Sunday, December 30, 2012

Amazing Cranberry Sauce

I've been enjoying the holidays with my family for the past month so I apologize for being so lazy with posting. My daughter Camyn has been a great help in the kitchen assisting with stirring and spicing of new and exciting dishes. Our latest creation is a twist on traditional cranberry sauce. I personally love the taste of homemade cranberry sauce but I've never been able to get past the bitter texture and taste of orange zest. So Camryn and I scoured our resources for a simple recipe to modify to our liking.

All you need is a pound of fresh cranberries, 2 peeled and cored pears cut into 1" pieces, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon or one cinnamon stick, 1/2 cup fresh on with pulp (we prefer simply orange with medium pulp), and a pan big enough to fit it all. We started by bringing the cranberries, pear chunks, sugar, and water to a boil for about 10 minutes then we added the rest of the ingredients in for an additional 5 minutes until about 2/3 of the cranberries burst. Not only did it make the house smell like freshly percolated wassail but is perfectly spiced and sweet enough to throw in a pie shell. Mmmmmm!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top 4 Causes of Shin Splints

Do you have shin splints now or have you had them in the past? Then you know all about the pain and disability they create. Runners and athletes frequently will suffer needlessly with them for months or even years before they go away and some may have to give up a sport or running hobby to allow their injury to heal. Teenage athletes seem to be the most frequent in my office and this may be due in part to the fact that their bodies are still developing and they are still in a state of growth which can also contribute.

So what are shin splints? Shin splints are miniature fractures of the bone that occur along a muscle attachment site in the lower leg and can repeatedly be injured and even cause bone disfigurement when healed over numerous times. There are many different muscles that attach in the lower leg as you can see from the picture below.

There are 4 Main Causes of Shin Splints
1.  Excessive use of improper footwear
2.  Chronic tight leg muscles
3.  Magnesium deficiency
4.  Joint misalignment of the lower leg and pelvis

When it comes to wearing shoes, many of us choose the wrong type in the name of fashion, convenience, or because they are the latest technology to make our legs and butts look tighter. Am I right? Don't deny it because I know it's true! The key thing to remember when it comes to footwear is that we need to make correct choices most of the time and when wearing shoes that aren't anatomically correct we need to stretch and do specific exercises to reverse the damage we've caused while wearing these shoes. As a general rule, I DO NOT recommend shoes that have a heel or ones that are restrictive for your toes to move sideways. These shoes not only weaken muscles in the feet but they also cause increased degenerative rates of the bones in the foot that can lead to bunions and disfigurement and can even cause altered posture and gait that can lead to shin, knee, hip, or low back pain and increased degenerative rates that can lead to injuries including disc herniations and spinal fractures.

Chronic tightness of the posterior leg muscles can also cause significant posture changes that can alter your pelvic posture and pull or tighten muscles that attach directly on the shin. These tight muscles can become unbalanced around the joint itself and may lead to shin splints. I recommend a daily stretching routine to address the muscles in the low back and legs to help neutralize any muscle tension that can contribute to injury. If you're already doing a stretching routine and noticing that the muscles seem tighter on one side or if you're feeling a stretch in other places further up or down the leg on one side, chances are you have a muscle imbalance that might be contributing to a future injury.

Magnesium deficiency is a huge factor in the world today. Magnesium is mostly found in dark green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables and since most of us eat iceberg lettuce and don't eat seaweed on a weekly basis, about 80% of the population is in fact deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is the body's key nutrient that is used to relax muscles including those in the walls of your blood vessels, so if you're deficient you may feel tightness and stiffness in your muscles and you may have a slightly elevated blood pressure as well. Magnesium is also one of the nutrients your body needs to harden bones, so if you're getting mini fractures from shin splints and don't have enough magnesium, chances are that you're not healing fully. This can predispose you to future injuries and even lead to shin splints that become worse or spread over a larger area.

The last and most important cause of shin splints is joint misalignment! If your posture or muscles are weak or unbalanced due to footwear choices and chronic muscle tightness then your body may try to adapt itself. This adaptation can include tipping the pelvic forward or backward, rotation of the bones in the leg, and even loss of foot arch due to muscle weakness or rotation of the bones in the foot due to compensation. Adaptation is a necessary means of survival short term, however if you're dealing with these types of adaptation over a period of time it can lead to permanent changes and increase rates of degeneration or arthritis in the spine, hips, knees, ankles, and even feet.

If you or a loved one is suffering from shin splints or any of the other conditions I've mentioned that can be directly linked as a contribution to shin splints, I'd highly recommend they get evaluated by a clinician who is trained to recognize joint misalignment and correct it. 

For those of you in the Peoria area, I am extending 5 spots for a free consultation and examination to check for joint misalignment, muscle imbalance, and magnesium deficiency that can contribute to shin splints or other low back, knee, and foot conditions. This comprehensive evaluation normally costs upwards of $150 due to the time required but for the first five that call I am offering this examination and consultation free of charge!* Please call my office 309-689-6200 today to reserve your spot. For those of you outside of the Peoria area, AlignLife offices are expanding across the US so check our website for the clinic closest to you or talk to your chiropractor about joint alignment issues that can contribute to shin splints.

* State funded insurance members including Medicare and Medicaid are not eligible.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New Research: What Hormones are Responsible?

Many years ago it was proposed that increases in the pregnancy hormone relaxin was the major culprit of joint laxity that lead to many women with joint injuries during and even after pregnancy. In the 1980's this information spread like wild fire and it is now a known household "fact". Guess what, YOUR INFORMATION IS INCORRECT!

In 2003 Obstetrics and Gynecology released a study looking at the effects of hormones on joints during pregnancy. They found that increases in estrogen and progesterone were the culprits for the joint laxity and NOT the relaxin. This means that women can have joint laxity and be more susceptible to joint injuries when they are having hormone fluctuations such as happens with menstruation, menopause, and even hormone imbalance caused from medical conditions or environmental toxin exposure.

I tend to find this especially true in my female patient's spine and pelvis as they complain of more severe or frequent low back pain during or around menstruation times. The ligament and tendon tissue of our bodies differs in makeup depending on what joint it is located in and since hormones are systemic (throughout the whole body) this means that some joints in the body would respond differently to hormone increases associated with being a woman. In women with hormone imbalance specifically such as that created with menstruation (estrogen and progesterone increase), diabetes (insulin resistance can create estrogen dominance), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS causes in-ovulation), and even estrogen only birth control, I tend to find an increase in overall joint laxity in most joints of the body and these women are more frequently at risk for joint injury and premature joint degeneration.

Do you know any women with joint laxity or frequent joint injuries? They most likely need some help in balancing their hormones and a combination of bone alignment and proactive prevention stretching aimed at improving joint alignment to decrease their risk for further injury. I'm providing FREE consultations in my office or on the phone for those that would like more information on how they can reduce their risk for injury. Give my office a call (309) 689-6200 to setup your consultation time today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Natural Ways to Treat Scalp Conditions

I know as well as the next person that healthy skin is a very important barrier for your immune system.  Many of us slather layers of lotions and oils on our skin on a daily basis as well as exfoliate at least once weekly to keep our skin looking silky and smooth. However, many of us completely ignore our scalp which has the largest amount of blood flow and direct access to the rest of our body's blood system. Your scalp is a haven for healthy follicles and gorgeous healthy hair so you have to take care of it. I've got some great scalp treatment recipes below, so read on!

Before I get on with the recipes, let's talk about the different types of scalp conditions and natural home remedies that can help aid in healing and restoring a healthy scalp.

Eczema is a non infection skin condition characterized by red, inflammed skin that is rough and itchy and can worsen into bloody or oozing sores that can scab over to create thickened dark skin. This skin condition can also be found on other areas of the body and can be aggravated by allergens in foods or hair products.

