Archive | Whole Body Health RSS feed for this section

The Reason Blood Pressure May Rise in the Winter

24 Aug

A 2009 study that monitored over 8,800 elderly French adults found that an individual’s blood pressure can fluctuate with the seasons. In particular, the researchers observed that as temperatures fell, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure could rise to unhealthy levels, but they were unable to determine why.

However, a study published just five years later may have solved the mystery. The solution has to do with the molecule nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, meaning that it causes the walls of blood vessels to relax and expand, with a resulting reduction in blood pressure.

Researchers have discovered that nitric oxide is stored in the dermal vasculature at levels much greater than are found circulating in the bloodstream. When exposed to long-wave ultraviolet (UVA) rays, the skin releases some of that stored nitric oxide into the bloodstream. Because individuals tend to spend less time in the sun during the winter months, there are fewer opportunities for the skin to release nitric oxide into the blood, dilate blood vessels, and moderate blood pressure. This may also help to explain why stroke and blood vessel rupture (aneurism) are more common in the winter months among the elderly.

How can one maintain healthier levels of nitric oxide in their bloodstream when it’s not convenient to spend time in the sunshine? The answers may be found in diet and exercise.

A 2018 study found that eating leafy greens and root vegetables and drinking beetroot juice effectively increased nitrate plasma (blood) levels for the purpose of enhancing exercise performance.

In 2020, researchers observed that schoolteachers in South Africa with greater physical fitness levels had higher levels of nitric oxide in their blood, as well as lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. The research team concluded, “These results may suggest that even moderate physical activity could increase nitric oxide synthesis capacity, which in turn may mitigate the development of cardiovascular disease in this population.” 

The take home message is that to maintain a healthier blood pressure, consider getting plenty of sunshine, eating leafy green and root vegetables (or drink beetroot juice), and exercising!

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.

Lowering the Risk for Chronic Disease

30 Jul

It’s common for the elderly to have multiple chronic conditions, all of which can impact their ability to live a vibrant, independent lifestyle. While it may not be possible to avoid adverse health conditions in our later years, it appears there are steps we can take now to give ourselves the best possible chance to maintain good health for as long as possible.

In an April 2020 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 32 researchers from around the world collaborated to investigate the association of a healthy lifestyle with years lived free of major chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, cancer, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The data set for the study included 116,043 adults (average age 43.7 year) whom researchers followed for an average of 12.5 years.

At baseline, the investigators looked at four lifestyle factors (smoking, body mass index, physical activity, and alcohol consumption) and assigned a scoring system for each factor (0=poor; 1=intermediate; 2=optimal) for a total score of 8.

During the course of the study, 15% of participants developed at least one chronic disease. The research team’s analysis showed that every one-point increase in an individual’s healthy lifestyle score translated to an increase of .96 chronic disease-free years in men and .89 chronic disease-free years in women.

Compared to individuals with a score of 0, those with a score of 16 benefited from an average of 9.4-9.9 additional chronic disease-free years!

The findings showed that maintaining a healthy weight (BMI or body mass index of ~25), not smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and getting regular exercise dramatically increased the odds of reaching age 70 without chronic disease.

Doctors of chiropractic frequently encourage patients to live a healthy lifestyle because not only can it add years to your life, as this study suggests, it can add life to your years.

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.

Sleep and Chiropractic Care

27 Feb

The American Sleep Association reports that 50-70 million adults in the United States (US) have a sleep disorder. Poor sleep is associated with several adverse health outcomes, including an elevated risk for musculoskeletal pain.

Though the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, the current research suggests the relationship between musculoskeletal pain and sleep disturbance is bi-directional. That is, individuals with a sleep disorder are more likely to develop a pain condition and people with pain are more likely to have trouble sleeping.

Chiropractic care has been studied in many populations where sleep deprivation is common—particularly in patients with fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by sleep disturbance, fatigue, and pain in several sites across the body. One such study published in 2000 reported that fibromyalgia patients who received 30 chiropractic treatments experienced substantial improvements with respect to pain intensity, fatigue, and sleep quality.

In a systematic review, researchers identified 15 studies that associated chiropractic care with benefits for patients with insomnia. For low back pain and neck pain, which are two of the most common sleep interfering chronic conditions, chiropractic management not only helps but it is RECOMMENDED as a first levels of care in clinical guidelines worldwide.

Chiropractic offers the following to help with sleep troubles: manual therapies such as manipulation, mobilization, and soft-tissue work that can help relax the nervous system; nutritional approaches, including the use of supplements like melatonin, L-theanine, 5-HTP (5-hydroxy-tryptophan), and valerian root; weight management (obesity is a risk factor for insomnia); and education/advice on sleeping position, napping, relaxation methods (breathing exercises, mindful meditation), no “screen-time” prior to bed, pillow placement and size, and more. TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Chiropractic care helps manage pain arising from MANY conditions. Pain interferes with sleep. Sleep is NECESSARY to avoid chronic, disabling conditions (like FM) and maintain a high quality of life, so seek chiropractic care FIRST and sleep well tonight!

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.

