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Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefit Patients with Anxiety?

28 Jan

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (omega-3-PUFA) consumption has been linked to reduced inflammation, a lower risk for heart attack and stroke, and even improved outcomes for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Here’s a benefit that may come as a surprise: ANXIETY relief!

Anxiety is the most commonly experienced psychiatric symptom, and it’s reported that it will affect one in three individuals in their lifetime. Anxiety is characterized as an inappropriate or exaggerated fear leading to distress and impairment and is often accompanied with other psychological disorders, including depression, and is associated with a lower health-related quality of life and increased risk of all-cause mortality.

Classic treatment options include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacological treatments, mainly with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. A common problem with treatment is potential medication side-effects (sedation and/or drug dependence), as well as time-consumption and cost factors. This often leads to a reluctance to engage in treatment, which is why these findings regarding a nutritional approach to managing anxiety are so important.

In a recent meta-analysis of data from 19 clinical trials that involved 2,240 participants from 11 countries, researchers uncovered evidence that participants who consumed omega-3 fatty acid supplements reported significant clinical improvements in anxiety signs and symptoms.

Interestingly, the researchers noted that the anti-anxiety benefits of omega-3-PUFAs were stronger in those with clinical anxiety compared with those whose conditions were classified as subclinical or borderline. The research team also observed that participants who were given a higher dose (>2000 mg/day) obtained the best anti-anxiety benefits.

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin”, has also been found to improve mood, especially during the winter months. Moreover, people with low vitamin D levels (70% of Americans) may be more likely to experience anxiety.

Hence, a combined daily supplement of >2000 mg of omega-3-PUFAs AND 2000-5000 mg of vitamin D may help manage anxiety signs and symptoms.

 

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.
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The Link Between Breathing and Posture…

20 Dec

If someone said that suboptimal breathing patterns and problems associated with posture and trunk stability are related, what would you say? Sounds pretty far-fetched, doesn’t it?

There are many factors that can result in both faulty respiration and poor posture including poor exercise tolerance (being “out of shape”), dyspnea (shortness of breath), poor chest expansion, poor neuromuscular control of core and pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm issues (hernia, muscle shortness, poor pressure output), increased lumbar lordosis, and low back pain. This is because several of the muscles that help control posture and stabilize the core—such as the thoracic diaphragm, transverse abdominus, and the pelvic floor muscles—are also involved in the breathing process.

One of the most critical and overlooked factors is the ability to maintain an optimal zone of apposition (ZOA) of the diaphragm. This refers to the dome, or “umbrella” part, of the diaphragm and its attachments to the lower rib cage. The ZOA is important because it is largely controlled by the abdominal muscles and plays a role in how much air you can take in while breaking, or maximal respiration.

When the ZOA is decreased or not optimum, the result is inefficient breathing (less air in and out) and reduced activation of the transverse abdominus muscle (important for BOTH respiration and low back stabilization). A suboptimal ZOA can be the result of a combination of increased curve in the low back (hyperlordosis), long abdominal muscles (a large belly), long hamstring muscles (forward pelvic tilt), and/or a weak pelvic floor.

The following is a therapeutic exercise that promotes optimal posture and finely tunes the neuromotor control of the deep abdominals, diaphragm, and pelvic floor: 1) Lie on your back and put your feet on a wall with both the knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. 2) Place a small (4-6 in, or 10.16-15.24 cm) ball between your knees. 3) Place your right arm above your head and place a balloon in your mouth with the left hand.  4) INHALE through the nose and simultaneously perform a posterior pelvic tilt (flatten your low back into the floor/mat) while pulling downward with your heels (as if to bend the knees – don’t push into the wall) and gently squeeze the ball with your knees.  5) Inhale through the nose and exhale or blow slowly into the balloon, then pause for three seconds by pressing the tongue to the roof of the mouth (to prevent blowing into the balloon). 6) Without pinching the neck of the balloon and while keeping your tongue placed on the roof of the mouth, inhale again through your nose (without the balloon deflating).