Psoriasis is another type of skin condition characterized by red and inflammed skin with the presence of white or silvery patches of skin referred to as scales. It is most commonly seen near the elbows, knee, or trunk but can be found anywhere on the body.

Dandruff is a very common scalp condition that causes buildup of dry flakes on the scalp that can be loosened into the rest of the hair or even fall down on clothing.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a more severe form of dandruff that has larger and greasy flakes that are commonly yellow in color. In babies it is referred to as cradle cap.

Alopecia is a form of hair loss that can be related to an underlying immune condition where the hair or the hair follicles are being attached by your own immune system. Alopecia areata is a form of hair loss that is usually more rapid and on one side of the head more than the other. However there are some causes of alopecia that can be related to age and genetics as well as those that can be related to hormone imbalance.

In order to have a great scalp treatment, you really need to make sure you have the right tools and natural ingredients so you don't increase the toxic load on your body. One essential piece of equipment is a bristle brush that can help to exfoliate and massage the scalp during the treatment. I prefer a natural or boar's hair brush but nylon can work as well as long as the bristles are flat or slightly rounded on the top. You'll also need an application brush or cotton balls to help apply the scalp treatment and a great recipe for a treatment.

A great recipe has few ingredients and the most essential is a great moisturizing base that you can add different essential herb or healing oils to for added benefits. My personal favorite is coconut oil since it absorbs nicely into the skin and has a moisturizing and smoothing effect, but olive oil can also be used for a more inexpensive option. i usually use about 3-4 tablespoons of softened coconut or olive oil followed by 3-5 drops of one or multiple essential oils to help achieve max) imum benefit.

One great essential oil that I prefer to add is tea tree oil because it has great cleansing properties, however I'd recommend only 2-3 drops be added since tea tree oil can tend to be very strong and large quantities can actually lead to skin irritation. 2 tablespoons of fresh citrus juice from lemon or grapefruit can also be added for purifying and cleansing properties. Chamomile can be added for soothing qualities and peppermint for a refreshing and cooling sensations for irritated skin. Lavender oil can also be used for refreshing and cooling but has also been shown in clinical trials to help regrow hair. 70% of people involved in the trials that massaged lavender oil into the scalp three times a week had significant hair regrowth.

If you're looking for hair regrowth then I'd recommend exfoliating the scalp for about 5 to 10 minutes before the lavender treatment. For a great hair regrowth mixture, try mixing the lavender oil with one cup of warm purified water and a few drops of almond oil and massage into the scalp.

If you're worried your scalp or hair condition might be due to hormone imbalance or possibly an auto immune condition that I've described above, I'd highly recommend setting up a consultation in my office to talk about natural treatment options that would be available to you or further testing that may be required to uncover the root cause of your condition. Give us a call at (309) 689-6200 to set up your appointment today.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Natural Cold Remedies for Children

Cold and flu season is in the air and many parents are dealing with sniffling noses and hacking coughs in the household, but many over the counter medications are not safe for children under 4 years old. While the FDA has considered changing medication recommendations for children between 2-11, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association still maintain that these medications are NOT SAFE for children under 4 years old. So what can parents do to help treat children with colds and coughs naturally? Below I've listed 10 natural remedies to help aid comfort and healing processes for cold sufferers.

Parents should keep in mind that most remedies including cold and cough medications aren't touted to shorten the length of cold but just help manage symptoms and make children more comfortable. On average colds will last 7 to 10 days so parents should try to keep this in mind when dealing with sick children.

1) Get plenty of rest. Stress can play a role in healing, so children can definitely get benefits from staying away from school drama and homework deadlines with a few days rest at home. Fighting off infection when dealing with a cold also takes a lot of energy so make sure your little one gets plenty of rest. Setting up a little fort with extra tissues, plenty of blankets and pillows, books, magazines, and puzzles can help assist them in staying comfortable while resting.

2) Extra fluids and warm liquids. Making sure your little one is drinking plenty of fluids such as water and real fruit juices can help to keep them hydrated as well as provide some nourishment if they seem to tired to eat. On average your child should drink at least one glass of water an hour when their awake, even if it seems they keep getting up to use the restroom. Warm liquids such as chicken soup or chamomile tea can help ease sore throats as well.

3) Saline sprays and bulb syringes. Saline sprays or drops can help to clear up nasal passages for easier breathing and sleeping. For children to young to blow their nose, a bulb syringe can help to clear up nasal passages to make breast or bottle feeding a bit easier.

4) Steamy air. Steamy air can help loosen up mucus to make breathing easier, so don't hesitate to give your little one a warm bath in a steamy bathroom or stick a clean humidifier in their room to help speed things along.

5) Vapor rubs. These may not assist in breathing easier but the cold sensation helps cold sufferers feel like they are breathing more deeply. Rubs should not be applied around the nose or mouth in children under 2 as they can ingest the rub and cause problems. There are many different options for vapor rubs in children such as baby rubs specifically for children under 2 and also natural rubs that don't have parabens or petroleum which can interfere with natural hormone production.

6) Honey in children over 1 year. Honey is safe to give to children over a year old. Honey has antimicrobial properties that can help assist in fighting off infection and soothing coughs or sore throats in children. I'd recommend 1 teaspoon of honey no more than three times a day for children over 1 year old and it can also be added to bottles or warm tea to help soothe the throat and fight off infection. In a recent research review from the Cochrane Database, honey was found to be as effective as cough suppressant medications for acute cough in children. In a study from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, parents of 105 children ages 2-18 rated honey helpful and better than cough syrup in treating night time coughs in children.

7) Gargling or mouth rinsing with warm salt water. This can only be used in children who understand how to gargle or spit out a mouthful of salt water which usually means around 4-6 years old but some children can understand the concept sooner if they're great at imitating. It has been shown to sooth a sore throat and clear mucus as well. I'd recommend 1/2 teaspoon of salt per glass of warm water and repeat 2-3 times a day.

8) Nose Blowing. As soon as children are old enough to understand the concept of blowing their nose into a tissue which is around 2 and above, you can assist your child with blowing their nose. Make sure they blow gently into the tissue as forceful blowing can rupture blood vessels and cause a bloody nose.

9) Neti Pots using purified or bottled water. Neti pots can be used in children 4 or older. Children will have to lean over a sink so make sure you have a step stool for them to stand on while flushing out the nasal passages. Make sure you use purified or bottled water to mix with the salt solution because tap water can contain harmful bacteria that can pool in sinuses and cause further infection.

10) Elevating the head during bed time. Elevating the head with a pillow or elevating a crib mattress with a towel or slim pillow underneath can help keep stuffiness to a minimum at night time so children can sleep better. More restful sleep can also make for more pleasant children in the morning.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

10 Healthy Halloween Treats

Halloween rolls around every year and children look forward to dressing up to Trick or Treat so they can amass piles of candy and chips. Many parents, including myself, wish there were healthier options that Trick or Treaters collected or healthier ways to cut down on the excessive sweets and snacks around this time of year. I want to assure you that there are a few great options your family can partake in to cut down on the sugars and help promote a healthier lifestyle in your community!!

Many dentists offer a candy buy back program where you can trade in Trick or Treat spoils for gifts and prizes. In Pekin, Dr. David Kuban will be giving kids $1 for every pound of candy they turn in with a 10 pound limit and he is planning on shipping that candy to troops over seas. He also has some pretty spiffy light up toothbrushes he is giving away as well. MapleShade Dental Group in Peoria and Dunlap are on their third year of the candy buy back program with no limit on how much can be traded in. In fact, last year they collected more than 500 pounds of candy from local Trick or Treaters!! So parents should definitely check out these options since many give away prizes for movie tickets, gaming cards, pizza coupons, and of course toothbrushes and toothpaste to cut down on cavities!! You can always do a candy trade in at your house as well in order to cut down on the candy consumed and trade the kids for a gift they've really been wanting to get their hands on!

