Dealing with GERD

GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a condition that affects 20% of all Americans each year. Many people experience occasional reflux, which occurs when the stomach contents flow back into the esophagus and/or mouth. Over 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. This is usually caused by overeating, food triggers, or lying down too quickly after eating. However, GERD is diagnosed when the reflux is frequently occurring, usually more than twice a week. Sometimes the causes of GERD are unknown, but it may be caused by a weakened or dysfunctional valve at the bottom of the esophagus or from a hiatal hernia, which may cause pressure on the esophagus.

Tissue damage and inflammation may occur to the esophagus from repeated acid exposure. This may result in ulcers in the esophagus, which are open sores that may cause painful swallowing or bleeding. Another potential complication is an esophageal stricture, which is a narrowing of the pathway in the esophagus due to a build-up of scar tissue. Barrett’s esophagus is another possible side effect of GERD. This is a precancerous change in the lining which increases the risk of esophageal cancer.

While heartburn is the primary symptom of reflux, a person does not have to experience reflux in order to have GERD. Other signs and symptoms include regurgitation, belching, burping, nausea, vomiting, chronic cough, difficulty swallowing, sore/hoarse throat, chest pain, or a sour taste in the mouth.

Lifestyle changes, medications, and supplements can all be used to treat GERD. Stress has been shown to increased reflux, and different relaxation techniques to reduce stress have been shown to decrease the risk of GERD. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise, and quitting smoking decrease the incidence of GERD as well. It is a good idea to avoid eating large meals or eating late in the evening and to not to lie down after eating. Raising the head of the bed and sleeping on your side may also reduce symptoms. It is also important to remove foods that may trigger symptoms, such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, cow’s milk, friend food, citrus fruits and juice, tomatoes, carbonated beverages, sugar and sugar sweeteners, and spicy foods.

Proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers and antacids are frequently prescribed to alleviate heartburn. These usually work by decreasing the level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This will prevent the erosion of the esophagus, but it will not fix the cause of GERD. Prolonged use of these medications can alter the immune function, disrupt the microbiome and alter the pH level in your stomach, which can affect the absorption of nutrients. This may contribute to poor digestion, anemia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, fatigue and infections. Supplements can be used as an alternative to drugs. Some supplement shown to alleviate the signs and symptoms of GERD are betaine HCl, probiotics, DGL, slippery elm, marshmallow root, chamomile, fish oil, magnesium, glutamine, ginger tea and  antioxidant rich foods.

Don’t let GERD take control of your life. Change your diet, exercise and stress levels and GERD and other issues will stop controlling your life!

by Denise Groothuis MS RD CPT CFMP

In the Know: COPD

COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. The disease is increasingly common, affecting millions of Americans, and is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The good news is COPD is often preventable and treatable.

COPD can cause coughing, which produces large amounts of a slimy substance called mucus and leads to wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. However, up to 25% of people with the disease never smoked. Exposure to prolonged second-hand smoke is another contributing factor as well as long-term exposure to other lung irritants—such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dusts. A rare genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency can also cause the disease. If you have COPD, you also may often have colds or other respiratory infections such as the flu, or influenza. At first, COPD may cause no symptoms or only mild symptoms. As the disease gets worse, symptoms usually become more severe. Some severe symptoms may require treatment in a hospital. Severe symptoms include:

  • You are having a hard time catching your breath or talking.
  • Your lips or fingernails turn blue or gray, a sign of a low oxygen level in your blood.
  • People around you notice that you are not mentally alert.
  • Your heartbeat is very fast.
  • The recommended treatment for symptoms that are getting worse is not working.

In the United States, COPD includes two main conditions—emphysema and chronic bronchitis. With emphysema, the walls between many of the air sacs are damaged. As a result, the air sacs lose their shape and become floppy. This damage also can destroy the walls of the air sacs, leading to fewer and larger air sacs instead of many tiny ones. If this happens, the amount of gas exchange in the lungs is reduced. With chronic bronchitis, the lining of the airways stays constantly irritated and inflamed, and this causes the lining to swell. Lots of thick mucus forms in the airways, making it hard to breathe.

COPD has no cure yet. However, lifestyle changes and treatments can help you feel better, stay more active, and slow the progress of the disease. To assist with your treatment, your family doctor may advise you to see a pulmonologist. This is a doctor who specializes in treating lung disorders.

 

by Gina Stallone

How Nutrition Affects Autism

Autism is part of a set of disorders called Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which is “a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.”

