Sunday, October 9, 2016

How Sensitive Is Your Leptin Response?

When looking at the different causes of diabetes, we often have to look at many factors both internally and externally. Several mechanisms and hormones play into the overall picture of whether or not someone develops the condition. One external cue is when someone is carrying an excess of body fat – we know this is a risk factor for the development of diabetes and is fundamentally due to consuming an excess of calories beyond what the body needs to maintain a healthy weight. The excess calories cannot be used as energy if the body has a surplus or expenditure is too low, so they are stored as reserves for later in the fat cells. As this imbalance continues over time, we see the weight increase, body fat percentage rise and the risk of diabetes increases as insulin resistance begins to mount.

The common thought would be that as one sees their weight increasing, they could start cutting back on calories or increasing exercise to shift the body out of the excessive calorie balance. This normally would result in weight and fat loss. But sometimes there are internal factors that may make it more difficult for certain individuals to do that, especially from the eating perspective. This is where leptin comes into play as it relates to hunger. Leptin is a hormone that is released by fat cells and binds to leptin receptors in the brain. The brain responds to the hormone, which normally signals that the body has consumed enough food and we should stop eating. Too much leptin, however, can lead to a condition called leptin resistance, in which the brain stops responding to leptin and therefore doesn't receive the signal to stop eating. Overeating ensues and the weight starts to increase. The problems then multiply as more fat cells are now producing more leptin and this leads to even further insulin resistance, similar to what happens in insulin resistance that leads to diabetes. And as you can see, the two processes actually progress hand in hand.

The best defense to stopping both of these conditions from progressing, or developing in the first place, is to start with the diet. Yes, exercise is just as important, but the calories you burn can’t make up for a diet that is poor in quality and driving things such as insulin resistance. In order for us to feel a sense of fullness or satiety, it all starts with the TYPES of foods we eat. Diets high in processed foods with too much sugar that spikes insulin, refined grains that are lacking in fiber, and food additives that actually stimulate hunger will undermine the best weight management strategies. Therefore, the basic strategy is to focus on whole foods for the majority of your diet. Fruits and vegetables will supply most of your fiber, healthy carbohydrates and many vitamins, and should be the bulk of your diet. Lean meats, beans and nuts and seeds will offer protein, healthy fats, fiber and minerals. Essential fats should come from healthy oils like coconut, olive and grapeseed and foods like avocados, olives and fatty fish. And we should always be consuming at least half of our body weight in ounces of water for proper hydration. Taking these steps will not only give us a natural sense of satiety since the foods will not cause a blood sugar roller coaster, but they will also begin the process of reversing insulin and leptin resistance, making you more likely to stay on track with a better diet that will lead to lower weight and a healthier body.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Glute Blaster Workout!

Ladies, we all know we want to tighten up the glutes. We are getting close to where everyone wears the infamous leggings! What better time than now to utilize these exercises? I compiled four main exercises I’ve been doing, and they are very simple to do at home!

·       Fire Hydrants
o   Get on hands and knees
o   Keep knees bent and lift leg out to side
o   Can either alternate legs, or do a full set then switch


·       Donkey Kicks
o   Get on hands and knees
o   Kick one leg up
o   Can either alternate leg kicks, or do a full set then switch


·       Pulsing Squats (I used a barbell, but it is not necessary to perform this exercise)
o   Pull belly button to spine via the “draw in” maneuver
o   Feet about shoulder width apart
o   Keep back straight to prevent from swaying
o   Squat down (not a full squat) and make sure knees don’t come past the toes
o   Pulse (up and down slightly)


·       Walking Lunges (I used dumbbells, but it is not necessary to perform this exercise)
o   Take a step out in front, to allow the other leg to come down (knee almost to floor)
o   Do not let the knee come out further than your toes

o   Stand up and step back together


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Want To Save $2500 Per Year? Try Exercising!

