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W71. 5 Reasons Why Meditation Should Be Your New Year's Resolution

By Julie T. Chen, MD

The New Year is traditionally a time when many of us reflect on our goals and set resolutions for the year to come. From losing weight to getting more organized, these resolutions often come with good intentions, but aren't always followed through. Inevitably, we become bogged down with life's many responsibilities and stresses, and many people lose track or even forget about the goals they set for themselves at the start of the year.

A New Year's resolution that's worth making this year is making room for daily meditation and reflection. Meditation is easy to learn and incorporate into your daily life, and can be practiced in as little as 10 minutes a day. While the benefits of meditation are more than one article can list, here are the top five reasons why making mindfulness your resolution will change your mental, emotional and physical health.

1. Accessible to All

It's a common misconception that meditation takes formal training or deep knowledge in order to practice. Meditation is for everyone, and can be accessed by anyone who is willing to carve out time for it. Begin by setting a designated time in the day for meditation, preferably when you know you won't be interrupted or rushed. Create a place in your home that's calming and free of distractions, such as a bedroom or backyard; and incorporate candles or other forms of aromatherapy if you find it relaxing.

Begin by sitting cross-legged or in a chair with your spine upright and head up. With closed eyes, put all of your focus on your breathing and try to be aware of wandering thoughts. If you feel distracted, don't get frustrated; bring yourself back to your breath work and forgive yourself. Start doing this for 10 minutes a day, adding 1 minute to your practice every week.

2. Reduces Stress Naturally

It's normal to feel under pressure at times at work, school or in relationships, but feeling stressed out on a day-to-day basis is unhealthy, as it takes a toll on emotional, physical and mental health. In a survey done by the American Psychological Association in 2012, researchers found that 20 percent of Americans experience extreme levels of stress, while 64 percent agreed managing stress is important (but only 37 percent of them felt they were managing it well).

Meditation is a wonderful way to reduce stress by calming the nervous system: Putting away stress-inducing thoughts, distracting devices and our work responsibilities while meditating slows down the heart rate and allows your blood pressure to drop. This "relaxation response" is restorative to the body and allows you to feel a sense of calmness that lasts throughout the day.

W70. The Basics of EMF Emissions

By Claudia Anrig, DC

Since the industrial revolution began around 1750, we have become more and more reliant on machines. Cars, televisions and coffee makers graduated to computers and cellular devices. With these electronics has come an increase in EMF emissions, and while their perceived danger is open for debate, their existence is not, making it an important topic to understand more about and discuss with your doctor.

What Are EMF Emissions?

Depending upon the source, EMF can represent either "electromagnetic fields" or "electrical and magnetic forces"; however, when discussing EMF emissions, the World Health Organization (WHO) relies on the former – electromagnetic fields.1 It's important to note these fields exist everywhere in nature. It is the Earth's magnetic field that causes a compass needle to always point north and helps birds fly south for the winter. However, an EMF can also be man-made, created when an electrical current flows, for example. The greater the current, the stronger the magnetic field.1

The level of electromagnetic radiation is clearly going to vary from one source to another. Items that plug in transfer VLF (very low frequency) and A/C (alternating current), and will create a smaller, less dangerous EMF, while power lines and transformers will be moving more electricity much faster, creating a higher EMF. Of course, X-rays and gamma rays are the highest and thus most dangerous.1

W69. he Hidden Benefits of Family Meals

By Editorial Staff

Sitting down to the table for a family meal isn't what it used to be, and evidence suggests the consequences are frightening, and not just from a nutritional perspective. In fact, children are significantly more likely to engage in a variety of unhealthy behaviors when the family meal isn't a regular occurrence in their home.

Here are just some of the benefits you can provide your children by ensuring your family comes together regularly at the dinner table, according to the American College of Pediatricians:

Less Sex / Drugs / Alcohol: OK, let's start with the big ones. Children / teens who participate in regular family meals are less likely to use drugs, alcohol and nicotine, and less likely to engage in sexual activity. They're also less likely to have friends who participate in the above risky behaviors. Now aren't those great reasons to make sure the family gets together at the dinner table as often as possible?

Academics: Teens who enjoy frequent family dinners (at least thee times a week) are more likely to achieve better grades in school compared to teens who sit down for a family meal two times or less per week.

Communication: Family meals provide an opportunity for conversation / communication, enhancing language development and vocabulary, while allowing for discussion and debate, which can improve family relations and foster critical thinking / speaking skills.

Structure: Who wouldn't feel great knowing that on most days, they can come together with their family at a set place and time? Family meals give children structure, making them feel secure and safe, while allowing parents to monitor and address their children's moods in a consistent environment.

Less Stress: Research suggests frequent family meals reduce emotional stress and contribute to higher overall satisfaction with life compared to teens who experience fewer family meals.

W68. Five Things You Can Do To Boost Your Mood

By Julie T. Chen, MD

Your mood is something that affects many aspects of your health from your heart to your thyroid to your sleep cycle to your menstrual cycle. So, as the daylight hours start to wane this winter season, how can you keep your mood elevated?

I always tell my patients in my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose, CA that mood is affected by many things. So, in order to address your mood concerns, you have to be willing to optimize many aspects of your life. But if you can do so, not only will your mood improve but also your overall health.

There are five easy ways to keep your mood elevated this winter season:

Stay in touch with your loved ones
Keep touching your furry friends
Light therapy isn't a thing of the past
Keep your kitchen stocked full of vegetables and avoid sugars
Keep your body moving throughout the winter season

Social support is something that is important in managing our mood. When we are surrounded by friends and loved ones, we manage our stressors and mood triggers better. Try to focus your time and energy on your friends and loved ones who are positive. If you are not in the best mood, don't spend more time with people who are negative in your life. When you are feeling down, that is the time to find people who lift you up...not bring you down. I know that during the holiday season, there are a lot of social obligations, but just remember that you are the most important obligation and if you are already feeling low, find those who are uplifting to spend time with until your mood is better. You deserve to feel loved and cherished, so find those who make you feel this way to spend time with for the time being.

W67. Rest Easy: 5 Ways to Get Better Sleep Tonight

By Editorial Staff

It's one thing to fall asleep; it's another to stay asleep all night and even another to enjoy a full night of peaceful, restorative sleep that gives your body and mind an appropriate setting to repair, recharge and renew. Too many Americans don't get enough sleep and when they do, it's often interrupted or punctuated by constant tossing and turning. That's bad news from a health perspective, both in the short and long term. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, "a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality [death]."

Suffice it to say that sleep is a big deal, which makes ensuring you get enough sleep of prime importance. Here are five ways you can get better sleep tonight and every night thereafter:

1. Wind down: Transition from your busy, hectic day at least an hour before bed so you're not up half the night. Stress and sleep are bad partners, to say the least, so your pre-sleep routine should emphasize calmness and relaxation. Take a bath or shower, listen to soft music or meditate – whatever it takes for you to leave your stress-filled day behind you (at least until morning).

2. Exercise early: Physical activity has plentiful health benefits, but if you work out before bed, it can make sleep difficult. On the other hand, exercising first thing in the morning will make sleeping at night easier because your body will be fatigued after a long day. Exercising right before bed can leave you amped up, sore and/or unable to settle in for a long, relaxing night's rest.

W66. Workplace Stress Can Be Deadly

By Editorial Staff

We all experience stress in our jobs, even if we're working at our "dream job." That's because every job entails a certain amount of responsibility. Unless you don't care a bit about your job – in which case, you won't be employed much longer – you make every effort to fulfill your responsibilities; and that can cause stress, particularly when you're "under the gun" in terms of a project, deadline, presentation, etc.

Workplace stress also can manifest because your job is your source of income, and the prospect of losing that income (which in most cases, is always a threat, whether real or perceived) can be frightening. Add in the sometimes-contentious interactions with your boss, co-workers and other parties with whom you interact, and that stress can simmer slowly or boil over in a moment's notice.

But can stress actually be deadly? Yes, suggests a recent review study by Stanford University and Harvard Business School that evaluated the impact of 10 workplace stressors (including some of the stressors discussed above) on four health outcomes. After analyzing 228 studies, the researchers found "job insecurity increases the odds of reporting poor health by about 50%, high job demands raise the odds of having a physician-diagnosed illness by 35%, and long work hours increase mortality by almost 20%."

Most people have enough stress in their lives - add workplace-related stress and you could be concocting a recipe for disaster. Two solutions: Find ways to better manage the sources of stress (so you don't experience stress int he first place; or learn how to reduce the impact stress has on you when it inevitably rears its ugly head. Click here for some simple stress-management strategies to help get you started.

W65. Running on Empty: When Fatigue Stops You in Your Tracks

By Dr. Perry Nickelston

Are you running on empty? Is your life spiraling into one prolonged episode of fatigue? Are there days when your "gas tank" is so low that you're sleepy by lunchtime and craving a power nap by mid-afternoon? Ever wonder what's making you so tired all the time? There are many factors that can contribute to fatigue, including stress, poor eating habits, altered sleeping patterns, poor breathing, lack of exercise, too much exercise, and sometimes an underlying health condition. Most of the time, fatigue can be traced to one or more of your daily habits or routines. More than likely, you already know what's causing your fatigue; you're just not doing enough about it. Let's take a closer look at some of the most powerful changes you can make today to fight fatigue.

Find a Rest Stop

Whatever happened to getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep? When was the last time you actually hit that goal? Almost never, right? That's a shame because adequate sleep is one of the most effective ways to help your body recover and regenerate from the stressors of life. It is paramount to do whatever you can to get eight hours of sleep a night. Inadequate sleep negatively affects your endocrine (hormone) system, altering cellular regeneration and impairing optimum hormone function.

Researchers have found a lack of sleep decreases growth hormone, which may lead to an increase in age-related illnesses. There also may be an alteration in the glucose mechanism, a pathway your body uses for synthesis of sugar and insulin, which could increase your risk of diabetes and metabolic syndromes causing weight gain.

Sleep deprivation also may have a dampening effect on the secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone and increasing blood levels of cortisol, especially during the afternoon and evening. Elevated cortisol levels are thought to be related to stress-related illness, insulin resistance and memory impairment.

So, what to do? Try going to bed a little sooner than usual. Start slowly at first; if you usually don't crash until 11:00 at night, don't shift to a 9:00 bedtime starting tonight or you may end up wide awake at 4:00 tomorrow morning. Transition slowly into the ideal sleep time that will get you those precious eight hours, and aim for that schedule on as many nights as possible.

Also avoid drinking caffeine late at night, since it is a stimulant and will prevent restful sleep. And avoid carbohydrates a few hours before bedtime, to prevent spikes in your insulin and cortisol levels. Finally, develop a relaxing routine that prepares you to fall asleep - and stay asleep. Such a routine can include a bath, reading, soft music, or even a half-hour of silence to process your day; whatever it takes to get you to doze off and sleep soundly.

W64. A Healthy Lifestyle Keeps the Doctor Away

By Editorial Staff

Putting a fresh twist on the adage, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," research suggests healthy lifestyle habits may be the key to a long life. A recent study compared the health and longevity of Amish adults with average Caucasian adults living in the same area.

The Amish people live a much healthier lifestyle and historically don't believe in the use of electricity, machinery or technology. The Amish also tend to limit health care to what is required to address injury and serious disease. Making this comparison essentially shows the difference between a lifestyle reliant on medical care with one that focuses on basic healthy living.

What did the study authors find? Amish men and women experienced comparable longevity to their Caucasian counterparts, even though the Amish had a much lower rate of hospitalizations. The authors concluded: "Our results suggest that interventions targeted at lifestyle factors may have higher impact on improving lifespan at the population level than improvements in medical technology and medical care access."

In other words, healthy living is the key to a healthy, long life. The best news of all is the power to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as a balanced diet, stress-reduction activities, consistent exercise, etc., is in your hands. Now what are you waiting for?

W63. Healthy Lifestyle Habits: As Important as Your Genes?

By Julie T. Chen, MD

There's a long-standing debate about whether genetics are more important than the environment in our overall health. The simple question of nature versus nurture, however, is too simplistic, and while scientists and doctors understand the two are in fact deeply interwoven, we are just on the brink of discovering how much our DNA affects our health – and also how much our lifestyle affects our DNA.

In 2009, a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on a study of 1,034 complete pairs of twins from Denmark and Finland. The objective of the study was to examine the genetic variation of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and percentage body fat in relation to physical activity and protein intake.

A study like this has huge implications. This study suggests what we eat and what we do, as in level of physical activity, can help us determine our health. It's not just a matter of genetics. The results of the study confirmed previous findings ,and the researchers were able to conclude that physical activity and diet do have a noticeable and significant effect on your weight, despite your genetic predisposition.

While the impact of a protein-rich diet on weight is still uncertain based on this study, the effect of exercise on weight is clear. Using complete pairs of twins, we were able to have a better understanding of the role that physical activity has in reducing weight and percentage body fat. Further studies on protein and how that affects the expression of obesity gene still needs to be done.

