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Category: Preventative Healthcare

Chiropractic Care Can Improve Respiratory Function

Chiropractic Care Can Improve Respiratory Function

Chiropractic Can Help Asthma, COPD and More…

The World Health Organization reports that some of the most common chronic respiratory diseases include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pulmonary hypertension, the last of which is high blood pressure in the arteries connecting the heart and lungs.

Though some of these conditions can be passed down through genetics, lifestyle factors play a role as well, with risks rising with increased exposure to cigarette smoke, high levels of air pollution, and chemicals and other toxins found in various work or home environments. Obviously, your genes are your genes and removing these types of environmental toxins can go a long way to avoiding the development of lung-based diseases. Find out how Chiropractic care plays a positive roll.

A Study Shows Regular Chiropractic Visits Can Help!

One study has discovered that another way to keep your lungs breathing easier is with regular chiropractic visits. In September of 2016, the Journal of Physical Therapy Science published a study involving 30 subjects between the ages of 20 and 38 who were not currently being treated for any type of respiratory issue, nor were they experiencing any pain in their thoracic region. One-half were randomly assigned to an experimental group, which is the group that received actual spinal manipulation therapy. The remainders were assigned to the control, receiving sham treatments instead.

Procedure:

At the onset of the study, each subject’s respiratory function was tested and recorded. Approximately ten minutes later, depending on which group they were in, they either received high-velocity, low-amplitude manipulation directed to the thoracic area of the spine or sham chiropractic. Follow-up respiratory testing occurred immediately following the actual or sham treatment session.

After studying the lung-function data collected, researchers noted that the experimental group, which is the group that received actual chiropractic, had “significantly increased” their forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in one second. The group that received the sham treatments experienced no difference in their respiratory function at all.

Findings:

These findings suggests that chiropractic care likely plays a more important role in healthy lung function than most people realize. This information may be helpful to patients who are already experiencing chronic respiratory issues and looking for relief, but it may also work to reduce the likelihood of lung-related diseases in the first place.

As the COPD Foundation states, generally speaking, “once lung function is gone, it is gone for good.” That’s why they recommend engaging in activities which can maximize lung capacity. These include: getting some type of regular exercise, performing physically demanding exercises during the times when it’s easier to breathe, and staying indoors when extreme temperatures are expected or pollution is high.

 

Reference

Shin, DC, Lee, YW.. The immediate effects of spinal thoracic manipulation on respiratory functions. Journal of Physical Therapy Science; 28(9):2547-2549. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.2547

 

 

Auto Injuries Increase Risk of Future Back Pain

Auto Injuries Increase Risk of Future Back Pain

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations reports that more than two million people are injured every year in auto-related accidents involving either a passenger vehicle, large truck, or motorcycle. Furthermore, that number appears to be climbing at an alarming rate, increasing more than five percent between 2014 and 2015 alone.

Certainly, being involved in this type of incident can have long-lasting effects. For instance, one study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that “a substantial minority” of subjects questioned reported experiencing anxiety when traveling in a motor vehicle post-accident, with 10 percent developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that, in some cases, plagued them for years.

Well, another recently published study has found that being in a car crash can also result in long-term physical ramifications as well. Specifically, it discovered that back pain can linger or appear long after the vehicle has been fixed and the debris has been cleaned out of the roadway.

In April of 2017, the European Spine Journal presented a study involving 789 adults, all of whom reported experiencing mild low back pain or no pain at all. Upon entering the study, each person was asked whether or not he or she had been in a motor vehicle accident resulting in low back pain, making note of whether their level of pain increased, decreased, or stayed the same six and 12 months down the road.

Approximately 74.8 percent of the participants responded at the six month mark, with 64.5 percent providing input at 12 months. Of those who did respond, researchers noticed a positive correlation between those who had previously been involved in an auto accident and the incidences of low back pain at a later date. In other words, having a car crash in your past may increase your risk of back pain in the future.

This is partially why being assessed right after a car wreck is so critical. While this is relatively standard when it comes to auto injuries that can be seen or easily felt, damage done to the musculoskeletal system isn’t quite so visible or easy to pinpoint, which also makes it easier to ignore.