Some people cite the cost of a gym membership as a deterrent to engaging in regular exercise. Others avoid the gym as it may seem overwhelming or intimidating for those unfamiliar with the equipment or environment. But joining a gym is not the only way to engage in exercise, and regardless of the setting, everyone should be focusing on incorporating regular exercise into their weekly routines. The American Heart Association currently advises engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three days a week, or a combination of the two. Of primary importance to adding exercise are the health benefits: better cardiovascular health, weight management, blood sugar control, and on and on. But it could also be a tool to help save you money year after year.

A new study finds that the average adult with heart disease who exercises regularly can save $2,500 annually in health care costs. Even healthy people without heart troubles can expect to save about $500 per year by working out regularly, the report found. The study tracked 2012 data from more than 26,000 Americans aged 18 and older. Nearly one-third of those with heart disease and half of those without heart disease said they met standard guidelines for weekly moderate-to-vigorous exercise. As expected, those with heart disease did have higher overall healthcare costs, but those who followed the aforementioned AHA exercise recommendations averaged $2500 less than those who did not. Among people with no heart disease and a maximum of just one heart disease risk factor, the average yearly medical costs were about $500 less than for those who didn't exercise.

Aside from the advantages of improving one’s health with the addition of exercise, the big picture takeaway from the study was the health savings costs that could be lessened over the course of a lifetime. Even the high risk group from the study reported a much lower risk of being hospitalized, having an emergency room visit and or having to use more prescription medications. The researchers estimated that if just 20 percent of inactive heart disease patients met exercise goals, it could save the United States several billion dollars a year in health care costs. For the purpose of the study, moderate exercise included activity such as fast walking, lawn mowing, or heavy cleaning. Vigorous workouts included running or race walking, lap swimming or aerobics.

Health and fitness goals may vary from person to person, but the bottom line is clear: regular exercise can benefit not only your overall health, moods and ability to function on a daily basis, but it can offer a big benefit to your wallet and bank account as well.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What is Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Upper-crossed syndrome (UCS) is when the levator scapulae, upper trapezius, and the pectoral muscles become very tight, and the muscles at the front (flexors) of the neck, lower trapezius, and middle trapezius become over lengthened. Those that have behind the desk jobs, work out with improper form, and have muscle imbalances are more susceptible to UCS. Below are some signs to look for and ways to correct this issue.

  • Forward head
  • “Hunch back” (upper back)
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Shoulder pain

Ways to fix UCS:
  • Work out with balanced exercises 
    •  For example:
      • If you are going to work out chest, make sure to include just as much for the back
      • If you want more definition in the hamstrings, make sure to work the quadriceps as well
  • Stretch the over tightened muscles
    • Upper trapezius
    • Levator scapulae
    • Pectoral muscles 
  • Strengthen weakened muscles
    • Flexors of the neck (front of the neck)
    • Middle and lower trapezius
    • Rhomboids
  • Concentrate on posture throughout the day

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Does How You Cook Affect Your Diabetes Risk?

Food choices are always important when looking to reduce our risk of major diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart attack and diabetes. Eating more foods daily like vegetables, fruits, beans and fatty fish that have important nutrients to fuel our bodies and protect them properly should always be a priority. But even if you are eating a wide variety of healthy foods, you may be undermining your best efforts by the way you are cooking those foods. A new study is suggesting that changing the way you cook could help reduce your risk of getting one of those major diseases - type 2 diabetes.

When you fry, grill or bake foods, which are all “dry-heat “cooking methods, foods produce substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Higher levels of AGEs have been linked to insulin resistance, stress on the body's cells and inflammation, according to the study authors. These are all contributing factors in terms of diabetes risk, especially the insulin resistance. When the cells begin to become resistant to the effects of insulin, less sugar from the foods we eat is able to get into the cells to be used for energy. Too much sugar then remains in the blood, which promotes inflammation and stress on the body, which can manifest in the kidneys, eyes, heart or any other tissue. Therefore, other cooking methods such as boiling, steaming and poaching look like the safest way to go, the researchers say.

