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

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 Stress Affects Your Immune System

Stress is a normal part of life. It’s a natural condition our bodies are designed to deal with quite effectively.  But people are often not aware of the negative consequences of modern day chronic stress on their health until it’s too late. Some people are able to cope with stress better than others. Some take practical steps to reduce their stress each day to diminish the wear and tear on their bodies and minds.

Most of us, though, are not aware of just how much stress is harming our health. It is not until we are diagnosed with a serious illness such as heart disease that we’re told we need to make drastic changes to our lifestyle and reduce stress if we wish to live longer.

So what exactly is stress? Stress is the body and mind’s response to any unusual event or situation which challenges us or that we perceieve is a threat or some kind. Stress provides the body with a burst of energy, outting us into the “fight or flight” response so we can react to the perceived threat.

People either run away from the thing that stresses them (flight), or they turn and try to deal with it (fight). Some strategies are more effective than others depending on the situation. The system is designed to be temprary, though. Once we rid ourself of the threat or danger, we should then return to a normal relaxed state of physiolgy. In the modern world, this stressed state is unfortunately not temporary for most people which leads to problems.

Our life is stressful from the moment we are born. There is the stress of birth, of feeling hunger, or needing our diaper changed. At school, there is the stress of performing well on exams, in presentations in front of the class, the school play, or on the school sports team. In our university years, there are the stresses of needing to maintain a good enough GPA to stay in school, or perhaps even get a scholarship or acceptance to grad school. Then there are social stresses, dating, relationships, friendships, peer pressure, and more.

As adults outside of school, there is the stress of whether or not we will find a job. If we don’t, there is the stress of trying to make ends meet. Even if we do get a job, we must keep it, let alone try to get a raise, promotion, and so on. Even happy occasions such as a new job, business, wedding, baby or home can trigger major stress responses in the body.

Most of us work very hard ‘burning the candle at both ends’ in order to try to keep up with all the demands on our time every day. This can lead to a lack of sleep and “downtime” for relaxation to help recharge the body and mind. The lack of rest and downtime can in turn lead to a weakened immune system. Sleep is when the body heals and repairs itself.

A lack of sleep has been shown to have the same effects on the immune system as stress. Stress in turn can interfere with one’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This in turn can create a vicious cycle of even more stress through sleep deprivation, which can leave your immune system vulnerable and open to attack.

If you’re a workaholic, not getting enough sleep, and not taking time out for relaxation, it’s time to get your stress under control. Above all, you must avoid burning out. This is a serious situation that damages your immune system and leads to excessive inflammation which has been linked to many conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

There are many ways to reduce stress effectively –  yoga, meditation, tai chi, a relaxing bath, a good night’s sleep, doing something fun that you enjoy, spending quality time with friends and family. If you have been overworking, it’s time to make some new appointments on your calendar for you. Add exercise and a good sleep habit to your daily routine to better support your immune system.

by  Dr Robert Inesta DC L.Ac CFMP CCSP

Choosing Your Workout

Working out is not always fun. You are not always motivated to go outside or go to the gym. So what can you do to motivate yourself??

Do you brush your teeth every day? Do you enjoy it or look forward to it? Perhaps after eating garlic knots or drinking some nasty green drink, you may want to brush your teeth but few people look forward to cleaning their teeth. You brush your teeth every day (hopefully) because it is part of your routine. You don’t think about it, you just do it every morning after you shower and before you go to bed because that is what you do. This strategy needs to be the same with working out. It is as simple as making part of your daily routine.

I go to the gym every morning, except my surgery day, before work. Many days I don’t really feel like going, but I just end up going because it is what I do. I almost always feel better afterwards. I have more energy after and feel better about myself. Some workouts are better than others, but even my worst workouts make me feel better than if I did not work out at all.

In choosing your workout, do what you enjoy. If you hate running you will never want to do it. If you love the elliptical or swimming, that is what you need to do. It is important to vary your workout so you don’t get bored and so you shock your body to challenge different muscles and make more gains, but don’t do things you don’t like.

