So my wife Kelly turned me on to coconut oil several years ago as a healthy alternative to other cooking oils. Nowadays, coconut oil is widely accepted by the nutrition community as one of the healthiest oils that we can use, and a great way to add healthy fats to your diet. Initially, there were concerns by the health community over the amount of saturated fat that coconut oil contains, but given the unique structure of the saturated fats they contain, those initial fears have gone by the wayside. I decided I wanted to look a little more in depth at some of the health benefits it offers.
Number one, which is also the reason my wife began using coconut oil prior to its level of current popularity is the fact that it has a higher tolerance to temperature than other non- hydrogenated oils, like olive and some canola oils (I want to talk about the negatives of canola oil in another blog later). Oils can actually reach a point of rancidity if they are heated to too high of a temperature, such as those temps used for frying foods.
Number two, coconut oil can help with weight loss. First, including healthy fats in your diet can help you stay satisfied longer, thus reducing the desire to eat as often. Coconut oil also contains medium-chain trigylcerides, which are assimilated easily by the body and have been linked to reducing fat stores in the body. Recent research has demonstrated that coconut oil can increase the metabolism.
Number three, it can assist in maintaining more stable blood sugar levels. Coconut oil improves the production and secretion of insulin.
Number four, coconut oil contains Lauric Acid, which is linked to the body’s improved ability to fight viruses and harmful bacteria. Lauric acid is linked to improved immune system functioning in humans. Coconut oil has also been linked to lowering cholesterol and increasing consumer’s ability to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Number five, coconut oil improves the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients such as calcium and magnesium. Fat consumption is also necessary for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A,D,K and E).
So, these are just a few of the health benefits offered, each of which make it worth considering the use of coconut oil in place of other cooking oils that you might be currently using. So for me and my family, we’ll continue using it as our go-to cooking oil for everything from eggs to tofu!
In Wellness and Love,
Often times we are completely wrapped up in our day at work, home, commuting, attending meetings, and a long list of other obligations. Once lunchtime comes around, because we are so busy, we often times end up making some pretty bad choices regarding food. We settle for a fast food drive thru, or we choice a candy bar and soda from the vending machine or gas station. Problem is, neither of these choices does anything to actually fuel our body, and afterwards we feel lethargic and hungry again.
In order to avoid this type of situation, over the years, I have relied on meal prepping in order to make certain that I always have healthy meals at my finger tips. The process is extremely simple. You just pick a day that you are off or can set aside 45 minutes or so, and cook a week’s worth of meals, ahead of time. Sunday seems to work well for me, so in the morning before I get fully involved in the day, I will grab out a bag of frozen fish, 7 sweet potatoes, and a couple of bags of organic frozen broccoli. I then cook all of the food, using my favorite sodium-free seasonings. Once the food is fully cooked, I divide the food into 7 equal proportions, and place each meal into a Tupperware storage container. I then pop them all in the fridge, and presto, I have a week of healthy Wellness Based lunches ready to go. On the way out of the house each morning for work, I grab one of the lunches, and I am on my way.
So, give this a shot and you will see how easy this is! Literally get the food out and ready to cook when you are getting ready to cook yourself breakfast on a given day. Start your meal prepping first, then once it is cooking, prepared your breakfast as usual. Once you have eaten breakfast and start getting dressed and so forth, your week of lunches should almost be finished and ready to pack up! Remember, in order for us to create the Wellness Revolution and take back our health, we must create a healthy lifestyle! Hope this little trick helps to make the process easier and exciting!
In Wellness and Love,
You guys know I love my fun facts about the human body and how we function. Keeping with this tradition, here are a few more for your reading pleasure! And seriously, as fun as it is, it’s equally important in learning more and more about the things that make us all truly amazing, from the inside out. Funny how regular Chiropractic care works to increase health and Wellness from the Inside Out!
In Wellness and Love,
Anyone that exercises regularly is certainly familiar with the muscle and joint soreness that accompanies tough workouts, particularly a day or two afterwards. So what’s going on here in the body that causes the onset of sore and stiff muscles? The simplest answer is tissue inflammation. By better understanding inflammation and learning ways to control the symptoms can lead to faster recovery times, fitness gains, and most importantly avoiding injuries.
