I’m sure you have seen the ads on TV stating that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is just corn sugar, what they fail to mention is that it is genetically altered corn sugar.
High-fructose corn syrup should be a concern if for no other reason than because it is made by genetically altering the basic chemical makeup of another product – corn syrup. This means that it is not a natural food item and therefore our body doesn’t react to it like a natural food item.
Most carbohydrates containing sucrose, glucose and unaltered fructose cause our pancreas to create insulin. This in turn allows these sugars to be broken down into energy and then triggers our brain that we are full. High-fructose corn syrup, on the other hand, does not cause the pancreas to produce insulin. Additionally, while natural carbohydrates are digested normally, HFCS goes straight to the liver, where it is then treated like a chemical and turned to fat.
A reduction in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption of just one serving per day can reduce systolic blood pressure in adults by 1.8 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.1 mm Hg over 18 months!!
Here in Portland, we don’t see much snow…but when we do we are ready to shovel that white stuff out of driveways and sidewalks! Anyone who has shoveled snow before knows what a great workout it can be. When you consider that the average shovelful of snow weighs 5-10 pounds, the average driveway or walkway may hold hundreds of pounds of snow. But despite the benefits, shoveling snow can also be physically stressful; bending, lifting and twisting, combined with the exposure to freezing conditions, can take a serious toll on the body. Typically, the arms, shoulders and back get sore and may occasionally feel pain. Unfortunately, pain is a sign that an injury has already occurred or that mechanically you are doing something incorrect in shoveling the snow. In short, there is a right and a wrong way to shovel snow, and paying attention to your technique can make a big difference in how you feel the next day. Here are some quick tips on how to shovel snow smarter and avoid being injured.
* Be prepared: Spray your shovel with Teflon so the snow won’t stick to it. The more snow that stays on the shovel, the heavier it gets and the more chance for injury – and frustration.
* Do a warm up first: A tight, stiff body is asking for injury. A few minutes of stretching can save you a lot of pain later. (And when you are shoveling, don’t forget to breathe. Holding your breath makes you tight and stiff.)
* Layer your clothing: Layered clothing will keep your muscles warm and flexible. You can shed a layer if you get too hot. Make sure you wear gloves that cover your wrists completely; if your wrists get cold, then your fingers, hands and arms will be cold too.
* Wear the right shoes: Choose shoes with plenty of cushioning in the soles to absorb the impact of walking on hard, frozen ground.
* Use the right size shovel: Your shovel should be about chest high on you, allowing you to keep your back straight when lifting. A shovel with a short staff forces you to bend more to lift the load; a too-tall shovel makes the weight heavier at the end. Also keep one hand close to the base of the shovel to balance weight and lessen the strain on your back.
* Timing is everything: Listen to weather forecasts so you can shovel in ideal conditions. If possible, wait until the afternoon to shovel. Many spinal disc injuries occur in the morning when there is increased fluid pressure in the disc because your body has been at rest all night.
* Drink lots of water: Drinking water frequently throughout the day helps to keep muscles and the body hydrated. Be careful with hot drinks like coffee or hot chocolate. Coffee contains caffeine, which ha a dehydrating effect and adds even more stress to the body.
* Use proper posture: When you do shovel, bend your knees and keep your back straight while lifting with your legs. Push the snow straight ahead; don’t try to throw it. Walk it to the snow bank. Try to shovel forward to avoid sudden twists of the torso and reduce strain on the back. The American Chiropractic Association recommends using the “scissors stance”, in which you work with your right foot forward for a few minutes then shift ot the front foot.
* Take your time: Working too hard, too fast is an easy way to strain muscles. Take frequent breaks. Shovel for about 5 minutes at a time then rest for two minutes or so.
* See your Chiropractor: Gentle spinal manipulation will help keep your back flexible and minimize the chance for injury. If you do overdo it, your Chiropractor can help you feel better and prevent further injury.
So enjoy the snow this year, but remember that when it comes to shoveling snow, safety is absolutely paramount. Taking heed of these simple tips could mean the difference between spending your day enjoying the beauty and wonder of the new snowfall or lying in bed with a sore back, sprained ankle or other injury that could have easily been avoided. Talk to your doctor for additional information.
