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Superfoods – Cranberries

Posted by chiropam on Dec 31, 2008 in Health, Health Benefits, Wellness

T’is the Season…for Cranberries!

Cranberries not only taste great alongside turkey, stuffing and other holiday favourites – they are also great for packing a health punch during this festive time of year. While a lot of us consume jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season, many don’t realise that they are receiving health benefits at the same time by eating this powerful little berry. Not only during the hectic holiday season, but year-round as well, this powerful little berry is the perfect solution for contributing to good health.

Cranberries in the Raw

Cranberries in the Raw

I recently made a beautiful jellied cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving that I found on YouTube. I celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia with my American friends that live here too. During the year, I keep frozen cranberries in the freezer, for a treat or if I just want to make the cranberry sauce before the typical holiday season. Other ways to get health benefits from cranberries are cranberry juice and/or dried cranberries.  Dried cranberries are a great snack for in between meals or mixed through a salad for a little tang packed with health benefits.

Cranberries contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Considered a superfood because of the various health benefits, they can help prevent bacteria causing infections, particularly in the bladder and urinary tract. They are a great natural preventative for recurring bladder infections. If you don’t consume cranberries in some form or another regularly, cranberry tablet supplements are available from your local health food shop.  What is your favourite way to get your health benefits from cranberries?

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Superfoods – Blueberries

Posted by chiropam on Dec 31, 2008 in Chiropractic, Health Benefits

These are one of my personal favourites – fresh or frozen (when not in season) as a healthy, nutritious snack. They can be eaten raw, cooked, juiced, baked in muffins, pies, cakes etc. I even found chocolate covered blueberries! To be honest, I prefer them fresh – recommended at least half cup per day.

There are so many health benefits…

Blueberries in the Raw

Blueberries in the Raw

Did You Know?

Blueberries:

  • Are packed with antioxidants which help to fight cancer and other diseases.
  • Help you maintain good vision and work to prevent macular degeneration in the eye.
  • Promote urinary health – help prevent and even cure urinary tract infections.
  • Can help with Alzheimer’s prevention.
  • Are a huge source of Vitamin C.
  • Can help lower blood cholesterol.
  • Slow the aging process and are good for the complexion.
  • Are anti-diabetic – both in prevention and control of the disease.
  • Are anti-inflammatory – beneficial for arthritis sufferers.
  • Help to promote and maintain digestive health.
  • Aid with weight control and contribute to a healthy diet.

So, make sure you add blueberries to your grocery list so that you and your family can receive the many health benefits of blueberries!


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Superfoods – Garlic

Posted by chiropam on Dec 31, 2008 in Health, Health Benefits
Garlic in the Raw

Garlic in the Raw

Superfoods by definition are foods with high phytonutrient content.  Phytonutrients are plant derived essential nutrients important to human health.

One of the “superfoods” that I incorporate into my daily nutrition is, garlic.  Garlic contains protein, Vitamins A, B, C and E, as well as the minerals Iron, Selenium and Calcium.  There are numerous health benefits, one being increasing the strength of the immune system.  It has antibiotic, antifungal, antioxidant and antiviral properties.  By having daily doses (minimum half clove per day), it helps to naturally fight off the common colds and flus.  Garlic dates back to over 4,000 years ago, even back to the tombs of the Egyptian pharoahs!

Garlic also helps to support the circulatory system which may in turn help in lowering the risk of heart disease.

Garlic has the ability to lower total LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol in your blood.

Garlic also comes in capsule form as a supplement in case the dishes you prepare are not suitable for garlic.  However, natural and fresh is the preferred method.

Let me encourage you to get creative and add garlic to meals for that extra flavour as well as extra nutrients and health benefits!

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Is Wine Healthy?

Posted by chiropam on Dec 30, 2008 in Health Benefits, health tips

Are there any health benefits of wine?

Enjoying a Glass of Red

Enjoying a Glass of Red

Red or white? – that is the question!  Red has greater positive health benefits than white wine.  Wines with higher tannin levels carry more of the protective polyphenols that are good for blood vessel protection.  The polyphenols in wine have a specific interaction with the lining of the blood vessels and that interaction is able to dilate the blood vessels, relax them, and have anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory effects.

