This is one of my favorite nutritional aids that I have used for a number of years to increase my own Wellness Based Lifestyle. More and more people are utilizing this easily accessible health elixir, and here are just a few of the many benefits that apple cider vinegar offers. These are the benefits that I have witnessed myself through my own use, and also those that have more scientific backing than many of the claims found on the internet. I recommend that all my Practice Members take a shot (1.5 oz) of ACV each day. It can be added to warm water, along with a tablespoon of honey to make it much more palatable. I usually just take a shot of it from a shot glass, and then chase it down with a glass of water. One Practice Member adds it organic grape juice and swears it tastes like red wine!
In Wellness and Love,
A research study conducted at David Grant Medical Center in California recently discovered that aloe vera, when taken orally, can reduce fasting blood glucose levels.
Researchers also found reduced HbA1c levels, which are also screened when testing for diabetes. The HbA1c is glycated hemoglobin, which gives doctors a look at the average glucose levels over a three month period. Keep in mind that this test is done for Type-II, Adult-Onset Diabetes.
During this research study, 89 diabetic patients were analyzed. The findings from this study are suggestive that patients with glucose levels of over 200 experienced the greatest reduction with the use of oral aloe vera.
So check your local natural food stores for quality, pure aloe vera juice or simply make your own by juicing the stems of an aloe vera plant. Beware of the aloe vera juices found in many supermarkets or gas stations, as they contain high amounts of sugar. This of course would negate the positive effects.
In Wellness and Love,
In the age of fitness gimmicks and equipment that promise to produce staggering results in 2 minutes or less of use per day, most of us “more” informed people have become weary of the fitness equipment industry. Yet one simple piece of equipment that has literally stood the test of time and is generally accepted by all health and fitness professionals as being effective, is the stability ball. The stability ball is also called a yoga, Thera-, exercise, fitness, or Swiss ball and regardless of the name given, it is an air-filled heavy-duty plastic ball that comes is a variety of sizes to better fit individual users. The stability ball is an inexpensive piece of equipment and because of the fitness benefits that they offer it is a must for all exercises to have in the home and office.
Although many people think of the stability ball as a relatively recent invention, they have been around since the early 1900’s. Originally they were developed for use in rehabilitation by physical therapist and continued being used in physical therapy and sports medicine fields today. Stability balls are very durable and generally have a weight rating of 600-700 pounds, so there is little reason to worry about them popping during regular use.
Among the health benefits offered by the stability ball, the fact that they assist in stretching and flexibility gains is paramount. Many people that suffer from chronic back pain have found that they are able to stretch the muscles in the back using the stability ball because of the back support it offers. Stretching while standing or lying on the floor offers little to no back support, and therefore make it impossible for back pain suffers to effectively stretch those muscles to improve mobility. The stability ball supports the entire length of the spine when you lie over the ball on your back. Even for those of us that do not suffer from back pain, because of the support of the stability ball, we are able to stretch much more deeply, and can increase range of motion and mobility.
Fitness trainers began using stability balls in their training programs as a result of the core strengthening benefits they offer. Even just sitting on a stability ball requires that we engage the core muscles (the muscles in the abdominals and lower back) in order to maintain balance. Abdominal exercises on the stability ball are more effective in that exercisers must constantly engage the core while on the ball. Also, any weight training exercises that you perform on a bench can be performed with dumbbells on the stability ball. Again because of the need to maintain balance on the stability ball, users increase the strength of stabilizing muscles that would not otherwise be worked by the same exercises, if performed on a traditional weight training bench.
Stability balls can help users to improve their posture. Using a stability ball helps to improve alignment of the natural curve of the spine. Having a stronger core also improves posture. Using a stability ball in place of a desk chair at work is an easy way to improve posture, while also burning additional calories throughout the day resulting from maintaining balance and keeping the core tight. Stability balls also introduce an element of fun for users, so if you are using one in place of a chair, you are much more likely to rock back and forth and bounce around during the day which burns calories. If using a stability ball in place of a chair, it is important that you use the correct size ball. Find a ball that allows your thighs to be parallel to the floor when seated. We here at PRANA Chiropractic and Wellness Center also use yoga balls when helping folks recover from disc bulges and conditions.
