Monday, August 31, 2015

Backpack Safety and Children

Parents are there to protect their children and help them grow in healthy adults that can help contribute to society. And all the building blocks for that foundation are laid during the child's development. But one building block that can be easily overlooked because often times the consequences do not quickly manifest, is how to properly use their backpack. Everything from a simple canvas carrier of knowledge to an elaborate nylon personal locker, there is a safe way to wear and carry a back pack so as to prevent years of back pain down the road.

With an ever growing work load for students, the weight of their backpacks has been increasing. This is cause for concern because carrying too much weight for too long on a developing spine can lead to a list of problems including but not limited to a potential sprains, strains, disc damage or even possible scoliosis if unevenly loaded. The maximum weight of the backpack should not exceed 10-20% of the wearer's weight. So a 100-pound student should not be carrying more than 10-20 pounds worth of supplies, books and lunch. A couple textbooks can easily exceed that weight limit, so a reasonable alternative is to buy or rent a second set of books to keep at home. This will also eliminate the excuse that the child left their book at school and cannot do their homework.

Not only does how much the back weighs matter, but how that weight is distributed is important. Because by application of simple laws of physics, if the heavier text book is placed further from the spine, is can actually simulate a heavier load, causing the same risk as a heavier back pack. So the best rule to follow when loading a backpack, is to place the heaviest objects closest to the back of the student. And to reduce the shifting of items, separating items into the different compartments also helps.

The features of a back-friendly backpack to look for are two thick, well-padded straps, a lumbar or waist strap, a padded back, and multiple compartments. If you would rather your child avoid carrying a backpack all-together, trying finding one with wheels so that they can pull it along, rather than carry it.

Just because having a backpack that is properly designed and filled optimally, the student still needs to carry it correctly. Lifting the backpack should be done with the legs, not bending the back and reaching. Once one the student, they should wear both straps, with one on each shoulder to balance the weight across the back. The straps should then be adjusted so that the bottom of the backpack is approximately 2" above the student’s waist, not slung low hitting the back of their legs. The waist strap should be adjusted so that the backpack does not bounce or move too much while walking.

In Health, 

Dr. Sean McKnight 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Characteristics of Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition of the skin, which is characterized by severe itching that is worse at night, with a red and scaly rash that is referred to as plaques.    Psoriasis may affect small areas of skin or the entire body.  Bacterial infections and pressure or trauma to the skin can aggravate psoriasis.  This can occur at any time in a person’s life, often beginning in infancy and may sometimes become dormant for decades.   (Mercola)

Psoriasis is worsened by stress and more so by weather.  Cold, dry winter weather aggravates it, whereas sunny, hot humid conditions improve the symptoms.  Due to psoriasis’s autoimmune nature, when a person develops an infection, their psoriasis will often flare up as well.   Some other environmental factors and external irritants can also trigger psoriasis to flare up.  These include: laundry detergent, soaps, household chemicals, perfumes, animal dander and metals in jewelry.  (Mercola)

In Health, 

Dr. Amber Watson 

Works Cited

Mercola, Dr. 1 December 2004. 21 August 2015 <>.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Coffee.......Friend or Foe?

That delicious, aromatic drink that wakes up a large number of people, and keeps many more running, has a split persona. There are numerous health benefits being discovered that coffee helps with. However, with any good thing, it is possible to cause harm, and with coffee, there are some negative aspects to the dark liquid. With Americans drinking on average 3 cups of coffee per day, a little information can go a long way. Coffee beans start off as a bright red fruit and then go through a series of steps, drying, roasting, to bring out the flavors and dark rich color people are familiar with.

Health Benefits
There have been studies demonstrating that the antioxidants and bioflavonoids found in coffee can help reduce the risk of several diseases including type II diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, several different cancers, stroke and improve the function of good gut flora. But the research is still extremely limited as to the extent of the effect of coffee relative to each of these conditions, so don't ditch the meds for a cup of joe yet. These studies are often on a small scale and cannot account for too many outside variables. Many people will enjoy a cup as part of morning routine, but stick with a high quality organic bean that you grind yourself and brew at home for maximum benefit, because this will reduce the likelihood of introducing contaminants, which will ruin both the health benefits and the flavor.

For every study there is demonstrating the health benefits of coffee, there is likely to be at least one study contradicting the results.  There are studies demonstrating that individuals dealing with heart disease, high cholesterol, chronic dehydration, autoimmune diseases, strokes, insomnia, and anxiety should be avoiding coffee. Many of these are because of how coffee acts as a stimulant affecting many of these conditions. There is also research regarding how coffee can interfere with the body's ability to regulate cholesterol and homocysteine. The suggested mechanism is that it disrupts or inhibits the actions of select B vitamins.

Caffeine - The good and the bad
Caffeine, the most used and abused drug in our culture, with over half the American population drinking coffee every day, this doesn't include the caffeine consumed in other sources such as sodas, chocolate and energy drinks. In moderation, a little bit of caffeine can do some good. As a mild stimulant, it can give an individual a boost by inhibiting adenosine, an amino acid that slows brain activity and induces sleepiness. This can prove to be beneficial when used occasionally, but not relied on as the sole source of energy. Caffeine also acts a mild vasodilator, which has been shown to help mitigate several types of headaches with a vascular cause.

Caffeine does have a less appealing side. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it puts additional stress on the adrenal glands and will force the body to manage an artificial fight or flight response. This will consequently raise heart rate and blood pressure in individuals. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, increasing urine output. So, if an individual has a medical history involving the cardiovascular, endocrine or urinary systems, they should evaluate their caffeine intake and strongly consider reducing or eliminating it all together.
All this talk of coffee operates under the assumption, that one will consume a single 6 oz serving of black coffee. Not many individuals enjoy their more brew this way. Of the five types of taste, bitter is the one that humans have developed an aversion for, and that is because many poisonous or un-ripened fruits have a bitter taste. And because coffee is naturally very bitter, most people find the need to add something to 'take the edge off.' And this is where any health benefits are negated. Cream and sugar is what most people will add to their coffee, often times to excess. Now include the head-spinning list of concoctions that can be found in the local coffee shops with super-human sized drinks. A 30 oz coffee is the equivalent of 5 standard cups, then add in all the sugar needed to make it palatable with some whipped cream and artificial caramel syrup on top for good measure, it's a wonder more people aren't walking around with severe tremors. Recently, there has been a trend of adding butter and coconut oil to strong coffee stimulating ketosis, reporting improved energy, increased mental focus and weight loss. But often times these results are often short lived.

In Health, 

Dr. Sean  McKnight