Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Paleo 30 Day Challenge

Ladies and Gentlemen....On August 1st 2012, I am embarking on a 30 day Paleo Diet Challenge. I am going to eat nothing but Paleo approved meals which means I will be cutting out all processed sugars and white flour or wheat products from my diet for 30 days. We have been reading the book Paleo Solution here in the office and researching the effects of refined sugars and grains on our bodies. The results are in and eating refined sugars and grains have been harming our bodies by causing inflammation and leading to chronic diseases such as auto immune disorders, food sensitivity, sugar dysregulation, and hormone imbalance. If you haven't heard anything about the Paleo diet or the "caveman" diet or the hunter-gatherer diet as its also known, I highly recommend picking up this book, The Paleo Solution. It's a bit technical in some parts but really gets the point across about how refined sugars and carbs are affecting your health on a cellular level.

For others that are curious what this diet is really all about, the main idea is that we return to the diet of our ancestors who foraged off the land and had to keep moving to survive instead of setting up farms. They ate a diet full of protein and rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables. Their lives might not have been as long as ours, however they lived full lives with plenty of activity and traveling long distances to forage the land. This is the one part of our lives that is missing now, the movement part. Many of us sit at a desk or stand in one place on our feet all day and then return home to eat large meals and sit on the couch and watch TV. In addition, we eat a diet full of processed and refined carbs that cause us to pack on the pounds. In the wake of this change, we've seen droves of disease and metabolic disorders rise in astounding numbers in our population. I won't bore you with more details, but if this sounds eye opening to you I'd highly suggest you look more into "paleolithic diet" or "caveman diet" or "blueprint diet".

In the meantime I do want to share some family and kid friendly recipes, because the application is the hardest part in our society today. So below find a 2 year old approved breakfast compliments of my daughter Camryn and an easy crockpot dinner that will impress guest's palates.

In case you're wondering whats on her plate: Pork sausage cooked with fresh basil leaves and chopped garlic for the hair, 2 slices of ripen peaches for eyebrows, green grapes for eyes, nose, and earrings, and banana sliced for the mouth. Fried eggs or hardboiled eggs also work great for eyes.

Now for dinner: Cranberry Pork Roast
Ingredients: 1/2 cup to 1 cup all natural cranberry juice, 2 tbsp coconut flour, 1/2 cup golden raisins, 2-3 tbsp ground ginger, 2 tbsp dried mustard, 2 tbsp garlic powder or 4 sliced cloves, salt and pepper, 1/2 small lemon for garnish, 2-3 lb pork roast, and a crockpot. I also added some fresh basil leaves for a bit more flavor punch but it tastes great without as well.

Pour cranberry juice in bottom of crockpot until fills whole bottom about 1/2 inch. Wash and pat dry pork roast. Rub all spices into roast and place in center of crockpot. Sprinkle coconut flour and raisins over roast. Garnish with 2-3 thin lemon slices. Cook in crockpot on low 8 hours or high for 5 hours. Enjoy :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What is Crossfit?

You may have heard the word "Crossfit" come up in casual conversation with a friend or new acquaintance , on a website, or even in our office, however many people have no idea what to expect or what "Crossfit" really is. So I'm going to give you a breakdown of what it is, how it helps, and what to expect at your first class.

Crossfit is an international fitness program that is focused on function and natural body movements. There's no restriction on what you can do and they apply an intense and varied workout for everyone that attends class. You won't do the same workout twice in a week and you'll have the opportunity to create a fitness family on whom to rely for support, encouragement, and a team mentality. This program is used to train not only our law enforcement, fire and military professionals, but also prepares us for the challenges of everyday life such as lifting a heavy box up to or down from a taller shelf. Crossfit's goal is a build small tight knit fitness communities so it's members can enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle for life! Crossfit will help you to achieve your health and fitness goals and exceed your expectations of what you really thought was possible.

Crossfit helps transform our bodies by varying workouts so that we can train the body together as one rather than focusing on one area of the body. This ensures that you will be able to avoid injury from repetitive movements or moving the way a machine was designed to move rather than how your body is built to move. In addition Crossfit will help you strengthen, tone, and tighten your body like you never thought possible. Many people have a total body transformation in as little as 5 -10 weeks in which they lose many inches and gain plenty of muscle to sustain that body. Many Crossfit gyms also support the Paleolithic diet which is essentially the hunter gatherer diet of our ancestors that decreases your risk for cancer, auto immune disease, and many other chronic illnesses. They usually will give you a crash course in Paleo diet in order to help you get the nutrients your body needs to support your Crossfit experience.

