Your Last Meal

•June 3, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Do you remember the last meal you ate before you read this article? It may surprise you to learn that your reading of this article may be different depending on what you ate. Olympians and nutrition experts know better than anyone else; “you’re only as good as your last meal”.

Cereal

The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado has a cafeteria the size of a food court where new ideas about sports nutrition are tested by the athletes in pursuit of a nutritional advantage over the competition. Dietitians and staff from the OTC cafeteria accompanied U.S. athletes to London this past summer for the first time–where the U.S. won more medals than ever before.

Athletes are driven to achieve on a daily basis so that they might achieve at competitions. But what about the rest of us? It may not be emphasized as much to the recreational athlete or the average person, but your performance in everything is really “Only as good as your last meal.” Whether you are trying to parent well, study well, compete well, or do well at your job, your performance is impacted by your fuel.

The same process used for the Olympians can be applied to change your view about your lifestyle:

1. Know your current status. Determine your body composition, resting metabolic rate, nutrient levels, possible deficiencies, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose levels, and hydration tendencies. Look at your family medical history and take appropriate tests, such as skin screenings for cancer or iodine levels that may indicate low thyroid function. Know where you need to work, and know where you’re doing well.

2. Take what you learn and address it. For the Olympians, the main problems they see are low vitamin D and low iron. Depending on your situation these may not be a problem for you. Educate yourself using reliable sources about different approaches to addressing the problem. Commit to an approach–for most problems I suggest choosing what poses the least risk.

3. Learn to love whole foods. (This does not necessarily mean the store!) Derivatives of foods are almost always less nutritious than the originals. Powders, for example, may provide some benefit, but the original foods from whence they came provide more.

4. Plan. Every day is unique; your diet should follow the trend. Vary your diet according to your day. The phrase in athletics for this is “nutritional periodization”. Athletes vary time of meal, ratio of fats:carbohydrates:proteins, and calories according to their training. As for practical steps: get the bulk of your daily calories before the bulk of your daily calorie expenditure (always eat a good breakfast!), and after calorie expenditure snack on a little protein.

5. Experiment wisely. When you hear claims about supplements, do your research before you consider taking them. That said, every individual is uniquely made; the intricacies of your physiology are something you can know if you pay attention. You have the power to observe how different eating and exercise plans effect you. If you follow steps 1 and 2 so you do not harm your body, feel free to be your own case study. Just keep careful notes and educate yourself beforehand.

runner

Drink water often! (Photo credit: Јason)

6. Drink more water. Top notch athletes and Olympians have tailor-made sports drinks because of their unique needs. If you are not exercising intensely enough to see salt rings from your sweat during exercise, you most likely have no need for a sports drink. I recommend starting to drink the stereotypical 8 glasses per day, especially if you are exercising. (Don’t give up on the fruit and vegetables, but don’t rely on them for water.) Hydrate when you wake up, before and/or after meals, and before and after exercise.

7. Foods are not friends, but fuel. Athletes are under a lot of stress. They don’t drink alcoholic beverages to control it, and are taught not to eat for comfort. I recommend the same; find other measures to manage stress besides food or alcohol.

8. Like Nike says, “Just Do It”. You’re worth it, your family is worth it, the nation is worth it. Commit and follow through.

Take a cue from the Olympians. If “you’re only as good as your last meal,” better make it a wise one.

References:

http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/nutrition/The-Secret-Food-of-Athletes.html

Chiropractic for Pain Treatment and Prevention

•May 30, 2013 • 4 Comments
A car accident in Tokyo, Japan. Español: Un ac...

Save yourself the pain; see a chiropractor after ANY trauma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pain is deceiving. Its presence can mean call attention to a problem, but pain does not have to be present for something to be wrong. Pain is the final sign health trouble–NOT the first sign. In fact, in many cases injuries can cause little to no pain until they spiral out of control!