So how can you set an example in your community? Try handing out healthier options than candy and chips to Trick or Treaters and make sure you spread the news to your neighbors so they get the memo that healthier options are better options for your neighborhood. I've listed 10 Healthier Halloween Treats below.

1.) Frozen yogurt sticks (this way they stay nice and cold for the rest of the night)
2.) Bags of Pumpkin Seeds
3.) Cereal or Granola Bars (check the label to make sure they aren't high in sugars)
4.) Carrot Sticks (there's many single serving options out there and you can always throw in a small thing of peanut butter for kids to dip them in since ranch wouldn't be feasible to keep from spoiling)
5.) String Cheese
6.) Popcorn Balls (don't opt for the caramel coated)
7.) Peanuts or Trail Mix (see if you can find one with dried fruit)
8.) Pretzels (try for those with sea salt)
9.) Sandwich crackers (not the best options but healthier than a mouthful of candy)
10.) Toothbrush (a great addition to the loot that will make kid's smiles a bit brighter)

Stay safe and healthy this Halloween! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Are Your Reflux or Heartburn Symptoms Not Improving?

Have you been suffering from reflux or heartburn for months or years? Have you tried every over the counter and prescription medication with little or no noticeable changes? You are not alone. According to the the American Gastroenterological Association estimate that 33% of Americans have acid reflux disease! In April the Center for Research on Aging found that 23% of men and women over 65 in nursing homes or other care facilities are suffering from some form of gastric problem. What's worse is that these conditions are the most expensive GI disorders in the United States and costs of treatment are approaching $10 billion every year!!

Doctor's frequently prescribe reflux medications and over the counter antacids such as Tums to help reduce symptoms and battle the excessive acid that is thought to be the cause of reflux and chronic heartburn. But here's the thing that will blow your mind... Stomach acid production and thus stomach acid pH DECREASES WITH AGE!! This means that if you're over 30, your stomach acid production has already begun to decrease and thus you're not digesting your food as well. As you reach 40 your stomach acid production is about half as much as when you were 20. This means that if you are on a reflux medication that decreases your acid production you are literally making the problem WORSE!!!

Researchers have known that acid production decreases with age for over 30 years!!! Don't believe me? The A study published in 1986 in the Journal of American Geriatric Society found that 30% of men and women over 60 have atrophic gastritis where they produce little or no stomach acid. Another study 1963 in Gastroenterology found that 40% of post menopausal women have NO basal gastric acid secretions!!!!

So what we need to do instead of dampening the stomach acid production with medications is to eat foods that help to naturally increase stomach acid and/or take a supplement with digestive aids and enzymes designed to assist in food digestion. We should also cut down on foods that increase or trigger symptoms of reflux or heartburn.

So what can you do?
1) Cut down on how many over the counter antacids you are taking each day and talk to your doctor about reducing or eliminating your medications that may be interfering with stomach acid production.
2) Drink water 30 minutes before or after your meal rather than with the meal so that you don't lower the pH of your stomach and effect how well you digest your food.
3) Eat five smaller meals throughout the day rather than three large meals so your stomach has less food to digest at one time.
4) Try Peppermint Tea. Peppermint has been used as an antibacterial and for increased gastric acid production. It can also combat gas, increase bile flow, and aid in healing the stomach and liver.
5) Try a digestive aid such as Gastro Plus. This supplement combined pepsin to assist in digestion with betaine hydrochloride to help restore the normal stomach acid and support healthy gut function. It will also help to decrease the amounts of bacteria in the gut that can lead to stomach ulcers.
6) Take a probiotic such as Ultrabiotic to help restore intestinal balance. This supplement will help to get those "good" bacteria back to normal quantities in your gut so you don't have as much stomach upset and so you can absorb the nutrients your body needs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pumpkin Seed Oil Reduces Hot Flashes, Improves Cholesterol, and Reduces Blood Pressure in Women

We are always looking for the next best thing when it comes to improving our cholesterol scores and lowering our blood pressure, but many of us may not be looking to the harvest of the season for answers. Pumpkin seed oil has long been used for treating intestinal disturbances, cholesterol and blood pressure regulation, and most recently prostate hypertrophy.

However a pilot study released in October of 2011 looked at the links between women taking pumpkin seed oil and the many positive effects on their health. Not only did these researchers find that these women's blood pressure decreased, but they also found an improvement in both HDL (good) cholesterol levels and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings.

What these researchers may be looking into in the near future is, why? Well the answer is two fold so I'll try to keep it simple.

Pumpkin seeds have high incidence of chromium which is an essential nutrient needed for proper function of sex hormones and insulin in the body. This means that the chromium present in this miracle seed may actually be helping these women's bodies to function and direct their hormones to be more balanced. This balancing effect can help with not only menopause but women suffering from PMS, painful periods, PCOS, and even infertility. If the researchers would have looked at diabetes or weight loss, they might also have found that the women involved in the study would have also had improvement in their rate of weight loss and managing their diabetes as well since the insulin regulation would have been improved.

Pumpkin seeds are also rich in magnesium which is a really important mineral that is said to be even more important that calcium!! 80% of the population is magnesium deficient, so most likely the women involved in this study might have had some deficiency. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant that helps to relax the skeletal and smooth muscle of the body so it can help to reduce muscle spasms and cramping as well as relax the walls of the blood vessels to improve blood pressure. In addition, magnesium is an essential mineral that is used to regulate the enzymes used to produce cholesterol in the body, so supplementation using pumpkin seed oil would have increased production of HDL cholesterol in the body.

Wow that's some great stuff, but what do I want you to take from this? Make sure you're eating your seasonal fruits and vegetables so you're not only rounding out your diet but getting many of the essential minerals that are needed for everyday body functions. If you're not a bit fan of pumpkin or pumpkin seeds, I'd recommend talking to a doctor or a specialized nutritionist that would be able to make some suggestions for supplements that would help you get enough magnesium and chromium to improve your health. If you need some guidance, AlignLife offers nutritional phone consultations to those that feel a bit overwhelmed by the many different food sources and supplement choices there are available on the market today. Just call 309-689-6200 to set-up your appointment today.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vitamin C Reduces Labor Time and Stretch Marks

During pregnancy the demand for vitamin C skyrockets due to the increased stress on the body and the need to form protein and connective tissue for mom and baby. However, since humans can't make vitamin C like other animals and vitamin C crosses over the placenta for baby's development, moms-to-be really need to make sure they are getting enough from their diet or using supplementation to get the amount their bodies need. The current RDA of vitamin C according to the National Academy of Food Science and Nutrition Board for pregnant mothers is 60mg, however this is only the amount known to reduce the risk of scurvy. Many doctors are finding amazing results with increased vitamin C intake during pregnancy including reduced labor times, less or no appearance of stretch marks, and faster healing of the perineum after birth. In fact, these doctors are recommending amounts of vitamin C for their patients that are 2 to 83 times more than the RDA!!

Dr. William Saccoman, general practitioner and preceptor at the University of California, has found that in women taking large doses of Vitamin C not only has labor time decreased by less than half, but these labors are less painful and have less incidence of tearing or lacerations due to the increased tissue elasticity. He also commented on the fact that these same women have less incidence of stretch marks and heal quicker to get back to normal activities. His observation has been documented over 500 pregnancies and deliveries made over the past 10 years.

According to Dr. Robert Scott, Head of the Southern California Women's Medical Group in Los Angeles and assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California, " I have seen no adverse reactions to the Vitamin C and never a deformed baby when the mother was on this program [high Vitamin C dosage]." He reports that over 500 of his patients have been put on the high dosage with labor times that in many cases are little over an hours time.