Here's a video of some of the things that can be done in Crossfit Note: This video may be a little deterring to think you can perform these exercises and motions, but with training and time you'll be amazed that you can do these things!

I went to my first Crossfit class last night and wow was it intense! After viewing some videos online and talking to people to find out what to expect at the first class, I did not think that it would be a workout I could enjoy. After yesterday's class, I can say without a doubt that it was nothing like I expected and it is definitely something that I can do to achieve my goals for fitness and health. At my first class we did a combination of squats, planks, whole body stretching through dynamic movements, and short bursts of running. The only equipment we used was our body, a pvc pipe, a wooden box, and a weighted ball to carry while running. The intensity varied for each person based on their abilities and changes were suggested for those having a hard time keeping up or those with injuries. I've included a video below to give you an idea of what a more beginner type of workout at Crossfit might be.

If you'd like to try a Crossfit workout, I'd recommend calling a local Crossfit gym and talking to them about trying a class for free. Many gyms have days where visitors are welcome to drop in and try a workout.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Truth about HPV Vaccination

Gardasil's HPV vaccine is being routinely given to our children, both girls and boys, in an effort to help our children become "one less" affected by cervical cancer. To date there is no proven statistics that this vaccination is preventing cervical cancer and the harmful side effects of the HPV vaccination have not been fully evaluated. In addition, this vaccination has no evidence that it would reduce the rate of cervical cancer any more than routine Pap smears. Why are you putting your children at risk when they can easily submit to Pap smears to check for cervix changes on a yearly basis?

This vaccination is now being mandated in certain states due to pharmaceutical lobbying to our legislation. This vaccine is also being sent to third world countries as well in an effort to reach out in effort for them to become "one less". Our current medical system is supposed to be evidence based and with current treatments showing promising results with treatment for conditions. Yet our current HPV vaccination methods leave much to be desired and have no evidence basis for mass vaccination of our children as a benefit for preventing cervical cancer.

In clinical trials and testing for the Gardasil HPV vaccine, a inferior HPV test was used to screen for cancer in those that received the vaccine. This same test only has a 57.6% success rate in identifying cervical cancer out of the 624 possible cancers to be detected. The National Cancer Institute used an inferior test in an effort to make their trials appear more successful when in fact they are on the payroll and helped create the HPV vaccination.  In addition, these same trials lumped saline and aluminum injections together as a placebo in an effort to increase side effects in the placebo group to again make trials appear more successful than separated statistics.

 In addition, these trials also tout that side effects are rare and most complaints are of a minimal nature of redness and pain around the injection site. However in one study 73.3% of the trial participants reported serious side effects from the vaccination. This statistic is staggeringly higher than "rare". Any side effects or medical conditions found after HPV vaccination need to be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, VAERS, so that we can truly track the side effects and sheer numbers of adverse events being reported. Many of these conditions may not be diagnosed until months later and then not associated back to the vaccination, so please be mindful of new symptoms after HPV vaccination.

The most commonly reported reactions are pain, swelling, itching, bruising, redness at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, fainting, and vomiting. However more serious side effects that are less common include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, hives or rash, swollen glands, joint pain, leg pain, chest pain, unusual tiredness, weakness, confusion, chills, achy muscles, difficulty keeping food down, seizures, and skin infection.  In addition, there have been reports of death, convulsions, paresthesia, paralysis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, transverse myelitis, facial palsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, anaphylaxis, autoimmune disorders, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms, and cervical cancer! In the three months between August and September 2011, adverse event reports for the HPV vaccination alone increased by 1000! Read more HPV statistics here.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your children from cervical cancer naturally?