The symptoms of ASD vary from mild to severe can include Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), seizures, anxiety etc.The causes of autism are unclear, but it seems to affect boys 4.5 times more than girls.   A combination of environmental, biological and genetic factors seem to be associated with autism. Studies have shown that symptom development and progression is influenced by changes in metabolism and in gastrointestinal function.

Research shows that children with ASD are 4.5 times more likely to complain of GI symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, limited appetite, inflammation, dysbiosis (disruption in microbial balance), poor enzyme production, and low stomach acid. Studies have also shown that there is a greater risk for gluten sensitivity and lactase deficiency with children with ASD.

The GI tract produces 75% of the body’s neurotransmitters and 80% of its serotonin.  Additionally, roughly 80% of the immune system originates in the gut. The gut actually has its own nervous system, called the enteric nervous system, which controls the GI tract. The enteric nervous system is independent of the CNS and is responsible for peristalsis and the secretion of enzymes. However, the gut and brain are still connected and send biochemical signals through neurons, the endocrine system, and the immune system. The gut microbiome, which is the microbes that inhabit the GI tract, is involved in how the brain and gut communicate and can alter mood, anxiety, pain and cognition. Balance and diversity of the gut microbiome is imperative for health since the microbes are responsible for immune modulation, vitamin synthesis, production of SCFA, GI detoxification, and many other functions.

The gut also functions as a barrier from the external environment and the body, and it only allows certain particles to pass into the blood stream. Our first line of defense is the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT), which is the mucosal lining consisting of lymphocytes and other immune supporting cells. The intestinal wall is made up of tight junctions, which allow certain particles to pass through. If the tight junctions open, toxins, undigested food, chemicals and larger food particles may enter the bloodstream and cause an inflammatory response. This is called leaky gut, and it can be caused by stress, NSAIDs, antibiotics, alcohol, toxins, gluten, inflammation, protein malnutrition, and dysbiosis. Leaky gut can also result from candida, which is an overgrowth of yeast caused by antibiotics, toxicity, immune deficiency, etc. When the overgrowth reaches a certain threshold, it causes leaky gut and the yeast enters the blood stream and can cause muscle aches, fatigue, ADHD, sore and stiff joints, and other issues.

The leaky gut triggers an immune response and increases cytokine production, which are small proteins that effect other cells. These cytokines break down the blood brain barrier, which allows changes to neurotransmitters, synapse changes and ultimately mood and behavior changes. Many studies have shown that children with ASD have increased permeability in their gut compared to controls, especially when on an unrestricted diet. This means they have a more compromised immune system and will probably absorb less vitamins and minerals and have a greater chance of illness.

Dietary changes and supplements may help symptoms related to autism. It would beneficial to place those with ASD on an elimination diet to determine if they are sensitive to gluten or dairy. Additionally, dysbiosis and leaky gut can be healed with proper diet and the elimination of additives and unprocessed foods.

It is important to strive for a diet that is comprised mostly of whole foods instead of processed foods.  A processed food has been purposely changed from its natural state through cooking, canning, freezing, packaging, fortifying, preserving, preparing, or adding ingredients.Whole foods are in their natural state with little or no processing or artificial ingredients, and they tend to be high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Processed food tends to come in packages and can be high in sugar, calories, unhealthy fats, preservatives, and sodium, and research shows these items are correlated with obesity and chronic disease. Processing can be minimal or extreme, so focus on purchasing foods that have been as minimally processed as possible – like prewashed lettuce or cut up vegetables.  A good rule of thumb is if the food label has a long list of ingredients, don’t buy it!

Whole foods are also devoid of food additives. Food additives are chemicals added to processed foods to maintain or improve freshness, improve nutritional value (fortifying), and to change taste, texture, and appearance.  Some food additives are food dyes and artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, artificial preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Many food dyes and colors have been associated with hyperactivity, GI symptoms and skin issues, while some preservatives are linked to headaches and behavioral or mood changes. Sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup also have side effects, such as mood changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and toxic exposure.

Studies show that repairing the gut can improve behaviors. To improve barrier function, supplements such as magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D and zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids are recommended. Additionally, a multivitamin, phytonutrients, glutamine, amino acids can improve leaky gut and immune function. Digestive enzymes can help break down food and a probiotic can help restore the microbiome after dysbiosis.