Dr. Archie Kalokerinos from Austrailia reports that he has seen the same "marvellous" results with Vitamin C supplementation while serving as the medical officer for the government funded Aboriginal Medical Service. Dr. Kalokerinos has been using mega doses of up to 30 grams of Vitamin C in practice since 1971 while serving as the medical superintendent for 20 years at the Collerenebri District Hospital northwest of Sydney. He also commented that, " A large number of them were alcoholics who ate very poorly and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't correct this problem. Nevertheless, what I found was that by supplementing them with Vitamin C, they actually produced babies that were healthier than a lot of babies in the community. And, as the babies were growing, they were showing fewer signs of recurrent infections and problems in infancy than other babies. To me, this has always been quite incredible. Even if we couldn't correct the diet, just the simple supplementation was doing so much good."

While these doctors are using high dosages of vitamin C in the field, researchers have yet to explore these effects with large scale research and supplementation. However, some research has been done on the effects of low levels of vitamin C during pregnancy and have found an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, anemia, and lower birth weight babies. In addition, a recent study has also been looking at the impact of vitamin C supplementation in reducing the risk of asthma and lung development for babies in smoking mothers and showing that a dosage of 500mg is enough to help reduce this risk.

Drinking more orange juice isn't going to cut it, so if you want more information on nutrition during pregnancy call AlignLife at (309) 689-6200 to schedule a nutritional consultation today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Flu Vaccination is a HOAX

For years we've been told that we need to make sure to get our flu vaccinations to protect ourselves and our families from "catching" the flu, however experts and medical research reviews have uncovered evidence that this ISN'T TRUE!

According to Dr. Charles B Simone, an immunologist and oncologist, there are more than 200 viruses that cause influenza and influenza-like illness and vaccines might be effective against only about 10% of all the viruses that cause the flu like syndromes. The Cochrane Collaborations and Lancet's published findings, which are relied upon as the golden standard in independently reviewed research, found that the vaccine does not prevent flu in babies, adults, or in the elderly populations.

According to a 2008 Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, involving 51 studies and 294,000 children aged 6 months -2 years there was "no evidence that injecting with a flu shot was any more effective than placebo." In children older than 2 years old, it was only effective 33% of the time in preventing the flu!

In a 2006 study Cochrane found that "vaccination only reduced the risk of influenza infection by 6% and reduced the number of missed worked days by less than one day after studying 48 reports including 66,000 adults!!

Agreements between the Lancet and Cochrane Database were reached in their reviews of over 5707 screened articles that "Evidence for protection is lacking" for flu vaccinations used in the elderly populations.

So what's the harm?
Well there are risks of serious harm and injury to those that receive the vaccine including narcolepsy, febrile convulsions, and even neurologic diseases such as Guillain Barre. In addition, there are many toxins and additives in the vaccines that have potential health and allergen risks including nerve toxic mercury derivatives and formaldehyde, corrosive sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid, and cancer causing injectible aluminum.

Is it really worth the risk?

Want more information??? Call AlignLife (309) 689-6200 to setup a consultation to discuss natural ways of improving your body's immunity and ways to protect yourself from the flu!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Poor Gut Health Causes Diabetes

Many of us aren't drinking enough water or eating the proper diet that supports proper gut health and as a result our body's normal balance is being thrown off course. This abnormal bacteria balance is predisposing our bodies to all different sorts of health conditions and ability to cope with the changes in our natural environment. Keep reading to hear more about how to keep you and your family's gut health in the green and  some useful tips on how to keep it balanced properly.

Your gut bacteria levels should contain high levels of a number of different lactobacillus and other normal species of bacteria, however many Americans today have high levels of E. coli and pathogenic bacteria that can lead to gut inflammation, excessive gas production, decrease nutrient absorption in the intestines, and even cause gut cell wall death. Recent research including the studies in the paragraph below, have been looking into the role of gut bacteria in the development of common health concerns including diabetes, colorectal cancer, autoimmune diseases, obesity, and also food allergies.

The University of Copenhagen's Department of Biology is now embarking on research examining these gut bacteria genes and their role in the development of diabetes. In a recently published study, a link was found between environmental factors in pathogenic gut bacteria that are speculated to contribute to the inflammation that leads to the development of diabetes. A 2011 study looked at the impact of gut flora and their role in the development of the immune system and increased rates of obesity and diabetes when that normal balance was altered.

A proper diet includes 3-5 servings of lean protein and 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. During digestion the protein is broken down into amino acids which are used for everything in your body including hormone and enzyme production and building tissue such as muscle and ligaments. This means that if your diet doesn't include the right amount of protein you may not have the building blocks necessary for tissue rebuilding needed for healing and maintenance or the amino acids used for enzymes and hormones. The fruits and vegetables are actually a carbohydrate (YES that is correct carbohydrates are not just breads and pastas) that are broken down and used for nutrient and mineral absorption as well as for feeding the healthy gut bacteria I mentioned above. The waste products from these healthy gut bacteria actually coat and protect the cells of the gut wall from damage and death. If these bacteria don't have enough of the fruits and vegetables they need, they will not produce the waste products necessary for gut wall protection and your gut wall may start to become damaged or sections of the gut wall may die. This can lead to undigested food products being released through these dead cell walls and the potential for allergies to develop at a cellular and blood level. In order to restore a healthy bacterial balance we need to alter our diet to help promote the healthy gut bacterial growth and possibly even take a probiotic supplement to help increase the levels of healthy gut bacteria in our systems.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

1) Eat a healthy diet. Make sure to get 3-5 servings of lean protein and 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Also make sure to drink plenty of water which should be about half your body weight in ounces, not just the 8-10 glasses of 8 oz of water anymore.
2) Cut down on sugars and junk foods. Sugars and junk food can cause an acidic environment in the intestines and a hostile environment for the healthy bacteria that need to be thriving in your gut. So cut out as many processed sugars as you can and try to restrict the bread and pasta sources of carbohydrates in favor of the health promoting carbohydrates present in fruits and vegetables.
3) Take a probiotic supplement. A probiotic supplement can help to restore normal gut flora and decrease the number of pathogenic bacteria in the gut. A good supplement should have numerous different strains of lactobacillus and recommend you take them multiple times a day, however children may need a probiotic with different strains of bacteria. If you're on any immune system suppressants or medication, you should talk to your doctor before beginning any supplemental regiment.
4) Get your gut bacteria tested. This will give you an in depth look at your current bacterial balance and dictate whether you need a special diet and/or dietary restrictions to control the digestive environment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Over Exercising Decreases Your Results

Many people have heard that diet and exercise are the keys to achieving your weight loss and health goals. While this statement is true, there are many differences in opinion as to how much exercise is required and what type of exercise you should be doing.

Many people tend to rely on a scale to measure their goals to achieving a healthier lifestyle, however this is a very bad indicator!! When you step on a scale (especially if you're measuring your body weight more than once a week) you are measuring the weight of your muscle, fat, and water retention as well. However many people don't realize is that muscle weighs more than fat. So in fact, if you're building muscle with your workout your weight may actually not change or it may increase if you rely on a scale. Muscle is also where your body's metabolism lies, so if you're trying to lose fat and be healthier you must build your muscles to reach your goals. This means weight lifting and using your body to perform natural movements.

People that are exercising and noticing a drop in weight may actually be losing excess water or they may actually be losing muscle mass and thus lowering their metabolism. Short term the dropping scale numbers may make you feel good, but over the long term you are decreasing your metabolism and making it much easier to put on weight later on. This is why people that tend to reduce calorie intake and cut down on eating while dieting tend to have a much easier time gaining the weight after their diet.