1) Get a pap smear every year. Regular pap smears can detect cell changes before they progress to cervical cancer. Most women diagnosed with cervical cancer have either not had a pap smear before or haven't had one in the last five years.
2) Don't rely on a vaccination. These vaccinations not only have harmful side effects but they have not been proven to protect against all forms of cervical cancer. Pap smears and cervical screenings are still needed even after HPV vaccination.
3) Practice safe sex and responsibility. Condoms can lower your chances of getting HPV that can lead to cervical cancer and may also protect from certain forms of genital warts. However be mindful that HPV may reside on other areas that aren't covered by a condom, so be responsible by being faithful, limiting your number of sexual partners, and getting routine pap smears.
4) Keep your immune system strong. Make sure you're taking a multivitamin like Daily Balance that will ensure you're getting the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. It's also a great idea to make sure that you're "good gut bacteria" are in balance to help prevent other harmful bacteria from getting a foot hold in your body. I recommend a good probiotic like Ultrabiotic. Please be sure to check with your doctor before taking supplements if you are on immune system lowering medications.
5) Support your nervous system. Your nervous system controls everything in your body and can help you respond quickly and efficiently to any foreign invaders or threats to your health. Your body has the ability to fight cancer every day if it is functioning properly which means that your nervous system is working at 100%. Not sure if you're nervous system is functioning at 100%? Check with your chiropractor as their main focus is on your nervous system and making sure that it is functioning properly!

Want more information about vaccines and the potential side effects and harm? Join me on August 22nd at 6pm at AlignLife 4812 N Sheridan Road in Peoria IL for a presentation about the Hidden Dangers of Vaccination.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Go Barefoot

People are joining the barefoot movement everyday in an effort to end chronic pain and injuries sustained while active doing everything from running to hiking up a mountain. So why is this movement so popular? Is it because a Harvard Professor says "Barefoot is Best"? For some, yes. However I think this trend is beginning to truly grow due to the fact that people that have gone barefoot are beginning to learn the biomechanics behind how their bodies were designed to move and embracing it. Many barefoot researchers only look to the foot mechanics in an effort to tote that one type of foot strike is better than the other, however they are again ignoring the mechanics of how our bodies were designed to move together from the head to the feet. As a result their study findings have NOT been incredibly earth shattering because they are ignoring the rest of the leg and pelvis!

So let's take a quick tour of your pelvis and lower leg to see those biomechanics in action. While your leg bone is in fact connected to your hip bone, the biggest key to this articulation working how it was designed has to do with making sure that your hip and your pelvic floor muscles aren't too tight. When your hip flexors are too tight they tend to rotate the femur outward in that joint and can cause strain on the hip as well as causing rotation and buckling at the knee and ankle that can make you prone to injury in the hip, knee, and ankles. On the flip side of that coin when the pelvic floor muscles are too tight they tend to tilt the pelvis forward which will put excessive stress on the low back to cause injury, pain, and even degenerative conditions that can lead to vertebral fractures. Scary right? Guess what, your solution to this is in #3 so keep reading!

In order to have a neutral position while walking or running, the knee joint should be facing forward with no rotation of the femur. How do you check this? Well by having someone help you find your knee pits! (Yes, its true you have a second set of pits that you haven't been paying attention to.) I'll refer to my best friend Katy Bowman for a quick video on how to find your knee pit and fix the rotation. Check out the video in #4.

I'm going to talk about foot strike pattern now to introduce the concept of how your foot should be striking depending on what activity you are doing. For example, I've heard many runners say that you should land on your heel while running and other say that's all wrong and you should land on your forefoot. So who is correct? Well is depends on what activity you are doing and there are also variables from person to person when it comes to running as well. So before we run, let's walk a bit while I show you the normal foot strike pattern for walking. Check out the picture below for the three phases of gait. Contact is the heel strike, midstance is the flattening of the foot, and propulsive is the toe push off to get you moving again. This is all find and dandy, but what's the issue for most people? Due to restrictive footware, heels, and slip on clogs or flip flops most people don't get the full motion in the joints of the foot and they usually stop at midstance before picking up their foot to begin the gait cycle again. This can lead to pain in the bottom of the foot and toes, degeneration in the joints, weak intrinsic muscles of the foot, and even knee pain. Check out tip #3 below for some tips on fixing your walking gait.
So what about running you say? There is an ongoing argument between biomechanists, running enthusiasts, and scientists that gait pattern shouldn't change with running. Some recent studies have looked at shock and forces of impact on joints with heel landing and forefoot landing during the contact phase. They found that more force is transferred into the foot, ankle, and even up to the knee with heel strike during running than with forefoot landing. Their argument stands that "proper" running technique should begin with minimalist shoes so runners land on their forefoot for more cushion and less shock transfer into the foot and knee. Read more on Harvard's Daniel Lieberman's foot strike study here. Another study conducted by Dr. Lieberman looked at running injuries and how they compared between heel strike and forefoot strike gait patterns during running. Over the course of a few years he looked at injury patterns of 52 NCAA cross country runners and found that those with a heel strike running pattern were injured at twice the rate of the those with the forefoot strike running pattern. This statistic may lean people to view heel strike as a downfall in runners, however the study completely avoided analysis of anything from the ankle up in the comparison in these athletes. 