Red wine adds more health benefits.  Only certain types of red – preferably with a style that allows enough time for the extraction of the beneficial polyphenols.  Look for wines that are described as having firm tannins.  Cooler temperature regions with older vines and slow ripening grapes are preferred.  (For those of us in Western Australia, the Margaret River Region is ideal!)

How much?   Moderation is always the key.  A good rule of thumb is no more than 1-2 glasses (125ml) per day for women and no more than 2-3 glasses (125ml) per day for males.  It is actually important that the wine be consumed with food.  This helps to get the benefits of the polyphenols as the alcohol levels are kept down while it is being absorbed.  Alcohol absorption is slowed down when it is being consumed with food, so that there is less damage being caused to the liver.  The small amount of alcohol that is good for you helps prevent excess clotting.

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Is Your Infant Suffering From Colic?

Posted by chiropam on Dec 30, 2008 in Chiropractic, Health, health tips, Wellness

Crying Babies

If you or someone you know has an unsettled baby, and you don’t know what to do, you may want to investigate taking your baby to a chiropractor.

As your child is being born, natural or Caesarean, the neck and back vertebrae can go out of alignment, causing vertebral subluxation complexes due to the stretching and compressing of the body as it emerges into the world.  If your delivery included a prolonged pushing stage, forceps or vacuum extraction, or other form of assisted delivery, the chances of a misalignment are great.

If the misalignments, called vertebral subluxations, are big enough, the functioning of major systems in the body can be compromised.  The digestive system may be affected and effective digestion of breastmilk and formula can cause major discomfort in your baby, leading to colic episodes.

What Is Colic?

Infantile colic is the term commonly used to describe an otherwise healthy infant who exhibits persistent, forceful crying for no apparent reason.  The crying usually persists for several hours each day and is usually evident at least five days in each week.  Parents’ attempts to comfort the infant by holding and rocking the child, and making sure they are clean and fed have little or no effect on the condition.  The affected infant will have a tense, rumbling abdomen, usually with knees flexed, tight muscles along the spine and be very gassy.  Occasionally the head and neck will be arched backwards.

Many parents are hesitant of taking their small, helpless babies to see a chiropractor.  The main reason being the “crunching and cracking” stereotype that chiropractic can have.

In actuality, the adjustments that a chiropractor will do on your baby is basically applying gently pressure with the fingers or with an adjustment instrument called an Activator to areas on the neck and back.  You may see your baby totally relax before your eyes as the misalignments are corrected.

As with selecting any health care provider, you need to ask questions first, in order to make an informed decision.  Being clear on the objective and the techniques that will be carried out is very important.  Ask for referrals from family or friends that you can contact if you are unsure.

Chiropractic care can be very valuable in helping to calm the colic tendencies in a safe, natural environment.

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Hip Pain

Posted by chiropam on Dec 29, 2008 in Chiropractic, Health

Hip pain can afflict a wide range of ages. It is not just a natural part of the ‘aging process’.  Pain in the hip can actually be caused by a variety of things. It may originate from degeneration within the joint itself, referred pain from the lower back, or from chronic tendinitis of the gluteal muscles.  Hip pain may also result from inflammatory conditions or from improper biomechanics in the knee and ankle or foot.

Making sure your pelvis, low back, hips, knees, ankles and feet are in the proper alignment and moving well may help alleviate hip pain and may prevent recurrent episodes.  It is important to first identify the cause of the hip pain, not just treat the symptomatic area. When this is addressed, it is then essential to increase strength and regain mobility in the hip area and help return to previous level of activity.

Degenerative and pathological conditions of the hip can present with a broad range of diagnostic mysteries. For every patient who comes in complaining of pain and discomfort that he or she correctly traces to the hip, there is likely to be another patient with symptoms from the lower back, to the buttocks, to the legs, that eventually can be traced to a hip condition.  On the other hand, conditions like hernia, aneurysm, and iliopsoas bursitis, with no direct hip connection, can cause what a patient may perceive as hip or groin pain.