Such is often the case with misaligned spinal bones, called “vertebral subluxations”. When a bone is slightly out of place, it may cause no pain for awhile, but over a long time vertebral subluxations contribute to many, many health problems. Carpal tunnel, headaches, infertility…even ear infections are among the many conditions associated with subluxated vertebrae.

Why does simple positioning of a bone matter so much? When a spinal bone is out of place, it impairs nervous functioning–after all, vertebrae surround the spinal cord and touch the nerves which leave it to go into the rest of the body. When a vertebrae is out of place it makes communication more difficult than usual between the brain and the body; over time subluxations can impair immunity, impair musculoskeletal functioning…even impair mental functioning! But remember: there is often little to no pain directly from a subluxation. You can’t truly identify or treat vertebral subluxations without a chiropractic exam.

Thankfully, subluxations are a simple positioning problem–so they are simple to fix! Regular chiropractic adjustments can encourage vertebral alignment, as well as correct new subluxations before they become painful problems.

It is important to see a chiropractor if you have recently experienced any sort of trauma, even if you have no pain.

Delayed Onset Whiplash Disorder (DOWAD) characteristically includes several vertebral subluxations in the neck which cause no pain for years. When pain finally appears, it can be extreme shooting pain in the arm and numbness in the fingers–it does not have to be in the neck. A chiropractor can identify and treat DOWAD to prevent future pain.

Nerve damage from overlooked spinal injuries requires surgery described as “surgical intervention that most likely could have been avoidable, often with an unsatifactory outcome” (Clin Orthop Relat Res 2005;431:93-103). Save yourself the pain and grief of dangerous surgeries by seeing a chiropractor after every incidence of trauma–fender bender or more serious.

The spine is not the only concern of chiropractic adjustments; musculoskeletal conditions of the entire body can be treated or prevented with chiropractic attention.

knee x-ray

Common conditions which are pain free initially and can benefit from chiropractic care are:

Knee tissue degeneration. Save yourself a knee injury and one of the most common surgeries by asking your chiropractor to look at your knees.

Carpal Tunnel

Hip arthritis, especially in males.

Rotator-cuff tears, especially in older adults.

Before you have an issue, see your chiropractor! Even stress can cause subluxations. Stay fit and healthy with regular chiropractic attention.

Neuroplasticity

•March 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Your brain’s highest priority is organization, regardless of the state of your desk at this moment. Your brain lives for organizing, and at every instant your brain intake information from your environment and organizing and reorganizing itself in response. To neurologists, this is “neuroplasticity”; you and I know it as “learning”. You may not know it as the single most critical factor in healing from any and all ailments.

Consider this: you broke your foot. In response you wear a cast for the allotted time, go to physical therapy, and do all the exercises you need to at home. You make sure to eat right and rest to allow your body the time and nutrition it needs to heal. There are still two outcomes: you could heal or you could remain injured. How could this be?

When you injured your foot, you did not only injure your foot; you changed the neural pathway that gives your brain information from your foot, too! If you fix your foot, but do not fix the neural pathway, your body will still classify itself as injured. If that is so, it does not matter that your foot functions perfectly because, to you, it will still hurt. Until the altered neurons are restored, you will never be healed. 

That is the power of the nervous system.

Learning and practicing new skills cause the brain to physically change. Nerve cells that are used frequently together measurably stretch closer together. Even when you merely think about an activity or practice you will cause this stretching to occur in measurable amounts.

How could this cause you to remain injured if your foot is healed? It is simple to explain. If you were distressed by the injury, proceeded to dwell on it, and continued to worry about it, you’ve given your brain a ton of practice feeling pain! This is real pain too–you aren’t merely “milking out” your injury; you still feel acute pain.

So, how can you bounce back from this hypothetical foot injury?

You must create new neural pathways which improve or repair the damaged pathways.

If you focused on other, positive aspected of life, and thought optimistically about your foot situation, the pathways of feeling pain in your foot will be weaker, and new pathways of feeling healed will be created.

