Combat Cold and Flu Season with Echinacea!

Believe it or not, many people are unaware of what Echinacea is, and all the benefits of this powerful little herb.  Echinacea is native to various areas east of the Rocky Mountain Range, but is also grown in more western parts of the United States, Canada, and Europe.  There are several types of Echinacea grown.  The leaves, flowers, and roots of this herb were first used by the Great Plains Indian Tribes for medicine and to make herbal remedies.  Settlers later on began using this herb for medicinal purposes as well.  And, for a little trivia that I didn’t even know about…from 1916-1950, Echinacea was listed in the US National Formulary, and fell out of favor in the US when antibiotics were discovered. Boo!!!

Good news though…more people are becoming re-engaged in the use and benefits of Echinacea, because more and more antibiotics are becoming more resistant to certain strains of bacteria.   It seems that Echinacea contains some types of chemicals that can directly flight yeast and certain kinds of fungi.  Echinacea activates chemicals in the body to help reduce inflammation, and laboratory research also shows that it can stimulate the body’s immune system. Echinacea is largely used to combat infections, including the common cold, flu, and many upper respiratory infections.  There are various ways people use Echinacea to combat these infections.  Some people will take Echinacea at the first signs of a cold, and some people will use the herbal remedy after their symptoms have started to help minimize the severity of the infection.

Echinacea can be used to fight many other infections such as tonsillitis, strep throat, ear infections, swine flu, malaria, typhoid, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, indigestion, anxiety and rheumatoid arthritis.  If not taking this herb orally, Echinacea can be applied to the skin to treat boils, gum disease, skin wounds, ulcers, burns, bee stings, hemorrhoids, herpes simplex, and the list goes on. And, believe it or not, Echinacea can be injected to treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections as well.  WOW! I had no idea until researching this little herb, that Echinacea could be used to treat so many things.

Echinacea comes in many forms nowadays.  Tablets, juice and tea seem to be among the more popular choices in the US.  However, in the US particularly, there are more concerns about the quality of some of the Echinacea products being sold commercially.  It seems as though some types of Echinacea products are being mislabeled, and don’t actually even contain Echinacea in them! Really?  Just because the label reads “standardized”, it doesn’t always mean much. Some of the Echinacea products are even contaminated with lead, arsenic, and selenium.  YUM!

With that being said, it is very important that you make sure you are purchasing all supplements, herbal or not, from a reputable source.  If you are unsure of which brand to purchase, be sure to ask your health care professional which brand they would recommend.  During the cold and flu season I take one capsule/pill in the morning and one at night.  If you are feeling well, you can just take one a day with your other vitamins, and at the first signs or symptoms of getting sick or coming down with something, you can take 2-3 capsulses 2-3 times a day as needed.  At our office, we carry the brand, Metagenics, as many of you know.  Many doctor’s offices carry this brand as it is one of the most reputable, and what is listed on the label is actually what is in the bottle!  Should any of you have any questions about Echinacea, or any of the other supplements we carry at PHC, feel free to ask me when you are in the office for a visit, or email me at: drv@performancehealthcenter.com.

“Fall Back” with Vitamin D3

It is Time to “Fall Back” this Saturday November 3, 2018… that is we set our clocks back 1 hour for “Daylight Savings Time”, but the actual amount of daylight is actually shrinking daily every day from now through to the shortest day of the year which happens to be Friday December 21st this year.  That means we are all getting less and less sunshine each day starting now and for the next few months.  This decrease in sunshine can affect us both mentally and physically.  This blog will focus on the physical effects of our bodies absorbing less and less sunshine. Chances are you are not getting enough vitamin D. It is estimated that over one billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency.

Recent statistics show that most people aren’t getting enough vitamin D to stay healthy. This is called vitamin D deficiency. You may not get enough vitamin D if:

  • You don’t get enough sunlight. Your body is usually able to get all the vitamin D it needs if you regularly expose enough bare skin to the sun. However, many people don’t get enough sunlight because they spend a lot of time inside and/or because they use sunscreen. It’s also difficult for some people to get enough vitamin D from the sun during the winter.
  • You don’t take supplements. It’s very difficult to get enough vitamin D from the foods you eat alone.
  • Your body needs more vitamin D than usual, for example if you’re obese or pregnant.

WHO IS AT RISK FOR VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY?

  • People with darker skin. The darker your skin the more sun you need to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person. For this reason, if you have dark skin, you’re much more likely to have vitamin D deficiency that someone who is fair skinned.
  • People who spend a lot of time indoors during the day.
  • People who cover their skin all of the time. For example, if you wear sunscreen or if your skin is covered with clothes.
  • People that live in the North of the United States or Canada. This is because there are fewer hours of overhead sunlight the further away you are from the equator.
  • Older people have thinner skin than younger people and this may mean that they can’t produce as much vitamin D.
  • Infants that are breastfed and aren’t given a vitamin D supplement. If you’re feeding your baby on breast milk alone, and you don’t give your baby a vitamin D supplement or take a supplement yourself, your baby is more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People who are very over weight (obese).

