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Smoking – Is It Really That Bad?

30 Jul

Smoking tobacco causes more than 480,000 deaths annually, which makes it the leading cause of preventable death in the United States (US)—that is nearly one in every five deaths in the country! Smoking causes more deaths than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, car accidents, and firearm-related deaths COMBINED. More than ten times as many US citizens have prematurely died from cigarette smoking than American soldiers have died in ALL the wars fought by the US over its 240+ year history.

Tobacco use increases the risk of death from all causes in men and women. Smoking causes approximately 90% of all lung cancer deaths and 80% of all COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)-related deaths. Smoking also elevates the risk for coronary heart disease (2-4x), stroke (2-4x), and lung cancer (25x). Cigarette use diminishes overall health, increases absenteeism for employment, and increases healthcare utilization and cost.

Regarding the lungs, smoking damages the airways starting with the small air sacs (alveoli), leading to COPD, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Most cases of lung cancer are caused from smoking cigarettes. Tobacco smoke can trigger an asthma attack and/or make an attack worse.

In a reproductive capacity, smoking can increase the risk for preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ectopic pregnancy, orofacial cleft in infants, and miscarriage.

Smoking harms virtually EVERY organ of the body. Hence, it’s the cause of many diseases. Smokers have an increased risk for osteoporosis, gum and tooth decay, and cataracts. This does not take into consideration the harmful effects that second-hand smoke inflicts to the innocent bystanders.

Cigarette smoking can cause cancer almost ANYWHERE in your body: bladder, blood (acute myeloid leukemia), cervix, colon and rectum (colorectal), esophagus, kidney and ureter, larynx, liver, oropharynx, pancreas, stomach, trachea, bronchus, and lung. Smoking also increases the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases among those who have or have had cancer.

If this article scares you, GOOD! Take home message: Don’t Smoke, and if you are already a smoker, QUIT!

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.

Are Probiotics Necessary? (Part 2)

25 Jun

As discussed previously, probiotics can benefit patients with gut complications such as enteritis, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Probiotics may also help decrease allergic inflammation, treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and fight immune deficiency diseases. Ingesting probiotics can improve calcium absorption and bone calcium accretion to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. They may even have a role in the management of obesity and type-2 diabetes.

Most probiotics are oligosaccharides and can be synthesized or obtained from natural sources including asparagus, artichoke, bamboo shoots, banana, barley, chicory, leeks, garlic, honey, lentils, milk, mustards, onion, rye, soybean, sugar beets, sugarcane juice, tomato, and wheat. Foods rich in probiotics include kefir, kimchi, yogurt, sweet acidophilus milk, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, aged soft cheese, and more.

Some probiotics include an ingredient called a “prebiotic.” This is a non-digestible carbohydrate that acts as food for both the probiotic and the good bacteria already residing in the gut. Prebiotic stimulates the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of genus/species in the gut, making the probiotic more effective and longer lasting.

Here are some of the various types of probiotics…

  1. Lactobacillus naturally occur in our digestive, urinary, and genital systems and can treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions.
  2. Bifidobacteria are found mostly in the colon. They help improve blood lipids and glucose tolerance and can alleviate IBS and IBS-like conditions such as pain, bloating, and urgency.
  3. Saccaromyces boulardii is the only yeast probiotic. It’s used to treat C-Dif (an antibiotic complication), traveler’s diarrhea, acne, and more.
  4. Streptococcus thermophilus helps prevent lactose intolerance.
  5. Enterococcus faecium supports the intestinal tract.

Are there side effects? Generally, side effects are rare and if they occur, they tend to be mild and usually relate to the digestive system and include symptoms such as gas or feeling bloated.

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.

Are Probiotics Necessary? (PART 1)

28 May

We all know that bacteria can cause disease, so it makes sense to be at least a little leery about taking a supplement that is loaded with bacteria. There is however, a growing volume of scientific support that probiotics (PBs) can both treat as well as prevent quite a few illnesses.

Probiotics literally means “for life” (pro biota), which suggests these must be “good” bacteria and indeed, our digestive system’s health depends on maintaining a balance between the good and bad flora. Since the 1990s, clinical studies have shown that PBs can effectively treat a number of condition such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, H. pylori (causes ulcers), bladder cancer recurrence, C-Diff (Clostridium difficile)—a dangerous gut infection associated with antibiotics, pouchitis (post-surgical complication after colon removal), eczema in children, and more.

Probiotics are not all the same, as different strains of bacteria have different functions and therefore, help us in different ways. For example, some organisms protect our teeth from getting cavities but can’t survive in the highly acidic environment of the stomach.