To get started, let’s look at what inflammation actually is, in simple terms. It is an immune system response to damage that’s occurred to the tissues. Exercise causes damage to the tissues by causing microscopic tears to the muscle fibers. As a result of this damage, inflammation occurs around the site of the tears….which is actually the body’s way of repairing the damage. In turn, once the tears have healed the muscles become stronger, so in this sense, inflammation is a good thing. Yet inflammation, while it repairs muscle damage, actually in turn causes further damage to the tissues. This secondary damage is caused by the release of free radicals, which we’ll look at more in depth a bit later. This secondary damage is the culprit behind that soreness one to two days after a hard workout, which actually has a name of its own…. Delayed-onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This is where the risk of injury comes in to play. When we do not allow for adequate recovery from this tissue damage and jump back into hard exercise, joints and muscles can become chronically inflamed or lead to serious injury. This is how overuse injuries occur, such as IT Band syndrome or Runner’s Knee which can literally take months to recover from.
So how can we limit the amount of inflammation and tissue damage that occurs from exercise? Well in terms of exercise, by using the process of progression, you can make sure that the body is adequately trained for the amount of work you are putting it through. In terms of endurance training, the rule of thumb is not to increase workouts by more than 10% in distance or duration per week for 3 weeks out of the month, then engaging in a recovery week every fourth week, in which you reduce total workout duration by 20-40%. We can also manage inflammation in the body to some degree through diet. Foods high in antioxidants have been show to assist in both preventing inflammation and in repairing tissue damage associated with it. It is important that we understand what antioxidants are in order to see how they can benefits us in this regard. Antioxidants are substances that inhibit the destructive effects of oxidation. Oxidation is a process that occurs in the body in which free radicals are produced, which in turn can lead to cellular damage or destruction. Antioxidants also assist in circulation and digestion. Foods which are rich in antioxidants are dark green vegetables such as greens and broccoli. Brightly colored fruits are also high in antioxidants such as cherries, berries, and mangos. It is important to eat these raw as often as possible, as cooking can cause a breakdown of the vitamins and nutrients.
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to reduce inflammation. Fatty, cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel are high in Omega-3. Non meat sources are hemp and flax seeds and avocado. Certain spices have anti-inflammation characteristics such as ginger, black pepper, garlic and turmeric.
Other ways to deal with inflammation include the R.I.C.E. method of treatment which stands for Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Pretty self-explanatory stuff there. NSAID's are also medications that many people choose to use (Ibuprofin) which have anti-inflammatory effects, to help control swelling and the pain associated with inflammation.
Hopefully this sheds a bit of light on inflammation and ways to prevent and manage some of its symptoms. In many ways, it really is just a part of hard workouts, yet by knowing a little more about what's actually occurring in the body, we are better prepared to handle it, move on, and avoid injuries. Learn more about our wellness services and how we can help you achieve a higher level of function at our website www.pranachiro.com
In Wellness and Love,
High Fructose Corn Syrup is a widely used sweetener that is a cheap alternative to table sugar. It was developed in the 1970’s and began being used in the food industry across the board in the practically everything from crackers to soda by the 1980's. If you have watched television in the last couple of years, you may have noticed commercials claiming that there is no difference between High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or what they call in the ads as “corn sugar” and cane sugar. The reason for these advertisements stems from the surge of research and literature exposing many of dangers associated with the use of HFCS. There is absolutely no truth to the advertisement's claims that the body does not know the difference between the two types of sugars. While it is true that using any sugar in excess is detrimental to health (so in this way, I suppose there is one similarity) HFCS presents many unique dangers to consumers. The problem is compounded by the fact that even when used in moderate amounts, HFCS causes heart disease, cancer, obesity, tooth decay, liver failure and more. There is also some link between HFCS use and dementia.
A recent study conducted by a research team at Princeton University determined that HFCS causes a substantially higher rate of fat gain than fruit based sugars. In the study, some rats were given the same amount of a fruit-derived sugar while others were given HFCS. Those rats given the HFCS gained fat 300% more quickly than the others given the fruit based sugar! This literally means that HFCS leads to obesity. As we in America are seeing ever-increasing numbers of obese adults, roughly 1 in 4 Americans and projected to be close to 1 in 2 by 2018, most people continue to consume huge amounts of HFCS.
High fructose corn syrup consumption leads to a much higher risk of developing Type-II Diabetes (see a previous blog post I did on diabetes). The biochemical make-up of HFCS is the reason behind this. HFCS is made up of both glucose and fructose, as is natural table sugar, yet HFCS consists at a ratio of 55% fructose and 45% glucose (table sugar is 50%-50%). There is also no chemical bond between the fructose and glucose in HCFS, as there is in table sugar. Therefore, no digestion is required for HFCS, and it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. The fructose goes right to the liver and causes potential damage to the organ and leads to fat deposits on the liver. The rapidly absorbed glucose can trigger spikes in insulin, which causes fat storage. Both of these reactions cause diabetes and the other conditions listed in the first paragraph of this blog post.
