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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.
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Adding This To Your Diet May Help Your Memory…

25 Feb

Curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric that gives mustard and curry their yellow color, has long been known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant capabilities. Because of its prevalence in Indian cuisine, some researchers suspect that reduced inflammation in the brain from frequent curcumin use may explain why senior citizens in India have a lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and better cognitive performance than older adults from other backgrounds.

In a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, UCLA researchers examined what effects an easily absorbed curcumin supplement had on memory in individuals with AND without Alzheimer’s disease. The study utilized a double-blind, placebo-controlled study that included 40 adults (age 50-90) who had mild memory complaints. The patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups receiving either a placebo or 90 mg of curcumin two times a day for 18 months. Outcome measures used in the study included standard cognitive tests performed initially and again at six-month intervals, and curcumin blood levels were measured initially and again after 18 months. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans were utilized in 30 of the 40 subjects to determine the levels of amyloid and tau in the brain tissue at the start and after 18 months.

The curcumin group experienced significant improvements in memory and attention skills while members of the placebo group did not. Participants in the curcumin group also performed 28% better on memory assessments and reported mild improvements in their mood. Moreover, their brain PET scans showed significantly less amyloid and tau signals in the amygdala and hypothalamus, parts of the brain associated with memory and emotional functions.

The only reported side effects were mild abdominal pain and nausea, which affected four of the curcumin group participants. The authors are planning a larger study that will include people with mild depression to see if curcumin can also serve as an anti-depressant. It will also allow researchers to assess whether curcumin’s memory enhancing effects will vary according to people’s genetic risk for acquiring Alzheimer’s, their age, or the extent of their cognitive problems.

These preliminary results are exciting, as it appears that taking curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years. Doctors of chiropractic frequently council patients on diet and supplementation through the use vitamin, minerals, herbal formulas, and more, of which turmeric/curcumin is a common recommendation, especially given it anti-inflammatory benefits for musculoskeletal conditions.

 

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 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.

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.