I think that further study and comparisons are needed in injury rates and alignment between ankle, knee, and hips due to the fact that rotation at any of these levels can put unnecessary torsion not only on the joints of the pelvis and lower leg but also lead to chronic re-injury rates in this same population. I think the debate will go on, but I think those that have jumped into the barefoot phenomenon need to look at bone structure and basic biomechanics of the body before touting that one strike pattern is better for the next. Check out #5 for more info.

If you are still confused what I am talking about, don't worry I'll still give you some info on what to know before jumping on the barefoot bandwagon. Check out the rest below.

**Do not begin an exercise program before consulting your doctor. If any of the exercises or tips in the numbers below cause pain, discontinue them immediately and consult with your doctor.**

1) You need to condition your body for barefoot. Yes that is correct. You can't just wake up one morning after wearing hard soled shoes for 20 years that allow for no foot flexibility or movement and just strap on a pair of minimalist shoes with no support and total flexibility. You will need to do some stretches to prepare the feet and joints for flexibility and some strengthening for your muscles of the foot and ankle to be able to support your weight while walking. Need some tips? Check out vibram's website for the foot training program. Check out some of the other stretches and tips below for more ways to prepare your body for barefoot.

2) Don't be surprised if your legs, knees, ankles, or feet are a bit sore after a long walk. These muscles aren't used to being relied on while walking and you just gave them the workout of a lifetime. I recommend beginning your barefoot walking regime on softer surfaces like grass or dirt rather than cement. Many runners have been getting shin splits and stress fractures due to minimalist shoes due to the fact that the shock is transferring up their shins from the cement and the muscles are causing excessive strain and pressure on their insertion points on the bones. This is due to the fact that they aren't starting slow and conditioning their body for barefoot.

3) Stretching the muscles of the hip and pelvis are essential. There are three main stretches that can be done daily to help stretch these muscles out in order to support a more biomechanically "correct" posture. These stretches are designed to target the problem areas for most, however if you're experiencing pain or tightness in other areas please consult with your doctor. The first is the butterfly that will open up your pelvis and give a little stretch to the inside leg and pelvic floor. The second is the pelvic tilt which will help train your body to knowing where correct pelvic posture is and also strengthen the abdominal core. Obviously you'll have a bit more tissue that Mr. Skeleton in the pelvic tilt picture, but you'll need to tense your abs to tilt that pelvis backward and you may notice the arch in your low back will disappear when you tilt the pelvis. The third is the forward lunge which will stretch the front of the hip and thigh. Notice that his body is upright and his knee doesn't extend forward over his foot.

4) Find your knee pits and get them aligned! Correctly aligned knee pits will allow for your knees to bend correctly and lead to less knee injury and degenerative joint disease Watch the short video below to learn how to be a pro.

5) Adjust your foot strike pattern while walking. Based on the paragraph above I introduced the concept of three steps in the gait cycle. Most Americans and even Europeans don't use the joints under the ball of their foot and as a result get a lot of pain. So what I recommend is to practicing walking barefoot through the three steps of gait a minimum of 2 hours everyday and 4 hours if you walk in heels. This means that you are going to have to bend your foot while walking to push off with your toes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Worried your baby will be breech?

Many Soon-to-be-Mommys are concerned about the same things. If baby will be healthy, if breastfeeding will be easy, if they will be able to handle the late night feedings, and many other concerns on the general care of baby. But the most resounding and worrisome questions for mommies tend to involve the birth of their baby and challenges associated with birth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, cesarean rates have increased yet again in the United States. In 2009, the rate of cesarean section was the highest it has ever been in history, a resounding 32.9% which is approximately 1/3 of all births. This trend has been increasing even for low risk mothers who've decided to electively undergo c-section. It is also common practice for mothers with breech position (head up babies that haven't flipped) to undergo C-section due to a study published in the Lancet in 2000. This study was ended early after suggested higher risk to vaginal delivery for breech babies and almost all obstetricians are now performing c-section for breech birth due to the results. However, breech births are a complex process that has not been studied enough and one trial should not be the standard to shift obstetric practice towards elective c-section. Read more about birth trends in the US here.

