Archive | Whole Body Health RSS feed for this section

Walking Backward Boosts Memory

29 Aug

We previously discussed how walking backward can strengthen the low back extensor muscles, which can aid in both the treatment and prevention of back pain. According to a study published in the January 2019 issue of the journal Cognition, walking backward (or even watching a video simulating backward motion) may also improve one’s memory.

The study involved 114 people who participated in experiments focused on recalling images, word lists, and even details from a crime scene. Before the recall stage of each experiment, participants were instructed to walk forward, backward, sit still, watch a video that simulated forward or backward motion, or imagine walking forward or backward.

The results revealed that participants performed better in nearly every instance when they either physically walked backward, watched a video that simulated walking backward, or simply imagined doing so. Further analysis revealed that this memory boost lasted an average of ten minutes. While it’s unclear how walking backward benefits memory, psychologist Dr. Daniel Schacter of Harvard University hypothesizes that people may associate backward movement with the past, which may trigger a memory response.

When a crime has occurred, detectives will perform a cognitive interview with witnesses that involves walking them through the crime. Including a backward walking component to the process may allow witnesses to recall more details about the event, which may help solve the case.

Future studies will aim to uncover why this technique improves memory recall and if motion-based memory aids such as this can be applied to patients with cognitive impairments, either from dementia or brain injury.

 

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.
Advertisements

White Rice or Brown Rice or No Rice at All

29 Jul

In today’s world, consumers are inundated with contradicting news about foods that are good for them and foods that can be detrimental to their health. Rice is one such food. Is it good for you? Is it bad? Let’s find out…

In a 2019 study, researchers in India randomly assigned 169 overweight adults (aged 25-65 years) to consume meals that included white or brown rice twice a day, six days a week for three months. The research team used blood testing to measure glucose, insulin, HbA1c, insulin resistance, lipids, and inflammation. The results showed that those who consumed white rice had test results that suggested a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, while those who ate brown rice had blood test results that indicated less inflammation and a reduced diabetes risk.

In 2012 and 2014, Consumer Reports raised concern about the arsenic levels in US rice. In order to determine if rice consumption is associated with an increased risk for cancer, researchers evaluated data from several long-term databases that included dietary and health information involving 45,231 men and 160,408 women who were cancer-free at the start of the study and tested every four years for 26 years.

Overall, the data show that 10,833 men (23.9% of men) and 20,822 women (12.9% of women) developed cancer. Comparing participants who ate <1 serving of rice per week vs. those who ate ≥5 rice servings per week, there was NO significant difference or associations between those who did vs. those who did not get cancer, regardless of the type of rice, cancer type, BMI, smoking status, or ethnic background. Additionally, rice consumption was not associated with cardiovascular disease, which is another leading cause of death in the developed world.

Another interesting study reported that cooking brown rice under high water pressure increased the water absorbency of brown rice without nutrient loss.

Other studies have found that fermented brown rice and rice bran appears to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, liver, stomach, bladder, esophagus, and lung. In animal models, fermented brown rice/rice bran was also observed to reduce tumor size, though this finding has yet to be confirmed in human subjects.

Doctors of chiropractic often encourage patients to live a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating more of the foods that are good for us and less of the foods that are not. So far, the science suggests that eating white rice in moderation may not hurt you and consuming brown rice may offer some additional benefits.

 

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 25-Second Balance Challenge

24 Jun

Since falls are a major cause of serious injury, especially for older adults, here’s a simple way to objectively measure and improve your sense of balance…

First, stand in a place where you can catch yourself from falling (like behind a chair or in a corner). Place your feet side by side for ten seconds. Then, place the heel of one foot next to your big toe for ten seconds. Finally, rest the forefoot fully in front of the other (like standing on a tight rope) and wait ten seconds. If this process presents no issues, you can proceed.

Stand on one foot/leg for up to 30 seconds with your eyes open. Next, switch legs and repeat the process. Switch back to the first leg, get your balance, and start a 25 second timer. Close your eyes and see if you can maintain your balance for the full 25 seconds. If you must open your eyes and put your foot down, keep track of your time and try the exercise up to three times in a row to see if you can improve. Repeat this on the opposite leg.

The 25-second “cut-off” for “eyes closed” is published as the “norm” for those up to 59 years old. If you are 60-69 years old, the norm drops to ten seconds and if you are 70-79, the norm is only four seconds! This means we NORMALLY lose our sense of balance with age, but that doesn’t mean you should accept it, as retraining your balance system is feasible with the proper exercises.

First, practice the test described above, as it is also a great exercise for improving balance. Other balance challenges can include the use of a balance or rocker board, walking like you’re on a tight rope, walking backward, hopping in place, and stepping up and down on one or two steps. The important thing is to work these exercises into your daily routine. Many of these balance challenges also work well as a great “mini-break”, especially if you have a desk job.

Re-test your balance skills once one or two weeks and see if you can improve your time. You will be surprised how quickly and how much you can improve your balance skills and how much steadier it can make you feel in your everyday activities. Fall prevention starts with knowing your current abilities, and re-testing keeps you motivated!

 

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.

Deep, Slow Breathing for Pain Management?

