Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Have you bought your Halloween candy yet?

Did you buy the stuff that you love or the stuff that you know you won't eat?  If you're like many, of my patients, you buy the candy that you like because you know that between visits from trick or treaters you'll indulge in a few of the snacks.

This can be a disaster if you're trying to lose weight.

If you want to get candy that will do the least damage, stick to the choices that are lower in fat.

Tootsie Rolls, Starburst Fruit Chews, Dum Dum Pops, and York Peppermint Patties are among the better choices according to the American Council on Exercise.  None are that great... but hey, at least you're trying.

Worse choices include: Kit Kat Bars, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Almond Joy Snack Sized Bars.  These chocolate treats tend to have more fat and more calories.  Which means, YOU ARE GOING TO GAIN SOME WEIGHT

Be Savvy and Practice Moderation

I know it's hard, but here me out.  If you are handing out candy, or if your kids come home with a candy cache that defies avoidance, keep portion control in mind. Remember that a single serving of most snack size bars is only one bar - not five.

Pick one or two items and set them aside to enjoy.  Then have healthier snacks available to munch on throughout the night.  Healthy SNACKS... get it.

You can also create a finger-food style dinner that you consume throughout the evening. Make diet-friendly protein foods like chicken skewers or sushi along with some cut veggies, hummus and fruit.  Enjoy your dinner while playing cards or doing some other activity that keeps your mind, and your fingers, OFF the candy.

P.S. Don't forget. We're not closing early for Halloween, we're having a party. Anyone you bring to the party, who's not already a patient gets some FREE GIFTS and a FREE EXAM by Dr. Frankenstein (which is me but don't tell anyone).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chiropractic Can’t Do It All…

As people go through the process of chiropractic care, they start to feel better.  Pain levels decrease while energy levels increase.  They also start to become more immune to everyday aches, pains, and illnesses.  Still, no long-term healthcare plan can work without making adjustments to other aspects of your life aside from your spine.  The overall goal of chiropractic care is to help people lead better quality lives, and there are certain things you can do to complement your regular adjustments.

Regular Exercise

Working out is often the last thing on the minds of those suffering from chronic pain.  While it’s never good to push your body too far, and you should try and start an exercise program when you’re ready.  Regular running, biking, and strength training exercises complement chiropractic treatments by strengthening muscles and increasing the flexibility of ligaments and tendons.  Alternative exercises like yoga and tai chi are also beneficial for the spine, and are great complements to chiropractic care.

Better Eating

A part of being healthy is to nourish your body with all of the nutrients it needs to function.  Americans are too reliant on processed foods, which can be devoid of nutritional value and full of fat, sugar, salt, and toxins.  Too much of these foods can make you more susceptible to illnesses and can disrupt your body’s natural ability to heal itself. 

For your best bet, try to avoid pre-packaged or prepared foods.  If possible, eat organic foods whenever you can.  While they may be more expensive, they do tend to be more ‘nutrient dense’ and have fewer toxins.  If you are confused about a certain product, consider how many ingredients it has.  A product with more than three ingredients is usually indicative of a processed food.

Adequate Rest

Have you ever noticed that extreme stress and a lack of sleep make your neck and back ache?  As stress creeps up into your neck, your spine gets out of whack.  Also, a lack of sleep can cause you to slouch more, which places more pressure on your lower back.  Gaining adequate rest is crucial to the overall success of your chiropractic treatments.  Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night, and take cat naps as often as you need to.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can lead to fatigue, over eating, and bloating.  If you have trouble remembering to drink enough water, try filling a large water bottle every morning and bring it with you to work or school.  With a container of water at your side, it’s easier and more convenient to drink.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Protect Your Back When Traveling

Frequent traveling for work or fun is becoming more and more common and the back pain that results from those trips is something I see in my office every week.  While some of us do it more than others, the aches and pains associated with traveling are the same.  Sitting in a car or airplane seat, especially without any lumbar support, compresses the discs between the vertebrae and stretches the small joints and muscles in the back, putting everything in the ’wrong’ position.  When traveling, the last thing you want is back pain interrupting your trip.  Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent back pain and ensure your trip is full of ’smooth sailing’.

Get Up and Move
Frequent movement is critical for prevention of pain.  When flying, a short walk up and down the aisle every hour creates motion in the spine and increases circulation in your legs.  This also helps prevent the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis, or (DVT), an painful condition where a blood clot forms in a vein deep in the calf when blood thickens and clumps together. 

Long periods of sitting can also weaken the ‘core ‘ muscles that support the spine. Core weakness prevents optimal functioning of the hips and lower spine.  Here are very simple ways to engage your core while traveling.

