Cost is one of the most popular excuses used to avoid good health practices. In some instances, there’s a kernel of truth to the assertion that money assists with the promotion of wellness. A few examples include greater access to medical care and a wider array of alternative and complementary therapies. On the other hand, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep and stress management are usually completely free of charge. This past week, researchers from Kansas State University (KSU) added one additional, 100% free activity that just might save your life while, at the same time, lower projected health care spending. According to Dr. Richard Rosenkrantz, of KSU, “We know that with very high confidence that more physically active people do better with regard to chronic disease compared with less physically active people, but we should also be looking at reducing sitting”.
Tags: Diet and Weight Loss, High Blood Pressure
Posted in Diabetes, Exercise, Heart Health | No Comments;
In recent years, scientists from esteemed institutes of learning have identified an apparent link between an optimistic mindset and physical wellness. The latest entry into this topic comes from the Harvard School of Public Health. An analysis of nearly 1,000 middle-aged men and women determined that higher levels of self-reported optimism were associated with greater concentrations of serum antioxidants (carotenoids). The reason is likely due to a bidirectional effect in which “optimists are likely to engage in health behaviors associated with more serum antioxidants, and more serum antioxidants are likely associated with better physical health that enhances optimism”. This newly observed antioxidant effect may also, in part, explain why greater optimism has been continually linked to a lower risk of cardiac events and strokes.
Tags: Antioxidants, Heart Health, Yoga
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Mental Health | No Comments;
The topic of conventional chemotherapy is quite controversial in the natural health community. And, there’s certainly a time and place for people of goodwill to debate the pros and cons of this prevalent form of cancer treatment. However, once the decision has been made to utilize chemotherapy, the goal should then shift to finding safe ways of improving the efficacy and tolerability of this widely used procedure.
Tags: Cancer, Chemotherapy, Yoga
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Mental Health | No Comments;
Many health experts, myself included, recommend exercising a minimum of several times a week. This “prescription” is challenging enough due to various factors ranging from lack of motivation to time constraints. But, some committed exercisers have an additional hurdle to overcome: DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness.
Tags: Curcumin, Pomegranate, Tea
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Nutritional Supplements | 2 Comments
When I consider the concept of holistic health care, a hierarchy comes to mind. If you imagine it as a ranking system based on importance, here’s what it would look like: diet, regular exercise/physical activity, mind-body techniques or stress management practices and the judicious use of dietary supplements. The food we eat, the movements we make and supplements we take to “fill in the gaps” present a scenario much like taking care of a valuable piece of machinery. How you care for your car is a good analogy. Without driving it from time to time, gas and the addition of various fluids, sooner or later it will stop working in peak form. However, unlike machines, the human existence is complicated by the influence of emotions and the stress response.
Tags: Chia Seeds, Low Carb, Probiotics
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Diet and Weight Loss, Exercise | No Comments;
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 30% of adults over the age 65 experience a fall each year. Not only are falls the leading cause of injury related deaths in seniors, but they’re also the most prevalent cause of hospital admissions due to physical trauma. Thankfully, there’s quite a lot that can be done to prevent falls. And, as with most health care and safety issues, a combination of conventional and holistic strategies is likely to yield the best results.
Tags: Calcium, Tai Chi, Vitamin D
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Bone and Joint Health, Exercise | No Comments;
To some extent, symptoms of an enlarged prostate plague the majority of older men. In fact, if you’re male and fortunate enough to live a long life, you can almost certainly count on more frequent trips to the loo at night. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only potential consequence of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Many senior men also experience urinary urgency during their waking hours. What’s more, conventional and natural remedies don’t always provide satisfactory relief. But, Kegel exercises or Kegels are a free, safe and well researched option which work in conjunction with other treatments to greatly improve urinary dysfunction in this rapidly growing population.
Tags: aging, Incontinence, Prostate
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Men's Health | No Comments;
Recently, a client of mine experienced a very positive response to a natural regimen I recommended for improving skeletal health. Today’s column highlights the basic principles my client used to turn the tide from losing bone to gaining it. I can’t promise that others will find the same results. However, I hope that this real life example will encourage everyone concerned about osteoporosis to examine how they’re approaching it from a dietary, lifestyle and supplemental standpoint.
Tags: Calcium, Magnesium, Osteoporosis
Posted in Bone and Joint Health, Exercise, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments
In previous columns, I’ve described the health benefits of various forms of deep breathing in diseases ranging from asthma to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux). But, there’s another, vastly different school of thought in the world of breath retraining. The Buteyko Breathing Technique (BBT) contrasts from practices such as diaphragmatic and Senobi breathing in that it actually recommends reducing depth and frequency of breath in order to assist asthmatics to better control their symptoms.
Tags: asthma, Breathing, Buteyko
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise | 5 Comments
Changes in breathing patterns and muscle tension are two of the more obvious physical responses to stress. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that mindful breathing and stretching are two of the best ways of counteracting the impact of anxious feelings. Several recent studies confirm this truism. But, the breadth of health benefits imparted by breathing exercises and stretching go much further than you might imagine.
Tags: asthma, Depression, GERD
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Mental Health | 12 Comments
Exercising is considered an effective means of preserving bone mineral density as part of a comprehensive bone health regimen. In recent years, some medical experts have begun to recommend a more passive strategy to accomplish this same objective. Whole-body vibration (WBV) is a practice in which you lie down, sit or stand on a vibrating platform that sends waves of energy throughout your body. In some instances, specific forms of exercise including squats are integrated into the vibrating experience. In either case, this active or passive activity causes muscles to contract in a manner that is similar to a physical workout. Proponents of whole-body vibration often claim that the physiological response to WBV provides as good or greater health benefits than more traditional forms of physical exertion in less time.
