Friday
May292015

ARE GRAINS GOOD FOR YOU

Nutrition is an ever-changing field of study. It seems like new theories come and go like the latest pop stars. What is good for you this year is bad for you next year. Remember when eggs and bacon were part of a nutritious breakfast? Then cholesterol became the enemy. Then Atkins came out with a diet high in fat that actually lowered cholesterol. So what can we believe?

All we can do is read the latest research; especially that research that is supported by many different sources. Keeping all of this in mind, the latest research indicates that grain and grain products (bread, biscuits, muffins, donuts, pasta, tortillas, rice, oatmeal etc.) cause inflammation.These food groups are high in omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids cause an increase in the production of the precursors of inflammatory agents in the blood. We need to eat foods high in omega 3 fatty acids to counteract the effects of omega 6.

Grains have not been around very long (about 10,000 years or so) compared to how long humans have been on the planet (probably 2 millions years). Our genetic code was shaped by the eating habits of these ancestors and has not changed much, but the foods we consume have.

So why is grain so popular? One reason is because grains store longer and are cheaper. You can put oatmeal in the pantry and pull it out a year later, cook it, and eat it. Try doing that with a salad. As one of my patients said, “That’s because grains are dry and dead while fruits and vegetables are green and alive.”

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats and a few other grains. It is not found in rice or corn. Gluten causes a range of symptoms such as headaches, chronic fatigue, digestive complaints (Celiac disease is a serious digestive disorder caused by gluten.) and anemia.

Lectins are proteins found in grains and beans (legumes). These are difficult to digest and cause inflammation of the digestive tract. Recent research indicates that diseases such as arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, cataracts and autoimmune problems are related to the consumption of lectins.

The pH of our bodies becomes more acidic with the consumption of grains. Grains also contain phytic acid; a substance that reduces the absorptions of calcium, magnesium and zinc.

So what do we eat? The more we eat like hunters /gatherers the better off we are. Eat fruits and vegetables raw or lightly cooked. Fresh fish (try to stay away from farmed salmon since they tend to be higher in mercury than the wild salmon), wild game and grass fed animals are high in omega 3. Nuts, (peanuts not included) such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts, when eaten raw, fight inflammation. If you eat eggs, try getting the ones high in omega 3 such as Christopher, or Eggland eggs. Don’t cook with vegetable or peanut oil. Use olive oil, coconut oil or butter. Butter from grass fed animals is best. If you just have to have bread, try Ezekiel Bread. It can be found in the frozen food sections of some stores (Kroger has it). The bread is made from sprouts and has no additives or preservatives so it is often kept frozen. I would still limit this to one or two slices per day.

When making changes to your health habits, be patient. Remember, if we can improve the healthy things we do by 1% per week, by the end of the year the positive overall effect to our health will be dramatic.

Reference
1 Seaman D. The diet induced pro-inflammatory state: a cause of chronic pain and other degenerative diseases? Journal Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002

Friday
May292015

WHAT EXACTLY IS ARTHRITIS

Arthritis is a loosely used term. Many of my new patients have been told by their primary doctors that their aches and pains are due to "arthritis." This word "arthritis" covers a lot of territory and comes in many different forms. "Itis" means inflammation of, and "arth" means joint; so the literal interpretation is joint inflammation. There are two major categories of arthritis:

1. Inflammatory
2. Non-inflammatory

Inflammatory arthritis is the more serious of the two categories. This group includes rheumatoid arthritis which has an actual blood component called "RA factor." This is the arthritis that leads to the fingers being deformed toward the little finger side or ulnar bone, called ulnar deviation. There are other manifestations, but this finger deformation is the most classic sign.

Another form of inflammatory arthritis is suppurative. This kind of arthritis occurs when an infection from a cut or abscess spreads into a joint causing inflammation of that joint. Other forms of inflammatory arthritis include gouty arthritis (which most often starts in the big toe), psoriatic arthritis, and dysenteric arthritis.

Non-inflammatory arthritis is commonly called osteoarthritis and/or degenerative joint disease. This is usually the arthritis that doctors are talking about when someone has a chronic complaint of pain in a specific joint. There is a genetically transmitted form of this arthritis which also leads to nodular lumps on the joints just below the fingernails, called Heberden’s nodes. Osteoarthritis was once thought to be caused by too much movement in a joint causing it to wear out. Now research has indicated that lack of motion in the joint can cause osteoarthritis as well. To make lab rats arthritic for research, scientists bind the legs of the rats so their joints cannot be moved. After a few weeks of not using their limbs, the joints become arthritic. It is because of this finding that the wearing of cervical collars should only be done in cases of severe ligamentous damage and joint instability. The collars should be taken off as soon as possible, otherwise, like the rats, arthritis will infiltrate the joints of the neck due to restriction of vertebral motion.