Hip disease itself manifests as pain in the groin that may radiate all around the thigh and even to the knee. Although a significant number of people present with hip pain, the real challenge is making sure that hip and thigh pain really is a pathology of the hip and not a referred intra-abdominal or retroperitoneal pain.”

Some patients may complain of pain that initially seemed to have nothing to do with the hip, but upon closer questioning and examination, had at least some of its origins there.

Common Causes

Contrary to some belief, age-related degenerative conditions are not the only cause of hip pain, particularly osteoarthritis of the hip joint.  Osteoarthritis isn’t always the reason -it may actually be the ultimate result of damage done to the hip earlier.

Some of the leading causes of hip problems that actually originate within and around the hip include:

  • Overuse injuries and repetitive motion or gait problems
  • Acute injuries, such as fractures, sprains, strains to the lower limb.
  • Avascular necrosis
  • Infections in the joint or bone near the hip -these are usually accompanied by fever, redness, and/or swelling.

After comprehensive examination and diagnosis, the treatment goal should not only be to decrease the patient’s pain levels, but assist in increasing the range of motion in the hip and lower back and restoring proper function. In addition, providing lifestyle options, such as postural changes, core stabilization, how to assume a neutral spine, and home exercises including stretching and strengthening will all assist in limiting stress on the low back and hips.

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Tips For Improving Posture

Posted by chiropam on Dec 29, 2008 in Chiropractic, Health, Wellness

Posture is the position that you hold your body upright against gravity while, sitting, standing or lying down.

Poor posture may result from poor habits that come from things we do every day – activities such as standing for long periods of time, sitting at a computer, driving, and even sleeping.  Poor posture can easily become second nature, causing or aggravating back or neck pain which can lead to damaging spinal structures. The good news is that when it is brought to our awareness, we are able to change and better manage the situations causing the poor posture.

The following guidelines suggest several ways to improve posture and ergonomics especially for people who work sitting in an office chair for most of the day.

  • Be aware of the warning signs caused by poor ergonomics and posture. Back pain may be the result of poor ergonomics and posture if the back pain is worse at certain times of day or week (such as after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer, but not during the weekends); pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back and extremities; pain that goes away after switching positions while sitting or standing; sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car; and/or back pain that comes and goes for months.
  • Get up and move. As muscles get tired, slouching, slumping, and other poor postures become more likely; this in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions frequently. One way is to take a break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for two minutes in order to stretch, stand, or walk.
  • Keep the body in alignment while sitting in an office chair and while standing. Try to distribute your body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet while standing. While sitting in an office chair, use the chair’s features. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Even a good position for too long will be tiring. Swap from leaning forward with a straight back and alternate with sitting back against  the support of the office chair to ease the work of the back muscles. Also be aware of and avoid unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders forward or tilting the head.
  • Use posture-friendly props and ergonomic office chairs when sitting. Ergonomic supportive “props” can help to take the strain and load off of the spine.  Office chairs that are ergonomically designed or chairs with an adjustable back support can be used at work. Footrests, portable lumbar back supports, or even a towel or small pillow can be used while sitting in an office chair and while driving. Using handbags or backpacks that are designed to minimize back strain can also influence good posture.  Positioning computer screens to your natural eye level position can also help to avoid leaning or straining the neck with the head tilted forward.  Excessive use of a laptop can be hazardous, so a laptop raiser could be beneficial.
  • Increase awareness of posture and ergonomics in everyday settings. This includes making conscious thoughts and connections to your posture not only at work, but at home and during social activities.
  • Use exercise to help prevent injury and promote good posture. Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, or bicycling will help the body stay aerobically conditioned, while specific strengthening exercises will help the muscles surrounding the back to stay strong. These benefits of exercise promote good posture, which will, in turn, further help to condition muscles and prevent injury. There are also specific exercises that will help maintain good posture.  Core strength is essential to develop and maintain to help support the upper body and maintain good posture.
  • Wear supportive footwear when standing. Avoid regularly wearing high-heeled shoes, which can affect the body’s center of gravity and change the alignment of the entire body, negatively affecting the spine and posture. When standing for long periods of time, placing a rubber mat on the floor can improve comfort.
  • Remember good posture and ergonomics when in motion. Walking, lifting heavy materials, holding a telephone, and typing are all moving activities that require attention to ergonomics and posture. It is important to maintain good posture even while moving to avoid injury. Back injuries are especially common while twisting and/or lifting and often occur because of awkward movement and control of the upper body weight alone.
  • Create ergonomic physical environments and workspaces, such as for sitting in an office chair at a computer. It does require a small investment of time to personalize the workspace, home, and car, but the payoff will be well worth it. Undue strain will be placed on the structures of the spine unless the office chair, desk, keyboard, and computer screen, etc. are correctly positioned.
  • Avoid overprotecting posture. Remember that it is important to maintain an overall relaxed posture and therefore avoid restricting movements like clenching muscles and adopting an unnatural, stiff posture. For individuals who already have some back pain, it is a natural tendency to try to limit movements to avoid the potential pain associated with movement. However, unless there is a fracture or other serious problem, the structures in the spine are designed for movement and any limitation in motion over a long period of time creates more pain and a downward cycle of less motion and more pain, etc.