With regards to genetics, things get a little more interesting in this study. High levels of physical activity were associated with a significant reduction in genetic variation. What this means is evidence strongly suggests high levels of physical activity can modify the expression of the genes responsible for predisposition to obesity. This further supports a previous study that found an increase in BMI due to the rs9939609 polymorphism of the FTO gene in sedentary individuals, but not in physically-active individuals. The excuse, "It's genetic," may no longer apply to our health, at least with regards to our weight and waist circumference.

Since 2009, myriad studies support the theory that lifestyle and diet have an effect on one's genetics and health. We're gradually gaining an understanding of how our genes are expressed and the control individuals have over them through lifestyle and diet choices.

As with many other aspects of our lives, it's important that in the realm of health, each individual practice the ancient Greek aphorism: Know thyself. If you know you have a family history or genetic predisposition to obesity, heart disease or other conditions, you have a choice (to a certain degree) in how that gene is expressed. And while you may be genetically inclined toward certain medical conditions or physical traits, your choices in lifestyle and diet can influence your risk of developing those attributes.

W62. Have a Heart: 5 Factors That Reduce Heart Attack Risk

By Editorial Staff

Chest pain, shortness of breath and lightheadedness are three common symptoms of myocardial infarction. Too many families, friends and loved ones have faced a sudden, often-unexpected loss because someone they knew suffered an MI – otherwise known as a heart attack.

While they can't always be prevented, the good news is researchers have identified five healthy lifestyle factors that can profoundly impact one's risk of suffering a heart attack. Adopting even one of these healthy factors reduces your risk, but adopting two, three, four or all five factors reduces the risk even further:

One Factor: healthy diet – 26 percent lower risk

Two Factors: healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption – 35 percent lower risk

Three Factors: healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking – 64 percent lower risk

Four Factors: healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, physically active – 76 percent lower risk

Five Factors: All four of the above factors plus waist circumference less than 95 cm (about 37 inches)

If you're already five for five when it comes to the above lifestyle factors, keep up the great work! If you're doing none or only a few, recognize their value in preventing a cardiac event that can end your life in the blink of an eye. Talk to your doctor for more information on heart attacks and an evaluation of your current risk.

W61. Losing ZZZs? Melatonin Could Be What You Need

By Editorial Staff

We all know the feeling of being a little tired; maybe you had to work late to meet a deadline, or perhaps you stayed up with your sick child. These are situations we all encounter at some point, but dealing with insomnia is a different beast. Insomnia entails lying awake, looking at the clock and calculating how many hours of sleep you can still get if you fall asleep at that exact moment. You close your eyes, but you can't stop your mind from racing ... what is it that is keeping you awake?

According to the Mayo Clinic, insomnia is caused by stress, anxiety, depression, medical conditions, and more. They also suggest insomnia becomes more common as you age. Aside from being tired after a night of tossing and turning, there are other problems sleep deprivation can cause, such as such as accidents, weight gain, and even serious health problems.

So, how do you get back on track? It is likely your doctor will write you a subscription for a sleep aid, but perhaps you prefer something natural. Melatonin may be your answer. Although most people have heard of melatonin and know it is a hormone, they might not know it helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Traces of melatonin can be found in foods such as meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables, but it's also available in supplement form.

Wondering how much you should take? Always use as directed on the package, or as directed by your doctor or herbalist. Never use more than is recommended on the label, and it is wise to start with the lowest dose.

Talk to your doctor to learn more about melatonin. For more information about insomnia and other sleep-related disorders, click here.

W60. Natural Healing With External Applications

By Claudia Anrig, DC

Since the skin is the body's largest organ, and is able to respond to both internal and external stimulations, communicate sensations to the brain, protect the body, breathe and even excrete toxins, it can be an excellent source of healing. For centuries, poultices and compresses (with certain specific substances) have been used to enhance the healing via the skin.

Before reaching for an anti-inflammatory medication, a decongestant or many of the other over-the-counter drugs available, parents need to know there might be a more natural way of offering their child relief. Here are some great tips to consider.

Preparing the Applications

A poultice, also called a cataplasm, is typically a cloth pouch that contains herbs or similar prepared ingredients with the ends folded and secured with string. It is then applied topically to the skin. It can be heated or left cold depending upon the ingredients and the purpose.

A compress is slightly different in that it isn't a pouch containing ingredients. To use a compress, start with a bowl of hot, cold, warm or room-temperature water depending upon the purpose. Add the applicable herbs or other ingredients and then soak the cloth in the water, wring it out and apply it to the affected area. In some cases, especially when heat is important, you'll want to replace the cloth often, but in other instances it can be left alone or held in place with a wrap.

Finally, a wrap is similar to a compress, but generally covers more area. Whereas a compress is used in a localized area, a wrap (depending upon the purpose) can be used similar to an ACE bandage. The typical wrap will be about 2 yards long; if warmth is important, considering using wool for the cloth and wrapping the entire area.

In all of these instances, it's best to use natural and organic cloth, but any cloth will work in a pinch, including washcloths, pieces of a towel or even a T-shirt for a poultice or compress; or a wool scarf when needed for a wrap.

Selecting the Ingredients

Natural, organic ingredients are always recommended. Common poultice ingredients include onion, lemon, potato and ginger. The typical ingredients in a compress include chamomile, lavender, lemon, Arnica or Calendula, depending upon the need. With regards to wraps, they can be prepared using all of the above, again determined by need.

Lemon is one of the first ingredients to consider due its variety of uses including fever, stress, watery runny nose or eyes, sore throat or tickle in the throat, allergies, bronchitis and more.

Chamomile has been known for its soothing properties, but in a poultice, compress or wrap, its uses can also include chest congestion, eye inflammation, cramps (including menstrual), soothing for ear, nose and throat, upset stomach or colic.

Onion, applied in a poultice, is most useful for colds, earaches, teething and swollen glands.

Potatoes are able to draw out toxins and break up congestion, which makes them useful as a poultice for sore throat, cough, headache, and muscle pain.

W59. Parenting Do's and Don'ts

By Editorial Staff

If you're a parent or knows one who is (which is just about everyone reading this), you know there are no hard-and-fast rules to follow when it comes to raising children. That said, you've also learned – or will learn the hard way soon – that some simple do's and don'ts can make life a whole lot easier:

DO Follow the 90% Rule: Self-esteem is one of the most critical developmental variables for a child that translates into adulthood. All parents, no matter how strict they may be or how high their expectations are for their children, should follow the simple 90 percent rule to help their children develop high self-esteem. The rule: Praise your child nine times for every time you criticize them. Mess with this ratio and you'll raise a child who feels as if even their parents don't support them enough. Remember, everyone's a critic, so your children will be subjected to plenty of criticism (much of it probably unwarranted / unsolicited) as they grow up. While you're teaching them to do right, don't forget the value of letting them know they're doing a good job – even if in the back of your mind, you know they can do better.

DON'T Let Them Run the Show: While you're dishing out all the praise to build character, don't forget character is a by-product of the rules you teach them to follow consistently. Choices come with consequences, and particularly when they're young, children need to appreciate that consistent, clear-cut consequence B will result from action A every time; not every once in awhile, or when you feel like it, etc. If you don't teach them this rule, they'll effectively run the show; a show you don't want to attend.

DO Give Them Responsibility: Parenting isn't easy, and one overlooked aspect that agonizes many parents is the thought of their child's impending flight from the home to lead their own life. For some parents, this fear can manifest early in conscious or subconscious actions to keep the child "safe and close." If this is you, stop for a moment and reflect on your level of responsibility and accountability – particularly things you wish your parents had taught you (sooner or at all). Can't cook? Don't know how to speak in public? Can't organize your time? Can't keep a clean house? All these responsibilities and countless more develop from experience –the experience your parents gave you when growing up. So teach your children to be responsible, well-rounded adults. If not, you won't have to worry about losing them –they'll be right by your side, sleeping on the couch, asking you for money and complaining when you wonder why they don't have a job.

DON'T Treat Them (Just) Like a Friend: We all want to be our children's "best friend," but unfortunately, we're parents. No matter how hard we try, most children won't tell us everything and won't spend as much time with us as they do their "best" friends. But that's not a bad thing, because while you're trying to be a loving, caring, understanding, appreciative mom or dad who has the "best relationship" with your child, you also have to parent – a duty that often requires suppressing the emotion connection most friends possess. This is particularly relevant when your child does something that angers you, saddens you or otherwise negatively impacts you emotionally. We may scream at a friend. We may ignore a friend. We may shut them out for a few days and "wait" for their apology. We might even move on to a new friend. But these are your children. They deserve a parent. Be the best you can be and in the process, you'll help raise the best person they can be.

W58. Less Stress in 3 Easy Steps

By Editorial Staff

Is your life dominated by stress? Between the on-the-job demands, away-from-the-job demands, technology advances that keep us perpetually engaged, and countless other diversions, we have less and less time to unwind these days.

The result: Many people live in a constant state of stress, which can eventually lead to psychological and physical problems. The solution? It starts with finding easy ways to reduce stress on a daily basis. Here are three you can utilize today to get a few steps closer to a low-stress zone:

1. Turn It Off: Cellphones and the Internet have made us a 24-7 culture of communication and information overload. The obvious result is that we never have time to truly relax. These days, relaxation just means answering e-mail, posting on Facebook or scrolling through page after page on the Web. All of these activities not only don't give you time to relax and burn off stress; they can actually increase your stress levels. The Solution: Commit to specific periods of time during the day for answering e-mail and going on the Web. Since both activities are interconnected with the workday for many people, the best way to accomplish this is to commit to a "no-technology" time frame at night, perhaps from 7 p.m. or so and later. Take those few hours before bed to find ways to de-stress and relax without technology.

2. Talk It Out: Stress becomes a major problem, physically and psychologically, when it builds up. Stress needs a release or it grows and grows, taking over your life and occupying your every thought. In fact, some people who can't find a positive release for their stress "snap" and take it out on others, which can cause great damage to relationships, friendships and even careers. The Solution: One of the best ways to reduce stress is to talk about what's stressing you out. You can talk to a friend or loved one, or even an acquaintance if that's the only person in the vicinity. Talking about what's bothering you accomplishes two important things: It allows you to vent your frustrations instead of keeping them bottled up inside; and it opens the door for other perspectives, which might give you insight into how to reduce the stress-causing situations even more. Even taking a long walk or jog by yourself and talking to yourself about your stresses can be beneficial.

3. Tone It Down: When all else fails, there's no better stress buster than a little R & R - that's rest and relaxation, of course. The key is to not wait for that "big vacation" you keep planning but never find the time to take. You can take a mental and physical vacation without buying a plane ticket or even leaving your house. It's all about making time to unwind; after all, you deserve it, particularly when so many areas of your life are so hectic. The Solution: Find 10 minutes at least three times a day to do something on your time – not anyone else's. Whether it's taking a walk, sitting in silence, or enjoying a calm, soothing bath / shower, give yourself the stress-free time your body and mind deserve, and they'll thank you for it by delivering you a lower-stress life. And when it comes to stress, low stress (or no stress) is what it's all about.

W57. Start the Year With an Energy Boost

By Editorial Staff

Are you sapped from the holidays? Down in the 2015 dumps? Trudging off to the same job, same hectic schedule and same unmotivating lifestyle you survived in 2014? Give yourself a lift with these energy-boosting tips for the new year:

Get back on track: Regardless of whether your December 2014 was stressful, joyful or somewhere in between, one thing's for certain: it took a considerable amount of energy, even if you didn't realize it at the time. Start the new year by getting back on schedule; your body and mind need it. That means more than just getting back int he gym if you took a few weeks off, or re-establishing your diet after "cheating" over the holidays. Think about resetting your sleep schedule, getting your bills in order (e.g., paying off those holiday credit-card bills), and essentially getting "back to business." December was fun, but trust us, it took a lot out of you.

Change the pace: At the same time you're getting back on track, don't overlook the chance to make a few changes for the better. How did 2014 work out for you? This is the time to review the past year and institute small (or even big) changes that can drastically improve your energy levels and outlook on life. Is it time for a new job? Update your resume and do a little market research. Time to buy a first (or next) home? Evaluate your ability to do so. What about a new hobby or activity you've always wanted to try? You'll be amazed at how much energy you gain when you're motivated by a few positive changes.

Play catch-up: If there's one thing just about everyone didn't get enough of in December, it was that five-letter word we all take for granted: sleep. Unfortunately, sleep - restful, restorative sleep - go hand in hand. Commit to taking a short nap every weekend for the next few weeks, along with going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Your body and mind worked overtime in December; reward them before they turn on you and zap all your energy.

Create a plan: December was all about planning - the holiday dinner party, what gifts to buy, what stores to go to - a long list of plans that hopefully brought you happiness. But what happens now? It's January - and the holiday season seems awfully far away, doesn't it? Not so fast. Start 2015 by brainstorming, researching and then scheduling great things to do throughout the year: a baseball game, a family vacation, a cooking class, etc. Mark it down on your calendar so you're reminded every day what's approaching. Feel your energy soar as you look forward to the next opportunity to "get away" from the daily grind.