Research has also shown a link between autism an environmental toxins. It seems like people with autism are not as adept at eliminating toxic chemicals from their body. These chemicals can effect brain neurological functioning and the physical and psychosocial environment. Therefore, try to purchase organic foods as much as possible and definitely stay away from the dirty dozen, which are the 12 foods know to be highest in pesticides.  These include strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers.

Additionally, toxins increase oxidative stress in the body, and studies demonstrate increased oxidative stress in autism.  Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidant system, which causes a derailment in many body processes.  Our cells contain organelles called mitochondria, also known as the powerhouse of the cell, which produce energy in the form of ATP. During the process of creating energy, free radicals (reactive oxygen species ROS) are produced, which is a normal part of energy metabolism. However, ROS can increase through inflammation, toxins in the environment, and infections to a point where the body can no longer manage the oxidative stress. This causes damage to cell structures, cell death, mitochondrial dysfunction, and issues with important biochemical processes. Additionally, the blood brain barrier is also sensitive to oxidative damage.

Research show that those with ASD have lower levels of antioxidant enzymes and glutathione. Glutathione is the body’s main antioxidant and is responsible for free radical scavenging and getting rid of metals and pesticides. When there is high levels of oxidative stress, glutathione is depleted so free radicals and toxins are not eliminated and detoxification is impaired. Studies show decreased levels of glutathione in ASD patients. If glutathione is decreased, it is imperative to remove environmental toxins and improve detox pathways, otherwise the oxidative load further increases, glutathione continues to decrease and there are increased metabolic, neurological and immunological dysfunction. Eat a rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables to increase the antioxidant levels in the body. Additionally, supplements can be taken to improve detoxification pathways. Some important nutrients from detoxification are riboflavin, niacin, B6, folic acid, B12, glutathione, BCAA, flavonoids, phospholipids, glycine, taurine, glutamine, NAC, methionine, selenium, zinc, and coq10.

In addition to supplements to repair the gut, alternative therapies can also be used to treat anxiety, depression and ADD. Vitamin C, carnosine, and carnitine have been shown to improve autistic behaviors while magnesium, vitamin B6, inositol, GABA, 5HTP, tyrosine,and phosphorylated serine have been shown to alleviate anxiety. Additionally, some herbs such as valerian, passionflower, lemon balm and theanine can have calming affects.Every child or adult with autism is unique, so different therapies and programs will be appropriate for different people.

 

By Denise Groothuis MS RD CFMP

 

 

 

 

References:

Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html

https://autismsciencefoundation.org/what-is-autism/

www.neuroscienceinc.com

J Spinal Cor Med 1998 21(4) 309-334

Pediatrics 2014 May: 133(5) 872-83

J Pediatric Gastroenterol Nutr 2010 Oct 51(4): 418:24

Dr Vreeland: https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/members/1249.cfm

Methylation and Detoxification in ASD – Pinpointing the problem

Textbook of Functional Medicine – 2010

Seelig MS. Consequences of magnesium deficiency on the enhancement of stress reactions; preventive and therapeutic implications (a review). J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Oct;13(5):429-46.

https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/nutrition-facts-and-food-labels/processed-foods-whats-ok-and-what-to-avoid

https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm094211.htm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/244154.php

http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/010713p46.shtml

https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

Anger in Competition: How to Better Manage It

Athletes and coaches display of anger is becoming a repeated scene in sports. From youth leagues to professional athletes, the pressure to win at all cost or the fear of losing, leads individuals to become emotionally reactive, often characterized by an unacceptable display of anger, yelling, and even aggressive behavior. What is more concerning is the explicit permission and justification for displaying such a reaction. If anger leads to under-performance, what can be done to better manage those emotions?

An athlete who carries a lot of stress, continually focuses on must-win games, feels edgy, and repeatedly verbalizes angry thoughts to self or others demonstrates signs that must be paid attention as this pent-up mind-set can easily lead to over-reacting for apparently no good reason. Many athletes become so impatient or overly sensitive to casual comments that it becomes very difficult to interact with them. Also, the use of drugs, alcohol, or pain medication may exacerbate their ability to cope with stress, hence becoming more likely to overreact, especially if the athlete perceives the other person as having mal-intended behaviors. In this case, immediate rage culminates in aggressive behavior.

