Tuesday, 06 September 2016 00:00

How The Body Works

 

By Dr. Bergman

Dr Bergman was propelled into Chiropractic by a severe auto accident, with 2 broken legs, fractured skull and sternum along with several organ injuries. With great need and a passion for healing and regenerating Dr Bergman began studying the body’s recovery process. Dr. Bergman obtained his degree in Doctor of Chiropractic at Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles (CCCLA), California. Dr. Bergman teaching at CCCLA: Human Anatomy, Physiology, Biomechanics, and 4 Chiropractic techniques: Full Spine Specific (Palmer Method), Thompson, Diversified, and Extremity Adjusting. As a past Instructor Dr. Bergman has an extensive knowledge of human anatomy and human physiology that few can match. Dr. Bergman’s practice has continued to grow serving hundreds of families, focusing on corrective and wellness care and is dedicated to pediatric development and adult health care. With Dr. Bergman’s unique approach and direct experience of recovery from severe injury, many successes can be achieved in even with the most challenging cases.

In his spare time he enjoys, sailing, biking, camping and spending time with his 2 sons Michael and Danny. Dr. Bergman has been Serving Huntington Beach and its surrounding communities since May 1998. Dr. Bergman was born and raised in Burbank California. After graduating at 16 years old from John Burroughs High. School, he did his prerequisite studies in Santa Barbara, California.

In this video Dr. Bergman explains How The Body Works, in order to understand how to heal the body you need to understand how the body works. Dr. Bergman briefly explains the anatomy and function of the major organ systems so you can begin to understand how to approach natural holistic healing.

Published in Health Plus
Monday, 22 August 2016 00:00

The Health Benefits of Forgiving

By: Hiyaguha Cohen | Baseline of Health

This month marks the convergence of two little-known holidays that arrive back-to-back, both celebrating the importance of forgiveness. August 25 is "Kiss and Make Up Day," and August 27 is "Global Forgiveness Day." While such commemorations might seem precious, in fact, letting go of anger and forgiving your enemies may be essential to your health. Research has shown that anger wreaks havoc with well-being. Likewise, numerous studies have discovered that letting go of anger can lead to healing on many levels. In fact, forgiveness research is a booming field, with more than 1200 published studies as of 2006 on the subject (there are far more now). The overwhelming majority of these studies underline the fact that forgiving enhances health in body, mind, psyche, and spirit. 1

One such study published last year in Social Psychological and Personality Science divided 160 students into three groups.2 One group wrote about a time they were wronged by another person whom they had now forgiven. The second group wrote about being wronged by someone they never forgave, and the third group described a neutral experience with someone. After completing the writing assignments, the students were asked to participate in a sports event where they jumped as high as possible. The students still holding on to grudges couldn’t jump as high as their forgiving peers.

According to study authors, "Forgiving… provides a person with a greater sense of self-worth and power, which is often manifested into enhanced physical ability. [Holding a grudge] can increase rumination, which may decrease the availability of cognitive resources such as glucose that can otherwise be used to cope with physical challenges such as jumping or climbing a hill."

The study director, Ryan Fehr from the University of Washington Foster School of Business, elaborates: "When people forgive someone, the ‘weight being lifted off their shoulders’ is a metaphor that can activate a real concept of lightness."3

Earlier research in 2003 asked about 100 participants questions about wrongs inflicted by parents, friends, and partners. The researchers measured the extent to which participants had forgiven these transgressions. They found that those who had let go of their anger had lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, and reduced blood pressure fluctuation. 4 Similarly, a 2005 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that those who forgave their enemies took fewer medications, slept better, and felt less fatigued. And then, a 2011 study concluded that among HIV patients, those who actively practiced forgiving those who had wronged them had higher CD4 cell percentages, a positive indicator for survival.

One study after another points to the fact that letting go of anger and finding a way to forgive benefits health, and in fact, research even shows that forgiveness extends life. A 1500-person study in 2011, called the "Forgive to Live Study," discovered that unconditional forgiveness leads to longer life span.5 The participants, all over the age of 66, fell into several categories, including those who forgave only after receiving an apology they deemed sufficient, and those who just forgave because it was their nature to do so, even without the apology. Those who waited for the apology died earlier than those who just forgave, in part, say the researchers, because waiting for apologies is like waiting for Godot. The apology may never materialize and in the meantime, the wronged party is stuck with the anger and stress of victimhood.

Why does forgiveness benefit health? Because holding on to anger keeps you in a state of fight or flight and in such a hyper-aroused state that you experience increased blood pressure as well as raised levels of adrenaline and cortisol. In other words, your stress level is multiplied and staying in that hyper, jazzed-up angry state can lead to cardiovascular disease, immune suppression, memory loss, neurological damage, and all the many other negative effects that stress engenders.

As Dr. Karen Swartz, Director of the Mood Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins says, "There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed."6

It’s important to understand that forgiving doesn’t mean giving a green light to abuse or even to nasty treatment by others. It doesn’t mean saying that harm done to you in the past isn’t meaningful or should be swept under the rug, or even that you should necessarily remain in contact with someone who treated you with severe cruelty. Rather, it means acknowledging the pain you suffered, accepting that the hurt happened, maintaining boundaries so that the abuser doesn’t have an opportunity to damage you again, and at the same time, letting go of your attachment to whatever resentment you feel. In some cases, it may mean understanding that the person who harmed you was doing the best he or she could do at the time. The bottom line is that your forgiveness is not for the benefit of the person who treated you badly. It is for you, so you can untangle yourself from the weight and burden of anger. It is not for no reason that Jon Barron devoted an entire chapter of his book, Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, to the health connections between mind and body. That chapter is titled: The Thought that Kills.

The bottom line is that Kiss and Make Up Day may or may not be relevant to you, but if you want to feel better, boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, and live longer, you just might want to write Global Forgiveness Day into your schedule.

Stephen Post: Learn to Forgive Because Bitterness is Bad For Your Health

 

Published in Health Plus

 

BY JULIETTE SIEGFRIED | SELF IMPROVEMENT MOTIVATION - HEALTHGUIDANCE

I worked for a number of years with a meditation teacher who often mixed remarkably pragmatic, useful advice in with the other more esoteric or metaphysical subjects he taught. One of the most useful pieces of information I picked up from him had to do with what he said to students who came to him complaining either of a "cluttered mind," which made it difficult for them to meditate or concentrate on their work, or of "poor memory," in which they often forgot important tasks or bits of information. The advice was always the same, and it sounded a little crazy. He'd look at the person and ask, "When was the last time you cleaned your house?"

The shocker was that when we actually listened to the advice and gave our house a thorough cleaning, organizing everything and removing the clutter that had accumulated, it had the effect of doing exactly the same thing to our minds. I rely on this advice to this day, and if I'm having trouble concentrating on a task, one of the first things I do is take a look around my house. If it's cluttered and messy, so is my mind. So I clean house, and voilà, my mind becomes clear and sharp again. It's like magic…just magic that involves performing a little overdue housework.

Cleaning your house can prevent Alzheimer's

Recent research indicates that my teacher was onto something. For example, in a study recently published in the journal Neurology, scientists at the Memory and Aging Project being conducted at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have found that cleaning house and doing yard work greatly reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer's in people over 80. In this study, the researchers determined that one of the key factors was the activity of cleaning house itself; those subjects with the lowest rates of physical activity had the highest risk of Alzheimer's, and were almost three times as likely to develop it as those who were active at least 3.3 hours per week.

Other research and experience gained from people acting as caregivers to those with Alzheimer's suggests the same benefits, although the caregivers place more emphasis on the actual organizing than on the activity surrounding it. "Not being able to find something" is one of the biggest sources of frustration and anxiety for Alzheimer's sufferer's. These caregivers and trainers of other caregivers have had great success at staving off the progression of the disease by helping their patients to better organize their lives. But the key, they say, is not to do the organization and the cleaning for them, but to urge the patients to perform as much of the reorganization and the removal of clutter as possible.

Cleaning house is good for the rest of us, too

It is possible, given other research done on activities such as doing crossword puzzles or taking up ballroom dancing, and those activities' proven ability to stave off the effects of Alzheimer's dementia, that the same mechanism comes into play when cleaning house. That is, activity that forces the person to do new things, and make new decisions helps to form new neural pathways in the brain. The more neural pathways in your brain, the greater your access to the information stored in it. Whatever the mechanism, the experience of hundreds of Alzheimer's caregivers seems to be the same as my former teachers' – clean your house, clean your mind.