Douglas R. Briggs, DC, Dipl. Ac., DAAPM.
TO your health December 2009.
It’s that time of year again. It’s cold, dark, and wet outside. It’s also flu season. You can escape the dreaded flu this year by keeping your immune system healthy. Eating right, exercising and getting enough rest are the 3 most important things you can do to keep your immune system strong. Make sure you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, all high in antioxidants and immune boosting vitamins. Also, get at least 20 minutes of exercise per day. Exercising will help keep your body oxygenated. It will also help you fall asleep faster and to have a deeper, more restful sleep. A properly rested body is not as susceptible to viruses as a body that is in a chronic state of fatigue.
Another main immune suppressor is stress. Mental stress also causes very physical effects to your body. When you are under mental stress, your body is under more physical stress than you think. If you are feeling the effects of your own stressful lifestyle, try to relax with a yoga class, or meditation. The healing power of touch is also a wonderful and proven way to relax and unwind. Keeping your body in proper alignment and keeping your joints healthy gives your body that little extra boost to deter the effects of stress and today’s hectic lifestyle.
Hallux rigidus literally means “stiff big toe”. This condition is a type of degenerative arthritis in which the joint surfaces at one of the joints in your big toe begins to both wear away and develop extra, joint-limiting bone along the margins, called osteophytes or ‘spurs’. This joint is important because it has to bend significantly every time you take a step.
Hallux rigidus most commonly develops in adults aged 30-60, although it can develop at almost any age. Symptoms of this condition include pain in the toe when you are active (especially as you push off with your toe), swelling, and loss of joint mobility and bone spurs on the top of the joint. Walking may become difficult and painful. As you change your gait or walking style because of pain, other common problems can occur in your knees, hips and low back.
Diagnosis of this condition is often doe by physical examination and x-ray. X-rays will show the location of and size of any bone spurs that have formed, as well as the degree of degeneration in the joint spaced.
How did I get it?
Your big toe undergoes tremendous stress when you are walking. Forces that equal twice your body weight (more when running) pass through your foot on every step. Your big toe, along with the ‘ball’ of your foot, was designed to bear much of that force.
When the arch of your foot collapses excessively, as in the case of flat fee or over pronation, your big toe becomes locked-out of normal bending. This causes the joint of your big toe to jam along the top of the joint and even partially dislocate with every step. Over time, arthritic changes lead to cartilage degeneration and spur formation.
Other contributing factors may include: previous trauma or injury to the toe, repetitive stress, and anatomical deformities of the foot.
How is it treated:
Anti-Inflammatory Agents: These may include ice and oral anti-inflammatory medications. These may provide some temporary relief and ease the pain of inflammation, but are not helpful in addressing the underlying cause of your condition.
Footwear: Advice that focuses on taking the pressure off the big toe should be followed. A stiff-soled shoe with a rocker or roller bottom may be recommended to help you walk and lessen the bend in the big toe. A shoe with a wide toe box may also help relieve pain. Avoiding high heels and weight loss are other important considerations.
In cases that do not respond to conservative measures, your doctor may recommend surgery. There are a few common surgeries that are performed depending on the degree of arthritic changes. Removal of the bone spurs, joint fusion, and complete joint replacement can be performed. These procedures are not without risks and often the disease continues to progress after a temporary period of pain relief. Also, operative measures performed on one food may have negative effects on the other foot due to the excessive load.
The right custom made orthotics will address your pain by restoring correct arch height and function, effectively releasing the big toe, allowing it to unlock and function property. When this is done, the cause of your pain is being addressed rather than just the symptoms. A Sole Supports orthotic, unlike typical custom orthotics, is designed to completely support the corrected arch of your foot, determined by a unique way of capturing your optimal foot position.
Abnormal joint stresses can be reversed, allowing affected tissues to heal and normal joint function to be restored. In this way the orhotic provides both primary treatment and preventative care by restoring normal weight bearing function and range of motion to your big toe. Joint healing times will vary depending on condition severity, nutrition, overall health and faithful use of the orthotics.