To learn more about the benefits of stability balls and exercise in general, contact us to set up a FREE consultation.
In Wellness and Love,
Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known to man, dating back to 2,700 BC according to both Chinese and Egyptian texts. Cinnamon is a small tree grown in Asia and South America, and is produced by taking the bark from the tree and drying it. It is then typically ground into powder for consumption. There are 4 different varieties of cinnamon, but the most common type found in grocery stores is Cassia cinnamon.
Cinnamon offers a good deal of health benefits including regulation of blood sugar, relieving pain associated with arthritis, improved memory and brain functioning, anti-clotting and blood thinning effects, helping with cold symptoms including a stuffy nose, reducing flatulence and nausea ,and can help with painful menstrual cramping. Cinnamon also contains important nutrients including manganese, iron, calcium and fiber. The combination of calcium and fiber is particularly important in that it has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer. Both calcium and fiber bind to bile salts and bile salt has been scientifically linked to colon cancer. Cinnamon has also been demonstrated to reduce both cholesterol and blood pressure. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition confirms that cinnamon reduces blood pressure.
A 2003 study published in the medical journal Diabetes Care reported that after 40 days of cinnamon consumption, test subjects presented a 18 to 29% reduction in fasting blood glucose levels and a reduction in total cholesterol by 12 to 26%. Before using cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels, consult with your doctor, especially if taking medications for diabetes.
Cinnamon has an anti-microbial effect and therefore has been shown to help treat yeast infections. Cinnamon stops the growth of harmful bacteria in the stomach and intestines.
Cinnamon is also high in antioxidants (see my earlier blog on antioxidants). Antioxidants help to reduce free radicals in the body, which are damaging to cells.
In Wellness and Love,
Two of my favorite things in life are working out and music. So why not combine them and get the best of both worlds! In all seriousness, listening to music while working out can increase your ability to train and in that way, help to boost results. If you take a second to think about it, it isn’t really hard to see how music can help you increase the intensity of your workouts.
Throughout history, music has been used to illustrate and illicit emotions and to create moods. Choosing music that creates the mood for the type of training that you’ll be engaging in is important. For heavy weight lifting or sprinting workouts, it makes sense to choose a powerful, face-paced type of music. For yoga or meditation, go with light and expressive instrumental type music. They even make waterproof MP3 players these days, so you can listen to music while swimming! http://www.amazon.com/Underwater-Audio-Waterproof-Swimbuds-Bundle/dp/B00CELMZG0 Pretty cool indeed!
Music can help us to block out the distractions that often times cause us to lose focus during our training sessions. Whether it’s the pain associated with exercise, or it’s the chatter from others in the gym, distractions are ever-present in our environment. Music can help us to eliminate these and help us to be able to really focus in on the workout.
The only consideration that I suggest you keep in mind is to never listen to music while exercising near traffic or in an environment that you need to be aware of and hear your surroundings (such as road biking). Most races do not allow competitors to use headphones during events for this very reason.
So go out and buy some upbeat tunes to crank through the ear buds during your next workout. Use this as a motivator to get in your workouts. If you make it through a couple weeks of training, reward yourself by purchasing a new playlist’s worth of music to listen to for the next couple of weeks. Have fun coming up with different playlists for different types of workouts. I have a different playlist for my runs and my weight training workouts, and the music really helps me on days that I am dragging and lacking the motivation to step foot in the gym. Like the Doobie Brother’s sang “music is the doctor, makes you feel like you want to.”
In Wellness and Love,
Urinary Tract Infections, or UTI’s for short, are a no-fun yet common condition that many of us find ourselves suffering from at one point or another. There are a number of causes, and if you find that you are suffering from burning sensations while urinating, or a burning and itching type sensation in the bladder, chances are you might have a UTI. Certainly, the best way to determine this is to see your trusted healthcare provider.
Women seem to be more susceptible to developing UTI’s. There was a recent study detailed in Phytotherapy Research journal that looked at the effects of consuming whole cranberry fruit powder on women that experienced two or more UTI’s over the previous year. There were 182 test participants, and 89 of those were given 500 milligrams of the cranberry powder daily for 6 months, while the other test participants were given a placebo. Those participants that received the cranberry powder reported a drastic decrease in UTI’s than the other group.
