Thursday, April 11, 2019

How to Get Rid of Muscle Cramps

What Causes Cramps in the First Place? Contracting and relaxing are two concurrent actions that allow muscles to perform their intended jobs. However, what happens when the relaxed muscles contract as well? The result is cramps, commonly known as a “charley horse.” Cramps are sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more supposedly relaxed muscles, rendering the affected area temporarily impossible to use. The most distinguishable symptom is a sharp pain and if you touch it, you may feel a hard lump of tissue beneath the skin. Cramps mainly occur due to muscle overuse or when you’re holding a position for a prolonged period of time. Other possible reasons include: • Inadequate blood supply — Narrowing of the arteries in your legs can produce cramp-like symptoms. • Nerve compression — Compression of nerves in your spine may also produce cramp-like pain in your legs, which usually worsens the longer you walk. • Mineral depletion — An unhealthy diet can cause mineral deficiencies that may eventually lead to muscle cramps. How to Prevent Cramps Moving your muscles is a core biological function that allows you to go about your life. From riding a bicycle to washing the dishes, your muscles help make movement possible. To achieve this goal, muscles perform two maneuvers: contracting and relaxing. With your brain as the director, your muscles contract and relax countless times throughout the day depending on the work you do. Contraction occurs when your nervous system sends stimuli into the desired muscle. This allows calcium to be released into the muscles you wish to use, causing them to shorten. On the opposite end, the relaxed muscles release an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, allowing the muscle to lengthen and ease up. To allow your body to move properly, your muscles perform both of these actions simultaneously. How to Get Rid of Leg Cramps Right Away With This Exercise In your lower torso, cramps typically affect your calf muscles. Should they appear after strenuous physical activity, performing this exercise may help relieve pain right away: 1. Stand arms length away from a wall while keeping your soles flat on the floor. 2. Bend forward and lean on the wall. You will feel your calf muscles stretch. 3. Repeat several times a day until your calves’ strength improves. Another strategy is applying an ice pack on the affected muscles. If that doesn’t work, apply a hot compress directly onto the cramped muscle. Taking a warm bath may work as well. A good rule of thumb is that cold works best for any new or flared up issue. So try ice first. Period Cramps May Respond Better To Heat Application Period cramps are common among menstruating women, but they are treatable in various ways. One popular method is applying heat to the abdomen, which may help relieve pain. Any device or approach will do, such as using a hot water bottle, a towel dipped in warm water or taking a hot bath — what is essential in getting rid of period cramps is applying heat on your stomach. It’s also important to avoid foods that cause bloating as they may exacerbate your symptoms. Caffeine, salty foods, alcoholic beverages and fatty dishes fall under this category. In addition, you may add “preemptive exercising” into your routine. This simply means exercising your core regularly to make it stronger, which may help manage cramping. Furthermore, applying essential oils to your stomach may be an effective strategy. They’re filled with unique compounds that may help reduce pain, inflammation and discomfort, as well as helping you relax. Potentially effective options include: • Roman Chamomile • Cinnamon • Sage • Clary Sage • Cypress Treating Stomach Cramps Works Similarly to Period Cramps Stomach cramps occur when the abdominal muscles contract. The main cause is usually muscle strain due to core-focused exercises or other energetic physical activities. In other cases, dehydration, buildup of gas, or the onset of digestive issues such as constipation contribute to stomach cramps. Similar to period cramps, stomach cramps may be treated by applying heat on the affected area. You may also supplement your treatment with a massage to provide additional relaxation. Alternative treatments include ice or using the following essential oils: • Peppermint • Ginger • Chamomile • Cumin Neck Cramps Are Often a Result of Poor Posture Neck cramps, also known as a stiff neck, generally occur when the neck muscles weaken over time due to overuse or poor posture. Activities such as looking down at your computer monitor throughout the day, as well as driving or using your smartphone for prolonged periods of time, can weaken neck muscles. If you don’t know how to get rid of neck cramps and you’ve experienced it before, this simple procedure may help: 1. Find the sore spot and place one hand over it. 2. Firmly push into the affected area with your fingers, but not hard enough to cause a sharp pain. 3. Turn your head slightly in the direction opposite of the cramp and bend it diagonally. 4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 around 20 times. Once your neck feels better, try this simple exercise from the Cleveland Clinic, which is intended to reduce the risk of neck cramps in the future: 1. Roll your shoulders backwards and down 10 times. 2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together 10 times. 3. Place your hands at the back of your head and push into them, then hold for 15 seconds. 4. Tilt your head shoulder to shoulder 10 times on each side. Lastly, make sure to practice proper posture regardless of what you’re doing, such as positioning computer monitor at eye level and moving your neck frequently when driving to ensure your muscles remain nimble. How to Get Rid of Hand Cramps Properly Using Stretches Hand cramps are generally caused by dehydration, injuries or overuse. In some cases, however, they may be a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. According to Dr. Kelly Weselman from the Wellstar Medical Group, inflammation in the joints caused by arthritis generally affects muscle function. To make things more confusing, the pain caused by the inflammation may feel like a cramp, too. Fortunately, providing relief to your cramped hands is an easy endeavor by performing this simple stretching exercise: Using your opposite hand, lightly push back all four fingers and thumb on the cramped hand. You may also supplement this method with a heat wrap or running your hand under warm water. Your Diet Plays an Important in Preventing Cramps While home remedies may effectively treat cramps whenever they appear, do not neglect your diet. Eating unhealthy food causes vitamin deficiencies that ultimately affect how your body performs. It’s estimated that 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, a mineral that performs a vital role in healthy muscle function. Low levels of it can lead to cramps, as well as other musculoskeletal conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic back pain. Potassium, another mineral, has been linked to cramps as well. To reduce your risk of cramps, it’s important that you eat healthy foods so your body performs at its peak. Rich sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach. You may also consume unpasteurized raw nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts, and fruits such as apples. On the other hand, good sources of potassium include avocado, papaya and wild-caught Alaskan salmon. *If you have any questions about diet, exercise or nutritional supplements that can help you with muscle cramps; ask one of the doctors at our office. Source: mercola, 4/10/19.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

10 Career Lessons People Learn Too Late

If you want to achieve success, you will have to make big sacrifices. I find that many people ardently heed this advice — and make sacrifices on a permanent basis and then learn too late that there’s more to life than just chasing after success. Yes, you must make sacrifices but it should be for the short term. You should be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. 10 Important Career Lessons Most People Learn Too Late In Life: 1. Don't stay in a job you hate. You spend half of your life at work. Life is too short to put up with a job you hate or a boss who treats you poorly. Many people convince themselves that they can stay in a job that makes them unhappy because they need the income or because they don’t believe they can find another job. But the truth is spending too much of it in a bad situation will make you miserable and it can affect your health. If you’re in this situation, try taking small steps to where you want to be. You deserve so much better! 2. Take care of yourself - Sacrificing your health for success or wealth isn’t worth it. I had a close friend who worked non-stop. He was always “plugged in” and wouldn’t even take vacation. He was diagnosed with cancer, took retirement and died shortly thereafter. Sadly though, he never got to enjoy any of his retirement earnings. Our bodies are not machines. You can’t keep going 24/7. The lights won’t always be green. If you don’t slow down, eventually, you will come to a red light and have to make a complete stop. Don’t take your health for granted - no amount of success or money can replace your health. "Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." - Jim Rohn 3) Take time to Listen. Listening is a great time and money saver. It can solve a host of problems, bring creativity, give insights and not to mention show people that you care. Listening is crucial to gaining a complete understanding of situations. Without this full understanding, one can easily waste everyone’s time by solving the wrong problem or merely addressing a symptom, not the root cause. I would like to challenge you to make a concerted effort to listen more than you speak and just see the benefits. 4. Rejection and Failure will strengthen you. Failure is not the end. Few things in life are certain but failure is. Although it leaves a sour taste, failures are the pillars for success. You gain experiences you could not get any other way. Additionally, rejection is unavoidable in a creative life. Learning how to deal with rejection early on, will keep you from plummeting into a place of immobilizing despair. Rejection hurts but don't dwell on it. If you focus on positive thinking, even the harshest defeat is only a stepping-stone. 5. Don’t let money or your job title define you. Most people define success around money or fame. They get their self-worth from these things. This gives money way too much power over your life. We must realize these things could be lost in an instant. Maybe it's time for you to re-define success. Enter the race you are designed to run. Focus on a higher purpose and you’ll bring out the best in yourself and others. Only by using your gifts and talents in the service of others can you live a life that brings lasting fulfillment. 6. Surround yourself with people who will motivate you and push you to grow. Teamwork and networking is key. Part of your success is dependent on the people you surround yourself with. Social networks matter. I am not saying you should only surround yourself with sycophants but those with positive voices who will see the greatness in you, believe with you and encourage you to take action. Many of us have stifled our dreams because of doubtful and negative colleagues and friends. 7. Spend more time away from the office and more time with your family. Work is a never-ending process and life is not only about work, office, and clients. Sometimes in our efforts to provide for our families, we miss a key point: precious time with them. The interests of a client is important but so is your family. No one wishes on their death bed they spent more time in the office or more time checking email. Disconnect regularly and experience real life with those that matter most to you. "What consumes your mind controls your life... What's on your mind?" 8. Worrying doesn’t solve anything. It just magnifies fear and creates anxiety. The antidote to fear is action. Don't let fear hold you back. You won’t achieve your goals if you’re afraid to pursue an idea, or are worried what others will think of you. If you push through the worry and the fear, you’ll almost always find that you were worried about nothing. Have faith. Don't worry. Patience and Persistence will open the right doors. "I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened." —Mark Twain 9. Never stop learning. Never stop growing. Personal development is continuous. Learn everything about the field you are in and also related fields. Become the expert others look to for advice. With the rate at which technologies are changing, if you decide that you are done learning, you will be left behind. By continuously learning you will be able to keep on top of things, make better decisions and remain "relevant" in this digital era. Try as well to diversify your skill-set so you can have income from more than one sources. 10. Happiness is in the present moment. Many people say. "I'll be happy when I achieve..." Happiness seems to be somewhere in the distant future where you will find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. None of us knows how long we have on this earth so you can choose to be happy now. The truth is the rat race is never ending. It sucks you in and has its grip fixed so tightly that you forget to enjoy the journey and those around you. Life is full of moving targets. The bar is constantly being set higher and higher. No matter what your situation, if you can approach it with an attitude of happiness, you are already successful. Crossing the finish line: The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race. I could go on for hours as this is a subject dear to me. I've heard of employees passing away because of stress at work or working 100+ hours a week. Money should not be the only determinant factor when choosing a job. Work life balance is very important. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices. There are three aspects to our lives - Personal, Spiritual and Professional. A fine balance needs to be maintained between the three elements to lead a satisfied and contented life. Sadly, most often it is the professional that occupies the driving seat. Life is too short to live with regrets. It's time to stop enduring life and start living it. Source: Brigette Hyacinth, Author of: The Future of Leadership: Rise of Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

Monday, March 4, 2019

Are You Really Addicted To Coffee?