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Improving Posture

Posted by chiropam on Dec 28, 2008 in Chiropractic, Health, Wellness

We live in a society where either posture is not taught, or it is taught in such a way that kids come to resent it, meaning they have a parent or grandparent that is always telling them “don’t slouch” or “stand up straight!” Typically when this happens, a person’s first reaction is to thrust their shoulders back and stick their lower back out which in turn creates even more of a problem. Holding your shoulders rigidly back, and putting too much curve in your lower spine can cause just as many problems as slumping with shoulders rolled forward. Even though this is what is often thought of as appropriate posture, it actually is not.

Whatever the reasons for bad posture, whether it be poorly designed desks when we are in school, bosses who don’t have ergonomic chairs for those who sit at a computer all day, or just our own misunderstanding of what good posture is, bad posture has become a real problem for all of society.

Bad posture can be caused by a number of reasons such as, sitting for too long, standing for too long, being depressed or anxious, using poorly designed furniture, and stress. However, whatever a person’s reason for poor posture, anyone can change their posture at any time with just a little effort. Keep in mind it is not necessary to expend large amounts of effort on good posture. Remember that holding shoulders rigidly back, and having excessive curve in the lower back is not good posture, but simply another form of bad posture.

Bad posture may cause back problems, and exacerbate existing health problems even if the existing health problems such as a seasonal cold aren’t severe or permanent. So, what can you do to improve your poor posture?

The first thing you want to do when it comes to improving your posture is to become aware and understand what good posture really is. Good posture is when your spine is straight but with a slight curve in the lower spine, and your shoulders are rolled back just a bit (but not rigidly so) so that it is as if your shoulder blades could slide down your back. Your chin should be level with the ground, not drooping as if it were going to tuck into your chest.

The best way to get an idea of this is to stand up straight, but not too rigid. Imagine there is a metal string hanging from a hook in your ceiling that is attached to the top of your head. Pretend that this string can pull up just enough to align all the bones in your skeleton just right so that your head, neck and shoulders are aligned with your spine and on down to your feet. This is what it is like to have good posture. You can perform the same test when sitting, just make sure you have a chair that allows your feet to rest flat on the ground. If you are a woman wearing heels, they automatically throw your spine out of alignment by tipping your pelvis unnaturally forward.

Some other things you can do to improve your posture are using an ergonomic chair (with lumbar support) at your desk, and/or lower your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor while you are sitting at your desk. A footrest may help too. Another is not to sit for long periods of time without getting up and walking around a bit, even if it is just to walk around your desk or cubicle space. You should also take time to stretch, or better yet begin practicing Office Yoga which are yoga postures you can do at your desk. Taking classes such as yoga or tai chi or Pilates that emphasize good posture can help as well.