But this beneficial effect is not limited to delaying or preventing the loss of our cognitive abilities due to diseases such as Alzheimer's. Many studies have shown that clutter in one's environment creates stress, and places an emotional drain on our time and our energy. Every minute you spend looking for something you just can't locate in the pile of things on your desk is a minute spent being less productive, and thus a minute spent getting stressed about that.

One tip on better organizing one's environment – and thus one's mind – comes from Barry A. Dennis, author of a book called The Chotchky Challenge: Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind…and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul. The "chotchkies" in Mr. Dennis' title comes from the Yiddish word tchotchke, meaning knickknacks or objects that just accumulate over time, while providing no real value. He advocates doing a systematic survey of such chotchkies from time to time, and eliminating as many of them as possible. A great place to start is your junk drawer or closet. When was the last time you looked at it? Even more important, when was the last time you used anything in it? Throwing out many of the things we don't need to hang onto (or even better, donating them to charity) can be extremely liberating.

But so can the simple act of "cleaning house," if you just look at it right. I've come to think of it not as tidying up my house but tidying up my mind. And it always works. I spend a few minutes cleaning up my desk and my office, and suddenly I'm inspired to work again, and am much more productive when I start working.

Even if this is just a "mind trick" I play on myself, or an instance of the placebo effect, I don't care. It works. 

Published in Health Plus
Tuesday, 16 August 2016 00:00

Memory Loss or Dementia?

By Dr. Mercola

Virtually everyone has forgetful moments, but how do you know if your memory lapses are the normal day-to-day variety or a sign of something more serious like dementia? It's a common concern, especially with increasing age.

Among Americans, the notion of losing mental capacity evokes twice as much fear as losing physical ability, and 60 percent of U.S. adults say they are very or somewhat worried about memory loss.

On a bright note, most memory blips are nothing to panic over. As you get older, your brain's information-processing speed may decline, which means it may take you longer to recall who wrote the book you're reading or the name of your childhood playmate.

The word is on the tip of your tongue, but even if you can't recall it you're able to restructure your thoughts to get your message across. This is quite normal, as are so-called "senior moments," or as neuroscientists call them "maladaptive brain activity changes."

Examples include sending an email to the wrong person or forgetting about an appointment.

These occur because your brain perceives many of your daily tasks as patterns and may revert to its default mode network (DMN), the part of your brain responsible for your inward-focused thinking, such as daydreaming, during this time.

In short, your brain takes a mini time out when you actually need its focused attention, causing a minor, but completely normal, lapse in memory.

Memory Loss: When to Worry

If changes in your memory or thinking skills are severe enough to be noticed by your friends and family you could be facing mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is a slight decline in cognitive abilities that increases your risk of developing more serious dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

If your mental changes are so significant that they're interfering with your ability to function or live independently, it could be dementia. For instance, it's normal to have trouble finding the right word on occasion, but if you forget words frequently and repeat phrases and stories during a conversation, there could be a problem.

Another red flag is getting lost or disoriented in familiar places (as opposed to needing to ask for directions on occasion).

If you're able to later describe a time when you were forgetful, such as misplacing your keys, that's a good sign; a more serious signal is not being able to recall situations when memory loss caused a problem even though your loved ones describe it to you. Other warning signs of MCI or dementia include:

Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and the number is steadily increasing. Someone in the U.S. develops the disease every 66 seconds, and, by 2050, the prevalence of Alzheimer's is expected to nearly triple, reaching 13.8 million people.

In 2016, it's already the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and it's one that has no known cure or proven way to slow its progression. In the video above, you can view some of the earliest warning signs of this disease.

The Alzheimer's Association also compiled these differences between symptoms of dementia including Alzheimer's and typical age-related changes:

New Mobile Game May Help Diagnose Dementia

Alzheimer's research suggests preclinical signs of Alzheimer's disease may be evident as early as 20 years before the disease actually sets in, allowing for much earlier intervention if these changes are identified.

However, normally by the time your memory begins to noticeably deteriorate, about 40 percent to 50 percent of your brain cells have already been damaged or destroyed. A new mobile game called Sea Hero Quest may help in the search for a reliable method of early diagnosis.

The game tracks players' spatial navigation abilities, which are among the first skill sets lost in dementia cases. Neuroscientists are hoping to use data collected from hundreds of thousands of players to identify a normal range of navigation skills and ultimately develop guidelines to identify dementia early on.

Blood tests measuring brain proteins (lysosomal proteins) may also help predict Alzheimer's up to 10 years before the disease develops. Another biomarker panel may predict the disease within a two- to three-year timeframe with over 90 percent accuracy; PET scans and retinal tests also offer hope of early detection.

If you want to test your own cognitive function right now, try the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) test. It's a 15-minute at-home test developed by Dr. Douglas Scharre, of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

You can download the SAGE test from the university's website. According to Scharre, this simple test correlates very well to more comprehensive cognitive tests and is an excellent way to get an early assessment of your cognitive function.

If taken at regular intervals over time, it can also serve as an early warning, if your scores begin to decline.

If Your Memory Is Slipping, Switch to a Ketogenic Diet NOW

If your memory slips often enough to put even an inkling of concern or doubt in your mind, it's time to take action. The reality is that you can enjoy sharp brain function well into old age and memory loss can be an early warning sign of more serious brain changes to come.

A high-fat, moderate-protein and low-net-carb ketogenic diet is crucial for protecting your brain health and is recommended for virtually everyone, but especially for those who have concerns about their brain health. This type of diet involves restricting all but non-starchy vegetable carbs and replacing them with low to moderate amounts of high-quality protein and high amounts of beneficial fat.

It's a diet that will help optimize your weight and reduce your risk of chronic degenerative disease while protecting your brain. Eating this way will help you convert from carb-burning mode to fat-burning mode, which in turn triggers your body to produce ketones (also known as ketone bodies or ketoacids).

Ketones can feed your brain and prevent brain atrophy. They may even restore and renew neuron and nerve function in your brain after damage has set in. In addition to eating a ketogenic diet, a primary source of ketones is the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut oil. As noted in the British Journal of Nutrition:

"Unlike most other dietary fats that are high in long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil comprises medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). MCFA are unique in that they are easily absorbed and metabolised [sic] by the liver, and can be converted to ketones. Ketone bodies are an important alternative energy source in the brain, and may be beneficial to people developing or already with memory impairment, as in Alzheimer's disease (AD)."

MCTs in Coconut Oil Are a Phenomenal Brain Food

Many people have heard that fish is brain food, due to its concentration of omega-3 fats. These are certainly important, but so, too, are MCTs. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are fats that are not processed by your body in the same manner as long-chain triglycerides.

Normally, a fat taken into your body must be mixed with bile released from your gallbladder before it can be broken down in your digestive system. But medium-chain triglycerides go directly to your liver, which naturally converts the oil into ketones, bypassing the bile entirely. Your liver then immediately releases the ketones into your bloodstream where they are transported to your brain to be used as fuel.

In fact, ketones appear to be the preferred source of brain food in people affected by Alzheimer's. According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, just over 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (about 35 milliliters [ml] or 7 level teaspoons) would supply you with the equivalent of 20 grams of MCTs, which is indicated as either a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases or as a treatment for an already established case.

Intriguing research has also shown promise for coconut oil in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. One study found 40 ml/day of extra virgin coconut oil led to improvements in cognitive status in women with Alzheimer's disease.7 Another review noted:

" … [E]vidence is mounting to support the concept that coconut may be beneficial in the treatment of obesity, dyslipidaemia … insulin resistance and hypertension — these are the risk factors for CVD and type 2 diabetes, and also for AD. In addition, phenolic compounds and hormones (cytokinins) found in coconut may assist in preventing the aggregation of amyloid-β peptide, potentially inhibiting a key step in the pathogenesis of AD."

Additional Dietary Strategies to Help Prevent Alzheimer's

In order to reverse the Alzheimer's trend, we simply must relearn how to eat for optimal health. Processed convenience foods are quite literally killing us, contributing to not only dementia but also diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The beauty of following my optimized nutrition plan is that it helps prevent and treat virtually ALL chronic degenerative diseases, including dementia. The sooner you begin, the better. In addition to following a ketogenic diet, the following dietary strategies are also important:

Avoid sugar and refined fructose. Ideally, you'll want to keep your sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.

Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter). Research shows that your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream where they don't belong.

That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer's.

Optimize your gut flora by regularly eating fermented foods or taking a high-potency and high-quality probiotic supplement.

Increase consumption of all healthy fats, including animal-based omega-3. Sources of healthy fat include avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, raw nuts, raw dairy, grass-fed meats and pasture-raised poultry. Also make sure you're getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats.