Have you done 17 or more of the following? If you have, coffee owns you and you owe it your life. 1. Said “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” completely unironically. 2. Blamed “being kind of a jerk” on a lack of coffee. 3. Genuinely cannot help but “be a bit of a jerk” if you haven’t had any coffee. 4. Everyone knows when you HAVEN’T had any caffeine. 5. Your partner knows to simply not even talk to you before you've had your coffee fix. 6. Known its true love when someone made or bought you coffee without you having to ask. 7. Especially when they knew your order without you having to tell them. 8. Drank truly rancid coffee, because it’s better than none. 9. Unintentionally built a small pyramid made out of used coffee cups that have just accumulated on your desk. 10. Felt bad about using so many coffee cups and now carry around a reusable coffee cup with you everywhere you go. 11. Felt very smug about your reusable coffee cup. 12. Know everyone on a first-name basis at your local coffee shop. 13. Never added up how much you spend weekly, monthly, or yearly on coffee because the idea is too terrifying and confronting. 14. Considered giving up coffee and then going on holiday using the money you’ve saved. 15. Laughed at the very idea of trying to give up coffee. 16. Gotten the shakes from too much coffee. 17. Gotten the shakes from not enough coffee. 18. Bought literally any article of clothing that said anything about loving coffee. 19. Had very strong opinions about coffee 20. Had very strong opinions about coffee shops. 21. Had opinions on the coffee in every country you’ve ever visited. 22. Could drink coffee at 8pm and not have it affect your sleep. 23. Bought some sort of expensive contraption to make coffee. 24. Roasted your own coffee beans. 25. Ground your own coffee beans. 26. Spent a small fortune on a coffee machine. 27. Never actually used the said coffee machine because you’d rather go out for it. 28. Or, you just doubled your coffee intake and your expenditure because you make your own AND THEN go and buy some more. 29. You’ve actually experienced withdrawal symptoms when you haven’t had any coffee. 30. Feared societal collapse not because of the chaos that'll ensue, but the horrible caffeine withdrawals you'll be forced to have. **Obviously this is all for fun. My advice to you is to enjoy life and drink good coffee, in moderation. Source: Natalya Lobanova, BuzzFeed, 3/3/19

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

7 Ways to Take Care of Your Heart This Valentine's Day

It’s February and we all know what that means! Heart shaped cards, flowers, and chocolates galore! These cards and gifts have been popular in the United States since the mid-1800s. While many feel it has been over commercialized, Valentine’s Day can still be an opportunity to rekindle love or remind your sweetheart just how much you truly care for them. Love isn’t always easy and many will agree that at times it just takes work. Sometimes it is easier to follow commercialized traditions than to take the time to slow down, put in the work, and truly express love in a way that is meaningful to those closest to you. After many years of marriage, celebrating Valentine’s Day may seem unnecessary or simply a waste of money. Instead of focusing on just one day to demonstrate your love, why not spread the sentiment (and possibly the cost) over several weeks. Perhaps you have heard of the 40-day love dare or the 90-day romance your marriage challenge, among many others. Challenges such as these are an excellent way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your spouse on a much deeper level than a box of chocolates. 1) Another way to love your Valentine this year is to love their physical heart. Heart disease has become the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Some of the primary risk factors include unhealthy eating, sedentary lifestyles, and obesity. Instead of tempting your favorite person with treats that could increase their risk of heart disease, try some ideas to treat their heart well. 2) Similar to the previously mentioned challenges, caring for your loved one’s heart shouldn’t be just a single day of health, but rather a lifestyle of health. The most common risk factors for heart disease are related to our lifestyle. Thinking about heart health on Valentine’s Day is a terrific opportunity to begin heart healthy habits. There are many ways we can significantly decrease our risk for heart disease through lifestyle changes. 3) As you may have guessed, your nutritional intake is one of the major ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease. All around the world, the populations with the lowest rates of heart disease follow a primarily plant-based eating pattern. While these eating patterns are diverse and reflect each culture, they all revolve around plant foods in many combinations, but particularly including legumes. Try incorporating beans, peas, or lentils in your Valentine’s Day meals. 4) Hydration is an additional dietary factor that is important for heart health. Dehydration increases stress on the heart by decreasing blood volume, forcing the heart to beat faster in an effort to compensate for the lower volume. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps manage blood pressure, reducing stress on the heart. If plain water becomes boring, try infusing your water with fruits and vegetables such as berries, cucumbers, or mint. 5) Another way to reduce your risk of heart disease is by having an active lifestyle. Yes, exercising! While many groan at the idea of exercising for the sake of exercise, it doesn’t need to be that dull. Simply being more active throughout your day can reduce heart disease risk. Think about ways you could be a little more active during your waking hours. Simple things like taking the stairs, parking further away from the store or your office, taking a walk instead of watching another TV episode, riding your bike instead of driving, or taking your kids to a park instead of playing video games. The ways to be more active while still accomplishing your to-do list are nearly endless. Consider using a wearable or an app to tangibly track your activity. With these devices you can see your success, set goals to beat your personal bests, or earn in app badges! 6) Possibly a more interesting way to stay active is to play games or sports. An active lifestyle doesn’t have to be monotonous; it can be fun as well as reduce heart disease risk. Join a local recreational league or engage your family or friends in sports on a regular basis. This type of activity is often more enjoyable for those that do not enjoy exercising simply because they are supposed to for their health. 7) If your Valentine brings you a box of sweets this year, all is not lost! Extend your enjoyment and appreciation of their thoughtfulness by freezing some of the treats. Then you can enjoy them in small portions over several weeks. Each time you savor a bite you can be reminded of the love your Valentine has for you and love your heart at the same time. This Valentine’s Day, show your sweetheart how much you love them and their heart using some or all of these tips. Discuss your favorite ways to care for your heart with your loved ones and make a plan to keep your heart healthy all year long! Wishing you a happy and healthy Valentine’s Day, from my heart to yours. Making lifestyle changes takes a commitment. Be strong and courageous. It will be worth the effort. *If you have any questions about diet, exercise or nutritional supplements that can help your heart; ask one of the doctors at our office. Source: 2/14/19, Article courtesy of Christian Care Ministry's Medi-Share, a health care sharing ministry through which members voluntarily and directly share each other’s medical bills. Since the program’s inception in 1993, Medi-Share members have shared more than $2 billion in medical bills. And because of access to an extensive network of more than 700,000 health care providers, members have saved an additional $1.3 billion in medical costs during that time. Medi-Share has over 400,000 members in all 50 states. More than just health care, Christian Care Ministry is a community of people who share their lives, faith, talents and resources and pray for and encourage one another. For more information, visit Medishare.com."

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Fall Asleep Faster (in as little as two minutes)

