Exercise Your Way to Calm

There are many different ways to de-stress. One of the most productive ways is to exercise. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress hormones & chemicals more than any other activity. Whether it’s just a walking or jogging around the neighborhood, joining a new sport, participating in yoga or a new class at your gym, or lifting weights, it will do wonders for your mind & body.

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives. When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind.

Regular aerobic exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins which ultimately mean you will not only look good, you will feel good too!

Any type of exercise can increase your fitness and decrease your stress. However, it’s important to choose an activity that you enjoy rather than dread. Stress can result from many personal, professional, and environmental causes. The best way to cope with stress is by managing the stressors that are within your control. For example, you could walk away from toxic relationships or leave a stressful job. You can also practice accepting or coping with the stressors that are out of your control, with actions like meditating or drinking less caffeine and alcohol. Depression can make it much more difficult to control or cope with stressors, but seeking out counseling or therapy or taking medication can allow you to better confront stressors and deal with them in a positive, constructive way.

Stress comes in many forms and produces many symptoms. Mental symptoms range from worry and irritability to restlessness and insomnia, anger and hostility, or sensations of dread or panic. Mental stress can also produce physical symptoms. Muscles are tense, resulting in fidgetiness, taut facial expressions, headaches, or neck and back pain. The mouth is dry, producing unquenchable thirst or perhaps the sensation of a lump in the throat that makes swallowing difficult. Clenched jaw muscles can produce jaw pain and headaches. The skin can be pale, sweaty, and clammy. Intestinal symptoms range from “butterflies” to heartburn, cramps, or diarrhea. Frequent urination may be a bother. A pounding pulse is common, as is chest tightness. Rapid breathing is also typical, and may be accompanied by sighing or repetitive coughing. In extreme cases, hyperventilation can lead to tingling of the face and fingers, muscle cramps, lightheadedness, and even fainting. The physical symptoms of stress are themselves distressing. In fact, the body’s response to stress can feel so bad that it produces additional mental stress. During the stress response, then, mind and body can amplify each other’s distress signals, creating a vicious cycle of tension and anxiety. Because the root cause of stress is emotional, it is best controlled by gaining insight, reducing life problems that trigger stress, and modifying behavior. In addition to having a direct effect on your stress levels, regular exercise also promotes optimum health in other ways. Improvements to your overall health may help indirectly moderate your stress levels. By improving your physical wellness and heart health, you’ll have less to feel stressed about.

Many forms of exercise reduce stress directly, and by preventing bodily illness, exercise has extra benefits for the mind. Regular physical activity will lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, and reduce your blood sugar. Exercise cuts the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, colon and breast cancers, osteoporosis and fractures, obesity, depression, and even dementia (memory loss). Exercise slows the aging process, increases energy, and prolongs life. Except during illness, you should exercise nearly every day. That doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym or training for a marathon. It does, however, mean 30 to 40 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking or 15 to 20 minutes of vigorous exercise. Aim to walk at least two miles a day, or do the equivalent amount of another activity. You can do it all at once or in 10- to 15-minute chunks if that fits your schedule better. Add a little strength training and stretching two to three times a week, and you’ll have an excellent, balanced program for health and stress reduction. It’s important to start out slow & not cause extra stress to your body by overtraining. If you need guidance, hire a trainer to help get you on the path to stress-free, healthy living!

by Gina Stallone

The Importance of Equipment Safety

Read this great article by our CEO, Charles DeFrancesco on the importance of equipment safety: https://www.cphins.com/the-importance-of-equipment-safety/

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

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

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

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.

The Importance of Activity for Children with Special Needs

The Importance of Activity for Children with Special Needs

Over the last 10 years, the population of children with special needs has increased over 165%.  According to Autism Speaks, the diagnosis of autism affects 1 in 45 children. As this segment of our population continues to grow,our society needs to have a better understanding of autism and other disabilities. It is important that we offer programs and treatment for both children and adults with disabilities. While many early intervention and cognitive programs have become available, there is still a lapse in the accessibility of fitness programs. In fact, there are very few exercise programs or physical fitness centers available to accommodate these children.

Parents and schools are earnestly focused on academics and social interaction in the classroom. Physical fitness is the last thing anyone worries about, and in most cases kids with special needs are allowed to skip gym class. The classroom is an integral part of development, while physical fitness is often overlooked, meanwhile it is actually one of the most crucial components for these kids’ development. This is because academics and social interaction can be integrated into physical activities, and the combination has the potential to cause greater results than any of these methods alone.

