“Rest and Relax” vs “Fight or Flight”

“Rest and Relax” (PNS) vs “Fight or Flight” (SNS)…. I am writing this Blog the week before Super Bowl LII, while most sports fans are thinking AFC vs NFC and which is stronger and who will over power the other.  Well, I want you to consider in your own mind which system in your body is overpowering the other?

What do I mean by that?  Well, we all have both a Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and Sympathetic nervous system (SNS), both of which are regulated by our Central Nervous System (CNS).  Which ever one is dominant in you may influence your overall health.  People who are more SNS dominant may have trouble relaxing, they may have hypertension, muscle tension, irritability, and difficulty with digestion and/or elimination.  There are a host of health-related problems from being too SNS dominant, but for the sake of this blog I will highlight how it effects our overall nutritional intake and absorption.

Have you ever switched your focus from what you are eating to how you are digesting? Are you really absorbing all the nutrients from your foods?

The parasympathetic nerves come from the cranial nerves and include the vagus nerve. The PNS nerves perform the following digestive functions:

  • Stimulate the activity of the stomach
  • Inhibit the release of glucose
  • Stimulate the release of the gallbladder to release bile needed to digest fat
  • Stimulate the activity of the intestines
  • Trigger peristalsis, which helps prevent constipation
  • Trigger enzyme production in the pancreas (pancreatic enzymes to break down carbs, protein and fats)
  • Signal if satiated
  • Signal if hungry
  • Need for more stomach acid (HCL), enzymes, bile and peristalsis

The sympathetic nerves do the opposite, including:

  • Inhibit the activity of the stomach
  • Stimulate the release of glucose (increasing blood sugar levels)
  • Inhibit gallbladder function (inhibiting the release of bile for fat digestion)
  • Inhibit the activity of the intestines

Stress impairs our digestive process. Digestion is a parasympathetic nervous system process (PNS) also known as the “rest, digest and repair” nervous system. For maximum health we should be in the PNS 80 percent of the time and the other 20 percent of the day we should be in the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), also known as the “fight or flight” nervous system. Now what percentage of the day do you think you are in PNS versus SNS? What about when you are eating? Resting? Sleeping? We should be in the parasympathetic nervous system when eating but rarely do we sit, relax and focus on eating a meal as they do in most areas of Europe.

If you are a typical type-A personality, over-doer in life, then you may struggle with taking time out of your weekday for a relaxing meal and unplugging. What is the difference? Eating in the parasympathetic nervous system versus the sympathetic nervous system. Digestion is turned off when you are in the sympathetic nervous system. Many of us are living life as a race leading us to be in the sympathetic nervous system 80 percent of the day instead of 20 percent, causing a domino effect of health problems.

So, we know the vagus nerve highly influences the PNS so our vagus nerve needs to be strong in order to help in the digestion process. Remember, we get our amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals from the food we digest and break down, which helps build enzymes, hormones, muscles, bones, blood and our gut biome.

We need to support our vagus nerve and (PNS) to improve our digestion and gut health if we want to be healthier, since good digestion leads to a healthy gut, which results in reduced inflammation and an improved immune system (70% of our immune system is in the gut!).

Stop, pause, slow inhales, long exhales and reset. Take some deep breathes in and out, focus and unplug. Other techniques to boost your PNS: gargling, humming, singing, cold showers, meditation, mindful yoga, and connecting with loved ones.

Our digestion is as important as our diet. To nourish ourselves, we must support our digestion, but also our brain, as the brain communicates to the gut and the gut communicates back to the brain. Anti-inflammation is key to our bodies’ repair, recovery and regeneration, but it doesn’t happen if we are not in the parasympathetic nervous system more often during the day and all night.

Chiropractic adjustments can strengthen your PNS since it deals directly with your nervous system.  Every function of your body is controlled by your central nervous system, and these functions can be disrupted by misalignments in your spine. These are called subluxations. A subluxation creates interference in the function of your spinal nerves, and this can result in impaired functioning of your organs and endocrine system.

So, slow down, take some deep breaths and get regular chiropractic adjustments to keep your vagus nerve and your PNS strong and healthy.

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


Got Enough Snow Yet???