Relax and repeat the sequence four more times. When blowing into the balloon, do not strain your neck or cheeks. After the fourth breath in, pinch the balloon neck and remove it from your mouth and let the air out of the balloon.

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.

Nutrition and Exercise for Hypertension

26 Nov

Hypertension is usually a silent disease that leads to cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and renal morbidity and mortality. This condition can seriously affect quality of life, reduce life expectancy, and place significant burdens on the healthcare system. Classic medications used to treat hypertension can involve side effects including headache, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, weakness, fatigue, and erectile dysfunction. Hence, many patients with elevated blood pressure look for other means to help manage their condition with fewer, if any, side effects.

In a previous article, we discussed a 2007 study in which patients who received a specific cervical chiropractic adjustment experienced a reduction in their blood pressure that persisted for at least eight weeks. Lead author Dr. George Bakris, “This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood pressure medications given in combination. And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems.”

Herbal and dietary supplements have been used by patients to help manage hypertension (HT) for many years. A series of literature reviews have found the following may provide better and safer substitutes to conventional drugs: cod liver oil, garlic, coenzyme Q-10, beta glucan, lipoic acid, whole grains, potassium, magnesium, sodium, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin C, polyphenol, various botanicals/herbs, and vanadium (see Table 1, https://bit.ly/2QVpcY7 ).

Regarding exercise, a 2018 research review found that aerobic exercise can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients by 5-7 mmHg and that dynamic resistance exercises can lower blood pressure in adults with hypertension by 2-3 mmHg—which may rival the results achieved with first-line meds for hypertension.

While exercise, improving your nutrition, and getting regular chiropractic care are all part of living a healthier lifestyle, which can result in a healthier blood pressure reading, it’s important not to discontinue taking any medications unless instructed to by your treating physician.

 

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 Role of Diet in ADHD…

29 Oct

Due to concern about the side effects and the long-term use of medications typically prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), there is an increasing demand for alternative forms of treatment for patients with the condition, with dietary medications and supplementation showing promise.

Research has shown that deficiencies in zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, glutathione, and/or omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to oxidative stress and altered neural plasticity needed for brain development and healing. For children with ADHD, this can manifest as poor concentration and memory and learning challenges.

Hypersensitivity to foods and/or additives can increase inflammation in the blood, which presents in children as atopy (hereditary allergy like asthma, hay fever, or hives), irritability, sleep issues, and prominent hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. Studies have demonstrated that taking a probiotic can help manage inflammation, which may benefit children with ADHD as well.

The link between ADHD and food additives including (but not limited to) preservatives, artificial flavorings, and colorings has been debated for decades. A 2007 Lancet publication reported that sodium benzoate and commonly used food colorings may exacerbate hyperactive behavior in children under the age of nine. A 2010 follow-up study concluded that children affected by these types of additives may share common genetic factors.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) and phospholipids are both essential for normal neuronal structure and function, of which diet is the only source of these important nutrients, especially during critical periods of development (childhood). Dietary deficiency early in life has been reported to increase the risk of developing ADHD signs and symptoms.

Past studies have established the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between the omega-3 vs. omega-6 fatty acids in one’s diet to reduce systemic inflammation. When the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 becomes too high (3:1 is favorable), it’s considered a risk factor for ADHD.

Diets low in protein and high in carbohydrates (refined carbs/sugar) are also a well-known risk factor for developing ADHD because the amino acids that make up proteins are essential for our body to manufacture neurotransmitters.

 

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.

Chiropractic and Hypertension

27 Sep

In a blood pressure reading, the higher number (“systolic”) represents the pressure that blood exerts against the arterial walls when the heart beats. The lower number (“diastolic”) represents the pressure blood exerts against the arterial walls when the heart rests between beats (measured in millimeters of mercury or mmHg). The definition of hypertension (HT), like so many other aspects of health, has been defined and redefined over the years. Let’s take a look at the current definition and what (if anything) chiropractic provides to help this VERY common condition.