Can chiropractic help arthritis?

Yes. Chiropractic is more effective with some forms of arthritis than others. It is important to remember that the purpose of chiropractic is to maximize spinal and nervous system function. Normalizing nerve communication enhances organ and tissue function. If the arthritis is the result of altered organ performance, correction of nerve flow may restore organ function reversing the arthritis. This would be more likely in the inflammatory type arthritides, which are usually a result of organ dysfunction somewhere in the body.

Chiropractic is probably most effective with osteoarthritis, which is a consequence of altered joint function and low grade inflammation. Chiropractic restores joint movement, diminishing the effects of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is often initiated from trauma of some kind. It may be an acute type trauma, such as a car collision or sports injury. Micro trauma can lead to degenerative changes also. Holding the phone between your shoulder and ear or watching TV in bed with your head propped up can, over the years, lead to joint injury and arthritic infiltration.

Many researchers now suspect low grade inflammation to have a large influence on the outcome and extensiveness of osteoarthritis. This inflammation is driven mostly by diet. It is therefore important to eat a diet that counteracts inflammation. A good web site for learning about what to eat can be accessed at: deflame.com.

The next time someone says their doctor diagnosed them as having arthritis, ask them what kind of arthritis. Most people are not aware there is a difference. Chiropractic helps in almost all cases of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis. Please inform people suffering from arthritis that there is a drugless option for their condition. Approximately 16,000 people die each year from over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil, Motrin and aspirin. Chiropractic is one of the safest forms of primary health care. Tell your friends to give me a call if they would like to discuss their condition. Thank you for your help.

Friday
May292015

THE TRUTH ABOUT RUPTURED DISCS

Who hasn’t heard the term "ruptured discs"? It is a loosely used expression to describe many conditions causing pain or nerve conduction problems. The disc is a cartilaginous pad; actually a ligament that binds one vertebrae to another. The discs allow the spine to bend. Without the discs, the spine would be like a stick. There is a disease process called ankylosing spondylitis in which the discs get covered over with bone and fuses one vertebra to the other. This disease is also called "bamboo spine" because the spine takes on the look and function of a bamboo stick. People with this condition have an extreme lack of mobility.

There are two primary areas of concern in the disc. The outer portion called the annular fibrosis (think of the rings of a tree after it has been sawed through). It is made of tough fibrous connective tissue. The fibers of each ring run in the opposite direction of the ring next to it. This gives tremendous strength to the disc. There is an inner gelatinous core to the disc called the nucleus pulposus (think of jelly in a jelly donut). Many of the problems with discs occur when the core shifts to one side of the disc. This shift can occur over time due to low grade stress; such as sitting or bending for extended periods of time. A shift of the inner core material can also occur due to an acute loading of the disc to one side; such as picking up a very heavy suitcase with one hand. This shifting of the core probably led to the term "slipped disc". The outer annular rings can break down without any shifting of the core material. This breakdown can occur from twisting type motions especially while holding something heavy. An example of this type injury might occur when picking up a bag of mulch and turning quickly to throw it into a truck bed.

The aging process can lead to a drying out of the disc fibers. The drying causes a breakdown of the annular rings. Eventually, there is a shifting of the core material through the area of weakness. If the core material shifts to one side of the disc, but remains contained by the annular fibers it is called a disc protrusion. If the core material “ruptures" out, it is called a disc prolapse. There are variations of naming these protrusions and prolapses which is more detail than we need to get into.

After treating patients for ruptured discs since 1984, I have come to the conclusion that the majority of ruptured discs come from abnormal dynamics of the spine. The areas of altered vertebral performance, which cause the disc to rupture, are often not in the area of the disc damage. Most doctors focus on the disc as the problem. Injections of steroids or surgery are often performed to no avail since the problem is not the disc itself. The problem is poor dynamic motion in the spine. The altered movement leads to focalized stress on a single disc. The strained disc eventually inflames or ruptures.