W56. Plastic Takes a Toll on Your IQ

By Editorial Staff

If you haven't been scared away from plastics yet, maybe this factoid will push you over the edge and convince you to avoid plastics whenever possible, particularly if you're expecting a child.

According to a recent study, expectant mothers exposed to the highest levels of chemicals known as phthalates – a group of compounds used in plastics to make products more flexible – produced children whose IQs were lower at age 7 than children whose mothers were exposed to the lowest levels during pregnancy.

Children whose mothers were in the high-exposure group tested four points lower, on average, on the IQ test. Two common phthalates, DnBP and DiBP, were the culprits, according to the research – the latest study to link the chemical compounds to various health consequences including behavioral disorders. Phthalates are found not only in plastic storage and packaging products, but also a wide range of products including plastic toys, nail polish and hair spray.

W55. Laugh a Little – It's Good for Your Brain

By Editorial Staff

Heard a good joke lately? If you haven't, you're missing out on a good laugh – and the wellness benefits humor appears to provide. According to a recent study, a good dose of humor beneficially impacts memory and stress, two variables that are particularly important as we age.

Researchers at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif., compared the learning abilities of older adults who spent 20 minutes watching humorous videos vs. older adults who sat quietly for 20 minutes. Results showed that seniors who watched the humorous videos had a higher improved learning ability (38.5 percent vs. 24 percent), more than twice the delayed recall improvement (43.6 percent vs. 20.3 percent) and "significant decreases in salivary cortisol" (dubbed "the stress hormone").

The takeaway: Laugh a little! Go to a comedy show, watch a sit-com on TV, or find other ways to inject humor into your life, especially when you're stressed, depressed and/or not in the mood. It's exactly what your brain needs to lift your spirits, improve your memory – and so much more.

W54. Alcohol Consumption Strongly Linked to Risk of Colorectal Cancer

By James P. Meschino, DC, MS

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in females and the third most common cancer in males worldwide. Both genetic and environmental risk factors have been shown to contribute to development of the disease. Some of the environmental risk factors for colorectal cancer appear to include a low-fiber diet, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking. Additional evidence suggests suboptimal intake of calcium and vitamin D also may contribute to the risk of colorectal cancer.

Evidence also suggests that most colorectal cancers develop from colorectal adenomas. Cigarette smoking, red and processed meat intake, obesity and physical inactivity have been suggested to be risk factors for colorectal adenoma.

Alcohol intake is one of the primary risk factors for many human cancers, and is strongly associated with cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, breast, and notably, the colon and rectum. A systematic review with meta-analysis published in 2014 provides an update regarding the association between alcohol consumption and risk of colorectal cancer. The meta-analysis included 23 case-control studies and two cohort studies.

Results showed that "all drinkers were associated with 17% increased risk for colorectal cancer, compared with non-drinkers or occasional alcohol drinkers. The dose-response analysis demonstrated that for drinkers of 10, 25, 50 and 100 g/day of alcohol [for reference, 14 g of pure alcohol is equivalent to a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a shot of distilled spirits / liquor], the estimated relative risks of colorectal adenoma were 1.02 (95% CI 0.89–1.16), 1.06 (95% CI 0.92–1.20), 1.16 (95% CI 1.02–1.33) and 1.61 (95% CI 1.42–1.84) respectively, in comparison with non-/occasional drinkers. The risk increases were consistent in the subgroup analyses of gender and site of adenoma, while it was stronger in European studies than the studies in the U.S. and Asia."

Alcohol consumption may increase the risk of colorectal cancer via a number of documented mechanisms. Alcohol intake may lead to folic acid deficiency in the colon and rectum, via folate malabsorption. Folate is required for the synthesis of certain DNA bases and to methylate DNA structure. Marginal deficiencies of folate are known to increase the risk of DNA hypomethylation, DNA mutations and strand breaks, which are shown to increase cancer risk, including colorectal cancer.

In addition, intestinal bacteria, which have high activity of the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, could oxidize ethanol in the colon and rectum, and generate a considerable level of acetaldehyde, which is known to initiate and promote cancer via several mechanisms. Alcohol also may inhibit DNA repair enzymes, suppress immune surveillance to tumor, alter the composition of bile acids and induce the expression of liver cytochrome P-450 enzymes, all of which may contribute to adenoma development.

W53.How To Prevent Heart Disease

By Julie T. Chen, MD

Heart disease is a problem that few people can say they have no concerns about. Most people either know someone with heart disease or they themselves have heart disease. So, what's the best way to protect ourselves from this problem?

All of my patients know how important I think diet is to our overall health...and there is heart health is one of those factors that are significantly impacted by our diet. There are really a few factors to focus on for your heart to continue to beat in a healthy hearty fashion. Let's start with the basics:

Get quality sleep and rest/relaxation Make sure to eat healthy fats and vegetables Keep your body moving daily...yes daily Boost your mood, keep yourself smiling Avoid processed foods

Even though these seem like very basic things that everyone knows about, I find that most people are not making a conscious effort to ensure these factors are met every day. Many times when we get busy, some of these fall to the wayside and that's not ok if you want to keep your heart healthy.

Sleep is the time when our body heals and repairs itself. So, if you shortchange yourself in the area of sleep and relaxation, your overworked and overstressed body will rebel in the form of many health issues. Your heart is not immune to you overstressing your body so make sure to make time to rest and relax.

Your diet is the foundation of your health. So if you eat healthy fats like those found in nuts, fish, avocadoes and olive oil, just to name a few options, you'll be helping your body run less inflamed and more efficiently. Also, eating vegetables in all colors of the rainbow will help you filled up on vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help your heart run at its best.

Daily exercise doesn't mean that you have to put on your workout clothes and go to a gym every day. It just means that you should keep your body moving daily. Even when you are busy working, you can walk to your colleague's desk to ask questions instead of just shooting off an email. You can also take the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator. Parking farther away in the parking lot so you can walk farther can help get in your daily steps as well...and if you have a lunch time to chat with co-workers, why not take it outside for a noon time walk. It'll get you energized for your afternoon as well as keeping your heart ticking along healthily.

Many people aren't aware that depression and mood issues can affect your heart health as well, but it can. So, if you are having mood issues, talk to your doctor and get help. Allowing it to fester and wear your mind and body down is not the way to go. Social support is something that has been seen to be helpful for mood issues so maybe spending time with your loved ones or checking into seeing a therapist might help. If you are an animal person, some studies suggest that pets help with moods. So, whether it's a furry four-legged buddy or your best buddy from childhood, spend more time with loved ones to help keep your mood up so as to keep your heart healthy as well.

Finally, processed foods are the bane of our existence since it seems to erode our health in a multitude of different ways. Our heart is not immune either. So, next time you see a commercial for junk food, just say NO. I always tell patients to only stock their cupboards and fridge with healthy options so that if you are tempted, you only have healthy options in the house to choose from so as to cut down on your weak moment poor food choices. The chemicals and dyes and sugars in processed foods cause inflammation in your body and typically are high in fats and sugars, neither of which is good for your heart. So, try to remember that in regards to foods, your health depends on eating the right things and also NOT eating the wrong things.

W52. Three Ways to Improve Your Sleep

By Julie T. Chen, MD

Sleep is essential to your body's repair and restoration. If you don't sleep, your body starts to feel unhealthy and chaotic and worse yet, you can really get yourself ill. So, if you have trouble sleeping, how can you address that?

One of the most important things about sleep is that you have to establish good habits. We have a term for that in medicine and it's called "good sleep hygiene." Just like you have oral hygiene and your overall body hygiene to attend to, you should similarly see your sleep routine as something as important as brushing your teeth or taking a shower or bath.

Sleep is not optional. Let's first start with that. If your body needs 8 hours of sleep, don't force it to only get 6 hours of sleep just because you would prefer that. Every body is different and some bodies need more sleep and some need less. So, how can you tell how many hours of sleep you need?

When you go on your next vacation, don't set an alarm and don't stay up late watching TV or partying or reading. I want you to naturally see when you get tired, then go to bed. Then see when you naturally wake up in the morning without an alarm and feel good. You might need a few days into the vacation before you can test this out since your body may be jet-lagged if you traveled far and you may still be wound up from just finishing work.

So, give yourself a few days then test this out. However many hours your body naturally sleeps on its own without an alarm or interruptions is how much your body needs to rest every day. So keep that in mind the next time you want to train your body to sleep less, you need to remember that every person is programmed differently and you can't veer too drastically from that or your body will be too tired to do all the wonderful things you plan for yourself every day.

Finally, try to keep your sleep area as clutter-free and distraction-free as possible. You should make time to quiet your body before going to bed so that you can fall asleep easier. If you are doing computer work or watching suspenseful shows or dealing with stressful things right before bed, you will have a harder time falling asleep or you will have more fitful sleep throughout the night. I liken going to sleep to landing an airplane. So, if you have a stressful life or are dealing with stressful things, you should take some time before bed to calm yourself and quiet your environment by doing relaxing things and turning down the lights in the room to slowly get your body into a restful state. Similar to landing an airplane, you don't go from high altitude to landing quickly. You slowly land the plane so you can ease into the landing…you should do the same with sleep.

So, the three things you should do for better sleep are these: 1.Make sleep a priority so that you plan for it. 2.Remember your body needs the amount of sleep that it needs. So, stop trying to train it...you should listen to it and give it what it needs. 3.Ease into sleep. Make sure that you quiet yourself and your environment before sleep so you can have a restful night of sleep, because if you're going to take the time out of your busy schedule to sleep, you might as well make the quality of sleep good.

W51. Take a Stand Against Sitting

By Editorial Staff

Increasing evidence suggests prolonged sitting – even "productive" sitting, as many of us do at work every day – is associated with profound health risks – even death – compared to more active behaviors. The trouble is, evidence also suggests the solution isn't as simple as swapping out time sitting with time exercising. You can exercise for four hours a day at the gym, but if the remainder of your time is spent sitting, you increase your risk of developing cancer, heart disease and other entirely unpleasant –and life-threatening – conditions.

Now here's the good news. If you can't swap out sitting for exercising, new research suggests a simple solution: taking short breaks from sitting throughout the day. According to the study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, periodic five-minute walks reduce impaired blood flow in leg arteries, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, among other health issues. In the study, improvements were seen in participants who walked five minutes on a treadmill for every hour they spent sitting.

You probably don't have a treadmill at work, but just about anyone in a sedentary occupation can find a few minutes every hour to get up from your chair, stretch and do a little walking, whether it's around the block outside your office, climbing stairs if you're in a high-rise building, or even strolling from one end of the building to the other and back a few times. Talk to your doctor for more information.

W50. Train Your Brain to Crave the Right Foods

By Editorial Staff

You can train your brain to do just about anything – recall long strings of numbers or countless steps to complete a task; even when to fall asleep and wake up. But what about training your brain to crave healthy foods? According to a recent study published in Nutrition & Diabetes, your brain indeed possesses the capacity to "learn" what it should be encouraging you to eat.

In the study, researchers divided 13 overweight / obese subjects into two groups for comparison. Eight of the subjects received behavioral training that included portion-controlled menus; advice on healthy eating (at home and at restaurants); support-group sessions; a special diet that focused on more fiber and protein, and lower daily caloric intake (500-1,000 less calories a day); and tips to control hunger without overeating / indulging.

The researchers performed MRI scans before the intervention and six months later as study participants viewed various photos of foods. Scans suggested that following the weight-loss intervention, people were less likely to respond to images of high-calorie, high-fat foods than before. Specifically, researchers saw less brain activity in the "pleasure center" of the brain in response to these foods, and more activity in response to the lower-calorie foods.

Widely quoted in the media following the study's release, co-author Dr. Sai Krupa Das commented: "Our study shows those who participated in [the diet] had an increased desire for healthier foods along with a decreased preference for unhealthy foods, the combined effects of which are probably critical for sustainable weight control."

While these findings are preliminary and more research definitely needs to be done, they're encouraging considering what we know about the brain. Training the brain to crave the right foods might be the most effective, lasting way to beat obesity and the constellation of health conditions that accompany it. Talk to your doctor to learn more.

W49. Hard Facts about Alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption has a serious impact on people's lives as well as on our nation as a whole. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "excessive alcohol use the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for the nation.

Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death. In 2006, there were more than 1.2 million emergency room visits and 2.7 million physician office visits due to excessive drinking. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2006 were estimated at $223.5 billion."

The impact on a person's health is considerable. Short term impact includes:
Traffic injuries, falls, drownings, burns, and unintentional firearm injuries.
Violence, including intimate partner violence and child maltreatment.
Risky sexual behaviors that can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
Miscarriage and stillbirth among pregnant women.
A combination of physical and mental birth defects among children that last throughout life.
Alcohol poisoning that can cause loss of consciousness, low blood pressure and body temperature, coma, respiratory depression, or death.