Has your back been aching after an already long winter, and it’s only the beginning of February? Did you ever stop to think that you might be doing it wrong?  Shoveling, that is.  And, if you are not using a snow blower, like many of us are not, me included, you basically have a couple choices when it comes to shoveling snow…Shoveling after every few inches of snow fall, or waiting until the storm ends, and then remove the snow in layers, are the pretty obvious choices I would say.  If shoveling snow after you have waited for it all to accumulate, the please remove only as much snow as you are comfortable lifting and moving at a time.

It is also recommended that you clear your driveway in two stages if shoveling.  First, you should push the snow to the edges of the driveway with a versatile snow shovel (there are various types of snow shovels if you didn’t know, and this is one that is good for throwing, lifting and pushing), then shovel what’s left in the way out of the way.  The more you can push the snow instead of actually lift and shovel the snow, the better! One tip, if you have an uneven pavement, an all plastic snow shovel without a steel edge would be better and less likely to catch and possibly “jar” your wrist, elbow, shoulder, or back.

Even if you have been dealing with shoveling snow on and off your whole life, the basic idea is to work smarter, not harder – avoid unnecessary work!  Clear a path on your way to your car, that way you avoid packing down the snow along the way, and packed snow is much tougher to shovel.  We all know that!  Just look at the last storm we had that packed down a lot of heavy and wet snow, ugh L

Don’t bother too much with the snow close and around your car at first.  Turn your car on to defrost and melt the snow on it, while you start shoveling elsewhere.  It is usually just easier to clear the snow close and around your car later after you have cleared off what is left on your car as well.  To be more efficient, it is better to remove that snow once towards the end as a final touch up.  Remember, every additional scoop you make is extra strain on your body!  If you are in good shape and aiming for this to be a work out, awesome, just please move carefully as well (the same rules generally apply), otherwise one should be trying to conserve movement.

Don’t worry too much about shoveling the snow where your driveway meets the road right away.  As we all know, the plows go by and always fill that area with more snow, lucky us!  If I were you, I would wait until the end to shovel that part, or when the plows have finished, or at least gone by once depending on the size of the storm.  When tackling this part of the driveway, be sure to do it in stages, as the snow will be much heavier to shovel.

Try and have a plan of attack before going out to shovel snow.  It may even be best to break up shoveling into smaller sections and rest in between if needed.  Like stated before, try and clear your driveway in stages, rather than all at once.  Try not to create huge piles of snow while shoveling either, it becomes harder to lift and throw the snow, and can put more pressure on your spine and back.  Another tip as well, make sure you know where your walkways or pathways are, and do not shovel more snow into those areas.  You will in turn have to shovel that snow, plus the snow already there.  There is NO need to move that snow twice!  Our backs are not meant for this kind of work.


It is still a good possibility that even following all of this advice and the tips, you could end up with a “bad back” a day or two after shoveling.  That is why you always hear, “Lift with your legs!”.  You want to avoid at all cost putting added stress on your low back, let your legs do the work.  For example, bend your knees to lower yourself to pick up the shovel off the ground, and same goes for accessing the snow.  DO NOT bend your back to reach the snow. After scooping up a shovel full of snow, use your legs to raise yourself back up.  When you are going to stand back up as well with the snow on the shovel, do not have your arms stretched out away from your body, your back will be doing much of the work that way, and in an odd and vulnerable position.  Keep the load of snow close to your body, as it will help to keep stress off your low back.  And one other thing, and I promise to be done talking about shoveling snow (how depressing), ALWAYS move your upper body and upper body together when turning to throw the snow.  NEVER twist or rotate with your upper body only, that is a recipe for a herniated disc, or a very back low back strain.  Okay, I am done ranting on, for now anyway…

Performance Health Center always sends out an email reminder to all of our patients and friends before a snow storm to help remind you all how to perform snow removal safely with a shovel.  It’s because we care, and would rather see you in our office for your monthly maintenance or wellness visit, not because you threw your back out shoveling! If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of this information, be sure to email one of the docs at PHC, or talk to us at your next office visit.  Happy shoveling you guys, and only two more months of winter, but who’s counting?  I sure am!  DrV@performancehealthcenter.com

Did You Know ALL This About Magnesium???

Magnesium seems to be a hot topic today in the supplement field, so I wanted to dig around a little and present some information to 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.