It is important to do cardio workouts as well as resistance training with weights. I find the gains I make from weight training motivate me more since you can see the results in the mirror and feel it in your strength. The cardio is extremely important to give you energy and help you live longer and healthier. Weight lifting prevents weakness in the bones especially in people predisposed to osteoporosis. Your bone strength peaks at around 30 years old and after that you lose bone. Resistance training will help prevent bone loss and prevent fractures as we get older. I have seen too many old people with spine and hip fractures because they let their bones get weak. You don’t want this to happen to you.

We all need workout at least 5 days a week. Find what you like to do and make it part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth. I promise you will feel better afterwards and the gains you make will be noticed not just by you but by others as well.

 

by

Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA

Director Orthopedic Surgery Westchester Sport & Spine at White Plains Hospital

Enhancing Peak Performance from the Inside Out

Trust, confidence, and being in the present moment express the sensation that we experience when we are 100% focused on a task without entertaining mechanical or distracting thoughts in our minds. When we are totally focused, we achieve our goals, become productive, and feel proud for having moved forward. If being totally focused is so positive, what prevents us from being in that positive mindset for longer time?

It appears that, for some people, staying focused seems to come more naturally while for others it requires a greater amount of conscientious effort. Even for those fortunate individuals, their genetic “focused” gene pool barely counts enough to completely do away from acquiring new experiences and conscientiously putting effort to promote being in the present moment.  By far, experiences and effort much more so than genes are the primary learned source of knowledge that lead to achieve a greater level of emotional regulation in stressful experiences, which in turn, promote focus and enhances results.

The neuroscience behind focusing

Two individuals having a pleasant social interaction not only leads to fun and laughter, but also, unbeknown to them, promotes self-regulation of emotions at a non-verbal language. While having a good time, their respective nervous systems are simultaneously “talking” with one another synchronizing emotions. The nervous system from person A is reading the smiley face from person B, which causes a calmer demeanor and, in turn, responds with another smile. The nervous system from person B reads A’s positive verbal and non-verbal cues, which promotes being in the present moment. The human ability to expand on the capacity to be in the present moment is experience dependent, not genetic dependent. Hence, the quality in the human interaction between athlete and coach has a powerful effect on the ability to enhance peak performance.

The learning pyramid

Picking up a game requires a skill development process. How to properly hold a racquet, hit drive shots, lobs, and serves need technical instructions. Eventually, those skills become a second thought and the athlete moves to the second phase of needing to learn the strategies of the game. Reading the breaks of a golf green increases the chances of making putts. Learning how to talk with a soccer teammate helps to create passing opportunities to score. The third phase is physical development. Athletes require physical stamina, flexibility, and strength to sustain the demands of each sport. However, when the pressure is on, it is the mind that will take over and become pivotal in helping athletes to remain focused and achieve the best possible results. At that moment, the pyramid flips upside down and, unless athletes either learned or were taught to regulate emotions, it means they are less likely to use mental skills to promote a focused state of mind which was not practiced. Based on research, the main factor leading to peak performance in Olympic athletes is the coach-athlete relationship over optimal training environment. When looking at coaches’ behavioral traits that promote peak performance, a 2005 survey found looking at the athlete as a whole person rather than primarily focusing on strategies and skills made the significant difference.

The inside out of peak performance

Achieving peak performance requires teaching athletes how to trust in themselves. When the pressure is on, athletes pay less attention on their skills and more on their emotional regulation. Coaches can promote trust by positively supporting the learning process. When a mistake is made, coaches need to provide a corrective instruction in a positive and encouraging demeanor. Even when the athlete knows the drill and still makes a mistake, motivating rather than using a punishing tone of voice promotes focus rather than fear of making the same mistake again. When making positive progress, applaud the effort more so than the innate talent. Also, coaches should not take progress for granted. They need to keep encouraging and reinforcing mental focus. Help athletes to express the skill they are using that enhances focus as it will be easier to recall their own words rather than the coach’s. Maybe it is a positive cue that crosses their mind or maintaining awareness to a relaxed breathing is what is helping them to remain focused. Whatever works better for them, the easier will it be remembered and used when it really counts.

The more they “own” their sense of being able to regulate their emotions, the more likely they will tap on such an internal source of knowledge. Once the athlete takes ownership of their own ability to promote mental focus, the higher the likelihood that they will achieve their best results. When the game in on the line and the athlete feels most pressure, it matters most the athlete’s inner knowledge and language than the coaches’. Having a sense of confidence and trust come from within. Once it is learned, it is stored in the athletes’ implicit memory for life.