High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.

Reduce your overall calorie consumption and/or intermittently fast. Ketones are mobilized when you replace carbs with coconut oil and other sources of healthy fats. Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jumpstart your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the inulin/leptin resistance that is a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer's.

Improve your magnesium levels. There is some exciting preliminary research strongly suggesting a decrease in Alzheimer's symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood-brain barrier, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition and may be superior to other forms.

Eat a nutritious diet rich in folate. Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day. Avoid supplements like folic acid, which is the inferior synthetic version of folate.

General Lifestyle Guidelines for Alzheimer's Prevention

Besides diet, there are a number of other lifestyle factors that can contribute to or hinder neurological health. The following strategies are therefore also important for any Alzheimer's prevention plan:

Exercise. Exercise leads to hippocampus growth and memory improvement, and it's been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized, thus slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer's.

Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha. Research has shown that people with Alzheimer's have less PGC-1alpha in their brains and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer's.

Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure. Strong links between low levels of vitamin D in Alzheimer's patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests have been revealed. Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health.

Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on Alzheimer's through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Sufficient vitamin D (50 to 70 ng/ml) is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer's.

Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity. However, you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.

Avoid and eliminate aluminum from your body. Sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, vaccine adjuvants, etc. For tips on how to detox aluminum, please see my article, "First Case Study to Show Direct Link between Alzheimer's and Aluminum Toxicity."

Avoid flu vaccinations as most contain both mercury and aluminum, well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agents.

Avoid anticholinergics and statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.

Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.

Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Published in Health Plus

By Dr. Mercola

The knee is the mostly commonly injured joint by athletes, accounting for 2.5 million sports-related injuries seen in the emergency department annually.1 Meniscal tears occur in 35 percent of people over the age of 50.

Ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), important to stabilizing your knee, occur in 100,000 to 200,000 people each year. Knee injuries may be treated by a wide range of clinicians, from orthopedic surgeons to internal medicine physicians or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialists.

Your knee may suffer from an acute or traumatic injury or, through overuse, you may experience degenerative changes to your meniscus. How you treat these injuries may have an impact on your ability to return to your normal activities, and whether you experience degenerative arthritis in the future.

A recent randomized control trial demonstrated the effectiveness of using a structured exercise program to rehabilitate your knee either prior to surgical repair, or in many cases, instead of a surgical repair.

To take full advantage of rehabilitation it's important to understand how the knee works and what key factors are evaluated to determine which option is best for your unique situation.

Anatomy of Your Knee and Meniscal Tears

Three bones meet at your knee to form the joint that is the largest and considered the most complicated joint in your body. Although your knee is a hinge joint, it must not only bend and be flexible to allow walking but also stable to allow you to stand stationary.

Between your thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) are two wedge shaped pieces of cartilage. The function of these tough and rubbery pieces are to cushion the two bones and keep them from rubbing against each other. These pieces are called your meniscus.

The menisci have blood supply to the outer edges but this supply rapidly declines as you move further toward the center of the cartilage located directly between the two large bones. Your menisci can tear in a number of different ways from either an acute injury or from degenerative changes over time.

The number of surgeries done each year to repair a meniscus tear has been on the rise. Recent findings in the American Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that meniscus repairs increased 100 percent between 2005 and 2011.

Additionally the research demonstrated that patient pain may not have been related to the meniscal tear in the first place.

The researchers found patients experienced pain relief despite the fact that the tear did not heal after surgery. The lack of healing was discovered during a follow-up arthroscopy. What did appear to relieve pain and improve function was immobilization and physical therapy.

Study Demonstrates Effect of Exercise Versus Surgery

Two studies demonstrated the effectiveness of using a structured physical therapy program to either eliminate the need for surgical repair or to improve outcomes when therapy was done prior to surgery.

In the first study, researchers followed participants for five years with minimal follow up loss. The study participants had suffered an ACL injury. The researchers found that results between those who had surgical repair and those who were treated with rehabilitation alone were near identical.

Another study released in 2016 followed participants for two years who had suffered a meniscal tear in their knee. Again researchers found exercise and rehabilitation in middle-aged patients with knee damage was as effective as a meniscal surgical repair, which is an outpatient procedure.

Researchers estimate that 2 million people worldwide undergo arthroscopic surgery every year. But in their review of the literature, researchers did not discover benefits to the patient. This prompted scientists from Denmark and Norway to undertake this two-year study.

In this study, researchers identified 140 patients who had a meniscal tear, the majority of whom were without any osteoarthritic changes to the knee. Half underwent an intensive 12-week exercise program and the other half had arthroscopic surgery and given a home rehabilitation program.

No clinical difference between the two groups was found as it related to their ability to do daily activities, participate in sports or pain levels. Thirteen of the participants who were in the exercise-only group opted to have arthroscopic surgery during the study, but didn't experience any additional benefits.

Additional Benefits of Exercise Versus Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery is considered a low risk procedure. The most common serious side effects are deep vein thrombosis, infection and pulmonary embolism, occurring only 0.4 percent of the time.

However low risk this procedure may be, surgical repair increases medical costs, insurance costs and doesn't appear to produce superior results. On the other hand, a strong rehabilitation exercise program does produce increased strength in the large muscles supporting the knee joint.

In the most recent study, researchers tested the quadriceps (thigh) muscles of the participants at baseline, three months and 12 months.

They found the individuals who underwent rehabilitation not only experienced similar results to those who had arthroscopic surgery, but also exhibited increased strength. The authors, quoted in Science Daily, said:

"Supervised exercise therapy showed positive effects over surgery in improving thigh muscle strength, at least in the short term.

Our results should encourage clinicians and middle aged patients with degenerative meniscal tear and no radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis to consider supervised structured exercise therapy as a treatment option."

Strength improvements were demonstrated in the first 12 months of the study, but were not evaluated during the remainder of the study. Improved strength in the knee joint may reduce your potential for further injury and may also improve your ability to perform daily activities.

Sham Surgery or Placebo as Effective as Arthroscopic Surgery in Older Individuals

A placebo effect happens when you think you're being treated with something, but the medication you're given doesn't have any physiological effect. This video describes what may be happening in your brain when you take a placebo. To gain approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a medication must prove it is more effective than a fake drug or placebo. However, when approving medical devices or surgical procedures for treatments, this proof is not required.

In 2002, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine proved the results people experienced from arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis were no better than those results you would expect from a placebo.

In another trial, conducted with 146 patients who experienced a meniscal tear without osteoarthritis, researchers found that a sham surgical procedure had the same results as those who underwent a meniscal repair. The study evaluated the participants over a 12-month period and found no significant difference between the groups.

The study proving the placebo effect in arthroscopic surgeries for osteoarthritis occurred in 2002. Unfortunately, to date this information has not changed the number of arthroscopies performed, costing insurance companies and individuals over $3 billion each year for a procedure that produces results individuals may experience with physical therapy and rehabilitation alone.

Consider These Important Factors Before Surgery

If you would like to consider a surgical option for your injury there are several factors that may improve or reduce the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Functional Changes

While you may have changes to your meniscus on an MRI, if you don't exhibit pain or functional changes to your gait, surgical repair is likely not necessary. Sports medicine physicians use a "duck walk" to evaluate the impact knee injuries have on your stability and strength. Squat and walk like a duck. If you aren't able because of knee pain or weakness, consider a rehabilitation program to improve your joint strength and reduce pain.

Weight

Your weight is a significant factor in determining the potential success of a surgical repair. For instance, research has found significant changes in the curvature of your knee joint within the first three months after injury with an increased body mass. The results found those who underwent surgery experienced greater flattening of the knee joint than those who used rehabilitation without surgical intervention when their body mass index was higher.

Size and Placement of the Tear

The reduced blood supply to the meniscus in the center of the knee increases the likelihood any surgical repair will not heal or will fail. The size of the tear and the placement — whether in the center of the meniscus or along the outer edges with greater blood supply — impacts the decision about surgery.

Repair of the meniscus has a greater success rate in younger patients with peripheral tears near the capsular attachment that are either horizontal or longitudinal. Even in these cases, success depends on compliance with post-operative exercise and rehabilitation, including non-weight bearing and bracing.

Before Surgery, Seriously Consider Ozone Therapy

I've previously interviewed Dr. Robert Rowen about ozone therapy for a variety of painful conditions. He is one of the leading ozone physicians in the U.S. and has successfully treated many patients with ozone therapy as an alternative to surgical intervention. If the ozone treatment fails, there is no harm and one can always have surgery, but if you have surgery and it fails, the surgery may cause irreversible damage.

