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Can Diet Reduce Your Depression Risk?

9 Feb

For years, scientists have investigated how what we eat affects our physical bodies. Clearly, the science of eating for athletic performance and physical health has come a long way. But now, researchers are finally starting to do more studies on how nutrition affects our minds. A large study that included 15,093 participants reported that depression could be linked with nutrient deficits. In other words, what we eat impacts on our mental health too.

In this study, researchers compared several eating patterns to see if they were correlated with either an increased or reduced risk of depression. Lead researcher Dr. Almudena Sanchez-Villegas of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria says, “We wanted to understand what role nutrition plays in mental health, as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds. These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health…. The protective role is ascribed to their nutritional properties, where nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals) could reduce the risk of depression.”

They found the eating patterns linked with the lowest risk of depression were those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts (like the Mediterranean Diet, for example). Interestingly, Dr. Sanchez-Villegas adds that a “threshold effect may exist,” meaning even moderate adherence to the eating pattern mentioned above achieved an important reduction in depression risk and strict adherence didn’t show any extra benefit. In other words, if the results of this study hold true, you do not have to be super-strict with your diet and have a little “wiggle room” to still achieve the same benefits.

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Can Coconut Oil Help Fight Yeast Infections?

12 Jan

Do you suffer from Candida albicans (commonly called a yeast infection) and not know it? Many people do. Often times, one may be struggling with fatigue and other symptoms and not know candida is the culprit. For example, statistics show that 75% of all women will suffer with at least one yeast infection during their lifetime. Nearly half of these women will experience at least one more episode of infection. A small percentage (5-8%) will suffer from at least four recurrent infection per year.

What is candida albicans? Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida. There are over twenty species of Candida yeasts that can cause infection in humans, the most common of which is Candida albicans. Candida yeasts normally live on the skin and mucous membranes without causing infection; however, overgrowth of these organisms can cause symptoms to develop that can vary depending on the area of the body that is infected.

Symptoms can include a sore throat, a white coating on the tongue, blisters or sores in the cheeks, a burning tongue, bad breath, food allergies, gas, abdominal pain, gastritis, rectal itching, sugar cravings, ulcers, bladder infections, burning urination, kidney infection, bronchitis, chronic cough, clogged sinuses, excess mucous, nasal itching, sinus infections, wheezing, sneezing, pneumonia, chronic congestion, diaper rash, eczema, red rashes, itchy patches on the skin, sores, and blurred vision. When Candida is present in the gut, it can generate toxins that can affect the brain causing apathy, confusion, dizziness, foggy thinking, poor concentration, poor coordination, and spaced-out feelings.

Candida infections can be persistent and difficult to treat, but new research indicates there may be a natural solution to this problem. A recent study led by researchers at Tufts University found that coconut oil effectively controlled the overgrowth of Candida albicans in mice. The research, published in the journal mSphere, suggests that it might be possible to use dietary approaches as an alternative to antifungal drugs in order to decrease the risk of infections caused by Candida albicans. In the study, mice who ate a coconut oil-rich diet experienced a 90% reduction the amount of Candida albicans in the gut when compared with mice in a control group. Dr. Alice H. Lichtenstein, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University writes, “Food can be a powerful ally in reducing the risk of disease… This study marks a first step in understanding how life-threatening yeast infections in susceptible individuals might be reduced through the short-term and targeted use of a specific type of fat.”

Do You Want to Be More Productive and Successful?

10 Dec

A new study conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the ONE THING you do NOT want to do if you want to be as productive and successful as possible. The study reports employers in the United States (US) lost $77 billion in 2010 thanks to workers’ impaired productivity due to excessive alcohol abuse – a number that jumps to almost $90 billion once other drinking-induced factors such as absenteeism are added to the mix.

According to an article published by Bloomberg, “The study came up with an even more dire number for alcohol abuse’s effect on the US economy overall that same year: $249 billion, a number that includes not only the lost-productivity toll, but also spending on healthcare, crime, car crashes, and alcohol-caused deaths. That headache seems to be getting worse. Back in 2006, the same cost to the U.S. economy was $224 billion, outpacing inflation…”

Study author Dr. Robert Brewer adds, “The increase in the costs of excessive drinking from 2006 to 2010 is concerning, particularly given the severe economic recession that occurred during these years.”

Clearly, excessive alcohol consumption is one of the best ways to destroy your career and health. Even if your career is not negatively impacted to the point that you lose your job, you may never be as successful as you could be. The same is true when it comes to your health. The damage from excessive drinking often takes YEARS to rear its ugly head and show symptoms.

Remember, we’re always here to help your body heal and maintain the pain free body you deserve.

