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Health-E-News May 2011
empowering you to optimal health

Simple Stress Solutions

Stress can be a killer - quite literally, research suggests, but it can also make your day-to-day existence miserable. Who wants to walk (or rush) around all day as the oppressive weight of stress takes its toll on your body and mind? Here are some simple strategies to help you deal with stress and get back on the road to health and wellness:

1. Walk it off. There are so many physical and mental health benefits to a good walk; when it comes to stress, it's the perfect opportunity to relax, enjoy the outdoors and reduce your stress, either by forgetting about it for a while or having the chance to process it. In fact, in many cases stress isn't caused by a particular situation, but by the sense that you can't escape your situation - your too-loud, too-hectic, too-frantic, responsibility-filled day.
2. Talk about it. One of the things that makes stress so damaging is that we often keep it to ourselves. Sometimes talking about how stressed you are (and why) with someone else is exactly what's needed to reduce it or at least understand it a little better.
3. Distract yourself. Stress doesn't have nearly as much power over you if you're not thinking about it. That can be a challenge, of course, especially when your every thought is focused on a particular stressor, but it's worth trying something - anything - to take your mind off your stress. True distraction means doing something that forces you to discard your stress to the greatest extent possible - try a baseball game, a night at the movies (particularly pure action or comedy), or even a good book or board game at home. Anything that requires your mind to focus on something other than your stress.
4. Deal with it. How do we "deal" with stress? It can involve any of these suggestions, but there are definitely a whole bunch more. It boils down to a few simple rules: a) Recognize when you're stressed; don't ignore it or pretend you're "fine." b) Understand why you're stressed; identify the source of the stress and think carefully about why it's affecting you. c) Find a way to reduce the stress (or eliminate it entirely); if that's not immediately possible, at least find a way to manage it so it doesn't continue to build.
5. Find the positives. There's a silver lining to every stressful situation or circumstance, whether it's stress about your job or career, your relationship, your family life, your (lack of) free time, your finances or anything else. It might be difficult to see at first, but it's definitely there. Think of stress as an opportunity to explore creative solutions that will not only ease your stress, but also reduce the chance it will return.
6. Get a Chiropractic Adjustment. Chiropractic adjustments increase your body's energy and allows you to handle the stresses of life. Strengthen your body with Chiropractic adjustments, proper nutrition and proper rest

 

Good News - Staying Mobile with Yoga Prevents degenerative disc disease

Practicing yoga over the long-term slashes the risk of degenerative disc disease (DDD). These findings were published in the European Spine Journal.

According to the report, "this matched case - control study comprised 18 yoga instructors with teaching experience of more than 10 years and 18 non-yoga practicing asymptomatic individuals randomly selected from a health checkup database. A validated grading scale was used to grade the condition of cervical and lumbar discs seen in magnetic resonance imaging of the spine, and the resulting data analyzed statistically."

"Magnetic resonance imaging showed that the group of long-term practitioners of yoga studied had significantly less degenerative disc disease than a matched control group," conclude the study's authors.

European Spine Journal - March 2011;20:408-13.

 

Exercising During Pregnancy Good For Your Baby's Heart

Babies of mothers who exercised during pregnancy appear to have stronger hearts than babies of sedentary mothers. These findings were presented this week at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in Washington, DC.

"It is my hope that these findings will show that efforts focused on improving health need to start during pregnancy rather than in childhood," says lead author, Linda E. May.

"Most of the focus today is on school-age children, but interventions should be focused long before that."

In a previous study, May and her colleagues found that pregnant women who exercised at least 30 minutes three times a week had fetuses with lower heart rates - a sign of heart health - during the final weeks of development.

Now the team has revealed that the fetuses' improved cardiovascular heart control is maintained one month after pregnancy, which indicates that mothers' efforts to stay active have lasting effects.

The study, which comprised 61 moms-to-be, monitored maternal-fetal and infant heart function. The women's aerobic activity levels ranged from power walking to running. Some of the more active participants also lifted weights and practiced yoga.

"The system that controls heart function is known to improve with regular aerobic exercise," May explains. "And improved heart control function is evidence of a healthy cardiovascular system and overall health. Not only did the mothers' exercise help maintain and improve their own health, but it set their babies up for a healthier start."

Experimental Biology - April 12, 2011.