Reasons to Eat More Blueberries

27 Jan

Not only are blueberries delicious and easily attainable at the supermarket but they are also incredibly good for you. But don’t take our word for it, let’s look at what researchers say…

A 2019 review looked at findings from eleven studies that involved blueberry interventions. The researchers found that blueberries benefit memory and executive function in both children and adults, and blueberries can improve psychomotor function in seniors, including those with mild-cognitive impairment. The authors also reported that blueberry intake reduces risks for developing metabolic syndrome (heart disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes), cancer, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive decline.

In a 2018 study involving 215 older adults, researchers observed that those with the greatest cognitive impairments who consumed a daily 600mg polyphenol-rich grape and blueberry extract for six months experienced significant improvements with respect to episodic memory.

Not only are blueberries low in calories (only 84 calories per cup) but just one cup of blueberries contains four grams of fiber, 24% of the recommended daily allowance (RDI) of vitamin C, 36% of the RDI of vitamin K, and 25% of the RDI of manganese.

Blueberries are antioxidant rich, which can protect the body from the free radicals that are known to damage cells and contribute to aging and diseases, like cancer. These antioxidants can also reduce oxidization of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

There is research that suggests regular blueberry intake is associated with lower blood pressure and a reduced risk for heart attack.

Blueberries can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism—both of which can reduce the risk for diabetes and may even benefit diabetics.

Much like cranberries, blueberries contain anti-adhesive substances that can help keep bacteria from sticking around in the bladder and causing a urinary tract infection.

If you regularly exercise (you do, don’t you?), then the good news is that blueberries may reduce soreness and aid in muscle recovery following a strenuous workout.

BOTTOM LINE: Eat blueberries!

 

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.

A Link Between Cold Sores and Alzheimer’s Disease?

25 Nov

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the #1 cause of dementia, representing an imminent threat to our senior population. It is one of mankind’s cruelest afflictions that causes patients lose their memory, personality, and eventually self-care skills. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 6 million people currently have AD with projections of this doubling in the next two decades. The 2015 Framingham Heart study reported that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will develop AD.

Though researchers have observed an association between beta-amyloid plaque build-up in the brain and AD, well-funded studies have failed to determine that beta-amyloid plaques are the cause of the disorder. Interestingly, two studies published nearly 40 years ago concluded that the virus that causes cold sores (HSV-1) may play a role in the development of AD. This suspicion was bolstered by a 2014 study that detected the virus in the brains of AD patients, particularly in the parts of the brain related to memory. Neuroscientists propose that the plaque build-up commonly seen in AD patients may a consequence of the immune system trying to battle the presence of HSV-1 in the brain.

This finding suggests that AD could potentially be treated, or even prevented, by therapies that target HSV-1. Dr. Robert Rubey notes that as far back as 1968, researchers have known that HSV-1 requires the molecule arginine for replication, which can be blocked by the presence of the amino acid L-lysine. Double-blinded studies have demonstrated L-lysine is effective at both preventing or decreasing/reducing the severity of HSV-1 outbreaks.

Dr. Rubey concludes that AD is a disease process, NOT an aging process. The importance of preventing viral reactivation leading to brain inflammation/damage is key in preventing AD. In 2010, Dr. Rubey speculated that supplementing with 1,500mg of L-lysine twice a day combined with a low-arginine diet (reduced intake of nuts, seeds, grains, and tofu) may protect against AD. However, more research is needed in this area before firm recommendations can be made.

Doctors of chiropractic often recommend anti-inflammatory diets and supplements for both aiding the recovery process from musculoskeletal injuries and living a healthier lifestyle.

 

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.

The Power of Music on the Mind

28 Oct

Using functional MRI, researchers have observed that music activates the visual, motor, and coordination centers on both sides of the brain. Research also shows that music affects deeper brain areas involving memory and emotion—more than almost any other stimulus. Additionally, music engages less used neural connections in the brain, strengthening them to potentially restore or improve impaired/lost functions.

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) notes that music therapists work with older adults to help with dementia, children and adults to reduce asthma episodes, hospitalized patients to reduce pain, children with autism to improve communication skills, premature infants to improve sleep patterns and increase weight, people with Parkinson’s disease to improve motor function, and more.

One of the most publicized music therapy cases involved Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. After a near-fatal head injury, Giffords suffered from aphasia, the inability to speak due to damage of the language pathways located on the left side of the brain. By layering words on top of melody and rhythm and with a lot of practice, new neuropathways were formed, allowing her to regain the ability to speak. Her music therapist, Meaghan Morrow, compared the process to a freeway detour, describing the brain’s ability to form new roads or paths around damaged areas (a process called “neuroplasticity”) so the information can reach the same part of the brain that the damaged freeway once provided.

Dr. Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia describes the role of music therapy in managing Parkinson’s disease, which spurred the book and film “Awakenings.” In his book, Dr. Sacks cites an 1871 article by neurologist Dr. John Hughlings Jackson entitled, “Singing by Speechless Children.”

In previous months, we’ve discussed how walking backward can improve memory recall. Other research has found that trying new things or performing activities in a different way can create new pathways in the brain, which may improve brain health. So next time your drive to the store, take a different route. Tomorrow, try holding your toothbrush or your hairbrush with your other hand.

Of course, continue to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, avoid smoking, abstain from excessive drinking, and get regular chiropractic care to keep your mind and body in the best shape possible to give yourself the best chance of a long and happy life!

 

 

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.