Health Benefits of Pumpkin

As we come into the fall, there’s always a lot of attention on the pumpkin products.  The pumpkin spice latte is back as well as the pumpkin beers, doughnuts, and pies.  While these may be fun products to consume, pumpkin itself is actually rich in healthy nutrients.  Pumpkin packs a healthy dose of antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and is even a good source of plant based protein.  Does this mean you should being drinking a lot more pumpkin flavored lattes? Nope!  Unfortunately, pumpkin flavor (in most cases it’s artificial anyway) is typically mixed with large amounts of sugar, which will negate all the benefits you may get from it.  Look for interesting pumpkin recipes, such as roasting the meat of the pumpkin or the seeds.  Roasting will help keep the nutrients in the food, rather than running out. 

Check out the article below, which talk more about the health benefits of pumpkin!

Have you ever heard of “Tech Neck”

There was a lot of news attention this summer with the reports of people growing “horns” on the back of their head as a result of too much texting.  It’s not surprising that the news reports were sensationalized, but you can’t ignore the fact that the time spent on screens is leading to more and more chronic neck pain.  It’s been called “text neck” or “tech neck”, but whatever you want to call it, it has become very problematic. 

The article below suggests that high schools are spending roughly 5,000 hours each year in this position!  Everyone should make efforts to get off their phone in order to prevent neck pain, headaches, and the development of arthritis.

“Backpacks” and How to prevent injuries associated with them

It’s the beginning of the school year again and I thought it would be helpful to provide some information about backpacks and how to prevent injuries associated with them.  As a general rule, backpacks with their contents should not weight more than 10% of the body weight of the individual wearing them.  That sounds like a nearly impossible goal, based on the amount books that children have to carry around while at school.  Planning exactly what is needed in the bag and utilizing lockers at school can help to reduce the amount being carried at any one time.  If you don’t need the materials for the next class, try to drop them off at your locker and go back for them later.
If reducing weight is not a possibility, you should at least be wearing the backpack properly, using both straps.  The strap should be adjusted so the backpack isn’t sagging, which will keep the bag closer to your center of gravity.  These techniques can help reduce problems associated with carrying the excess weight, but certainly will not eliminate injuries from potentially occurring.  Here is a link discussing the side effects of carrying a heavy backpack:

Are You Unknowingly a Victim of Unnecessary “Adrenal Fatigue”?

Have you ever heard of adrenal fatigue?  Chronic stress is a big problem and can ultimately wear out your adrenal glands.  Your adrenals are responsible for producing epinephrine, the hormone which gives you your fight or flight response.  If your adrenals hit their max, you will likely experience chronic fatigue during the day, insomnia late at night, and cravings for sugary food.  Proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and stress management are all key steps to take to combat this.  It takes some time, but stick to it and you should progressively feel increased energy over time. 

Check out the article below for more information.
Rob Liguori, DC

Back Pain: The Nine Most Common Sources of It and Natural Steps to Remedy It

Back pain is extremely common, with four out of five adults facing it at least once during their lives, according to the Mayo Clinic. And a nationwide phone survey of over 1,200 Americans, sponsored by Stanford University Medical Center, ABC News and USA Today, found that back pain was the most common type of pain reported (followed by knee and shoulder pain, joint pain and headaches). Because your back is part of your body’s core muscles, and is necessary for nearly every movement you make, it’s also very vulnerable to injury. In fact, most back pain is caused by overusing, straining or injuring the muscles, ligaments and disks that support your spine. Back pain, therefore, commonly results from:

1. Poor posture

2. Sitting at a desk all day

3. Lifting something heavy improperly

4. A sudden, awkward movement (such as from sneezing)

5. Sleeping on an uncomfortable, or unsupportive, mattress, or in an awkward position

6. Carrying around a heavy handbag or backpack

7. Being overweight Relieving Back Pain Naturally Surveys have found that more than half of Americans are suffering from physical pain that leads to stress and irritability, and has a negative impact on their personal relationships, work productivity and daily routine.