Teaching behaviors

The best way to address anger is by taking a pro-active stance where athletes, coaches, and even parents are made aware that they are having difficulty managing highly stressful situations. Hence, the first step is to name what the precipitants are thinking that lead to feeling anger. Rather that brush over all emotions as one, different situations lead to different emotions. “Feeling impatient,” “frustrated that my teammates are not understanding me,” “I want to have more playing minutes,” “my parents put a lot of pressure on me,” etc. are some of the thoughts that trigger upsetting emotions. The higher their level of awareness of the triggers that lead to becoming impatient or angry, the more likely they will be willing to use a strategy that promotes calming their frustration.

Also, athletes are more willing to live by the rules when:

  • They have a hand in formulating them
  • When determining consequences for rules violations
  • Focus on the team policy that was broken without degrading athletes to feel “in the dog house”
  • Use positive reinforcement to strengthen  team participation 

    The use of breathing relaxation has shown to ease tension. Bringing awareness to a slow, deep, and full in and out breathing takes the mind away from the racing thoughts. It helps to calm the arousal in the nervous system and reduces the respiratory rates.

    When addressing anger in a team setting, bouncing ideas about triggers and strategies that help bring arousal down helps teammates to incorporate new ideas. Often time, players who lose their temper tend to think that they are the only ones with an anger issue when there may be other players who feel equally angry but channel their emotions in a more productive manner.

    Self-awareness is the most important tool to own. It provides information which can be used to better manage your emotional responses.

    Alex Diaz, PhD

    Sports Mental Edge

13 Minutes to Strong

For those who repeatedly use the excuse that there just isn’t enough time in the day to do any meaningful exercise, a recent research study begs to differ. This study showed that the same strength gains can be made by doing one set, to failure, of 7 basic exercises as opposed to 3-5 sets for each. But the key is to remember that you have to reach muscular exhaustion by the end of the set.

For the study, 34 healthy young men, who previously did some resistance training, were randomized into three groups.  One of the groups performed 5 sets of each exercise, another performed 3 sets of each exercise, and the last performed just one set of each exercise.  All three groups exercised three days/week, rested for 90 seconds between sets, and were required to lift to failure between 8-12 repetitions. Seven basic and straight-forward exercises were performed, including bench press and leg press, to cover all muscle groups. The group that completed 5 sets spent about 70 minutes in the gym. The group that completed 3 sets spent about 40 minutes on their workouts. The third group that performed only 1 set per exercise spent an average of 13 minutes in the gym. After eight weeks, their muscles were measured and compared to their baseline measurements from the beginning of the intervention.

All of the men increased their strength after the eight weeks, and regardless of which group they were in, all of the strength gains were essentially the same.  Additionally, muscular endurance was about the same in all three groups.  The only thing that differed was muscle size, which increased more in the group of men that performed 5 sets of each exercise than the groups that only did three sets or one set. Based on these findings, one can surmise that spending less than twenty minutes in the gym, three days per week, can yield increases in muscular strength and endurance.  But remember, you must push your muscles to failure, meaning that you cannot perform another repetition of the exercise.  No more excuses.  We can all find an extra 13 minutes.

by Rima Sidhu, Exercise Physiologist

Maze Sexual and Reproductive Health

How Modern Agriculture Affects Human Gut Health

 

If you’ve done much research on gut health, you already know that antibiotics, even when prescribed and used correctly, can really do a number on your digestive health. While they’re killing off the pathogens (bad guys) they were meant to eliminate, antibiotics also rid your body of the helpful bacteria and other friendly microbes leading rto imbalances.

This microbial community that lives inside us, our Microbiome, is essential to our health as humans. Friendly microbes help our immune system and help us digest food. Interestingly we are made of more bacteria/microbes than we are human cells!

Ideally, we start life with a healthy, balanced microbiome. (Unfortunately nowadays this is often not the case due to c-sections, early antibiotic use and lack of breastfeeding, but that’s another topic:) It evolves with us over time and helps to keep our nutrition cycles and immune system working smoothly.

So if your doctor prescribed antibiotics for you, you may consider asking her if they are really necessary. Sometimes they may be. But in many cases, antibiotics don’t speed up healing. You can get well just as quickly without them.

If you do need to take antibiotics, you’re aware and can make an attempt at getting your body back into balance. Many pharmacists and doctors will now recommend adding a probiotic supplement after you finish your antibiotic prescription. And this can be helpful depending on the situation.

But there’s a bigger problem that’s not easily seen. Sadly it’s our food supply.

If you’re eating commercially raised meat, eggs, or dairy products, you are consuming low doses of antibiotics every day.

Factory farming is not a healthy environment for these animals that become our food. The horrendous overcrowding they must endure creates perfect circumstances for the spread of disease.