So what can you do to help reduce your risk for breech or turn baby head down for your approaching due date?
1) Stay flexible. Tight muscles in the pelvic floor coupled with weakness in the supportive core muscles can lead to an unnatural pelvis position that will make it harder for baby to flip head down and also decrease the size of the birth canal. Talk to your doctor or chiropractor about exercises you can do to loosen these muscles and keep a strong core.
2) Make sure you're balanced. If you're experiencing pain on one side of your stomach or pain in your low back it could indicate that your pelvis and the supportive ligaments of the uterus are out of balance. If these are unbalanced it can lead to twisting of the uterus which can cause longer birth times, more pain during birth, and a higher risk of interventions. If you're experiencing this I highly recommend visiting a chiropractor familiar and well versed in Webster's Technique. This chiropractic technique helps to realign the pelvis to a natural position and also addresses ligamentous strain causing uterine twisting. As a plus, pregnant women have found decreased birth times and easier birth with chiropractic care.
3) Put together a birth plan. You and your partner should discuss what you'd like to do on the day of delivery including what you would interventions you'd like for your child. Baby Center has a great worksheet for parents to fill out with many different options. Click here to fill out that worksheet.
4) Prepare for delivery. Many first time moms or VBAC moms are unsure of what to expect on delivery day but many are well versed in how to know if you're in labor. The biggest key is to listen and trust your body. Many women that find themselves in labor tense up when contractions start which can increase the time it will take for baby to descend and make you miserably tired when its time to push. I recommend talking to your doctor about your concerns and things you can do to speed up labor time.

If  you feel like you've reached a wall and would like to talk about some other options for flipping your baby to the correct head down position before birth, don't hesitate to contact me!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How often should you Super Size It?

I am excited to announce that AlignLife will be having its first movie night tonight at 6pm in the office! Tonight's theme is a wine and cheese night of little nibbles as we watch and discuss clips from Morgan Spurlocks' shocking documentary Super Size Me. In this extreme look at a fast food diet, Morgan eats a diet of nothing but McDonald's for 30 days to see how that would impact his health. You will be shocked to see the changes his body goes through, appalled at the discoveries in your children's cafeteria food, and disgusted with the truth about sugar and what it really does to your brain and body. Call 309-689-6200 to reserve your spot tonight!

How often should you eat fast food? This is a question I hear on a regular basis from patients and one that has a number of variables. As a general guideline you should avoid eating fast food as the high fat and highly processed carbohydrates that frequently go hand in hand with fast food can not only pack on the pounds but they can also lead to poor digestive health and alter your body's hormones and metabolism. Sounds scary right? That's because it is! A record number of children are eating fast food on a regular basis and we are watching obesity rates in children rise to highs that have never been imagined or predicted from health officials. In fact, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation approximately 25% of Americans are eating fast food on a daily basis.

When you ingest a high carbohydrate meal your body is signaled to dump out insulin to combat the excess sugar you will have in your blood before long. Since insulin's job is to usher the blood sugar into cells and send the excess to the liver for fat conversion, it will tend to leave little sugar in your blood which was the whole purpose of you eating in the first place. This low blood sugar can cause you to become light headed or get a headache and also signal your brain that you are hungry again. This vicious cycle is in process for many Americans today and has lead to an obesity epidemic with headaches and hormone balance teetering on clinical diagnoses of chronic pain and a concoction of prescribed medications to try to "right" hormone balance.

If you're attending tonight's Wine and Cheese Movie Night you'll see the effects a McDonald's diet has on your liver, your fat stores, your hormones, and even your brain. The lab tests performed in the movie will shed real light on the serious transformation the United States needs for their children's cafeteria and also for the mentality of it's citizens in regards to their food choices.

So what can you take away for some Healthy Habits for yourself and your family?

1)  Plan ahead so you can avoid eating at fast food restaurants on a regular basis. This means getting the menu figured out for the whole family ahead of time, grocery shopping with a list, and may include cutting and preparing ingredients ahead of time so little effort has to be put forth if you've had a long day.