Tags: Osteoporosis, Women's Health
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Bone and Joint Health, Exercise | 7 Comments
Any symptom the body presents is a form of communication. When it comes to hemorrhoids, the message being sent is typically two fold. First and foremost, anyone with hemorrhoids or at risk for them, ought to address the prevalent issue of constipation. If you strain during bowel movements, you’re encouraging the veins in the anus and rectum to swell. Do this frequently enough and hemorrhoids will most likely form. A lesser known contributor to hemorrhoids is poor circulation and vascular tone. All of these concerns can be addressed naturally.
Tags: Circulation, Fiber, Magnesium
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Nutrition | 4 Comments
In the field of athletics, the term “performance enhancers” has taken on a negative connotation of late. The very mention of it frequently conjures up images of professional athletes “juicing up” on anabolic steroids or synthetic stimulants. Fortunately, in recent years, scientists have uncovered an all natural and much safer alternative that may just improve physical capacity and support cardiovascular health. According to several, peer-reviewed scientific studies, the solution may lie in the humble red beet (Beta vulgaris). Athletes who consume red beet juice, a rich source of naturally occurring antioxidants and nitrates, consistently find benefits in trial performance in a number of activities ranging from bicycling to knee-extensor exercises. The key to the greater stamina reported likely involves the ability of beet juice to improve circulation and increase peripheral tissue oxygenation. What’s more, beet root juice also supports cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure, irregular blood clotting and, possibly, high triglycerides as well. If there is a down side to drinking red beet juice, it would be its high sugar content. The best way to derive the benefits of beet juice while limiting sugar intake is to supplement with beet root juice extracts or powders. For instance, one the most popular products on the market yields only 5 grams of sugar per concentrated tablespoon of beet juice powder. Finally, if you decide to try beet root juice and you find a distinct reddening when you use the bathroom, don’t worry. This is a well known reaction known as beeturia which affects approximately 14% of the population.
Tags: Circulation, Heart Health, High Blood Pressure
Posted in Exercise, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | 7 Comments
Pilates is a gentle, yet demanding, form of body conditioning that promotes flexibility, stamina and strength. Proponents claim that regular practice also supports a more positive mindset. Although it was originally conceived to assist recovery from injury, it has recently become the exercise of choice of many athletes, celebrities and fitness gurus. More importantly, its current popularity has spawned an important collection of scientific data suitable for medical review and scrutiny. For the most part, the new batch of controlled trials demonstrate a broad array of health benefits including: a) an improvement in “functional capacity” in heart failure patients; b) a greater sense of “life satisfaction”, “perception of appreciation by other people”, “perception of physical appearance” and other measures of self esteem in adult women; c) reductions in pain and various physical and psychological symptoms associated with ankylosing spondylitis (joint inflammation in the pelvis and spine) and fibromyalgia; d) recovery of endurance and mental health in patients previously treated for breast cancer and; e) the promotion of “personal autonomy, static balance and quality of life” in elderly women. However, it must be said that Pilates is not a cure-all. A recent meta-analysis in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation reports that Pilates does not offer added benefits over standard care in those living with chronic low back pain. Still and all, the majority of research published during the past few years tends to support many of long held assertions made by Pilates aficionados. In the future, I hope that more investigations using different patient populations, such as men and younger volunteers who practice Pilates as a form of physical fitness, will emerge.
Tags: Bone and Joint Health, Fibromyalgia, Mental Health
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Heart Health | 8 Comments
Recently, news of a major discovery in the field of multiple sclerosis (MS) research was presented in the journal Nature. An examination of 9,772 patients with MS and 17,376 “healthy” volunteers confirmed that 57 genes were associated with the disease. This finding should help MS specialists move closer to pinpointing a cause and eventually a cure. But, in the here and now those already living with MS need to be aware of safe treatments that are currently available. Hydrotherapy, exercises conducted in swimming pools, is a therapeutic option that rarely makes headlines. Three studies published in the 2010 and 2011 argue that this healing modality deserves more attention. The international trials, conducted in Iran, Spain and the US, report that the regular practice of aquatic exercises can improve various measures of MS symptomatology including: depression, disability, fatigue, pain and spasms. The duration of the interventions ranged from 4 to 20 weeks. Two to three weekly sessions of hydrotherapy lasting 60 minutes each were required of the participants. As promising as these initial findings are, there may be a simple way to improve upon them. Of late, numerous studies have revealed a correlation between adequate sun exposure and MS. It appears that living in sunnier climates may interfere with the chief cause of MS incidence and progression known as demyelination. Also of interest is that this protective effect may be independent of sun-related Vitamin D production. Experimental studies will be needed to determine whether combining hydrotherapy and sunlight may offer immediate hope for all those waiting on a cure.
Tags: Hydrotherapy, Multiple Sclerosis, Water
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Mental Health | 1 Comment
What do natural health aficionados and oceanographers have in common? Well, for one thing, they’re part of a small minority of people who are familiar with an edible brown algae known as Ecklonia cava. In alternative and integrative medical circles, a “unique polyphenol complex” derived from E. cava is marketed under the name of Fibroboost or Seanol. The manufacturer and resellers of the product claim that it possesses both fat and water soluble antioxidants which are capable of addressing and improving a wide array of conditions and diseases. But are the implied claims made in the product literature and on various websites accurate and responsible? Read more »
Tags: Algae, Antioxidants, Immune
Posted in Exercise, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;