Infrared laser treatment (K-Laser) is another option. It's a relatively new type of therapy that speeds healing by increasing tissue oxygenation and allowing injured cells to absorb photons of light. This special type of laser has positive effects on muscles, ligaments and even bones, so it can be used to speed the healing of traumatic injuries, as well as chronic problems like arthritis of the knee.

Published in Health Plus

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE - Authority Nutrition

Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that has become increasingly popular in recent years.

People enjoy it for its unique look and taste, and there’s evidence it may provide health benefits.

This article explains everything you need to know about dragon fruit.

What Is Dragon Fruit?

Dragon fruit grows on the Hylocereus cactus, also known as the Honolulu Queen, whose flowers only open at night.

The plant is native to southern Mexico and Central America. Today, it is grown all over the world.

It goes by many names, including pitaya, pitahaya and strawberry pear.

The two most common types have bright, red skin with green scales that resemble a dragon — hence the name.

The variety that’s most widely available has white pulp with black seeds. The less common variety has red pulp with black seeds.

Another variety has yellow skin and white pulp with black seeds. It is referred to as yellow dragon fruit.

Dragon fruit may look exotic, but its flavors are similar to other fruits. Its taste has been described as a slightly sweet cross between a kiwi and a pear.

Bottom Line: Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that is native to Mexico and Central America. The taste is like a combination of a kiwi and a pear.

Nutrition Facts

Dragon fruit contains small amounts of several nutrients and is a good source of vitamin C and iron.

Here are the nutrition facts for a serving of 3.5 ounces, or 100 grams:

  • Calories: 52.
  • Protein: 1.1 gram.
  • Fat: 0.4 grams.
  • Carbs: 11 grams.
  • Fiber: 3 grams.
  • Vitamin C: 34% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 10.6% of the RDI.
  • Thiamine: 2.7% of the RDI.
  • Riboflavin: 2.9% of the RDI.

Given the high amount of fiber and vitamin C, as well as the extremely low calorie content, it can be considered to be a highly nutrient-dense fruit.

Bottom Line: Dragon fruit is a low-calorie fruit that is high in fiber and provides more than one-third of the RDI for vitamin C.

It Contains Antioxidants

Dragon fruit contains several types of antioxidants.

These are compounds that protect cells from unstable molecules called free radicals, which are linked to chronic disease risk and aging (1).

These are some of the main antioxidants contained in the pulp (2):

  • Betalains: These deep red pigments have been shown to protect LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized or damaged.
  • Hydroxycinnamates: This group of compounds has demonstrated anti-cancer activity in test-tube and animal studies.
  • Flavonoids: This large, diverse group of antioxidants is linked to better brain health and a reduced risk of heart disease.
    One study compared the antioxidant properties of 17 tropical fruits and berries.

While dragon fruit’s antioxidant capacity was not as high as many other fruits’, it was found to be best at protecting certain fatty acids from free radical damage.

Bottom Line: Dragon fruit contains several antioxidants that protect cells from damage. These include betalains, hydroxycinnamates and flavonoids.

Potential Health Benefits

Animal studies suggest that dragon fruit may provide benefits for a variety of health conditions.

Many of these are likely due to the high amount of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

Both red and white varieties of dragon fruit have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and fatty liver in obese mice (10, 11, 12).

In one study, mice were fed a high-fat diet. Those also given an extract of the fruit gained less weight and had reductions in liver fat, insulin resistance and inflammation, which were attributed in part to beneficial changes in gut bacteria (12).

This fruit may improve certain features of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. However, not all effects may be favorable.

In a study of mice fed a high-fat, high-carb diet, the group that received dragon fruit juice had better blood sugar responses and reductions in some liver enzyme markers, while another liver enzyme marker significantly increased (13).

In another study, diabetic rats treated with an extract from the fruit had a 35% reduction in malondialdehyde, a marker of free-radical damage. They also had less arterial stiffness, compared to the control group (14).

However, there are no studies that confirm these benefits in humans.

Bottom Line: Animal studies suggest dragon fruit may help improve insulin resistance, liver fat and heart health. However, human studies are needed.

Adverse Effects

Overall, dragon fruit appears to be safe. However, people may develop an allergic reaction in some rare cases.

In two cases, women with no history of food allergies developed anaphylactic reactions after consuming a fruit mixture that contained dragon fruit.

Testing confirmed they had antibodies against it (15, 16).

These are the only two reported allergic reactions at this point, but many other people may be allergic to the fruit without knowing it.

How to Eat Dragon Fruit

Although it may look somewhat intimidating, dragon fruit is actually very easy to eat.

Here’s how to eat dragon fruit:

  • Select a ripe fruit with bright red, evenly colored skin that gives way slightly when squeezed.
  • Use a sharp knife and cut straight through the fruit, slicing it in half.
  • You can use a spoon to eat the fruit out of the skin. You can also peel the skin off and slice the fruit into small pieces.

Ideas for serving dragon fruit:

  • Simply slice it up and eat it.
  • Chop it into small pieces and top with Greek yogurt and chopped nuts.
  • Include it in a salad.

Healthy recipes with dragon fruit:

  • Seared Scallops with Dragon Fruit Salsa.
  • Shrimp, Avocado and Dragon Fruit Salad.
  • Dragon Fruit Berry Bliss Chia Pudding.

Bottom Line: Dragon fruit is easy to prepare and can be enjoyed on its own or paired with other foods in healthy recipes.

Take Home Message

Dragon fruit is a low-calorie fruit that contains less sugar and fewer carbs than many other tropical fruits.

The research to date suggests it may have some health benefits, but human studies are needed to verify this.

Overall, dragon fruit is unique, incredibly tasty and can add variety to your diet.

Published in Health Plus
Thursday, 14 July 2016 00:00

Canned Food: Good or Bad?

By Kayla McDonell, RD

Canned foods are often thought to be less nutritious than fresh or frozen foods.

Some people claim they contain harmful ingredients and should be avoided.

Others say canned foods can be a part of a healthy diet.

This article explains everything you need to know about canned foods.

What Is Canned Food?

Canning is a method used to preserve foods for long periods of time by packing them in airtight containers.

Canning was first developed in the late 18th century as a way to provide a stable food source for soldiers and sailors at war.

The canning process can vary slightly from one product to another, but there are three main steps. These include:

  • Processing: Food is peeled, sliced, chopped, pitted, boned, shelled or cooked.
  • Sealing: The processed food is sealed in cans.
  • Heating: Cans are heated to kill harmful bacteria and prevent spoiling.

This allows food to be shelf-stable and safe to eat for 1 to 5 years or longer.

Common canned foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, meats and seafood.

Bottom Line: Canning is a method used to preserve foods for long periods of time. There are three main steps: processing, sealing and heating.

How Does Canning Affect Nutrient Levels?

Canned foods are often thought to be less nutritious than fresh or frozen foods, but research shows that this is not always true.

In fact, canning preserves most of a food’s nutrients.

Protein, carbs and fat are unaffected by the process. Most minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K are also retained.

Therefore, studies show that foods high in certain nutrients are still high in the same nutrients after being canned.

Yet since canning typically involves high heat, water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin B can be damaged.

These vitamins are sensitive to heat and air in general, so they can also be lost during normal processing, cooking and storage methods used at home.

However, while the canning process may damage certain vitamins, amounts of other healthy compounds increase.

For example, tomatoes and corn release more antioxidants when heated, making canned varieties an even better source of antioxidants .

Changes in individual nutrient levels aside, canned foods are good sources of important vitamins and minerals.

In one study, people who ate 6 or more canned items per week had higher intakes of 17 essential nutrients than those who ate 2 or fewer canned items per week.

Bottom Line: Some nutrient levels may decrease as a result of the canning process, while others can increase. Overall, canned foods can provide comparable nutrients to their fresh or frozen counterparts.

Canned Foods Are Affordable, Convenient and Don’t Spoil Easily

Canned foods are a convenient and practical way to add more nutrient-dense foods to your diet.

The availability of safe, quality foods is lacking in many parts of the world. Canning helps ensure people have access to a wide variety of foods year-round.

In fact, virtually any food can be found in a can today.

Also, since canned foods can be stored safely for several years and often involve minimal prep time, they’re incredibly convenient.

Additionally, they tend to cost less than fresh products.

Bottom Line: Canned foods are a convenient and affordable source of essential nutrients.

They May Contain Trace Amounts of BPA

BPA (Bisphenol-A) is a chemical that is often used in food packaging, including cans.