W48. De-Stress with Tai Chi

By Bill Reddy, LAc, Dipl. Ac.

Tai chi, a 2,000-year-old Chinese fitness regimen with origins in the martial arts, features gentle movements similar to yoga and meditation. Research suggests it is effective in relieving stress, increasing flexibility and building strength. So, have you tried tai chi?

Beginning in the early 1970s, when the "bamboo curtain" was lifted, a few jewels of Chinese culture began to trickle into the West. One specific example of China's best-kept secrets is the use of acupuncture and tai chi to combat stress.

Stress can be simply defined as "what you feel when life's demands exceed your ability to meet those demands." A vast majority of people living in populated urban areas can identify with the feeling of being overwhelmed. Job, school, family and social engagements are all competing for their place on their collective schedules. Even though most people have little control over the stressors in their lives, they can actively change how they respond to them through the practice of tai chi or by getting acupuncture treatment.

The Chinese view physical manifestation of stress as a stagnation or blockage of internal energy, what they call qi (pronounced "chee"). Signs and symptoms of stress can include: tension headaches, sleep disturbances, hair loss, fatigue, hypertension, heart palpitations, cold hands and feet, and immune-system suppression, to name a few. Having a compromised immune system can present itself with symptoms such as frequent colds, flu, bronchitis or sinusitis, and in extreme cases, autoimmune disorders such as lupus and Crohn's disease.

Both acupuncture and tai chi are ways to release blockages and promote the free flow of this energy. Scientists are still trying to fully understand the mechanisms of acupuncture, the millennia-old method of inserting fine hair-like needles into the body to promote health and well-being. It has a strong scientific basis and has been featured in more than 11,000 journal articles available through the National Institutes of Health database, PubMed, studying acupuncture through double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials.

According to a Yale Medical School study involving 55 healthy volunteers, acupuncture was shown to significantly reduce stress, as measured by blood pressure, anxiety, heart rate and electrodermal activity. Medical doctors are interested in using this modality of treatment to relax patients before surgical procedures. Additionally, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in 1998, researchers demonstrated that acupuncture was 85.7 percent effective at treating patients with generalized anxiety disorder with no negative side effects.

In contrast, a common anti-anxiety drug such as Klonopin has the following side effects: clumsiness, dizziness, drowsiness, slurred speech, abdominal/stomach cramps, lack of sexual desire, constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth, headache, muscle spasms, nausea or vomiting, trembling and fatigue, to name a few. The major difference between Western (allopathic) medicine and Eastern medicine is that Western medicine tends to treat the symptoms (migraines, arthritis pain, allergies), whereas traditional Chinese medicine treats the root cause, leading to the symptom(s) disappearing.

Some experts describe tai chi as "acupuncture without needles." Webster's collegiate dictionary defines tai chi as "an ancient Chinese discipline of meditative movements practiced as a system of exercise," but this definition completely ignores the practice's ability to balance a person's qi.

Tai chi literally translates into English as "supreme ultimate," which gives a sense of how the Chinese view this art form. Not only do the slow twisting and untwisting movements of tai chi massage a practitioner's internal organs, increasing blood circulation and optimizing spinal-nerve transmission, but also they reduce key "stress chemicals" in the body. Seniors who practice tai chi regularly have a significantly lower chance of falls compared to their peers due to improved balance. Tai chi also benefits their cardiovascular and respiratory health and immune function, according to a 2004 article published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine Rehabilitation

W47. Is Your TV Killing You?

By Editorial Staff

OK, so we're not questioning the safety of the actual television itself, although these days, TVs are so high-tech that one wonders if any of the features could be putting your health at risk.

And yes, we do recognize that the TV can be unsafe when used improperly; e.g., thrown through a window in a moment of anger or unceremoniously dropped during a moving-day fiasco. No, we're talking about television viewing time and a recent study that suggests death may be the ultimate consequence of spending too much time in front of the boob tube.

In the study, adults who watched three or more hours of television per day had approximately double the risk of early death from any cause compared to adults who watched less than one hour daily. What's more, every two-hour increment of TV viewing was associated with a 40 percent increased risk of death compared to those who watched less than an hour.

It's important to note that the researchers took a variety of other health variables into account that also could have contributed to death, including diet, age, weight, smoking status and physical activity, to be certain their findings were justified. And their results support several previous investigations that yielded similar results: Too much TV can kill you – literally.

W46. Stressed? Five Ways To Manage It Before it Affects Your Health

By Julie T. Chen, MD

Stress plays a huge factor in anyone's overall health. The reason is because it affects you in your mind, your body, and your lifestyle habits.

When people are stressed, many people stop doing some of the things they used to do that's healthy such as exercising, eating healthy, making time to see friends and loved ones, and getting quality sleep. Stress also causes a dysregulation of your body's hormone system and leads to elevated secretion of your stress hormone cortisol. Our hormonal system is very intricately tied together so long term stress also can affect your brain chemicals as well as your thyroid and your metabolism, just to name a few affected factors.

So, how can you keep your mind, body, and healthy habits from falling apart?

Here are some tips I like to give to my patients in my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose CA:

Write down what your stressors are Write down your ideal situation or solution to the stressors Brainstorm ideas about how to realistically achieve the ideal solution Prioritize time every day for exercise for however long you have time for it Make sleep and nutrition a priority no matter how stressed you are...but prep for it

Let me explain this process...

First, you may feel stressed but sometimes we think we know what's stressing us but when you sit down and think about it, usually, there's more than one thing. For example, you might be stressed about a job presentation coming up. But many patients find that when they give themselves a few days to compile their stress list, they see that it's not just the presentation, it's also the fact that now you have no time to pick your kids from swim practice or cook dinner or you feel like your spouse is not supporting you enough at home when you have time crunch issues, etc. So, take one to five days to write down your list of stressors.

Then, after you have fully identified your stressors, I want you to write down the ideal situation for each. Once you do that, give yourself another few days to brainstorm ideas as to how to realistically achieve this solution. For example, you might be able to ask other mothers or fathers in the swim team to take turns picking up and dropping off kids so that you only have to do it once a week. Or, you can get a consensus from the family and do a week where you guys eat mostly salads or do take-out from healthy restaurant options when you have extra busy weeks. You can also ask your spouse to swap chores or roles in the household for each other so that when your spouse is busy, you pick up the slack but when you are busy, your spouse will.

When you are busy and stressed, don't expect that you'll have the same amount of time for exercise so go easy on yourself but you should still keep moving. Even 10 minutes every day or every other day of exercise can help you to be more efficient at work and at home and give you a bit more energy.

You should also set aside time to sleep because sleep is essential to you being effective and efficient at work and at home. If you are exhausted and not sleeping, the work you do will not be at your best. You'll take twice as long to get the work done if your mind and body is exhausted. So, make sleep a priority and set a lights-out time for sleep. This way, when you are awake, you can get more done and the quality of the work will be better...you'll be more efficient.

Finally, food is essential to how you feel and how you feel is essential in how effective you will be at managing your stressors. The best way to do this is to prepare for it. What do I mean by that? I mean, have groceries delivered to your house that's easy to prepare like pre-packaged salads or pre-cut vegetables or pre-marinated meats. These can end up being your lifesaver when you are short on time. If you only eat out at fast food restaurants, you will become more sluggish and you won't be able to produce the high quality of work you are usually able to do because processed foods worsen your quality of sleep, slows your body and makes your mind foggy. Just remember, athletes eat clean so that they can function at their best. When you are stressed, you need to function at your best...so make sure you are feeding your body the cleanest fuel it can get.

The point is that management of stress should be addressed in a systematic way just like you address your to-do lists. If you can make an organized attempt at managing your stress, it will seem more manageable than just feeling helpless about the chaos of whatever is causing your stress. Just remember that if you need help, you can't get it unless you ask.

So, look for support from friends, family and co-workers. You might be surprised how many other people are feeling the same way and maybe they are also looking for help. If you are able to shoulder more when you have less on your plate then they can shoulder more when you have more on your plate.

W45. Sunshine Reduces Colorectal Cancer?

Can being out in the summer sun help you reduce your chances of getting colorectal cancer? Turns out, yes it can. An interesting study published in Pub Med this month looked at the incidence of colorectal cancer based upon how far people lived form the equator.

Researchers wanted to discover if a greater exposure to sunlight would reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between ultraviolet B and global incidence of colorectal cancer, while controlling for relevant covariates.

They found that "incidence of colon cancer was highest in countries distant from the equator."

As you spend time this summer, be sure to get out doors and get some sun. Sunlight helps your body produce Vitamin D which is thought to have a positive impact on different kinds of cancer, including colorectal cancer.

W44. 5 Stress Solutions

By Editorial Staff

Stress can be a killer - quite literally, research suggests, but it can also make your day-to-day existence miserable. Who wants to walk (or rush) around all day as the oppressive weight of stress takes its toll on your body and mind? Here are five simple strategies to help you deal with stress and get back on the road to health and wellness:

1. Walk it off. There are so many physical and mental health benefits to a good walk; when it comes to stress, it's the perfect opportunity to relax, enjoy the outdoors and reduce your stress, either by forgetting about it for a while or having the chance to process it. In fact, in many cases stress isn't caused by a particular situation, but by the sense that you can't escape your situation – your too-loud, too-hectic, too-frantic, responsibility-filled day. A walk is your chance to escape. From a biochemical perspective, it's also a great way to relieve stress because physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, hormones known to relieve pain, reduce stress and increase your sense of happiness and well-being.

2. Talk about it. One of the things that makes stress so damaging is that we often keep it to ourselves. Sometimes talking about how stressed you are (and why) with someone else is exactly what's needed to reduce it or at least understand it a little better - and that's half the battle. Your significant other, a family member, a friend or even a co-worker might be just what you need to get your stress (and how it's affecting you) out in the open. And once it's out in the open, it's easier to deal with. So talk about it with someone who not only provides compassion and understanding, but also has the capacity (and willingness) to tell you not just what you want to hear, but what you need to hear – even if it hurts a little. In the long run, honestly and openness will go a long way toward melting your stress away.

3. Distract yourself. Stress doesn't have nearly as much power over you if you're not thinking about it. That can be a challenge, of course, especially when your every thought is focused on a particular stressor, but it's worth trying something – anything – to take your mind off your stress. This doesn't mean taking a walk, because if you take it alone, you'll likely obsess about your stress the whole time, and if you walk with a companion, you'll likely end up thinking and talking about it, too. True distraction means doing something that forces you to discard your stress to the greatest extent possible – try a baseball game, a night at the movies (particularly pure action or comedy), or even a good book or board game at home. Anything that requires your mind to focus on something other than your stress.

4. Deal with it. Too often, people let stress build until a molehill becomes a mountain, occupying their every thought and affecting their every action. If they'd dealt with the issue (to the best of their ability) at the outset, it might never have gotten to that point. How do we "deal" with stress? It can involve any of these five suggestions, but there are definitely a whole bunch more. It boils down to a few simple rules: a) Recognize when you're stressed; don't ignore it or pretend you're "fine." b) Understand why you're stressed; identify the source of the stress and think carefully about why it's affecting you. c) Find a way to reduce the stress (or eliminate it entirely); if that's not immediately possible, at least find a way to manage it so it doesn't continue to build.

5. Find the positives. There's a silver lining to every stressful situation or circumstance, whether it's stress about your job or career, your relationship, your family life, your (lack of) free time, your finances or anything else. It might be difficult to see at first, but it's definitely there. Think of stress as an opportunity to explore creative solutions that will not only ease your stress, but also reduce the chance it will return. What's good about your job? Use the positives to maximize your experience with your current employer – or plant seeds for your next job. Relationship needs mending? Your stress is the motivator to sit down with your partner and discuss exactly what's going wrong (and what's going right).

W43. Five Ways To Improve Your Health This Spring

By Julie T. Chen, MD

When it comes to health, we can always make an extra effort in either getting healthier or maintaining our health. So, if you wanted to improve upon your health, what are some easy ways to do so...but more importantly, which areas are the most important to focus on this spring? Let's start with a few simple steps.

1. Lower your sugar intake: First things first, if you have any elevation in your blood sugar level, or a.k.a. blood glucose level, then you need to address that ASAP. The reason is because excess sugar floating in your blood stream is one of the most damaging factors to a human body. Excess glucose levels in the blood lead to many diseases because of its inflammatory effects on our body. If you are concerned, ask your doctor to check a fasting blood glucose level as well as a Hemoglobin A1c level. With these two labs, you'll get a first look to see if your blood sugar level is alright or if you need to do damage control. If you leave this situation unchecked and allow this pro-inflammatory factor to persist in your body, you may be putting yourself at risk for diseases like diabetes, strokes, heart disease, degenerative neurological diseases, autoimmune diseases and even cancer, just to name a few. So definitely, ask your doctor for an evaluation if you haven't already done so.