Did most of you know that magnesium is a mineral?  Magnesium is also a co-factor in relation to over 300 enzyme systems that control complex biochemical reactions throughout the body.   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.

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.  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 one could be deficient.

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 through your diet, 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
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 310-420 mg 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.

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.

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.  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.  Metagenics brand is very well known in the medical field, and may also be something your PCP may carry in their office as well.




Half Full or Half Empty Matters to Your Health

How you view the world and your place in it affects the quality of your health!  Google optimism and this is how it is defined:  hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.  Do the same for pessimism and this is what you get: a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future

So, are you an optimist or pessimist?  Do you look for the good or the bad in people and situations?  Do you see a silver lining when things aren’t going your way? Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?

If are an optimist you are more likely to have better health, fewer colds, and a lower chance of getting cancer and heart disease.  Study after study has demonstrated that quality of your mental and physical health is better if you are an optimist.

The most recent study was published last month (12/2016) in the American Journal of Epidemiology. It showed a positive relationship between optimism and mortality in more than 70,000 women over a 6 year period.  The optimistic women in this group were 29% less likely to die of any cause!

There are several objective questionnaires that can determine if you are an optimist or pessimist.  You can find them on-line, but I think most people already know what they are.

Both in my personal and professional life I am an optimist and stay as positive as possible.  I am also a realist in that I know conditions I can treat successfully and what I can’t.  Those patients that I can’t help get referred to the correct provider.

I had a learning experience a few years ago when my optimism may have worked again me.  A patient who did not follow my treatment recommendations contacted me.  He stated when I told him he had arthritis in his spine I did not take it seriously and that is why he did not follow through with his treatment plan.  Reflecting back, I think I explained the situation correctly but took it as a learning experience.  Arthritis is degeneration of the spine.  I call it rust. It is not a normal part of aging and is caused by long term dysfunction in the spine.  It needs to be treated correctly and aggressively.  My mistake was that I told him that if we treated his arthritis and he went through my recommended treatment plan, his pain would be relieved, his function would improve and more importantly we could slow down, or even arrest the progression of his spinal arthritis. What I didn’t do, and what he needed to hear from me was that arthritis is a serious diagnosis.

Looking back, I did tell him arthritis was serious, but in a positive way.    Having spinal arthritis is not good news, but it is doesn’t mean you are doomed.  What I should have done, and do now, is tell my patients that arthritis is serious, but 30+ years of clinical experience have given me the confidence to say that if treated correctly arthritis does not have to be debilitating.   I now show before and after x-rays of patients who followed my advice and those who didn’t.  Prior patients who followed through on my recommendations had no progression in their arthritis, and those who did not and returned 5+ years later all showed a progression in their degeneration.   The patients who followed my recommendations and in spite of having arthritis are active and enjoying life!  .  It means you need to treat spinal arthritis correctly and then afterwards maintain that correction like oiling a rusty hinge, or wearing a retainer after your braces come off.

Maybe I was too positive, or maybe this patient was too pessimistic.  I don’t know.  Now I ask questions during my consultations to see if a patient leans more to being an optimist or pessimist and give my explanations accordingly.  I always discuss the seriousness of the diagnosis and offer hope with a detailed recommendation to get them out of pain and on with life.

So what are you, an optimist or pessimist?  If you want to live a long, healthy life, being an optimist improves your odds.   If you are a pessimist how do you become an optimist?

I can tell you all the things you heard before and you dismissed including: avoid other pessimists;  count your blessing; be positive; forgive others; smile more and frown less; exercise regularly; eat healthy and to stop blaming others.  Which are proven strategies to be more optimistic.

My favorite method is to write down 3 things every day that you are grateful for.  Try it!  It’s a New Year!  Start a new habit.  It can take less than a minute to do. Look at the brighter side of life! If you want to live a long healthy life, being more optimistic has been proven to make you healthier!

I wish all of my patients and friends a Healthy New Year!  At Performance Health Center we are committed to getting and keeping you healthy in a positive, supportive and caring atmosphere!

Laughter is the Best Medicine

I am writing this blog the day after Thanksgiving, and one of the things I am always most thankful for is to spend time relaxing and laughing with family and friends.  Just yesterday my daughter Emily had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to pass out, and it got me thinking how important it is to spend time with your family and friends, and how important it is to take the time to relax and just laugh.