So if you think you are suffering from Hallux Rigidus, or you have back, hip or knee pain, come in for an evaluation to see if custom orthotics and Chiropractic care can help.
Have you ever thought about the important role your feet play in your daily life? On face value, your feet touch the ground whenever you’re standing, walking or running, and they are extensions of the legs, which help move you. But your feet are much more than that. After all, they are the foundation of your body, which means keeping your feet healthy can help keep you healthy.
It Starts With Your Feet: The Gait Cycle
When we walk or run, our body goes through a complex set of steps that makes movement seem smooth and easy. It’s actually a complex cycle called the “gait” or walking cycle. (Keep in mind that a cycle starts in one place and eventually ends at that same point.) To understand the gait cycle, start with your right heel on the ground in front of you with the rest or your foot in the air. When your heel first hits the ground, it is called “heel strike.” Next, your foot starts to flatten on the ground as it takes on more weight. We call this “mid-stance.” Then the ball of your foot and the toes finally touch down on the ground, just as the heel begins to lift. As the momentum of your body continues to carry you forward, your toes come off the ground and the whole foot/leg gets ready to swing forward.
So, when you walk, one leg is always swinging forward, while the other is bearing the weight of the body. Obviously, the slower you move (e.g., walking), the more likely both feet will be supporting your body weight. The faster you move (e.g., running), the more likely one foot will be supporting body weight at any given time.
A smooth walking or gait cycle means that the forces from the ground should be absorbed by your heels and feet each time you take a step. Energy from the ground and healthy movement is transferred through the feet up into ankles, knees, hips and into the spine, all the way up to the head. Your feet also help you adapt to different terrain like grass, dirt, concrete, etc. It is truly a symphony of movement when we walk.
Relevant Foot Anatomy: The Three Arches
Foot anatomy plays an important role in foot function. For example, do you know how many arches each foot has? If you answered one, you answered like 95 percent of people do – incorrectly. Each foot actually has three arches: one on the inside of the foot, one on the outside and one across the ball of the foot. These arches are all important and must all be functioning properly to facilitate healthy movement and weight-bearing.
Common Foot Conditions
When our feet do not have the arch support we now know to be so important, our bodies can start having problems. These problems can start innocently enough, but the consequences can be severe. Here are a few of the common problems that can affect your feet:
* Excessive Supination: If your arches are too high or over-supported, we call this “excessive supination.” People who excessively supinate have trouble wearing certain shoes that are too tight because they create pressure on the top of the foot and the ball of the foot. Excessive supination occurs in about 3 percent of the world’s population.
* Excessive Pronation: A more common occurrence is something called “excessive pronation,” which means the arches actually fall toward the floor or flatten out. If you look at most people’s feet, you will see this happening. Let’s think about the concept of an overly-pronated foot for a second. Stand up and make your feet fall or collapse inward by rolling your feet toward one another. Do you feel the stress on your body? Keep your feet collapsed and close your eyes. Feel the strain on the inside of your ankles, the inside of your knees, the outside of your hips and possibly into your lower back? The stress moves up through your spine to the shoulders, the neck and the head. There are many painful conditions related to your arches collapsing and your feet excessively pronating, including bunions, corns, callouses and toes that stick up or off to the side. * Other conditions: More serious conditions attributable to foot dysfunction include plantar fascitis (inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the heel), Achilles tendinitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon), Morton’s neuroma (thickening of nerve tissue between the third and fourth toes, causing sharp pain on the ball of the foot), anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, arthritis, and hip and lower back pain. These conditions usually create even more pain than excessive supination/pronation and can seriously affect someone’s health and quality of life. They are often the reasons why people consult doctors for help.
Factors That Affect Your Feet (for Better or Worse)
Genetics: You cannot outrun your genes. Flat feet or excessively pronating feet run in families. Parents pass it on to their children. If one parent has flat or collapsed arches, their children will have it also to some degree. If both parents have overpronated feet, their kids will absolutely have flat feet as well. I check children for this around age 7.