An estimated 70 million American adults have a sleep disorder, the most common of which is insomnia — the inability to fall asleep, or waking up one or more times during the night. If you’re in this category, despair not, because the list of strategies to improve your sleep is long. While most sleep problems are tied to lifestyle choices such as spending too much time indoors during daylight hours, and/or excessive use of technology and chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), which will require you to make (perhaps significant) changes to your lifestyle, a number of tips and tricks can be useful in the short term. A method developed by the U.S. military, revealed in the 1981 book, “Relax and Win: Championship Performance,” claims to have a 96 percent success rate after six weeks of consistent implementation. Military Method Preps Your Body for Sleep The method centers around preparing your mind and body for sleep by deeply relaxing for about two minutes. The following summary of the process was recently published in the Evening Standard: 1. Relax your whole face, including your tongue, jaw and the muscles around your eyes. 2. Drop your shoulders and relax your arms. 3. Relax your chest as you breathe out. 4. Relax your legs, from your thighs to your feet. 5. Relax and clear your mind, then picture yourself in one of the following scenarios: a. You’re lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but blue sky above you. b. You’re snuggled in a black velvet hammock in a pitch-black room. c. Simply repeat “Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” for 10 seconds. Additional Strategies to Help You Fall Asleep Faster Medical News Today also recently published a list of “21 Ways to Fall Asleep Naturally,” which included the following: 1. Create a consistent sleeping pattern by going to bed and getting up at the same time every night. 2. Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible. If you don’t have blackout shades, use an eye mask. 3. Avoid taking naps during the day or too close to bedtime. 4. Exercise regularly. 5. Minimize cellphone use and use of other blue light-emitting devices. 6. Read a book to relax before bed. 7. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants at least four hours before bed. 8. Meditate or practice mindfulness on a daily basis. 9. “Count sheep” by slowly counting downward from 100 to zero. 10. Avoid eating at least three hours before bedtime. 11. Lower the temperature in your bedroom; an ideal temperature for sleeping is around 65 degrees. 12. Use aromatherapy; lavender is relaxing and may help induce sleep. 13. Find your most comfortable sleeping position. I would suggest you try sleeping in a neutral position. a. On your back with a pillow supporting your neck and a pillow under your knees. b. On your side with your knees slightly bent and a pillow between your knees. 14. Listen to relaxing music before bed. 15. Use the bathroom before you get into bed. 16. Take a hot shower or bath before bed. 17. Avoid e-books, as the blue light from the screen will impede melatonin release. 18. Try a melatonin supplement. Another effective alternative is 5-HTP, which is a precursor to both serotonin and melatonin. 19. Invest in a comfortable mattress. A medium to firm mattress offers the best support for your spine. 20. Minimize noise; use ear plugs if environmental noise is unavoidable. 21. Avoid alcohol. Avoid Nighttime EMF to Improve Sleep Quality While avoiding cellphones and other devices with electronic screens is important to protect your melatonin production. There’s actually evidence showing EMF exposure reduces melatonin production just like blue light from cellphones, tablets and computers do, making it particularly important to reduce EMFs in your bedroom. EMF exposure also triggers neuronal changes that affect memory and your ability to learn, and harms your body’s mitochondria by producing excessive oxidative damage, so “marinating” in EMFs all night, every night, can cause or contribute to virtually any chronic ailment, including premature aging. One of the easiest ways to avoid or radically limit your nighttime electric field exposure at night is to remove all electronic devices and wireless devices from your bedroom. Another potentially important step could be to turn off your Wi-Fi at night. Try it for a few nights to see if this step helps you to physically and mentally disconnect. You could even hard wire your home so that you have no Wi-Fi 24/7 in your home. Sleep is an important yet all too often overlooked factor in health and well-being. If you’re still skimping, thinking you’ve managed to get by OK so far, I urge you to reconsider and give sleep the attention it deserves. You can do everything else right, but if you’re not sleeping enough, or not sleeping well, many of the benefits of your healthy lifestyle will be lost. *If you have any questions about sleep or nutritional supplements that can help with your sleep; ask one of the doctors at our office. Source: Medical News Today, 2/2/19.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Top 10 Alternative Health Searches for 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of our awesome patients. If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t have been in business for 29 years already. Below are the Top 10 alternative health topic searches for 2018: No. 1 — High Blood Pressure A blood pressure reading of 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) is considered healthy. High blood pressure (hypertension) is typically considered anything over 140/90 mmHg, although the latest guidelines from the American Heart Association now have 130/80 mmHg as the cutoff for a diagnosis of hypertension. In the U.S., an estimated 1 in 3 have high blood pressure, and another 1 in 3 have prehypertension. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia, adding further weight to recommendations to get your blood pressure under control in order to protect not only your heart but also your long-term cognitive health. “High Blood Pressure Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia” reviews the latest research linking hypertension with a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease; factors that can affect your blood pressure reading; common causes for high blood pressure; and, natural ways to normalize your blood pressure without drugs. Salt-related hypertension is also a concern for many. A key message here is that processed foods and sugars may have a far greater impact on your blood pressure than salt, and that your sodium-to-potassium ratio is far more important a factor than the amount of salt you eat. No. 2 — Ketogenic Diet Many of the disease epidemics facing us today — including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia — could be turned around by educating people about the benefits of a cyclical ketogenic diet, i.e., a diet high in healthy fats, moderate in protein and low in net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber). Burning fat improves mitochondrial function; cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis is recommended once your body is able to efficiently burn fat. No. 3 — Beets Beets have gotten loads of beneficial press in the past year, as research demonstrates the beneficial impact of plant-based nitrates on your heart health. Your microbiome converts the nitrates found naturally in plant foods into beneficial nitric oxide, while the nitrates in cured and processed meats raise your risk of cancer by being converted into carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds due to the presence of proteins and heme in the meat. No. 4 — Vitamin D We’re continually learning more and more about the benefits of vitamin D — and how vitamin D works with other nutrients to optimize health. “Without Magnesium, Vitamin D Supplementation May Backfire” explains why optimizing your magnesium level is so important for effectively raising your vitamin D level. Like vitamin K2 and calcium, magnesium is a crucial cofactor when trying to raise your vitamin D, as it’s required for the activation of vitamin D. Without sufficient amounts of magnesium, your body cannot properly utilize the vitamin D3 you’re taking, and research shows improving your magnesium status can actually allow you to raise your vitamin D level while taking lower doses. No. 5 — Intermittent Fasting Fasting upregulates your body’s natural cleansing processes necessary for optimal cellular renewal and function — and triggers the generation of stem cells. The cyclical abstinence from food followed by refeeding also massively stimulates mitochondrial biosynthesis. All of this is needed for optimal health and disease prevention, which is why fasting has such a powerful regenerative effect. Research shows fasting is a powerful lifestyle tool for combating obesity, insulin resistance and related health problems, including cancer. There’s even evidence to suggest fasting can help prevent or even reverse dementia, as it helps your body clean out toxic debris. No. 6 — Flu Shot Facts Flu protection is a common yearly concern. The vaccine effectiveness against influenza for the 2017/2018 seasonal flu vaccines was just 36 percent. Research shows the flu vaccine does not result in significantly fewer or lessened symptoms should you contract the flu. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting flu vaccinations render you more susceptible to illness, both in that season and the following one. No. 7 — Sucralose (Splenda) Sucralose (sold under the brand name Splenda) is one of the main competitors to aspartame, and both of these artificial sweeteners can have serious health consequences, raising your risk of obesity, diabetes and other chronic health problems. One of sucralose’s mechanisms of harm is the destruction of beneficial gut bacteria. “New Splenda Studies Confirm Its Dangers” reviews research showing sucralose is not a biologically inert compound; it is in fact metabolized, and accumulates in fat cells — something that the industry has long denied — and has toxic effects in your liver. The article also lists commonly reported side effects, and other scientific findings that question its overall safety in the long term. No. 8 — Probiotics More attention than ever is being put on your gut health, and understandably so because 70 to 80 percent of your immune function resides within your gastrointestinal tract. Your gut bacteria can also influence your behavior and gene expression, and have been shown to play a role in a variety of diseases, including obesity, diabetes, autism and Parkinson’s disease. While fermented foods and a healthy low-sugar, high-fiber diet are foundational for gut health, probiotic supplements can also be beneficial. No. 9 — Berberine A number of new supplements have gained recognition in the past year, with berberine, a powerful AMPK activator, being among the most popular and most-searched-for. AMPK is an enzyme that plays an important role in body fat composition, inflammation, blood lipids, mitophagy (mitochondrial autophagy) and mitochondrial biogenesis. It also stimulates five other critically important pathways: insulin, leptin, mTOR, IGF-1 and PGC-1α. No. 10 — Cancer As you’d expect, cancer is also on the list of most-searched-for health concerns. Clearly, prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to cancer, and while diet is paramount (with cyclical keto and fasting topping the list of all-natural cancer prevention strategies), specific nutrients and supplements show great promise as well, curcumin being one of the most potent and most well-studied. When it comes to cancer treatment, more people than ever before are forgoing conventional chemotherapy and are starting to take control of their own cancer treatment and care. Overall, years of research supports the sanity of this trend, as studies have repeatedly shown chemo is nowhere near as effective as most people think, and actually hastens death when given to severely ill patients. The remarkable benefits of nutritional ketosis and fasting as adjuncts to conventional cancer treatment are also detailed in “Metabolically Supported Therapies for the Improvement of Cancer Treatment,” which features an interview with Dr. Abdul Slocum and Travis Christofferson, author of "Tripping Over the Truth: How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer is Overturning One of Medicine's Most Entrenched Paradigms.” Let’s face it: We’re surrounded by threats, some of them unseen, that are putting us at risk of ill health. GMOs. Processed foods. EMFs. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s at this time that most people seek guidance to help guard against these perils and secure their well-being. Oftentimes, it seems like an impossible feat. **But here’s a secret: The most complex of tasks can become easier and simpler if you take them one step at a time. If you’re truly committed to take control of your health, start today. If you have any questions, speak to one of the doctors at our office. Source: www.mercola.com, 12/26/18.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Harvard scientists say these 5 things can prolong your life by a decade.

Want to live 10 years longer? You may have to revamp your lifestyle. There are five habits that, when done together, could add more than a decade to your life expectancy, according to a study released by the Harvard School of Public Health. The good news: 10 years is a lot of extra time. The bad news: You’ll have to cut out junk food and stop being a couch potato. Here’s what the study recommends you do: • Eat a healthy diet • Exercise 30 minutes or more a day • Maintain a healthy weight (specifically, a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9) • Don’t drink too much alcohol (No more than one 5 oz. glass of wine per day for women, and two glasses for men) • Don’t smoke (ever) Men and women who followed the healthiest of lifestyles were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer compared with people who lived unhealthy lifestyles over the course of 30 years, according to the study, published online in the journal Circulation. The researchers analyzed 34 years of data from more than 78,000 women and 27 years of data from more than 44,000 men. The researchers estimated the women who adopted these five habits would see 14 more years of life, and men would add 12 years. The healthy habits that the Harvard researchers pinpointed may sound obvious, but they’re not easy to adopt. For starters, that recommended BMI might be difficult for many Americans. The average BMI for the average American man is 28.6, up from 25.1 in the early 1960s. Anything over 24.9 is considered overweight and a BMI over 30 is regarded as obese. There are a few ways to slowly make them a part of your life however, according to the National Institutes of Health. Become aware of your bad habits, whether they’re dipping into the office vending machine at 3 p.m. or staying out late and giving the gym a miss the next morning. Also, don’t do it alone. Ask friends and family to try these healthy challenges with you. The National Institutes of Health also suggests looking ahead and imagining how you’ll feel when you accomplish your goals. “You’re never too out of shape, too overweight, or too old to make healthy changes,” the organization’s monthly newsletter suggests. There are other factors to consider if you want to add years to your life or, at the very least, not shorten it. Along with exercising and eating nutritious meals, people need to have active social lives and get enough sleep, studies suggest. More than 40% of adults in the U.S. suffer from loneliness, which is linked to depression, dementia, anxiety and cardiovascular diseases. Insufficient sleep also leads to hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Take into consideration what happens when you do the opposite of the Harvard study’s recommended habits: • Poor diet leads to one in five deaths, according to a study by researchers at the University of Washington and published in Lancet. A poor diet can also cause high blood pressure and diabetes, which are linked to eating the wrong foods. (The right diet, the study found, is one that incorporates whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds). • Not exercising also leads to high blood pressure and diabetes, and people who are physically inactive are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, coronary heart disease and even cancer, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. • Falling below or above your proper BMI isn’t safe. Being underweight, where your BMI is below average, signals malnutrition and increases the risk of osteoporosis, a decreased immune function and fertility issues, according to Healthline. Having a higher BMI or having obesity causes chronic health conditions, such as asthma and bone problems. • Overindulging in alcohol can lead to cancer according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. • Smoking has killed more than one in 10 people worldwide, according to a study published in Lancet — 11.5% of global deaths were attributed to smoking. Given all that, those 5 good habits may not seem so bad, after all. Source: Alessandra Malito, MarketWatch, 11/18/18.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The 2018 Gallup Poll - Opinion on Chiropractic