"When you look at people with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes or dementia put on a high-AGE diet or a low one, those on the low-AGE diet show signs of decreasing inflammation," said the study's lead author, Dr. Jaime Uribarri. The researchers wanted to see if a low-AGE diet could offer protection to people already at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For the study, the researchers randomly assigned study participants to either a high- or low-AGE diet. All were at least 50 years old and they had at least two of the following five health concerns (or were on medications for these problems): a large waist circumference (40 inches for men, 35 for women); high blood pressure; low HDL (good) cholesterol; high triglycerides; or elevated fasting blood sugar levels. Those in the low-AGE group were told to avoid frying, baking or grilling foods. Instead, they were encouraged to boil, steam, stew, cook with water, or poach their meals. Some examples of the changes made included substituting boiled eggs for fried eggs, poached chicken instead of grilled chicken, or beef stew instead of grilled steak, according to the study.

In the low-AGE group, "all the parameters in stress and inflammation we tested for improved. And we showed that insulin resistance came down," Uribarri said. Body weight also dropped slightly in the low-AGE group. So while we need to be paying attention to the types of foods we eat, it may also be beneficial to change the way we cook those foods.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Gluten Free Diets

As you stroll up and down the aisles of your grocery store, chances are you will have seen numerous products with the label “gluten free” on them. Many stores also have entire sections dedicated to products for those looking to eliminate it from their diets. But is this just a trend that will see its way through, or should you be giving it some thought as to how you manage your food selections?

Celiac disease would be the primary reason for someone to adopt a gluten free diet. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which foods containing gluten trigger the immune system to attack and damage the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found naturally in grains like wheat, barley and rye. People with celiac disease have no choice but to avoid gluten in their diet. If they don't, their small intestine is damaged every time they eat something with gluten. Gluten-free diets seem to be the latest fad, yet the number of people being diagnosed with celiac disease hasn't budged, new research shows.

Researchers reviewed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, a regular survey of American health and diet conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on their analysis, the researchers estimated there are around 1.76 million people with celiac disease in the United States. About 2.7 million more people adhere to a gluten-free diet even though they don't have celiac disease, the findings showed. Around a half percent of survey participants reported being on a gluten-free diet in 2009-2010. By 2013-2014, that number was closing in on 2 percent, the investigators found. The number of Americans following a gluten-free diet tripled between 2009 and 2014, but diagnoses of celiac disease remained stable during that same period, the researchers found, which may have been affected by a decrease in gluten consumption the past several years. The study was published as a research letter in the online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine.

Other reasons for going gluten free could be a wheat allergy or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These people will eliminate their symptoms by keeping gluten out of the diet, and do not suffer the same intestinal damage as those with celiac disease, although it does still produce inflammation and a lesser immune response. For others, wheat is simply a source of carbohydrates and calories that needs to be curtailed if there are concerns about weight, inflammation or insulin resistance. So while it may not be absolutely necessary to keep wheat and gluten out of the diet for most, many people are adhering to the practice to improve their health. We have seen many patients feel better after eliminating it, in conjunction with other dietary modifications to help support better health.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

6 Tips on Starting to Exercise and Keeping Your Promise to Yourself

We all have had something we are trying to achieve, and realize it was harder than we though. When it comes to exercise, it is very important and we need to keep the body healthy. We know it takes more than just saying you promise on Monday you are going to start going to the gym – we all need to be accountable!

· Find a workout buddy – It helps having someone besides yourself to keep you accountable when you try to avoid your workout. Plus, when the workout gets hard, they have your back!

· Look up gym classes – If you start scoping out classes and trying them, you can really find something you truly enjoy. Plus, when you find a class you really like you are more likely to go. Your group fitness instructor will even remember your name – you bet they may call you out if they notice you’ve missed a class!

· Always pack a bag – You never want to use the “well, I don’t have my bag,” excuse. If you always keep a change of clothes with you, the second you have some spare time you can get a couple minutes in at the gym. Who knows when your friend may ask you to join them at the gym!