Educating patients is the first step to helping them resolve any subsequent back issues. The second step is to regularly ask them whether they’ve been involved in a crash, no matter how small. If they have, addressing that issue first and foremost can keep their quality of life from being compromised months, years, or even decades later.

References

  • Mayou R, Tyndel S, Bryant B. Long-term outcome of motor vehicle accident injury. Psychosomatic Medicine 1997;59(6):578-84.
  • Nolet PS, Kristman VL, Côté P, Carroll LJ, Cassidy JD. The association between a lifetime history of low back injury in a motor vehicle collision and future low back pain: a population-based cohort study. European Spine Journal 2017;doi:10.1007/s00586-017-5090-y
  • Traffic Safety Facts. (August 2016). 2015 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 
Do You Know the Top Foods for Healthy Joints?

Do You Know the Top Foods for Healthy Joints?

Keeping our joints healthy is one of the most important things we can do to remain independent and active as we age. Life can become quite challenging for individuals who are immobilized by joint pain, since it can result in reduced physical and social activity as well as a higher risk of psychological and emotional problems.

When it comes to joint health, exercise is very important, but what you EAT also plays a significant part. Here are some of our favorite joint-friendly foods:

Water — Perhaps the single-most important “food” is water. This liquid is essential for maintaining every system within the body. Water helps in the elimination of toxins, including those poisons that can create joint pain. Water also helps in the delivery of nutrients to the various parts of the body and—like the oil in your car—is essential for joint lubrication. Drink plenty of water every day!

Fish — Cold water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, white tuna, halibut and trout can deliver healthy doses of omega-3 from the fish oil in each serving. Omega-3 fatty acid is known to reduce inflammation that can cause or increase joint pain. Fish oil can also slow down cartilage degeneration. Cartilage is the rubbery substance between bones that allows for smooth movement. When this wears out, movement becomes extremely painful.

Dairy products — In addition to contributing to bone health, dairy products (and particularly low-fat ones) such as cottage cheese, yogurt and milk can also help eliminate painful gout symptoms.

Flax Seeds — Flax is another source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for great joint health. Flax seeds and flax seed oil are high in antioxidants, which help to prevent or delay some effects of aging. Flax also contains lots of fiber, which can help you feel fuller for a longer time, reducing the likelihood of snacking. Frequent snacking can lead to obesity—a condition frequently associated with joint pain.

Spices —Curry, ginger and cinnamon also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help your joints. Turmeric has been shown to be particularly effective in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. With these spices in the mix, a joint-friendly diet certainly doesn’t have to taste bad or be bland.

Papaya —The Annals of Rheumatic Diseases published a 2004 study showing a strong correlation between low vitamin C intake and rheumatoid arthritis. Those with the lowest vitamin C consumption were 3 times more likely to develop the disease. Though orange juice has a good dose of vitamin C, papaya has nearly twice as much. Not only that, papaya also includes a good dose of beta carotene for even more anti-oxidant joint support.

Tart cherry juice — The anthocyanins contained in this juice are powerful anti-inflammatories that have been shown to reduce arthritis-related inflammation even better than aspirin. In addition, cherry juice is effective in reducing the painful symptoms of gout.

Do You Know all of the Health Benefits of Onions?!!

Do You Know all of the Health Benefits of Onions?!!

10 Health Benefits of Onions

Onions are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods and given that there are  varieties of onions, how you use them could be different each time! Grown all over the world, the first record of using onion for health purposes and healing was in the 17th century. The truth is, onions are therapeutic, which is lucky, seeing as Americans eat over 20 pounds of onion per capita, per year. Want to know what is so good about them? Read on!

1. Improved Immunity

Onions contain powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are flavonoid compounds, which delay or help repair oxidative damage to different cells and tissues in the body. Eating onion regularly can also protect the body and help regenerate the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, which the body needs as a fat-soluble nutrient. Plus, onion contains allicin. Allicin, a plant derived nutrient, is a killer of various viruses and bacteria, which means it’s a good thing if you eat some raw onion when you feel the onset of a cold or flu, this way the immune effect will be the strongest.