When you find yourself slumping or sliding back into your old posture habits don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead simply be gentle and kind with yourself and begin to practice good posture again. In time good posture will become a habit. Remind yourself with sticky notes at your computer or around the house wherever you spend the most time. When it does you will notice that you feel a lot better. You may even find that you can handle stress better as well. These are only a few of the benefits of good posture, there are many others such as less or no back pain. Improving your posture will improve the quality of your life.

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Boost Your Immunity

Posted by chiropam on Dec 28, 2008 in Chiropractic, Health, Wellness

Feeling the winter blues?  Tired of catching colds that go around?  Rather than taking something to simply cover up the symptoms, how about some advice on avoiding them in the first place?  The best treatment is often prevention. Here we show you how to boost your immune system through natural means like exercise, nutrition and more, so you can get through winter unscathed.

Look To Nature

The great thing about herbs is that they improve your immune system, rather than attack a bug.  Naturopathy focuses on the natural herbs nature has to offer.

A Positive Outlook

A positive outlook on life can help ward off colds, flu and infections.  People with an optimistic outlook on life tend to have higher levels of immune-system weaponry (T-cells and natural killer cells) than pessimistic people.  You may not be able to change your situation at a certain moment, but you can change your attitude.

Foods and Fluids

If your body is lacking in certain nutrients, your immune system will certainly suffer. So eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, which contain antioxidants.

Immune-boosting properties from carotenoids are found in yellow and orange fruit and vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, oranges and apricots as well as green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli.

Increase the garlic and onion in your meals.  Eat raw, freshly-crushed garlic – it has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.  It is a natural immune booster.

Vitamin C found in citrus fruits and berries may help improve resistance to infection.

Include plenty of zinc and iron, found in lean red meat, poultry, seafood, wholegrains and nuts, in your diet. They’re not antioxidants, but they are also thought to keep the immune system healthy.

Drink plenty of water and/or herbal teas; eliminate caffeine-containing fluids like coffee and soft drinks.

Avoid sugar – as it can decrease the immune system’s activity.

Curb your stress levels – Some Stress is Good

People tend to talk about stress as if it’s all bad. It’s not.

Some stress is good for you.  Public speakers, for example have to get their stress response to a certain optimal level so that they can perform in front of an audience. Otherwise, it may come across as lethargic and listless.

However, while some stress is good, too much is not.  If you’re too stressed, your performance can diminish.  The objective should be not to get rid of stress completely because you can’t get rid of stress — stress is life, life is stress. Rather, you need to be able to use your stress response optimally.”

The key is to learn to move yourself to that optimal peak point so that you’re not underperforming but you’re also not so stressed that you’re unable to perform.  The challenge is knowing our limits – how much we’re actually able to handle.

The goal should be to try to learn to control your stress to make it work for you.  Don’t just think of getting rid of your stress; think of turning it to your advantage.

Let Your Emotions Out

Expressing  your emotions can be good for your health.  Repressing emotions after a traumatic event can lower the function of the immune system compared to those who share their feelings.

Therapeutic Massage

Receiving a therapeutic massage can boost the immune system and promote lymph flow.  It can aid in removing toxins, lead to less anxiety and improve the function of the immune system.

Exercise

Regular exercise supports general health and immune function.  It promotes healthy blood circulation and drives the lymphatic system.

While professional athletes and those who train intensely have weakened immune systems, studies show that moderate exercise strengthens the immune system.

People who exercise regularly have about 25 percent fewer colds than those who seldom or never exercised.
We need adequate rest to allow the body to repair itself.

Rest and Relaxation

A good night’s sleep can also significantly boost the immune system.  There are potent immune enhancing compounds released during sleep and immune functions are increased significantly by an adequate night’s rest.

Doing things you enjoy helps to decrease stress levels, especially if we are inspired to do something, rather than doing things because we have to.

A well-rested person’s immune system may respond more strongly that of a sleep-deprived person’s.
Your body requires more sleep during the winter months – so get to bed a bit earlier!

Chiropractic Maintenance Care

A regular visit to the chiropractor may greatly enhance your body’s immune system in combination with the abovementioned topics.  By aligning your spine, the nervous system (which also affects the immune system) can function optimally.

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