Regardless of cause, deficiency of vitamin D has significant medical and psychological consequences. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function.

Vitamin D is also the only vitamin that is a hormone. After it is consumed in the diet or absorbed (synthesized) in the skin, vitamin D is then transported to the liver and kidneys where it is converted to its active hormone form. Vitamin D as a hormone assists with the absorption of calcium, helping to build strong bones, teeth and muscles.

In addition to its well-known role in calcium absorption, vitamin D activates genes that regulate the immune system and release neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, serotonin) that affect brain function and development. Researchers have found vitamin D receptors on a handful of cells located in regions in the brain-the same regions that are linked with depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder featuring depressive symptoms, occurs during the dark times of the year when there is relatively little sunshine, coinciding with the sudden drop in vitamin D levels in the body. Several studies have suggested that the symptoms of SAD may be due to changing levels of vitamin D3, which may affect serotonin levels in the brain.

Mental health is one of many types of ailments connected to vitamin D deficiency. For more information on vitamin D and its links to mental and physical health please visit the organization Vitamin D Council at www.vitamindcouncil.org founded by Executive Director John J. Cannell, M.D. Cannell, a trained psychiatrist, founded the Vitamin D Council in 2003 with a keen interest in clinical nutrition and a strong conviction that vitamin D deficiency, a highly preventable yet prevalent condition, contributes to many physical and psychological conditions affecting scores of people.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY?

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are sometimes vague and can include tiredness and general aches and pains. Some people may not have any symptoms at all.

If you have a severe vitamin D deficiency you may have pain in your bones and weakness, which may mean you have difficulty getting around. You may also have frequent infections. However, not everyone gets these symptoms.

If you think you may have vitamin D deficiency, you should see your physician, or have a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE DEFICIENT?

The way doctor’s measure if you’re deficient in vitamin D is by testing your 25(OH) D level, but most doctors just call this a vitamin D blood test. Getting this blood test is the only accurate way to know if you’re deficient or not, so ask your PCP this test.

HOW CAN YOU GET MORE VITAMIN D?

There are two ways to get more vitamin D: by exposing your bare skin to the sun or by taking vitamin D supplements.

This time of year there is much less sunlight, so it a good time to take supplements.

WHAT DO WE NEED VITAMIN D FOR?

What are the best supplements?

We offer Metagenics Vitamin D3 which is the best form of Vitamin D to take:

This is the version your body prefers, one Ultra concentrated Metagenics Vitamin D3 soft gel that is easy to swallow has 5000 IU in a single dose.  You can get yours here at Performance Health Center.

We have also made it easy for you to enjoy the convenience of ordering nutritional supplements online and save!

Visit and order directly from our Metagenics site:  https://performancehealth.metagenics.com/

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general please feel free to contact me at:  drtomball@performancehealthcenter.comm

 

 

 

It’s Apple Picking Time!

October is my favorite time of year for Apple Picking!

It is October and the warm sun and cool dry fall air are calling you outside.  If you are looking for a fun, healthy activity to do with your family, I would suggest Apple Picking!

Every fall my wife Clair, daughter Emily and I make the trip out to Honey Pot Hill Orchards for our annual Apple Picking extravaganza.  Just being outside and picking these amazingly fresh and delicious apples makes you appreciative of nature.  We like to go to Honey Pot Orchards in Stowe, MA.  They have hayrides, a petting zoo, and 2 large mazes to navigate your way through.  They also have a country store full of all their apple varieties: MacIntosh, Macoun, Cortlands, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious, and more, and don’t forget their famous cider donuts.

There are many different orchards in the MetroWest and here is their information:

Honey Pot Hill Orchards – Open daily from 9:30 am – 6 pm. Has more than a dozen different varieties of apples to pick. While you’re there, visit their friendly farm animals and get lost in their hedge maze. Hayrides are also available on weekends during the fall picking season. 16 Boon Road, Stowe.

Connors Farm – Pick your own apples at Connors Farm in Danvers daily from 9 am – 6 pm through October 31. While you’re there, check out their corn maze and so many other fun things including hayrides and whole lot more. 30 Valley Road (Rte. 35), Danvers.