Science shows that physical activity stimulates the nervous system and forces the body to work as a unit rather than in parts. Improving nerve function is beneficial for anyone with a disability. Exercise creates and improves motor pathways and proprioception, stimulates serotonin production, helps regulate the energy systems, builds a mind body connection, strengthens the immune system, helps control weight, and builds muscle. Additionally, the nervous system and the immune system are more closely connected than people realize. For example, stress causes the body to go into a state of fight or flight. This can disrupt hormone levels, especially cortisol, which can lead to a weakened immune system. Therefore, exercise is good for neuromuscular health and for immune function, so it makes sense to increase physical activity.

Special needs children are 58%more likely to be obese and to have below average muscle mass since physical activity is usually pushed aside. Physical, emotional, and behavioral issues can be addressed in a workout session demonstrating that education can be achieved through physical activity in a social setting. In fact, it is quite simple to make fitness both fun and educational.

Fitness programs will vary depending on both the child’s ability to participate and his/her physical and cognitive limitations.  For example, if a child does not have physical issues and is high functioning, he/she can participate in a circuit that includes a mini obstacle course with ring jumps, an inertia wave, and balance walks, this can be followed with a simple math or English question before moving on to the next obstacle.  For a child with more physical challenges, you can make an easier obstacle course that includes tossing a light medicine ball back and forth while counting out loud how many times he/she throws it, thereby incorporating social, mathematical and physical activities into the workout. For children with even more limited physical constraints, the activity can be adjusted to fit their abilities. For instance, a child in a wheelchair with limited limb movement would need assistance moving his/her limbs in order toimprove upon the movements he/she already has.Further, if the child is non-verbal, he/she can engage with number puzzles and use a peg board to count the amount of exercises performed.

While it may be intimidating, personal trainers should not be fearful since training special needs children is just like training anyone else. As with any client, a trainer should evaluate the child’s current state of fitness and address weaknesses. Therefore, if balance is poor and core muscles are weak, exercises should be assigned to make improvements. Just because some kids cannot  perform higher intensity exercises does not mean they cannot benefit from simpler tasks, such as standing on one foot while holding a rail.

Physical activity is crucial for children to function in everyday life. Walking, bending, sitting, standing, balancing, and carrying are all activities needed for daily living. Exercising and training builds strength and confidence in children. Additionally, physical activity can be a social outlet through playing on the playground or during group activities and gym classes. The socialization from playground interaction and a gym class far exceeds the benefits compared to classroom socialization.By nature, children like physical activity, and they will request it when they are exposed to it as part of their routine. Special needs children have the same nature, and they are physically capable of activity. However, many of them have a great deal of anxiety and therefore may not participate for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, noise, lighting, touching and fear of groups. Non verbal children are more likely to experience excess stress.  Exercise is a great way to burn off excess nervous energy which can improve calm attention in non verbal children.

Activity should be introduced slowly and carefully and take into account both the child’s physical and emotional requirements. A small task such as rolling a ball back and forth will get a child moving while interacting with another person. Furthermore, playing catch and rolling a ball are both equivalent to a conversation, andit is a great way to introduce your child to social play, especially for non-verbal children. All these small interactions add up to create change and to improve the quality of life for any child. By combining purpose-based exercise and education into group and one on one sessions, you will see vast improvements in other areas.

Fitness and nutrition are intertwined to improve both function and health. Nutrition is a key factor in maintaining a healthy nervous and immune system, since 80% of the immune system is housed in the gut. With Autism, it is important to rule out intestinal dysbiosis, check for environmental toxicities, investigate impaired detoxification, and look for heavy metal toxicity. Additionally, check for high levels of inflammation, evaluate mitochondrial dysfunction, assess food sensitivities including gluten, monitor oxidative stress, and look for nutrient deficiencies in zinc, magnesium, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega-3 fats. These issues can cause inflammation and cause leaky gut syndrome, which may disrupt digestion, nutrient absorption, pH of the blood, the lymphatic system, and the nervous system. When toxins and large food particles enter the blood stream, they can cross the blood brain barrier and cause both behavioral and cognitive issues. Changes in diet and supplements are good tools to help combat these nutritional concerns and enhance the benefits of exercise. Poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies can contribute to behavior issues and diminish the body’s ability to regulate energy.

Author: Charles DeFrancesco CPT

Collaborator: Denise Groothuis MS RD CFMP Pn1 CPT

 

 

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