Studies show that the BPA in canned food can migrate from the can’s lining into the food you eat.

One study looked at 78 different canned foods and found BPA in over 90% of them. What’s more, research has made it clear that eating canned food is a leading cause of BPA exposure.

In one study, participants who consumed 1 serving of canned soup daily for 5 days experienced more than a 1,000% increase of BPA in their urine.

Although the evidence is mixed, some human studies have linked BPA to health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and male sexual dysfunction.

If you’re trying to minimize your exposure to BPA, then eating a lot of canned food is not the best idea.

Bottom Line: Canned foods may contain BPA, a chemical that has been associated with health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

They May Contain Deadly Bacteria

While it’s extremely rare, canned foods that weren’t processed properly may contain dangerous bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum.

Consuming contaminated food can cause botulism, a serious illness that can lead to paralysis and death if left untreated.

Most cases of botulism come from foods that have not been canned properly at home. Botulism from commercially canned food is rare.

It’s important to never eat from cans that are bulging, dented, cracked or leaking.

Bottom Line: Canned foods that weren’t processed properly may contain deadly bacteria, but the risk of contamination is very low.

Some Have Added Salt, Sugar or Preservatives

Salt, sugar and preservatives are sometimes added during the canning process.

Some canned foods can be high in salt. While this does not pose a health risk for most people, it may be problematic for some, such as those with high blood pressure.

They may also contain added sugar, which can have harmful effects.

Excess sugar has been associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

A variety of other natural or chemical preservatives may be added as well.

Bottom Line: Salt, sugar or preservatives are sometimes added to canned foods in order to improve their flavor, texture and appearance.

How to Make the Right Choices

As with all foods, it’s important to read the label and ingredient list.

If salt intake is a concern for you, choose the “low sodium” or “no salt added” option.

To avoid extra sugar, choose fruits canned in water or juice instead of syrup.

Draining and rinsing foods can also lower their salt and sugar contents.

Many canned foods do not contain any added ingredients at all, but the only way to know for sure is to read the ingredient list.

Bottom Line: Not all canned foods are created equal. It is important to read the label and ingredient list.

Should You Eat Canned Foods?

Canned foods can be a nutritious option when fresh foods aren’t available.

They provide essential nutrients and are incredibly convenient.

That being said, canned foods are also a significant source of BPA, which may cause health problems down the line.

Canned foods can be a part of a healthy diet, but it’s important to read labels and choose accordingly.

 

Published in Health Plus

 

By Dr. Mercola

Are you getting enough fiber in your diet? If not, your health may suffer in more ways than one. A common sign your diet is lacking in fiber is constipation and irregular bowel movements, but that's really just the tip of the iceberg.

Fiber-rich foods like vegetables promote optimal gut health by nourishing beneficial gut bacteria. Certain fruits are also high in fiber, including underripe bananas, papayas and mangoes.

These fruits have yet another feature that makes them interesting. Their nutritional content changes depending on their ripeness, and in their unripened state, they contain higher amounts of digestive-resistant starch, which is important for optimal gut health.

The idea that an unripe fruit might be healthier than a ripe one may seem seriously counterintuitive.

The sugar content of a fruit is typically used as an indicator of quality — not because the sugars are in and of themselves necessarily an indicator of quality, but they're typically associated with the plant's mineral content. Hence, it can be used as a marker of quality.

To measure sugar content, a refractometer or so-called Brix meter is used. The most common Brix meters measure on a scale of 0 to 32 degrees Brix, and the sweeter the fruit, the higher the nutritional content is thought to be.

However, in the case of mango, its vitamin C content is actually much higher in the unripe fruit than in the ripened one. Vitamins and minerals are also not the sole reason for eating fruits though. Fiber is also important, and in some cases unripe fruit is a better option.

What's so Great About Digestive-Resistant Starch?

Fiber is typically classified as either soluble or insoluble. However, from a health standpoint, the fermentability of the fiber is what's really important. Digestive-resistant starches are low-viscous fibers that resist digestion in the small intestine and slowly ferment in your large intestine.

Here, resistant starches act as prebiotics, feeding healthy bacteria. Due to their slow fermentation, they won't make you gassy. They also add significant bulk to your stools, and help you maintain regular bowel movements.

Best of all, since they're indigestible, resistant starches do not result in blood sugar spikes. In fact, research suggests resistant starches help improve insulin regulation, reducing your risk of insulin resistance.

Besides underripe banana, papaya and mango, other foods high in resistant starch include white beans, lentils, seeds and products like potato starch, tapioca starch and brown rice flour.

(Interestingly, cooking a normally digestible starch such as potato or pasta and then cooling it in the refrigerator will alter the chemistry of the food, transforming more of it into resistant-type starch.)

Green Bananas

As noted by Authority Nutrition, "before it ripens, a banana is almost entirely starch, which composes up to 70 to 80 percent of its dry weight. A large part of this starch is digestive-resistant starch. As the banana ripens, the amount of starch and resistant starch decreases and is converted into sugars."

Because of their high-resistant starch content, green bananas can be used to safely treat diarrhea in children and adults.

Most people don't like the taste and texture of unripe banana, but when prepared properly and combined with other foods it can be quite tasty. Here's a sample recipe for a green banana salad from Cooks.com:

Green Banana Salad (eight servings)

Ingredients:

• 2 cups water

• 1 teaspoon (tsp.) salt

• 3 green (unripe) bananas, peeled

• 2 medium carrots, shredded

• 1 small cucumber, sliced

• 1 avocado, cubed

• 1 tomato, chopped

• 1 celery stalk, sliced

Directions:

1. Place bananas, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about five minutes or until the bananas are tender.

3. Drain the water and allow bananas to cool.

4. Cut the bananas into one-half-inch slices and toss with remaining ingredients and vinaigrette dressing (below). Chill and serve.

Vinaigrette Dressing

• 1/3 cup virgin olive oil

• 1 clove garlic, chopped

• 1/2 tsp. dark mustard

• 2 tablespoons (Tbsp.) wine vinegar

• 1 tsp. salt

• Dash of pepper

Green Papaya

Like bananas, there are some notable differences between ripe and unripe papaya. While both ripe and green (unripe) papaya are rich in antioxidants, fiber and papain, an enzyme that helps with protein digestion and dampens inflammation, green papaya contain higher amounts of papain and potassium.

Caution is in order though, as unripe papaya contains latex fluid, which may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals, so please be aware of this before you try it. Green papaya is also contraindicated for pregnant women, as it promotes uterine muscle contractions.

On the other hand, women with irregular menstrual cycles may benefit from unripe papaya juice for this same reason.

Perhaps even more so than unripe banana, green papaya typically needs to be incorporated into a recipe with other ingredients in order to satisfy the taste buds. Here's a sample recipe from The New York Times:

Green Papaya Salad

Ingredients:

• 1 large clove of garlic, peeled

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 1 Tbsp. dry-roasted salted peanuts (plus additional for garnish)

• 2 fresh bird chilies or serrano chilies, sliced

• 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

• 1 to 2 Tbsp. fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam), to taste

• 2 plum tomatoes, 1 large round tomato or 8 grape tomatoes, coarsely chopped

• 1 small to medium green (unripe) papaya (for a total of 4 to 6 cups)

Optional Ingredients:

• 1 Tbsp. dried shrimp

• ½ pound long beans, trimmed and cut into 1.5-inch lengths

• Lettuce for serving

Directions:

1. Using a blender or mortar, mix garlic, salt, peanuts, chilies, sugar and shrimp (if using) into a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in lime juice and fish sauce.

2. Lightly crush tomatoes and beans (if using) with a fork, then add to bowl and mix lightly.

3. Peel and coarsely grate the green papaya. Discard the seed and inner membrane.

4. Lightly fold in the papaya with the rest of the mixture. Season to taste.

5. Line bowl with lettuce leaves and add the papaya salad. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.

Surprising Health Benefits of Green Mango

There are over 500 varieties of mango, some of the most popular of which include Malda, Alphonso, Langra, Sipia, Sukul and Bumbaiya. Interestingly, unripe mango is an exceptionally rich source of vitamin C. Green (unripe) Langra mango contains as much vitamin C as 35 apples, nine lemons or three oranges.

I have seven mango trees in my yard that are just about ready to ripen and look forward to trying them underripe. In India, green mango is used as a natural remedy for:

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders: Green mango, eaten with salt and honey is used to treat a range of GI problems, including diarrhea, dysentery, piles, morning sickness, indigestion and constipation.