Applecrest Farm Orchards –in Hampton Falls, NH is worth the trip. Pick your own apples seven days a week from 8 am to 6 pm in their 220 sprawling acres of orchards with more than 40 distinct varieties. Each weekend they also host Fall Festivals with free music, pie eating contests, make your own scarecrow, petting zoo, face painting and more. 133 Exeter Road (Rte. 88), Hampton Falls, NH

Carlson Orchards – Located in Harvard, boasts 140 acres and produces 60,000 bushels of apples annually. Pick your own from 14 different varieties seven days a week from 9 am to 4 pm 115 Oak Hill Road, Harvard.

Shelburne Farm – Just 20 miles from Boston, in Stowe grows more than 80 different varieties of apples. The farm is open weekdays 9 am to 5 pm and weekends 9 am to 6 pm 106 W. Acton Road, Stowe.

Parlee Farms – their apple orchards cover more than 15 acres and are open until Oct. 28 offering more than 20 varieties of apples for the picking. On weekend and fall holidays, your purchase of an apple bag includes a hayride to their apple orchard. While you’re there check out Annie’s Animal Barns, Farmer Mark’s Tractor Training Course and the hay play area. 95 Farwell Road, Tyngsboro.

Belkin Family Lookout Farm –is in full swing right now. While you’re there also enjoy farm animals, live children’s entertainment and face painting, along with pony, camel and hayrides. To see what’s currently available check out the What’s Picking page on their website or call their U-Pick hotline at 508-653-0653. 89 Pleasant St., Natick.

Brooksby Farm – Apple picking runs until Oct. 14 from 9 am to 6 pm in Peabody. Check the farm’s website for other fun, fall activities for the kiddos, and be sure to take a trip to their pumpkin yard to find your perfect pumpkin. 54 Felton St., Peabody.

Smolak Farms – is open and welcoming you for its fall picking season. Open each weekend through October for the Fall Children’s Festivals where children can enjoy wee wagons, cow trains, duck races, hay maze, face painting, bouncy house, super slide and spin art. While you’re there, don’t forget to stop by their pumpkin patch, too. 315 S. Bradford St., North Andover.

OK– now my favorite thing to make with all these amazingly fresh apples:

Apple Crisp

Cut peel and core 12 fresh apples, place in a large serving bowl

Cover with 2 TBSP lemon juice which acts as an anti-oxidant and prevents oxidation (browning of apple)

Next mix in 4 cups rolled oats; 1 cup raisins; one cup chopped almonds and sprinkle on 1 TBSP cinnamon

Mix well – set in large baking dish- bake at 350 degrees until crisp.  Enjoy!

The only problem I ever have is that it is soooo good I always eat so much I feel ill for about an hour then I am good for some more!

If you have any questions about this blog, or about your health in general, you can contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Multitasking Is Hazardous to Your Health

I have recently been reading a lot about multitasking and how it can be bad for your health.  We all know that you cannot really do a good job of multiple things at the same time (think the ultimate no-no: texting while driving!) Many people believe in our too fast paced world that they need to try to multitask whenever possible in hopes that they can actually get more done than is humanly possible.  Turns out not only is it a bad idea, but it can be bad for you and others around you as well.

We all know texting while driving is not only dangerous to you but everyone else on the road with you!  Did you also know that multitasking is actually bad for your brain?

I recently read an excellent article by Dr. Travis Bradberry (the Coauthor of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0 & President at Talent Smart) His article is titled:

Why Successful People Don’t Multitask.  I will share the best parts of that article here:

You may have heard that multitasking is bad for you, but new studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Every time you multitask you aren’t just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that’s critical to your future success at work.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

A Special Skill?

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers—those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.

Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

Multitasking Lowers IQ

Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.

Brain Damage From Multitasking?

It was long believed that cognitive impairment from multitasking was temporary, but new research suggests otherwise. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK compared the amount of time people spend on multiple devices (such as texting while watching TV) to MRI scans of their brains. They found that high multitaskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.

While more research is needed to determine if multitasking is physically damaging the brain (versus existing brain damage that predisposes people to multitask), it’s clear that multitasking has negative effects.

The EQ Connection

Nothing turns people off quite like fiddling with your phone or tablet during a conversation. Multitasking in meetings and other social settings indicates low Self- and Social Awareness, two emotional intelligence (EQ) skills that are critical to success at work. TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that 90% of top performers have high EQs. If multitasking does indeed damage the anterior cingulate cortex (a key brain region for EQ) as current research suggests, doing so will lower your EQ while it alienates your coworkers.

Bringing It All Together

If you’re prone to multitasking, this is not a habit you’ll want to indulge—it clearly slows you down and decreases the quality of your work. Even if it doesn’t cause brain damage, allowing yourself to multitask will fuel any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organization, and attention to detail.