Fortunately, there are many natural tools within your reach that can help you relieve back pain and support a healthy spine.

1. Use Proper Posture. This includes while standing or sitting. How do you know if your posture is proper? Stand with your back to a wall. If your shoulders, bottom and back of head are all touching the wall, then your posture is correct.

2. Get a New, Medium-firm Mattress. An old, lumpy or overly soft mattress could be causing you unnecessary pain. Studies show that a medium-firm mattress is best if you have back pain.

3. Lose Weight. If you’re overweight, you’re straining your back muscles with every move you make.

4. Exercise Regularly. Low-impact exercises such as aerobics, yoga, swimming and walking will increase the strength in your back and help your muscles to function better. Further, according to the Mayo Clinic, exercise also helps relieve pain by prompting your body to release chemicals called endorphins that actually block pain signals from reaching your brain. “Endorphins are the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals that in many cases are more powerful than morphine,” says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. 7/30/2019 Back Pain: The Nine Most Common Sources of It and Natural Steps to Remedy It

5. Be Careful when Lifting. If you’re lifting something heavy, let your legs, not your back, do most of the work.

6. Stretch Regularly. Stretching helps to reduce tension in your muscles, improve flexibility and range of motion, and may slow the degeneration of your joints. The act of stretching alone will also improve your blood circulation and help you to relax — a key to pain relief.

7. Get a Massage. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) says massage therapy helps patients become more aware of their bodies and the sources of pain. It also better familiarizes patients with the pain they experience, and improves confidence by encouraging patients to effectively cope with their pain.

8. Make a Chiropractic Appointment… Chronic Pain May Not Be Coming From Where You Think? As Dr. Fabrizio Mancini stated on the TV show “The Doctors”, your pain “may not be coming from where you think it is.” In fact if you have back pain it very well might be coming from your neck… or your back and neck pain may have the same origins.

9. Reduce Inflammation in Your Body. When your body is in a chronic state of inflammation, the inflammation can lodge in your muscles, joints and tissues. Over time, this can lead to physical pain, as well as a number of diseases including heart disease. Emotions (too much stress), diet and lifestyle all contribute to inflammation. One of the safest, low-risk things you can do to lower your risk of inflammation is to modify your lifestyle and dietary choices. This means eating a variety of anti-inflammatory foods (fruits and vegetables), limiting or avoiding all together the pro-inflammatory foods (highly processed foods, high-sugar foods, trans fats, etc.), exercising and quitting smoking (if you do).

What Happens to Your Body When You Give Up All Sugar?

From Men’s Health

There’s a lot of debate regarding the tenets of a healthy diet. Vegans believe forgoing animal products is best, while keto enthusiasts just want to eat all the fat. But there’s one food people of nearly every dietary preference aim to avoid: sugar.

Giving up the sweet stuff is challenging since it’s found in unsuspecting places, like veggie burgers, tomato sauce, and crackers. But if you do nix added sugars from your diet, your body will benefit almost immediately, according to Dr. Eric Pham, M.D. at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, California.

Within a week you can expect lower blood pressure as well as healthier levels of fat and insulin levels in the bloodstream, he says.

Of course, how your body reacts to the absence of sugar depends on how much of the white stuff you eat in the first place–and whether you’re eating carbs. Your body breaks down complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal and fruit, into simple sugars to use as energy.

But what if you cut out all high glycemic foods, as keto enthusiasts and no-carb, no sugar dieters attempt?

Dessert aficionados, beware: “You’re going to have a tough three days,” says Dr. Brian Quebbemann, M.D., a bariatric surgeon based in California.

First, you’ll probably day dream about donuts, if you’re the type of person who regularly grabs a muffin in the morning and ends dinner with dessert. He explains this occurs because you don’t have sugar to help stimulate your brain.