Liver problems: The acids in unripe mango increase bile secretion and act as an intestinal antiseptic. It also helps purify your blood and acts as a liver tonic. Green mango with honey and pepper is used for stomach ache due to poor digestion, hives and jaundice.

Blood disorders: The high vitamin C content of unripe mango helps improve blood vessel elasticity and increases formation of new blood cells. It also aids absorption of iron and decreases bleeding. According to the Indian magazine Deccan Herald:

"Eating an unripe mango daily during the summer season prevents ... infections, increases body resistance against tuberculosis, cholera, dysentery, anemia etc.

It tones the heart, nerves and cures palpitation of the heart, nervous tension, insomnia and weakness of the memory ... Eating raw mango with salt quenches thirst and prevents loss of sodium chloride and iron during summer due to excessive sweating. It tones up the body and helps one to tolerate the excessive heat."

As with green papaya, there's a caveat. Avoid eating more than one unripe mango per day, as it may cause throat irritation and/or indigestion when eaten in excess. Also avoid drinking cold water immediately afterward, as it coagulates the sap, thereby increasing the risk of irritation.

Green Mango Salad

If the idea of eating green mango with salt and honey — as is traditional in India — doesn't appeal to you, here's a sample recipe for green mango salad from Bon Appétit:

Green Mango Salad (eight servings)

Ingredients:

• 2 red or green Thai chilies with seeds, chopped

• 1 clove garlic, chopped

• ½ cup fresh lime juice

• ¼ cup fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam)

• 2 Tbsp. olive oil

• 4 green mangoes, julienne cut

• 2 medium shallots, sliced

• ½ cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

• ½ cup fresh cilantro

• ¼ cup fresh mint leaves

• 2 Tbsp. toasted dried shrimp (optional)

• 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

• Natural salt, such as kosher or Himalayan salt

Directions:

1. Using a blender, purée chilies, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce and olive oil.

2. Toss mangoes, shallots, peanuts, cilantro, mint, dried shrimp (if using) and sesame seeds in a large bowl and fold in the purée. Salt to taste.

The Importance of Fiber for Health

Remember, fiber is an important component of your diet that can go a long way toward improving your gut microbiome. This in turn will help prevent health problems associated with leaky gut syndrome. Some of the most important byproducts from the fiber fermentation process are short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, propionate and acetate. These short-chain fats:

  • Help nourish and recalibrate your immune system, thereby helping to prevent inflammatory disorders such as asthma and Crohn's disease
  • Increase specialized immune cells called T regulatory cells, which help prevent autoimmune responses. Via a process called hematopoiesis, they're also involved in the formation of other types of blood cells in your body
  • Serve as easy substrates for your liver to produce ketones that efficiently fuel your mitochondria and serve as important and powerful metabolic signals
  • Stimulate the release of a gut hormone known as peptide YY (PYY), which increases satiety, meaning it helps you feel fuller
  • Butyrate in particular affects gene expression and induces apoptosis (normal programmed cell death), thereby decreasing your risk of colon cancer

Fiber Differentiates 'Good' Carbs From the 'Bad'

Grains, rice, pasta, potatoes, fruits and vegetables are all carbohydrates. However, from a health standpoint they're not created equal, and it's the fiber content that differentiates "good" carbs from the "bad." Most all vegetables and certain fruits are very high in fiber, which means they're very low in net carbs, and when it comes to carbs, it's the net carbs you need to pay careful attention to.

Vegetables typically top the list in terms of high fiber content, but as you can see, certain fruits can fit the bill as well, while adding a bit of "culinary adventure" to your cooking. While there are individual differences, as a general rule, most people could benefit by:

  • Restricting net carbs to less than 50 grams per day (if you exercise a lot or are very active, you might be able to increase it to 100 grams). To determine your net carbs, simply subtract the fiber from the total carbs, and that's your total non-fiber or "net" carbs
  • Increasing fiber to approximately 50 grams per 1,000 calories

Published in Health Plus

By Taylor Jones, RD
Source: Authority Nutrition

Hippocrates famously said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

It’s true that food can do much more than provide energy.

And when you’re sick, eating the right foods is more important than ever.

Certain foods have powerful properties that can support your body while it’s fighting an illness.

They may relieve certain symptoms and even help you heal more quickly.

These are the 15 best foods to eat when sick.

1. Chicken Soup

Chicken soup has been recommended as a remedy for the common cold for hundreds of years — and for good reason.

It’s an easy-to-eat source of vitamins, minerals, calories and protein, which are nutrients your body needs in larger quantities while you’re sick.

Chicken soup is also an excellent source of fluids and electrolytes, both of which are necessary for hydration if you’re making frequent trips to the bathroom.

Your body will also need even more fluids if you have a fever.

What’s more, one study found chicken soup to be more effective at clearing nasal mucus than any other liquid studied. This means it’s a natural decongestant, perhaps in part because it gives off hot steam.

Another reason for this effect is that chicken contains the amino acid cysteine. N-acetyl-cysteine, a form of cysteine, breaks apart mucus and has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Chicken soup also inhibits the action of neutrophils, which are white blood cells that may cause symptoms such as coughing and a stuffy nose.

Chicken soup’s ability to inhibit these cells could partially explain why it is so effective against some cold and flu symptoms.

Bottom Line: Chicken soup is a good source of fluids, calories, protein, vitamins and minerals. It is also a natural decongestant and may block cells that cause coughing and a stuffy nose.

2. Broths

Similar to chicken soup, broths are excellent sources of hydration while you’re sick.

They’re full of flavor and can contain calories, vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, folate and phosphorous.

If you drink them while hot, broths also have the wonderful benefit of acting as a natural decongestant because of the hot steam.

Drinking broth is a good way to stay hydrated, and the rich flavors can help you feel satisfied. This is especially helpful if your stomach is unsettled and you are unable to keep down solid foods.

If you’re salt-sensitive and buy broth from the store, be sure to buy a low-sodium variety as most broths are very high in salt.

If you’re making broth from scratch, it may have even more benefits — including a higher calorie, protein and nutrient content.

Many people rave about the benefits of bone broth and claim it has many healing properties, although currently there are no studies on its benefits.

Bottom Line: Drinking broth is a delicious and nutritious way to stay hydrated, and it also acts as a natural decongestant when hot.

3. Garlic

Garlic can provide all sorts of health benefits.

It has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries and has demonstrated antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal effects.

It can also stimulate the immune system.

Few high-quality human studies have explored the effects of garlic on the common cold or flu, but some have found promising results.

One study found that people who took garlic got sick less often. Overall, the garlic group spent about 70% fewer days sick than the placebo group.

In another study, people taking garlic not only got sick less often, but they got better 3.5 days faster than the placebo group, on average.

Additionally, several studies showed that aged garlic extract supplements can enhance immune function and decrease the severity of colds and the flu.

Adding garlic to chicken soup or broth can both add flavor and make them even more effective at fighting off cold or flu symptoms.

Bottom Line: Garlic can fight bacteria, viruses and stimulate the immune system. It helps you avoid illness and recover faster when you get sick.

 4. Coconut Water

Staying well-hydrated is one of the most important things you can do when sick.

Hydration is especially important when you have a fever, sweat a lot or have vomiting or diarrhea, which can cause you to lose a lot of water and electrolytes.

Coconut water is the perfect beverage to sip on when you’re sick.

Besides being sweet and flavorful, it contains glucose and the electrolytes needed for re-hydration.

Studies show that coconut water helps you re-hydrate after exercise and mild cases of diarrhea. It also causes less stomach discomfort than similar drinks.

Additionally, several studies in animals found that coconut water contains antioxidants that can fight oxidative damage and may also improve blood sugar control.

However, one study found that it causes more bloating than other electrolyte beverages. It might be a good idea to begin slowly if you’ve never tried it.

Bottom Line: Coconut water has a sweet, delicious flavor. It provides the fluids and electrolytes you need to stay hydrated while sick.

5. Hot Tea

Tea is a favorite remedy for many symptoms associated with colds and the flu.

Just like chicken soup, hot tea acts as a natural decongestant, helping clear the sinuses of mucus. Note that tea needs to be hot to act as a decongestant, but it shouldn’t be so hot that it further irritates your throat.

You don’t need to worry about tea being dehydrating. Although some teas do contain caffeine, the amounts are far too small to cause any increased water loss.

This means that sipping on tea throughout the day is a great way to help you stay hydrated while relieving congestion at the same time.

Tea also contains polyphenols, which are natural substances found in plants that may have a large number of health benefits. These range from antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action to anti-cancer effects.