There is research to support the claim that HFCS can actually strip the body of vitamins and minerals it needs for normal functioning such as magnesium, chromium and copper, as HFCS requires nutrients to be metabolized.
HFCS has been demonstrated to cause elevations in both blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (the bad one). It can also lead to holes in the lining of the stomach which can in turn allow bacteria from the stomach to enter into the blood stream.
One test conducted by the federal government found HFCS samples to contain mercury. Over 50% of the samples tested contained alarmingly high levels of the contaminant. Mercury is not regulated or measured by the FDA. The scary part is mercury can cause both brain and nervous system damage, neither of which I care to experience!
It’s no secret, Americans, as a society, are gaining more and more weight each year. This includes children, which is especially troubling to me. Instead of constantly trying to find a magic weight-loss pill, we as a country must learn to identify the food products that we consume that are causing not only obesity, but also many of the health problems we are seeing in this country. High fructose corn syrup is not the same as other natural sugars and there is irrefutable scientific research that has linked HFCS to many detrimental effects on the body. So do yourself a favor and start reading food labels at the grocery store. If a food contains HFCS in the list of ingredients, I say find another product that does not. Your body is a miraculous thing and therefore it should be treated that way through healthy eating and living! For more healthy living tips and to learn about the health and wellness services that we provide at PRANA Chiropractic and Wellness Center, visit www.pranachiro.com
In Wellness and Love,
"The Not So Sweet Truth About HFCS." 2011. Mark Hyman, MD. Published on huffingtonpost.com
"5 Health Dangers of HFCS." 2010. Dr. Edward Group III, DC, ND. Global Heath Center.
"Dangers of HFCS." www.livestrong.com/article/139744-dangers-high-fructose-corn-syrup/
Well, here we are. It is almost the beginning of a New Year, and with that comes our lists of resolutions for the New Year. One of the most common resolutions that folks make at the beginning of the year is to lose weight and get in better shape. Although the statistics point out that almost 80% of people give up one their resolutions within 4 weeks, I am going to share with you some simple ways that you CAN achieve your weight loss goals for this year! Sound good?
So here is the basic breakdown of what it will take to lose weight. There is nothing complicated about the process, but it does require some planning, disciple, and more than anything, consistency. The ONLY way we can lose body fat is to consume less calories than we burn, or vice versa. Your best means of achieving this is to scale back on the calories you consume each day, while at the same time increasing your activity level (aka exercising). By doing so, you increase your ability to lose body fat, without having to cut calories so much that you feel like you’re starving all day long. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the feeling of being hungry all day long.
So, in order to lose 1 pound of body fat, you need to burn about 3,500 calories. Now obviously we aren’t going to try doing this in a single day, but if we break this down over an entire week, it becomes VERY doable. Basically, if you will cut back between 500 and 1000 calories per day, you will lose between 1 and 2 pounds roughly in a given week. Losing no more than 2 pounds per week seems to be the magic number in terms of being successful at keeping the weight off for good. Lose much more than 2 pounds per week and you greatly increase the risk of rapid weight gain once you return to more normal, less restrictive eating. The basic reasoning behind this is because if you cut calories too much, too quickly, the metabolism slows down. You will begin to burn fewer calories during the day because your body is in starvation mode.
First let’s cover some very basic dietary changes that you can easily implement. Remember, we are looking to cut calories here, so naturally, choosing foods that are lower in caloric content seems sensible, right? Exactly! This way, you can eat enough food to feel satisfied to a degree, while at the same time targeting your weight loss goal. The very first thing you should do is clear out your fridge and pantry. Throw out any processed, sugary, or high-caloric foods like trail mixes and granola. After you’ve taken care of this, the next step is going shopping to replace those foods with more nutritious and lower calorie foods. If you stick with vegetables and fruits, not only are you looking at foods that are typically low in calories, but they are also high in fiber which helps you stay fuller longer. With the addition of added fiber in the diet, you also help to improve digestion. Studies show that eating a diet high in fiber helps you to lose weight.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here on diet, but if you so desire, grab a copy of my first book, Simply Wellness: Learning to Live a Wellness Based Lifestyle One Day at a Time on Amazon or at our office. In that book, I go over nutrition in much more detail regarding appropriate proportions of carbs, fats, and proteins, as well as vitamins, minerals, hydration and even a few simple recipes you can throw together. But for now, just focus on eating more whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean protein sources, and limit bread-based carbohydrates and processed varieties. Also make certain to drink plenty of water.