2)   Eat smart portion sizes. A single serving of protein is about the size of a deck of cards while vegetables should take up about 2/3 of your plate. Eat fruits sparingly between meals or to enrich and add flavor to spice up a bland meal. Bread products even those with whole grain tend to spike insulin and alter hormones in the body, so try to avoid those as frequent use can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.
3)   Indulge yourself. This doesn't mean splurge on a Super Size Meal with enough calories and sodium intake for the next week. But don't underestimate the power of a small dessert. A square of dark chocolate is a great choice for those that need a sweet tooth snack after dinner.
4)   Drink plenty of water. Ever notice that children always seem to be thirsty rather than hungry? (Until they hit puberty right moms?) This is due to the fact that as our brains grow and synapses connect we lose our ability to distinguish thirst from hunger. As a result many people tend to reach for food every time the feel an urge to fill up rather than the water your body is screaming for. Incidentally, about 75% of Americans are dehydrated and don't get the recommended daily water intake. The 8 glasses of 8 oz rule is severely outdated and variable between people with different heights and builds. I recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces daily as a better guideline and reaching for a glass of water first next time you think you're hungry. As an example, if Jane Doe is 100 lbs then she should aim for 50 oz of water daily.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What is the strongest muscle in the body?

Did you guess tongue? You're wrong! Don't tell me you guessed heart because of the picture? Guess what you're still WRONG! So what in the world is the strongest muscle in the body? Well women, take a bow, because that award goes to the uterus.

Yes, you are reading that correctly! Many people believe that the tongue or jaw muscles are the strongest in the body when in fact its the contracting uterus that wins the battle. The uterus wall is made of a muscle called the myometrium. The wall of the uterus is very thin but has enough force to pull open the cervix and push a baby out! Maybe two or three if you're really lucky :)

So how does this muscle take the cake when compared to the ripped abs of the New York Fireman of the Month in the 2012 calendar? I saved you the trip. 

Well let me explain as simple as possible. The wall of the uterus pre-labor is about 2 cm thick when undilated. However as baby's head descends into the pelvic cavity and puts pressure on the cervix it signals the uterus to start the races. This signal will cause the uterus to begin to contract from the top (underneath the breasts at this stage) down to the cervix which will effectively start to thin out the cervix. This thinning of the cervix (as can be seen in the picture below)  is called effacement and this process will lead to dilation (opening) of the cervix and eventually deliver of baby. In addition, the actual size of the uterus will decrease throughout this process which will help push baby out of the womb as well.

So where's the amazing feat here? Well besides the fact that a baby is born, the uterus creates a TON of force. In fact according to Clinical Obstetrics there's about 7 kg or about 15 1/2 pounds of force on average created by the uterus during natural childbirth. This force is created by the slow and gradual contraction of the uterus that is associated with child birth that is not medically assisted. Now imagine this, before baby the uterus only weighed about 60 grams which is about the size of a large egg. I don't know about you, but I haven't seen any eggs walking around with a 15 1/2 pound punch so that is a feat in itself.

So now I'm sure you're all wondering what if it's not a natural child birth? Again I'm citing Clinical Obstetrics in their claim that oxytocin can stimulate the uterus to contract at 14 kg or more with some cases of up to 23 kg (50 pounds!) of force. 

So how does this compare with the tongue or the heart? The tongue weighs about 70 grams in males and 60 grams in females. In August of 2008 Thomas Blackthorne set a world record tongue lifting of 12.5kg after he hooked the weight onto a hook inserted through his tongue. Watch it here.

Wow those are some crazy numbers and crazy feats by the human body! So what's the purpose of my blog post today? To amaze you with the amazing things that your body can do when its healthy and functioning properly!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fibromyalgia and muscle cramping is linked to a deficiency in this nutrient...

Are you suffering from anxiety? Having muscle spasms or cramping? Having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? You are not alone. In fact, 70% of Americans are not getting enough of this essential mineral and only 20% of Americans are getting even half of their daily value. What is this mineral? Magnesium!

Magnesium is essential for a properly functioning nervous system including nerve conduction and electrolyte balances. Magnesium is also necessary for proper muscle function as it's the body's natural muscle relaxant. Low magnesium has also been associated with personality changes and depression. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body and is also needed for proper blood coagulation, energy production, bone and cell formation, and nutrient absorption.