So to prevent illness, antibiotics are added to the animals’ food. This consistent low dose of antibiotics is creating Superbugs that are very difficult to control.

Factory farmers also discovered that low dose antibiotics help livestock to gain weight more quickly than normal. Meat is usually sold by the pound and cheap pharmaceuticals can add a lot to the profit margin.

More than 80% of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used in the agriculture industry. Millions of pounds of drugs are added to our food supply every year and they never appear on ingredients labels!

But it’s not just livestock production practices that mess with human gut health. The development of hybridized wheat has also contributed to the problem.

It is often said that bread is the staff of life. We have been eating it for thousands of years.

Bread is usually made from wheat which contains gluten proteins. The gluten is what allows the bubbles produced while baking the bread to become part of the loaf’s structure, rather than collapsing it into a dense brick.

And science has helped to create wheat strains with even more gluten than ancient grains had. This makes bread softer, lighter, and presumably more desirable.

It turns out that gluten is very hard for people to digest completely. Incompletely digested proteins, including gluten, are very hard on your gut lining.

In addition to loosening the tight junctions between the cells making up your intestinal wall, gluten proteins have a tendency to stir up your immune system. An inflammatory cascade is then created, which can lead to health issues anywhere in your body.

Grain fields offer yet another gut health obstacle.

Weeds are a farmer’s nightmare, adding to their fuel and equipment costs and to their workload. Herbicides were invented to take care of this weed problem.

But to be effective, the seed companies needed to get the crop plants to survive the weed killer. Enter genetically modified seeds resistant to glyphosate, commercially known as Roundup®.

Having Roundup-Ready crops in the field means that more and more glyphosate is being used on our food. Glyphosate doesn’t just kill weeds. When we eat food that has been treated with this herbicide, it acts very similarly to antibiotics in our digestive tract.

And we already know that is a problem.

Even though on the surface it may seem expensive to buy organically raised and produced groceries, the long term savings in our health and medical budget are well worth it.

by Dr Robert Inesta

How Modern Agriculture Affects Human Gut Health

Getting Back to Exercise

Getting back into an exercise routine can be daunting, especially if you’re recovering from an injury. It’s exciting to graduate from physical therapy, but it can also be overwhelming. You’re given a protocol of at-home exercises to follow, but then what? You may be hesitant to jump back into a regular workout routine. However, a gym program after physical therapy will actually help maintain the progress you made by increasing range of motion, strength and stability.

Start out slowly and expect some discomfort. Alleviate acute pain before exercising by using passive pain-relieving techniques such as massage therapy/ART, and heat and/or ice therapy to reduce your pain or make it more manageable. Always listen to your body! If pain becomes severe, take a break or stop altogether. Pushing through pain could cause another injury to occur and thus set you back even further.

Focus on low-impact, functional exercises rather than high intensity workouts. Incorporate a lot of stretching and mobility movements into your routine as well. If you are stumped as to the proper way to get started or are afraid to hurt yourself by doing too much – hire a personal trainer who specializes in corrective exercises! They will help guide you on the path to pain-free exercising and help you to reach your fitness goals.

 

by Gina Stallone

How Much Do I Need to Lift?

Working out with weights is important to gain strength, improve mental state and prevent osteoporosis. As a sports medicine physician I am often asked by my patients, “how much working out do I need to do.?” The answer is you need to work out 6 days a week but using weights is best done on alternate days. Muscles need 48 hours to recover and appropriate rest will help prevent injuries and allow recovery. You can work out different muscles on different days but must allow the specific muscles worked time to recover.
A recent study done at Lehman College in the beautiful Bronx answered a very important question: How many sets do you need to do to increase strength? The study looked at 34 young men and divided them into 3 groups. Group 1 did 5 sets, Group 2 did 3 sets, and Group 3 did only 1 set. All three groups lifted weights doing 8-12 reps, but it had to be to exhaustion where they could not do another rep without a break. The multiple sets groups had 90 second break between sets.
The exercises that all 3 groups performed were bench press, military press, lateral pull downs, seated cable row, squats, leg press, and unilateral leg extension. Because of doing more reps, Group 1 with five sets took 70 minutes to work out. Group 2 with three sets took 40 minutes and Group 3 with only one set took 13 minutes. Each group worked out three times a week for 8 weeks.
At the end of 8 weeks, all 3 groups had significant increases in strength but surprisingly all 3 groups had equal gains in strength! So, a 13-minute work out can give you the same strength gains as a 70-minute workout. You can save an hour off your work out. Nobody has enough time to work out so saving an hour is huge. The group doing 5 reps did have larger muscle mass gains (size), but not more strength.
The lessons from this study is that you need to work out until you cannot do another rep to make strength gains. Work out 3 times a week. This study was in young males and has not been done in older men or females. I believe the results will be the same.
It is important to not push your muscles above what your body can handle. Make sure you do not lift too much until you can handle the heavier weights. Be smart to prevent injuries. If you are having pain stop and don’t push through it. If you are having continued painor questions make an appointment with your local orthopedic sports doc.
By Rick Weinstein MD, MBA
Director of Orthopedic Surgery, Westchester Sport and Spine of White Plains Hospital