When you go shopping at the grocery store, focus on the outside parameter of the store. If you look at the way most grocery stores are set up, you’ll notice that all the whole foods from produce, meats, and dairy products are along the outer parameter of the store. Spend the majority of your shopping time here and you will be much more likely to grab nutritious foods that the body can actually recognize and utilize to fuel the added exercise and physical activity you’re about to engage in. This takes us to our next subject…exercise!
Now before you freak out thinking that working out has to be this time consuming, all-or-nothing burden in your life, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this at all. In fact, for our Practice Members at PRANA Chiropractic and Wellness Center, I have them start with a simple walking program. To get started, commit to walking at a brisk pace, 3 times per week for 20 minutes. After 2 weeks of walking 3 times for 20 minutes, you simply add a day. So for the next 2 weeks, you’ll walk at a brisk pace for 20 minutes, 4 days a week. You choose the 4 days during the week to walk based on your schedule. You can spread them out and take a rest day between, or you can walk 4 days in a row and be done with it. The choice is yours! Now after spending 2 weeks walking at the 4 days and 20 minute mark, you’ll bump the duration of your walks up from 20 minutes to 30. And there you have it! You incrementally work your way up to walking 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week. Research shows that walking at a 4 mile per hour pace burns about 100 calories in the average adult. So each of your walking workouts will help you burn an additional 150-200 calories per day. If you add in some slight hills, carry a couple 1 pound dumbbells or ankle weights while you walk, you’ll scorch even more calories.
Now that you know your exercise routine doesn’t have to entail a 5 year contract to the local fitness club, I’m going to share with you a list of list of things that you can also do that will burn an additional 100 calories per activity.
If you are looking for more information, tips, or support, reach out to us at www.pranachiro.com There you can find links to my books, access addition health and fitness related blog posts, sign up for our newsletter, and e-mail any questions that you might have. At PRANA Chiropractic and Wellness Center, we offer a 6 Week, doctor-supervised, weight loss program that helps you lose between 20 and 35 pounds. We also offer personal training, individual yoga sessions, and lots of love and support regardless of your health goals. So reach out and let’s reach new heights together in terms of your health and wellness!
In Wellness and Love,
We see a lot of new Practice Members that come into PRANA taking all sorts of over-the-counter and prescribed sleep aids. While we definitely need sleep, these synthetically produced sleep aids certainly don’t add to our overall health. One thing that I explain to our Practice Members is that for every positive benefit provided by a medication, there is an equal or greater negative side effect(s) that it also causes. Now don’t get me wrong, I will never encourage a patient to get off of any medications that their Medical Doctor has prescribed. Pharmacology isn’t my area of specialization, and in many cases prescribed medications have saved lives, but I will say this, there are many people that take prescription medications for “conditions” in which they could control themselves through diet, exercise, and natural healthcare options such as Chiropractic and Applied Kinesiology. So I have compiled an easy list of steps that you and your family can take in order to improve sleep habits, without the potential side effects from over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids.
I hope these simple and natural sleep-improving tips help you get a better night’s sleep, which equals a much more productive day afterwards. Sleep is one of the most important steps we can take to living a Wellness Based Lifestyle. Learn more about the health services that we provide by visiting us at www.pranachiro.com
In Wellness and Love,
An area of debate in the health and wellness community is that over whether taking a multivitamin is beneficial to a person’s health. It is my position that the best source of nutrients that we need in order to thrive is from good quality food sources, but one of the dietary supplements I do use is a quality multivitamin. My view on using a multivitamin is the same as Integrative Medicine’s rock star, Dr. Andrew Weil, MD. Dr. Weil states that the best possible source of micronutrients is food, yet because we are not realistically able to eat optimally each day, multivitamins are an “insurance against gaps” in the diet. A quality multivitamin provides essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need in order to function properly.
Another important health benefit that multivitamins provide is improved cognitive functioning. A study detailed in the Nutrition Journal reports that consuming a multivitamin on a daily basis improved cognitive functioning in test subjects.
The Journal of the American Medical Association recommends that all adults take a daily multivitamin in conjunction with a healthy diet. Their findings are that up to 80% of Americans do not get the vitamins and minerals that are needed through their diet, and by supplementing with a quality multivitamin, people can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
* If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, always check with your trusted healthcare professional before adding dietary supplements to your daily nutritional intake!
In Wellness and Love,
‘Tis the season to be sicky…. I think that’s a pretty appropriate spin on a Holiday classic this time of year. One of the questions that I see come up often in terms of being sick and fitness, is whether or not a person should workout when they’re sick. Well there really isn’t one simple answer to this. I think more than anything, a person has to use a bit of common sense when deciding whether or not to rest up and recover, or get out and do some training.