2. Reduce inflammation

When inflammation in the body is working properly, it fights against the disease or protect a wound, gets rid of the virus and then leaves the body, It’s when it goes a bit wrong and doesn’t leave the body, that your immunity is compromised. Naturally anti-inflammatory, onions can help fight inflammation, when the inflammation is the problem. Quercetin, found in onion, has proven to inhibit inflammation-causing leukotrienes and the prostaglandins and histamines that are in rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. So it can help inflamed joints and chronic inflammation pain.

3. Regulate blood sugar

There has been extensive research into how onions affect blood sugar. This is good news for the 29 million people in the United States who have diabetes. The tests showed that people, who were diagnosed with type 1, and those with type 2 diabetes, had a lower blood sugar level (glucose reading) after eating onions, and it remained low for up to four hours after eating. This means onion could be very helpful in the management of diabetes. This is because of the sulfur compounds in onions that work to increase insulin production and, therefore, lower glucose levels.

4. Cancer preventer

Onions are the richest natural sources of Quercetin you can find. Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant flavonoid that has been linked to inhibiting certain kinds of cancers. Research and clinical trials have been undertaken to learn more about the effect of the quercetin in onions have on cancer, and it is not considered a drug to combat cancer. Eating onions will simply give you many good benefits that could lead to preventing cancer, because of the dietary source of quercetin it contains.

5. Healthy heart

These antioxidants such as quercetin, work to thin the blood and ward off blood clots. This is particularly the case if you eat raw onion. Raw onion lowers the chanced of bad cholesterol (LDL) which keeps hearts healthy. Not just for lowering your cholesterol, eating onions regularly can also lower blood pressure, and keeps the risk of heart attack and heart diseases or heart risks low. Heart risks including arterial hardening and gallstones. Any foods that support heart health are usually recommended by any heart foundation and are part of a balanced diet.

6. Vitamins and minerals

Onions are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods, not surprising as they contain multiple vitamins and minerals. First up there is a rather decent amount of vitamin C in onions, and we all know vitamin C is good for you. Onions also contain vitamin B6. B6 is great for red blood cell formation, Potassium, which is important for low blood pressure, and general heart health and Folate B vitamin bodies need for metabolism and cell growth. Not only the above but they are also a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, iron, low sodium and have no fat.

7. Free radical killer

Free radicals are molecules that attack healthy cells in the body. These free radicals want to steal all the good stuff from healthy cells, like electrons and rebalance, which cause damage to the good cells, this, in turn, affects the body in regards to aging and deterioration. And if your body is overrun with free radicals, oxidative stress is created. You can combat free radicals by eating foods that are high in antioxidants. Onions do this by eliminating free radicals, they even search them out and kill them, and therefore, reducing the aging process and your risk of developing other related diseases.

8. Onion cough syrup

You can make your cough syrup at home from onions, and it does, in fact, taste better than it sounds, and some may say, better than over the counter cough syrups. Using a red or yellow onion, slice it evenly and place at the bottom of a jar. Pour a layer of honey over it, then repeat layering onion slices, and honey until you are out of the onion. (You can use raw or brown sugar instead of honey if you like but it will be much sweeter) Cover the jar tightly and let it sit overnight. After up to 12 hours the liquid in the jar becomes your cough syrup. Take one spoonful, three times an hour. This concoction will begin to break up and mucus, its natural antibiotic properties begin to take effect and the honey works to soothe the throat.

9. Bee stings

The soothing properties of applying a freshly cut slice of onion directly onto a wasp or bee sting can immediately begin to take effect. The enzymes in onions can help break down the compounds found in the venom of a bee or wasp sting. This is what causes the inflammation and subsequent pain and even swelling. Applying onion can reduce all of these things initially. It also helps in the length of time the sting takes to heal. This ‘home remedy’ was once thought to be an old wives tale. Now it is commonly known to be correct, and more importantly, actually work!

10. The healthiest onions

Western yellow onions and shallots are considered the healthiest because of their phenolic and flavonoid content. In general, consuming these versatile vegetables is only ever a good thing, no matter what kind of onion. These two kinds of onions are both from the allium family, and they can be pretty easily interchanged in recipes. They have a slightly different taste in regards to pronounced sweet flavor (shallot) and bite (yellow onion). That does not make them unusable. If anything, it makes them more desirable to the palate, and to the health system.

