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It is estimated that of the 238 million adults in the US, 116 million suffer from chronic pain. Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common allopathic approach to the management of these chronic pain patients. However, there are more complaints filed to regulatory agencies worldwide against NSAIDs than any other classification of drugs.
Due to pro-inflammatory lifestyles (diet and physical, chemical and emotional stressors), pain and other subsequent signs or symptoms of internal disfunction runs rampant. This leads to the perceived need for routine NSAID use (tylenol, aspirin, advil, ibuprofen, etc.) to get through the busy day. While the underlying cause of the inflammation should always be addressed, what we are talking about here is a short term, safer alternative to the NSAID.
The reason a smarter option should be exercised is due to the fact that like all drugs, over the counter or prescribed, these magic pills are not sans side effects. NSAID use and overuse is responsible for an alarming number of hospitalizations and even deaths each year. Common side effects include internal hemorrhaging, liver and kidney damage, digestive dysfunction including degradation of the stomach and intestinal wall (ulcers), and stroke; with the likelihood of occurrence increasing with usage.
So when you see these commercials with the delivery man or mother of three relying on her her alieve or advil to get through the day, best believe reliance on an even longer list of meds will follow to address the aforementioned issues.
To understand viable options, we need to understand the physiologic mechanism of action behind the NSAID. These drugs work by inhibiting a part of the inflammatory pathway that leads to the formation of something called a prostaglandin (PGE2) that would normally lead to stimulation of pain fibers. They do this by inhibiting an enzyme in the pathway called COX-2, and are thus noted as COX-2 inhibitors.
What most people don’t know is that there are actually other ways to block the formation of PGE2, and thus the pain. In addition to a laundry list of other systemic benefits, Omega3 (Fish Oil) supplementation also serves as a COX-2 inhibitor, and thus a potentially powerful, natural anti-inflammatory. (Provided this is a high quality Omega 3 supplement and at a therapeutic dose.)
Another fascinating option that works in a similar COX-2 inhibitory
manner is the application Low Laser Therapy or LLT. These are often classified as cold lasers (due to the lack of heat) and work by utilizing a specific wavelength and frequency of light to achieve a desired therapeutic purpose within the tissues. One of the effects of Low Level Laser Therapy is that it too blocks the COX-2 enzyme, and thus the formation of PGE2 and the sensation of pain, but without the side effects.
As previously stated, the long term objective should always be to identify and eliminate the cause of the problematic inflammation so the use of natural or chemical anti-inflammatories is minimized. However, due to the well documented hazards associated with these seemingly harmless and casually over consumed drugs, wiser options, that work in the exact same manner, should be exercised.
As with any adjustment to your healthcare regimen, always consult with you knowledgable and trusted healthcare coach before making any changes. Whether it’s the all natural temporary relief of pain, or a combination of short term relief to get you through while we work on a long term solution, we are here to collaborate with and coach you to a better quantity and quality of life.
We’re ready when you are.
No matter what point you’re at on the journey towards health through optimizing your nutrition, more information is always a plus. The transition away from mostly boxed, processed foods to fresh produce consisting of colorful fruits and vegetables is always a big step. Looking at the quality of the produce and opting to pay a little extra now for certified organic (instead for piles of meds later) is another major step in the nutrition evolution.
One thing to keep in mind at the grocery store and again in the kitchen is the fact that fruits and vegetables contain sugar. Granted, when consuming sugar these are bar none your best source, the fact remains that each packs a delicious dose of fructose. There is a reason that fruits in particular are so delicious and considered nature’s dessert.
“Oh great; now he’s saying fruits are bad and we shouldn’t eat them either.” That’s not what we’re saying at all. Fruit is great, and along with the fructose can deliver ample beneficial antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc. However, too much fruit can actually be a bad thing due to the high fructose content, especially if you are watching your weight or struggling with diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. (Once again my mother’s suggestion of moderation comes to mind.)
Another interesting fact is that sugar actually inhibits the release of human growth hormone (HGH) which is one of the main factors behind building muscle. Something to think about if you are still opting for a high sugar, fruit smoothie after that workout.
The following is an excerpt from a recent article on Mercola.com pertaining to this topic. After that, there are links to charts illustrating the approximate fructose content in various fruits and vegetables, if you wish to keep a closer eye on your levels, or are just curious.
“Most overweight Americans have some degree of insulin and leptin resistance. This also includes people with diabetes, and many individuals with high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
If you fall into this category, it would be prudent for you to restrict your fructose consumption to about 15 to 25 grams of fructose per day from all sources.
Those who are normal weight and relatively healthy may also benefit from reducing their intake of fructose, particularly from foods containing high fructose corn syrup or sugar, as the effects of high sugar and HFCS intake may have effects that build up over time.
Naturally, fruits also have fructose but contain many beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. For someone who is obese, one has to be careful with eating fruits that have substantial fructose content. Some fruits, such as lemons and limes, have minimal fructose content and are safe.