The approach I take is to find the area of abnormal spinal performance and restore the motion to as close to normal as possible. The problem area can be either above or below the injured disc. Sometimes, there are problems both above and below that contribute to the disc’s dysfunction. Areas of hypomobility (not enough motion) must have movement restored. Optimizing spinal function distributes stress and lets the agitated disc rest and heal.

About a third of the population has a ruptured disc. I have two in my own neck. Just because a physician finds a ruptured disc in the area of your pain does not mean it is the underlying problem, or that you are a candidate for surgery. I suggest you contact a chiropractor before undergoing any surgical procedures for disc problems. Chiropractic will usually help you recover and is extremely safe. You cannot reverse many of the effects of surgery once it is performed. If chiropractic fails to remedy your condition, you can always have the surgery.



Friday
May292015

FREE WEIGHTS VS. MACHINES

"I won’t get hurt working out because I use machines instead of free weights." I hear this statement quite often from patients who have started weight training.

Many trainers of elite athletes believe machines can make you more susceptible to injury.

What? Don’t machines enhance stability during exercise? Yes, they stabilize you. Due to this stabilization, people fail to develop their own ability to stabilize. When using most weight machines, the muscles that stabilize our bodies are not utilized. Training in a one dimensional pattern with machines, leads to injury in a 3-dimensional world. Our bodies are meant to work in an integrated pattern. Isolating a muscle groups, as in a leg extension machine, will be useless when it comes to moving the refrigerator to clean behind it. The lack of stabilizing strength will cause the nervous system to limit the body’s ability to use its machine developed strength. The nervous system will sense an overload to your body’s stabilizing ability and shut your musculature down.

Most sports and everyday activities, such as lifting a load of laundry, picking up a bag of groceries, and starting a mower require strength and coordination in multiple planes of movement. Lifting on a single plane movement machine will increase susceptibility to injury in the other planes of movement. It would make sense to train, at least some of the time, asymmetrically. One of the best methods is the large exercise balls; sometimes called "Swiss balls". Performing exercises on these balls require the use of your stabilizing musculature. Muscle fibers are worked in multiple planes. Exercising on the unstable ball gives you greater stability and makes you less susceptible to injuries from falls and awkward lifting.

Do some sort of exercise every day. Make it a habit. The balls don’t take up a much room, they are extremely versatile, and the whole family can use them. Now, just do it!

Saturday
Aug272011

WEIGHT LOSS? NOT AS HARD AS YOU MIGHT THINK

So, you want to lose weight fast and improve your overall health. Quit eating so much sugar. That’s it. Well okay, I'll expand on that. Most of my patients say they don’t eat very much sugar. The truth is, most likely they do. We are not actually spooning large quantities of white table sugar on our food. Instead, sugar has made an insidious invasion into many processed foods.

The consumption of sugars of all kinds is on the rise. Let me give you an example of how it can play out. I recently was at a convention and during a break they handed out Nature Valley Trail Mix Fruit and Nut bars. It had the phrases “100% Natural” (I always like to point out that hemlock and poison ivy are very natural) and “Good source of Whole Grain.” 
With the words Nature, Valley, Trail and Natural it sounds so good and earthy it just has to be nutritious for you. (They also included “chewy” on the label; sounds delicious.) So before I tried to get all that rich goodness in me I read the back label to see the ingredients; which by the way were hidden under a flap in the wrapper. The list of ingredients were as follows:


1. Whole grain oats

2. High maltose corn syrup (a sugar)
3. Crisp rice (made with rice flour, and take a guess, sugar and
 malt extract;
which is another form of sugar.
4. Sugar (this would be regular table sugar; sucrose)

5. Raisins (which are very high in fructose (sugar)

6. Honey (sugar)
7. Dried cranberries (high in sugar)

8. Rice maltodextrin (a sugar)

What this all means is the first ingredient is not oats, but is actually sugar; the company just came up with six or seven different names for it.

Instead of reading all of the ingredients, read the sugar content in grams. For this bar it was fourteen grams. Four grams of sugar is approximately a teaspoon. In this little tiny bar, about a quarter inch thick and three inches long, I am getting about three and a half teaspoons of sugar. If you drink one twenty-ounce Coke you are consuming 65 grams of refined sugar. According to the American Heart Association, men should have no more that 37.5 grams of added sugar. Women should have only 25 grams of added sugar per day. With a single 20 0z Coke, women are getting more than two days worth of allowable added sugar. To get an idea of how much sugar this represents, go to: http://www.sugarstacks.com/beverages.htm


According to a nutritional program being conducted at the University of Nebraska, you are consuming about 65 pounds of sugar in a year if you drink one sweetened soda per day. According to the U.S. Dept. Of Health, the consumption of caloric sweeteners rose from one hundred-twenty-seven pounds per person to one hundred-fifty-three lbs per person in the period from 1986-1996; almost a 20% increase.