In the fourth installment of Gallup and Palmer annual report, we unveil new findings on Americans’ preferences for neck or back pain care, patient experiences with health-care providers and the prevalence of various methods for addressing this type of pain in the United States. Among the key findings: • Americans are open to an all types of treatments to address neck and back pain. On average, 67% of Americans suffering from neck or back pain would want to see a professional who treats using a variety of methods including prescription medication or surgery. Still, 79% of U.S. adults would prefer to try to address their neck or back pain using methods other than prescription medication first. • Many neck or back pain patients use self-care techniques – non-drug therapies. Therapies include superficial heat (77%), yoga (72%) and cold packs (60%). Many also use non-drug therapies that require a health-care professional for care, such as massage (53%), spinal adjustment (47%) and physical therapy (42%). • The reasons for visiting different practitioners vary. Among those who’d seen an M.D. most often; the top reasons were insurance coverage (38%), trust (30%), habit (26%) and effectiveness (23%). For physical therapists; it’s safety (50%), insurance coverage (47%) and effectiveness (42%). For chiropractors; it’s safety (54%), trust (53%) and effectiveness (52%). The majority of U.S. adults have positive views of chiropractors. •63% agree most chiropractors have their patients' best interest in mind. •52% agree most chiropractors are trustworthy. Other key findings include: Among frequently visited practitioners, sufferers of neck or back pain report a high level of care. ◦Adults who saw a chiropractor for significant neck or back pain in the last year say their chiropractor listens (93%), provides convenient, quick access to care (93%), demonstrates compassion (91%) and explains things well (88%). Similar percentages exist for physical therapists. ◦Adults who saw a medical doctor for neck or back pain are less likely to say their health care provider did these things – listens (72%), explains things well (67%), and demonstrate compassion (66%). Source: palmer college of chiropractic website, 10/3/18.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

8 Fitness Myths Debunked

If you've been working out for any length of time or simply following the trends in exercise, you know there is no shortage of conflicting and confusing advice. It can be a struggle to separate fact from fiction. An article published in Business Insider sought to address the biggest exercise myths. Myth No. 1: Exercise Doesn't Help Counter the Negative Effects of Aging. Truth: Given its many overall benefits, regular exercise is clearly able to greatly help counteract some of the negative effects of aging, and regardless of your age, you're never too old to begin an exercise program. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association involving 1,622 men and women, ages 60 to 64, who wore heart-rate monitors for five days, suggests exercise is important for your heart health, especially as you age. The 60 - 64 age range represents an important transition between work and retirement, when lifestyle behaviors tend to change. It may be an opportunity to promote increased physical activity. In addition, cardiovascular disease risk is higher in older adults. It's important to understand how activity might influence risk in this age group. We found it's important to replace time spent sedentary with any intensity level of activity. The researchers classified physical activity as either light; such as gardening, golf, slow walking or stretching — or moderate-to-vigorous, which included bicycling, brisk walking, dancing, mowing, tennis or vacuuming. Overall, the participants who undertook more activity had lower levels of the negative biomarkers. The study authors stated, "Greater light physical activity and moderate‐to‐vigorous intensity physical activity and less sedentary time in early old age were associated with more favorable cardiovascular biomarker profiles." Myth No. 2: A Sluggish Metabolism Is the Main Trigger of Weight Gain as You Age. Truth: Age-related weight gain has far more to do with your diet and activity level than your metabolism and one of the best ways to avoid age-related weight gain is to exercise regularly. That said, if you think your metabolism is stalled, you might consider inflammation as a contributing factor. After all, weight gain is often a sign of chronic low-level inflammation and is affected by the foods you eat. Keep in mind, so-called "healthy" foods like beans, dairy, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds can cause inflammation. Unidentified food sensitivities can push you toward insulin and leptin resistance, which will seriously hamper your metabolism, digestion and other areas of health. When you have a food sensitivity or allergy, your body feels "attacked" rather than nourished by that food, which causes it to circulate inflammatory molecules. In addition to issues with insulin and leptin, this state is often accompanied by an imbalance in the microorganisms in your digestive tract, also known as gut dysbiosis. Beyond food allergies and intolerances, you can develop inflammation through environmental toxins, overexercising, poor sleep, and stress. Foods most likely to be proinflammatory are junk foods and highly processed foods, including omega-6 oils, grains, foods high in sugar and those that are genetically engineered. Myth No. 3: The Optimal Time to Work Out Is First Thing in the Morning. Truth: Regardless of what works best for others, the best time for you to exercise hinges on your personal choice. I suggest you choose the time of day that allows sufficient time for a quality workout and gives you the best chance of exercising regularly. If you prefer morning exercise, you'll appreciate knowing research has shown exercising on an empty stomach is useful for preventing both weight gain and insulin resistance, which is a hallmark of countless chronic diseases. Exercising early in the day leaves less chance for other obligations to crowd out your workout and also is a good companion to intermittent fasting. Afternoon exercise has been shown to help regulate circadian rhythms, at least in one study involving lab mice. Some studies suggest that exercising late in the afternoon might be best for many from a hormonal perspective, especially if doing strength training. However, it is best, just like eating, to avoid exercise at least three hours before bed. Disrupted circadian rhythms can increase your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, memory loss, mood disorders and obesity, among other conditions. From a circadian point of view, it makes sense to see higher benefits from afternoon exercise because circadian rhythms control your body temperature, which has an impact on your workout. Your body temperature tends to be a degree or two warmer in the afternoon than in the morning, resulting in better muscle performance and decreased risk of injury. You are generally more alert in the afternoon. Plus, if you tend to feel sluggish in the early or midafternoon, going to the gym might be a good way to push through fatigue and sleepiness. As you can see, there are a variety of opinions about the time of day best suited for exercise. One thing is certain, however: Any exercise is better than none, regardless of when you do it. The most important thing is to choose a convenient time of day so exercise becomes a habit. Myth No. 4: Working Out Turns Fat Into Muscle. Truth: You can't turn fat into muscle but you can use exercise to physically transform your body, which primarily removes fat through your lungs as you exhale. Physiologically speaking, fat and muscle are two different tissues. Adipose (fatty) tissue is found under your skin, around your internal organs and sandwiched between your muscles. Muscle tissue, which is defined in three categories — striated (banded), smooth and cardiac — is found throughout your body. The reality is that exercise will help you reduce fat levels and also increase your muscle mass, but it does this by decreasing and increasing those tissues directly, not converting one to the other. In a 2014 study published in BMJ, Meerman and Brown state, "Considering the soaring overweight and obesity rates and strong interest in this topic, there is surprising ignorance and confusion about the metabolic process of weight loss." According to their calculations, your lungs are the primary excretory organ for fat. When you lose weight, you exhale 84 percent of the lost fat in the form of carbon dioxide, while the remaining 16 percent is excreted as water via your bodily fluids. Myth No. 5: Exercise Is the Single Best Way to Lose Weight. Truth: When trying to lose weight, you'll want to avoid the common trap of thinking you can simply "work off" whatever you eat. Experts agree the first step toward slimming down almost always starts with your diet. By making even a few small changes to your eating habits, you can begin to lose weight. When making dietary changes, the best strategy is to focus on one area at a time. You can always add another area later. Below are six tips to help you jump-start diet-based weight loss: Time Your Food — Perhaps the most powerful strategy is to decrease your eating window to six to eight hours making sure you don't eat at least three hours before bed time. This is a form of intermittent fasting or time restricted eating we call Peak Fasting. Avoid drinking fruit juice and soda, and most especially diet soda — Drinking your calories is a bad idea, and fruit juice and soda are loaded with sugar. Within 20 minutes of drinking soda, your blood sugar spikes and your liver responds by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat. A high sugar intake contributes not only to weight gain, but also diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and premature aging. Drinking diet soda also has been positively linked to weight gain. Research indicates your brain can tell the difference between real and artificial sugar, which means consuming artificial sweeteners increases your craving for the real thing and therefore may lead to overeating and weight gain. Eat plenty of organic vegetables — One of the best ways to improve your health is to make sure you're eating plenty of fresh, organic vegetables. If possible, grow your own or source them locally and consume the majority of them raw. Limit fructose from your diet — No matter how hard you may try to rationalize sugar as part of a healthy diet, the truth is it only serves to damage your health. Americans love sugar, and the average adult consumes about 20 teaspoons of added sugar every day. For optimal health, limit your fructose intake to less than 25 grams (g) per day if you are in good health and to less than 15 g per day if you are dealing with a serious illness or chronic disease. Be sure to include fructose from whole, raw fruit and berries within these limits. Keep eating out to a minimum — The reason your favorite restaurant foods often taste better than your home-cooked meals is because they most likely are loaded with artificial flavors, hydrogenated fats and sugar. Given the reality most restaurants — even some pricy, five-star establishments — rely on frozen, precut and precooked foods, the chances are good your restaurant meal is highly processed and nutritionally inferior to anything you can make at home using fresh, organic ingredients. Plan your meals — Taking time to plan your meals, which may include taking lunches to work or a healthy snack to get you through your evening commute, is vital to your weight-loss success. You have a better chance of making healthy changes if you work from a weekly meal plan. Your meal plan must be backed up by a strong commitment to grocery shopping and food preparation. While it takes considerable time and effort to eat healthy, you won't regret the positive results you'll see in terms of weight loss and other areas of health and well-being. Stay away from fast foods and processed foods — Avoid fast food and processed food if you value your health. It is loaded with chemicals, sodium, added sugar and other toxins. The cheap price of fast food is enabled somewhat by the use of subpar meat from animals raised in CAFOs, where they receive heavy doses of antibiotics and a diet of genetically engineered grains while being subjected to illness and overcrowding. Myth No. 6: It Takes a Few Weeks to Get 'Out of Shape'. Truth: Your muscle tissue can start to break down in the first week you stop getting regular exercise, and the declines continue from there. If you need one motivator to keep exercising, this might be it. It's a horrible feeling to lose muscle tone and the other gains you realized when you were working out regularly. For that reason, aside from illness and emergency situations, I advise you to not allow anything to come between you and your workout. "If you stop training, you actually do get noticeable deconditioning, or the beginnings of deconditioning, with as little as seven days of complete rest," states Shawn Arent, Ph.D., director of the Center for Health and Human Performance at Rutgers University. "It very much is an issue of 'use it or lose it'." Myth No. 7: Games and Puzzles Are the Best Workout for Your Brain. Truth: While mental games and puzzles have some effect on your brain, physical exercise is still among the best ways to ensure a healthy brain. In fact, there's ample evidence showing physical exercise, especially strength training, is vitally important for healthy brain and nervous system function. A number of studies have linked leg strength to various cognitive benefits. A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience indicates your neurological health is as dependent on signals from your large leg muscles as it is on signals from your brain to your muscles. According to Medical News Today, "The main takeaway of the new findings is that leg exercise — weight-bearing exercise, in particular — 'tells' the brain to produce healthy neurons, which are key for … [coping] with stress and life changes." The researchers called out climbing stairs, dancing, hiking, tennis, walking and weightlifting as healthy examples of weight-bearing exercise. Study author Raffaella Adami, Ph.D, professor and researcher in the department of health science at Italy's University of Milan, said: "It is no accident we are meant to be active: to walk, run, crouch to sit and use our leg muscles to lift things. Our study supports the notion that people who are unable to do load-bearing exercises — such as patients who are bedridden, or even astronauts on extended travel — not only lose muscle mass, but their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level and even their nervous system is adversely impacted." Myth No. 8: Your BMI Is an Accurate Measure of Your Overall Health. Truth: Instead of using body mass index (BMI), experts suggest measuring your waistline — using either your waist-to-hip or height-to-waist ratio — is a more accurate measure of your overall health. BMI is an outdated metric now primarily used by insurance companies to set premiums — charging those struggling with obesity higher rates than those who possess average BMIs. A primary reason why BMI is a flawed tool relates to its use of weight as a measurement of your disease risk. In reality, a high percentage of body fat is correlated to a higher risk of disease. Because your weight varies according to the density of your bone structure, you may weigh more if you are big-boned but not necessarily have a higher proportion of body fat than normal. It may seem that health and wellness are no longer the norm. An opioid epidemic sweeps the country, the obesity rate is skyrocketing, life expectancy is dropping and chronic diseases are rampant. Our communities are being damaged at every level and the only way to reverse these trends is through education and personal example. The time is ripe for revolution — a health revolution. Start today. Source: the business insider, 9/12/18.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