Today’s article was written by Charmaine and is shared from the following website: http://health.facty.com/food/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-onions/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=c-search&utm_term=health%20benefits%20of%20onions&utm_campaign=f-h-10-health-benefits-of-onions&msclkid=57e38f7f3d051891d8f5d5c259ba940f

Fitness Standards for Adults: Here’s What They’re Good For

Fitness Standards for Adults: Here’s What They’re Good For

President John F. Kennedy once said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” Since July 16, 1955, the American government has shown at least a political interest in the health of Americans. Under President Eisenhower, the President’s Council on Youth Fitness established a beachhead against the lagging health of American youth compared with citizens of other countries. Military officers in World War 2 complained that their recruits were out of shape. Perhaps Eisenhower’s program was meant to help reverse that condition. However, it wasn’t until President Kennedy that the Commander-in-Chief took an active role in promoting standards and committing resources to them.

After nearly 60 years, the presidential council has expanded its role in a number of directions, including sports, nutrition and—most relevant to this article—adult fitness. The president’s council has had an established standard for nominal health since 2008 and benchmarks have been created for regular, moderate and vigorous activity. In addition, the council has established an online Adult Fitness Test that allows you to compare your scores with those of fellow Americans. The test can be found at http://www.adultfitnesstest.org/dataEntry.aspx.

The areas tested include the following:

  • Aerobic fitness—Preparing for the test, you should work up to moderate exercise (e.g. brisk walking) for 30 minutes, 5+ days per week; and vigorous exercise (e.g. running) for 20–30 minutes, 3–4 days per week.
  • Muscular strength and endurance—3+ days per week, work up to 3 sets each of 25 half sit-ups and 10–20 push-ups. Between each set, include a short rest.
  • Flexibility—Static stretches should be taken to the point of tension, but never to pain. Hold each for 10–30 seconds. Repeat 1–2 additional times.
  • Body composition—Your body mass index (BMI) is a measure of height related to weight, with your waist measurement as a health indicator. This should be kept between 18.5–24.9. BMI calculators can be found online.

These sorts of tests can do a lot to raise public awareness and to help focus people on activities that will make a difference. But they will only be effective is they’re used the right way. And using them the right way starts with understanding what these tests are actually measuring and what the results mean. In some ways, measuring your performance in specific exercises relative to a national average may be less helpful than measuring your improvement over time and setting new goals based on your own progress.

When taking on any exercise program or fitness testing, especially when you have not engaged in rigorous physical activity regularly for several years, you should consult with a doctor or physical trainer. Proper preparation, good technique and consistency are the keys to staying healthy and avoiding injury. Regular chiropractic care can also play an important role in helping to speed recovery, prevent future injuries and improve performance. As musculoskeletal system specialists, chiropractors have unique insight into how patients can safely increase their strength, stamina, flexibility and balance. If you want to learn more, just call or visit our office! You can reach us at Oblander Chiropractic at 406-652-3553.

Top Foods for a Healthy Nervous System

Top Foods for a Healthy Nervous System

The health of your nervous system is vital for maintaining all your body’s functions and avoiding a range of potentially serious health problems. But if you’re not getting a sufficient amount of the nutrients needed for good nervous system health, you can experience such as numbness, nervous twitches or even muscle cramps. Fortunately, one of the easiest things you can do to help ensure a healthy nervous system is to eat the right kinds of foods.

Here’s a quick overview of several nutrients that play a key role in keeping your nervous system healthy and working the way it should.

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

A deficiency of this vitamin can give you that pins-and-needles sensation in the toes or burning feet, especially at night. Good foods for vitamin B1 are beef liver, seafood, brewer’s yeast, beans, eggs and sunflower seeds.

Vitamin B6

Nerve cell communication suffers without this vitamin. Two key neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, depend on vitamin B6 for their production. Bananas, potatoes, and chick peas are good sources.