You may feel, well, rough, but there’s a lot of good stuff going on inside your body.

Insulin, a hormone that regulates glucose, drops to become more stable. You won’t go through the cycle of sugar highs and crashes, Quebbemann explains. Initially, you’ll feel tired and lethargic, but that will pass within a few days. Adrenaline will increase and help break down glycogen, or sugar, stored in your body. This will be released into your bloodstream pretty quickly, says Quebbemann.

“You’ll go through that in less than 24 hours,” he says.

Within three to five days, your liver will make ketones from fat since there’s no more glucose, your body’s main source of energy. That’s when your body enters ketosis, aka fat burning mode.

Photo credit: Shutterstuck
Photo credit: Shutterstuck

As a result, you could experience muscle cramps since you’re losing a lot of water when you’re in ketosis after cutting out sugar. Some people experience keto flu, associated with headaches, fatigue and cramps, which lasts about a week.

But once that passes, you’ll feel more energetic, focused, and calm, says Quebbemann.

It’s common for people to cut out sugar and high-glycemic foods to lose weight for short periods of time. However, doctors still aren’t sure whether this is healthy long-term, explains Quebbemann.

That’s why many doctors recommend eating healthy complex carbohydrates. Although they are broken down into sugar, this is an entirely normal and healthy process, says Quebbemann.

In fact, omitting added sugars while eating complex carbs keeps your insulin levels healthy.

“You don’t get the headaches. You don’t get the crashes. You get a consistent level of energy,” he says.

Not eating enough fruits and veggies kills millions of people every year

The preliminary results of a major new study show that about 1 in 7 cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough fruit and 1 in 12 cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough vegetables.

Your mom was probably right: you should eat more fruits and veggies — you and millions of other people. Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, serving as an excellent source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants — all of which have been shown to improve health. They’re also associated with a lower incidence of obesity and diabetes, which also carry multiple health risks.

A new study finds that insufficient intake of fruits and veggies is responsible for around 23% of all cardiovascular (CVD) fatalities. Low fruit intake was associated with nearly 1.8 million cardiovascular deaths in 2010, while low vegetable intake was associated with 1 million deaths, according to researchers. In terms of both fatalities and intake, the toll of insufficient fruit consumption was double than that of vegetables.

“Fruits and vegetables are a modifiable component of diet that can impact preventable deaths globally,” said lead study author Victoria Miller, a postdoctoral researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world.”

Nutrition is extremely complex and often times, studies can sometimes seem contradictory, but the science has been remarkably consistent when it comes to fruits and vegetables: they’re good for you. Replacing them with processed foods, or things like meatand dairy, often has substantial and long-lasting negative effects. The study authors call for increased availability and promotion of fruits and vegetables, so that people can be encouraged to incorporate more of them into their diet.

“Global nutrition priorities have traditionally focused on providing sufficient calories, vitamin supplementation and reducing additives like salt and sugar,” said senior study author Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “These findings indicate a need to expand the focus to increasing availability and consumption of protective foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes–a positive message with tremendous potential for improving global health.”

So how much fruits and veggies should you eat?

The dietary guidelines vary slightly from country to country, but they all seem to hover around 300 grams per day for fruit consumption — the equivalent of about two apples. Meanwhile, veggie consumption should come at 400 grams per day — about three carrots (this includes all fruits and vegetables, including legumes).

Naturally, the impact of insufficient fruit and vegetable consumption was greatest where the consumption was lowest. Countries like the US, India, and several countries in Eastern Europe have a higher impact than places such as China or Western and Northern Europe.

There were also important differences based on age groups, seeming to disproportionately affect younger adults. Men were also more affected, presumably because women tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.

The findings have not been peer-reviewed and will be presented at the Nutrition 2019 conference, where they were selected by a committee of experts. This is the most comprehensive study of its kind to date.