So, if you really want to do something well, focus on the task at hand and try not to let your mind wander.  I know that when I am racing and in the middle of the swim and I start thinking of the upcoming bike course my swim stroke mechanics deteriorate and I slow way down.  Change your mind set; focusing on one thing at a time is actually more efficient, give it a try.

Your brain is also part of your central nervous system which includes the spinal cord and all your spinal nerves- so remember to take care of your whole central nervous system with regular chiropractic adjustments.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

 

It’s Not Just About Vitamin C Anymore…Try Zinc this Fall!

With school back in session, so are all the GERMS that come with this time of year.  Fun times!  Generally speaking, most people reach for the bottle of Vitamin C if they feel a cold coming on this time of year, or to prepare in the event of a possible cold.  I am not saying that Vitamin C isn’t effective (as I do take it daily), but more and more studies are showing that Zinc has some very beneficial qualities when it comes to dealing with the common cold, also known as the rhinovirus.

Without going into great detail, and pulling multiple research studies at this time, some studies are showing that Vitamin C does not actually do much to prevent the common cold.  Sorry Airborne L.  Zinc, being the mineral that it is, seems to somehow interfere with the replication of the rhinovirus. Zinc influences the immune system in a few different ways.  Zinc helps the immune system recruit white blood cells for proper and better immune system function, helps reduce systematic inflammation in the body, and is also an antioxidant – not too shabby Mr. Zinc J.  Some studies that have also been done in the past few years have shown that people who started taking zinc after recently getting sick, had less severe symptoms from the cold, and the duration of the cold was not as long either.

Zinc is what they call a “trace element”.  The cells of our immune system rely on Zinc to function. If one is getting enough zinc into their diet, the T-cells and other immune cells in our bodies can be greatly affected.  Based on what Harvard Medical Researchers say, the suggested daily amount of Zinc is 15-25mg.  Taking in an excessive amount of this supplement can actually cause a reverse reaction on the body, and is usually best to follow the recommended daily amount, or the amount prescribed by your physician.

If you are a person interested in getting more Zinc into your diet naturally, chickpeas, kidney beans, mushrooms, crab and chicken, are all good sources of food where Zinc can be found.  Lozenges like Cold-Ez or syrups containing Zinc, can also help aid in support when you are not feeling well.  If you are a person who would prefer to supplement, or your doctor has told you to do so, Metagenics ( www.metagenics.com ) has a supplement called, Zinc A.G.

Zinc A.G. is a special formula with enhanced absorption to help better address zinc repletion in the body. I use the Metagenics brand for Zinc, and that is what we carry or you can order at or through our office.  I do not necessarily take Zinc all year around, but I do use it through out certain parts of the year to help fight off pesky germs, and when I may be training at a higher intensity or for a race and take as needed.  I do not find that Zinc really has any bad side effects either, other than it doesn’t smell the greatest.  Sometimes people can complain of nausea, but if I take most of my vitamins or supplements on an empty stomach, I do become nauseous regardless.  If you have any questions regarding Zinc or other supplements we carry in our office, or in general, please feel free to ask me when in the office, or email me anytime at: drv@performancehealthcenter.com.  Happy Back to School everyone, and so not ready for the summer to come to an end.

If you want to orderZinc A.G, or any of Metagenics products on-line you can do so with this link: Order Metagenics NOW!

 

Stay Safe During Hot Weather Exercise

If you are a regular reader of these blogs you know that I definitely advocate exercising on a regular basis, but when the summer months turn really hot and humid, you need to be careful to avoid heat related illnesses like heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Whether you’re running, playing tennis, working in your yard or garden, or going for a power walk, please be careful when the temperature rises.

Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you don’t take care when exercising in the heat, you risk serious illness. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature and humidity can increase your core body temperature.

To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher.

Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long, you sweat heavily, and you don’t drink enough fluids.

The result may be a heat-related illness. Heat-related illnesses occur along a spectrum, starting out mild but worsening if left untreated. Heat illnesses include:

  • Heat cramps.Heat cramps, sometimes called exercise-associated muscle cramps, are painful muscle contractions that can occur with exercise. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. You may feel muscle pain or spasms. Your body temperature may be normal.
  • Heat syncope and exercise-associated collapseHeat syncope is a feeling of lightheadedness or fainting caused by high temperatures, often occurring after standing for a long period of time or standing quickly after sitting for a long period of time. Exercise-associated collapse is feeling lightheaded or fainting immediately after exercising, and it can occur especially if you immediately stop running and stand still after a race or a long run.
  • Heat exhaustion.With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104° F, and you may experience nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache, fainting, sweating and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.
  • Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104° F. Your skin may be dry from lack of sweat, or it may be moist.

You may develop confusion, irritability, headache, heart rhythm problems, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, visual problems and fatigue. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death.