Vitamin B12

A shortage of this vitamin can result in tingling and numbness in the hands and feet. Clams, fish, eggs, meat and dairy products are key sources of vitamin B12.

Copper

Like vitamin B6, this mineral is essential for the production of neurotransmitters. A severe lack of copper in your diet can lead to spinal cord degeneration and a progressive failure of nerve function. Liver and oysters are the best sources. Add prunes, spinach and kale (as well as other dark, leafy green vegetables), and nuts to your diet for even more copper.

Healthy foods for good nervous system function include the following:

Spinach—In addition to containing a powerhouse stock of nutrients and vitamins, this leafy green vegetable also contains an abundance of antioxidants to boost overall health and slow down the aging of the brain and nervous system.

Whole grains—Brown rice in particular contains high levels of vitamin B6, which helps to protect against mental deterioration caused by high levels of harmful homocysteines. Whole grains also include magnesium, which is important for the health of your nervous system. Stabilized rice bran contains one of the highest levels of antioxidants of all known foods.

Cocoa—This contains a powerful antioxidant that puts the brakes on oxidative stress that can lead to Alzheimer’s and similar neurological ailments. It is also high in magnesium.

Whey—An excellent food for a naturally calming effect. Rich in L-tryptophan, which the body cannot produce, this essential amino acid is vital in the production of serotonin, an essential neurotransmitter. Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression.

Garlic—This not only includes antioxidants, but garlic can help prevent aging of the brain and prevent infections, too.

So try working more of the above foods into your weekly menus, and feel pleased that you are doing something good for the health of your nervous system!

If feel that you need help with improving your eating habits and diet, we are just a phone call away! You can call at Oblander Chiropractic at 406-652-3553. Dr. Oblander is always willing to meet with you to discuss your nutritional needs!

 

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion

A well-functioning digestive system is crucial to maintaining your body’s overall health. Without it, you are likely to have bowel problems and suffer from digestive upsets, not to mention a host of other conditions that can result from not getting enough nutrients from the food you eat. The digestive system affects all the other systems of the body, so it’s important to do what you can to be sure it’s working the way it should. Following are the top 5 things you can do to help improve your digestion.

Eat more fiber – Soluble and insoluble fiber are both essential for moving food through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber, such as that found in oatmeal, beans, nuts and apples, turns to a gel in your intestines and slows digestion, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels. It absorbs water, softening the stool, and promotes the health of the good bacteria in your gut. Insoluble fiber, such as that found in the skins of fruit and vegetables, speeds digestion, adds bulk and passes primarily intact through the digestive tract. Both are important in preventing constipation and can improve conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Drink more fluids – Insufficient water intake can harden the stool, increasing constipation. You should be sure to drink at least 1.2 liters of fluid per day, which is about 6 glasses. Some people need more, based on their activity level and the ambient temperature. However, do not drink more than about 6 ounces of liquid during a meal (taking the occasional sip), as it can dilute your stomach acid, making digestion more difficult. Aim to get most of your fluid intake 15-30 minutes before a meal or at least an hour afterward.

Take probiotics – Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are the good bacteria that populate our digestive tract. Eating yogurt with a variety of helpful live cultures as well as fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir can help promote the production and health of these beneficial bacteria.

Eat more fat – Although increasing your fiber intake can improve your digestion that fiber does not move through the digestive tract so easily if you are not getting enough fat in your diet. Good fats will not raise your cholesterol and in fact are a healthy part of your diet when eaten in moderation. Some healthy sources of fat are olive oil, coconut oil, butter and avocados.

Reduce stress – When you are under stress, your digestive system slows down and circulation to the digestive tract is reduced, lowering your body’s ability to efficiently break down and utilize the food you eat. Do not rush through meals, and be sure to sufficiently chew and savor your food when you eat. If you must eat while under stress, be sure you eat foods that are simple to digest, such as broth or yogurt.

Where Does Good Balance and Coordination Come From? Introduction to Your Proprioceptive System

Where Does Good Balance and Coordination Come From? Introduction to Your Proprioceptive System

balancing-on-fence

Proprioception is a complex system of anatomical checks and balances, neural impulses, and brain functions that controls our sense of balance, coordination, and agility. Put most simply, proprioception is the “sixth sense” that enables you to scratch your head without looking in a mirror or climb a flight of stairs without having to look at each step.