“Inadequate fruit and vegetable intake contributes to cardiovascular diseases (CVD), and the impacts of fruits and vegetables on CVD risk worldwide has not been well established by country, age, and sex. Our objective was to derive comprehensive and accurate estimates of the burdens of CVD attributable to fruit and vegetable consumption using the largest standardized global dietary database currently available,” the study’s abstract reads.

The results paint a worrying picture, but there is also some good news: increasing consumption of fruits and veggies is, at least in theory, pretty easy. Each and every one of us can make this decision every day. Increasing consumption at a wider scale, which is what researchers are suggesting, remains much more challenging, but a thorough assessment is the first step.

Home Retirement Deaths from falls are soaring — here’s how to prevent them

Older Americans, beware: Falling can be dangerous, even deadly.

The number of deaths from falling tripled between 2000 and 2016, from about 8,600 to more than 25,000, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The rates of death from falls more than doubled, from 52 per 100,000 in 2000 to 122 per 100,000 in 2016.

The elderly are most at risk, the data show. The rate of death from falling was 42 per 100,000 for those between 75 and 79, compared with 591 per 100,000 for people 95 and older. The reasons for these stark increases were unknown, researchers said, and there may have been some overestimation or underestimation of deaths.

But falling is a danger, and it can lead to serious injuries and diseases. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the octogenarian U.S. Supreme Court Justice, was hospitalized for falling in November, as was 95-year-old entertainer Bob Barker the year before.

The consequences extend far past cuts and bruises. Falling increases the difficulty of daily living activities by 166%, heart problems jump 46% and depression increases 58%, according to the report “The Shock of Falling Among Older Americans.” Almost three million older Americans end up in emergency rooms after falling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

A fall can lead to broken bones, which take longer to heal among older patients and in some cases completely debilitate someone. Not everyone suffers the same — the risks can be more detrimental for someone overweight or frail, for example.

There are also ways to prevent falling. Strength and mobility may be just as important, if not more so, as one’s age when determining the risk of an individual, according to medical experts.

Older Americans should consider installing better lighting, grab bars by stairs or markers near any risen parts of the floor or steps in their homes. They should also focus on exercising, even simply by walking more, which will keep them mobile and potentially delay diseases, like heart disease or chronic illnesses. Some communities have programs to help older people find balance and stay active.

Also see: Top concerns for the future of aging Americans

Cognitive abilities may also thwart falling, according to another study from the University of British Columbia recently published in the Journal of American Medical Association about home exercise programs. Standing tall and remaining balanced depends on the brain calculating how far someone needs to extend or lift her foot and paying attention to everything in his surroundings.

The UBC researchers had participants — all of whom had a history of falling — perform balancing and resistance training exercises in their homes using simple equipment, such as free weights. The participants who completed the program were less likely to fall repeatedly, and improved their cognitive functions as well. “It is well known that exercise benefits older people in general, but what was special about this study group was that they are at very high risk for losing their independence,” said Teresa Liu-Ambrose, principal investigator at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and a physical therapy professor at the University of British Columbia. “Another fall may mean the inability to live in their own homes.”

‘Ultra Processed’ foods linked to higher risk of heart disease, death

The case against so-called ultra processed foods just got a lot stronger, with the release of two large studies linking the products to an increased risk of heart disease and premature death.

Ultraprocessed foods are typically ready-to-eat or to pop into a microwave — think frozen meals, canned foods, sugary cereals, reconstituted meats and packaged baked goods. They generally contain high levels of fat, added sugars, salt and various additives.

The two new studies, from France and Spain, do not prove that ultra processed foods harm health, but do add to the mounting circumstantial evidence linking the products to a host of health problems. Both studies were published Wednesday in The BMJ, a medical journal.

In the French study, the researchers tracked more than 105,100 adults for a median follow-up period of five years. During that time, the participants filled out food questionnaires 5.7 times, on average.

The study found that, after accounting for factors such as age, baseline body mass index (BMI), smoking status, alcohol consumption and physical activity, there was a 12 percent increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease for every 10 percent increase in the amount of ultraprocessed food consumed.

