Health-E-News. February 2010
empowering you to optimal health
Chiropractic Effects on Heart Health
While most of the focus involving heart health has revolved around diet, exercise and prescription medications, there's some indication that certain chiropractic procedures could help to improve the overall health of the heart. Adjustments to the spine may lower blood pressure in individuals suffering from hypertension and provide a better heart rate for everyone.
Systolic Blood Pressure
In a study conducted by the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush University in 2007, realignment of the atlas vertebrae, also known as the C1 vertebrae of the cervical spine, can help to lower systolic blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension. Systolic blood pressure is the topmost number in a blood pressure reading. It's the pressure felt along the arterial walls when the heart contracts. There appears to be a link between compression of the vertebral artery and an unhealthy elevation in blood pressure. By realigning the C1 vertebrae in the neck, restriction along the arterial wall is relieved and you may experience a decrease in blood pressure. Further studies are necessary to ensure that chiropractic realignment could improve systolic blood pressure.
Diastolic Blood Pressure
The study conducted by the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush University also found that this same realignment of the C1 vertebrae affected diastolic blood pressure, which is the bottom number in a blood pressure reading that indicates arterial pressure when the heart is at rest. The same principles apply to the effect that arterial compression within the spine could lead to an elevation in diastolic blood pressure. When the C1 is realigned, the compression is removed from the artery and thereby lowers diastolic blood pressure.
There's also some indication that adjustments to the cervical spine, which are the seven vertebrae found in the neck, may help lower your heart rate. This is largely due to the eight pairs of cervical nerves located within this area of the spine. The Upper Cervical Health Centers of America believe that interferences within these nerves can cause many health conditions, including those that affect the heart. When the cervical spine is placed in alignment, the nervous system is allowed to better communicate with the rest of the body. In relation to the heart, the improved communication can help bring your heart rate down to a healthy level.
Stregthen Your Core For Better Health
The core is the center of the body, where all movement begins. When you lift a heavy grocery bag, reach for a suitcase, pick up one of your children, move a bookcase or throw a ball, the core muscles should activate even before your limbs are in motion. Healthy core muscles will provide your body with the structural integrity and support to your spine for everything from walking and running to lifting to standing to sitting. Let's review five of the more effective core exercises:
Traditional Ab Curl: Lie on your back with your hands behind the low back. Don't flatten the back to the floor. Keep one knee bent and the other knee straight. Tighten the abs and slowly crunch up from the sternum (that T-shaped bone in the center of your lower chest, also known as the breast bone), bringing your shoulder blades off the ground. Don't forget to breath in and out. 12-15 repetitions, 1 set.
On-Your-Back Bent-Leg Knee Raise: Lie on your back with your head and neck relaxed and your hands above your head, holding onto the sides of a bench or a piece of heavy furniture. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Use your lower abdominal muscles to raise your knees up toward your rib cage and face, the heels toward the butt, and toes to the shin. Then slowly lower your feet back to the starting position. As your feet lightly touch the floor, repeat. 12 reps, 1 set.
Plank: Start to get in a push-up position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of your hands. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Pull your abdominals in; imagine you're trying to move your belly button back to your spine. Continue to brace the abdominals and put the low back in the neutral position. Hold this position for an increasing length of time up to a maximum of one minute, breathing steadily. As you build endurance, try to do at least a 60-second set. 2-3 sets, 1 minute per set.
Stability Ball Push-Ups: These are your basic push-ups, but you're doing them with your feet on a stability ball. Keep your body straight - don't let your hips sag or stick your butt up in the air - to max out on the exercise's core-strengthening benefits. Do as many as you can with strict form. 1 set to failure.
Side Bridge: Lie on your nondominant side with your forearm on the floor under your shoulder. Support your weight with that forearm and the outside edge of the same side foot (your legs should be stacked one on top of the other). Your body should form a straight line from head to ankles. Contract your abs and glutes in as far as you can, and push your hips off the floor. Create a straight line from ankle to shoulder and keep your head in line with your spine. Hold this position for an increasing length of time up to a maximum of one minute, breathing steadily. Relax and lower under control. Repeat on your other side. 2-3 sets, 1 minute per set.
Don't be afraid of core training, even if you're a beginner. Actually, if you're just starting an exercise regimen, core training is the place to start, because it will make everything easier. Your Chiropractor can answer any questions you may have regarding the value of core exercises and how to properly perform these and other core exercises.
Healthy 10 minute meals
How can you prepare healthy meals in a pinch? One of the foundational rules for getting a healthy meal on the table in 10 minutes or less is proper planning. Here's an easy way to get started: Brainstorm six to eight menus you can choose from whenever the need arises. Having that many options allows you to avoid repetition and gives you the freedom to mix things up. When you're planning menus, also think about how many different meals you can create using a limited number of ingredients; that way, you can prep several meals at the same time.
Once you've chosen your menus, shop and prep in advance. That means doing everything from grilling chicken to chopping up vegetables to boiling rice or pasta. In some cases, you can completely finish the meal so it only requires reheating during your busy evenings. You can decide how much time you'll have and which foods can be partially prepared and which can be completely prepared in advance and still last for as long as you need them.