Dr. Burl Pettibon, D.C. has incorporated this knowledge into his practice with great success. He calls it “prehabilitation,” and it entails precise rehabilitation exercises for the nervous system including visualization. The name comes from recognizing that this needs to be the first area rehabilitated after an injury in order to even allow for healing–and even speed up the process of physical healing.

These techniques are helpful for more than just physical injuries, though. Visualization is a powerful body-mind balancing technique you can use in your daily life to change your brain so you feel better in any and every situation–mentally and physically.

To many, this whole area of study seems to simple to be true. Can your attitude really interfere with your ability to heal? Skeptics must keep in mind that the nervous system has a role and connection with every single body part. It spans the entire system, and is the most clear indicator that the body functions as  whole and is not effectively treated as separate systems. And when you think or feel something, it physically changes in response.

As Dr. Pettibon has seen firsthand, “there is nothing more powerful on the planet than educated enthusiasm.”

When Sweet is Sour: The Dark Side of Artificial Sweeteners part 2

•January 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

In Part 1 we looked at aspartame and good options of natural sweeteners.

Saccharin (Sweet and Low):  Saccharin has been known to cause cancer in

sweeteners

(Photo credit: amyvdh)

mice since 1977. Shortly after this discovery, studies were conducted to try to defend saccharin. However, a 1997 report by the Center for the Science in Public Interest declared that listing saccharin as “safe” is unacceptable because it perpetuates a “false sense of security”. Don’t reach for these pink packets used often for hot beverage sweeteners.

Agave (The latest trend in “natural” syrup sweeteners): This sweetener is, indeed, not chemically produced; it is derived from the root bulb of the same plant which produces tequila. Once it is taken from nature, however, it undergoes a very similar processing technique to that which converts cornstarch to high-fructose corn syrup. Therefore, the risks of agave are similar to those of HFCS; the concentration of sucrose in Agave is unnaturally high due to the chemical alterations of processing. Treat Agave like you would HFCS, despite its more appealing name.

Sucralose (Splenda): Splenda’s discovery was a mistake. A chemist at Queen Elizabeth College misinterpreted directions and tasted the white powder he was handling, accidentally discovering it was very sweet. Sucralose tries to sidestep bad press of chemical sweeteners by claiming it is made from sugar–and it is! It is sugar with chlorine added to make it “indigestible”. The resulting chemical will not act like or be treated by the body like sugar–it actually bears a strange resemblance to DDT, the chemical which repels bugs in bug spray. Modern research shows that sucralose ingested can be absorbed, unlike marketing claims, and will be deposited with the other chemical toxins your body doesn’t know how to handle–in fat cells.

Resources:

Anrig, Claudia, D.C. “Too Sweet to Be Good? The Potential Health Hazards of Artificial Sweeteners” Dynamic Chiropractic: Nutritional Wellness 4 Nov. 2012. 8.4 <http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/column.php?c_id=1502&gt;

When Sweet is Sour: The Dark Side of Artificial Sweeteners part 1

•January 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

“What if you could eat all your favorite unhealthy foods without gaining weight?”

Diet-Coke-two-liter-plastic-bottle

Diet soda is just 1 of over 6,000 foods which contain aspartame. Read labels and beware!

Popularity of artificial sweeteners has skyrocketed the past few years thanks to that toxic message. The philosophy is based off of the basic truth that caloric intake which exceeds caloric expenditure results in weight gain. Doesn’t it make sense that decreasing the caloric content of sweet foods would make them more healthful and make America thinner? No.

Calories are not evil. There is a misconception that anything that is low calorie is healthy; this is simply not the case. I consider pure calorie-counting to be a dangerous method of dieting because it doesn’t attempt to account for nutritional complexity. There is a place for calorie-counting, but it should not be your final health-assessment tool.

Nutrition is far more complex than calories–as we know thanks to tragic side effects of artificial, low calorie sweeteners such as Aspartame.