In a recent study from the University of Copenhagen, researchers found that in comparing exercise times and intensity it was essential to make sure that you weren't exercising for long of a period of time. They found that in comparing 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise there wasn't a significant difference, however past studies have found that exercising for longer periods of time actually tends to decrease your results and expenditures.

So what can we take from this?
1. Don't rely on a scale. Take measurements around arms, legs, hips, and waist on a weekly to bi-weekly basis if you really want to measure fat loss.
2. Don't cut your calories. Your body will decrease its metabolism and these changes may cause it to be easier to gain weight later on.
3. Make sure to build muscle while exercising. This will ensure you're effecting your metabolism in a positive light and keep bone density more stable.
4. Keep exercise around 30 minutes daily and try to vary your workout so that you're building muscle in different parts of your body rather than one area. Don't be scared to add some cardio a few times a week rather than weight lifting. Your workout will have better effects if its varied and keeps your body guessing.

If you'd like more personalized recommendations, feel free to setup a consultation in my office to get some advice on how to reach your health goals. Give us a call at (309) 689-6200!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

3 Ways to Improve Attention Deficit Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 5.2 million children are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder in the United States today. In fact, the number of children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder increased by 21.8% over the four year time span from 2003 to 2007. The growing number of diagnoses are disturbing because this condition can effect the social, academic, and even physical development of our children and may also be responsible for the decreased productivity and concentration that we've seen in the workplace due to adults that are suffering from ADD as well.

So what is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? It's a growing diagnosis that is based off a questionnaire or rating from parents and teachers and a short subjective evaluation from a doctor of child's intelligence, social, emotional, or attention function. A medical examination is not necessary and there are no definitive test to diagnose this condition. As you can tell this diagnosis is highly subjective and can be interpreted differently between practitioners and different environments.

After a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is made, parents are frequently encouraged to begin a lifetime medicine regiment in order to keep symptoms under control. Most frequently children are placed on Ritalin which is a Schedule II Controlled Substance that is in the same class as morphine and cocaine. This class of medications are highly addictive and have the greatest potential for abuse. This medication is not specific to children with ADD or ADHD and similar calming effects can be seen in normal children not suffering from the condition. In addition, many parents are not properly informed about the serious side effects or long term damage that can be caused from this medication. For example, studies on Ritalin have found that it impairs blood flow to the brain that can impair thinking, learning, and cause memory loss in addition to causing brain shrinkage and permanent physical abnormalities that can affect children and adults for the rest of their life. In addition, some studies have revealed a worsening of hyperactivity and inattention in children undergoing pharmaceutical treatment with this medication. Long term treatment with this medication will usually alter brain levels of serotonin and can lead to depression later in life that may require further medication.

So how can you improve symptoms of ADD and ADHD naturally? Recent studies on children suffering from ADD and ADHD have found many instances of nutritional deficiencies in essential fatty acids and proteins that are the essential building blocks of our brain, nerves, hormones, and muscles. Without these building blocks our bodies do not have the capacity to upkeep the nervous system function that is required for proper brain function and communication with the rest of the body. As a result, many physical symptoms such as inattentiveness, emotional withdrawl, and even clumsiness can result. An evaluation of your child's nervous system function and a nutritional assessment to check for deficiencies in these building blocks or any vital vitamins and minerals can be a large part in improving the body and brain function in your child or yourself. In addition, many of these children have alteration of their primary senses such as smell and taste that can affect their diet and contribute to food allergies and nutritional deficiencies. I have found that comprehensive allergy testing for sensitivities or intolerance can be a valuable tool in identifying underlying factors that may further complicate gut absorption of these essential nutrients and contribute to these deficiencies.

So what do I recommend?

1. Have your child's nervous system evaluated by a specialist. Chiropractors are trained to assess nervous system function and can assess not only any undetected nerve damage that can contribute to altered brain function or communication but can also identify any sensory disabilities that I have mentioned above.

2. Have your child's diet assessed for deficiencies or possible allergens that can complicate nutrient absorption. Some dieticians may be trained to perform this kind of evaluation, but I always recommend looking to a clinic that specializes in assessing children with ADD. There are certain markers and  trends in children with ADD and ADHD that can only be properly evaluated by a specialist or someone well versed in treating children with ADD and ADHD.

3. Comprehensive allergy testing is a must for children who's nutritional assessment shows abnormalities. This testing can reveal sensitivity or intolerance to many food additives, preservatives, or even main food products that can cause gut inflammation and affect nutrient absorption. Skin scratch testing may not be enough in most cases as there may be reaction at a cellular level in the body so I recommend a comprehensive test in a laboratory to check for blood reaction to allergens.

4. If you'd like more information on natural ways to improve symptoms of ADD or ADHD , I'd highly recommend attending the  Drug-Free ADD and ADHD Solutions presentation and workshop at Naturally Yours in Peoria on Saturday September 22nd at 10am.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chiropractic Care Is Mandated Before Surgery

Back pain is a common occurrence in America today due to our sedentary lifestyles, poor posture, obesity rates, and core muscle weakness. According to experts, 4 out of 5 Americans will experience low back pain at least once in their lifetime and low back pain is the second most common reason, behind the common cold, for a doctor's visit. This condition can be debilitating and lead to difficulty with every activity of daily living and can cause also contribute to lost wages and financial burdens on family members. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, pain costs put a burden of approximately 560 to 635 billion dollars in the US with a combination of medical costs and economic costs related to disability, wages, and productivity.

In May of 2012, the Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Plan released new guidelines for the management of chronic low back pain that included a mandate requiring all surgical candidates to have tried 3 months of conservative care consisting of chiropractic care, physical therapy, medication, and a low back pain health coaching program before surgery. These standard guidelines will be enforced in 15 counties in Pennsylvania, 20 hospitals, and over 400 doctors' offices and outpatient facilities. Administrators are hoping to cut down the use of costly spinal surgery which in many cases can actually cause conditions to worsen rather than a more conservative approach in care that can address and manage about 70% of low back cases. Want more information on their mandate?

This trend will be on the rise in the next few years throughout the world as more research is being put to the test in verifying the benefit of conservative care before surgery. In a recent review at ENEVE, a chiropractic college in Mexico, spinal surgery numbers were found to be reduced and back pain relieved when chiropractic care was sought out before surgery. Chiropractic is a resoundingly good resource for people suffering from low back pain, because it will focus on restoring nervous system function and also address the weakened or injured musculature and soft tissue involved in the pain and disability created from back pain. If you're suffering from back pain and are considering surgery, I'd highly recommend visiting a chiropractor for a minimum of 3 months of treatment before scheduling a surgery. Surgery in many cases is not reversible and may result in an increase of symptoms and degeneration over a period of time. Want more information?

Would you like to schedule a consultation to learn more about how chiropractic can help you achieve your health goals? Click on "Make Appointment" on the right side of the screen.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

CoQ10 is Not Just for Heart Health

CoQ10 has long been known to help lower your risk of developing heart disease and protect against arterial disease as well. However new research has been exploring the many benefits of CoQ10 for hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetics, Parkinson's, and even fibromyalgia.

So what is CoQ10? Well its a naturally occurring nutrient that is responsible for producing our energy at a cellular level in our mitochondria (the cell's powerhouse for energy production) and is also responsible for reducing oxidation which is the main source of aging. Due to many dietary and genetic factors of Americans, our bodies don't have nearly enough CoQ10 because we don't eat enough in our diet and our bodies lose the ability to convert it to its usable form as we age. Recent research has shown that CoQ10 levels and conversion of ubiquinol to ubiquinone may begin to lower as early as your 20s! CoQ10 supplementation is usually supplied in ubiquinol form which must be converted to ubiquinone before being able to be used in the body, however since we lose this ability with age we need to make sure we are supplementing our diets with the usable ubiquinone formation. AlignLife has reformulated our CoQ10 supplement with the usable form of ubiquinone and will be releasing this product in the next few months.