2. Keep your body weight within normal range: Many diseases are linked to the fact that you are at higher risk for them if your body weight and fat percentage are above normal. I agree that we do not all fit into one body size mold and that's alright. But if you are measured at above the normal range, unfortunately the studies suggest potential worsening of risk factors for many diseases. So, while you may not be sure if your weight and body fat percentage is in the healthy range or not, your doctor would know if you go in for a check-up and ask him or her whether you need to be concerned about your weight. Since I haven't met you myself, I will leave that determination up to your doctor. But the main take away point here is to ask your physician about this issue so you know where to go in your plan for your diet and exercise regimen.

3. Make time to exercise daily: Yes, I said daily…but no, I don't mean it has to be on a treadmill or elliptical machine. I just mean that you need to make an effort to move every day, whether it's walking stairs at work or walking around with your dog or your spouse before or after work. The fact is that as long as you move daily, your body will always be healthier than if you didn't. So, get that idea out of your head that "exercise" has to be in tight spandex and running on a stationary machine. Exercise just means that you should move your body every day and I don't mean just your feet when you're driving or your fingers when you are working on your computer. You need to get up and walk or run or bike or dance or yes, basically move your entire body as much as you can during the day. Ultimately, our bodies are made for moving and studies show that those who exercise are generally healthier and have less health issues. Oh, by the way, did I mention that it's a great stress-reliever? Yup, you should definitely start taking those stairs so you can feel less stressed at work.

4. Make sleep a priority: Sleep is the time when our body heals. Our hectic schedules these days and the less than optimized foods we consume put our bodies through a lot of stress. So, if you don't make time to sleep, how do you expect your body to heal? So, don't just pencil in your time to sleep, make it a priority. If you get enough sleep, you will be more efficient at getting your work and to-do list done the next day. So, don't just set your alarm to get up in the morning. You should set an alarm to signal the time when you should be going to bed so that you can put away your computer or turn off your TV…it's about time you made sleep the sacred time that it should be.

5. Make sure that your meals at least 40-50% vegetables: Vegetables are Mother Nature's medicine for us. Within vegetables, you can find all sorts of vitamins and minerals. Many herbs that used to be incorporated into cooking all the time are now being used in capsule form for medicinal purposes. So, if your meals are about 40-50% vegetables, you are essentially healing your body through your foods without even having to try too hard. If you are not a big fan of vegetables, you should try out other vegetables you've never tried before. I can't tell you how many times I hear from patients in my clinic of integrative medicine in San Jose CA that they had no idea that they would like brussel sprouts or zucchini or squash or kale, just to name a few. So, this Spring, be adventurous…don't just hike in Mother Nature's backyard, you should eat some of your great vegetable creations as well.

W41. Protect Your Kidneys

Be aware of the dangers involved in mixing your Tylenol with alcohol, you could be jeopardizing the health of your kidneys.

A study recently released by the American Public Health Association (APHA) found that the combination of alcohol and acetaminophen (the primary ingredient in Tylenol) could have a negative impact on a person's kidneys.

Researchers noted that "results from the study indicated that neither taking a therapeutic amount of acetaminophen nor consuming a light to moderate amount of alcohol posed a particularly greater risk to an individual's kidneys.

alcohol and pills - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark However, when taken in combination with one another, results showed a 123 percent increase in risk of kidney dysfunction."

All drugs have side effects. Mixing drugs with alcohol can elevate those side effects significantly. Make sure to talk to your doctor if you suspect you may have combined these two or would like advice on alternatives to acetaminophen.

W40. Chronic Inflammation: The New "Silent Killer"

By Linsay Way, DC

Inflammation is big business, evidenced by not only the laundry lists of medications patients bring me aimed at managing inflammation, but also the never-ending stream of advertisements for anti-inflammatory supplements that constantly find their way to my desk. With an aging population looking to live longer and function better in their later years, people are desperate for anything that might help them combat this mysterious enemy responsible for aching knees, degenerating joints, and even more serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

This isn't just a concern for seniors; inflammation needs to be taken seriously no matter what your age or physical condition. In fact, though hypertension has traditionally been known as the "silent killer," chronic inflammation deserves that reputation as well.

Unfortunately, whether by design or not, the pharmaceutical and supplement industries have made understanding inflammation incredibly confusing for the average consumer. Far too often this leads people to either get "locked on" to a minor part of the puzzle, thinking they're taking care of inflammation while ignoring the big picture; or simply give up on preventing inflammation and reach for their NSAIDs instead.

Breaking Down Inflammation

Inflammation is the body's emergency response to an injury caused by an infection, environmental toxin, trauma or biomechanical dysfunction. When an inflammation response is triggered, soft tissue releases chemical signaling proteins called cytokines. These chemical messengers cause dilation of local capillaries, increasing blood flow to the area (resulting in warmth and redness) and allowing leakage of blood plasma into surrounding tissues (resulting in swelling and the pain associated with increased pressure on nerve endings).

Cytokines also make capillary endothelial cells "sticky," allowing white cells to rapidly move into the area and eliminate damaged tissue and invading pathogens. As the white blood cells work to clear out damaged tissue and/or foreign microorganisms, they release substances that cause additional pain and swelling.

Acute inflammation is a normal and necessary part of the body's healing process. In fact, when it comes to exercise, increased cytokine activity is actually beneficial: Cytokines increase muscle glucose uptake during exercise and set off a series of events required for muscle-fiber growth and repair afterward.

Short-term inflammation is normal; it only becomes a big deal when inflammation is long-term and systemic. Chronic inflammation can cause generalized joint and muscle pain, and the longer it goes on, the more likely it will lead to more serious health problems such as insulin resistance, DJD, heart disease, obesity, cancer and dementia, all of which are driven by chronic inflammation.

W39. Great Ways to Help Prevent Prostate Cancer

By James P. Meschino, DC, MS

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in men in the United States, accounting for 27,000 deaths each year. Rates of recurrence for early-stage disease are relatively high, and mortality rates for late-stage disease have not improved significantly over the past 10 years.

In regard to prostate cancer prevention, as much as 75 percent of prostate cancer is attributable to dietary and lifestyle factors, according to data published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. In my opinion, all men – and their loved ones – need to understand the steps to prostate cancer prevention:

Dietary Recommendations

Drink 3 cups of green tea daily.

Avoid high-fat animal foods such as red meat, pork products and high-fat dairy products, as well as foods high in trans fats, and deep-fried and pan-fried foods.

Ingest no more than 2-3 alcoholic drinks per week on average.

Eat one serving of a cruciferous vegetable at least three times per week (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower).

Consume tomatoes and tomato products (e.g., tomato sauce, tomato juice) at least 4-5 times per week to acquire the protective properties of lycopene.

Include soy products in your diet regularly. Studies show that soy foods and/or soy extract supplements block key steps in prostate cancer development and help manage many existing prostate cancer cases.

Drink 4-8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily.

Consume 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily.

W38. Do Hospitals Take More Lives Than They Save?

By Editorial Staff

When you're suffering from any type of acute illness or traumatic injury, receiving treatment for a severe, chronic condition, or even experiencing the joy of childbirth, where do you usually go? The hospital, of course, where helping hands with a wealth of tools at their disposal stand ready to help. But wait: What if your hospital visit not only didn't improve your condition, but actually made it worse – terminally worse?

Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine published its groundbreaking report, To Err Is Human, estimating that as many as 98,000 people die annually from preventable hospital errors. Well, welcome to 2014 and a study published recently in the Journal of Patient Safety. According to the study, the low estimate of annual preventable deaths that occur in hospitals nationwide is 210,000; the high estimate nearly doubles that figure to 400,000 deaths.

Besides pointing out the need for reform and review to ensure patients get better, not worse, when treated at hospitals, these findings emphasize the value of preventive, conservative care that, at least in certain cases / situations, may reduce or altogether eliminate the need for hospital care – and its attendant risks – in the first place. After all, if you never develop heart disease or diabetes, you'll likely never require a hospital procedure for either condition – a procedure that could go wrong, causing potentially deadly consequences.

W37. Beat Inflammation With Turmeric

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. It has been used for thousands of years in India as a spice and food additive, helping give many curries color and flavor. The plant's root and rhizome, or underground stem, are used medicinally.

Historically, turmeric has been prescribed to treat a wide range of conditions, from skin diseases and constipation to poor vision and rheumatism. More current research has found it to be beneficial in patients with indigestion and ulcers; a double-blind trial conducted in 1986 found it to be superior than pharmaceuticals for treating postsurgical inflammation.

The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin, which has been shown to have a variety of beneficial properties. Among its documented actions, it acts as an antioxidant and protects against damage from free radicals; reduces inflammation by lowering histamine levels; protects the liver from toxic compounds; and reduces platelets from clumping together, which improves circulation and helps protect against atherosclerosis. Anecdotal evidence has shown that curcumin may fight cancer and inhibit HIV from spreading, although further studies need to be conducted to determine its true effectiveness.

The German Commission E recommends a daily dose of 1.5-3 grams of turmeric root. Some practitioners also recommend a standardized turmeric extract containing 400-600mg of curcumin three times per day in capsule or tablet form.

Whole, cut and powdered turmeric root is available in a variety of forms, the most common of which are capsules and coated tablets. Turmeric tinctures and compound preparations are also available.

Used as recommended, turmeric is generally safe; however, some anecdotal reports have linked to extended use and overdosing. It should not be used by pregnant or lactating women. In addition, patients with gallstones or obstructed bile ducts should avoid turmeric unless approved by a health care provider.

There are currently no well-known drug interactions with turmeric.

W36. Make Your Gut A Priority

By Marlene Merritt, DOM, LAc, ACN

We think it's so easy — just take that probiotic to make up for whatever damage might have happened from the prescription antibiotic your doctor gave you, and you'll be fine, right? And that antibiotic — you hear about antibiotic resistance, but you take it correctly, and you really needed it for that sinus infection, so it's not that big of a deal either, right? You're wrong in ways that you can't possibly imagine and that should make you very, very nervous.

The World Health Organization has started to use the phrase "The Post-Antibiotic Era" to describe our current period of time. In September 2013, the Centers for Disease Control issued its first solid numbers regarding antibiotic resistance. It estimates at least 2 million Americans fall ill to antibiotic-resistant infections, and between 23,000 to 100,000 people die from them every year. There are 23 known bacteria that are COMPLETELY resistant to anything we throw at them, and that number is, of course, climbing.

This resistance has occurred for a couple of reasons: one is, the CDC says that 50 percent of the prescriptions written for antibiotics are unnecessary or inappropriate (for example, when a broad-spectrum antibiotic is given when a culture isn't taken to determine a more targeted drug), and two, because 80 percent of available antibiotics are actually given to animals in confined feed lots (which might make you decide to buy grass-fed, or at least, antibiotic-free meat). Roundup® glyphosphate, found in conventionally raised farming, has been shown to have an inhibitory effect on food microorganisms and suppress beneficial bacteria in the gut.

healthy gut You probably have no idea how ineffective antibiotics are for the things they're prescribed for most often. They're not effective for bronchitis, sinus infections or ear infections. They are incorrectly prescribed in 80 percent of strep infections. And, of course, they are often given for the common cold or the flu, despite the fact that those are both viral, because either the patient demands a prescription, or because the doctor wants to prophylactically prevent a secondary bacterial infection. Think about all the times in your life you've taken an antibiotic — it's most often for respiratory conditions and yet are the least effective. The person who says, one or two months after his sinus infection, that he's gotten another one, probably has the same infection that wasn't properly handled or was resistant to medication. When people feel better taking an antibiotic, it's often just because of a reduction in the pathogenic bacteria, not because it's actually killing them off, and it's been shown time and time again that taking an antibiotic only reduces your illness time by a day or two. "But that's a lot!" you cry. However, if you knew, though, that taking that antibiotic might PERMANENTLY damage your gut flora, or cause other bacteria to become resistant, you might pause, or possibly decline taking that medicine. And it's now been found that bacteria "talk" to each other, and convey resistance to medications. Yes, that means bacteria are passing on antibiotic resistance to other bacteria.

The biggest problem is, our gut flora can't take this abuse. Let's start with some basics that will explain why this is potentially such a problem. You inherit your gut flora from your mother in a vaginal birth and continue to populate your gut with different strains from the air, food, soil, etc. until the age of two, when it's "set." Going back to your mother, how healthy was her gut flora? How many antibiotics did she take in her lifetime? How about your grandmother? We've had antibiotics for 80 years now and while there's no doubt that they've saved a lot of lives, there's no doubt they are less and less effective, and the collective damage to gut flora is irreparable. Add in the high Caesarean section rate, and you can begin to get an idea that our gut flora is currently the weakest in human history. Studies are showing that babies born of C-sections have higher rates of Celiac disease, autoimmune disorders like Type 1 diabetes, and obesity.