Other fruits, such as grapefruit, kiwi, and berries, also have relatively low fructose content and high levels of nutrients. However, fruit juices, dried fruits, and some fruits that are rich in fructose (such as pears, red apples, and plums) should be eaten relatively sparingly.
There was just a paper published in the British Medical Journal, which looked at individual fruits as a risk factor for obesity and diabetes,” Dr. Johnson says. “Certain fruits, which we know have relatively low-sugar content and very high vitamin and antioxidant contents, are actually quite healthy. Berries, in particular blueberries, are very, very healthy.
But juices, where you put all the fruit together and you get a lot of sugar in one glass, it’s just too much. When you drink that, you can flood your liver with fructose, and then that will overwhelm the benefits of all the antioxidants. You’ll still get an increased risk for fatty liver, obesity, and diabetes from fruit juice.”
If you are concerned about any of this and interested in tracking your intake, the following chart can be used as a reference guide to help you get and stay on track:
For the most part vegetables are relatively extremely low in fructose and should be consumed without concern. However, if you are someone who struggles with weight and or cravings and would like the follow the 15-25g of fructose/day stringently, the link below is a quick reference of fructose content in various veggies:
The phrase move it or lose it has been around for years and for good for reason. The concept is contingent upon the process of adaptability or plasticity. Without moving or utilizing certain processes within our bodies, over time we lose it. On the flip side, when we utilize certain muscles or nervous system connections known as pathways, we have the ability to strengthen them.
This concept can be simply understood by looking at what happens when you work out or don’t work out a muscle. If you are constantly doing curls, naturally your bicep will grow as it is your body’s way of adapting to the increased demand. However, if you don’t use your bicep, another muscle, or various pathways in your brain, the muscle or process will become weakened or atrophied and could quite possibly go away completely. This is your body’s clever way of adapting. In our miraculous design, the body is designed to be as efficient as possible. Lack of an activity provides feedback that we don’t need to devote any energy or memory to this process; thus not moving it or using it, leads to losing it.
While the topic of utilizing different, diverse neurological pathways leading to plasticity is a main concept behind Functional Neurology and adjunct therapies like Lumosity, what we are talking about today is literally making sure you move as much as possible. In particular, we are speaking of trying to avoid long periods of uninterrupted sitting as much as possible.
Mounting research has implicated extended periods of uninterrupted sitting as a major determent to your health. We are not just talking about a culprit behind back pain, neck pain and headache. We are not just referring to it being a contributing factor to various diseases or conditions like osteoarthritis, diabetes, and obesity. The eye opener here should be the fact that research has shown that regardless of your fitness level, individuals who spend their days logging long hours of uninterrupted sitting actually have SHORTER LIFE SPANS.
I don’t know about you but that’s all I need to hear to perk up and pay attention. Being someone who has always been active and involved in some level of daily fitness or sport activity, it is quite alarming (yet logical) to hear that even if you do get a good workout in multiple times per week, if you’re logging long hours at a desk without moving, you may just meet your maker sooner than expected.
I say logical because when you think about it, it does make sense that what we do the majority of our day (sitting) would have more of an impact that what we do a fraction of the day (a workout). Studies out of NASA on the determents of microgravity situations that the astronauts find themselves in when they travel to space found the most comparable Earth situation to be sitting.
From a biomechanical perspective, there are a variety of reasons this position is bad news. Your anterior muscles become shorted. There are muscles in your lower half that connect to your spine and anchor to your pelvis or hip. From prolonged, uninterrupted sitting these muscles eventually begin to shorten due to the flexed forward position. Now when you stand up these muscles can pull down on your lumbar spine, creating the sensation of back pain and the misconception that standing up is the problem. While standing up does actually cause the individual discomfort, it is actually due to the prolonged sitting and subsequent shortened muscles that the dysfunction and manifestation of pain as a symptom occurs. This is a prime example of what we talked about in the previous post of going beyond addressing the pain or symptom and fixing the breakdown that led to this symptom in the first place.
If we move up the spine and throw in the fact that prolonged sitting is usually taking place at a desk or car, we begin to flex forward in the upper portion of your body as well. This shortens the muscles of your anterior shoulder and chest and gives you that hunched forward, kyphotic thoracic spine, and anterior head carriage. The muscles on the posterior side now become over worked as they must fight even harder to hold you upright. This leads to that mysterious shoulder and neck pain that you experience after a long day at work.
Lengthening, overworking and weakening the posterior side muscles from uninterrupted sitting and poor posture leads to the breakdown in function that we touched on in last week’s post that so often leads to back pain and other dysfunction. It is these posterior chain muscles (think low back muscles, glutes, hamstrings, calves, etc.) that are designed to keep us upright and moving smoothly, efficiently and pain free through space. When the front side muscles become shortened and the back side muscles become lengthened and weakened we begin to not only assume poor posture but a faulty movement pattern that predisposes us to other injuries at proximal and distal locations throughout the body.