What does it help with? CoQ10 has been shown to have a high protective effect against heart disease and has also been shown to help keep artery walls flexible. A recent study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease found that a combination supplementation of aged garlic extract and CoQ10 for a year showed a 4 fold protection against progression of coronary artery plaquing or atherosclerosis and also helped to lower C-reactive protein. Coronary artery plaquing is the main culprit responsible for heart attack and stroke while C-reactive protein is associated with systemic inflammation in many different diseases. Another study published in Nutrition this year found this same combination effective for artherosclerosis prevention and progression even in fire fighters with high occupational stress levels.

Another recent study looked a fibromyalgia patients and found that CoQ10 levels were lower than normal and could be responsible for mitrochondrial dysfunction. This August 2012 study was published in Nutrition and reported oral supplementation with CoQ10 showed benefits for reducing clinical symptoms of fibromyalgia, restoring mitochondrial function, decreasing oxidative stress, and increased energy production in the mitrochondria. The researchers suggested that CoQ10 supplementation could be an alternative therapy for fibromyalgia!

Parkinson's disease is associated with a progressive disorder of the brain that affects the deterioration and death of nerve cells and also decreased levels of dopamine, an essential neurotransmitter (brain hormone) that is responsible for controlling movement and gut function. Researchers have found protein clumps in the brain, brain stem, and the olfactory nerves of these patients and have been looking into oxidation as a culprit of the progression of this disease. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Neurologic Science found that CoQ10 deficiency was associated with significantly greater odds of developing Parkinson's Disease and should be explored as a potential marker for oxidative stress in patients suffering from this disease. Unfortunately not much research has been done on this interaction, however a review of current literature has  found that there was a small and significant improvement in Parkinson's patients with the use of CoQ10.

Glycemic control is an important factor for diabetics and those suffering from metabolic disorders such as Syndrome X and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). A 2012 study looking at the effects of CoQ10 supplementation has found that supplementation improves glycemic response by improving insulin secretion and there is NO adverse side effects!!

So how much should you take? Well this is a loaded question because depending on what you're using it for the research is suggesting numbers in a large range from 100mg -1200mg/day so I'd highly recommend talking to a doctor that is up to date on the research and would be able to make more personalized suggestions for prevention, protection, or alternative treatments for the above mentioned conditions. In food sources the highest levels of CoQ10 are found in fish, organ meats such as liver, kidney, and heart, and the germ of whole grains, however the content varies based on the diet of those food sources and the way those foods are prepared.

If you'd like schedule a nutritional consultation in the Peoria area to discuss recommendations for your specific needs or have further questions about CoQ10's role in your health, please feel free to call my office at 309-689-6200 to setup an appointment.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Whiplash Can Cause Permanent Damage

Have you been involved in a car accident or sports injury? Have you had any stiffness or pain in your neck, upper back, or shoulders? Then you may be suffering from whiplash. Each year 1.99 million Americans are injured in whiplash accidents, so you are not alone.

Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a rapid movement of the head forward, backward, or side to side. This motion can cause brain injury, muscle spasms or tearing, ligament stretching and instability, and even fractures to the spine that can cause permanent disability. Car accidents that occur at 5mph or more can cause soft tissue damage and injury to the soft tissue even if the vehicles involved don't show any damage. The damage to your vehicle can be very misleading since most vehicles don't show damage until 10mph or more. In a recent report, most whiplash injuries occur at speeds below 12mph and symptom onset is usually delayed by a day or two. Many people incorrectly believe that if they don't have pain directly after the accident they weren't injured and may not seek treatment until serious symptoms develop which can result in permanent damage if delayed too long.

A whiplash injury can affect the structure and stability of the neck and can cause permanent and lasting damage if not healed correctly. The ligaments that run along the front and back of your spine that lend stability and support to your neck can be stretched out in a whiplash injury. In a 2012 study released by the Journal of Biomechanics, these ligaments can stretch three to five times their normal length after a whiplash injury. The stability of the neck at this point is completely compromised and comparable to a neck with ligaments that are completely torn. If you were involved in an accident and haven't been evaluated by your doctor or chiropractor you should make an appointment today.  The sooner you seek treatment for whiplash, the better your outcomes will be.

Here's a short animation video of what is going on not only in your spine, but also your brain in a rear ended car accident.
As you can see from the above video there is first a rear extension motion of the neck against the headrest causing ligament and soft tissue stretching and tearing as well as brain injury as the brain moves backward against the skull. This first phase is followed by a forward acceleration of the head which can cause further brain injury, shear forces on the spinal cord, ligament damage, and even spinal fractures. The third phase of whiplash continues with a hyper-extension motion of the head backward into the head rest which can further injure the delicate brain with concussion and possible bleeding, stretch the damaged soft tissues of the ligaments and muscles in the neck, and put the occupant at risk for spinal fracture that can lead to instant death or paralysis.

Common Symptoms of Whiplash
Below find a list of the most common whiplash symptoms as well as their rates of occurrence. If you're experiencing any of the below symptoms please call (309) 689-6200 to schedule a consultation in our office today.

Neck pain and/or stiffness 92%
Headache 57%
Fatigue 56%
Shoulder pain 49%
Anxiety 44%
Pain between the shoulder blades 42%
Low back pain 39%
Sleep disturbance 39%
Upper limb numbness/tingling 30%
Sensitivity to noise 29%
Difficulty concentrating 26%
Blurred vision 21%
Irritability 21%
Difficulty swallowing 16%
Dizziness 15%
Forgetfulness 15%
Upper limb pain 12%
Upper limb weakness 6%
Ringing in the ears 4%
Pain in the jaw or face 4%

If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, I highly recommend you see a physician to assess for damage to the brain, nervous system, muscles, ligaments, and possible fracture.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Your Diet is Causing Depression and Anxiety

According to the CDC 1 in 10 Americans reports suffering from depression. Another 40 millions Americans or approximately 2 in 10 are suffering from anxiety disorders. The anxiety disorders and the medications associated with them cost our country about 1/3 of our current mental health bill. These are serious statistics that are showing how our moods can truly affect not only our relationships but also our health care cost and our budget deficit. Something needs to be done to reduce the incidence rates and fast!

Many people suffering from anxiety and depression are given anti-depressants to help cope with symptoms and attempt to get them returning to their normal lives. However not much is known about how these anti-depressants work in helping depression or anxiety and researchers aren't looking into natural methods of helping to regulate depression and anxiety. Most of these medications including Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft work by regulating the brain hormone serotonin. This brain hormone which is actually a neurotransmitter is responsible for communication within the brain and 90% of this "hormone" is actually used in your gut!  So what does this mean? Well if your serotonin levels are low it can not only cause depression, anxiety, sexual desire, appetite, memory loss, temperature regulation troubles, insomnia, but also effect digestion and how you absorb the nutrients your body needs for everyday body functions.

Serotonin is made from amino acids which are the broken down form of the protein that you should be ingesting everyday. These amino acids are necessary for not only muscle function and energy usage but they are also used to make the proteins and enzymes we use in digestion, the hormones we need to regulate our moods and metabolism, and they are the building blocks of our brains and muscles too. So if we are not eating enough protein in our diet (3-5 servings of high quality protein such as seafood and grass fed beef) then we may not have the amino acid building blocks necessary to make the serotonin required for brain and body function. In addition, if you're living an active lifestyle or working out frequently then you're going to need more protein in order to satisfy the demands of muscle building but also serotonin needs in the body.
Scientists have shown in 2011 study that increasing the protein intake in rats from 2% to 10% had an effect on increasing serotonin production levels. Want to read this article for yourself?