· Set realistic and attainable goals – We all know it takes time to put weight on, just as it does to lose weight and gain muscle. Setting realistic goals helps you achieve them more successfully. You can always tack goals on, but you want to set yourself up for success. You can do this!

· Be positive – You are making a change, and you can stick to it. You are doing something for yourself that will help keep you healthy. It is worth it, and so are you.

· Stick to it – It takes at least a week to make a habit of something. Keep your workout time part of your schedule. You will get used to your designated time, and the day you miss you will feel thrown off. It just takes time!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

What is Metabolism?

We are all familiar with the metabolism, but not everyone quite understands exactly how the metabolism operates. While obviously, there are the physiological processes, we want to briefly explain the components. The three components that establish our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE; the total of calories expended each day) for the day are resting metabolic rate (RMR), thermic effect of food (TEF), and thermic effect of activity (TEA).

  • Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR):
    • The energy required for the body to maintain homeostasis and normal daily bodily functions 
      • Blood flow
      • Breathing
      • Heartbeat
      • Blinking
      • Sleeping
      • Bodily movements
    • The largest contributor to our TDEE
    • Typically makes up roughly 60%-75% of TDEE
    • Factors that can influence the percentage of caloric expenditure from RMR:
      • Gender
      • Age
      • Muscle (lean body mass)
      • Body composition
      • Genes
  • Thermic Effect of Food (TEF):
    • Energy required for the body to process and store food for energy/nutrients
    • The smallest contributor to TDEE
    • Makes up about 10% of TDEE
    • What can influence TEF?
    • Daily caloric intake
    • Composition of carbohydrates, fats, and protein from meals
    • Diet
  • Thermic effect of physical activity (TEA):
    • Energy used to use voluntary musculature
    • Accounts for about 20% of TDEE
    • The percentage of TEA can be increased, with the more physical activity/exercise and individual has that day. Athletes typically have a much higher contribution of TEA than the average person.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Using Exercise As A Tool To Eliminate Pre-Diabetes

Regular monitoring of your blood sugars is an important way to measure whether your lifestyle is either on track or leading you into an unhealthy place where you’d rather not be (meaning, the dreaded land of and diabetes). The first stage of that process is pre-diabetes, where the blood sugars are higher than normal, but not enough to be classified as full-blown diabetes. If this is your diagnosis, red flags should be waving and alarms going off! In other words, you need to embark ASAP on a plan that will get you moving in the opposite direction so that diabetes never comes into your health picture. The "gold standard" approach to diabetes prevention involves weight loss, diet and exercise, but for some people total lifestyle overhaul may be difficult all at once.

One particular study at Duke University looked at what the effects of exercise alone would be compared to the process described above. It included 150 people with prediabetes who were divided into four groups. One group followed a gold-standard program that included a low-fat, low-calorie diet and moderate-intensity exercise equivalent to 7.5 miles of brisk walking a week. The other participants were assigned to one of three exercise groups: low amount at moderate intensity equivalent to walking briskly for 7.5 miles a week; high amount at moderate intensity equal to walking briskly for 11.5 miles weekly; and high amount at vigorous intensity equivalent to jogging for 11.5 miles a week.

After six months, patients using the gold standard approach had an average 9 percent improvement in oral glucose tolerance -- a measure of how readily the body processes sugar and an indicator used to predict progression to diabetes. Among those who did exercise only, there was a 7 percent improvement in the moderate-intensity 11.5-mile group; a 5 percent improvement in the moderate-intensity, 7.5-mile group; and a 2 percent improvement in the vigorous-intensity 11.5-mile group.

Their results appeared to demonstrate that a high amount of moderate-intensity exercise alone provided nearly the same benefit on glucose tolerance that we see in the gold standard of fat and calorie restriction along with exercise. High-intensity exercise tends to burn glucose more than fat, while moderate-intensity exercise tends to burn fat more than glucose. Encouraging news, because even the addition of regular brisk walking for extended periods would add some benefit.