Here are a few healthy meal suggestions that are easy to prepare in a pinch and provide your family with sound nutrition:
- Turkey Taco Salad: Cook lean or extra-lean ground turkey thoroughly with seasoning. Crumble it and arrange in the center of a bed of lettuce (which can be pre-washed and bagged). Have the kids add warm or cool pinto, kidney, white or garbanzo beans. Garnish the plate with baked taco chips and salsa, which can be used as a dressing. Add a small amount of shredded cheese to top it all off.
- Chicken Wrap: Slice and shred a pre-cooked chicken (you can pick it up at the store on a weekday evening or prep it on Sunday). Place in a large bowl and mix with the following ingredients: half cup red bell pepper (thinly sliced); 3 medium carrots and 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks; 3 tablespoons of bottled vinaigrette; and shredded lettuce. Warm tortillas (they can be gluten-free) wraps or flatbread. To raise the veggie count for this meal, add a salad and a healthy salad dressing.
Chiropractic For Kids
According to a recent survey by the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association, chiropractic care of children is associated with high levels of patient/parent satisfaction and a near-perfect safety record. So, have you brought your child(ren) to be checked yet?
Chiropractic adjustments are very safe for children. With millions of children visiting a chiropractor every year, adverse events (the technical term for injury) are very rare. A study published in 2008 in the prestigious medical journal Pediatrics found only nine incidents of adverse events related to spinal adjustments in children worldwide over the past 100 years, an enviable safety record.
All doctors understand that any form of health care comes with some degree of risk, whether we're talking about a dose of antibiotics or a chiropractic adjustment. As with any procedure, your chiropractor should discuss the benefits and the risks of the adjustment as it applies to your child.
Chiropractic care for children is very different than chiropractic care for adults. The adjustments are much softer and gentler because the child's joints are looser and easier to move. The procedure is quite comfortable and children often look forward to their chiropractic treatment. In addition, children generally heal much more quickly than adults.
Since chiropractors improve the health of the nervous system by removing irritation stemming from the structural elements of the body, chiropractors can help children with a wide range of conditions, from colic to ear infections to asthma.
If your children aren't already receiving regular chiropractic care, talk to us about getting them into the office for an initial visit.
Chiropractic is 60% Less Expensive Than Medical Care for Complex Cases of Low Back Pain
When care for back pain extends beyond primary care, chiropractic is far less expensive than medical care. These findings are from a study that examined the costs of managing low-back pain (LBP) in a managed care organization in northeast Wisconsin.
Investigators compared the expense of managing LBP by medical providers (both primary care and other providers) with the expense of managing LBP by chiropractors.
According to the report, "allowed costs of chiropractic treatment were 12% greater than medical primary care and 60% less per case than other types of medical care combined, on a per-case basis: median cost of medical primary care was $365.00, chiropractic care was $417.00, and medical non primary care was $669.00."
"This study suggests chiropractic management as less expensive compared with medical management of back pain when care extends beyond primary care. Primary care management alone is virtually indistinguishable from chiropractic management in terms of costs."
JMPT - November 2009;32:734-9.
Almost All High-School Students May Be Sleep-Deprived
A mere 8% of high school students get adequate sleep on school nights, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, which surveyed 12,000 students in grades 9 through 12.
The authors found that 10% of adolescents sleep only five hours and 23% sleep only six hours on an average school night. More females than males have sleep deficits as do more African-Americans and whites compared to Hispanics. Nearly 20% more 12th-grade students have sleep deficits than do those in ninth grade.
"The natural sleep-wake pattern shifts during adolescence, making earlier bed time and wake times more difficult. The result for students with early school start-times is a chronic sleep deficit," notes lead study author Danice Eaton, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
National Sleep Foundation research shows that delaying school start-times by an hour or more increases the amount of sleep adolescents get and improves their performance in school. However, to promote optimal sleep, Dr. Eaton said that adolescents should have set bedtimes before 10 pm. on school nights and consistent wake-sleep times every night.
Journal of Adolescent Health - January 4, 2010;Epub.
Laugher Really Is the Best Medicine
It's a well-known saying that may actually be true, according to a number of studies. Evidence suggests laughter is a true health promoter, helping reduce stress, boost your heart rate, increase circulation, and even burn calories.
For example, laughter helps combat stress, which is well-known to decrease immune-system response. Less stress means a better immune system, making your body less prone to infection and disease. Reducing stress levels also makes it easier to fall asleep, and as has been discussed in this publication on several occasions, poor and/or inadequate sleep can contribute to a whole host of negative health consequences.
But how could laughter possibly burn calories? It's actually a simple concept, if you think about it: When you laugh, your body moves in various ways; muscles throughout the body stretch and, depending on the strength of the laugh, your abdomen and other areas of the body may even contract repeatedly. That's a workout and a laugh all in one!
It all boils down to finding ways to relax, reduce your stress levels, and enjoy life - a great recipe for a healthy, happy life for you and your whole family.