 

Positive Effects of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy on Labor

One of the biggest benefits to regular chiropractic care during pregnancy is that a properly balanced and open pelvis allows more room for the fetus to turn into a proper position to ease labor. In fact, many chiropractors have additional, specialized training in a technique to encourage a breech baby to turn called Webster's technique. According to the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics there is an 82% success rate in turning breech babies using the Webster's technique (July/August 2002). Another study showed that regular chiropractic care also reduces the chances of posterior labor, sometimes called back labor (Diakow, 1991).

You can read the full article here.

 

Healthy Eating: A Matter of Balance

Balanced eating means taking in the amount of nutrients your body needs for optimal functioning, when your body needs it, and no more. Simple to understand, hard to do! Every person requires different levels of nutrient intake, and your age, activity level, whether you're a man or woman, and your current weight all play a role in what your plate should look like. One thing is for sure, though: It shouldn't look like one big bagel. Here's why.

Not to pick on bagels, but in general, they're unbalanced -nutritionists would call this "calorie dense / nutrient light," meaning that within your average medium-sized cinnamon-raisin bagel with butter, most of the 300-plus calories come from one nutrient: carbs. Exchange that bagel for something like a slice of whole-grain bread with cheese and tomato and you get a more balanced profile of nutrients and a lot more vitamins and minerals - key to a nutrient-dense food. And nutrient density is what you want.

Unbalanced nutrition (in either direction) causes your body to work harder. Eating a diet that's devoid of vitamins and minerals makes your body prioritize its activity - for example, without enough calcium, your body will take it from your bones to make sure your muscles have enough. Conversely, eating more than your body needs means extra energy goes toward processing nutrients, storing them and dealing with the long-term effects of extra weight (joint pain and inflammatory chemical changes, for example). The key is to get the right amounts of macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in the right balance so your body can function. Here are five easy ways to ensure balanced, healthy eating:

1. Pay attention to what you eat. It may be boring, but writing down what you eat is the best way to actually see what your daily diet looks like. And you may be surprised by what it shows. Once it's there in black and white, you can see what you're doing right and what you might want to change.
2. Make sure every grain you eat is a whole grain. Grain products like bagels can ramp up your calories without providing much bang for the buck. Be adventurous! Try a new grain like quinoa, or replace the white flour in a muffin recipe with whole wheat or even a mix of oat, whole wheat and bran.
3. Eat a fruit and vegetable with every meal. Yes, even breakfast. And no, most jelly doesn't count. Cold cucumbers with an egg sandwich or a reheated spinach omelet can help you meet your daily need for the vital nutrition found in fruits and vegetables.
4. Look at labels. If any one of the "daily values" for fat, protein, or carbohydrates is off the charts, put that item back.
5. Buy fresh and local as much as possible. Stay on the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh food lives. And if your grocery store doesn't stock local growers, talk to the produce manager and ask your friends to make comments, too. You could also join a community supported agriculture co-op, or make a point to visit your local farmers market.

 

There's No Better Time to Exercise

When it comes to exercise, you have to find time, make time and save time or invariably, you'll have no time left in your busy day, week, month or year to make it happen. Regardless of how hectic your life is, here are some simple ways to ensure exercise doesn't drop off your daily To-Do List.

Rise and Shine. With the exception of extra sleep, which is important for health in its own right, few things should beat out exercise first thing in the morning. Start the day with exercise and you'll feel invigorated, if for no other reason than knowing you've gotten it done.

The World Is Your Gym. Too many people think that if they don't make it to the gym or hit the open road for a 5-mile run, they can't meet their exercise quota. Remember physical activity existed long before fitness clubs and fancy workout equipment. Walk from work to lunch and back; take your dog for a jog; do push-ups with the kids; there are endless ways to stay active even during the busiest of days.

Two Is Better Than One. You want to go to the gym, but dread that it will consume precious hours of your time? Here's what you can do: Circuit train, which means working out different body parts one after the other with little or no rest. (Many gyms have an equipment "course" set up for this very purpose.) You can also "superset" exercises, combining biceps and triceps routines, for example.

Don't Go It Alone. If you're one of the millions who struggle to stay the course (whether it's exercise, diet, quitting smoking, etc.), it's not cheating to recruit a little help. Schedule workouts with a friend or office acquaintance, join a walking or running club, or even pay for personal training sessions if you can afford it; whatever it takes to ensure exercise stays front and center.

Increasing research demonstrates the powerful benefits of consistent exercise. Talk to your chiropractor about these and other ways you can incorporate exercise into your life - and keep it there.

Since we are talking about adding exercise and changing your physical activity, have you read this article about sitting all day? Try standing at your computer. Movement is life, so keep moving and changing things.