During hot-weather exercise, watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. If you ignore these symptoms, your condition can worsen, resulting in a medical emergency.

WARNING SIGNS:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Visual problems

If you develop any of these symptoms, you must lower your body temperature and get hydrated right away. Stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. If possible, have someone stay with you who can help monitor your condition.

Measuring core body temperature with a rectal thermometer is essential to accurately determine the degree of heat injury. An oral, ear or forehead thermometer doesn’t provide an accurate temperature reading for this purpose. In cases of heatstroke, due to confusion and mental status changes, you won’t be able to treat yourself and you’ll require emergency medical care. The most effective way of rapid cooling is immersion of your body in a cold- or ice-water tub.

In cases of heat exhaustion, remove extra clothing or sports equipment. Make sure you are around people who can help you and assist in your care. If possible, fan your body or wet down your body with cool water.

You may place cool, wet towels or ice packs on your neck, forehead and under your arms, spray yourself with water from a hose or shower, or sit in a tub filled with cold water. Drink fluids such as water or a sports drink. If you don’t feel better within about 20 minutes, seek emergency medical care.

IF YOU HAVE SIGNS OF HEAT STROKE- SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT RIGHT AWAY

If your core temperature is less than 104° F, but it doesn’t come down quickly, you’ll also need urgent medical attention. In some cases, you may need fluids through intravenous (IV) tubes if you’re not able to drink fluids, or not able to drink enough fluids.

Get cleared by your doctor before you return to exercise if you’ve had heatstroke. Your doctor will likely recommend that you wait to return to exercise or sports until you’re not experiencing symptoms. If you’ve had a heatstroke, you may require many weeks before you are able to exercise at a high level. Once your doctor clears you for exercise, you may begin to exercise for short periods of time and gradually exercise for longer periods as you adjust to the heat.

When you exercise in hot weather, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Watch the temperature.Pay attention to weather forecasts and heat alerts. Know what the temperature is expected to be for the duration of your planned outdoor activity. In running events, there are “flag” warnings that correspond to the degree of heat and humidity. For example, a yellow flag requires careful monitoring, and races are canceled in black flag conditions.
  • Get acclimated.If you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat. It can take at least one to two weeks to adapt to the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over time, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
  • Know your fitness level.If you’re unfit or new to exercise, be extra cautious when working out in the heat. Your body may have a lower tolerance to the heat. Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. Help your body sweat and cool down by staying well-hydrated with water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluids. If you plan to exercise intensely, consider a sports drink instead of water. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid alcoholic drinks because they can actually promote fluid loss.
  • Dress appropriately.Lightweight, loose fitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid midday sun.Exercise in the morning or evening, when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shady areas, or do a water workout in a pool.
  • Wear sunscreen.A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself and increases the risk of skin cancer.
  • Have a backup plan.If you’re concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors. Work out at the gym, walk laps inside the mall or climb stairs inside an air-conditioned building.
  • Understand your medical risks.Certain medical conditions or medications can increase your risk of a heat-related illness. If you plan to exercise in the heat, talk to your doctor about precautions.
  • Choose and alternative form of exercise. If you are a runner – maybe try cycling as you create your own cooling effect by moving air over your body – or maybe give swimming a go – but beware of swimming laps in a hot (> 84° F) pool – as you can quickly overheat swimming in water that warm.

I do recommend that you continue to exercise on a regular basis even through this hot month of August, just be smart about it by following these recommendations.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at:  drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

Fall Sports Season Is Here, BELIEVE IT OR NOT!!! Dynamic Stretching, the “Pre-workout”

I wouldn’t be doing my job at Performance Heatlh Center, if I wasn’t trying to educate all my athletes how to prevent injury and showing up to my office “all banged up”.  I know I have touched on this before, but I cannot stress the importance of stretching, and when training, dynamic stretching!

If you look up Wikipedia’s definition of dynamic stretching, this is what comes up, “Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching beneficial in sports utilizing momentum from form, and the momentum from static-active stretching strength, in an effort to propel the muscle into an extended range of motion not exceeding one’s static passive stretching ability”.

Performing dynamic stretches in a “pre-workout” or warmup are a series of active stretches will help move the muscles through their range of motion, help improve range of motion surrounding the joints, help elevate core body temperature, and help to stimulate the nervous system so it is better prepared for activity.

Dynamic stretching primes the muscle to be ready to contract and relax, just as they would need to be ready to function during a sprint, run or jumping motion etc.  Being dynamic stretching is an active movement, it helps to prevent over-stretching, which can also fatigue the muscles.  Fatiguing the muscles prior to a workout can provoke injury or unfavorable symptoms to the area.  That is one of the main reasons coaching have gotten away from prescribing static stretching before a workout.  In fact, many coaches suggest athletes do a dynamic warm up every day to help keep muscles limber and ready to move at all times.