The American Heart Association defines (as of November 2017) “NORMAL” as being   <120/ and <80; “ELEVATED” as 120-129/ and <80; STAGE 1 HT: 130-139/ or 80-89; STAGE 2 HT: >140/ or, >90; HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS: >180/ and/or >120. Between the two numbers, the systolic blood pressure (BP) is generally given the most attention as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over age 50. A gradual increase in systolic BP normally occurs with increasing age as arteries gradually stiffen due to plaque build-up. Recent studies report that the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke DOUBLES with every 20mmHg systolic or 10mm Hg diastolic BP increase in people from age 40-89.

So, CAN chiropractic help patients with hypertension? The answer is YES… at least in some cases. A placebo-controlled study published in 2007 (and spotlighted on “WebMD”) reported a specific type of chiropractic adjustment applied to the Atlas (C1) vertebra that SIGNIFICANTLY lowered both systolic (by 14 mm Hg) and diastolic BP (by 8 mm Hg) in 25 patients with early-stage HT. This improvement did not occur in 25 control patients who received a sham procedure. This beneficial effect persisted for eight weeks during which time the patients took no medication for their condition.

Dr. George Bakris, the director of the University of Chicago hypertension center and lead author of the 2007 study wrote, “This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood pressure medications given in combination. And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems.”

Case studies of chiropractic treatment lowering BP date back to the 1980s, and higher quality, larger scaled studies have been published in the last decade. One explanation on how chiropractic adjustments help to lower BP is that adjustments applied to C1 (the Atlas) affect the parasympathetic nervous system, which tends to lower the diastolic BP (lower number), while mid-thoracic manipulation—which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system—tends to lower the systolic BP (upper number) to a larger degree. Chiropractic care includes not only spinal manipulation, but also dietary counseling, and more—all WITHOUT the potential for the sometimes significant side-effects associated with 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.

ADHD and Chiropractic Care?

27 Aug

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a controversial diagnosis, as there are no clear objective clinical tests that can establish whether or not a patient has the condition. ADHD belongs to a spectrum of neurological disorders with no physiological basis (no clear lab tests exist) and often include other conditions such as learning disabilities, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or Tourette’s syndrome. Early-onset mania or bipolar mixed state can be difficult to differentiate from ADHD or they may co-exist with ADHD.

To complicate matters with regard to diagnosing ADHD, some kids may simply be at the high-end of the normal range of activity or have difficult temperaments. Poor attention may be caused by altered vision or hearing, seizures, head trauma, acute or chronic illness, poor nutrition, insufficient sleep, anxiety disorders, depression, and/or the result of abuse or neglect. Various drugs (such as phenobarbital) may interfere with attention as well.

Since the 1990s, the number of prescriptions to treat ADHD has skyrocketed 700%, possibly due to the increased awareness of the symptoms associated with ADHD and/or an increase in the diagnoses for ADHD, often demanded by frustrated teachers and/or parents. The classic medical model has embraced the use of Ritalin (methylphenidate) to treat ADHD. For parents who would like to explore other avenues of treatment, what can Chiropractic offer?

In a recent study involving 28 children aged 5-15 years with a primary diagnosis of ADHD, investigators randomly assigned 14 participants to a spinal manipulation (SM) group with conventional care and the other 14 to a control group (conventional care only). The researchers found the patients in the SM group experienced better outcomes based on several assessments and that a larger scale study would be necessary to verify their findings.

Nutrition may also have a role to play in the management of ADHD. In a 2015 study, researchers provided Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (a probiotic) to infants at six months of age and then followed them for the next 13 years.  At age 13, six of the children in a placebo group had been diagnosed with either ADHD or Asperger syndrome while none of the kids in the probiotic group had been affected by either condition. The researchers concluded that probiotic use early in life may reduce the risk of neuropsychiatric disorder development later in childhood. We’ll cover this more in a future article…

 

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.