Solid evidence exists for probiotic therapy in the treatment of diarrhea. Lacotbacillu GG can shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in infants and children (but not adults). The website describes two large review studies that suggest PBs can reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60% when compared with a placebo.

Vaginal health is also improved by PB use, as it can reduce and/or eliminate recurring yeast infections. Lactobacilli can help treat bacterial vaginosis, which can potentially complicate pregnancies and lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This bacteria can also be used to treat UTIs, especially in women.

Come back next month for more much-needed information regarding probiotics…

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 Diet Affect Acne?

30 Apr

Acne most commonly affects us during our adolescent years, but it can strike at any time during our adult lives. Unfortunately, usual treatment seems restricted to taking oral antibiotics along with some form of topical agent such as benzoyl peroxide, topical retinoids, or topical antibiotics. This begs the question: Is there a safer and equally effective method to treat acne? Let’s take a look…

Though it’s not particularly well understood, researchers know that hormones (androgens), bacteria (P. acnes), and an overproduction of sebum (oil) all play important roles in acne causation. Recently, oxidative stress and inflammation have gained more attention, as some researchers report that inflammation may even start the acne process.

Opinions regarding the function that diet plays in acne care range between having no role at all to diet being a vitally important player. However, recent studies show that diet may be very important with regards to both cause and treatment. One such study placed subjects on a diet high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids from fish and seafood, and total protein, and low in sugar and saturated fats. After twelve weeks, the researchers observed a clinically significant improvement in acne with an average of 22 fewer acne lesions in those consuming the special diet vs. participants who maintained their normal diet.

Similarly, in a one-year study, 87% of over 2,200 acne sufferers reported improvements in their acne after switching to the South Beach diet, which is similar to the findings from the study mentioned above. Of the total, over 80% reported that their acne improved within three months of starting the diet and 91% reported either discontinuing or reducing their acne medication use.

What about milk? Harvard University-based researchers published three important studies involving over 60,000 individuals that concluded avoiding dairy products, with the exception of fermented yogurt, can help manage acne.

RECOMMENDATION SUMMARY (Please consult with your doctor before starting any diet): 1) No dairy; 2) Omega-3 (1-4g/d); 3) Anti-oxidants such as vitamins A and E (20mg/d), selenium (400mcg/d), and curcumin; 4) Zinc (oral 15mg/d and topical); and 5) Chromium (200-400mcg). Many doctors of chiropractic can assist with nutritional counseling to help guide those with acne in deciding which dietary approach may work best for them.

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.

Which is Better: HIGH or LOW Cholesterol?

29 Mar

While many of us have been told we need to take steps to lower our cholesterol levels, it turns out that having high cholesterol may actually be a good thing.

As far back as 1994, Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University reported that older people with low cholesterol died TWICE AS OFTEN from a heart attack as those with high cholesterol. While this finding sparked debate due to being inconsistent with the belief that high cholesterol levels lead to atherosclerosis, there are now several studies that challenge the lipid hypothesis of heart disease. In fact, a Medline database search revealed 11 studies that concluded high cholesterol did not predict all-cause mortality in older adults (about 90% of all cardiovascular disease occurs in people over the age of 60).

Even better, in 6 of the 11 studies, researchers observed an inverse relationship between all-cause mortality and high total cholesterol or LDL (bad) cholesterol OR BOTH. Other studies have noted that having low triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels are also tied to an increased mortality rate.

So how does high cholesterol improve longevity? It appears that high cholesterol helps improve the immune system, protecting us from infections. In 19 large-scale studies including 63,000 deaths, a research group from the University of Minnesota, Division of Epidemiology reported that low cholesterol predicted an increased risk of dying from gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases.

Were the patients’ low cholesterol levels caused by an infection or did having low cholesterol predispose the patients to infection? To find out, researchers followed more than 100,000 healthy subjects for 15 years. At the conclusion of the study, those who had lower cholesterol had more hospital admissions due to an infectious disease vs. those with high cholesterol.

In two very large-scale studies of men infected with the HIV virus, the mortality rate in those with low cholesterol (<140) was four times higher than it was in those with high cholesterol (>240). A range of 200-240 and even higher in older women appears to be a good target for improving longevity.

Other studies have found that chronic low-grade inflammation may be the real culprit when it comes to atherosclerosis. In other words, worrying about cholesterol levels may not be more important than engaging in a lifestyle aimed at reducing inflammation: get regular exercise, don’t smoke, get plenty of sleep, and eat an anti-inflammation diet, among other things.


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.

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.