Change the Way You Sit

Many people all day sitting at a desk and in their cars, which has led to increased back pain & problems. This is due in large part to sitting incorrectly. Here are some tips to obtain optimal back health:

  • Avoid slouching! Sit upright, but relaxed with a slight arch to your back.
  • Use a desk chair with back support built-in or use a rolled up towel or pillow & place in your lower back. You can use the towel or pillow in your car for driving as well
  • Keep your head & shoulders upright and face forward. Limit the amount of twisting & turning that you do from your chair
  • Use a footrest if you will be sitting for long periods of time
  • Keep your desk or keyboard at the correct height and/or distance so as to avoid leaning forward
  • Take a break! Get up every hour or so to stretch and/or move around

When sitting in an office chair for a long period, the natural tendency for most people is to slouch over or slouch down in the chair. This will overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the discs and surrounding structures in the spine. Over time, incorrect sitting posture can damage spinal structures and contribute to or worsen back pain. Some stretches that have been proven helpful to alleviate some of this pain. These include an upper body stretch, shoulder blade squeeze, or arms across chest stretch.  When possible, stay active! Go for walks around the office or on your lunch break. A 20-minute walk will help promote healthy blood flow that brings important nutrients to the spinal structures.

by Gina Stallone

How Nutrition Can Help Cancer

Cancer…a very scary word and very scary prospect for everyone. Research has shown that what we eat and the choices we make can affect the incidence of cancer and can also help to alleviate the side effects associated with cancer treatments. Choosing wisely can have an enormous impact on our health.

As far as cancer prevention, research shows that obesity increases the risk of many different types of cancer. Obesity is defined as having a BMI (body mass index) over 30. Additionally, there is a worse prognosis for obese patients after cancer diagnosis, so it important to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight status. Focus on eating in moderation and exercising regularly for optimal health.

Studies have shown that a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetables contain beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants, which help fight cancer. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, contain a compound called sulforphane, which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Further, it is important to avoid foods that cause inflammation in the body, such as refined sugar and carbohydrates, and pesticides. Buying organic produce is important not only because it is grown without pesticides, but because those plants are more resilient and have been shown to contain phytonutrients. This is because they become stronger as they learn to protect themselves from the elements without the use of pesticides. Lastly, alcohol should be avoided since it has been shown to be a cancer risk. Food with ginger, garlic, turmeric and green tea all have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for cancer prevention.

Dealing with cancer can be a debilitating ordeal. There are many short term and long term side effects from cancer treatment. For example, short term there may be nausea, vomiting, and hair loss, whereas long term symptoms include fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and memory issues. Others may develop other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, due to treatments. Insomnia is also a common side effect, which may caused by medications, stress or anxiety. Lack of sleep may affect mood and can lead to depression, which can then cause anxiety and create a cycle. Supplements that help alleviate insomnia and increase relaxation and decrease stress are melatonin, L-theanine, magnesium, magnolia, lipoic acid, and Panax ginseng.

Mind body approaches have also been shown to alleviate many of the side effects of cancer treatment and decrease stress. These include acupuncture, yoga, T’ai Chi, guided imagery, hypnosis, and mindfulness. Exercise is a great tool for stress release and weight loss, and studies have shown that physical activity is associated with a decreased incidence of certain cancers. Lastly, supplements like glutathione, creatine, CoQ10 and creatine have been shown to optimize our mitochondria, which create energy and which may have been damaged during treatment.

Diet and lifestyle factors are very important for both disease prevention and recurrence. There is a lot of truth to the saying, “you are what you eat,” and it is important to be mindful of what we put into our bodies and how we respond to our daily lives.  Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and find ways to decrease stress.This will help keep you as healthy as possible.