So what can you do to help?
1) Make sure you're getting 3-5 servings of high quality protein daily. I recommend high quality seafood or grass fed beef for the best sources. Athletes or those leading an active lifestyle and working out need more like 5+ servings of protein, so if you're questioning if you're getting enough I recommend scheduling a nutritional consultation to discuss your diet and any modifications you should make. My office does phone consultations as well to help for those unable to find a doctor or nutritionist in their area that are trained to discuss these dietary demands with them.
2) If you're not taking a fish oil or omega 3 supplement daily, then you need to add one in. Fish oil is important because it is not only a great source of essential fatty acids but it also helps to reduce systemic inflammation, aids in healing, and increases our nerve response times. Since high quantities of fish oil can thin the blood, I recommend talking to your doctor before taking a high dosage. Standard quantities of 1000-2000mg/day are usually recommended but if your diet is lacking or you have an autoimmune or systemic inflammation it may be advisable to take up to 5000mg/day for up to 6 weeks.
3) If you're depressed or suffering from anxiety and you're currently taking an anti-depressant, I'd highly recommend talking to your doctor about reducing or monitoring your dosage of  medication if you're going to put these above steps into action. I've seen many patients recover or completely eliminate anti depressants once they've restored their dietary protein intake and thus serotonin balance.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Are Looking To Lose Weight and Feel Great?

Are you looking to lose weight but don't think you have time for a workout? Does it seem impossible to lose weight? Do you find yourself starving when you're trying to diet? Are you suffering from cravings and snacking when you're supposed to be on a diet? Then you need to whip your health into shape.

Sometimes the simplest things like talking to someone about your health goals and having them help hold you accountable, can make a HUGE difference in reaching those goals. If you're having trouble committing to a workout, grab a partner to workout with. If both of you can remind each other of your goals and congratulate each other on your progress you will improve much better than trying to tough it out on your own. A simple and effective workout may be as simple as a 20 minute workout at home or 3 days a week at a Crossfit gym. So grab a partner, plan your weekly workout schedule, and stick to it!

If you're having trouble with cravings or hunger, there's a chance you're not getting enough protein or calories for the workout you're doing or you may be suffering from withdrawal from those processed foods. Processed foods such as breads, pastas, and grains cause insulin spikes and literally flood your brain with serotonin (the feel good hormone in your brain) and many of us may crave these foods because not only do they make us feel good when we eat them, but they can also cause insulin resistance and sugar imbalance in the body. This can lead to binge eating, weight gain, and may lead to diabetes long term. I highly recommend looking into a lifestyle (NOT DIET!!) eating program that focuses on eating 4-5 servings of protein daily and is full of fruits and vegetables. If you cut down on the processed foods and sugars mentioned above you'll notice a total change in how your body functions and how you feel. Talk to your local AlignLife office about setting up a nutritional consultation for some tips on what to eat, when to eat, and how to deal with withdrawal symptoms from processed foods.

Well today's blog post is a short one because I am doing a BodyRock Workout at home!! Here's the link if you'd like to join in!! 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Paleo Diet Update

So I just wanted to send out a quick update on how my 30 Day Paleo Diet challenge went since it is now September 1st. Unfortunately (and somewhat thankfully) I do not have before and after pictures, however I can tell you that I've lost a total of 20 pounds just by changing my diet and no I did not add in an exercise program or additional activities or even go on a vacation to avoid stress over the past 30 days. I did this challenge while working 60-70 hrs per week with a family to take care of and the stress of everyday life to deal with. My 2 year old has definitely not slowed down a bit throughout the month and her birthday party along with the 25+ guests from out of town did not lower stress levels at all. In addition I am proud to say that I have lost a few inches off my waist. I didn't do measurements beforehand but I know that most of my pants are very loose or falling off and my belt no longer fits due to the fact that it is on the last hole and still not small enough to keep my pants up!

All I did was stick to a diet rich in protein 3-4 times a day and full of fresh fruits and vegetables. I admit I did cheat a few times and I did enjoy cake and ice cream at my daughter's birthday party but for the most part I stuck to a 90/10 or better diet where 90% of the time I ate Paleo and the other 10% I enjoyed some non Paleo items like coffee, processed sugars, pizza, tacos, and other things. The first 2 weeks were the worst due to the fact that my blood sugar had to level out and my body had to get used to regulating insulin levels better. I found that if I didn't eat every few hours with some protein containing snack like peanut butter and celery during that first two weeks I got headaches due to low blood sugar. It was definitely NOT pleasant, but I can tell you that 30 days was totally worth it for the changes I've seen!!

Overall I have had many changes and noticed quite a few differences in how my body is functioning. I have felt a huge difference in my energy levels and awake feeling much more refreshed and well rested. I am able to concentrate and focus on tasks and projects during the day much better. I have also noticed a huge change in my mood and have found that not only have I been happier and smiling more, but PMS symptoms have decreased, I'm less irritable (this goes for child mishaps, family disputes, and even my pet peeves), and my skin has also been much clearer. In addition, I've found that I'm snacking less and actually feeling hungry when I need to eat rather than before when I never really felt hungry and snacked frequently throughout the day. My husband, friends, coworkers, and even my patients have noticed a difference and even commented on it to me as well. (Boy does that feel great!)

I am planning on sticking to a Paleo dominant diet (again aiming for the 90/10 rule) for the month of September and will be actively exercising with aerobic and weight lifting exercise in the month of September to see how big of a difference both this diet and exercise can make for me. I'll keep everyone updated on my progress.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why you shouldn't wear white after labor day.

Labor Day was originally started in 1882 as a way to celebrate American workers contributions and achievements in improving socioeconomics. Most Americans typically celebrate with a small family vacation or camping trip, but more and more are staying home to take advantage of local festivities. In Peoria, we are celebrating our 50th year of the Labor Day Picnic and Parade down by the riverfront. So what are some things you can incorporate into your family's Labor Day festivities??? How about a Neighborhood field day to get the kids out in sun complete with fun contests, goofy crafts, and nifty snacks?

The contest, crafts, and snacks are the reason you shouldn't wear white because let's face it... Kid's are MESSY! Wearing white is just setting you up for stain removal if you're going to do some heavy celebrating this weekend and there are kids involved.

So let me introduce some fun contests and crafts (indoors and outdoors since Hurricane Isaac isn't being too forgiving) from Family Fun's August 2012 Issue.

Water Balloon Fight
Fill up a kiddy pool or bucket with a few inches of water to cushion water balloons and keep them from sticking together. Then fill those water balloons up and dump them in. Team up and hold a water balloon fight for a splashing time.

Recolorize your flip flops
Rather than throwing out those popped or left over water balloons from the water balloon fight, recycle them into a cool craft for the kids. Tie them to flip flops for colorful and a new take on fashion.

Paint some rocks
Let's face it kid's love to paint and be creative. So why not put some paint on an upside down frisbee and let them design some rocks for the garden path or walkway? Then just rinse the fisbees off and voila another instant game!!

Design your own sprinkler
Transform a 2 Liter bottle with a 3/4 inch female to 3/4 inch female adapter and a rubber hose washer into a homemade sprinkler. Just poke some holes in the 2 Liter and widen them with a bamboo skewer and then hook it up to the hose. Then turn on the fun!

Squirt Gun Floaters
Have kids hold a small cup with a ping pong ball inside. Arm each child with a squirt gun and a bucket full of water and hold a contest to see who can spray enough water into float the ball out of someone's cup.

Wet and Wild Jump Rope
Have a contest where each child gets a cup of water and a turn at jumping rope and see who can keep the most water in the cup after 5 jumps.

Frozen Fruit and Yogurt Bites
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, spoon small dollups of yogurt into drops, and place a raspberry or piece of fruit on top. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes, and then serve for a cooling treat.

Shake it all up Slushy
Use a blender to combine 5 1/2 cups ice, 2/3 cup cream of coconut, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, and 1/4 cup water. Serve it up with little umbrellas for a taste of the tropics.