27 May

Deep slow breathing (DSB) has been widely used for managing various diseases of the heart and lungs as well as for psychiatric disorders including anxiety, depression, and stress-related conditions. There appears to be some research to support DSB as being helpful for pain management, but the results have been inconsistent. However, a 2012 study suggests that how you “think” while practicing DSB may be the key for reducing pain…

In the study, researchers monitored sixteen healthy adults as they performed DSB while in both a relaxed and distracted state. In the relaxed state, participants were instructed to focus only on taking slow, deep breaths while in the distracted state, participants had to actively manage their deep breathing in pace with instructions on a computer screen. In order to reduce any carry-over effects, the active/distracted portions of the study were spaced six months apart and participants were advised to avoid practicing DSB or meditation or to seek any outside education on the topic.

Interestingly, in both circumstances, participants experienced similar reductions in negative feelings (tension, anger, and depression). However, the researchers only observed improvements with respect to pain thresholds, autonomic activity (skin conductance or sympathetic tone), and thermal detection for cold and hot stimuli when participants were relaxed.

Hence, it appears to be important that focused concentration on inhaling and exhaling or “thinking about” each breath in DSB and removing distracting thoughts is KEY to achieving increasing sympathetic arousal and improving mood processing. These findings may help to explain why mindful mediation, or mindfulness, benefits patients and why Eastern disciplines such as yoga, Qi-Gong, and Tai Chi are associated with reduced pain and improved mood.

Doctors of chiropractic often advise patients to reduce stress as part of management process for chronic pain conditions, with DSB being a great choice. This study shows that when done in a relaxed state, not only can patients experience mood-related benefits but they may also be able to reduce the effect of pain on their daily lives so they can perform their usual work and life activities.

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 GERD?

29 Apr

There is a plethora of research supporting the benefits of chiropractic care for many musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints including low back pain, neck pain, headaches, and more. However, less research is available for non-MSK complaints like gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. So, what can chiropractic offer patients with GERD, and why is this important?

Normally, when we chew and swallow food, it passes through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle that opens to let food pass into the stomach and then closes to prevent food and acids from flowing back into the esophagus. If the LES is weak or relaxes inappropriately, individuals can experience the symptoms associated with GERD, including an acidic taste in the mouth, chest pain, choking, difficulty or inability to swallow, nausea, and/or burning sensation in the stomach and/or chest. More than 60 million Americans experience GERD at least once a month with 15 million adults suffering daily from the condition. The persistence of GERD can damage the esophagus, which can lead to inflammation and a breakdown in the lining leading to erosions, ulcerations, fibrotic scarring, and though rare, it can lead to cancer of the esophagus.

Common causes of GERD include (not all-inclusive): hiatal hernia, in which the stomach slides or rolls up above the opening in the diaphragm allowing acids that normally stay in the stomach to flow easily into the esophagus; excess weight from obesity or pregnancy, which can apply pressure against the stomach promoting acid reflux into the esophagus; a diet rich in fatty and/or spicy foods, chocolate, peppermint, coffee, or alcohol; eating late at night; poor posture (slumped); smoking; certain medications; and stress.

In a 2016 study, 22 middle-aged adults with a history of GERD (mean 20.4 months) received between three and sixteen treatments consisting of thoracic spinal manipulation, diaphragm mobilization, traction of the cardia, and posture correction—all of which can be provided in a chiropractic setting. All but two patients reported significant improvements that persisted up to three months following the conclusion of care.

In addition to the manual therapies listed above, your doctor of chiropractic can teach you exercises and offer nutritional advice to help manage GERD without the use of medications.

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 Brain Exercises Help Those with ADHD?

25 Mar

For many individuals—especially those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention-deficit disorder (ADD)—staying “on task” can be a challenge. Though medications are commonly used as a first line treatment for these conditions, research has shown the benefits may only last for a few years. University of California, Irvine scientist Dr. James M. Swanson even reports that pharmacological interventions for ADHD offer no lasting, long-term benefits. Because of this, researchers have been on the lookout for non-drug treatments to improve mindfulness, and it appears meditation may be one useful approach.

Mindful meditation is the process of sitting silently and focusing on your breathing. If you notice your attention starting to wander, return your focus to your breath. Not only will this help you relax but this practice may improve the connections in the brain circuitry that are responsible for maintaining focus. Dr. Swanson notes that individuals with ADHD/ADD appear to have reduced activity in this area of the brain.

In one study that included 50 adults with ADD, researchers observed that those who participated in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) achieved comparable results to standard medications for ADHD/ADD with respect to motivation and inhibitory regulation.

In a 2017 study involving 82 patients with anxiety, researchers found that just ten minutes of mindful meditation helped participants stay better focused on their daily tasks. Researcher Dr. Mengran Xu adds, “Our results indicate that mindfulness training may have protective effects on mind wandering for anxious individuals.”

Mindfulness can also reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, which can also benefit individuals with ADHD/ADD, as the conditions can often co-exist. In one study, researchers found that engaging in one hour of mindful meditation not only reduced anxiety symptoms but also reduced stress and improved arterial function. Doctors of chiropractic often include meditation concepts as part of their treatment recommendations, especially in the promotion of prevention and wellness.

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.