50 Questions to Ask Your Kids Instead of Asking “How Was Your Day”

School will be starting soon. Your kids will all be going in different directions. Between working and shuffling kids to and from activities, it will be an adjustment to say the least. Our writers decided to share their favorite conversation starters with their kids. These are especially great after a long school day when your babies don’t want to chat. 1. What made you smile today? 2. Can you tell me an example of kindness you saw/showed? 3. Was there an example of unkindness? How did you respond? 4. Does everyone have a friend at recess? 5. What was the book about that your teacher read? 6. What’s the word of the week? 7. Did anyone do anything silly to make you laugh? 8. Did anyone cry? 9. What did you do that was creative? 10. What is the most popular game at recess? 11. What was the best thing that happened today? 12. Did you help anyone today? 13. Did you tell anyone “thank you?” 14. Who did you sit with at lunch? 15. What made you laugh? 16. Did you learn something you didn’t understand? 17. Who inspired you today? 18. What was the peak and the pit? 19. What was your least favorite part of the day? 20. Was anyone in your class gone today? 21. Did you ever feel unsafe? 22. What is something you heard that surprised you? 23. What is something you saw that made you think? 24. Who did you play with today? 25. Tell me something you know today that you didn’t know yesterday. 26. What is something that challenged you? 27. How did someone fill your bucket today? Whose bucket did you fill? 28. Did you like your lunch? 29. Rate your day on a scale from 1-10. 30. Did anyone get in trouble today? 31. How were you brave today? 32. What questions did you ask at school today? 33. Tell us your top two things from the day (before you can be excused from the dinner table!). 34. What are you looking forward to tomorrow? 35. What are you reading? 36. What was the hardest rule to follow today? 37. Teach me something I don’t know. 38. If you could change one thing about your day, what would it be? 39. (For older kids): Do you feel prepared for your history test? 40. Who did you share your snacks with at lunch? 41. What made your teacher smile? What made her frown? 42. What kind of person were you today? 43. What made you feel happy? 44. What made you feel proud? 45. What made you feel loved? 46. Did you learn any new words today? 47. What do you hope to do before school is out for the year? 48. If you could switch seats with anyone in class, who would it be? And why? 49. What is your least favorite part of the school building? And favorite? 50. If you switched places with your teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class? Good luck and enjoy the conversations with your children. Source: leslie means, 8/12/18.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Suicide Is on the Rise — Know the Warning Signs and How to Help

With the recent suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, which occurred within days of each other, have reignited a much-needed public discussion about suicide, mental illness and its treatment. As noted by Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression “is not a condition that is related to success or failure. No one is immune. The story at-a-glance  Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S., affecting more than 16 million Americans, and the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.  Between 1999 and 2016, suicide increased by 28 percent across most American demographics; in 25 states, the suicide rate rose by more than 30 percent.  Between 2008 and 2015, the number of children hospitalized for either thinking about suicide or attempting suicide doubled; among girls aged 10 to 19, the suicide rate rose by 70 percent between 2010 and 2016.  In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans committed suicide, making suicide the 10th most common cause of death that year; along with drug overdoses and Alzheimer’s disease, suicide is one of three leading causes of death that are on the rise.  Know the common causes of suicide, the warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide, and how you can help them. Know the 12 Warning Signs of Suicide, and How to Help While some are better at keeping their depression and any thoughts of suicide well hidden, even from the ones they love, it’s important for everyone to recognize the warning signs, and what they can do to help. According to the CDC, the 12 warning signs that someone may be contemplating or getting close to suicide are: •Feeling like a burden •Being isolated •Increased anxiety •Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain •Increased substance use •Looking for a way to access lethal means •Increased anger or rage •Extreme mood swings •Expressing hopelessness •Sleeping too little or too much •Talking or posting about wanting to die •Making plans for suicide What You Can Do to Help If you notice one or more of these signs, take the following five steps to help. For more information about how to prevent suicide, see www.BeThe1To.com. 1. Ask how they are feeling and if they are considering ending their life, or if they have a plan to do so. 2. Don’t let them be alone and do your best to keep them safe. 3. Make yourself available to them. 4. Reach out to them daily and help them connect to others. 5. Follow up. If you live in the U.S. and are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line. If you are in danger of acting on suicidal thoughts, call 911 for immediate assistance. Source: mercola.com, 6/27/18.