Turns out that sharing a good laugh can actually improve your health. The act of laughing actually triggers healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, strengthen your immune system, and diminish pain. Children laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults we tend to be more serious and laugh much more infrequently, but we can laugh more… we just need to seek out more opportunities for humor and laughter.

Watch a funny movie, TV show, or YouTube video.  Invite friends or co-workers to go to a comedy club.  Read the funny pages.  Seek out funny people.  Share a good joke or a funny story.  Regular laughter can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness and even add years to your life.

Spending time laughing with others on a regular basis is a great way to combat stress, anxiety, pain, and conflict. Humor connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you to release anger and be more forgiving.

Here are some of the benefits I was just reading about and wanted to share:

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

Laughter is a natural part of life that is innate and we are born with. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

Here are some ways to start:

Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter and like laughter, it’s contagious. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling. Instead of looking down at your phone, look up and smile at people you pass in the street, the person serving you a morning coffee, or the co-workers you share an elevator with. Notice the effect this has on others.

Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter.

When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s so funny?”

Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily both at themselves and at life’s absurdities and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious. Even if you don’t consider yourself a lighthearted, humorous person, you can still seek out people who like to laugh and make others laugh. Every comedian appreciates an audience.

Laugh loudly, laugh often, and most important laugh at yourself.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general or would just like to hear a funny story, you can reach me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com


Gearing Up For The Holidays…

As I sit hear typing this and feeling a little under the weather while doing so, I started thinking…tis the season where everyone starts to get “run down”.  There can be so much stress and pressure around the holidays, and it is easy to let things get away from ourselves.  Then add in all the sick bodies and germs we encounter day to day, plus being run down, and it’s no wonder people end up in a pile on the couch ill.

A few days ago I was re-writing my December 2016 goals on my blackboard in my room, and realized that I have gotten away from many of the little daily things that I need to be doing to take care of myself properly.  I have also been SO beyond busy the past couple of months (as I am sure everyone else is), that my own priorities have been set aside.  Maybe it is because it is approaching “that time of year”, maybe it is because of my grandfather not being well, maybe it is because I am married and a Mom now, and can’t seem to juggle a schedule, not sure here.  But, I am guessing as I read this last sentence, that it is a combination of all these things.

I will share a few of my goals with all of you this month, and it doesn’t need to be January 1st to set goals people (we will save some of that for one of the next news letters)!  First, well, there are kind of two here…don’t ignore the importance of sleep and no phone or electronics before bed!  It is so important that our bodies get adequate sleep.  This is the time for our bodies to rest, repair and heal (probably why I am not feeling so hot right now).  As for the electronics before bed, this should be a given people.  I know I don’t sleep well with the stimulation of my eyes staring at a screen before bed.  I should know, I did it just the other night (after writing out my 12/16 goals), as I lay awake trying to fall asleep after.  I should know better, we all should know better! Our bodies just feel better in general when we focus on getting enough good quality sleep.

Another goal was to get back on track taking my vitamins regularly. For me, I really feel this makes a difference.  I had started supplementing again over the past two weeks.  I feel that if I am at least taking Vitamin C, D and E, I can usually get back.  For all of you that know me, I also take other natural anti-inflammatories and joint support supplements, but I really feel the C, D3, and E help support the immune system, especially this time of year.  I have no excuse either being we carry Metagenics Supplements at our office right around the corner from my treatment rooms, lol.  If anyone is feeling run down, I would at least recommend these, or at least the Vitamin C and D3.  Just ask one of the doctor’s at PHC, or email us with any questions regarding these supplements.


I have also not been working out regularly.  Workouts have been very sporadic the last couple of months, mainly due to family matters and being too exhausted.  With that being said, the month of December I have vowed to do some type of workout, no matter how long or how short every single day! Whether it be CrossFit, yoga, run, swim, 10 minute ab routine, just something!  Normally I would have one or two rest days a week if working out regularly, but being the volume I used to do, and being a few days a week I am sure some work outs will be light/short, the idea of doing something to “move” everyday this month sounds exciting!  I also encourage all of you to do something to “move” everyday this month; it may help keep our sanity around the holidays, lol.


