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If You Try a “Gluten-Free” Diet…

26 Feb

Gluten is found in wheat, oats, barley, and rye, and for those with Celiac Disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), gluten can be very dangerous, even lethal. But many people opt to avoid foods containing gluten as part of an anti-inflammatory diet and there seems to be little-to-no argument that anti-inflammatory diets are indeed a very healthy choice.

One study reported that a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce cardiovascular risk factors and can help resolve both metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Additionally, there are several published studies describing how an anti-inflammatory diet can reduce pain associated with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. One such study reported a striking reduction in pain, joint inflammation, and morning stiffness duration reduction utilizing this type of diet—and these improvements persisted when researchers followed-up with participants a year later!

Because low-grade inflammation has now been identified as the driver of most chronic degenerative diseases, it is important to understand that low-grade chronic inflammation manifests itself both locally and systemically through a variety of inflammatory mediators. Many of these can be measured in a blood test and are commonly found in patients with chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and osteoarthritis.

Individuals who do their best to cut gluten from their diet often seek out gluten-free versions of their favorite foods. Is there anything these people should know?

Well, an article in the November 2017 issue of Consumer Reports notes that gluten-free foods made with rice flour may contain high levels of arsenic and other heavy metals. The article also points out that those who restrict foods containing gluten tend to eat fewer whole grains, which may result in increased heart disease risk due to lower fiber intake.

What the authors of the article don’t point out is that consuming more fruits and vegetables can make up for this deficit, as these foods can also be high in fiber. The good news is that gluten-free whole grains such as amaranth, freekeh, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, teff, and sorghum are great, healthy substitutes.


Do Coffee Drinkers Live Longer?

29 Jan

There has been great debate over the years about the pros and cons of drinking coffee.  The confusion is justified, as one study will report on the negative affects while the next will highlight its beneficial attributes. So here we go again, but this time, the focus is on whether or not the compounds found in coffee can help you live longer.

In a 2017 study published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Imperial College London, researchers surveyed 520,000 people from ten European countries and concluded that drinking coffee does appear to promote a longer lifespan. According to the study, other significant health benefits associated with coffee consumption include lower mortality rates from liver and digestive disease in both men and women; decreased mortality from cancer, circulatory disease, and cerebrovascular disease (stroke) in women; and a reduced suicide rate for men. Coffee consumption also lowers inflammatory markers and other negative biomarkers in the blood, giving us some insight on how the compounds in coffee may promote longevity.

The other study, this one funded by the National Cancer Institute, included a diverse set of subjects, as the survey included more than 185,000 adults from various ethnic backgrounds. The authors of this study also concluded a link between coffee consumption and living longer.

Regarding the dosage of coffee required to achieve the most benefits, the European study found the more coffee consumed, the better. They observed that participants who consumed three cups a day had better protection against all-cause death than those consuming less, especially when compared with the non-coffee drinkers. Also, because the researchers surveyed people from many different parts of Europe, it didn’t appear to matter what brand of coffee the particpants consumed, how it was prepared, or the serving style.

The United States-based study echoed many of the same findings as it reported that individuals consuming two to four cups a day had an 18% lower risk of early death in comparison with the non-coffee drinkers, regardless of the ethnicity, coffee type, or preparation style.

Not to burst your bubble about the health benefits of coffee, but moderation is still recommended regarding your daily indulgence. Nutritionists also warn that adding heavy cream and sugar may nullify many of the health benefits of black coffee plus add unnecessary calories to your diet.

Look for future research to focus on determining which compounds found in coffee provide the most benefit and if they can be consumed as a supplement for people who are not coffee drinkers.

Charlie Horses and Management Strategies

28 Dec

At some point in time, most of us have had a “Charlie horse” or muscle cramp. In fact, 50% of adults over the age of 50 suffer from night cramps. Doctors of chiropractic are often asked by their patients, “Where do these come from? Why am I having these? What can I do to get rid of them?”


The most common type of muscle cramp is caused by exercise, hence the label “exercise-associated muscle cramps” (EAMC). Though EAMCs are common in both recreational and professional athletes, the actual cause remains unclear. Therefore, treatment is often based on anecdotal studies rather than sound scientific evidence.

With that said, a thorough analysis of previous studies published between 1955 and 2008 concluded that the two most widely discussed theories for the cause of EAMC are 1) dehydration and the resulting electrolyte imbalance/depletion and 2) neuromuscular causes. The authors of the analysis concluded that the actual cause is “…likely due to several factors coalescing to cause EAMC.” In other words, it’s sort of like “a perfect storm”, as several causes interact to result in the cramp, which is why treatment and prevention strategies for EAMC can vary considerably.

The recommended care for acute EAMC is to apply a steady, moderate static stretch to the muscle followed by gathering a proper history to determine if any predisposing conditions exist that can trigger EAMC. Prevention should focus on fluid and electrolyte balance (replacement) and/or neuromuscular training.

Specific physical problems that can increase the rate and/or intensity of muscle cramps include conditions affecting the endocrine system (hormonal imbalance), the metabolic system (loss of fluids and electrolytes), and/or the neurological system (such as nerve injury or damage). Common areas for muscle cramping include the calf, front of the thigh (quadriceps), and back of the thigh (hamstrings).

A thorough history and physical examination may include a nutritional assessment, which can lead to treatment strategies tailored for each unique, individual patient. Additionally, it’s a good idea to review what medications a patient is taking as they may play a role in the development of cramps. For example, diuretics commonly prescribed for high blood pressure and other heart-related conditions may lead to potassium depletion.