10 Things to Do Daily to Help Your Brain

Even though your brain affects everything you do, you probably don't give it — literally — much thought. Clever pun aside, how often do you actually consider what your brain may need to stay healthy? Given the fact your brain impacts all aspects of your life — from happiness and health, to relationships and rest — it's important you understand how to take care of it. While aging and genes have some effect, they may not have the final word about the fate of your brain. Your brain's lifelong neuroplasticity enables you to have continual influence over its health based on how you eat, sleep, exercise, express yourself, manage stress and more. The actions, attitudes and thoughts you have today, as well as the daily lifestyle choices you make, all play a meaningful role in your brain's health. With more than 5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer's disease and as many as 16 million expected to suffer with it by 2050, brain care is not a subject you can afford to ignore. Start today by reviewing the following 10 actions you can take daily to positively impact the health of your brain. 1. Get Proper Sleep - About 1 in 3 Americans gets less than seven hours of sleep a night, and an estimated 83.6 million adults in the U.S. are sleep-deprived. You may be suffering from sleep deprivation if you work the night shift, have sleep apnea or spend a lot of time in front of electronic gadgets at night. Particularly if your habit is to sleep five or fewer hours a night, you may be putting yourself at risk of cognitive decline and memory issues that will only accelerate as you age. Even if sleep duration is good, sleep quality can be quite poor. People who wake up many times during the night can have some nights with zero hours of deep, restful sleep. Poor sleep quantity and/or quality can cause excessive daytime drowsiness … chronic fatigue, headaches, mood issues, irritability, poor memory and cognitive dysfunction." The National Sleep Foundation offers three tips to support your body's need for quality sleep: •Vary your wake-up time on the weekends no more than an hour from your weekday schedule to better support a consistent sleep-wake schedule, also known as your body's circadian rhythm •Take a 20-to-30-minute nap on weekend afternoons, ideally between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Research suggests adults need right around eight hours of sleep a night. The sleep needs of seniors, young adults, teenagers and children vary. Using a wearable fitness tracker at night may help you gain more insight into your sleep patterns. 2. Train Your Unconscious Mind - According to the documentary "Automatic Brain: The Magic of the Unconscious Mind," your subconscious mind manages about 90 percent of everything you do whether you are asleep or awake. You may be surprised to learn your conscious mind plays only a minor role in guiding your life. In reality, most of what you think, say and do every day is a function of your "automatic," or unconscious brain (also known as your subconscious). Without you fully realizing it, your brain essentially is running your life on autopilot. Because your unconscious mind has a pervasive influence on your life, you can actively harness its power and direct its influence in positive, life-giving ways by: • Expressing yourself artistically: Artistic endeavors such as coloring, drawing or painting make use of your subconscious by allowing your creativity to surface and making space for the expression of your true feelings. Because the goal is to tap into your unconscious mind, you don't need to be a great artist, just open to the creative process. • Rehearsing desired outcomes: A great way to program a new activity, skill or thought into your unconscious mind is to rehearse it and repeat it until it takes root. Similar to the countless songs and jingles lodged in your subconscious, you can rehearse new attitudes, ideas, outcomes and thoughts that you want to become reality. By frequently repeating out loud what you want, you aid your subconscious mind in catching on and helping you achieve your desired outcomes. • Reviewing before bed: A great way to learn new material, such as exam material, goals, presentations or speeches, is to review it right before you go to sleep. Doing so helps transfer the content to your subconscious, putting it at the forefront of your mind as you drift off to sleep, and potentially influencing the content of your dreams. 3. Focus on One Task at a Time - Multitasking is perceived to be more efficient than a single-minded focus, but you'll feel calmer and more relaxed if you choose to focus on one task at a time. Think about the last time you tried to talk on the phone with a friend while cooking supper or checking your email. I bet you missed much of what your friend was saying because your brain was trying to split time between two very different activities. Research conducted by Stanford University suggests multitasking reduces your efficiency because your brain can only do one thing well at a time. So, give your brain a break and put your focus exclusively on the one task or person at hand. You may be surprised at the results. 4. Exercise Regularly - If you exercise regularly, you not only will have a healthier body, but a better brain, too. Regardless of your age, exercise can provide enormous benefits for your body and your mind. If you're over 40, it's especially important to step up your exercise program because your physical strength, stamina, balance and flexibility are beginning to decline due to age. To achieve optimal benefits, you'll want to establish a comprehensive exercise program that includes high-intensity exercises, strength training, core exercises and stretching. I also urge you to consider walking, in addition to your regular workout regimen, aiming for 10,000 to 15,000 steps per day. Avoid sitting as much as possible — limiting your sitting to three hours a day or less. 5. Write Down Your Thoughts - The prevalence of computers, smartphones and tablets, as well as the diminished emphasis on handwriting means communication involving pen and paper is becoming less common. As such, technology is causing us to miss out on the brain benefits of writing. For example, research suggests writing things by hand helps you better internalize information and ensures you retain it. In addition, getting your thoughts down on paper can help you remove "mind clutter," especially before going to bed. If you are feeling highly stressed and anticipate not sleeping well as a result, make time to write out your thoughts before going to bed. Simply take out a pad of paper and a pen, set a timer for five to 10 minutes and begin writing whatever comes to mind. Avoid editing yourself and write literally anything and everything that comes to mind. When left unchecked, lingering negative feelings and the emotional stress accompanying them can wreak havoc on your brain health. Over time, as you stick with this habit — ideally as a weekly or even daily activity — your brain will connect with your subconscious, uncovering and surfacing valuable insights and thoughts of which you had previously been unaware. 6. Eat a Healthy Diet - The following dietary recommendations are vital for maintaining brain health and staving off Alzheimer's: • Eat real food, ideally organic. Be sure to choose organic grass fed meats and animal products. Research has shown vegetables to be particularly beneficial for slowing age-related cognitive decline due to the antioxidants they contain. Avoid processed foods of all kinds because they contain items known to be harmful to your brain, such as refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, glutinous grains, genetically engineered ingredients and pesticides. • Replace refined carbohydrates with healthy fats. Contrary to what most people think, your brain does not need carbohydrates and sugars for fuel. What it does need is healthy fats, such as saturated animal fats and animal-based omega-3s, which are far more important for optimal brain function. Avoid all trans fats and hydrogenated fats such as margarine and various butter-like spreads, as well as vegetable oils like canola and soybean oil. Healthy fats to add to your daily diet include: Animal-based omega-3s (krill oil, anchovies and sardines), Avocados, Butter, Coconuts and coconut oil, Ghee (clarified butter), Olives and olive oil, Organic egg yolks, Raw cacao butter, Raw dairy, Raw nuts, Seeds like black sesame, cumin, hemp and pumpkin • Avoid gluten and casein. The main items to forgo in this category are wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat such as butter. Research shows your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable. This allows proteins to get into your bloodstream where they promote autoimmunity and inflammation, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer's. • Optimize your gut flora. You can strengthen your gut microbiome not only by abstaining from processed foods, but also by avoiding antibacterial products, antibiotics and fluoridated water. You can fortify your gut by regularly eating cultured and fermented foods or using a high-quality probiotic. 7. Keep Your Mind Active - Keeping your mind active and mentally stimulated has been shown to be an effective antidote for resisting cognitive decline, especially as you age. Challenging yourself with mental exercise is believed to activate processes in your brain that keep your brain cells alive, support the growth of new nerve cells and foster communication among your nerve cells. If you frequently watch TV and think of it as a form of mental stimulation, you need to know it is actually associated with mental decline. A few of the beneficial activities you can do — at any age — to keep your mind active include: •Learn something new, such as a second language or musical instrument •Play board games, cards or online games •Read and write on a regular basis •Solve crossword, number or other kinds of puzzles; assemble physical puzzles •Take a class online or at your local library or community college 8. Eliminate Toxins - You can help your brain by eliminating toxins that have been shown to negatively affect it (and the rest of your body). A few of the toxins you should avoid are: • Aluminum: Aluminum can cross your blood-brain barrier and has been directly linked to Alzheimer's. Sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, nonstick cookware and vaccine adjuvants. Learn more about how to detox aluminum. • Dental amalgam fillings: Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are a major source of heavy metal toxicity. • Flu vaccinations: Many flu vaccines contain both aluminum and mercury, which are considerably more damaging to your health than the illness itself. • Radiation from cellphones and other wireless technologies. 9. Meditate - Meditation helps you take a deliberate break from the stream of thoughts constantly flowing in and out of your mind. Some people use it to promote spiritual growth or find inner peace, while others use it as a powerful relaxation and stress-reduction tool. Research from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine supports the notion of meditation as a form of "mental exercise" that can help regulate your attention and emotions and improve your well-being. 10. Be Optimistic - A study published in Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience suggests healthy adults who have a larger orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) tend to be more optimistic and have less anxiety. Your OFC is a region of your brain located in your prefrontal cortex just behind your eyes — it plays a key role in regulating your emotions and behavior through the integration of intellectual and emotional information. Researchers believe the size of your OFC appears to predict your tendency toward either anxiety or optimism. Lead researcher Florin Dolcos, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, believes cultivating optimistic thoughts can have a lasting effect on your brain. He said, "If you can train people's responses, the theory is that over longer periods, their ability to control their responses on a moment-by-moment basis will eventually be embedded in their brain structure." Even One Change Can Make a Big Difference in Your Brain Health Dementia and Alzheimer's have become so common that you may be accepting these conditions as a natural part of aging, unfortunate family genes or both. The truth is, you can positively influence your brain. The actions I suggested above will help ensure your mind remains sharp and resilient for many years to come. I encourage you to choose one of the suggestions and begin acting on it today. Making just one change can make a big difference in your brain health. Take care of your brain and it will take care of you. Source: mercola.com, 7/20/18.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

What Are Some of the Best Brain-Boosting Foods?