With all this being said, there is one goal that I have been able to keep, and did not even list on this month’s black board, getting adjusted once a month and my monthly massage. While I am thankful I don’t have a job that keeps me directly behind a computer, I do have a very physical job, and I need to at least keep myself well (minus getting sick once in a while), so I can be my best to continue to help all of you.  On that note, happy December to everyone, and try and set a few goals for yourselves to stay on track leading into this busy time of year.  Cheers!


Need Sleep?

How did you sleep last night?  If you answered not well, you are not alone!  30% of all Americans have sleeping problems.  The National Institute of Health recommends 7-9 hours a sleep for adults (18-64 years old).  If you are not getting the minimum hours of sleep you put yourself at risk. Sleep is vital for good health and healing.

New research has shown that the brain cleans itself when you sleep. The brain actually shrinks and there is a significant increase of cerebrospinal fluid pumped into and out of the brain.  This action washes away proteins that are toxic to your brain cells. Without a good night sleep these toxins build up. Beta Amyloid, which forms sticky plaques in the brain and is associated with Alzhiemers, is one of the waste products removed from the brain when you sleep.

Web MD lists 10 serious effects of sleep loss: 1- Increased accidents (100,000 fatigue related car accidents a year); 2-Dumbs you down; 3-Increased risk of serious health problems (including- heart disease & stroke); 4- Kills sex drive; 5-Depression; 6- Ages your skin; 7- Forgetfulness; 8- Weight Gain; 9- Increased risk of death;  and 10- Impairs judgement. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/10-results-sleep-loss#1

You know who you are.  Do you lie in bed at night wired?  Are you sending out emails a 2 or 4 AM?   Do you feel like your brain is in a fog most of the day?  Chances are you are sleep deprived.  There are dozens of reputable websites which have tips for a good night’s sleep.  These tips include: exercising regularly; avoiding caffeine products after 3pm; No TV or electronic devices  in the bedroom;  keeping your bedroom dark; going to sleep the same time every night; avoiding back-lit reading devices before bed; avoid big meals in the evening; avoid alcohol before bed; get fresh air during the day; and there are more.

What if you do these things and you still can’t consistently get a good night’s sleep?   There are prescription medications and some over-the –counter products you can try. The problem is that many of them have side effects.  They can also cause you to wake up feeling “out of it” and not well rested.

There is a sleep aide that has been used for 1000s of years and has no down-side. It is not addictive and there are no side-effects.  I have been recommending this herbal supplement for years to my patients who complain of not being able to sleep.  The herb is Valerian root, and I recommend the Metagenics formula MyoCalm PM.  In addition to Valerian root it also contains magnesium and calcium which relax muscles.  There is also Passionflower, hops and lemon balm, which also have calming effects.

Two weeks ago we were having dinner with some friends, only to hear for the 1st time that the father and oldest child were having significant sleep problems.  They had tried everything and were at wits end, especially for the teenager.  I told them about Valerian root and they were more than willing to try it.  The great news is that both are sleeping much better!

So, if you do not sleep well at night and you have exhausted all the most popular tips, why not give Valerian root a try.   We always have MyoCalm PM in the office.   If you are reading this at 3 AM because you can not sleep, you can even order metagenics products on-line.  Go to http://performancehealth.metagenics.com/store  and create an account.  You get 20% off your 1st order and the shipping is always free!

TURMERIC, Not Just a Spice Anymore…

If you have ever taken Advil, Ibuprofen or NSAIDS, this would be worth reading… These medications are really not that good for you and can bring about serious health complications, though these are the most common over the counter drugs used for chronic pain.  Chronic pain can be very debilitating and can have detrimental and adverse effects on one’s quality of life.  That being said, a vast majority of people trying to find a “reasonable and workable” solution for pain, usually end up reaching for a bottle of NSAID’s (non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs).

What most people don’t know are 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 “trick” the body into overriding its inflammatory response to an injury.  When this happens the pain also lessens or subsides.  With inflammation comes pain, if inflammation is removed or “blocked” should I say, 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 and with the possibility that the person has done more damage to the area injured.  We see this all the time in our office.  And, 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.  So… why 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, but turmeric by far seems to be one of the most helpful.  Turmeric is a plant, and not only one of the most popular spices around, but one of the most powerful foods on the face of the earth.  The root is what’s most commonly used in medicine.  Medicinal use of turmeric is dated back 4,000 years ago.  Today there are many uses for turmeric such as detoxification, promoting radiant skin, mood balancing, supporting cardiac health, 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.