Dynamic stretching also helps to mentally prepare the athlete before the workout or competition.  Static stretching can be more relaxing, and while there is definitely a place for it, static stretching can almost trick one’s body into relaxation mode and make it more difficult to transition to “competitor” or “beast mode”.

Dynamic stretches target major muscle groups when warming up.  For example, when running, dynamic stretches target hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors and calves to help prime these areas for movement.  Usually a couple of minutes of light jogging is recommended first to get the blood flowing before getting into a 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching.  Walking butt kicks (heel to butt), knee hugs (walking knee the chest), walking toe touches, walking lunges with an overhead reach, glute bridges, heel and toe walks, are just a handful of great dynamic stretches to get one warmed up and the muscle groups prepared for the intensity of the workout that follows.   It really is something so easy to work into a warm up, and would most likely replace a more static routine one is doing, so it would not add much time on to one’s routine either.    Some of you reading this may find that you are already doing some type of dynamic stretching prior to a workout without even knowing it, which is great!  Gold stars for you!

Should anyone reading this little article have any questions in regarding dynamic stretching and incorporating this into their pre-workout routine coming into the fall sports season, please feel free to contact me at: drv@performanacehealthcenter.com

CHEERS TO CHERRIES

Just this morning after a nice bike ride, my friend and I were comparing smoothie recipes and were discussing what we each like to put in our smoothies.  I have been using a combination of coconut/almond milk, pineapple, Vega-one protein powder and a mix of frozen berries which includes blueberries, strawberries and cherries.  I always thought the blueberries were the best source of antioxidants, but after a little research I see that cherries pack even a bigger punch.  I decided to look into what other health benefits cherries can provide us and I wanted to share that information with you.

Cherries are high in antioxidants and high in quercetin. 

Cherries are full of antioxidants. These antioxidants have a number of different benefits, including the ability to prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as fighting off free radicals. The antioxidants found in cherries also work to slow the signs of aging. All cherries contain their own antioxidants but sour cherries have the most, beating out even blueberries with their antioxidant content.

Cherries are rich in quercetin, a natural flavonoid that is associated with strong antioxidant and health properties. Quercetin helps neutralize potential DNA damage caused by free radicals and may help protect against heart disease and certain cancers, including breast, colon, prostate and lung. In addition, it has strong anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects.

A serving of sweet cherries (5 ounces, 1 cup or about 21 cherries) provides 90 calories and 3 grams fiber.  Cherries are a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Cherries are also a great source of anthocyanins, bioactive compounds that provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, cardiovascular and other benefits. Research shows that melatonin, catechins and flavanols in cherries contribute to the fruit’s healthfulness, too.

They stabilize blood sugar levels. Cherries have among the lowest glycemic index and glycemic load values of all fruit. The glycemic index for cherries is 22, and the glycemic load is three. The glycemic index measures the effect that a carbohydrate-containing food has on blood sugar levels. A score of zero to 55 is considered low. The glycemic load measures the blood sugar response in a standard serving of the food.

They help ease joint pain. Several studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of cherries can help reduce inflammation that affects individuals with arthritis and gout. A study from USDA study found that Bing cherries specifically helped lower participants’ blood uric acid levels. High blood uric acid is associated with gout. Another study found that cherry consumption was associated with a 35 percent reduction in incidence of a gout attack over a two-day period. Cherry intake coupled with traditional gout pharmaceuticals reduced incidence of attacks by 75 percent. 

They act as an all-natural sleep aid. Research with tart cherry varieties show that they are rich in melatonin, a compound that helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake patterns. Studies show that supplements with cherry juice concentrate have been associated with improved sleep.

While your body does have the ability to produce its own melatonin, it typically does so only in darkness and not everyone is able to produce all the melatonin that is needed. Factors such as the artificial lighting that is found in many offices and homes limit how much melatonin is produced by your body. Eating cherries might help boost melatonin levels in your body.

You’ll get more out of your workouts. Cherries and cherry juice are often promoted for recovery post-exercise because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. One study showed that strength athletes who consumed tart cherry supplement experienced better recovery from intensive strength training, compared to when they took a fruit juice control beverage. Other studies with endurance athletes also link cherry compounds to enhanced recovery following exhaustive exercise.

They’re all-American. The United States is the second-leading producer of cherries in the world (Turkey is No. 1). Sweet cherries are grown primarily in Washington, Oregon and California, while tart cherries are grown primarily in Michigan, Utah and Washington.

Enjoy fresh cherries now because their season is short – from May through August. Or you can always use frozen cherries in your own smoothie recipe- they will boost your smoothie’s nutritional power!