Tannins are one type of polyphenol found in tea. In addition to acting as antioxidants, tannins also have antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

One study in rats found that tannic acid in black tea could decrease the amount of a common type of bacteria that grows in the throat.

In another study, hibiscus tea reduced the growth of avian flu in a test tube. Echinacea tea also shortened the length of cold and flu symptoms.

In addition, several types of teas specifically developed to relieve cough or throat pain were shown to be effective in clinical studies.

All of these effects make tea an important part of your diet when you’re sick.

Bottom Line: Tea is a good source of fluids and acts as a natural decongestant when hot. Black tea can decrease the growth of bacteria in the throat, and echinacea tea may shorten the length of the cold or flu.

6. Honey

Honey has potent antibacterial effects, likely because of its high content of antimicrobial compounds.

In fact, it has such strong antibacterial effects that it was used in wound dressings by the ancient Egyptians, and is still used for this purpose today.

Some evidence suggests that honey can also stimulate the immune system.

These qualities alone make honey an excellent food to eat when sick, especially if you have a sore throat caused by a bacterial infection.

Many studies show that honey suppresses coughing in children. However, remember that honey should not be given to children under 12 months old.

Mix about half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of honey with a warm glass of milk, water or a cup of tea. This is a hydrating, cough-soothing, antibacterial drink.

Bottom Line: Honey has antibacterial effects and stimulates the immune system. It can also help relieve coughing in children over 12 months of age.

7. Ginger

Ginger is probably best known for its anti-nausea effects.

It has also been shown to effectively relieve nausea related to pregnancy and cancer treatment.

What’s more, ginger acts similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It has also demonstrated antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-cancer effects.

So if you are feeling nauseous or throwing up, ginger is the best food available to relieve these symptoms. Even if you aren’t nauseous, ginger’s many other beneficial effects make it one of the top foods to eat when sick.

Use fresh ginger in cooking, brew some ginger tea or pick up some ginger ale from the store to get these benefits. Just make sure that whatever you’re using contains real ginger or ginger extract, not just ginger flavor.

Bottom Line: Ginger is very effective at relieving nausea. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

8. Spicy Foods

Spicy foods like chili peppers contain capsaicin, which causes a hot, burning sensation when touched.

When high enough in concentration, capsaicin can have a desensitizing effect and is often used in pain-relieving gels and patches.

Many people report that eating spicy foods causes a runny nose, breaking up mucus and clearing out the sinus passages.

While few studies have tested this effect, capsaicin does seem to thin out mucus, making it easier to expel. Nasal capsaicin sprays have been used with good results to relieve congestion and itching.

However, capsaicin also stimulates mucus production, so you may just end up with a runny nose instead of a stuffed one.

Cough relief may be another benefit of capsaicin. One study found that taking capsaicin capsules improved symptoms in people with a chronic cough by making them less sensitive to irritation.

However, to achieve these results, you probably would need to eat spicy food daily for several weeks.

Additionally, don’t try anything spicy if you already have an upset stomach. Spicy food can cause bloating, pain and nausea in some people.

Bottom Line: Spicy foods contain capsaicin, which can help break up mucus but also stimulate mucus production. It may be effective at relieving coughing caused by irritation.

9. Bananas

Bananas are a great food to eat when you’re sick.

They’re easy to chew and bland in flavor, but also provide a decent amount of calories and nutrients.

For these reasons, they are part of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) that is often recommended for nausea.

Another big benefit of bananas is the soluble fiber they contain. If you have diarrhea, bananas are one of the best foods you can eat because the fiber can help relieve diarrhea.

In fact, some hospitals use banana flakes to treat patients with diarrhea.

Bottom Line: Bananas are a good source of calories and nutrients. They can also help relieve nausea and diarrhea.

10. Oatmeal

Like bananas, oatmeal is bland and easy to eat while providing the calories, vitamins and minerals you need when sick.

It also contains some protein — about 5 grams in a 1/2 cup.

Oatmeal has some other powerful health benefits, including stimulating the immune system and improving blood sugar control.

One rat study also showed that beta-glucan, a type of fiber found in oats, helped decrease inflammation in the gut. This could help relieve symptoms such as intestinal cramping, bloating and diarrhea.

However, avoid buying artificially flavored oatmeal with lots of added sugar. Instead, add a small amount of honey or fruit to provide even more benefits.

Bottom Line: Oatmeal is a good source of nutrients and easy to eat. It can stimulate your immune system, improve blood sugar control and decrease inflammation in the digestive system.

11. Yogurt

Yogurt is an excellent food to eat when sick.

It provides 150 calories and 8 grams of protein per cup. It’s also cold, which can sooth your throat.

Yogurt is also rich in calcium and full of other vitamins and minerals.

Some yogurts also contain beneficial probiotics.

Evidence shows that probiotics can help both children and adults get colds less often, heal faster when sick and take fewer antibiotics.

One study found that children taking probiotics felt better an average of two days faster, and their symptoms were about 55% less severe.

Some people have reported that dairy intake thickens mucus. However, several studies show that dairy intake causes no change in cough, congestion or mucus production, even among those who are sick.

Nonetheless, if you feel that diary products worsen your congestion, try other fermented foods containing probiotics or a probiotic supplement instead.

Bottom Line: Yogurt is easy to eat and a good source of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals. Some yogurts also contain probiotics, which can help you get sick less often and get better faster

12. Certain Fruits

Fruits can be beneficial when sick

They are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber, which support your body and immune system (70).

Some fruits also contain beneficial compounds called anthocyanins, which are types of flavonoids that give fruits their red, blue and purple color. Some of the best sources are strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries.

Anthocyanins make berries excellent foods to eat when sick because they have strong anti-inflammatory, antiviral and immune-boosting effects.

Several studies found that fruit extracts high in anthocyanins can inhibit common viruses and bacteria from attaching to cells. They also stimulate the body’s immune response.

In particular, pomegranates have strong antibacterial and antiviral effects that inhibit food-borne bacteria and viruses, including E. coli and salmonella.

While these effects do not necessarily have the same impact on infections in the body as in the lab, they likely do have some impact.

In fact, one review found that flavonoid supplements can decrease the number of days people are sick with the cold by a whopping 40%.

Add some fruit to a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt for more added benefits or blend frozen fruit into a cold smoothie that soothes your throat.

Bottom Line: Many fruits contain flavonoids called anthocyanins that can fight viruses and bacteria and stimulate the immune system. Flavonoid supplements can also be beneficial.

13. Avocados

The avocado is an unusual fruit because it is low in carbs but high in fat.

In particular, it is high in healthy monounsaturated fat, the same type of fat found in olive oil.

Avocados are also a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Avocados are a great food when sick because they provide calories, vitamins and minerals that your body needs. They’re also soft, relatively bland and easy to eat.

Because of the healthy fats avocados contain, especially oleic acid, they help to decrease inflammation while also playing a role in immune function .

Bottom Line: Avocados are full of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that can decrease inflammation and stimulate the immune system.

14. Leafy, Green Vegetables

It’s important to get all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs while sick, but that can be difficult to do with a typical “sick foods” diet.

Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce and kale are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are especially good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.

Dark green vegetables are also loaded with beneficial plant compounds. These act as antioxidants to protect cells from damage and help fight inflammation.

Leafy greens have also been used for their antibacterial properties.

Add spinach to an omelet for a quick, nutrient-packed, protein-rich meal. You can also try tossing a handful of kale into a fruit smoothie.

Bottom Line: Leafy green vegetables are full of fiber and nutrients that you need while sick. They also contain beneficial plant compounds.

15. Salmon

Salmon is one of the best protein sources to eat when sick.

It is soft, easy to eat and full of the high-quality protein your body needs.

Salmon is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have strong anti-inflammatory effects.

Salmon is also a good source of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, which many people are lacking in. Vitamin D plays a role in immune function.

Bottom Line: Salmon is an excellent source of protein. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which fight inflammation and boost immune function.

Take Home Message

Resting, drinking fluids and getting proper nutrition are some of the most important things you can do to feel better and recover faster when sick.

But some foods have benefits that go beyond just providing your body with nutrients.

While no food alone can cure sickness, eating the right foods can support your body’s immune system and help relieve certain symptoms.