Half of Adults in the US Have Type 2 Diabetes or Prediabetes. Here’s What You Can Do to Help Protect Yourself…

10 Nov

Diabetes is a big problem.  If you have already been diagnosed, then you already know this to be true.  The dangerous thing is most people with diabetes or pre-diabetes have no idea they have it, and it is silently killing them.  People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely as those without diabetes to have heart disease, and heart disease is the leading cause of death and complications for people with type 2 diabetes.  It appears that diabetes can affect the structure and function of the left ventricle (the heart’s main pump) before any heart disease symptoms are obvious.   Despite the importance of the heart, there are few treatment options to improve its structure and function.

According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in 2011-2012, the estimated prevalence of diabetes among adults in the United States (US) was 12-14%, and the prevalence of pre-diabetes was 37-38%, indicating that about half of the US adult population has either diabetes or pre-diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is out of control, and in most cases, it can be avoided through proper diet and exercise.  The first step is eliminating processed foods and sugar.  Just doing that can have a dramatic impact on the disease.

Besides that, exercise is a natural enemy of type 2 diabetes.  In fact, a new study in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association of the Study of Diabetes) is the first to show that high-intensity intermittent exercise training improves heart structure and benefits diabetes control in patients with type 2 diabetes.  The authors write, “This study demonstrates, for the first time, that exercise can begin to reverse some of the early cardiac changes that are commonly found in people with type 2 diabetes.  Interestingly, the data also suggests that this type of high intensity intermittent exercise benefits both the heart and diabetes control, but the benefits appear to be greatest in the heart.  The strong positive effect of exercise on the heart is, although completely logical, a message that needs to be communicated to people with type 2 diabetes more clearly.”

They conclude, “The data reinforces how important a physically active lifestyle is for people with type 2 diabetes.  Our findings also suggest that exercise does not have to be 30 minutes of continuous exercise – repeated short bouts of higher intensity exercise gives strong benefits to the heart.  Getting more physically active is, quite literally, at the heart of good diabetes control.” 

Remember, we’re always here to help your body heal and maintain the pain free body you deserve.

Are You Keeping Your Chiropractic Care a Secret?

19 Oct

These days, because of the abundance of quality scientific research, modern chiropractors and medical doctors understand the tremendous value working together can bring to their patients.  But new research shows chiropractors and medical doctors may not be working together as much as possible.

In a new study, researchers surveyed more than 6,000 patients in Oregon and Washington who were Kaiser Permanente members from 2009 – 2011 and had three or more outpatient visits for chronic pain.  They found that 58% of these patients had used chiropractic care or acupuncture or both.  The majority of patients shared information about these alternative therapies with their primary care provider. However, a good portion (35 percent of those who utilized acupuncture only and 42 percent of those who were only treated by a chiropractor) didn’t talk to their providers about what complementary treatments they received.  Almost all of these patients said they would be happy to share this information if their provider had only asked.

Dr. Charles Elder, an investigator for the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research notes, “Our study confirms that most of our patients with chronic pain are seeking complementary treatments to supplement the care we provide in the primary care setting. The problem is that too often, doctors don’t ask about this treatment, and patients don’t volunteer the information.”

Times have changed.  Your doctor should be aware of other treatments you receive to help maximize results.

Can Yoga Help Patients with Chronic Pain?

15 Sep

Chronic pain is one of the most common complaints in the developed world. One of the biggest problems with chronic pain is its effect on the brain, both physically and emotionally. “Psychic exhaustion” is a term often used to describe this crippling effect. In fact, a study done at the Stanford University School of Medicine identified a set of changes in key parts of the brain that may explain chronic pain’s capacity to stifle motivation. Dr. Robert Malenka, the co-director of the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neuroscience writes, “With chronic pain, your whole life changes in a way that doesn’t happen with acute pain. Yet this absence of motivation caused by chronic pain, which can continue even when the pain is transiently relieved, has been largely ignored by medical science.”

Dr. M. Catherine Bushnell, a scientific director at the National Institutes of Health notes, “Imaging studies in multiple types of chronic pain patients show their brains differ from healthy control subjects. Studies of people with depression show they also have reduced gray matter, and this could contribute to the gray matter changes in pain patients who are depressed. Our research shows that gray matter loss is directly related to the pain when we take depression into account.”

So, what does yoga have to do with chronic pain? Dr. Bushnell adds that studies show yoga practitioners have more gray matter than non-yoga practitioners in multiple brain regions, including those involved in pain modulation. She adds, “Some gray matter increases in yogis correspond to duration of yoga practice, which suggests there is a causative link between yoga and gray matter increases.” If further research confirms yoga benefits the brains of people who already have chronic pain, someday doctors may prescribe yoga to this class of patients as part of their overall treatment strategy.