However, education here is key because exercise alone can make a difference, but it can’t make up for a poor quality diet (which usually is the main reason diabetes develops in the first place). Learning proper food choices so that the body can keep the sugars in a normal range AND help support healing and recovery from the exercise is the smartest approach. Not only will it help by keeping diabetes out of the picture, but it will also maximize your overall health on so many levels, you’ll be glad you made the extra effort!

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin

Turmeric is a yellow-pigmented curry spice that is often used in Indian cuisine. But this spice is far more than a cooking staple. It also has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as Ayurvedic medicine. Traditional medicinal uses include the treatment of liver disease, skin problems, respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments, sprained muscles, joint pains, and general wound healing.

Its benefits have since been well documented in the medical literature, and curcumin—one of the most well-studied1,2 bioactive ingredients in turmeric— has been found to promote health and protect against a wide array of health conditions. It actually exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, as well as potent anti-cancer properties that have been intensely studied.
Turmeric May Help Combat Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Inflammatory Conditions

Curcumin is capable of crossing your blood-brain barrier, which is one factor that has led researchers to investigate its potential as a neuroprotective agent for neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s disease. The potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin suggests it may also promote brain health in general. In the case of Alzheimer’s, recent animal research has discovered another bioactive ingredient in turmeric, besides curcumin, that adds to its neuroprotective effects.

This compound, called aromatic turmerone, help endogenous neutral stem cells (NSC) to grow, and these stem cells play an important role brain repair and regeneration activities. According to lead author Adele Rueger: "While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine. Our findings on aromatic turmerone take us one step closer to achieving this goal."

Curcumin may also be helpful. Previous research has shown that curcumin helps inhibit the accumulation of destructive beta-amyloids in the brain of Alzheimer's patients, as well as break up existing plaques associated with the disease. People with Alzheimer's tend to have higher levels of inflammation in their brains, and curcumin is perhaps best known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. It can inhibit both the activity and the inflammatory metabolic byproducts of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX) enzymes, as well as other enzymes and hormones that modulate inflammation.

Another common condition that can benefit from curcumin’s anti-inflammatory activity is osteoarthritis. Research published in 2011 found that patients who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility compared to the control group. Earlier research also found that a turmeric extract blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the launch of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.
Curcumin Appears to Be Universally Useful for All Cancers

Among the most exciting benefits of turmeric is its potent anti-cancer activity. Curcumin actually has the most evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer of any other nutrient, including vitamin D! As noted by Dr. William LaValley, one of the leading natural medicine cancer physicians, curcumin is unique in that it appears to be universally useful for just about every type of cancer. This is odd, considering the fact that cancer consists of a wide variety of different molecular pathologies. One reason for this universal anti-cancer proclivity is curcumin’s ability to affect multiple molecular targets, via multiple pathways.

Once it gets into a cell, it affects more than 100 different molecular pathways. And, as explained by Dr. LaValley, whether the curcumin molecule causes an increase in activity of a particular molecular target, or decrease/inhibition of activity, studies repeatedly show that the end result is a potent anti-cancer activity. Moreover, curcumin is non-toxic, and does not adversely affect healthy cells, suggesting it selectively targets cancer cells—all of which are clear benefits in cancer treatment. Research has even shown that it works synergistically with certain chemotherapy drugs, enhancing the elimination of cancer cells.

We have used a high-quality turmeric product in our office to assist in successfully helping people with inflammatory conditions and autoimmune issues as part of a holistic approach to improving health. If you would like to learn more, please contact our office to come in and speak to one of the doctors to see if it may be beneficial for you!

Source: Turmeric— The Spice of Life May 04, 2015

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Obesity Could Become Public Health Enemy #1

More than 2.1 billion people, or close to 30 percent of the global population, are overweight or obese, and obesity is responsible for about five percent of all deaths each year, worldwide. In the US, nearly one in five deaths is now associated with obesity. That obesity factors into your mortality risk isn't so surprising when you consider just how many chronic and serious disease it's associated with.