If you have any questions about this blog or about your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Magnesium, What a Hot Topic These Days!

Magnesium seems to be quite a hot topic today in the supplement field, and the field of health and wellness!  I have been poking some and  want to share some of the information with you all about what exactly Magnesium is, what is does, where you can find sources of this mineral, who is at risk to be deficient, and what some of the signs or symptoms are…

Magnesium is a mineral, for those of you that are not familiar.  Magnesium is also a cofactor in relation to over 300 enzyme systems that control complex biochemical reactions throughout the body (a little more technical them some of you probably care to know, but have to throw a little of the science and medical part in here and there too).   Muscle and nerve function, regulation of blood pressure, blood glucose control, energy production, protein synthesis, transporting calcium and potassium across cell membranes, bone structural development, and synthesis of DNA/RNA, are some of the most important reactions Magnesium helps to regulate.  I honestly didn’t realize that Magnesium contributed to ALL of these things plus more, until I started digging around for more information.

The balance of Magnesium in greatly controlled by the kidneys.  The kidney excretes around 120mg of magnesium into the urine each day. There is about 25g of magnesium in the adult body, and over have of it resides in the bones and the rest in the soft tissue (muscles, tendons, fascia, etc).  There is only a very small amount of magnesium that resides in the actual blood serum.  With that being said, it can be a little more difficult to test, and usually a combination of blood tests, urinalysis, saliva tests, and a thorough consultation are performed to be sure if one is deficient or not.

There are a wide variety of beverages, animal and plant foods that have magnesium in them.  Tap, mineral and bottled water contain certain levels of magnesium in them.  Nuts, seeds, spinach, legumes, and whole grains contain a good level of magnesium as well.  Fortified foods and cereals may contain added amounts of magnesium, but some types of food processing actually lower the content of magnesium.  Personally, I recommend trying to find magnesium through more natural food sources, not cereal or processed foods if can be helped.  And though you may think you are taking in a fair amount of magnesium in through your diet, only about 30-40% of dietary magnesium is actually absorbed by the body.

Listed below from The National Institute of Health are some food sources and the levels of magnesium found in them:

Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Magnesium [10]
Food Milligrams
(mg) per
serving
Percent
DV*
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80 20
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 78 20
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 19
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup 63 16
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 61 15
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup 61 15
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup 60 15
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup 50 13
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 49 12
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices 46 12
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup 44 11
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 43 11
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup 42 11
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 42 11
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of the DV for magnesium 40 10
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 36 9
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 35 9
Banana, 1 medium 32 8
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26 7
Milk, 1 cup 24–27 6–7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24 6
Raisins, ½ cup 23 6
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces 22 6
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces 20 5
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup 12 3
Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup 10 3
Apple, 1 medium 9 2
Carrot, raw, 1 medium 7 2

The National Institute of Health also states that the daily recommended amount of magnesium consumed by an adult be between 310-420mg per female and male, respectively.  Now this may vary between each individual based on their health history and daily life.  It is always recommended that if one is concerned to please consult a qualified health care professional.  Keep in mind that if you are getting enough Magnesium in through natural food sources that one may not need to take a supplement, or as high of a dose.  I do manage to take in a good amount of Magnesium naturally, so I usually take one, or maybe two tablets of the Metagenics Magnesium per day.  It seems to be very gentle on my stomach, and I prefer to take my Magnesium towards the end of the day.  There are properties that are supposed to help relax the muscles and the body, and I figure I can use all the help I can get before bedtime.

Some groups that are more subject than others to have inadequate levels of magnesium are people with gastrointestinal diseases, people with migraines, people with Type II Diabetes, people with alcohol dependencies, older adults, especially those dealing with osteoporosis, and people with hypertension and/or cardiovascular disease.  These groups are more likely to consume insufficient quantities of magnesium, or have a medical condition or take medications that affect the absorption of magnesium in the gut in general.

Some signs that you are someone may be deficient in magnesium include, but are not subject to: reduced urinary excretion, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite.  If the deficiency continues to get worse, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions, cramps, personality changes, seizures, irregular heart rhythms or coronary spasms can take place.  Severe issues can involve low blood calcium and potassium levels as well.

I hope that this has been informative to all of you reading this.  Should you have any questions or concerns in regards to magnesium, please feel free to contact any of the doctor’s at PHC or your PCP for further questions or concerns, or email me at any time, drv@performancehealthcenter.com .  If you are someone that takes a magnesium supplement, or is looking too, Metagenics carries very high quality magnesium supplements, some of which we carry at our office that include Calcium in them as well for better absorption.  The Metagenics brand is very well known in the medical field and among health care practitioners, and can be found in many of health care providers offices.