Most of us are so accustomed to proprioception that we take it for granted. Its development starts soon after we are born and is observed in infants as soon as they gain control of their neck muscles. When the infant’s body tilts in any direction, its head also tilts in the opposite direction to level its eyes with the horizon. This “righting reflex” is the beginning of our sense of balance.

More technically, proprioception is your body’s ability to transmit a sense of its position in space, analyze that information, and react—either consciously or unconsciously—to stimuli with the proper movement and force. Proprioceptors are a specialized type of motor and sensory nerve that transmits impulses to the central nervous system (in particular, the area of the brain known as the cerebellum) from stimuli felt by the muscles, tendons, joints, and skin. The impulses transmitted by proprioceptors contain vital information, such as the amount of tension in a particular muscle and the relative position of a body part when it is moving.

, Proprioception is what enables you to reach for a glass and actually find it in space. It is also what allows you to pick up the glass with just the right amount of force, neither dropping it nor breaking it by squeezing too hard. Proprioception is what enables you to keep your balance when walking on uneven surfaces or when riding a bicycle. The impulses from proprioception combine with input received from the vestibular system (the fluid-filled network in the inner ear that enables us to feel the pull of gravity and know which direction is “up”) and with input from the visual system to create our sense of balance.

However, just as our eyes become weaker with age, so can the proprioceptive system, leading to a loss of proper balance. This is one of the reasons that falling is the number one cause of hospital admissions for people over 60. Something has gone wrong with the complex processing of information needed to maintain their balance, so older people are more likely to slip and fall on stairs or on slippery sidewalks and injure themselves.

Fortunately, you can strengthen your proprioceptive system by practicing simple balance exercises, thus keeping keep your sense of balance from weakening as you grow older. There are many forms of inexpensive exercise equipment (such as BOSU or Bongo Boards) that enable you to stand on a platform that is designed to be wobbly. This instability forces your muscles and your proprioceptive system to work more, and thus become stronger. So if you are over the age of 50, you should consider speaking to your chiropractor about exercises to improve your proprioception. They are very simple but can greatly improve your overall sense of balance, therefore significantly reducing your risk of injury from falls as you grow older. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Oblander, call 406-652-3553.

The New Science of Slips and Falls: What the Research Tells Us

The New Science of Slips and Falls: What the Research Tells Us

While we’ve all seen the old banana peel skit, slips and trips in the real world are no laughing matter. Simply falling to the floor or pavement from an upright position causes a great many serious injuries—and even deaths—each year. No one really knows for certain how many falls could actually be prevented, but the topic is of growing interest to a wide variety of people, from public health officials, designers, architects and community planners to business owners, workplace supervisors and employees. Senior citizens are perhaps the most at risk. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presents several statistics that highlight this point:

  • One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
  • Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
  • Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. In 2010, about 21,700 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries. Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. In 2010, there were 258,000 hip fractures.
  • Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling.
  • In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized. In 2010, the direct medical cost of falls, adjusted for inflation, was $30 billion.

Walking is a very complex activity, and science has only recently begun to understand the biomechanics involved. Shirley Wang wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Scientists are finding that maintaining stability and balance with each step we take requires complex coordination of foot placement, arm movement, trunk angle and neck and head motion.” At the same time, researchers are also learning how other factors like sloping, uneven or slippery surfaces and obstructions come into play. There are many variables to consider. Even when the body’s movements are perfectly coordinated, small things about environment can still foil our best efforts to remain upright.

We know from nervous system studies that the body is capable of reacting within milliseconds. Science has shown that a person’s balance is maintained by simultaneous feedback from the body’s visual system, proprioceptive system and inner ear. If one of these systems becomes less efficient or fails altogether, then the other two can usually compensate to keep us balanced. If two fail, then balance becomes far more difficult. Aging frequently leads to poorer eyesight and troubles with the inner ear, so it’s small wonder that seniors are more likely to fall.