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.  Please be sure to speak to your doctor and 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 developed by a company called Metagenics.  Metagenics makes a supplement called, Inflavonoid Intensive Care, which has turmeric in it as well.  We prescribe this supplement primarily to decrease inflammation and pain if a patient is dealing with an injury.  It almost acts like a “natural Ibuprofen” in a way.  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.  This is something you may want to speak to one of us about in the office during your next visit 🙂

To make it even easier, you can now order on-line at http://performancehealth.metagenics.com/store  and create an account.  You get 20% off your 1st order and the shipping is always free!

3 Foods to Add to Your Diet This Fall…(with Recipes)


Pumpkin not only tastes and smells nice, it also packs a powerful nutrition punch. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.  Pumpkins are rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, which the body converts into vitamin A for eyesight protection. Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber and low on calories. Per one cup there are three grams of fiber, and only 49 calories. Another healthy part of the pumpkin is the seed! Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan.  If you look back to my past two articles you’ll be able to read about how important tryptophan is for mental health. It is necessary in the production of serotonin – your happy hormone. A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds may help boost a low mood.  Another hidden benefit of pumpkin is its potassium level. A cup of pumpkin has more potassium than a banana! Try pumpkin if you get cramps. Pumpkin is also a good source of Vitamin C- with all the colds floating around, you can’t get enough!

 Favorite Pumpkin Recipe this Fall

Pumpkin Chili 


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), diced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)


In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the onion and garlic for a few minutes until they start to develop color. Add in the bell pepper and jalapeño and cook until soft.

Crumble in the ground beef and brown. Once browned add in the tomatoes, broth, and spices. Simmer 5 minutes then add in the pumpkin. Continue to cook for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld together.

Divide between 6 bowls and garnish with cilantro.

wicked spatula http://wickedspatula.com/


People typically think of blueberries or spinach when they think of a “superfood”, but cranberries actually contain more antioxidants! They are one of the top antioxidant-rich foods.  Cranberries are also known for helping to prevent UTIs. The high level of proanthocyanidins (PACs) in cranberries helps reduce the adhesion of certain bacteria to the urinary tract walls, in turn fighting off infections. Azo tabs for UTIs can be found at CVS, and work wonders if you can’t eat the full cranberry. Cranberry juice is not as effective and the sugar may aggravate a smoldering UTI. Cranberries may also be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease. The polyphenols prevent platelet build-up and reduce blood pressure. Research has also shown that cranberries are beneficial in slowing tumor progression and have shown positive effects against prostate, liver, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers.

 Favorite Cranberry Recipes this Fall

Smoothies– Toss a handful of cranberries (fresh, or frozen whole, with no sugar added) into your favorite smoothie for a boost of antioxidants.  My favorite blend: Unsweetened almond milk, and a blend of fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries. (Pumpkin also tastes great in a smoothie!)

Roasted cranberries– They’re a delicious addition to salads or whole grains like quinoa or brown rice: Simply toss two cups cranberries with two teaspoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of chopped fresh mint, and one tablespoon of raw sugar or natural sugar replacer. Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft and slightly caramelized. NOLA.com/eat-drink.  

Sweet Potatoes:

Many people believe that sweet potatoes are one of the world’s most perfect foods! They are so easy to roast up or microwave, they taste great, and give long term energy. They are lower than white potatoes on the glycemic index scale meaning they don’t increase your blood sugar as quickly. It’s better for avoiding sugar crashes and better for diabetes control, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Sweet potatoes are also high in potassium. One cup of sweet potatoes supplies 950 milligrams! So, along with your pumpkin, add some sweet potato!  A serving of sweet potatoes is also very high in vitamin A. It supplies 1,922 micrograms, that keeps your eyes, skin, teeth and bones healthy. This is more than the 700 to 900 micrograms you need on a daily basis. They also contain a good amount of manganese which may benefit those with PMS. One study found that boosting manganese intake from 1 mg to 5.6 mg of dietary manganese per day helped women with PMS to have fewer mood swings and cramps.