Aspartame (Found in Equal or NutraSweet, especially in diet soda): This chemical was discovered during an attempt to make an anti-ulcer drug and has been used in diet carbonated beverages since 1983. Almost 75 % of food-additive-related adverse reactions reported to the FDA have been linked to Aspartame, according to Al-Dujaili et al in a synthesis of studies published by the Endocrine Society. Aspartame is known by physicians to worsen many neurological and chronic conditions in adults. Diabetes, fibromyalagia, mental retardation, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue, epilepsy, MS, and brain tumors all are known to be negatively impacted by consumption of Aspartame.

Children are at a particular risk for neurological damage caused by aspartame. Aspartame causes excess amounts of a nerve signal chemical called “aspartate”. In children, the blood brain barrier is not developed enough to defend against excess amounts of this chemical. The body has other, secondary, mechanisms to defend against excess aspartate, however, aspartame attacks these mechanisms as well. The results are devastating; damage to cells which decreases cellular ability to make energy, send and respond to signals. In addition, an increase in cancer risk is apparent.

Yet, the evidence is not convincing enough to business to remove aspartame from the market.  BEWARE of aspartame; it can be found in thousands of items where you would not expect it, including but not limited to gum, yogurt, jello, Children’s Tylenol, Flintstones Chewable Vitamins, and energy bars. Be wary of anything labelled “low calorie”, “sugar free”, or “diet.”

Your defense is good, old-fashioned label-reading.

Avoid aspartame–and the other artificial sweeteners. Drop the diet soda–or regular soda–habit. Read the labels of food you buy to be sure aspartame is not added, and look forward to part 2 which will include information on other artificial sweeteners!

When you need something sweet, stick to natural sweeteners:

Fruit: Apples, strawberries, banana, raspberries…So many possibilities with the most natural sweetener there is! Applesauce and banana are great in baking. Dates are incredibly sweet and useful for almost any sweetening needs. If you can find a way to use fruit as a sweetener, go for it because these are some of the best options.

Vanilla beans: After these gems are dried in the sun, you can purchase them and blend them to create a sweet paste useful as a sweetener. Raw Food Dieters have been using this trick for ages.

Natural Maple Syrup: great in baking–especially cornbread!

Honey: great for baking, great for tea, and great for throat or allergy issues.

Stevia lucida #1

Stevia lucida plant: found in S. American and used often in Paraguay and Japan. (Photo credit: J.G. in S.F.)

Stevia: Many in the health field recommend the use of Stevia as a low calorie sugar substitute. Be sure to avoid name brand stevia products as most of them are processed; purchase all-natural stevia. I am wary about this, but right now there is no evidence to recommend against it. It is much sweeter than sugar, so you will be using less, and that is a good thing.

Dried Cane Juice/Sucanat: another Raw-Food-Dieter trick because it has a consistency just a bit grainier than real sugar. Sucanat is the brand name of the most natural form of dried cane juice. When you blend Sucanat, it becomes a powder which can easily be substituted for powdered sugar.

There are still more natural sweetener options. The possibilities are endless; this leaves no excuse for having artificial sweeteners at home.

Resources:

Docket # 02P-0317: Recall Aspartame as a Neurotoxic Drug: File. Food and Drug Administration; summary by Mark Fold of the Aspartame Toxicity Information Center, Jan. 12, 2003.

Articles on aspartame. http://aspartame.mercola.com/

Anrig, Claudia, D.C. “Too Sweet to Be Good? The Potential Health Hazards of Artificial Sweeteners” Dynamic Chiropractic: Nutritional Wellness 4 Nov. 2012. 8.4 <http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/column.php?c_id=1502&gt;

“Stevia: the ‘Holy Grail’ of Sweetener Exposed.” April 10, 2012. A pertnership of the American Culinary Federation Chef &Child Coundation (CCF) and Clemson University.

Perfect Posture-A Thing of Beauty

•December 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Bad-Posture-339x1024

When I teach people about posture, they often look as though they are guilty and then make an attempt at standing straight. This usually works for about 30 seconds, until they go back into round-backed slouching over territory.