 

Alex Diaz, PhD

Sports Mental Edge

Fitness Isn’t a Seasonal Hobby. Fitness is a Lifestyle.

Summer is here! Time to break out the bathing suits, suntan lotion, and to start planning that trip of a lifetime! Let’s face it – we’ve all been guilty of considering a vacation our “reward” after dedicating ourselves to eating healthy and working out. It’s perfectly fine to indulge a little and let yourself truly enjoy your vacation. However, you can make tons of memories without destroying all of your hard work!

For starters, you can keep up with your workouts. A great way to get exercise while on vacation is to run or walk by the beach. Get up a little early and hit the boardwalk before the heat kicks in! You can even add some strength training to the mix. Be creative and just soak in the moment – after all, it’s not every day that you can run next to or on a beach. Another great idea – hiking. Find a trail or mountain near where you’re staying and spend your morning exploring. You can even include your friends &/or family in on the fun! Lastly, you can work out in the hotel. Even if the hotel you’re staying at doesn’t have a gym on-site, you can get creative and do a short workout in your room. A short workout is better than none at all!

One of the hardest parts of a vacation is avoiding all of the delicious food and drinks available to you. Often people use a vacation as an excuse to just eat everything in sight. You’ve spent months getting ready for this vacation – so why throw it all away now? You can still eat reasonably healthy while enjoying a few treats from time to time. Pick and choose! For instance, if you want that Belgian waffle for breakfast, make sure to have a salad for lunch and a sensible dinner. If you want to enjoy a few frozen cocktails by the pool, just make smart choices elsewhere throughout your day. If you decide to go to a buffet, load your plate with salad, protein, and vegetables so that you only have a small amount of the more decadent things.

Whether you’re hitting the Vegas strip, heading to the Caribbean on a cruise, or just heading to your nearest shore point, you can still be healthy while making memories that will last a lifetime. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself and to not spend every waking second agonizing over a few extra calories or a few less workouts. Don’t stress; just do your best to be as healthy as possible while having the time of your life.

by Gina Stallone

What is ART (Active Release Technique)?

ART, which stands for “Active Release Technique” is a type of soft tissue massage that was created and patented by P. Michael Leahy. It treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and fascia. It focuses on relieving nerve trigger points and tight muscles. By manipulating the soft tissue, less stress will be placed on the joints and nerves, which can help relieve a wide range of chronic pains and injuries.

The goal of ART is to restore the mobility to the muscles so they can move easier around nerves. It also stimulates the lymphatic system and lowers inflammation by moving joint fluid around the body. Many times, overused muscles can develop scar tissue, tears, pulls, strains and inflammation.  Specifically, when a muscle is overused, the tissue can transform by either not getting enough oxygen, accumulating small micro-tears, or through an acute condition, such as a pull or tear. All of these can cause the production of scar tissue, which binds the tissue and prohibits it from moving freely. As a result, the muscle is weaker and shorter, which may entrap nerves or cause tendonitis. This results in pain and reduced range of motion. Some possible symptoms of scar tissue in the body are neck stiffness, stiffness in the elbow, hands, knees or back, increased pain when exercising, loss of muscle strength, inflamed or painful joints, reduced flexibility, and signs of nerve damage, such as tingling or numbness.

During an ART session, the therapist will use tension combined with patient movements to treat the affected areas. There are over 500 treatment protocols used to correct the issues of the individual clients. The protocols use precise, targeted movements, and each treatment is individualized for the patient. ART works to actively release and break up the scar tissue to restore range of motion, increase flexibility, improve performance, and prevent running injuries. Some of the conditions that can be alleviated by ART are lower back pain, tension headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, frozen shoulder, bursitis, and sciatica. ART is different from a massage because a massage may decrease pain by utilizing pressure points, but it won’t break up the scar tissue in your body.

ART is an aggressive therapy, and it may feel painful during the treatment. The amount of sessions needed will vary by condition and range in the frequency needed. Make sure that the practitioner is a certified ART provider, and they can be found on the ART website.

 

by Denise Groothuis

Four Common Chiropractic Myths Busted

Myth 1: Chiropractic Care is Dangerous

Myths BustedA study from Johns Hopkins showed that there are over 250,000 deaths a year from medical errors, with numbers even estimated to be much higher. So over a quarter million deaths alone are from medical errors. This is actually the THIRD leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer. Scary.