So if you are someone that seems prone to developing UTI’s, or you feel that you currently have one, perhaps taking cranberry powder could be a solution for you. Cranberries are certainly a healthy addition to everyone’s diet, as they are high in antioxidants. Cranberries and cranberry juice can help with inflammation as well.
In Wellness and Love,
Arthritis is a disease that affects the body’s joints, causing severe pain and stiffness in sufferers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 50 million Americans that suffer from one of the dozens of types of arthritis, meaning that it is one of the most prevalent forms of disease in American society. Given the fact that arthritis causes severe pain and stiffness in the joints, exercise is often one of the last things that sufferers consider as a mode of treatment and pain management, yet physical activity is one of the most beneficial means of reducing these symptoms.
Exercise helps sufferers in several important ways including increasing flexibility of the muscles, increasing the range of motion in joints, and increasing the strength of the muscles that support the joints. One of the biggest issues associated with arthritis is decreased mobility due to the stiffness and pain it causes. Inactivity will actually exacerbate these symptoms, thereby making exercise all the more important. By actively working to increase both flexibility and range of motion, sufferers can begin to counteract the effects of the disease. By strengthening those muscles that surround the joints, a person can reduce the amount of impact on the joints that occurs from daily activities such as walking. In addition to increasing flexibility, reducing stiffness and pain, and strengthening the muscles, exercise can also help with weight management. By maintaining a healthy body weight, there is less stress placed on the joints due to excessive weight.
Another common issue associated with this disease is fatigue. Having a regular exercise routine is one of the simplest and most effective means of treating general fatigue, and it is recommended that arthritis sufferers follow the American Heart Association’s general guidelines for exercise: 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days per week. The Arthritis Foundation has several different group exercise programs available in many communities nationwide, and these programs and locations are listed on their website. Arthritis sufferers should focus on exercises that target increased range of motion such as gentle yoga, strength building including weight and resistance training, and low impact aerobic activities such as walking or swimming. Water exercise programs, such as water aerobics, are available at many fitness and recreation centers that have a pool. Water exercise a great alternative to traditional aerobics and group classes for arthritis sufferers, and can actually burn more calories than the same exercises being performed out of the water.
Some other tips to consider include applying heat to the affected joints prior to exercising. Heat actually helps to loosen the muscles and joints and can help with relieving some of the pain that is present. Use a heating pad or other heating device for approximately 20 minutes before beginning the physical activity. While exercising, remember to move slowly and avoid jerky and fast movements that could potentially lead to more pain in the affected joints. Lastly, applying ice to the affected joints after exercise can help reduce swelling and pain. Icing also can prevent some of the negative effects associated with inflammation and decrease recovery time.
Prior to beginning any exercise program, it is important to check with your doctor or other trusted healthcare professional to make certain that there are no serious health risks present.
In Wellness and Love,
Yeah, yeah I know, interesting topic right? Sweat seems to be more of an inconvenience that anything else, but to be completely honest, your life literally depends on your ability to sweat. Sweat is one of the body’s primary ways of regulating body temperature, and trust me, be glad that you sweat at certain times.
I want to give you a little anatomical background here, because after all, education is the key to growth and the more well- informed we are, the more impact we can have on our communities as we work together to create our Wellness Revolution!!!! Okay, off of my soap box and back to the topic of good ol’ sweat. There are actually two different types of glands in the body that produce sweat. Each of these glands produce sweat at different times, under different circumstances, and for all together different reasons. First are the eccrine glands which are found most commonly on the bottom of your feet, the palms of your hands, and your forehead. When you get stressed out, these guys begin to secrete sweat. Stress causes our body temperature to rise, and these little glands counteract this increase in body temperature. The eccrine glands secret the sweat on to the surface of the skin, which is the largest organ of the body, which then cools us down as the sweat evaporates into the air.
The second sweat producing glands are the apocrine glands. These guys respond to the hormone adrenaline, and they are most commonly found in the arm pits. The apocrine glands produce a thicker form of sweat and it typically has a slightly more milky appearance.