In the US, just eight obesity-related diseases account for 75 percent of all healthcare costs! Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), dementia, and cancer are among them, but there are many others as well. When you consider that two hallmarks of obesity are insulin/leptin resistance and chronic inflammation, you can begin to recognize that excess weight is fertile ground for a wide array of other ailments—many of which can cut your life significantly short.

When you’re insulin resistant, your cells have become seriously impaired in their ability to respond to the insulin your body makes. At the heart of this problem is a diet too high in sugar (especially processed fructose). While you can be insulin resistant and lean, obesity places far greater stress on your cells, which makes insulin resistance more probable. Insulin resistance is at the core of nearly every chronic degenerative disease and is typically what needs to be addressed first to turn around any disease.

Research shows that chronic overeating places stress on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)—the membranous network found inside the mitochondria of your cells. And when the ER receives more nutrients than it can process, it signals the cell to dampen the sensitivity of the insulin receptors on the surface of the cell. Thus continuously eating more than your body really needs promotes insulin resistance by the mere fact that your cells are stressed by the work placed on them by the excess nutrients. Once your insulin resistance worsens, the concentration of glucose in your blood begins to rise, and elevated glucose contributes to the development of diabetes.

For decades, smoking was one of the leading causes of cancer, but that's about to change. Obesity will likely claim the lead spot as the principal cause of 10 different types of cancer within the next decade, according to cancer specialists who discussed the trend at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago. “Spiraling rates of obesity meant that cancer – once seen as a disease of old age – was now increasingly being diagnosed up to two decades earlier than in the past. Their figures suggest one in five cancer deaths in Britain is caused by excess weight," The Telegraph reports.

The links between obesity and cancer are quite clear, and excess weight can increase your risk of cancer rather significantly. For example, obese women increase their risk of womb cancer by 600 percent. Risks for breast, prostate, colon, and all the other gynecological cancers is also elevated, primarily due to the hormone imbalances associated with obesity, which tend to fuel tumor growth. Researchers have also found a correlation between obesity and increased risk for cancer relapse. Overweight survivors of prostate cancer treatment were found to have a three percent higher rate of relapse compared to their slimmer counterparts. They also had seven percent higher odds of the cancer spreading.

If you are struggling with weight issues and are concerned about the further ramifications that are outlined in this article, please contact our office so that we can schedule you a complimentary consultation and help increase your chances for a healthy future.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Simple Help For Sinus Congestion

For many people living here in San Antonio (and pretty much any other city I’ve lived in for that matter…), allergies are a common complaint. Whether it consists simply of nasal congestion or includes a battery of additional symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes and blowing your nose to the point of looking like Rudolph, it can be an annoying condition that affects quality of life. (Try giving a presentation when you can’t pronounce your words correctly due to congestion!) More than 29 million American adults were diagnosed with sinusitis in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal cavities often caused by a virus, allergy, bacteria, fungus, or possibly an autoimmune reaction. Many times people will turn to home remedies as a first method to help deal with the congestion issues, such as using steam or some type of irrigation device like a neti pot. According to a new study, inhaling steam probably won't open your chronically clogged sinuses, but nasal irrigation may bring some relief.

To evaluate the effectiveness of these two common treatments, researchers at the University of Southampton in England followed 871 patients who had a history of chronic or recurrent sinusitis. Participants were assigned one of four treatments: daily nasal irrigation with saline plus use of an instructional video; daily steam inhalation; a combination of both; or their usual treatment. Usual care was at the discretion of the patient's physician and could include the use of antibiotic medications. Participants in the nasal irrigation group were given a neti pot, and were asked to irrigate their nose daily with about 5 ounces of saline solution in each nostril. The solution was made of 1 teaspoon salt and a half teaspoon of baking soda combined in 1 pint of water. The steam treatment group was asked to inhale steam for five minutes every day. They were directed to place a towel over their head and stand over a bowl of recently boiled water.