Our gut flora outnumbers our body cells by 10-to-1. Yes, we're only 10 percent human. The Human Microbiome Project is attempting to distinguish all the different actions and functions of the gut flora, but to give you some idea on this:

It is estimated that 70-90 percent of your immune system resides in your gut. Autoimmune diseases have been directly linked to imbalances in gut flora, and Celiac disease has been directly linked to dysbiosis. We had, a patient in her 60s who got debilitating Celiac disease after a single round of antibiotics, and another who improved his ulcerative colitis 80 percent by not washing the vegetables from his garden.

Gut bacteria are responsible for B vitamins, vitamin K, and the production of amino acids and fatty acids.

It is now being thought that gut microbes, along with some of the inflammatory foods we're eating, like junk food and bad fats, make endotoxins, which are one of the root causes of inflammation. Rats with no gut microbes can eat any amount of "bad" foods and not gain weight or have inflammation, but when given gut flora, immediately develop high levels of endotoxins, and the resulting inflammation. And those endotoxins? Huge contributors to leaky gut syndrome.

Your gut has the same number of neurons as your spinal cord, and about 95% of your body's serotonin is produced in the gut, as well as many other neurotransmitters. It almost seems odd, then, to have prescriptions for SSRI medications and never actually deal with what might be happening in the gut.

Your gut flora individuality is like a fingerprint, in that it's different for everyone. That being said, diversity is the key to health, in regards to microbes, and if you don't have diversity, or you don't have the right type of bacteria, it leaves you open to a host of diseases, including obesity. It's this diversity of your gut, not just the number of bacteria, which seems to be key to staying healthy. First world children have less diversity than third world children, with corresponding levels of asthma and allergies, and even though rural third-world countries have greater exposure to infectious diseases and lower life expectancies, they also have much lower rates of overall degenerative and chronic diseases.

W35. When Food Makes You Sick

Listeria. Salmonella. Outbreak. You might recognize these three words from recent headlines. They are indicators of a growing number of food-borne illnesses that have been plaguing hundreds of people around the country. Bacteria in food is very common, but outbreaks seem to take the spotlight for the large number of people they make sick. We cannot always control what bacteria lies in our food, but we can take preventative measures to ensure we don't fall prey to food-borne illnesses in the future. Here are five ways you can protect your health:

Wash your fresh fruits and vegetables - Many packages of fruits and vegetables often note they are sold "pre-washed" or "triple-washed" but one can never be too sure. When you purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, make sure to wash them thoroughly and invest in a vegetable washing soak if possible. This can ensure that if you cook or make a salad with vegetables and fruits, it is free of toxins and possible lingering bacteria. Watch your uncooked poultry and handle carefully - When you buy poultry, you need make sure you are handling it out of the packaging in a sanitary space; that means cleaning off counters and using a cutting board if possible. Also, make sure to wash your hands before handling poultry. Once you are ready to prepare it, make sure it does not come into contact with other foods you may have laying around and always make sure to wipe off and clean the space the poultry was at very thoroughly. food preparation Check dates - With fresh meats and vegetables, always make sure to check dates of expiration in case the food you buy might have had too long of a shelf life and acquired unnecessary bacteria. Clean your cooking utensils - When cooking fresh meats or vegetables, make sure to use only clean utensils. This will ensure you are not picking up bacteria from other surfaces. Do not leave food out for too long - Make sure to cook your open packages of food right away. Poultry and seafood should not be left out for too long.

Make sure you are aware of recent outbreaks and take extra precaution with your food purchases. It could save your life.

W34. Say No to Cold Medicine, Yes to Honey

By Editorial Staff

You've been up half the night with your toddler, who came home from day care with the latest flu bug and can't sleep due to a nasty cough and stuffy nose. You head to your medicine cabinet, which is stocked with all sorts of over-the-counter cough and cold remedies. But which one do you choose? Actually, the answer is none.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a public health advisory recommending that over-the-counter cough and cold products not be given to infants and children under 2 years of age because of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects that can occur. In the advisory, the FDA said it "strongly supports the actions taken by many pharmaceutical manufacturers to voluntarily withdraw cough and cold medicines being sold for use with this age group."

Where do you turn when your infant or toddler has the sniffles or a cough? A recent study suggests that a natural alternative commonly found in your kitchen could provide children - and parents - with much-needed relief. The study, published in the found that parents rated honey most favorably for symptomatic relief of their child's nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty because of a cough due to an upper respiratory tract infection.

One hundred five children ages 2 to 18 years old with upper respiratory tract infections were given either a single dose of buckwheat honey, honey-flavored dextromethorphan (a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medications) or no treatment at all 30 minutes prior to bedtime. A dose of honey consistently scored the best while no treatment scored the worst. However, it is important to note that children under two years of age should not be given honey.

If you decide to give an over-the-counter cough or cold medicine to children over the age of 2, the FDA recommends parents follow these guidelines. (By the way, the FDA is debating whether to extend its public health advisory to include children up to age 6.)

A spoon pouring honey into a bottle shaped like a bear. Check the "active ingredients" section of the drug facts label to help you understand what active ingredients are in the medicine and what symptoms each ingredient is intended to treat.

Be careful not to give your child more than one over-the-counter medicine, as they each may have high concentrations of more than one active ingredient, essentially giving your child an overdose of that ingredient. For example, children should not take more than one medicine containing an antihistamine. Carefully follow the directions on the "drug facts" portion of the label. Only use the measuring spoon or cup that comes with the medicine or those made specially for measuring drugs. Choose over-the-counter cough and cold medicines with childproof safety caps and store them out of the reach of children. Understand that using over-the-counter cough and cold medicine is only intended to treat your child's symptoms. Do not use these products to sedate your child or make them sleepier. Call a physician, pharmacist or other health care professional if you have any questions.

But remember, according to the study, a dose of honey just might prove more effective, and you probably won't have to do much convincing to get your child to swallow it. It's not a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, but a spoonful of honey just might be the next best thing when dealing with your child's cough.

W33. Quitting Smoking is Critical

By Julie T. Chen, MD

Smoking is one of those topics that, whether you are a conventional doctor or an integrative physician or an alternative practitioner, we all agree is not good for someone's health. Just how bad can it be?

Smoking tobacco can raise concerns for increased risks of cancers, hypertension, heart disease, strokes, blood clots, skin age spots, and early wrinkles, just to name a few concerns. So quitting smoking can affect many aspects of your health ranging from your looks such as the health of your skin to the health of your internal organs like your lung and heart.

When we are taught in medical school about helping a patient with quitting smoking, or what we call smoking cessation, we are taught to assess a person's readiness for change. All too often, physicians take on the tactic of simply reprimanding the patient or briefly mentioning a one line of "you should quit" but what is most effective is to help the person understand what they are missing with the continuation of smoking and what they can gain but quitting smoking.

A method called motivational interviewing approaches the person with questions based on curiosity to help the patient achieve an internal understanding of the benefits of quitting smoking on his or her own. This has been proven to be more effective in bringing about habit and lifestyle changes. So, if you have a loved one who is a smoker and you are concerned about its negative impact on health, your best bet in helping him or her quit is to be lovingly persistent in gently broaching the subject in a way where he or she can grasp the benefits of smoking cessation. It would not be helpful to just simply badger the person daily on the topic, I have seen patients respond negatively to that and thus reinforcing their own interest in persisting in smoking.

My recommendation is to help him or her see the positives of quitting by asking what they think they would gain from it. Then, ask him or her what the concerns are about quitting. Once those concerns are delineated, then you can help the person brain storm for ideas as to how to avoid those obstacles or concerns regarding smoking cessation.

Once you or your loved one is ready to quit, you should approach your family members and your doctor for support to help you through the process. People have a higher success rate of being able to quit and staying off the habit if they have the support of those around them...this is true for most lifestyle habit changes.

There are of course many pharmaceutical options to help with smoking cessation these days and you should ask your doctor for assistance because he or she would always be happy to help you achieve this since smoking cessation has a tremendous positive impact on many health parameters your doctor cares about like the diseases I mentioned above.

So, if you are the one wanting to quit smoking...well, have the battle is already won because you are at least already at the stage of wanting to quit. Please express this desire to your doctor and your family and friends so they can help you through this. The health benefits will be tremendous.

And, if you are someone with a loved one who smokes but he or she isn't ready to quit...be patient and loving in your approach of wanting them to quit. Try to gently address your concerns with them and start that dialogue of what you could achieve if they weren't smoking...once you have them thinking about all the positives of smoking cessation, you'll have a better chance of getting them a step closer to wanting to quit for themselves.

W32. Beat Those Allergies

With the seasons constantly changing, many people are forced to confront one unfortunate inconvenience that can wreak havoc on their daily schedules - allergies. Allergies are exaggerated immune responses to substances that are generally not considered harmful. There are many different types of allergies, such as food allergies and skin allergies. Allergic rhinitis is a type of allergy that occurs when your immune system overreacts to airborne particles such as dust, dander, or pollen, causing symptoms such as a runny or itchy nose and sneezing. Some of the most common symptoms of allergies are a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, coughing and even fatigue.

So, what are some remedies? There is an abundance of over-the-counter medications on the market these days to tackle allergies, but often many of these have side effects and can cause problems with other parts of the body.

The good thing is that alternative medicine can come to the rescue by offering those suffering from allergies some relief. Almost 40% of Americans today try some form of alternative medicine, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says. Some effective allergy busters include acupuncture, herbal supplements and even tea.

Acupuncture is a healing practice that originated in China over 5,000 years ago and has been proven effective in tackling many allergies. In order to get the full benefit, acupuncture treatments must be consistent over a period of time. There are also numerous herbal remedies that have also proven effective in treating allergies. These 4 tips are also useful:

1. Drink More Water Drink at least 8 to 10 cups of pure water daily to support the natural cleansing systems in your body.

2. Drink Green Tea Green tea is packed with a powerful antioxidant phytonutrient called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that blocks histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE). Both of these naturally-produced chemicals are linked with uncomfortable allergy-symptoms. Drink two to three cups of green tea daily for the best results.

3. Pick Pineapple Enzyme for Allergy Relief Extracted from pineapple, when taken on an empty stomach, the enzyme bromelain treats sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, and other respiratory disorders; acts as an anti-inflammatory; and reduces lung swelling.

4. Flush Your Nasal Passages Flushing your nasal passages can help release toxins that may be making your allergies worse. Try to flush every month or every other week.

Talk to your chiropractor about your allergies for further guidance on treating them naturally.

W31. 5 Steps to a Stress-Free Summer

By Editorial Staff

Summer's finally here, bringing warm weather, long days and plenty of time to enjoy it. After all, with kids out of school and your vacation time likely reaching its max, you've got the perfect opportunity to chill out, de-stress and relax.

But is that what's going to happen? Too many people turn summer into just another stressful experience, when it should be just the opposite. After all, your exercise, nutrition and overall health goals are easier than ever to meet during the summer months. Here are five steps you can take to make this summer the stress-free variety:

1. Move Your Gym Outdoors: OK, so let's start with your fitness plan, which has been going well enough that you're comfortable in your summer swimsuit. But wait: Now you're stressed because the weather's nice and you don't want to spend every day in the gym to maintain that beach body you've worked so hard to attain. Good news: Summer's the perfect time to take your workout outdoors and stay in great shape – and have fun doing it! Whether it's a day at the beach chasing down Frisbees, a bike ride through the park or your favorite athletic activity (tennis, anyone?), sunny days and warmer temperatures give you ample opportunity to exercise outside of your normal gym routine.

2. Healthy Summer Harvest: Good nutrition is even easier during the summer, with various fruits and vegetables in season and ready to be combined in your favorite antioxidant-bursting summer salads, entrees and desserts. And with the weather in your favor, get out of that stuffy kitchen and have a few picnic celebrations to elevate your mood, spend time with family and friends, and remind yourself that stress may be back for three seasons of the year, but this summer, you're kicking it to the curb.

3. Take a Technology Break: We'll say it once and once only: This summer, do everything you can to pull yourself, your kids and everyone you know away from those screens - small, large and in between - and de-stress by getting away from technology and enjoying the wonder of the outdoors. Don't you spend enough time glued to your computer, smartphone, television and various other technological "advances"? They're certainly not advances when it comes to your health. Just think about it: How often does your cellphone irritate or frustrate you, versus relax and soothe you? You know the answer. So leave your devices at home whenever possible this summer and reap the benefits.

4. The Power of White Noise: Quality sleep is an increasingly fleeting luxury these days as our lives become ever-more frantic and stressful (see step 3 for a possible contributor to the problem). With warm, lazy nights at your disposal this summer, improve your chances of getting a good night's sleep by relying on Mother Nature for some white noise. If it's safe to do so where you live, leave a bedroom window open and let the crickets put you to sleep - and keep you there. If windows need to be closed, why not try a sunset walk around the neighborhood to de-clutter your mind, process your day and prepare you for restful, refreshing sleep? Your body and mind will thank you for it.