So how did this all come about? High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a lot of the problem. The production of HFCS became perfected in the 70’s and later became the source for sweeteners in soda. You may remember how the price of Pepsi and Coke dropped in half in the 80's when those companies switched to high fructose corn syrup. I won’t get into the whole issue of which is worse, HFCS or sugar. I think HFCS is a little worse due to the genetic alteration of the corn which is used in its production. It is like questioning whether replacing one poison with another similar poison is better for us.

HFCS is so cheap (driven by corn lobbyists getting government subsidies and tariffs on cane sugar) that is has infiltrated more and more of our foods. The taste buds of the American consumer have become so increasingly jaded that food manufacturers are adding more and more sugar to satisfy our ramped up cravings.

One other factor must be taken into account. HFCS is high in fructose, in fact about 55% fructose. But wait, isn’t fructose the sugar that you get from fruit? And aren’t fruits good for you? Yes to both questions. When you eat fruit the fiber in the fruit is broken down slowly, so the influx of sugar into your system is stretched out over a period of time. This increased processing time allows the body to handle the sugar efficiently without stressing the body. When you drink a soda there is no breakdown period. The influx of sugar is too rapid and your pancreas’ production of insulin is over taxed. (Visualize drinking from a fire hose as opposed to a water fountain.) Some studies now indicate that such an influx of refined fructose may fail to stimulate insulin secretion, which in turn, fails to stimulate leptin production. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain “YOU ARE FULL. STOP EATING!” Refined fructose also seems to keep ghrelin turned on. Ghrelin is the hormone that says “YOUR HUNGRY. GO GET SOMETHING TO EAT!” The overall effect of HFCS is to tell our bodies “YOUR NOT FULL KEEP EATING!” This is probably why a lot of people binge eat. This was my own problem. I could go to a buffet and eat non-stop. I had many people over the years, after dining with me, tell me they had never seen anyone eat so much in one sitting. I did this all the time. My nutritionist friend told me that I was not producing enough insulin. I had been over stimulating my pancreas by binging. If I continued this habit I would become diabetic.

Recently I had my own blood sugar checked, as well as my cholesterol. Both were very high. I called a nutritionist friend and asked him what I should do. He recommended different lab tests. He also recommended I keep a food diary. I had to write down everything that I ate; eat a handful of peanuts, write it down, eat three Wheat Thins, write it down, put a tablespoon of ketchup on something, write it down.

After my friend reviewed my diary he said I was eating better than ninety-five percent of his patients. That was the good news. The bad news was that my eating habits were still pretty pitiful. (His language was a little more forceful than that. What he actually said would be offensive to some readers.) Needless to say, I felt like a nutritional “Loser.”

So what did I do? I eliminated as much sugar out of my diet as possible. You have to read the labels on everything you eat. (If you are reading labels, chances are, it isn’t real food anyway.) If it has sugar in any large quantities don’t eat it. Keep your total intake of refined sugar to 40grams or below. (No refined sugars would be even better.) I also started taking supplements that sensitized my body to the insulin I was producing. After a week of doing this I found I was not craving food. Before, I had to will myself not to eat. I wanted more food, and would have to fight my urge to eat. That was a tough battle; one that I lost about 50% of the time. I had a goal of one hundred-eighty-five pounds. I would reach it with sheer will power. A week later I would be back up to one- hundred-ninety pounds. I could not sustain the weight loss. After eliminating the majority of sugar from my diet, and taking various supplements, I now have to remind myself to eat.

You can do this. It is not as hard as you think. Eliminate as much sugar as you possibly can. Get with a nutritionist to help you with proper eating and supplementation. My nutritionist is Dr. Scott Banks. His web page is bankschiropractic.com. He is a well respected lecturer and researcher, and will work with patients over the phone. Start today to read the labels ofthe foods you eat. Better yet, eat real food, such as lettuce, apples, nuts and berries; foods that don’t require ingredient labels.

I asked a patient the other day why they kept eating a brand of cracker that was so high in sugar. 


“They taste good,” she said


Rat poison tastes good to the rats.