When the cooler months settle in, sometimes we feel less inclined to get outside and exercise. The good new is, there is no better cooler activity to boost health than getting outside and hiking! So, in this blog post, let’s explore some of the health benefits associated with this perfect cool weather activity.
Exercise is a must for all of us. There is no exception. Humans are designed for movement and physical activity, and the best way to ensure that we will get needed amounts of exercise is to find activities that we enjoy and will WANT to participate in. Some of the most important health-boosting things that hiking does for us is it improves cardiovascular health. Remember that the leading cause of death in the US remains heart disease, so certainly steps (no pun intended) we can take to improve heart health makes sense. Hiking also helps improve muscular endurance and condition, which trust me, is a good thing. Hiking also improves lung function, and with as much time as most of us are forced to spend inside, any excuse to get outside in the fresh air is something that our lungs will thank us for!
Something that we might not think about, but is a major health concern especially as we age, is bone density. Hiking is a weight bearing activity that can help increase bone density, which decreases the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis. Maintaining adequate bone density as we age decreases the risk of breaks and fractures.
Hiking is also a great way to help lower the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. These are three conditions in which the majority of medications prescribed in the US are linked to. It is also worth noting that daily outdoor exercise has been shown to be more effective at treating depression than the leading prescription drugs for the condition. These conditions also lead to more serious health conditions, so avoiding things like high blood pressure is something that we should focus on.
Hiking is a great form of exercise to assist with weight management. 2 in 3 people in the US are overweight and over 1/3 of the population is classified as obese. It is apparent that we need more ways to help control body weight, which leads to more health complications, and hiking can be an enjoyable way to motivate you to exercise. It is also a great activity that we can do with others, which helps to improve our level of social wellness.
One final benefit of hiking that we also might not think about in terms of exercise, is it helps us have more restful sleep. Sleep is necessary in order for the body and mind to recover from the day and anytime we exercise, we help ensure better sleep. Getting more sleep helps with things such as improve mood, better skin, less likelihood of accidents, and lowering the overall risk of chronic disease.
The awesome thing is, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the health benefits that hiking offers, so when time and weather allows, take a hike! And better yet, invite others to go with you. Many areas have clubs that meet once a week and do group hikes together. Make certain to take certain precautions like bringing plenty of water, healthy snacks, a first aid kit, and map. It is important to stay on the paths and not venture too far from your vehicle, especially in areas that are unfamiliar. Let others know where you are hiking, and be aware of local wildlife precautions as well. Other than that, go out and have an adventure!
Chances are if you have come into my office for a muscle injury, arthritis, stiff joints, or other musculoskeletal issue, we have had a conversation about supplementing with turmeric. Because of the powerful health-boosting benefits of this ancient spice, I wanted to take the time to write a short article explaining what I feel to be the top 5 reasons to consume it on a daily basis.
One important thing to keep in mind is the fact that turmeric has undergone dozens of research studies. The health benefits that we will discuss in this article have strong science-based findings to back up the claims. Turmeric has been used in India as a medicinal herb for thousands of years, and now we are seeing more and more reasons why!
The bioactive compounds that are responsible for turmeric’s healing qualities are called curcuminoids. The most notable of these is curcumin. Curcumin is the primary active ingredient in turmeric, and is what is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties. The majority of studies conducted center around curcumin. It is important to note that curcumin does not occur in high enough quantities in raw turmeric to elicit the desired health benefits, therefore taking a supplement high in curcumin is generally recommended.
Curcumin is not well absorbed by itself into the blood stream, but the good news is that black pepper can increase the absorbability of curcumin by up to 2000%. Therefore, when using a curcumin supplement, look for one that contains peperine, which is the active ingredient found in black pepper.
Now to the health benefits that I find to be the most important regarding turmeric. These are only 5 of the science-backed benefits, so keep in mind that more and more studies are being conducted and finding even more reasons to add turmeric into your healthy nutrition program.
Again, this is a list of only 5 health related benefits offered by turmeric, so further research will continue to bring forth even more reasons to take a daily turmeric/curcumin supplement. Remember the importance of using a black pepper extract as well in order to boost the absorbability of the curcumin. For more information regarding quality turmeric supplements, contact our office at Prana Chiropractic and Wellness via www.pranachiro.com We always welcome your questions and as with any nutritional supplement, check with your trusted healthcare provider prior to using it. One important note to keep in mind, if you are currently on blood thinner or have any blood-related disorder, you MUST consult with your healthcare provider before using. Turmeric can have a slight blood thinning effect, so check with your doctor first!
Black tea has become one of my favorite beverages and what's awesome is it's very simple to make at home. I personally use my coffee maker to make an entire "pot" of tea by simply dropping 8 to 10 tagless bags of black tea in the coffee pot after adding 12 cups of water to the maker. Turn it on and let it run it's cycle and there you have it, a pot of hot, fresh black tea. In addition to being extremely easy to prepare, black tea is full of health benefits, making it a great choice for those of us working to live a Wellness Based Lifestyle.
Like several other teas, black tea is made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Black tea is fermented longer than green tea, which accounts for the darker color. As a result of the longer fermentation process, black tea has a higher caffeine content.
Among the health benefits of black tea, perhaps the most important is the high amounts of antioxidants present. Antioxidants help to reverse the detrimental effects of free radicals (formed by a processed called oxidation, which I discuss in more detail in a previous blog on antioxidants and inflammation). Antioxidants are also important in reducing the risk of cancer. An antioxidant found in black tea called Theaflavin has been shown to destroy cancer cells in the body. Flavanoids present in black tea are also important for heart health and helps to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of stroke.
Black tea also is a great way to increase energy as a result of its caffeine content. Caffeine helps to increase the metabolism (great for weight loss), increases brain functioning and alertness, and has been shown to increase athletic performance in certain instances. Black tea has a lesser amount of caffeine than coffee and many people with a slight sensitivity to caffeine have found black tea to be a tolerable source of caffeine, meaning they do not experience the jitters they get from coffee or soda. Another substance found in tea, Theophylline, has been shown to stimulate the heart, kidneys and respiratory system thereby increasing the health of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Black tea is also a digestive aid and has been used for centuries in China as a way to treat diarrhea and other GI issues. There is also some research that shows tea helps to reduce intestinal inflammation, common in those that suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Research published in the March 2008 volume of "Aging Cell" promotes that regular consumption of black tea can potentially lower the risk of developement of Type II Diabetes. Type II Diabetes affects approximately 285 million people worldwide and the number is increasing yearly.
A substance in black tea called Tannins have been shown to kill viruses including hepatitis and influenza. A research study conducted at Pace University found that black tea can neutralize the herpes virus. Tannins also help to reduce the harmful bacteria in the mouth which can lead to reduced risk of tooth decay and the root cause of bad breath!
In Wellness and Love,
Alvarez, B. www.livestrong.com "Black Tea Health Benefits." 2010.
Falcon, D. www.steadyhealth.com "Drinking Black Tea May Help Lower Diabetes Risk." 2013.
www.healthdiaries.com "9 health Bebefits of BlackTea." 2011.
www.fitday.com "3 Health Benefits of Drinking Black Tea.
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,
Dr. Christopher Weaver DC, PAK is a Doctor of Chiropractic and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He's published two books on health and Wellness.