How do you know if you're deficient? Not by a blood test! Only 1% of the body's magnesium is found in the blood and only .3% is found in the blood serum, so a blood test will not identify a magnesium deficiency. In fact, magnesium deficiency may actually show up as a calcium deficiency since they complement each other in the body. If your doctor has recommended you take a calcium supplement, you need to take magnesium supplement with it. Low magnesium coupled with high calcium intake will actually lead to calcification of the heart, arteries, and other organs which can put you at risk for many other health conditions. The best ratio to guide yourself by is a 1:1 calcium to magnesium ratio. However, make sure you're not using a supplement with only magnesium oxide in it, as this form of magnesium isn't absorbed efficiently and is really a waste of your money. Here's a great product with three different and very absorbing forms of magnesium, Triple Mag.

What are some risk factors for magnesium deficiency?

1) Drinking dark colored carbonated beverages. The phosphates contained in dark beverages bind with magnesium in the body to reduce your magnesium levels.
2) Eating or drinking highly sugary products including those with artificial sugar. Refined sugar has no magnesium and actually causes your body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys. In addition, these products also strip your body of many other highly essential nutrients and can leave you at risk for many health problems.
3) Drinking caffeinated beverages. Caffeine works similarly to refined sugar in that it causes the kidneys to excrete magnesium.
4) Drinking alcoholic beverages. Alcohol also increases kidney excretion of magnesium. Alcohol also tends to lower the efficiency of your digestive tract and lower Vitamin D levels which can further lower magnesium levels. 
5) Taking diuretics, heart medications, asthma medication, birth control pills, or estrogen replacement therapy. These medications will also increase magnesium excretion through the kidneys.
6) Excessive stress in your life whether from physical, emotional, or psychological stressors. Stressful conditions cause the body to use more magnesium and a lack of magnesium tends to make stress responses more severe. The hormones associated with stress, adrenaline and cortisol, were also associated with magnesium deficiency.
7) Do you have GI or digestive issues? Many issues with magnesium deficiency arise from an improperly functioning digestive tract. If your "good" intestinal bacteria aren't at the proper levels and you're not eating a diet to make them thrive you're putting yourself at risk for many other nutrient deficiencies. A probiotic with numerous strains of intestinal bacteria can help solve this problem along with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. I recommend Ultrabiotic or Pedia biotic for children.
8) Are you over 55? Older adults are particularly susceptible to lower magnesium levels due to lower diet levels of calcium, decreased absorption in the kidneys and GI tract due to aging, and stress levels.

Need some guidance? Call my office to setup a nutritional consultation in the office or on the phone 309-689-6200.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fireworks are toxic to your health...

Families from around the United States will travel in droves tomorrow to see firework displays and even more will participate at home with sparklers and roman candles. But many don't realize that the chemicals used in these fireworks can cause a number of health problems and cause long standing environmental damage as well.

After fireworks displays, air levels of trace minerals  such as strontium, magnesium, barium, potassium, and copper increased a minimum of 6 times the normal amount present. In addition many toxic particles are released into the air and suspended in a cloud for ingestion by the crowds. These suspended particles not only cause pollution in the environment but they can also irritate the lining of the lungs and cause  conditions such as asthma and allergies. One study found that sparklers can create a burst of ozone that is highly reactive and can irritate the lining of the lungs. Read more about how sparklers can harm your children. Another found that exposure to sulfur dioxide, a main component in fireworks, has been related to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as well. Click here to find out how fireworks can raise your child's risk of SIDS.

Below find a chart about some of the chemicals in fireworks and some of the toxic effects associated:

Toxic Element
Fireworks Usage
Toxic Effect of Fallout Dust & Fumes
brilliant whites
Contact dermatitis, bioaccumulation
Antimony sulfide
glitter effects
Toxic smoke, possible carcinogen
Arsenic compounds
Used as colorants. Sadly still out there. [3]
Toxic ash can cause lung cancer, skin irritation and wart formation.
Barium Nitrate
glittering greens
Poisonous. Fumes can irritate respiratory tract. Possible radioactive fallout. [4]
Copper compounds
Polychlorinated dioxins and dibenzofurans. [5] Can bioaccumulate. Cancer risk.
Hexachlorobenzene (HCB)[5]
Use was supposed to be banned globally.
Persistent environmental toxin. Is a carcinogen, mutagen and a reproductive hazard [13].
Lead Dioxide / Nitrate / Chloride
Bioaccumulation, developmental danger for kids & unborn babes, may remain airborne for days, poisonous to plants & animals
Lithium compounds
blazing reds
Toxic and irritating fumes when burned
Mercury (Mercurous chloride)
chlorine donor
Toxic heavy metal. Can bioaccumulate.
Nitric oxide
fireworks byproduct [6]
Toxic by inhalation. Is a free radical
Nitrogen dioxide
fireworks byproduct [6]
Highly toxic by inhalation. SIDS risk [8].
fireworks byproduct [7]
Greenhouse gas that attacks & irritates lungs
Perchlorate -
Ammonium & Potassium
propellant / oxidizer
Can contaminate ground & surface waters, can cause thyroid problems in humans & animals
Potassium Nitrate
in black powder
Toxic dusts, carcinogenic sulfur-coal compounds
Strontium compounds
blazing reds
Can replace calcium in body. Strontium chloride is slightly toxic.
Sulfur Dioxide
gaseous byproduct of sulfur combustion
Acid rain from sulphuric acid affects water sources, vegetation & causes property damage. SIDS risk [8].

So if you must view fireworks displays, please please PLEASE participate in the following healthy habits:

1) Find another option to celebrate. Rather than participate in fireworks displays many options exist as an alternative such as Laser Light Shows, LED Stunt Kite displays, electronic and indoor fireworks displays with the use of a canopy, and many families are opting out of fireworks for block parties and community drumming circles in celebration of the 4th.

2) Don't set off home fireworks. Most of the fireworks that can be purchased cheaply from the store contain many of the toxic elements in the chart above and can cause health risks such as lung irritation, SIDS,  thyroid and hormone conditions, and even cancer. You're better off attending a display with a seat far from the action than having these chemicals close at hand and mouth.

3) Beware of imported fireworks. We've seen example after example of China putting cheap and harmful ingredients in the products they ship overseas. Many of the additives being used in Chinese fireworks are cheaper, more toxic, and these fireworks don't have mandated standards from the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory (AFSL).

4) Take a seat far from the main action. Since fireworks are overhead for the crowds to see and the cloud of toxic particles and harmful gases tend to stay around the main area where they were set off, get your family a seat far from the action.

5) Brush your teeth after viewing fireworks. The sulfur dioxide found in fireworks has been known to cause tooth erosion and decay so removing this from your teeth can help prevent long lasting damage.

6) Talk to your city and state officials about concerns for the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Many fireworks displays have been canceled due to environmental groups up-holding these standards. This will leave way for many of the fireworks alternative options mentioned above.

7) Educate your family and friends about the dangers of fireworks. This will spread a need and desire for more health and environmentally friendly alternatives. Your voice can make a difference in the lives of many others, so SPEAK UP!

[3] Steinhauser, Georg. "Heavy metals from pyrotechnics in New Years Eve snow." Atmospheric Environment Volume 42, Issue 37, December 2008

[4] Steinhauser G and Musilek A. "Do pyrotechnics contain radium?" Environ Res. Lett. 4 034006 July-September 2009 

[5] O. Fleischer. "Release of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans by setting off fireworks." Chemosphere Volume 39, Issue 6, September 1999

[6] Russell, Michael S. The Chemistry of Fireworks. 2000 

[7] Attri, Arun K. "Microclimate: Formation of Ozone by Fireworks." Nature Volume 411, June 28, 2001 

[8] Dales, Robert. "Air Pollution and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome." Pediatrics Vol. 113 No. 6 June 2004 

[9] Vecchi, Roberta. "The Impact of Fireworks on Airborne Particles." to appear in Atmospheric Environment 

[10] Moreno, Teresa. "Recreational atmospheric pollution episodes: Inhalable metalliferous particles from firework displays." Atmospheric Environment Volume 41, Issue 5, February 2007 

[11] Godri KJ, Green DC. "Particulate Oxidative Burden Associated with Firework Activity." Environmental Science & Technology, October 1, 2010 

[12] B. Thakur. "Air pollution from fireworks during festival of lights (Deepawali) in Howrah, India - a case study." Atmósfera, Vol 23, No 4, 2010 

[13] "Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) in Fireworks - Guidance Note" The Environment Agency, September 2010