Using the Rhinosinusitis Disability Index, researchers evaluated at three and six months and found that patients who used nasal irrigation reported improvement. Those using steam inhalation said headaches had eased, but they appeared to have no congestion relief. The study authors also noted that fewer participants in the nasal irrigation group (compared to no-irrigation patients) took over-the-counter medications, had headaches, or intended to consult a doctor in future episodes. Lead researcher Dr. Little also added that people suffering from sinusitis often get repeated courses of antibiotics, which may not help much and may contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance.

If you suffer from chronic sinus congestion, adding an irrigation routine daily may prove beneficial in helping keep it under control. Also, keeping foods out of the diet that promote inflammation or sensitivity reactions is another way to help decrease the systemic inflammatory responses in the body so that you can lead a congestion-free, comfortable life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

5 Tips to Beat the Texas Heat

Isn’t this Texas heat something? Did you know over half of the human body is made up of water? With a high heat index, it is so easy to lose fluids. We have yard work to do, errands to run, and workouts to accomplish! Right now, more than ever it is crucial for us to stay hydrated. So many of our systems become disrupted and unable to function optimally when you not become dehydrated. To help you get through the rest of summer, here are a few ideas to help keep track of your water intake and give you ideas on how to overcome the same taste!

· When outside, or doing workouts try weighing yourself before, then after. This helps you get an idea of how much fluid you may have lost, and know to replenish. This will also help you gauge how much to drink during activities where you know you may be losing more fluids than usual.

· Avoid caffeinated drinks. I know, this may be hard for some. Yet, drinking caffeine causes you to urinate more since it is a diuretic. Although there may be water in some of the drinks, most of it is expelled when you use the restroom anyway.

· Always bring water with you. You never know how long that extra errand more take, or how thirsty that long walk to your car may make you. Always keep something with you, that way you don’t have to worry so much on drinking those extra fluids.

· Avoid doing anything outdoors during the peak heat times of the day. Try mowing the lawn earlier in the morning or in the evening.

· Keep bottled water in stock that contain electrolytes like Core or Smart Water.

· When outside, try sticking to cool spots in the shade. This will help keep you from sunburn too!

Tired the Plain Taste of Water?

Here are some things you can try adding to give that extra flavor:

· Lemons

· Strawberries

· Cucumbers

· Limes

· Mint leaves

· Watermelon

· Blueberries

· Raspberries

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Keep Your Discs Healthy For Life

I’m sure everyone has heard someone make mention at some point that they feel like they’ve shrunk as they’ve gotten older. While this is definitely a very real possibility, it can also be one that doesn’t have to come to pass to the extent that some people experience. First and foremost, posture will be the biggest determining factor of this phenomenon. If we frequently spend time each day in hunched over positions (at the computer, reading, looking at phones, etc.), we train the spine to adopt that as more of our normal posture and, as a result, later in life we lose the ability to fully straighten up as the muscles and joints have gone through permanent change. Next on the list would be the health of your intervertebral discs, which is what we will discuss here today. The discs serve many functions in our spine, primary of which is to allow motion in the neck and back so that we can bend, twist, rotate and do all the normal movements of everyday life. They also act as “spacers” between the vertebrae to allow passage of our spinal nerves that come off the spinal cord so that the brain can communicate with all parts of our body.

Our discs are made up of two components: the nucleus pulposus and the annular fibers. Imagine if you took a hardboiled egg in an egg carton and sliced off the top; that is roughly what a disc would look like. The yolk would represent the nucleus, which is a jelly-like material that provides shock absorbency, fluidity and distributes the pressure that we put on our bodies. The white would represent the layers of annular fibers that surround the nucleus. These are similar to other ligaments we have in the body and run horizontally, vertically and diagonally all around the nucleus. They give strength and support to our spine and serve to protect the nucleus and keep it centered in the disc.