Part of the problem is that posture is partially unconscious. We would do well to focus on and become more aware of our posture. This would be an excellent first step in the right direction, but this alone will not solve the entire problem of poor posture. My wife has excellent posture, as she is often aware of perception and objective reality. She is aware about standing straight and is aware of what poor posture looks like and the negative outcomes of having poor posture. This she says, is a great motivator in having good posture.

In our practice at Riverwalk Chiropractic, we take clinical pictures and evaluate our patients’ posture. It is surprising how poorly most people stand even when they believe they are doing a good job! With the help of chiropractic care, many people have successfully strengthened their posture. The path to better posture consists of three steps:

1) Becoming aware of where we are

2) Becoming aware of where we should be

3) Retraining the body to move and balance differently through exercise and chiropractic care.

Step 1: Posture Consciousness

Have a friend take a picture of your posture, or, if you are local to Basking Ridge, have us do it for you. We can evaluate it and email you the results. You will probably be amazed. Another idea-stand in front of a mirror with your eyes closed. Then open your eyes, take a long, hard, conscious look at your posture. Observe what is level, what is not, and the difference between both sides of your body.

Step 2: Wrong vs. Strong

If you are able to stand, you are, by definition, balanced. How well you are balanced is a different question. Posture is how you balance your body. The goal for strong posture is to achieve the best biomechanical alignment of the body where all muscles and joints work as well as possible. This is a dynamic, not a static state. Posture is a trade-off between flexibility and stability. Weakly balanced posture requires more effort to stay up straight, resulting in mechanical stress and joint wear.

So, posture is about more than just standing straight, and improving posture is more than throwing one’s shoulders back. Improving posture means strengthening how the body balances and how it moves.

Step 3: Retrain Your Body

By strengthening your posture with 10 minutes a day of posture exercises, along with regular chiropractic care, you can stand taller, have less pain, and even age better. Daily posture exercises create an awareness of body placement and help stretch shortened ligaments and muscles. Stronger posture also helps to alleviate back and neck pain and headaches in some patients.

Two Easy Posture Exercises

The Inner Winner: Stand straight and tall with your head high. Put your ears, shoulders, hips and knees in a straight line. Pull your belly button in toward your spine. While you are here for a minute, take a few deep breaths in and out. This is mainly an exercise to bring your awareness to your stance. I’ve added in the deep breathing to help with stress relief!

The Eagle: Stand as in  “Inner Winner”. Put your arms straight out to the side like a T, pulling your shoulders toward the back slightly. Breath air in and slowly raise your arms overhead until your hands touch together over your head. Breath air out slowly and lower your arms to your side. Repeat for a few minutes, slowly and mindfully. Don’t rush through this.

Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments. Thanks for reading!

I Witnessed a Miracle: Hope for Mothers of Breech Babies

•November 21, 2012 • 1 Comment

Nothing is more beautiful to me than the gift of life. I love my vocation because I have the

Cute Baby

Life is a miracle. Chiropractic can help promote health from the very start! (Photo credit: Tampa Band Photos)

honor of helping others to keep living life to the fullest through living healthful lifestyles. From time to time I also get to witness miracles when Chiropractic takes on challenges which baffle conventional medicine.

Just a little while ago a colleague of mine became a patient when she found her baby was breech in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Unfortunately, mothers in the same situation often consider C-section to be their only choice and plan a scheduled delivery. Others would nervously sign up for painful, risky, and invasive manual turning which is not always successful. My colleague, Dr. Mellas, came to me instead.

There is a non-invasive Chiropractic technique developed by Dr. Larry Webster, D.C. of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association designed to relax the uterus and promote a baby’s natural turning. After I applied this technique, which reduced stress on the pelvis and associated ligaments, Dr. Mellas’ baby turned to the optimal birthing position. She was able to have a natural birth with no complications and, just a little while later, I received the glowing reports of a happy new mother with her beautiful, healthy, newborn baby.

You can watch my interview with Dr. Mellas here:

The local paper, the Basking Ridge Patch, took an interest in the Webster technique and the success we’ve had. You can read their article here.

 
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