5. Better Safe Than Sorry: While you're spending all this quality time outdoors, remember to protect yourself from nature's harshest element: the sun. Nothing raises the stress bar more during the summer than a painful, dangerous sunburn; especially one you could have prevented simply by applying sunscreen to exposed areas, wearing a hat, and avoiding direct sunlight during the middle of the day (approximately 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.). In this case, you'll be reducing your personal stress by feeling confident you're protecting yourself, and reducing the stress on your body that results from sun-induced damage, which can lead to skin cancer.

W30. Boost Your Immune System

By Julie T. Chen, MD

I know most of us think that we only have to worry about our immune system during the winter months but a healthy immune system throughout the rest of the year is actually important in helping us ward off infections during the winter months.

In fact, we should be boosting our immune system all year round. So, how can we do it in a natural way?

A strong healthy diet foundation is essential for immune support. Many of my patients in my clinic of integrative medicine in San Jose CA think that as long as they have one vegetable or fruit a day, they are fine. But I highly recommend patients to eat vegetables at every meal and they should be eating a variety of colors of vegetables. In doing so, patients can ensure that they are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need for a healthy immune system.

When it comes down to it, our immune cells need both vitamins and minerals and if you don't want to have to figure out all the minutiae of which to take, you should just get into the easy habit of eating a rainbow colored diet of vegetables, beans, nuts, healthy fats, and whole grain starches. If you eat a balanced diet at every meal, you'll ensure that your immune soldiers are well fed hence able to help you combat colds.

Another factor that is important for immune function is sleep. Sleep is when our body heals and repairs. Oftentimes, when people are lacking sleep or under a lot of stress, that is usually the time when you would catch a cold. So, make sure to put aside time for sleep and relaxation. In doing so, again, your immune function will be better equipped to help you ward off infections.

Finally, exercise is important in keeping your body efficient in protecting itself from outside sources of harm…like infections. Mild to moderate exercise about 3-5 days per week should help keep your body's immune system healthy. Extreme exercise can suppress immune function so if you are someone who likes to do extreme marathon training or sports activities, make sure to allow your body to heal and rest in between your training sessions so that you do not over-tax your immune system.

If unfortunately despite good healthy efforts at supporting your immune system, you are still unable to ward off a cold, you can try supplements such as black elderberry, vitamin C, vitamin D3, Echinacea, and Zinc, just to name a few options. I highly recommend taking these only if cleared by your doctor to make sure you are not on medications or do not have any medical issues that may prevent you from safely taking these. You should also see your doctor before starting these to evaluate the seriousness of your infection and to see if you need medications like antibiotics for it.

Finally, there is one last thing to do that will help you to avoid infections…make sure you wash your hands frequently and wipe down public areas where germs are easily spread before you touch it. Prevention is always key to the healthiest you we can achieve.

W29. Insomnia: What It Could Mean

By Julie T. Chen, MD

Sleep is essential for your body to heal…so what happens if you can't fall asleep or you have trouble maintaining sleep? When that happens, it can be extremely frustrating because for most of us, how we perform or feel the next day, depends on how well we've slept the night before.

I know that I personally am not at my best if I don't get a good night of sleep. So, what are the concerns in regards to insomnia? Why is poor quality of sleep such a health problem?

For starters, sleep is the time when our cells and organs can repair and heal itself. So if you do not get a good night of sleep, the concern is that over time, the body is never given adequate restoration or healing time. Also, many illnesses can lead to sleep issues so if you are having new insomnia issues, you may want to be checked for diseases such as, but are not limited to, autoimmune diseases, thyroid diseases, adrenal fatigue, dementia, depression, anxiety. Therefore, when you are having trouble sleeping, it may be an indication that your health isn't at its optimal state. If you are indeed having new insomnia issues, you should definitely ask your doctor for a physical exam and lab tests for evaluation of your health status.

So, what can you use for insomnia without being worried about creating a dependency to medications or supplements for insomnia?

In my clinic of integrative medicine, I usually recommend a few supplements as a starting point for insomnia. These supplements tend to be safer for the general public and people taking them can feel safe that they won't become "dependent" on them. My top three favorites are: 1.Theanine 2.Magnesium 3.5-HTP or L-Tryptophan

Theanine is an amino acid that helps to calm anxiety and promote relaxation and rest. It is mild and can be used for those who find that they can't shut off their mind when trying to go to sleep. You would take 100-200mg about 10 minutes before bed.

Magnesium is great at calming anxiety and for helping with quality of sleep as well. If you want to take it, have your doctor check your magnesium level and make sure you are safe to take it and ask your doctor at what dosage you should take it based on your labs. Magnesium is also necessary for muscle activity and will help those with leg cramps or muscle tightness and spasms if you are seen in your labs to be deficient. It tends to loosen your stool so it will help with constipation as well, but be wary of using this if you have a tendency towards loose stools or diarrhea already. Those with kidney disease may not be able to clear this as well, so make sure to check with your doctor before using this.

5-HTP or L-tryptophan has the added benefit of helping your mood and helps to put you to sleep. If you have low mood and insomnia, this potentially would be a good option for you. I generally recommend about 100-200mg of 5-HTP per night or 500mg of L-tryptophan per night for the average person with average weight and health. If you are on any anti-depressant drugs or any drugs that already have serotonin effects, you should not be using this and should clear it with your doctor first before trying it.

Although these options tend to have the most benefit with the least amount of problems and grogginess in the mornings, there are still a potential for interactions if you are on other supplements and medications so please clear any new supplements by your doctor first.

I know that most of you with insomnia probably have already looked into supplement options so probably know about other options like valerian root, lemon balm, melatonin, kava kava, and passionflower, just to name a few other options. But in my experience, these tend to cause more drowsiness in the morning and potentially have more side effects if you have environmental allergies to various plants. Having said that, these are still viable options for those with very severe insomnia and need stronger agents to get to sleep.

Either you use these herbs or the options I mentioned above, you should always clear your supplements with your doctor to make sure you are being safe…and most importantly, practice good sleep hygiene and avoid caffeine, turn down the lights a few hours before bed to get your body more relaxed and increase your own melatonin and don't do activating activities like work or watch stressful shows before bed. Ultimately, good sleep hygiene is the most effective and safest way of helping your own body enter naturally into the restful stages of sleep you so desperately crave.

W28. Get Fit, Stay Happy

By Editorial Staff

Depression is a significant health issue for several different reasons. First is the impact the symptoms have on people's lives: low mood, low self-esteem, and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Evidence also suggests that more than half of all people who commit suicide suffer from some form of short-term or permanent depression. And let's not forget that the primary treatment option for depression is anti-depressant medication, which some claim is widely overprescribed and is associated with mild to severe side effects, the worst being – you guessed it – and increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

Now here's some good news: A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests physical activity, particularly early in life, may help reduce the risk of depression later. Specifically, the study found that "lower cardiovascular fitness at age 18 was associated with increased risk of serious depression in adulthood." Study participants were followed for up to 40 years, strengthening the study's finding that early cardiovascular fitness can have a long-term impact on depression risk throughout adulthood.

Physical activity has also been associated with a reduced risk of depression in general because exercise encourages the production / release of endorphins, the body's "feel good" chemicals, while reducing production of cortisol and other "stress" hormones. So remember, it's never too early – or too late – to start exercising. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

W27. High Fiber for Stroke Protection

When it comes to discussing fiber, most people will think of weight loss and better digestion. Now, researchers are attributing a diet high in fiber with it being a protection against a stroke in the future. Incorporating high fiber foods can actually help you reduce your risk of having a stroke, according to research from eight observational studies, all with at least three years of follow-up.

The study, which was published and highlighted last month in various health journals such as Stroke found that each 7-gram per day increase in fiber intake reduced the risk for a first stroke by about 7 percent.

So what kind of fiber is the kind you should be looking for? Researchers noted things like water soluble fiber — the kind found in beans, nuts and other foods — as well as insoluble fiber and cereal fiber. Both of these seemed to reduce the risk of stroke slightly.

According to background information in the study, the current average fiber intake in the United States is about 13 grams a day for women and 17 for men. Increasing these by 7 grams a day would bring them close to the recommended levels of 21 to 25 grams for women and 30 to 38 for men.

So if you are looking to decrease your risk of stroke make an effort to increase your fiber intake by at least seven grams to have that extra beneficial effect. Some ways to do that is by eating more fruits and vegetables and decreasing your consumption of white breads and crackers and instead choosing multigrain and whole wheat options. Talk to your doctor about other ways to increase dietary fiber in your diet.

W26. Healthy Food Choices 101: Helping Kids Eat Right

By Editorial Staff

If you want kids to eat right, you can talk to them about the importance of healthy food until you're blue in the face, but sometimes you just need to remove the unhealthy options and replace them with healthier alternatives. For example, a recent study assigned 201 students entering the 3rd to 6th grades to one of four snacking conditions: potato chips only, cheese only, vegetables only, and a cheese and vegetable combo. Students were allowed to consume their snack freely while watching a 45-minute television program to gauge which snack scenario contributed the most to caloric intake and feelings of hunger.

While as might be expected, children in the potato chip group consumed by far the most calories (720 calories, compared with 200 for the cheese group, 170 for the cheese / veggie combo group, and 60 for the vegetable group), perhaps the most interesting finding was that children who ate the combination cheese / veggie snack needed far fewer calories to achieve a feeling of fullness than those who ate potato chips.

healthy snacks That suggests they didn't consume fewer calories because they didn't eat the healthier snack, but because it actually filled them up (as good foods are known to do compared with refined, processed foods that tend to spike blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry).

The point here is one that's been echoed for decades, but is too-often ignored: Put good things in front of your children and they might actually like them (or at least try them); put bad things in front of them and you're asking for trouble. That's why experts recommend placing healthy foods / snacks within easiest reach in your fridge and pantry, rather than tempting kids with easy access to the unhealthy stuff.

W25. Five Important Medical Tests You Need to Take

By Julie T. Chen, MD

Going through medical school, we are taught that we should know what's wrong with a patient before we order the labs because the patient's medical history with the medical interview should already tell us our top ideas of what is going on with the patient.

But, unfortunately, nowadays, many patients are put through numerous tests because the medical structure is such that physicians are given not enough time to thorough discuss the symptoms with a patient. So, when we talk about what is most important in assessing the health of a patient the first and foremost thing would be a thorough medical interview.

Now, what if there just isn't enough time? What are the top five tests that most people should make sure that their doctor is giving them so that you can make sure you are generally healthy?

1.Comprehensive Metabolic Panel: This is a blood test that looks at your major electrolytes and minerals as well as your liver and kidney function. Even if you think you are healthy, you should have this done at least once a year to make sure everything is running smoothly. If you have a lot of medical issues and you are on a few medications, this lab should be done every 3-6 months at the very least.

2.Complete Blood Count: This test looks at your platelets, red blood cells and your white blood cells. This test should also be done once a year if you are healthy and more often if you are on medications and/or have health issues.

3.Lipid Panel: This looks at your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. When you are in your twenties, if you have no medical issues and is not overweight or on medications and you don't have family history of any early strokes or heart disease or cholesterol issues, then you can get this done every 1-3 years. As you get into your thirties and beyond, you should probably start to have this done once a year at your annual physical to make sure that your levels are normal and that you are not at risk for vascular disease.

4.Fasting glucose level: Have your doctor check your fasting sugar level once a year if you are otherwise healthy but if you have family history of pre-diabetes or diabetes or if you feel like your blood sugar dips sometimes during the day or night, you should also ask for a lab test that checks your average blood sugar over the last three months called Hemoglobin A1C. This will help to pick up if you might be having any post-meal sugar issues. If you do, your doctor may want to have you do further blood sugar testing. For those of you with diabetes or pre-diabetes or low sugar dip symptoms, you should be getting your blood sugar checked at the fasting glucose level every 3-6 months along with the Hemoglobin A1C to be extra sure that you are not worsening and is stable.

5.Thyroid Panel including TSH, Free T3 and Free T4: Most of the time, if you are healthy, a screening TSH is enough if you don't have any health complaints. If you are fatigued or gaining/losing weight, losing hair, getting constipation or frequent bowel movements or having palpitations or feeling sluggish, you should have all three thyroid levels checked for a more accurate read of where your thyroid function is since you are having concerning symptoms. Our thyroid gland is very important in keeping us healthy including having an impact on our cholesterol processing so if you have high cholesterol, ask your doctor to check your thyroid as well to make sure that it isn't contributing to your hypercholesterolemia issue.

In my clinic of integrative medicine, these labs are regularly done for monitoring of my patients' disease state. If you are on any medications or even just vitamins or supplements, you should be having these labs done at least once a year to make sure you are doing well.

While there are of course other labs that are just as important such as vitamin D levels, these top five labs are going to be able to look at parameters of your health that most significantly can impact your overall well-being. So if you are limited to five labs, these would be my choice of the top five. But let's hope you can also get the other labs in as well for your annual physical, because if you can, make sure to also ask for your vitamin D level as well.