One of the two most common injuries we hear of is a bulging disc. When the spine is subjected to more force than it can handle, either quickly as with an accident or over time from repetitive stress, the annular fibers can begin to tear and the nucleus will push outwards, leading to a bulge or rupture. If it causes pressure on the nearby nerves, then we can experience pain, numbness, weakness or loss of function. The other main issue would be degenerative disc disease, which is a “wear and tear” effect on the discs over the course of a lifetime and will be dictated by how much stress we put on our discs and how well we take care of them. Since degeneration is an irreversible process and can lead to chronic pain and neurological issues, we need to make sure we are doing all we can to keep them healthy.

First would be to simply keep moving! Discs get their fluids and stay hydrated by a pumping action that comes from movement and forces being applied to them. While they do need rest when we are normally lying down for the night for healing and repair, avoiding prolonged sitting or static positions for long periods by routinely getting up and moving around has been shown to help maintain fluidity in the discs. Regular exercise and stretching will also make a big difference in long-term maintenance of disc health. At night, it is best to avoid sleeping on your stomach as this puts unnecessary rotational stress on your spine for several hours. Sleeping on your back or side where the spine is allowed to be in its natural, neutral position will put the least amount of stress on the discs. And as always, whether sitting or standing, try to maintain proper posture at all times.

When we are born our discs are about 80% water and this will slowly decrease as we age, so staying properly hydrated is critical to maintaining the health of our discs. The fluid helps regulate the pressures the discs are subjected to and allows nutrients to enter the tissues and waste products to be removed. On average, most people should be aiming for half of their body weight in ounces as the minimum amount of water ingested each day. Smoking should be eliminated because it interferes with nutrition for the spinal discs by preventing the good oxygen flow needed to keep them healthy. Alcohol use should also be minimized as it is known to decrease hydration throughout the body. By adopting these simple lifestyle steps, you can set yourself up for keeping your discs as healthy as possible and holding on to every inch you’ve earned over the course of your lifetime.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Nutrient Deficiencies In Migraine Sufferers?

Most migraine sufferers would do just about anything to avoid the ensuing pain, hassle and sensitivities that come from dealing with that type of headache. They can often be debilitating, leaving the victim in bed in a darkened room with an ice pack on the head or spurring a trip to the urgent care for strong medication in an injection or IV. If there would be anything that could be done to help in the prevention of them without added risks or side effects, it would most likely be welcomed by many. Diet could always be a possible source of concern, and a recent study explored a possible link that showed many young people who suffer from migraines also have vitamin deficiencies.

The study included children, teens and young adult migraine patients who were treated at Cincinnati Children's Headache Center. Researchers found that a high percentage of them had mild deficiencies in vitamin D, riboflavin and coenzyme Q10 (a vitamin-like substance used to produce energy for cell growth and maintenance). There were also some trends that emerged along a gender predisposition. Girls and young women were more likely than boys and young men to have coenzyme Q10 deficiencies, but boys and young men were more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. There was also the broad finding that patients with chronic migraines were more likely to have coenzyme Q10 and riboflavin deficiencies than patients with episodic migraines.

Many of the patients were prescribed preventive migraine medications and received vitamin supplementation if their levels were low. Unfortunately, outcome measures of how the migraines were affected were not recorded for this study because too few patients received vitamins alone. Further research would be needed to determine if vitamin supplementation of these nutrients could help prevent migraines. Previous research has suggested that certain vitamins and vitamin deficiencies may be important in migraine, but studies using vitamins to prevent migraines have yielded mixed results, according to the researchers.

Whether they may actually be considered a preventative for migraines or not, all of the aforementioned nutrients should be maintained at normal levels for proper health. Riboflavin helps in energy production and is important for iron metabolism. Vitamin D helps regulate your immune system and is necessary for calcium absorption and bone growth. CoQ10 is essential for heart muscle health and helps protect various aspects the circulatory system. If you are a migraine sufferer, make sure you are maintaining proper levels of these nutrients.