha, can increase caloric burn, reduce belly fat, improve cholesterol levels, and help with keeping your blood sugar in control.

Another aspect of kombucha that helps fight bacteria is the acetic acid that is produced as a result of the fermentation process. This is the same acid that is found in vinegar and like with that liquid, it can kill many types of bacteria. The great thing about kombucha having so many bacteria-fighting elements within it is that you actually get a synergistic effect which leads to an even more effective impact than had any of the three been used on three separate occasions.

Aside from the long list of health benefits that kombucha brings to consumers, it is renowned for its distinct taste and large potential for variability and different styles. Much like beer or other fermented drinks, there is a lot of customizability that comes with this tea. Brewers can add a lot of different elements and change recipes even slightly to produce very different results. This allows for a lot of creativity much as we seen in the craft beer brewing industry. If you like tea, there is likely a flavor or type of kombucha that will satisfy your palate and more likely even more than 1 type. So what are you waiting for? If you have never tried this eastern Asian treasure, go to your local Asian restaurant or supermarket and see if they have it. It may be a decision that leaves you questioning why you never tried it before. And at the same time, it may help you become healthier!

Image credit: Mgarten

The Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

Posted on: March 22nd, 2016 by owner No Comments

The Health Benefits of Aloe VeraAloe vera is one of those natural plants that we have used for a very long time for a very large range of things. It was first used by the ancient Egyptians and Native Americans for its amazing healing properties. Even today, with the wide range of products and cleaners available, we still use aloe vera regularly in helping with certain ailments. The topical applications are numerous and we all know the calming effects it can have when rubbed on skin.

What many people may not be familiar with, however, is the internal impacts that aloe vera can also have on your health. With over 200 constituents including numerous vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids, aloe vera can have a desirable nutritional and physiological impact if taken appropriately. Minerals naturally found in the fluid plant include calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and manganese. Enzymes include amylase and lipase which can break down fats and help in digestion. The plant is especially rich in vitamin B complex, A, and C. It also has 20 of 22 essential amino acids for protein construction that our bodies need.

These benefits of aloe vera are often overlooked by the typical healthcare industry, but more and more stakeholders are beginning to notice and utilize the natural plant more effectively. Amongst groups pushing the use are chiropractic professionals. Many chiropractors now recommend aloe vera to appropriate patient populations to help with issues in digestion and nutrition. Some go as far as to use it in part of a cocktail as a sort of detox regimen as there is some data that suggests that may also be a property of the ancient plant. It will be interesting to see how the utilization trends go as aloe vera becomes more accepted in mainstream practice and as ongoing research studies begin to publish their results.

Thankfully, aloe vera is easily accessible for most people. The plants are an option, but it is often easier just to buy the juice which is already extracted rather than dealing with the mess yourself. Many health food stores and major retailers and pharmacies carry aloe vera juice. This can be used to mix in with other juices or smoothies. It can also be consumed straight if the consumer prefers- the taste may take some getting used to for new drinkers though. A healthcare professional or nutritionist can help incorporate aloe vera into your diet to give you any benefits you may be missing out on.

Image credit: Erin Silversmith

Chiropractic Care and Weight Loss

Posted on: March 8th, 2016 by owner No Comments

Chiropractic Care and WeightWeight loss is the elusive, difficult goal of millions of people around the world. There are tons of “solutions” floating around out there promising quick results to get fit and trim in no time using what frankly as most of the time gimmicks that do not work. The truth is that weight loss can be extremely difficult and can take a lot of discipline and hard work, but in the end it is possible and there are no shortcuts to obtain it in a safe and maintainable manner. The key all revolves around the simplest (perhaps silly sounding but that does not make it untrue) methods: eating right and exercising.