The numbers of adverse effects as a result of chiropractic treatments is nearly non-existent compared to the above statistic.

The greatest indicator, though, of the safety of chiropractic care malpractice insurance premiums. No one that knows risks better then malpractice insurance companies – it’s their business. They are the front lines, seeing the claims first hand and they are the ones paying out on the claims. So they certainly do their homework when it comes to the risks involved with these procedures.

The malpractice insurance premium for a primary care physician or general practitioner medical doctor starts at around $10,000 per year and that is on the lower end. Malpractice insurance for a chiropractor is around $2000 a year and that is on the high end. This alone is clearly a huge difference.

Of course medical malpractice only goes up from there as you get in to specialties and surgeries, even into the hundreds of thousands per year in premiums! So if you do the math, where is the risk?

If chiropractic were dangerous our malpractice insurance premium would be much higher. The rates are astronomical for medical malpractice insurance whereas compared to chiropractic. So according to a malpractice insurance company who knows risk better than anyone, it’s a lot more dangerous to go to a medical doctor then it is to go to a chiropractor.

There are risks with any treatment or procedure. And in some cases, chiropractic care, or specific treatment options within chiropractic, would not be appropriate, also known as contraindicated. Proper evaluation of a patient by a chiropractor will determine what treatment is appropriate, if any, or if the patient should be referred to another practitioner.

When practicing in accordance with clinical guidelines, there is no comparison between the risks of medical interventions (drugs and surgery) and chiropractic care.

Myth 2: Chiropractic Care is Addictive

This is a common concern and a common question I’m asked. People often think that if they go to a chiropractor once they will need to go back for the rest of their lives because they will become addicted.  This usually pertains to the the spinal adjustment, which is what most people think of when thinking of chiropractic. This is false.

You will not become physically addicted to chiropractic treatments or adjustments.

You are far more likely to be addicted to medical/pharmaceutical interventions that can actually kill you than to chiropractic. Tens of thousands of people are dying every year from actual medical addictions.  There is no comparison. So even if chiropractic was addictive (and it’s not), we know it’s safe and is good for you!

Now let’s examine some factors that may cause people to think that they may become addicted to chiropractic. The world we live in is extremely unhealthy and there are a lot of things working against us. People have terrible posture, are sitting for hours over computers, staring down at smart phones and not moving as much as they should.  Diets are poor, stress is high and exposure to toxins is unprecedented. So we are developing health problems as a result including tension, restrictions and musculoskeletal problems.

Most chiropractic treatments are based on restoring movement to joints and soft tissues that not moving properly. This allows better communication in the nervous system and fascia, and also improves circulation.  So think about this – would feel good if you’ve been “unstuck” after being “stuck” for a while? If your body has been restricted, stiff or in pain, and now you can move better and your pain is gone, would it feel good? Of course! And naturally you would want more. Restoring health feels good. It doesn’t mean you’re addicted to chiropractic.

In a perfect world, humans would be moving correctly, have perfect posture, eating correctly, have normal stress loads and are not burdened with toxic chemicals. The body would not have as much working against it. It could more easily maintain good health and there would probably be less need for chiropractic treatments.

The main responsibility as a health professional should be to educate patients on how to be healthy so they won’t need us as often. How can you minimize the negative forces of the modern world working against you, how can you eat better, sleep better, think better, move better and allow you body to better repair itself?

So no, chiropractic care is not addictive but you might want more because your body will feel better after experiencing it. Better movement and function is always something to look forward to and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Myth 3: There is No Evidence that Chiropractic Care Works

Did you know that it is estimated by researchers that less than 20% of what physicians do have solid evidence to support it? Think about that for a moment. Less than 20% has solid evidence to support it! That is a small number when we think of “evidence based care.” If less than 20% of procedures have solid evidence behind them, can we truly call it evidence based care?

If someone tells you chiropractic has no evidence to support it, ask what are they actually comparing it to? A different system that does not have significant evidence to support it and furthermore kills a quarter of a million people per year just from errors alone?