 

 

 

 

TURMERIC, Not Just a Spice Anymore…It’s So Much More!

I have been seeing Turmeric pop up everywhere these days, whether it be in the natural root form at many grocery stores, or all over at pharmacies and health stores.  There is a big push being made for being one of the best anti-inflammatories out there!

 

If you are someone that has or takes Advil, Ibuprofen or NSAIDS (non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs).   more often than not, this may be worth reading through… These over the counter (OTC) medications are really not that good for you and can bring about serious health complications.  That being said, these are the most common over the counter drugs used for chronic pain and out there these days!  Chronic pain can be very debilitating, as well as acute pain and injury, and can have detrimental and adverse effects on one’s quality of life.  However, a majority of people trying to find a “reasonable and workable” solution for pain, usually end up reaching for a bottle of NSAID’s.

 

Most of the population doesn’t know how NSAID’s really work when ingested to help target and decrease pain in the body.  NSAIDS TEMPORARILY block the overflow of production of inflammatory cells/chemicals to the site of pain.  NSAIDS basically “trick” the body into overriding its inflammatory response to an injury.  When this happens the pain also lessens or subsides too.  With inflammation comes pain, if inflammation is removed or “blocked” more realistically, the pain is most likely “blocked” from getting to the area as well.  This helps people to feel better, so therefore they continue to take more of it to feel better.  It also gives false interpretation that the person may be “feeling better” due to having less pain, but the NSAIDS have only “masked” the symptoms and the pain usually returns, but more importantly with the possibility that the person has done more damage to the area injured thinking it was feeling better because of the NSAIDS.  We see this all the time with patients in our office, and it is our job to help educate them about the pros and cons of taking OTC NSAIDS, and when it really is or isn’t necessary.  Aside from this, use of NSAIDS can cause stomach pain, stomach ulcers, indigestion, internal bleeding, constipation, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and allergic reactions such as hives, vomiting, throat swelling etc.  I mean, why would someone not look for more natural ways to help decrease inflammation, pain and swelling?

There are many natural supplements out there now that help to decrease pain and inflammation (which I will write about in some future articles), but turmeric by far seems to be one of the most powerful.  Turmeric is a plant, and not only one of the most popular spices around, but one of the most powerful super foods.  The root is what is most commonly used in medicine.  Medicinal use of turmeric is dated back over 4,000 years ago, wow!  Today there are many uses for turmeric such as detoxification, promoting radiant skin, mood balancing, supporting cardiac health, decreasing inflammation, etc.  A few of the most important uses of turmeric are reducing pain, being a very strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.  Turmeric helps to lower the levels of two different enzymes in the body that cause inflammation, not “block” the inflammation to the area of injury.  Antioxidants also help to fight free radicals that can even potentially reduce some of the damage these free radicals cause in the body.  This helps in regards to the level of inflammation in the body as well, or when responding to inflammation from an injury.  I figured this was a good month to help remind our patients and many others that read the newsletter about Turmeric and its health benefits.  Being that spring, well maybe even summer is possibly here (though, I will believe it when I see it), everyone is getting outside doing yard work, and starting to exercise more, and we have seen an increase of injuries in the office, and wanted some other ways to help our patients feel better naturally when not in the office.

Many turmeric supplements, like other vitamins and supplements, are not absorbed well into the body, so it is important to make sure you are buying turmeric from a reputable company.  As we always say, please be sure to speak to your naturopathic doctor, chiropractic physician or nutritionist in regards to any questions concerning the quality of the supplement you may be taking.  At Performance Health Center we carry a very popular and reputable brand of vitamins and supplements by MetagenicsMetagenics makes a supplement called, Inflavinoids (which I know I have probably mentioned several times over the years in practice), that has turmeric in it as well, along with some other natural anti-inflammatories.  We prescribe this supplement primarily to decrease inflammation in the patient’s body if a patient is dealing with an injury.  It almost acts like a “natural Ibuprofen”.   A patient can take 2-4 capsules 2-4 times a day, just as someone taking some other type of NSAID would.  This supplement helps when people are dealing with chronic back pain, ankle sprains, and even whiplash from an accident, but even helps in many acute situations and injuries as well.  I personally take 1-2 capsules a day for preventive measures to help keep levels of inflammation lower in my body.  I also keep it on hand as it has helped decrease symptoms when I get a headache as well.  There are some other supplements by Metagenics we offer as well that help to decrease inflammation, and that are more helpful with acute injuries, that I will discuss another time.  Until then, this is something you may want to speak to one of us about in the office during your next visit.

Many other chiropractic facilities and medical offices carry the Metagenics brand as well. Should you have more questions in regards to this topic, please feel free me at DrV@PerformanceHealthCenter.com.