Hands Over Head
Raise your hands over your head and press your palms together with light pressure for 5-seconds. You can do this while sitting or standing.  The reason this works? Whenever you out your hands over your head it forces your spine into extension (backwards bending). The abdominals function as anti-extension muscles. Your brain 'fires' the abdominal muscles to prevent too much extension.  Pressing the hands together at the end of the movement contracts the muscles further, waking up the upper back muscles that are tired from slouching.  Obviously, if you are driving, wait until you stop to perform this movement.

Mini-Reverse Lunge
People that sit for long periods of time can develop what’s called 'gluteal amnesia'.  Basically, after long periods of sitting, the ‘butt’ muscles forget what to do and when to do it.  When this happens, the muscles in the lower back have to take over, often resulting in lower back pain. 

To alleviate this, stand with both legs together. Take a slight step backwards while squeezing the buttock on the backwards leg. Hold position for a count of 6 and repeat 5 times per side. The action of stepping backwards fires the buttock muscles and the isometric contraction help sustain the movement.

Breathing is very important for core stability and neck strength.  Most people tend to inhale and exhale using too much of their chest and lungs as opposed to the diaphragm. The diaphragm is an inner core muscle that contributes to intra abdominal pressure and helps prevent back pain.  Breathing with the chest uses the anterior neck and upper shoulder muscles too much causing those muscles to fatigue.  To improve your belly breathing, put one hands on your chest and one on your abdomen. Take a deep breath in through your nose and make the bottom hands move before the top hand, inflating your abdomen like a balloon. If your chest hand moves first that means you are breathing with your chest too much. Breathe this way for 3 minutes.

Travel does not have to be stressful or painful.  Try these simple exercises and take care of your body while traveling and you can enjoy  transit… the trip can be painless.  And what better way to relax on vacation or arrive on business after travel, than stress free and pain free!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Study Finds Pharmaceutical Companies Push Doctors to Over Prescribe Drugs

Know anyone taking prescription drugs? The odds are you do and it's likely they are taking drugs they don't need.  Doctors are becoming more likely to prescribe drugs because of the influence of pharmaceutical company’s aggressive drug sales reps.

Consider these statistics: almost half of all Americans are currently diagnosed with a chronic condition and 40 percent of those older than 60 taking five or more medications. Is it really possible that many people in the U.S. have illnesses that need to be treated with multiple drugs?

This question obviously raises issues about the nature of the relationship between the expanding definition of chronic illness and the explosion of prescription drug use in the U.S. -- issues Michigan State University anthropologist Linda M. Hunt, PhD., decided to research.

Dr. Hunt looked into dramatic increases in the diagnosis of common, chronic conditions and the use of prescription drugs to treat these health woes . She specifically looked at two conditions which can often be relieved with lifestyle changes -- type 2 diabetes and hypertension -- that were treated in 44 primary care clinics.

Her research team interviewed 58 clinicians and 70 of their patients, and observed 107 clinical consultations in order to assess the doctors' treatment strategies and the factors influencing their treatment decisions. They found that doctors usually prescribed at least two or more drugs per condition.

More than half of the patients studied were taking five or more drugs. Interviews with these people showed the cost of the drugs was often a hardship and the patients were often made sicker because of adverse side-effects.

So why are so many people taking so many drugs? The new study, just published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, concludes more drugs are prescribed because the threshold for what constitutes an "illness" keeps getting lower and lower, thanks in large part to pharmaceutical company’s influence. For example, what was once normal blood pressure is now too high or, if approaching high, is called "pre-hypertension" and pharmaceutical companies recommend treatment. And instead of telling someone with high blood sugar to lose weight and exercise and eventually they could improve or normalize their condition, it's likely a doctor will emphasize that a person found to have type 2 diabetes will need to rely on medication for life.

Dr. Hunt points out in her study that physicians are caught up in an "auditing and reward system." That means doctors are rewarded by drug companies for prescribing more and more drugs. Perhaps most disturbing is what Hunt calls a "prescribing cascade." Simply put, drugs are prescribed to help relieve side effects caused by other drugs. Then still more drugs can be prescribed to relieve any new side-effects from the recently prescribed drugs.

To reverse and limit the influence of the Big Pharma on clinical practice, Dr. Hunt recommends the following:

* Policies are needed to exclude individuals or organizations with financial conflicts of interest  
         from involvement with clinical guideline-writing panels.
* Doctors should be discouraged from seeing drug representatives.
* Monitoring of doctor auditing and reward plans must be put in place to search for evidence of 

         unintended negative effects on patients.
Another study just published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), by Harvard researchers reveals another problem caused by pharmaceutical companies: business executives are unaware they could be wasting billions of their gross profits on ineffective, even harmful drugs in their health plans. They are also paying for treating the side-effects of these drugs.