There are many circumstances that we encounter during our daily lives that cause one or both of these type glands to produce sweat which include: being anxious or nervous, working out, being outside on a hot day, getting a phone call from our boss about a missed deadline, sitting in a sauna, or getting pulled over by a police officer while running late for work because you have a deadline you’re about to miss. Regardless of the cause, the goal remains the same, to reduce the body’s temperature and prevent damage that occurs from overheating: Think heat stroke.
One downside to sweating is that it can lead to dehydration if you do not replenish those lost fluids, so make certain you drink plenty of water when outside on a hot day and during your workouts. A very general goal in terms of hydration is to make certain you’re drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day as an adult, and to increase this if being outside in the heat or if you are sweating during a workout.
In Wellness and Love,
One of my all-time favorite foods is watermelon! It’s kind of funny given the amount of foods that I have written about on my blog, that I have waited until now to discuss the health benefits of this yummy, juicy treat that's full of nutrients.
Watermelon is approximately 96% water, so during the summer it is a great way to increase fluid intake and to rehydrate after exercise. It is also high in Lycopene, which is a phytonutrient that is great for heart and bone health.
Watermelon is high in both flavonoids and carotenoids (powerful antioxidants) that are responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties. The lycopene is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, and all the antioxidants help to reduce and repair the damage of free radicals.
Watermelon is high in beta-carotene and is a decent source of Vitamin C. 1 cup of watermelon provides 20% of the RDA of vitamin C.
Watermelon is high in the amino acid citrulline, which the body converts to arganine. Arganine has been linked to decreased blood pressure.
Watermelon is a good source of B vitamins, which are important for metabolism and energy production.
Watermelon is also high in vitamin A and along with the lycopene, this helps to reduce the risk of vision loss and eye-related disease.
Considering these health benefits, eat up and enjoy y'all!
In Wellness and Love,
As a triathlete, over the years I had my share of joint and muscle related injuries. Some of these to the point that it impacted my ability to train as I normally would through swimming, biking and running. Not wanting to lose the fitness that I had worked hard to gain over the course of a training year, I began looking into some alternative forms of exercise that I could engage in that would not add to my injury, while at the same time allowing me to continue the recuperation process.
Water exercise is something that many of us swimmers have at least encountered other people doing from time-to-time while we are the pool, but I bet that many of you have not given it a try. I have to say before going any further, water exercise is not only for older folks, nor does it have to be used solely for rehabilitation. Water exercise is an effective way to maintain cardio fitness, increase strength and keep you going in the event of an injury. Because of buoyancy, the water supports our body weight, which translates into a very low-impact form of exercise.
Water exercise is a great option for pregnant women, as it is a safe and more comfortable way to continue exercising while expecting. People with joint issues such as arthritis, back pain, severely overweight people, or other conditions that make walking and running difficult have found water exercise to be a tolerable form of physical activity. Most large fitness centers and gyms offer group water exercise classes that are lead by certified instructors.
Water exercise is also a great way for athletes to exercise similar muscle groups on back-to-back training days. The way this works is that an athlete can engage in a running workout on Monday, yet instead of running again on land on Tuesday, which greatly increases risk of injury, the athlete can run in the pool which will have much less impact on the joints. This allows the athlete to continue recovering from Monday's run. Water running is one of the most effective forms of water exercise, and utilizes the same sport-specific muscles that running on land does. If water running is too difficult, especially for folks recovering from an injury, water marching is a good starting point.
There are some water exercise tools that people can purchase to use to add variety to their water exercise programs. Some of these include flotation belts (used for running in the deep end, which adds intensity and resistance to water running), kick-boards (used to focus on building leg strength while swimming), water dumbbells (used to perform arm resistance exercises that are typical of land based dumbbell exercises such as shoulder raises and biceps curls), fins and water socks (also used for increasing leg strength by swimming or kicking type water exercises). Most of these items can be purchased online or at your local sporting goods store.
Water adds as much as 12 times the resistance as doing the same type of exercise on land. Vigorously treading water burns approximately 11 calories per minute, which is the same as running 6 miles per hour. Water exercise is a great way to add variety and fun to your exercise programs and can allow you to continue exercising through certain injuries. As always, check with your licensed healthcare professional before beginning any exercise program, especially if you have a preexisting injury or health condition.
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.