Some helpful natural remedies for those with persistent muscle cramping may include a mineral/electrolyte replacement such as calcium, potassium, and/or magnesium. Anti-inflammatory nutritional care such as ginger and turmeric and/or muscle relaxing approaches such as valerian root can also be helpful. Other anti-cramping natural substances include Cassia oil and capsaicin. Riboflavin has been used preventatively with success as well.

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Can Chiropractic Help Dizziness?

27 Nov

Many of us have had problems associated with dizziness from time to time and have not thought much about it. But when dizziness happens frequently, lasts a long time, or is severe, it definitely gets our attention and forces us to get it checked out.

BACKGROUND: To determine how common dizziness is and the personal burden it imposes on the population, a large-scale study examined 2,751 adults (aged 50+ years) using multiple measures for dizziness, hearing, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and quality of life. An alarming 60% reported some type of vertigo. Interestingly, the researchers observed an association between tinnitus and vertigo. Also, the participants with vertigo reported lower quality of life scores than those without dizziness complaints. This study highlights the significant burden imposed by dizziness/vertigo stating that this is an “important public healthcare issue” that must be studied further.

CAUSES: The most common causes include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), acute vestibular neuronitis or labyrinthitis, Meniere’s disease, migraine headaches, and anxiety disorders. Less commonly, reduced blood flow to the brain/head (“vertebrobasilar ischemia”) and retrocochlear tumors can cause dizziness. The risk also increases with age.

TREATMENT OPTIONS: Most vertigo sufferers do not require extensive testing and can be treated in the clinic.  Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and labyrinthitis are most often successfully managed by doctors of chiropractic with specific exercise to reposition the displaced “canaliths” or small stone-like material in the inner ear.

Treatment with a low-salt diet and diuretics (herbal options include: dandelion, ginger, parsley, hawthorn, and juniper) can also be helpful in resistant cases with fewer side effects than prescription vestibular suppressing medications. Consuming potassium-rich foods such as bananas, avocados, raisins, beans, squash, mushrooms, potatoes, yogurt, or fish is often wise when taking a diuretic. Chiropractors often provide nutritional counseling and can help guide you in this area as well.


This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Is There a “CURE” for Diabetes and Aging?

30 Oct

This certainly is a provoking question! Interestingly, there appears to be some fairly convincing evidence that intermittent fasting can have a dramatic effect on both diabetes management (and possibly play a role in preventing the condition) in addition to increasing longevity. In 2013, researchers looked at this approach in a British Journal of Diabetes & Vascular Disease article entitled, “Intermittent fasting: a dietary intervention for prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease?”

The study’s authors reported that intermittent fasting helps reduce the risk of heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes AND obesity, as it provides a method to help people manage their weight. They reported generally good compliance and described intermittent fasting as a “clinically relevant therapeutic approach.”

There are several options for intermittent fasting such as fasting on alternate days or not eating for 16 hours (last meal at 8PM and first meal the next day at 1PM, for example). Another option is to simply cut out one meal on days when you observe that your weight has increased.

Not only can intermittent fasting reduce one’s risk for developing diabetes but it may also help diabetics better manage their condition, as this form of fasting improves blood sugar and insulin levels in addition to insulin sensitivity. The research also shows that intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation and improve blood pressure and blood lipid levels. ALL of this, unlike most medications, comes with a low risk of adverse effects and is highly cost effective!

There is also evidence to support the addition of chromium to the diet in order to help prevent and/or control diabetes. According to the National Institutes of Health, chromium is known to enhance the action of insulin—the hormone that keeps our blood sugar levels from soaring out of control. Your doctor of chiropractic can help you establish a program of both chromium intake and fasting.

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Women with Back Pain… The Silent Majority? Part 2

25 Sep

Last month, we discussed four factors that increase a woman’s risk for back pain: a wider pelvis (resulting in greater pelvic instability due to knock-knee effect); breast size, mass, and weight; hormone levels and variability during menstruation and menopause; and adolescent growth spurts that can trigger idiopathic scoliosis three-times more commonly in women than men. We’ll continue the discussion this month…

During the first trimester (three months) of pregnancy, the fetus’ rapid growth combined with the hormonal, physical, and emotional changes that occur can be quite an adjustment! However, it’s during the second and third trimesters when an expectant mother’s risk for back pain can increase the most. During this time, the growth of the baby shifts the center of gravity forward, increasing the low back curve or “lordosis” to maintain balance. This new posture can create inflammation in the facet joints, the sacroiliac joints, and/or the coccyx (tailbone), which can result in pain and general discomfort. Common self-help approaches include ice or heat (ice is typically preferred over heat), rest, special cushions or supports, and specific exercises. Manual therapies provided in a chiropractic setting, like mobilization and/or manipulation, can also provide relief.

Though the mechanism may not be fully understood, women who have undergone menopause have an elevated risk for reduced bone density, which is called osteopenia. You may be more familiar with the term osteoporosis, which describes a fracture that occurs in the presence of reduced bone mass. Management can be successful with non-surgical approaches. However, if non-surgical approaches fail, a doctor may recommend a procedure, called kyphoplasty, in which he or she injects a cement-like substance into the fractured vertebral body.

Another factor that can increase a woman’s risk for back pain is wearing high heels. A 2015 study found that wearing heels over two inches tall (or ~50mm) can increase the curve of the lumbar spine by about ten degrees, placing added pressure on the two lower lumbar disks (L5/S1 and L4/L5). This may be one explanation as to why low back pain complaints are more common among women who regularly wear high heels compared with those who do not. Additionally, other studies have shown that wearing heels also alters the curvature of the thoracic and cervical spine, which can increase the wearer’s risk for neck and upper back problems.


Dr. Brent Binder
856 Century Drive, Suite C
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055
Member of

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.