Canadian researchers at Simon Fraser University used video cameras in a long-term care facility to see if seniors were right about “tripping” or “slipping” being the reasons for their falls. What they found was surprising. Tripping actually accounted for only 20% of events. The nearly 3-year study of 227 falls involving 130 people showed that the single largest cause (41%) was from improper weight shifting, such as leaning over too far. This seems to indicate a failure in the seniors’ proprioceptive system.

There are a few ways you can help to prevent slips and falls. Be sure to keep walkways clear of clutter, and consider adding non-skid material to flooring—especially to floors that are more likely to become wet. Maintaining your strength helps too. Upper body strength is particularly important for catching yourself before or during a fall. Even when there’s nothing to grab onto, having the sort of upper body strength that helps you to do push-ups can soften the blow to more sensitive parts of the body. Reaching out with hands and flexing elbows upon impact can slow the fall or stop it altogether. The late Jack LaLanne, fitness guru, was still doing fingertip pushups at age 93. Don’t say it can’t be done!

Balance requires that every part of the body works well together. Dr. Oblander can help you maintain this balance by ensuring you have a healthy spine and nervous system.  He can also recommend specific exercises that maintain or increase your upper body strength.  So if you or someone you care about is interested in avoiding slips and falls, we can help you take advantage of the latest research!  Just call or visit our office today: 406-652-3553!

 

Why Sugar is So Hard to Resist

Why Sugar is So Hard to Resist

Sugar is in almost everything we eat. In the typical western diet, enough sugar has been added to food products to bring our consumption of the sweet stuff up to 22.7 teaspoons per day. It is added to processed foods to extend shelf life and enhance flavor and texture. While we know that sugar contributes to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, it’s still hard to resist. Why? Much of the answer to that question has to do with the way humans have evolved to survive in times of scarcity. 

Our ancestors who had developed a taste for sugar were able to add to their body fat, which helped to keep them alive during periods of famine. This in turn allowed them to pass their sweet-loving genes on to their progeny. A study conducted by researchers at Washington University found that we are programmed from birth to crave sweet things. Human breast milk is very sweet due to the concentration of the sugar lactose, so from day one we learn to develop a sweet tooth.  

One study showed how even the mere expectation of sugar can affect our cognitive ability. Scientists found that when study subjects swished sugar water around in their mouths and then spit it out, they performed better on cognitive tests than the subjects who had swished water that had been artificially sweetened. And there is a good reason why sugar is addictive. Eating sugar prompts the release of the hormone serotonin from the same area of the brain that responds to heroin and cocaine, inducing a feeling of happiness and euphoria.  

It’s not always obvious where sugar is hiding in the foods we eat. While our consumption of table sugar is down, the amount added to processed foods is increasing. Many people are surprised to find how much sugar is added to such things as bologna (1.18 tsp. per 4 slices), ketchup (1.77 tsp. per 3 tbsp.) and low-fat fruit yogurt (6.16 tsp.). A couple of spoons of barbecue sauce have about as much sugar as a glazed donut! Add in the sugars typically contained in soups, sauces and breads, and it’s easy to see why obesity is becoming such an epidemic. The more we get, the more we want. A sudden rush of sugar spurs the release of insulin, which causes the infamous “sugar crash” and makes us crave even more to combat it. 

However, it is possible to overcome an addiction to sugar, just as it’s possible to overcome an addiction to any other substance. Gradually use less where you can, such as in coffee or tea and in your breakfast cereal. You can also reduce or eliminate your consumption of soda (including artificially sweetened soda, which still makes you crave the sweet taste) and water down any fruit juices you may drink. After a while, your body does adjust to the taste. After a few months, if you suddenly are given coffee with sugar in it, you may find it tastes odd. Try to avoid buying store-bought desserts, and if you make your own, reduce the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. Many baked goods can use unsweetened applesauce as a substitute for 2/3 of the sugar required. 

Our society has made it difficult to resist sugar, but it’s not impossible, and the less sugar you eat, the better it will be for your overall health.  

At Oblander Chiropractic, we are working hard to help our patients live lives of health and wellness.  As a part of that effort, we are going to be sharing recipes that replace refined sugar with natural sugars. Be sure to watch our posts for those recipes!

 

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