Favorite Sweet Potato Recipe this Fall

Sweet Potato Soup:


8 oz (1/2 lb or about 6 strips) bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large celery stock, diced
2 lbs (3 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk (I used “original”)
2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
2 Tbsp parsley to garnish, optional


  1. In a large pot, or French Oven, over medium heat, cook bacon in it’s own fat until crisp (8­-10 min). Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Leave 3 Tbsp oil in the pot; discard excess or leave it in there for a more flavorful soup.
  2. Add chopped onion, and celery and cook 4 min or until soft, stirring occasionally, then add 2 pressed garlic cloves and saute another minute.
  3. Stir in diced sweet potatoes, ½ tsp dried thyme leaves and 2 tsp salt. Now pour in 4 cups chicken broth, partially cover and simmer 20 min or until sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Puree soup until smooth. I accomplished this in two batches in my Blender. Return soup to pot and stir in 1 cup coconut milk, or add it to reach desired consistency then season with more salt and pepper to taste if desired. Serve in warm bowls. Sprinkle the tops with bacon and garnish with chopped parsley, if using.

National Backpack Safety Day

So…some of you may or may not know that September 21, 2016, was National Backpack Safety Day.  I didn’t even know until it popped up on my news feed the night before.  I did however know that a few weeks prior to this that Dr. Ball and I were going to be giving presentations to the 6th graders at Wayland Middle school that week discussing Backpack Safety, what a coincidence!

I must say it worked out rather perfectly.  Pam, a patient of mine, and Wellness Teacher at Wayland Middle School, had contacted me a while back asking if I or our office would be interested in putting together a presentation to help teach the students about wearing their backpacks safely.  How could we say no to such a great opportunity?  I will get into the details of what Dr. Ball and I discussed at Wayland Middle School with the 6th graders in just a little bit.

But first, I want to thank Pam, Brian, and Coach Arkansas for letting us be apart of their school event.  The presentations themselves went very well, (please read the testimonial at the bottom).  We tried to provide a good balance between proper education at a level the students could all relate to, and group activity for each class to take part in.  We all know that presentations about good posture, backpack safety, facts and statistics and such things can become quite boring, so the more interactive and hands on each class could be the better!

I bet many parents don’t even know how to wear a backpack correctly or instruct their children how to do so.  It has become an epidemic with the amount of students that are presenting to our office with neck, mid back or low back pain due to wearing back packs that are WAY too heavy for them, or worn incorrectly.

Did you know that a backpack is not supposed to weigh more then 10% of your body weight?  Did you know that there is a proper way to load a backpack before wearing it?  Load the heaviest items closest to the child’s back, and make sure the materials are arranged so they do not slide around.  Did you know that you are supposed to wear a backpack on both shoulders so the weight is evenly distributed?  Did you know that a backpack is supposed to sit at waist level, or not more then a couple of inches below the waist?  Did you know that you should also go through your child’s backpack weekly together to see what is in there, and to remove items that they don’t need?  These are just a handful of helpful facts and tips we discussed and demonstrated with each class how to do correctly.

I hope you all will find the information above helpful this month in regards to helping your children, and yourselves to lead a more healthy pain free lifestyle.  The classes that I taught that Thursday were a blast, and I look forward to attending next year to work with Wayland Middle School and a new group of 6th graders!

If any parents or students are interested in a Backpack Safety Presentation at your school, please feel free to contact me.  And, as always, should you or your child have pain or symptoms in regards to what was discussed above that has not subsided or improved with these recommendations, please feel free to contact me in regards as to what to do: DrVanNederynen@performancehealthcenter.com


Backpack Safety Testimonial:

The Wayland Middle School Wellness Department would to say thank you to Dr. Van Nederynan & Dr. Ball for graciously donating their time to our program during National Backpack Awareness Day. Over the course of two days, more than 200 6th graders were taught not only how to wear a backpack properly, but how to pack it properly, and how to avoid injury while wearing a backpack. Our students thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on learning that look place as they weighed their backpacks and did some simple math to calculate the percentage that their backpack weighs in relation to their own body weight. When polled, more than half of all 6th graders have experienced some form of back and neck pain in their life. It is our hope that by partnering with the Doctors at Performance Health, that we can prevent injuries from occurring.


Pam Riddle, MEd, ATC, CMT