All fat and extra weight is is the body storing surplus calories for future use. It is a remnant of our evolutionary history, but one that is misaligned with some of our modern living practices including the consumption of large quantities of food, often not very healthy. Even when it comes to eating right, there are many different options, but often lead to you having to give something or another up. This is where discipline comes up- choosing a healthy diet plan and sticking with it. Diets like the Atkins diet and Paleo diets have been particularly popular in recent years.

Beyond dieting, it is very important that you have a good exercise schedule to keep in shape and burn off any excess calories that are in surplus after your daily activities of living. Again, the first step is to do your research and pick from a large selection of potential exercises. Typically, for weight loss, moving around and getting cardiovascular exercise is particularly important. Things like running, using the elliptical, or even going for walks fall under this category. Other options include playing sports, jumping rope, and possibly weight lifting (although that is typically not seen as much as a cardiovascular workout- that being said, if that is what you enjoy doing, you can certainly get fit sticking to weights). Once you have selected a workout option, you have the same next step- stick with it. Be disciplined and don’t make excuses for why you can’t work out. The best way to stick to a workout is to stick to your schedule- even 1 off day sometimes can throw people right out of the whole habit.

Eating right and exercising can be difficult and thousands of people suffer with the ups and downs of trying to stay disciplined every day. Thankfully, there are a number of options out there including experts who can help cater plans to your goals and your body. They can also help keep you motivated, especially during the down periods- and there will be down periods- when you feel like quitting. Experts such as a chiropractor can help you analyze your history and your preferences to come up with the right weight loss plan for you so that you can maximize your chances of not only losing weight and getting fit, but remaining that way over the long run.

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Losing Weight and Dieting in a Healthy Manner

Posted on: February 16th, 2016 by owner No Comments

Losing Weight and Dieting in a Healthy MannerWhile wanting to get healthier by losing weight is a laudable goal, it is important to remember that the process by which you try to achieve those goals is almost as important than the outcome (if not more so). There are many dangerous fads and diets out there that promise weight loss to people only to lead to serious side effects and ailments. Diets come and go, but the fundamentals of being healthy do not change much over time. Learning them and applying them is crucial in any long-term and sustainable strategy towards a healthier lifestyle.

One of the most important things to always remember and to keep in your mind throughout the day whether you are making a decision to sit on the couch or go for a walk or deciding to eat that candy bar or not is to remember that it all comes down to net calories. Calories are a form of energy and when we use more than we consume, there is a net negative and potentially weight loss. The opposite is also true. But in this discussion it is also important to remember that there is a certain threshold of calories which we should be getting no matter what to sustain our daily activities as well as long-term health.

The trick in managing all of these moving parts is to get rid of food that is excessively dense in calories- particularly bad calories such as saturated fats or too many carbohydrates. Instead, fill this with foods which are still filling but not as calorically dense- things like vegetables. Combine this with increased exercise- at least 30 minutes 5 days a week is typically recommended- and you are likely to see some positive changes over a few weeks if you are not doing these things or better at the current time.

It is important to remember that sustainable weight loss is a process. And that process starts with a mindset that is open to change and committed to discipline. It will take time and it will take incremental improvements over time to maintain and keep your weight goals, but in the end it will pay off. Those who follow the steps of long-term weight control tend to have much higher quality of life and are not stuck on buzz diets and quick fixes. They know it takes work, but they also know the rewards that come from it.

6 Reasons to Eat More Oatmeal

Posted on: February 3rd, 2016 by owner No Comments

6 Reasons to Eat More OatmealBreakfast 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.

Sports Injury Prevention

Posted on: January 20th, 2016 by owner No Comments

Sports Injury PreventionStretching 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!

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Treating Weather Related Pain by Chiropractor

Posted on: January 4th, 2016 by owner No Comments

weather-related-pain-123rf-36323745_sThere 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

The Explosion of Alternative Therapies

Posted on: December 21st, 2015 by owner No Comments

alternative-medicine-Sebastian Duda-31782561_sMore 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

Treatment Options for Neck Pain

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by owner No Comments

Treatment Options for Neck PainMillions 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