Your brain is like a sponge, soaking up not only the information around you on a daily basis but also the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals in the food you eat. The more you eat a diet based on whole, healthy foods, the more your brainpower will soar, even to the point of staving off age-related cognitive decline and other brain disorders. While eating real foods is key, there are some superstars that stand above the rest. By planning your meals to include the brain-boosting foods that follow, you’ll be providing the fuel your brain needs to not only stay healthy in the future but also function optimally today, bringing with it increased productivity, focus and a creative edge. 1. Healthy Fish Small cold-water fish that are rich in animal-based omega-3 fats but have a low risk of contamination are among your best choices for healthy fish. This includes anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring and wild-caught Alaskan salmon. The omega-3 they contain is vital to your brain, helping to fight inflammation and offer numerous protections to your brain cells. This is an area of your brain associated with working memory. They also noticed changes in other parts of the brain, including the occipital cortex (the visual processing center) and the cerebellar cortex (which plays a role in motor control). In addition, older adults with memory complaints who consumed the omega-3 fat had improved memory. Consuming healthy fish once a week or more is even linked to a 60 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared with rarely or never consuming it. If you don’t like fish, you can also get animal-based omega-3 fats in therapeutic doses by taking a supplement like krill oil. But if you’re looking for a dietary source, the healthy fish named above are among the best sources. 2. Cruciferous Veggies and Leafy Greens Eating just one serving of green leafy vegetables a day may help to slow cognitive decline associated with aging. They’re a rich source of brain-protective nutrients like folate, vitamins E and K, lutein and beta-carotene. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, are equally impressive, in part because they’re good sources of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development. Choline intake during pregnancy "super-charged" the brain activity of animals in utero, indicating that it may boost cognitive function, improve learning and memory and even diminish age-related memory decline and the brain's vulnerability to toxins during childhood, as well as confer protection later in life. Broccoli offers additional benefits as well, including the anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that work together to support your body’s detoxification processes. 3. Eggs Pastured, organic eggs, particularly the yolks, provide valuable vitamins (A, D, E and K), omega-3 fats and antioxidants. They’re also one of the best sources of choline available. Choline helps keep your cell membranes functioning properly, plays a role in nerve communications and reduces chronic inflammation. Choline is also needed for your body to make the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is involved in storing memories. In pregnant women, choline plays an equally, if not more, important role, helping to prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida, and playing a role in brain development. In addition, people with higher choline intakes were shown to have better cognitive performance, doing better on tests of verbal and visual memory, than those with low intake. 4. Coffee Increased coffee (and tea) consumption was linked to a lower risk of glioma brain tumor, such that people in the top category of coffee consumption were 91 percent less likely to have glioma compared with those in the bottom category. It may help your brain function as well, with research showing that drinking one to two cups of coffee daily may lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, cognitive decline and cognitive impairment compared to drinking less than one cup. Drinking coffee may even enhance long-term memory consolidation and, if you drink the caffeinated variety, improve attention and alertness while decreasing your risk of depression. Caffeine can be a double-edged sword, with excess consumption causing adverse effects, and everyone’s tolerance to caffeine is unique. 5. Wine Limited wine intake — one glass a day or no more than seven drinks a week — has been found to protective against dementia in later life. Part of the benefit likely comes from the catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), found in red wine, which has been found to stop beta-amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease from killing brain cells. Resveratrol is another compound in red wine linked to brain benefits, including protecting the neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) between neurons. Resveratrol may also help to restore the blood-brain barrier in patients with Alzheimer’s, which could help keep out unwanted immune molecules that can worsen brain inflammation. 6. Blueberries Blueberries are rich in phytochemicals linked to improvements in learning, thinking and memory, along with reductions in neurodegenerative oxidative stress. They’re also relatively low in fructose compared to other fruits, making them one of the healthier fruits available. Wild blueberries, which have high anthocyanin and antioxidant content, are known to guard against Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases. Wild blueberries have even been shown to reduce some of the effects of a poor diet (such as high blood pressure systemic inflammation). In an animal study, wild blueberries reduced the proinflammatory effects of a poor diet as well as prevented high blood pressure, which would be beneficial for your brain health. Further, women who consumed at least a half-cup of blueberries a week for 15 years had slower cognitive decline than women who did not, with researchers noting, “berry intake appears to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years.” Source: mercola.com, 5/29/18.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

40 Percent of Consumer DNA Tests Are Inaccurate

According to Ancestry.com, they claim the largest DNA database with more than 7 million people's DNA stored. In combination with other companies collecting DNA data, the industry estimates over 12 million DNA profiles are on file. David Mittelman, consumer genetics entrepreneur and cofounder of DNAGeeks, “The inflection point started in the summer of 2016 and from there it's gone into the stratosphere.” However, while highly advertised and an incredibly popular way of determining your ancestry, these at-home tests may provide false health information and place your privacy at risk. What’s Being Tested? DNA identification is a relatively new science. Before testing was available, other biological tools were used to help identify people and determine relationships. One of the first of those tools was blood typing. In the early 1920s, scientists were able to identify four different blood types. It wasn't until the mid-1970s when scientists discovered ways of tissue typing using the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) protein present on all tissue except red blood cells. Fast forward to 2010 and researchers are now using next-generation sequencing or massively parallel sequencing as the newest technique for genetic analysis. When a direct-to-consumer DNA test is requested, often what is tested is autosomal DNA, or one of 22 pairs of chromosomes inherited from your parents. Also called genetic genealogy, DNA testing is used together with documentary evidence to define relationships between individuals. This genealogical DNA testing first became available on a commercial basis in 2000. Since then a number of companies have established private testing labs and databases, promising to help identify individuals in your family tree up to five generations back using data points compared against others in their database. DNA may potentially be used to map your family tree, determine the ancestry of your dog, solve crimes or help your physician identify genetic components to a health condition, such as whether or not a woman carries the HER2 gene, knowledge of which will help focus the correct treatment. However, while solving crimes and identification of specific proteins to drive treatment protocols are completed in highly regulated labs set up to protect your privacy, direct-to-consumer DNA tests are not. High Percentage of At-Home DNA Tests Provide False Results In a limited study completed by Ambry Genetics, a small medical lab in California, researchers discovered using at-home DNA tests to assess for risk of certain diseases or other nonphenotypic traits resulted in a 40 percent false positive reading. The information evaluated was about genetic makeup; looking for ancestral linkage was not the issue. Ambry processes DNA for doctors and research institutions and found nearly 40 percent of test results from at-home DNA tests contained false positives. In other words, the direct-to-consumer test indicated there was a genetic variant increasing the individual's risk for disease, but according to Ambry’s genetic sequencing, there wasn't. The study does not discount DNA testing, but rather points out raw data from consumer testing companies may not be as accurate as consumers hope. What Ambry found was consumer labs test genotype DNA rather than sequencing it, and use just one method. Although this method is cheaper and quicker than clinical sequencing, it also is less effective and accurate than the clinical laboratory method of sequencing and using another test to confirm a positive variant. A spokesperson from 23andMe, an at-home DNA test company, discussed the study with a reporter from Gizmodo, telling them 23andMe customers receive a warning the raw data is not necessarily accurate or appropriate for medical use. Contained in their terms of service is a warning that may not be entirely clear to consumers: “This data has undergone a general quality review; however, only a subset of markers have been individually validated for accuracy.” Clinical Confirmation Necessary Before Making Medical Decisions Although these at-home genetic tests are popular as a relatively inexpensive way to track your ethnicity and genetic history, they are not intended for medical use. This means the data you are given is not a replacement for a real medical diagnosis, nor should the information be used to guide medical treatment. This warning refers to raw DNA data many companies send, containing a complicated list of genetic abnormalities implying you may have a greater likelihood to develop a disorder. The authors of the featured study noted false results about genetic disorders might lead people to better preventive care, but may also create needless anxiety over a nonexistent issue. The authors believe it is vital further testing is used to confirm a condition prior to designing a treatment protocol. For instance, while you may have a genetic marker for a health condition, you may never develop it and vice versa. Genetics plays a role in disease development, but in many cases your lifestyle choices and environment play a larger role. How Home DNA Testing Works It appears the increase in interest for direct-to-consumer DNA testing could be a result of how much these companies are spending on advertising. In 2016, Ancestry.com spent $109 million on TV and other advertising and was on track to spend even more in 2017. Most of the at-home kits work in a similar fashion. Since the company uses both documented evidence and DNA evidence to find your ancestry links, you'll first answer a few questions about yourself. Once the kit has arrived you collect the sample as directed. Some DNA test kits use a vial of saliva, while others use scrapings from the inside of your cheek. Before sending the test kit back, you must register it online with the company. This is an important step as the kit is sent to the company without identifying information. Registering the kit allows you to see your results online. Since some states have laws governing DNA testing by private companies when the tests are related to medical conditions, it is important to check the site's terms of service to see if there are any restrictions in your locale before ordering a kit. Companies keep their own database of DNA so software can search for DNA matches with as many people as share their results. If you're trying to build a family tree or look for relatives, this could be a useful feature. Companies Finding Ways to Monetize Your Information The sheer numbers of individuals who have data in DNA databases may catalyze the growth of other companies who reanalyze the data and monetize your information. For instance, Vinome uses your genetic material to predict the type of wine you may find most tasteful. Other companies use the information to provide a breakdown of nutrition or health risks. Unfortunately, this occurs with little oversight from regulators. In past years, direct-to-consumer DNA companies have worked hard to convince customers testing has value. The rising enthusiasm in genealogy has captured a growing interest in monetizing the platform. Harvard geneticist George Church, Ph.D., founded Nebula Genomics, planning to sequence your DNA for under $1,000, giving you insights about your health and at the same time secure the data. In other words, when you take a DNA test through a direct-to-consumer company, the company has the right to sell your genetic data to third parties without passing you profit. On the other hand, when you pay Nebula to sequence your entire DNA, you own the data and may sell it to earn digital money. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies use large DNA data sets in the development of new pharmaceutical drugs. This data is typically purchased for millions of dollars. Nebula’s goal is to eliminate the middleman so you have the opportunity to sell your own DNA data directly to drug companies and other data buyers. More startup companies are building platforms allowing you to sell your genetic information online, but they are not offering genome sequencing in the package. Although you may be intrigued with the idea of making money from a simple DNA test, it is critical you consider these future repercussions to your privacy. Know This Before You Take a Direct-To-Consumer DNA Test Although scientists are excited about the potential information revealed in a deep dive into DNA data, in an era of genetic research, this poses significant problems for your privacy. Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford School of Medicine, comments: “There is no legal limit on what they could do other than the agreement that you enter into with them which they may or may not choose to follow. If they don’t follow it, the chance you would ever find out is very, very low. You cannot promise people absolute confidentiality. The other side of it is that it’s possible that somebody will hack into a company database that does contain your information. My financial information has been hacked three times in two years. All that stuff is out there.” Your DNA contains sensitive information about your health, personality and family history. In the fine print of nearly every testing company, the company claims ownership of your DNA, allowing third parties to access it and making it vulnerable to hackers. The direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies make it clear in their terms and conditions how they use your DNA, but these firms are not bound by HIPAA regulations, which means your personal information is unregulated. And, as with all data, the more places it can be found, the more chances are it can be leaked. Even without an accidental leak, your genetic information may be used for workplace discrimination or in the acquisition of life insurance, long-term care or disability insurance. And, if you share your genetic information with your personal physician and the results are medically relevant, it may also negatively impact your health care coverage. In fact, one company admitted in 2013 the real goal of the company was not to make money selling DNA testing, but instead to collect massive amounts of data they can use without any further consent. So, while it may be tempting to forgo hours of research into developing your family tree by taking a simple DNA test, this test may turn out to be far from simple and cost far more than the original price in the long run. Source: mercola.com, 4/21/18.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Top 20 Health Tips From Dr. Mercola