Have a blast this Labor Day Weekend and remember to get out of the house to enjoy the weather, hike a trail, host a picnic, or a neighborhood field day!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

4 Reasons Your Kids Should Play In Dirt

There is a saying that "dirty kids are happy kids" but this saying goes far behind happiness because, truth be told, more and more research has been finding that dirty kids are in fact healthier kids! Allergies and auto immune diseases are on the rise in children, and scientific hypotheses and smart mamas have been saying its because kid's are not getting exposed to germs and bacteria as much as they used to. Children nowadays have a sterile environment free of as many germs, microbes, and well pain old dirt as possible for parents. In the rush to protect our children, are we really just putting them at risk for an improperly developed immune system?

Lysol commercials and even Clorox are now touting that we must disinfect our children's environment, their toys on a daily or weekly basis, and even the air they are breathing! This marketing campaign is particularly disturbing because children's immune systems are developing strength by the constant exposure to these germs, microbes, and bacteria. So by limiting the number of germs they are exposed to we are in fact lessening the load on their immune system which will limit its effectiveness in preventing future sickness and disease. In fact, the National Institutes of Health conducted a study from 1988 to 1994 and found that 56% of Americans ages 6-59 had an allergy or sensitivity to at least one allergen. This statistic is up by almost 5 times from a similar survey completed in 1980.

In a study published by Science in March of 2012, mice exposed to little or no germs and mice with a normal  bacteria infested environments were studied in comparison with each other. Based on the results of this study, researchers found that the germ-free mice had inflammation of the lungs and colon due to hyperactivity of the immune system's T Cells. The inflammation they found closely resembled asthma and colitis which are frequently occurrences in many of today's children. In addition, these researchers found that mice who were exposed to germs during the first weeks of life (equivalent to the first year or more in humans) had a longer-lasting immune system protection even if exposed to less germs in adult life. It seems that microbe exposure in early life is essential to strong immune system function later in life.

In addition, pet or farm animal exposure at an early age can also help children avoid allergies according to another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In addition, this study found that children in larger families that were exposed to a larger range of bacteria had fewer allergies than those in the smaller families of most American families today.

So what's the real deal with these studies and statistics? Well to fight off the notion that all germs are bad, we need to look at how our immune system works and more importantly that not all germs are bad. In fact, our skin is normally and naturally covered in bacteria that help protect our bodies. This bacteria can not only help to prevent inflammation, but according to Dr. Mary Ruebush, an immunologist and author of Why Dirt is Good, it actually helps cuts and scrapes heal. She also mentions that early exposure to germs and pathogens can actually reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease as adults! Dr. Mary recommends parents let their kids play in the dirt (and suggests parents do the same) not only for the bacterial benefit but also as a stress reducer. Digging in the dirt releases the feel good hormone serotonin in the brain which can induce relaxation and better moods for the whole family.

So what can you do to help your little ones immune system develop strong?

1) Don't sterilize your child's life. Children exposed to germs at a younger age have stronger immune systems and let's face it, your child will put everything in their mouth whether you've cleaned it or not. So don't fret if he or she shares toys with Fido because they are preventing cardiovascular, allergies, asthma, and colitis in later life.

2) Let kids play in the dirt. Join them outside by planting flowers or a vegetable garden together to nurture great bacteria balance and some mood boosting serotonin release for everyone. If your little explorer is searching under the couch, don't stress if he gets a hold of some under shoe goo or left overs the mop didn't quite reach.

3) Encourage healthy gut bacteria. Make sure your kids are taking a probiotic especially if they're suffering from colic or gas or have recently had a vaccination or round of antibiotics. This will prevent harmful bacteria from taking over the body environment and help get the beneficial bacteria back into the foothold of health in their bodies.

4) Play it smart when washing hands. Don't use antibacterial soap all the time as this can wipe out the beneficial bacteria on the skin that can help heal and reduce inflammation in case of skin injury. Antibacterial hand cleanser can do the same, but dry out skin quickly due to the added alcohol. I recommend to only use regular soap and water and not to use soap at every hand wash. Just rinsing the hands in warm water while rubbing them together can remove most residual residue and help decrease the amount of bacteria on the hands. Of course if Johnny down the street has strep throat and is coughing all over your house, it would be a smart idea to use soap and stick to washing up prevention as much as possible.

5) Encourage children from the neighborhood to come on over and play. While you may not have 5 kids living under your roof, the more is truly the merrier. The more exposure your sweetie gets from Suzy down the block and her 4 siblings, the better off her immune system will be. Host a sleep over or playdate and team up with other neighborhood moms to spread the responsibility. After all who doesn't love an afternoon to themselves catch up on that novel you've set aside for the past 15 months or to throw another load in the laundry?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thimerosal Containing Vaccines Increase Risk for Developmental Disorders

Long has been the debate on autism being linked with vaccination, however many parents, researchers, scientists, and doctors are questioning the safety of vaccination in the high dosages recommended by the CDC due to research publications on the additives and preservatives in these vaccinations that have been linked with brain abnormalities, motor neuron death, and neuron toxic effects. Even our government is claiming that research shows that vaccines are still effective, however after looking into their published studies we see evidence of adverse reactions in high numbers that are, and I quote, "favoring rejection" of a vaccination but yet ignored in the conclusions of the literature review.

Dr. Christopher Shaw, a neuroscientist that is an authority when it comes to designing models for Alzheimers, Parkinson, and ALS-parkinsonism dementia complex research, published a study in 2009 on the effects of the injectable aluminum ingredient found in vaccinations given to children. He found specifically that this injectable aluminum had not only negative behavioral effects and motor deficits, but upon dissection found that it also caused motor neuron death that could predispose our children to Alzheimers and Parkinson later in life. After publishing his study in the medical community, there was a resounding silence and no refutable evidence or conflicting studies were presented to the public in the two years following his publication. Since this additive in vaccines is given to our children you'd think that research showing the efficacy and safety of this chemical additive would be presented, but the truth is the research just isn't out there!

In numerous analyses of the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) by Drs. Mark & David Geier, they have found a causal link between thimerosal containing vaccines and increased rates of autism, mental retardation, speech and personality disorders, and even abnormal thought processes. In 2001 they published the first ever epidemiological study that associated thimerosal from early childhood vaccination with neurodevelopmental disorders, and they received a serious backlash from their findings. In fact, their research has been criticised by the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, his research has been retracted by Autoimmunity Reviews, and his findings are now being discredited by the Special Masters of the US Court of Federal Claims. Here is a list of their published studies with the National Library of Medicine, notice most if not all have to do with vaccination additives and associations with negative outcomes.

In August of 2011, the CDC's literature review conclusions stated that the evidence was inadequate to favor or reject a causal relationship. However if you look at the actual adverse events reported in their study and their conclusions based on those events it does not add up! Even when there is a moderate to high epidemiological assessment of an adverse event they rule it as inadequate, support of vaccination, and only in two cases did they conclude that the adverse events reported favor rejection of the vaccine. Want to read that yourself?

So what can you do to decrease your child's risk?

1) Research the literature and publications available on the side effects of vaccination and the risk factors for your children.
2) Determine if you or your child has any risk factors for developing a reaction after vaccination.
3) Talk to friends and family members about their positive and negative experiences.
4) Make an informed decision on whether to vaccinate, use a alternative or delayed vaccination schedule, or not vaccinate at all.
5) If you decide not to vaccinate, make sure you fill out an exemption form that complies with your state law's requirements and submit it to your child's daycare or school.
6) Talk to your doctor or pediatrician about your choice. If you find they are not supportive of your decision or question your decision repeatedly, some parents may prefer to find a doctor that is more open minded or supportive of their choice to be an informed parent.