Surfaces: Concrete and stone are the worst surfaces for the feet. Generally, the harder the surface, the more stress on the arches and the faster they will collapse. Dirt, rubber tracks, carpeting and grass are all softer surfaces that offer some cushion to the feet and help to reduce strain and shock.
Shoe types: If you look inside almost every shoe, sandal, flip-flop, boot, etc., you will notice that there may be some inner arch support. Hardly any shoe has outer arch support or support for the arch under the ball of the foot. For this reason, looking for “good” shoes is often a myth.
I suggest that you bring your shoes into your chiropractor’s office so they can look at them for you. It is too difficult to list the “good shoes” for you because the best brand or type for you varies based on your feet and your lifestyle.
Orthotics and arch supports: Unfortunately, since most shoes do not have proper arch support, it comes down to one of my favorite sayings, “It doesn’t matter what shoes you buy, it matters what you put inside them.”I have spent much of my practice explaining to patients what you have read so far in this article. So many of them have had no idea that their pain could be related to their feet. My primary way of helping them besides adjusting their feet is offering them custom-made, flexible orthotics that support all three arches of the feet.
Arch supports help to stabilize and support the feet so that they can have healthy movement patterns. This can reduce pain not only in the feet, but in other areas of the body as well.
Good foot and arch health doesn’t just happen; one person might be more inclined to develop foot problems than another, but the fact is, with the amount of time we spend on our feet and their role in our lives, it’s really just a matter of time. My message is simple: I cannot tell you how bad your feet will get in the future if you don’t bother helping yourself now, but if you’re already in pain and decide not to do anything about it, I guarantee things will only get worse with time. This is not to scare you, but to emphasize how important your feet are and teach you to look at your feet in a different way than you may have before.
I’ll leave you with this: Ladies, do you know or remember what your mother’s or grandmother’s feet look(ed) like? I’ll bet you do. Probably not a pretty picture. Your feet will look like theirs (and feel like theirs) if you don’t do anything to take care of them. Gentlemen, we tend to not care as much, but get a look (if you can) at your father’s or grandfather’s feet, too, because we will suffer their fate as well without intervention.
We spend much of our lives taking our feet for granted – if we are lucky. If we’re not, we suffer one or more of the painful, often debilitating conditions that can affect the feet. That’s why your feet are so important and why you need to take care of them. Talk to your doctor about the importance of foot health and what you can do to ensure the stability of your foundation- your feet.
Kevin M. Wong, DC
If you’ve suffered from low back pain over the past few days, or if you get back pain sometime in the future, the tendency will be to wait it out and see if it gets better. Sometimes we even decide to take time off and lie in bed, hoping we will eventually be feeling better and back to our usual activities or work. However, more and more research shows that lying in bed or waiting it out is the worst thing you can do for yourself. Remember, only 10 percent of people develop chronic low back pain, but those cases account for an estimated $100 billion a year in health care and other costs. It’s a safe bet that most of them have taken this incorrect “wait and see” approach.
Research suggests that when it comes to back pain, early intervention is best. There are many reasons for this concept, but here is a basic summary of what current guidelines are saying:
Low back pain can sometimes be due to something more serious than a simple sprain. That’s why it’s important to see your chiropractor right away so they can evaluate you for anything more serious.
Spinal manipulation is one of the only treatments that is consistently being recommended for those with acute low back pain – and yet far too many people don’t visit a chiropractor and choose to pop over-the-counter pain medication instead.
Avoid bed rest as much as possible. Yes, I know that it feels good and frankly, when I had an episode of low back pain once, I was tempted to lie in bed all day, too. On a basic level, it’s the most “rational” thing to do. However, bed rest actually wastes away your muscles, and this effect lasts even for the lucky ones who improve with their low back pain. For those who are pain free, the bad news is that the muscles still waste away.
So, the next time you experience back pain and feel like you can’t do anything, always remember that any movement or activity or treatment that keeps you moving is crucial for your recovery. Another factor is that you may be deconditioned and not fit enough. With back pain, you can become even more deconditioned. That’s why starting to move and then progressing to an exercise program is crucial to ensure not only that you get better, but also that you don’t get future bouts of low back pain. Talk to your chiropractor for more information.
To your health September Newsletter