To help commemorate 20 years of offering the most up-to-date health information we can, here are 20 tips to help you on your health journey. The topics are all-encompassing, so while you may not be able to do all of them, beginning with a few will improve your overall health and well-being. What to Do More of to Optimize Your Health: 1. Get eight hours of sleep every night. You’ve heard it since you were a kid but that eight hours of shut-eye is serious business. Adequate sleep can make you smarter, skinnier and happier; it helps you process information on multiple levels. You end up consuming more calories when you don’t get enough sleep. Your memory suffers and your risk for depression increases. Your risk of anxiety rises, and with it, coping mechanisms that often involve food. Even your immune system takes a hit. Protect your hours of sleep like you do your bank account. You’ll be richer for it. 2. Get adequate vitamin D and omega-3s. Deficiencies in these two essential nutrients are causing untold damage to the health of millions of Americans. In fact, 85 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough “D” to help fight bone loss, cognitive decline, rheumatoid arthritis and abnormal cell growth. Regular sun exposure is your best source of vitamin D, but supplementation may also be necessary for some people. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which you need for healthy digestion, blood clotting, memory, muscle strength, vision, heart health and so much more. Excellent sources of animal-based omega-3s include wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and krill oil. 3. Get moving. Sitting is a huge part of modern life. The national median of adults with little to no physical activity other than their jobs is 22.6 percent. Walking just one hour a day, the equivalent of about 3 miles, will go a long way toward optimizing your health. You’ll gain greater stamina, more energy along with cutting your risk for several types of disease. Aim for 10,000 steps a day and cut your sitting time to three hours or less daily. 4. Grow your own food. The best way to guarantee you’re eating truly healthy foods like vegetables, herbs and seeds is to produce them yourself. You may be surprised how easy it is to start with organic tomato, beet or lettuce seeds for growing food right at your fingertips. It’s very satisfying, plus you don’t have to worry about genetically engineered (GE) foods laced with harmful pesticides. 5. Get adequate sun exposure. Humans make thousands of units of vitamin D within minutes of whole-body exposure to sunlight, but our jobs keep most people indoors. Regular sun exposure is important not only for adequate vitamin D production but also for boosting your immune system, regulating your circadian rhythm, lowering high blood pressure, improving your mood and even lowering your risk of many cancers, including skin cancer. Always avoid getting burned, but do make sure you spend a sensible amount of time with your bare skin exposed. What to Eat More of to Optimize Your Health: 6. Eat more fiber. It may not make sense until you think about it, but when the foods you eat hang around in your colon for too long, it begins accumulating toxins that can potentially end up causing colon cancer. The foods you eat provide needed nutrients for your body’s health, but then they need to move through your system. That’s where fiber, especially from vegetables, nuts and seeds such as flax and chia seeds — not grains — come in handy. Fiber “sloughs” your intestinal walls to speed up movement. Drinking adequate water helps the process, as well. Fiber is not only beneficial for lowering your cancer risk but also reduces your risk of chronic disease like diabetes and heart disease. I believe about 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed is ideal. 7. Eat more fish. As you may know, protein is essential for health. You only need to eat 10 - 35 percent of your daily calorie intake from protein. Trading out some of the beef you eat for fish is an excellent way to get adequate protein without getting too much. Larger fish are nearly always contaminated with mercury and other toxins. Exceptions would be wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and herring are cold-water fish that offer healthy fats, including omega-3s, without high levels of pollutants. Make sure the fish you eat is wild-caught, not farmed, low in mercury and other pollutants and responsibly harvested. 8. Switch to American grass fed certified. That goes for milk and butter as well as meat, so when you buy these products you know, you’re getting optimal essential minerals and antioxidants, as well as fatty acid composition. Organic grass fed foods are also free of antibiotics and other drugs used in concentrated animal feeding operations. Antibiotic-resistant disease has become a major public health hazard, so buying organic meats is should something you take into consideration. 9. Make fermented foods. Fermented foods provide your body with beneficial microbes, counteract inflammation and control the growth of disease-causing bacteria. All you need is a Mason jar or two to get started. Your gut houses about 85 percent of your immune system, mainly because 100 trillion beneficial and pathogenic bacteria live there and play important roles in your body’s functions. When your GI tract is not properly balanced, a wide range of health problems can appear, including allergies and autoimmune diseases. 10. Grow sprouts. If you haven’t heard about the incredible health benefits of eating sprouted broccoli, bean or sunflower sprouts, it might be helpful to learn that, compared to the considerable vitamins and antioxidants in full-grown vegetables, the micro version (i.e., sprouts) is like veggies on steroids. Sunflower seed and pea shoots are about 30 times more nutritious than organic vegetables. Best of all, growing your own is super easy, quick, cost effective and doesn’t require a lot of space. What to Avoid or Reduce to Optimize Your Health: 11. Avoid lectins. Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins you find in wheat and other grains, beans and similar legumes, and nightshade veggies such as tomatoes and peppers. Many are proinflammatory and neurotoxic, and may increase blood viscosity, interfere with gene expression and disrupt endocrine function. That’s why dried beans must be carefully cooked, and never eat them raw. Sprouting and fermenting will also dramatically reduce the lectin content of foods. 12. Avoid fluoride. In the U.S., 57 percent of youth between the ages of 6 and 19 years have fluorosis, a condition in which your tooth enamel becomes progressively discolored and mottled due to overexposure to fluoridated drinking water. Dental fluorosis is an outward sign that fluoride is damaging the body. A forethinking chemist asserted that water fluoridation was tantamount to committing “public murder” back in 1937, sadly confirmed with a sharp rise in cancer deaths implicating fluoride soon after the practice started. Choose non-fluoridated toothpaste and consider a fluoride-removing water filter. 13. Avoid microwaves, especially with plastic containers. Depending on what product you’re using, your plastic might contain phthalates, a type of “gender-bending” chemical causing males of many species to become more female, along with many others. Microwaving food in a plastic container puts your food in contact with phthalates and other chemicals that have leached out during the heating process. Instead, use a glass container and cover your food with a paper towel, a coffee filter or a glass lid set on at a slight angle for steam to escape. Microwaves heat food by causing water molecules in it to resonate at very high frequencies and eventually turn to steam, which heats your food. While this can rapidly heat your food, it also causes a change in your food's chemical structure and destroys many vital nutrients. 14. Limit your protein intake. Protein is essential for health because it helps build muscle, maintain healthy cells and regulate your metabolism, to name a few of its many functions, which is why it’s called the “building blocks of life.” But Americans consume the most meat per capita in the world — more than 175 pounds of pork, poultry and beef per year, which exceeds what is wise for optimal health. People whose protein consumption is 20 percent or more their total caloric intake have a 400 percent higher cancer rate, and a 75 percent higher risk of mortality. Protein is important, but balance is important, too. For optimal health, I believe most adults need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass (not total body weight), or 0.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. 15. Reduce EMFs. No doubt about it: Exposure to EMFs, or electromagnetic fields, is a given if you use a cellphone. Lower your exposure to all electronics whenever possible, but use particular care with your cellphone, portable phone, Wi-Fi router and modem. You can reduce your exposure by shutting off your Wi-Fi at night, keeping cellphones in airplane mode unless using them, using the speaker phone when talking on your cellphone. Things to Eliminate to Optimize Your Health: 16. Give up nicotine for life. You probably already know smoking causes cancer, and other forms of nicotine and tar are every bit as dangerous. But did you know it is one of the factors in the development of Alzheimer’s? In fact, one study showed smokers to have a 45 percent higher risk of developing dementia than nonsmokers. 17. Get rid of nonstick cookware. Here’s why: poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used to create these surfaces are toxic, both in your body and in the environment. You may have noticed bits that come loose when you’re stirring, and realized they’re going into someone’s body, and toxic fumes, even if you can’t smell them, are, too. Instead, use ceramic or enameled cast iron pots, pans and skillets to do your cooking. 18. Consider getting rid of your mercury fillings. But maybe you should first consider what mercury fillings may be doing to wreck your health. The amalgam fillings put in place by dentists in the U.S. are 50 percent mercury, the vapors of which pass through cell membranes, across your blood-brain barrier and into your central nervous system. Studies show they cause serious psychological, neurological and immunological problems. 19. Give up soda. Countless individuals are making strides toward a healthier lifestyle, but one of the smartest things you can do if you haven’t already is ditch soda. There’s a link between soda consumption and obesity, as well as liver damage, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Making the switch to water could be the most influential health decision you’ve ever made. 20. Avoid sugar. Evidence suggests excess sugar is a foundational cause of diabetes, obesity and most chronic degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, not just an exacerbating factor. Once you more fully appreciate the dangers of sugar, you may finally be more motivated to mostly eliminate it from your diet. It may be difficult in the beginning, but once you cut down on added sugars and other net carbs (total carbs minus fiber), which will allow your body to start burning fat as its primary fuel again, the sugar cravings will disappear. Research stevia as an alternative. What’s in It for You? It’s unfortunate that along with all the options we’re offered in grocery stores, many of them are manufactured with something else in mind besides your health. Our aim is to expose corporate, government and media misinformation that diverts you away from what’s truly best for your health. Unless you actively pursue alternative answers for health and well-being, you’ll most likely be swept into corporate America’s loudest, most persistent answer to every problem, from headaches to obesity to cancer: drugs and medical procedures. We’ve partnered with key organizations also dedicated to educating the public on important health issues, and even push for initiatives that will better public health and the environment while helping you improve your health, naturally. Source: mercola.com, 4/2/18.