Published in Health Plus

 

By Dr. Mercola

Low back pain is the most commonly reported type of pain and a leading cause of disability in America.1 It's one of the most common causes for missed work and for visits to the doctor's office, outnumbered only by upper respiratory illness.2

Estimates suggest approximately 80 percent of adults will suffer from low back pain in their lifetime.3

The cost of low back pain is high, both in monetary value and in pain control. And, it is estimated that a minimum of $50 billion is spent each year in direct healthcare costs to treat low back pain.4

Unfortunately, many people believe that back pain will resolve spontaneously without treatment. Instead, statistics from 2003 demonstrated that 62 percent of patients with back pain continue to report pain 12 months after the initial incident.5

Chronic back pain is also a major driver of painkiller addiction, which can lead to a lethal overdose.

There is a better way. How you use your body is directly related to how your body responds, including pain. Although low back pain is challenging and may be debilitating, you have options for both treatment and prevention.

What Increases Your Risk of Low Back Pain

Age

You may experience degenerative changes to your spine as you age. In some cases, these changes are affected by the way you use your back and the strength of the muscles supporting your spine.

People between the ages of 30 and 60 are more likely to have spinal disc-related problems and people over 60 are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritic pain.

Weight

Excess weight places additional burden on your joints, including your lower back, and inflammatory factors associated with increased weight may also contribute to pain.7

Your spine is designed to distribute your body weight load. An excess may lead to structural changes and damage. Your lower back, or lumbar spine, is the most vulnerable to the effects of obesity.

Sedentary Lifestyle

A lack of exercise does more than affect your risk of heart attack or stroke. It also increases stiffness and weakens muscles needed to support your back. Regular stretching and strengthening exercises may reduce your back pain or prevent you from experiencing low back pain.

Sitting and Standing Posture

Your posture during sitting may change the normal curvature of the lower back, increasing pressure on spinal discs and the ischium, both associated with lower back pain.10 Poor posture during both sitting and standing may predispose you to lower back pain as it may cause increased stress on your back.

Smoking

Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to your body tissue. This adversely affects your spinal discs and increases your risk of back pain. Research demonstrates smokers have a 1.5 to 2.5 times greater risk of developing back pain over nonsmokers.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women are more predisposed to low back pain, with the added weight of the baby changing the center of gravity and increasing the lower back curvature.

Occupational and Sports Hazards

Repetitive lifting, bending and twisting or long hours of standing and sitting may increase your risk of low back pain from overuse or from poor functional posture, increasing the weight and stress on your lower back.

Medical and Family History

Other factors that may play a role in your low back pain include a past medical history of osteoarthritis, disc degeneration, spondylolysis, osteoporosis and discogenic disease. A family history of back pain may also increase your risk.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

Many of these risk factors may respond to a program of stretches and strengthening exercises to change the way you use your back and improve the neuromuscular connections. However, like most health conditions, it is far easier to prevent the problem than it is to fix it.

Your lower back does not function independently of the rest of your core. This means you need strong abdominal muscles to support your lower back, and flexible muscles to reduce the potential for strains and sprains.

The healthier your back and musculature are, the better your chances of preventing a problem or recovering quickly.

Your lower back responds to interconnections between your shoulders and your pelvis, even down to your quadriceps and hamstring muscles. These large muscles in your upper legs are connected to your pelvis, which in turn is connected to your lower back.

Tight hamstrings or quadriceps can pull your pelvis out of alignment and increase the risk of lower back pain.

A systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated a successful prevention program, or one that kept someone from reporting a bout of low back pain for one or more years, rested almost exclusively on exercise programs.17 Participants did not find relief from back belts or orthotics.

Both of these factors tended to increase muscle weakness and lead to further pain. Participants who exercised regularly, using either strength training or a combination of strength training and aerobic exercise, were considerably less likely to experience further back pain within the year.

Effective Stretches and Exercises May Help Heal Your Lower Back Pain

Start using these stretches and strengthening exercises slowly. If you experience pain, back off the intensity of your program. It is important to have proper body alignment during the exercises in order to stretch and strengthen the right muscles.

You won't need to dedicate hours each day to improve your back pain. But, it is important that you are consistent, even after you experience relief from the pain and discomfort. In the video above, Dr. Eric Goodman and I demonstrate a number of Foundation Training exercises that are specifically designed to address back pain and related issues. Below, you'll also find a list of standard stretches that can be very helpful.

Hamstring Stretch

Although a standing stretch is the most common, it also places more stress on your lower back. Instead, use a seated or wall stretch. A seated stretch begins with you seated in a firm chair.Extend one leg and reach down slowly to touch your toe.

Change legs and stretch the other side. A wall stretch is done lying on your back with your buttocks up against a wall or high-back chair. Place the foot against the wall or chair and make the knee as straight as you can.18As you progress you'll be able to get closer to your toes in the seated position or your knee straighter while on the floor. It is important to stretch gradually and not push so hard you strain the muscle

Gluteal Stretch

Your gluteal muscles are interconnected with your lower back. Stretch and relax these muscles by lying on your back with both knees bent and your lower back flattened to the floor. Draw one knee to your chest, while you keep the other foot on the floor. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat with your other leg. Stretch both legs twice, once daily.

Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis muscle is small and located deep in your buttocks. When it spasms it can cause pain your buttocks and irritate the sciatic nerve, triggering pain down your leg. The muscle stabilizes the hip joint, lifting and rotating the thigh away from the body. It is involved in almost every movement of your legs and hips.20

Lie on your back with both feet flat to the floor and knees bent. Place your right ankle on your left knee. Grab your left thigh and pull the leg toward your chest. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds. Release and repeat on the other side.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Your hip flexors are a group of muscles that connect your pelvis, leg and abdomen. These are some of the most powerful muscles in your body, responsible for flexing your hip and raising your leg. Sitting for long periods of time and competitive swimming, are two activities causing the flexor muscles to tighten and affect your lower back.22,23

A kneeling hip flexor stretch starts with you on your knees on the floor. Holding on to a chair or other solid object, place one leg behind you and lean in slightly to the chair.24 The glute bridge stretch does more than stretch your hip flexors, it also works your gluteal muscles and abs.

Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip-width apart, flatten your back to the floor and exhale while raising your hips off the floor. Tighten your glutes when you get to the top. Inhale and return to the starting position.

Quadriceps Stretch

If you have tight quadriceps, they will affect the tilt of your pelvis and therefore your lower back. Common stretches require you to bend your knee until your heel touches your buttocks. However, this stretch places increased stress on your knee joint. Instead, you can stretch your quadriceps without bending your knee.

Standing next to a chair, bed or table, extend your right leg behind you. Hold on to a chair for stability and prevent falling. Keeping your body upright, align your left hip over your left heel maintaining left hip and foot in a forward position. Tighten your glutes and imagine your right leg extending through your right hip. You should feel light tension in both your hip and quads. Repeat on the other leg.

Lower Back Stretch

The goal is to stretch and relax your lower back muscles without adding stress or pressure to the area. Lie on your back with your buttocks as close to a wall as possible. Raise your legs straight up the wall and scoot in closer to the wall. Press your lower back into the floor and relax.

Planking

Strong abdominal and back muscles will help protect your lower back and improve your ability to stand and sit with correct posture. Planks will strengthen your shoulders, abs, back, glutes and the large muscles in your legs.

Lie on your stomach. Rise up on your elbows, holding your elbows directly below your shoulders. Pull your body up on your toes and hold a position similar to doing a push-up, except you are on your elbows. Work up to holding for 3 minutes. For a program to help you achieve this goal, see my article "30-Day Plank Challenge."

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Not all back pain originates from the same source. However, keeping your hips, pelvis, rib cage and core muscles in alignment helps you to use your body correctly and reduce the potential for further back pain. Diaphragmatic breathing techniques are a good way to stabilize your back and naturally add traction to your spine.

Lie on your back with your heels on a chair. Align your position so there is a 90-degree angle at your hips and your knees. This might require you to experiment with different chairs to find one at the right height for you. Place a pillow between your legs.

Without using your lower back, activate your glutes and your abdominal muscles to raise your buttocks off the floor just a few inches. In this bridge position, inhale deeply through your nose, feeling your lower ribs rotate outward to fill your lungs. Exhale completely using your core muscles to internally rotate your ribs. Inhale for a count of five, exhale for a count of seven and pause for a count of three. Do this five times, maintaining the bridge position, then rest. Repeat one more time.

Foam Rolling Hamstrings and Quadriceps

Foam rolling your hamstrings and quadriceps muscles helps the muscles to relax, give you a deep tissue massage and speed healing. These muscles contribute to your lower back pain. Roll over a foam roller just one to three times each day for the hamstrings and quadriceps, after doing your strengthening and stretching exercises. You can read more about how to avoid common mistakes made using the foam roller in my previous article, "Foam Rolling Mistakes to Avoid."

Published in Health Plus
Page 3 of 5
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