Actual sitting is also the worst position for your lower back. This makes sense too if you think about it. When we stand, our body weight is distributed through our spine and pelvis to the lower extremity where we have numerous muscles designed to assist in this matter. When we sit we have removed everything from the upper portion of the pelvis down as far as support goes. Now our low backs must support the entire weight of the upper half of our body. This load is heavily placed upon the discs in between the individual vertebrae of our spine leaving them dehydrated and compressed. It is a major reason behind the widespread and seemingly “normal” degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis seen in our heavily seated culture, but not in others.
Another pitfall of the effects of prolonged sitting is that due to the flexed forward, anterior posture assumed, you actually close down the space available for your organs to function correctly. Full chest expansion (and thus filling capacity of the lungs) is impeded and you are no longer able to take in as much oxygen. This leads to widespread systemic consequence because as we know, virtually all function within the body requires oxygen. Organs within the abdomen can become compressed and deprived of optimal blood flow leading to dysfunction within the liver, digestive tract, reproductive organs, etc.
Hopefully all of these reasons are enough to spark some interest in learning what you can proactively do to make sure you are not included in the “normal” range of society. It is currently estimated that some 80% of the population will, at some time or another, suffer chronic low back pain. This widespread prevalence does not exist in other countries that are not sitting all day, every day. This should tell us something. I don’t know about you, but if “normal” is having an 80% chance of low back pain, I want no part of it. I also don’t want any part of the other issues sited in the previous paragraphs.
Stay tuned for our next post which will illuminate some simple steps you can begin to implement as far as breaking up the sitting and doing what you can to avoid these seemingly “normal” issues.
Have a great weekend.
A new year is upon us and with that comes resolutions involving more trips to the gym and less trips to the fridge. Resolutions, both big and small, are always heavy on January 1st due to the chance at a new start or big change that the date represents.
While personal cultivation can and should be taking place constantly throughout each year, we can’t deny the symbolic, cultural opportunity the new year presents. It is because of this that the idea of a cleanse and/or detox is ideal to clean the slate and start you out on the right foot.
No matter how healthy or cautious you may be, exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins is inevitable. Some of these cause immediate damage, while others can accumulate in your body, leading to future damage, especially as the accumulation builds. Other times these outside invaders (some invited, some not) can cause damage to various organs in the body like your brain, liver, or gut, leading to future issues due to sub-par function. Think of a leaky gut here, coupled with food sensitivities, systemic inflammation, autoimmunity, and more.
There are many different types of cleanses that serve to assist in ridding your body of the various wastes and toxins that have accumulated in your tissues throughout the holidays, this past year, or your whole life. Through various dietary restrictions and supplemental support, your body is allowed the opportunity to calm itself rather than being on heightened defense or attack. Toxins are mobilized and detoxified through the liver and thus prepared for removal by way of excretion.
Depending on the type of cleanse utilized, the intestinal tract is also relieved of the constant bombardment of processed foods, grains, and sugars. This allows your major barrier system and site of 80% of your immune system to begin to heal. Providing additional support can then help repair, rebuild, and refortify the wall between you and the chemicals, bacteria, and other pathogens that can and may have already been disrupting your internal systems causing inflammation, organ malfunction and an over or under active immune system.
Depending on your personal goals and individual health condition, it is important to select a cleanse/detox program that is not only going to relinquish the inflammatory external stimuli, but deliver support for the systems involved in the process (liver, intestines, kidneys, etc.). For example, you want to provide the body with the proper support to mobilize any toxins from the fat cells throughout your body and then provide the necessary co-factors to convert them to a water soluble form so that they can be eliminated.
An added bonus to any adequate program is the opportunity to reap the benefits of a sustained restricted diet. This involves sticking to a menu where the usual hyper-allergenic and problematic foods are avoided for 3-4 weeks. This is the basic premise behind a standard elimination diet and allows your body to completely eliminate certain potentially problematic proteins from the body.
At the conclusion of the cleanse you now have the option to reintroduce any of the foods you avoided. When you do this one by one it provides the opportunity to identify potential sensitivities by way of a rash, headache, fatigue, bloating, etc. Or after refraining from ingesting a certain food you may decide to forego reintroduction altogether and eliminate it outright from your usual meal routine.
To reiterate, and at the risk of being too cliché, the new year provides the perfect time to clean out and restart, repair, rebuild, and recharge your life. A cleanse/detox program can serve as an ideal way to not only take your health to the next level, but can be quite physically and mentally liberating as well.
If this sounds exciting to you then please, by all means give us a call (321-848-0987). Together we can sit down (in person or over the phone), discuss your health history, identify your goals, and ultimately construct a plan to leave you refreshed and recharged for 2014 and beyond.