Start by looking at what the illness is. A cold is one thing, but having a full blown flu illness is something entirely different. I certainly suggest that someone with anything more serious than the common cold not go to the gym or workout around others. That being said, if you do have a cold and are going to hit the gym, please use simple precautions to help reduce the likelihood of spreading the illness such as washing your hands often, using antibacterial hand-gels after each machine, and if the gym has anti-bac towels or spray remember to use it on each machine when you finish up.
There are certainly some benefits of working out when you are ill in terms of upping your mood. Sitting around or lying in bed can cause those of us that live active lifestyles to feel depressed and getting out for a quick run or even a walk can do a lot to make us feel better. Exercise can also help circulation and loosen up some of the crud that can build up in our lungs and sinuses. I personally train through most sicknesses I experience during the winter months and I can attest to the fact that the exercise and movement helps me feel better (if doing nothing more than getting my mind off of the sickness for a bit).
I suggest that you lessen the load, so-to-speak, when working out with a sickness. Obviously if you have a cold, the flu or any other type of common winter-time illness, I don’t suggest trying to set a PR 5K time or hammering out some tough interval circuits. Again just shoot for getting the body moving and the blood flowing. Illness alone can cause an increased heart rate, so keep this in mind too as you don’t want to elevate the heart rate too much while under the weather. Sweating can also have a cleansing effect on us and actually help to rid the body of illness. I always try to "sweat it out" a bit when ill, just to help my body rid itself of the potential toxins.
Just remember, working out at a low intensity can be a nice way to boost your mood when experiencing a common low-grade illness, but it is so important to use good judgment and common sense when it comes to it as well. Be certain not to overdo it and always be aware of the possibility of spreading the illness to others. Your body needs time to recover and heal itself from the illness, so you have to be willing for this to take place! It’s tough for us fitness buffs to take it easy when we’re sick, but sometimes we just have to be willing to do so. If you’re going to workout, make certain to keep it light and to increase your water intake before, during and after the exercise session.
In Wellness and Love,
Folic acid is the synthetic supplement form of Folate, one of the B vitamins, which is needed for body function. Folate is especially important to pregnant women, yet folate presents many health benefits to both men and women. Folate is not produced by the body, so it is necessary that we obtain adequate amounts from the foods that we consume or through supplements.
Folate plays an important role in cell maintenance and production. In terms of pregnancy, a growing fetus is constantly requiring the production of new cells. Pregnant and nursing women are recommended to consume 800 micrograms of folic acid per day.
Folate plays a vital role in the body’s ability to produce both white and red blood cells. Scientific research has linked folate to helping to reduce the risk of anemia. Anemia is a condition that occurs when the body lacks the ability to get an adequate amount of oxygen to the organs. Red blood cell health is important as red blood cells carry oxygen.
There is a link between folate and a potential reduction in depression. Studies conclude that up to 35% of people suffering from depression have low folic acid levels. Some research has determined that folic acid can aid antidepressant medications in their effectiveness. Folic acid can also assist in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Research shows up to a 55% decrease in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Folic acid also assists the body in eliminating an amino acid in the blood called homocysteine, which is a byproduct of animal protein synthesis and breakdown. Elevated homocysteine levels are linked to an increased risk of heart attack.
Folate is equally important for men, as it can help with infertility and low sperm count. Folic acid helps to increase both sperm count and quality. Folic acid deficiency can also cause damage to the DNA carried by the sperm. This damage to the DNA can lead to chromosomal damage in the fetus.
Foods that are rich in folate include dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, peanuts, avocado, citrus fruits, rice and sunflower seeds. Current USDA recommendations for non-pregnant and nursing women is 400 mcg per day and due to the current American diet trend of consuming primarily animal products, most people in the US do not come close to this recommendation. This being the case, consider including some of the foods mentioned above or taking a quality multi-vitamin on a daily basis.
In Wellness and Love,
Folic acid deficiencies are wide spread: here’s why nearly everyone needs more folate. Black, Alexis. www.naturalnews.com/z016208_prenatal_nutrition_folic_acid.html
What Does Folic Acid Do For Men? www.livestrong.com/article/468798-what-does-folic-acid-do-for-me/
Folic Acid for Men. Nicks, J. www.buzzle.com/articles/folic-acid-for-men.html
Dr. Christopher Weaver DC, PAK is a Doctor of Chiropractic and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He's published two books on health and Wellness.