There is plenty of scientific research in major peer-reviewed medical journals that demonstrates that chiropractic has positive effects on health and physiology. Spinal adjustments alone have been shown to be effective as a treatment for lower back pain, neck pain and headaches compared to other treatment options. Spinal manipulation has been included in the FDA guidelines for the treatment of pain before the use of opioids.

There is evidence that shows spinal manipulation has neurophysiological effects in the central (brain and spinal cord), peripheral (nerves in arms and legs, and autonomic (organ function and stress response) sections of the nervous system. It has been shown to affect muscle activation and even associated with strength increase in athletes. And this is only the spinal adjustment.

While most chiropractors focus on spinal adjustments, there are many different styles and techniques of chiropractic care. Some of these other specialties include soft tissue therapy, functional rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation and nutrition. Stecco Fascial Manipulation, for example, is a soft tissue technique practiced by some chiropractors and has the most scientific research supporting it of any soft tissue technique.

I’ve heard people say that their medical doctor told them not to see a chiropractor because there is no evidence to support it or because it was dangerous. Anyone who says this is giving you bad information and is clearly not current with the research. I personally would not want to go to a practitioner who was ignorant of the current literature and closed minded to safe, effective options.

Myth 4: Chiropractic Care is Only for Back Pain

Neuromusculoskeletal issues such as shoulder problems, ankle injuries, tennis elbow, knee pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, jaw pain can be helped by chiropractic. Even ear infections and sinus conditions can benefit from chiropractic care. Some chiropractors specialize in pediatric care while others focus on sports injuries and athletic performance optimization.

Most chiropractors do focus on the spine but there are many other styles of practice. Some focus on extremities, some focus on the soft tissues such as muscles and fascia, some focus on neurological function, others focus on nutrition. Even though you don’t have back pain, chiropractic can play a significant role in keeping you healthy.

Think of the body as a functional unit – everything is connected and works together. Everything affects everything else, and if we’re not looking at the body as a whole then we are certainly missing out on a big part of the puzzle. A good chiropractor will see body in this way, look for the imbalances and treat accordingly.

Other popular techniques used by chiropractors use you may not have heard of are soft tissue therapies such as Stecco Facial Manipulation, Active Release Techniques (A.R.T.) and Graston Technique, Applied Kinesiology, functional rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation, and functional medicine.

Final Thoughts

I hope this helped to shed light the fact that these common myths about chiropractors are in fact myths and are false.

Keep in mind that some of the reasons for these myths have been perpetuated by the chiropractic profession itself. There are unethical chiropractors as there are, unfortunately, unethical practitioners in every field. There are practices that have given the profession a bad name. There are practitioners who do not examine their patients properly and use a one-size-fits-all for everybody, which clearly is not an effective approach and can lead to problems. There are people who have had negative experiences with a chiropractor and have had a bad taste left behind.

But there are many people, if not more, that have had negative experiences with mainstream medical practitioners. But because it’s mainstream, the whole profession doesn’t get a bad name. It’s simply thought of as a negative experience with that particular doctor, and they’ll move on and find another doctor.

Mainstream media seems to emphasize negative chiropractic experiences because it is against the grain. If one person has an adverse reaction to a chiropractic treatment it will get mainstream press that will create much fear and doubt. But again, the well over 250,000 people who die every year from medical mistakes typically will not get mainstream press.

Of course there is a time and a place for the mainstream medical model. Modern medicine saves lives in many cases and we are fortunate to have it. This is not an anti-medicine article by any means. But given the risks involved and the availability of natural, safe and effective options such as chiropractic, there needs to be more awareness and a change in perception. Why not go from least invasive/least risk to more invasive/more risk when considering treatments?

When choosing a chiropractor here are some things to consider:

  • Do they properly examine their patients?
  • Do they explain treatment options and develop a plan based on your needs and goals?
  • Do they educate their patients?
  • Are they trying to minimize dependency on care and empowering patients to stay healthy on their own?
  • What techniques do they use?

Chiropractic is an amazing profession that can truly help you feeling better. You can avoid harmful medications and risky procedures that down the road can cause more problems.

If one style of chiropractic does not work for you consider trying something different, as again, there are many different approaches. But you can be confident that chiropractic care is safe, non-addictive, supported by evidence and effective in helping with many different health conditions!

Dr. Robert Inesta DC, L.Ac, CFMP, CCSP