In the Spanish study, the researchers tracked nearly 20,000 men and women from December 1999 to February 2014, checking in on them every two years. During that time, 335 of the participants died; the most common cause of death was cancer.

The researchers found that, compared with participants whose diets contained the least amount of ultra processed food, participants whose diets contained the highest amounts had a 62 percent increased risk of premature death from any cause during the study period. This study also accounted for factors such as gender, age, physical activity, baseline BMI and smoking history.

What Makes Ultra Processed Foods Unsavory?

The two studies aren’t the first to show a link between eating ultraprocessed foods and health problems. For example, a small experimental study published this month that found that people ate an average of 500 calories more each day when eating ultraprocessed foods than when eating unprocessed foods like fresh meats, fruits and vegetables.

However, it’s unclear how exactly ultraprocessed foods do their damage.

Most likely, a lot of the problems associated with these foods are the result of an increase in calorie intake and weight gain, said Maira Bes-Rastrollo, a professor of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Navarra and the lead author of the Spanish study. But there are also “other problems related to ultra processed foods,” Bes-Rastrollo told NBC News in an email.

That’s because these foods don’t offer much by way of nutrients, and are calorie-dense. What’s more, the foods contain high amounts of added sugar, salt, unhealthy fat and additives, but are low in fiber. It’s unknown what health effects the additives, in particular, may have in the long term, Bes-Rastrollo noted.

Although the new studies show only an association, rather than proving that ultra processed foods lead to heart disease and risk of premature death, taken together with the previous experimental study, the studies build a good case.

“I think the growing body of literature focusing on ultraprocessed foods is tying lots things together,” said Dr. Rekha Kumar, an assistant professor of medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine and medical director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Kumar was not involved with the new research.

Indeed, the new studies highlight “an alarming trend,” said Dr. Erin Michos, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology and associate director of the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“We need to go back to what our ancestors ate: vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts,” Michos, who also was not involved with the new research, told NBC News. “That’s what we evolved to eat, and not stuff produced in a laboratory and designed to last on a shelf for a decade.”

The researchers from the French study — Mathilde Touvier, director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team at the University of Paris 13, and Bernard Srour, a member of that team — agreed. While ultraprocessed foods may be convenient and fast, it’s possible to substitute healthier alternatives, senior author Touvier and lead author Srour told NBC News in an email.

“It does not take very long to use frozen fish and vegetables … and a serving of whole grain pasta,” they said. “It’s delicious and only takes 10 minutes to cook.”

How to prevent dementia, according to new world health guidelines

Eat well, exercise often and don’t take some of those vitamins, the World Health Organization said in newly released guidelines on how to reduce risk of dementia.

With dementia already affecting 50 million people globally and with nearly 10 million new cases each year, the WHO issued new guidelines Tuesday in efforts to curb its rise and help health providers and lawmakers provide better care and policy around it.

“In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia. The scientific evidence gathered for these guidelines confirm what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain.”

The nearly 100-page report outlines various recommendations with varying degrees of scientific backing for people to consider.

The hidden side of dementia: Families fight over care, end-of-life decisions, finances, estates

Physical activity, not smoking or drinking too much, eating a balanced diet (the WHO named a Mediterranean-like diet specifically) and managing blood pressure and weight were all among the recommendations the global health group said might help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Taking pills for vitamins B and E, polyunsaturated fatty acids and multi-complex supplements is not recommended to reduce your risk, the WHO said.

Dementia affects people’s memory, comprehension, orientation, judgment and other cognitive functions beyond what is normal for aging. A variety of diseases or conditions, like Alzheimer’s or stroke, can cause dementia, the WHO says.

“While age is the strongest known risk factor for cognitive decline, dementia is not a natural or inevitable consequence of aging,” the report states. “Prevention of dementia is possible through a public health approach.”