But as I had originally mentioned, there's nothing that compares to getting a great medical history from a patient as far as helping physicians who are trying to figure out what's going on with your health. So, don't be shy and make sure that you tell your physician all that's been going on with your health…this way, he or she can be most effective in taking care of you.

W24. Maximize Your REM Sleep

By Kevin M. Wong, DC

One of the aspects of human life that has remained constant throughout our existence is the need for sleep. Sleep is a behavioral state that is a natural part of life. We spend about one-third of our lives asleep, but amazingly enough, people generally know very little about the importance of this essential activity, and too many don't get enough of it on a regular basis.

The Consequences of Poor Sleep

Sleep problems are actually extremely common in our society, and they can have serious consequences. There are more than 70 known sleep disorders; among those, sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome are the most common. Many people who suffer from these sleep disorders are unaware anything is wrong, as they have not been diagnosed or treated for their condition. Sleep problems also can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, loss of energy, fatigue and emotional instability, and in the longer term, can elevate your risk of serious health conditions including high blood pressure and heart attack. And poor sleeping can cause difficulties with learning, memory, thinking and feelings, which may lead to poor school and work performance. Furthermore, problem sleepiness can manifest as drowsy driving or workplace accidents and errors. Lifestyle factors and sleep disorders can cause problems with sleeping.

Lifestyle factors include not getting enough sleep, having an irregular sleep schedule, and using alcohol or certain medications. Sleep problems could also be caused, at least in part, by stress or anxiety about work, family and finances.

Sleep: An Essential Activity

Sleep is not just something to fill time when a person is inactive; it is a required activity for normal body and brain functioning. We all recognize and feel the need to sleep. After sleeping, we recognize changes that have occurred, as we feel rested and more alert. In short, sleep is absolutely required for our survival.

We all understand the basic importance of sleep: to regenerate the mind and the body, and give it the rest it needs to function properly. Although each person varies in the amount of sleep they require, the average amount should be at least 6-7 hours per night. There are multiple "stages" of sleep, but in general, there are two major sleep cycles, with the second cycle being of particular importance. This second cycle, known as REM (rapid eye movement), is the period of deep, restful sleep. It is also known as the dream phase, and it is very essential to getting enough rest.

For sleep being such an important activity, it gets relatively little focus or attention. Think about your own life for a second. Are there any events or circumstances that could be affecting your ability to have a sound night's rest? What could these events be? Have you thought about the quality of your sleep? Are you getting enough? Are you comfortable when you sleep? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed.

Aside from some of the more serious things that could be negatively affecting your sleep, there are some variables or situations that you can have more control over. Let's talk about how to change your sleeping conditions so you sleep easier and get the rest your body needs.

The Right Sleep Position

Our bodies can assume some strange positions when we fall asleep. Many incidents of pain and discomfort during sleep can be traced back to your position during the night. It is very interesting to note that the positions you sleep in now are the same ones you liked as a baby. It is how you are most comfortable - for better or worse.

The position that is the least stressful on your body is on your back with a pillow under your neck and another under your knees so they are comfortably bent. Bent knees give the lower (lumbar) spine support. The pillow under the neck gives it support as well. However, not many people are able to stay in this position for an entire night. Also, people who snore tend to avoid sleeping on their back because their snoring becomes worse.

The next best position is on your side. If you are going to sleep like this, a pillow needs to be under your neck and between your knees. The pillow between the knees should keep your legs hip-width apart. This will adequately support your lower spine and pelvis. The problem with this position is the pressure it can put on the point of the shoulder. If you don't use a pillow between the knees, this contributes to lower back pain or other problems.

The worst option is sleeping on your stomach. Stomach sleeping is not very healthy for your body because you have to turn your head to either side in order to breathe. This puts the neck into extreme rotation, and it can strain the surrounding muscles and place stress on the spine. If you find you cannot keep yourself from rolling onto your stomach when you sleep, then at least put a pillow under your chest to help flex your neck forward a bit for some support.

It is very hard to change how you sleep, but it can be done. It just takes some practice. The key is to find positions that are healthy and stress free for your body. This will allow you to stay asleep longer and deeper, which will maximize the quality of sleep you experience.

The Right Mattress

There are many opinions on mattresses, and there is no easy answer as to which type is best. The reason it is so hard to find a good mattress is because each of our bodies is different. With all of the marketing from the mattress companies out there, it is enough to make your head spin. One says "firm," another says "pillow top." What do you do? Here are some general guidelines to follow:

Try to have as firm and supportive of a mattress as you can for your body. You will have to lie on the mattress longer than just a few minutes in the store. Most people won't even be able to tell until they take the mattress home and sleep on it for awhile. Find out about the warranty. Good mattress companies provide a warranty that pretty much guarantees your satisfaction. It may include a trial period (to see if the bed works) and a money-back guarantee if you don't like it.

Pillow tops are not necessarily a good thing. Much of the time, pillow tops soften up the surface of your bed too much, which means it will not support your body well. You need to see how it feels when you sleep on it.

Memory foam mattresses and tops are very supportive, and they do mold to your body. The only drawback is that they can trap heat. If you run hot at night, this may not be the mattress for you.

The Right Pillow

Pillows come in all shapes, sizes and prices. There are so many choices that selecting the right pillow can seem daunting. Here is my advice: In general, your pillow must support you in the sleep positions you are in at night. If you only sleep on your back, your pillow must support your neck accordingly. If you only sleep on your side, the pillow must be thick enough to support the entire part of the body from the neck to the shoulder at a 90 degree angle. If you sleep on both your back and your side, the pillow needs to support both positions.

Custom-made pillows are available that can provide you with the proper support for your body and sleep patterns. Your doctor can actually take measurements of your body so a pillow can be created to fit you perfectly. I highly suggest you invest the time in finding the pillow that best supports you.

Sleep is truly an important time for our bodies to rest and regenerate. Since we spend so much time engaged in this activity, it makes sense that we should take a closer look at our sleep habits. By evaluating sleep position and mattress/pillow selection, you will improve your ability to experience deeper and more restful sleep. Changes won't happen overnight, but you will see results over time. If you're have any questions about how to get a good night's sleep or want more information, talk to your doctor.

Set the Stage for Quality Sleep

Getting enough sleep is only half the battle; making sure you enjoy quality sleep is an entirely different story. Here are seven tips to make sleep a truly restful, rejuvenating experience, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com): Stick to a schedule. Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day whenever possible; this consistency helps reinforce your body's sleep-wake cycle and can help you fall asleep better.

Eat light and right. Eat a light dinner about two hours before sleeping. Avoid foods that can prevent restful sleep, such as spicy or greasy foods. Too much liquid can also affect sleep by necessitating repeat bathroom visits during the night. Exercise regularly (but not right before bed). Regular physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, can help facilitate quick, restful sleep. However, don't exercise within three hours of bedtime; you may find it more difficult to fall asleep. Rest Easy Lady Create a sleep oasis. Make your bedroom cool, dark, quiet and comfortable. Adjust lighting, humidity, temperature and noise level. Use blackout curtains, eye covers, earplugs, extra blankets or a fan - it's all about creating the ideal environment for deep, relaxing sleep. Don't sleep the day away. Limit daytime sleep to about a half-hour in the mid-afternoon. If you work nights, keep your window coverings closed so sunlight, which adjusts the body's internal clock, doesn't interrupt sleep.

Develop a bedtime routine. Do the same things each night to tell your body it's time to wind down - take a warm bath or shower, read a book, or listen to soothing music. Keep the lights low to help transition your body and mind toward sleep. Time it right. If you don't fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do something else. Go back to bed when you're tired - not overtired, but ready to fall asleep quickly and sleep through the night.

W23. How To Kickstart Your Metabolism

By Julie T. Chen, MD

Many people think that metabolism is only affected by exercise. That is not true.

It is true though that exercise is essential for losing weight, maintaining weight loss, and for overall health. But it is not the only way to achieve all three goals.

Our diet is a big part of how our body functions and hence how efficient our metabolism is. When we eat foods that are high in glycemic load or high in carbohydrate/sugars, if our body doesn't process these well, it works against our weight loss efforts.

So, for those of you looking to start this year off on the right foot regarding kick-starting your metabolism and losing weight, look for foods that are low in glycemic load or index. Foods that don't spike our sugar quickly then drop quickly are better for weight loss efforts.

Another aspect of foods that you should look into is whether a food has higher protein content and higher fiber content. These will help you with weight loss as well as keeping your energy and sugar at a stable level so that you have more energy to be active.

In some studies, green tea was found to be helpful with increasing metabolism. Other epidemiological studies regarding green tea also suggest other health benefits of green tea including cancer prevention and heart disease. So, if you want a food that helps your metabolism, why not choose one that also helps your body battle against disease.

In other studies, spicy foods were also seen to have a beneficial effect on metabolism. Since spices have some anti-inflammatory benefits, the fact that you're adding spices and giving your food a little kick will likely not only help kick-start your metabolism, but also help your body kick those colds and pesky illnesses.

I know there are a lot of commercials out there that taut the impressive changes our body makes from weight loss supplements and drinks but most studies have shown that these are not all that helpful if your diet is poor. So, I always have patients start by cleaning up their diet because no supplement can take on and reverse the negative effects of a monsoon of fatty processed foods. Your metabolism will not be efficient in that monsoon even if you have the tiny umbrella of a weight loss supplement because those fatty sugary foods will be too overwhelming.

I always tell my patients in my clinic of Integrative Medicine in San Jose CA that Mother Nature was very smart in how she made foods for our body. Many times, the foods that are healthy also help your body be more efficient at burning the fuel; because ultimately, food is meant as fuel for our body so that we can be efficient and effective at our daily life activities.

So, when you eat an anti-inflammatory diet that is not processed and is low in saturated fat and low in sugars but is high in protein, antioxidants, and fiber, your body is more balanced to fight diseases but it also has more energy to tackle your daily life. When your body is acting like this type of a well-oiled machine, it too is like a well-oiled machine…at burning calories that is.

W22. 3 Great Energy Boosters for the New Year

By Editorial Staff

Once the holiday season winds down and a new year begins, many people start to wind down rather than winding up. The reason is simple: they're beat. After all, once the partying dies down, the presents are all opened and the relatives leave, you're left with the gloomy prospect of paying the bills, returning to work and enduring another year before the holiday fun returns.

Need a little energy boost for 2013? Look no further for three great ideas that are sure to invigorate you. 1.Early to bed, early to rise: At first glance this seems counterintuitive, and if it if you aren't fulfilling the other side of the bargain: going to bed earlier. Combat the common energy sappers in the age of electronic overstimulation by turning off the TV, computer and iPhone and turning in for a night of restful, rejuvenating sleep. Start going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier than usual and waking up 15-30 minutes earlier as well. You don't necessarily need to fall asleep immediately, but the mere act of lying down with relative peace and silence will do you body and mind wonders. And waking up earlier - although it can be hard to do sometimes - will invigorate you, especially when it becomes a habit, not a chore. And by the way, there's a direct correlation between productivity and early risers. Be one of the early ones and see how much more energy you have to get things done.

2. You are what you eat: The body needs fuel to function, and that fuel comes in the form of the food you eat every day. The more often you eat, the more sustained energy you have to keep you going throughout the day. The more fat-laden, processed, sugary foods you consume, the more energy you'll have - for short periods only, followed by what's commonly known as the "crash." So eat frequent small meals light on sugar / fat and heavy on energy-boosting nutrients: complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein – and feel you energy rise and your midday fatigue disappear.

3.Run like the wind: Quick quiz: Who has more energy in general – someone who exercises vigorously on most days of the week, or someone who sits on the couch watching TV? The easy answer, of course, is the exerciser. While nonexercisers often rely on the theory that exercising is too tiring as an excuse, the reality is just the opposite. Regular exercise actually keeps your energy levels high because your body gets used to moving, working hard and recovering – stronger and more energized than before. Sure, the first few days or weeks of exercise could be tough for beginners or anyone who took the holiday season off, but you'll be back in the swing of things in no time and reaping the energy-boosting rewards of consistent physical activity.

So, are you ready to boost your energy levels, but not sure exactly where to start? Talk to your doctor of chiropractic for further details on these and other great ways to improve your health by improving your energy.

W.21 Understand Your Headache and Your Treatment Options

By K. Jeffrey Miller, DC, DABCO and Danielle Vann, DC

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 47 percent of the adult population have experienced a headache at least once in the past year. This fact makes it clear why headaches are one of the most common disorders and among the most common reasons people seek professional health care.

Unfortunately, when patients do seek help, unless it is with a health care provider who deals specifically with headaches, the headaches are often misdiagnosed. It seems that many headaches, especially so-called "bad" headaches, are often automatically diagnosed as migraine headaches. The truth is, there are many different types of headaches and not every "bad" headache is a migraine headache.

One of the primary problems with misdiagnosis of headaches is that once diagnosed, patients seeking additional opinions often refuse to accept a new and correct diagnosis. This is despite the fact the initial doctor who provided the misdiagnosis failed to be of help. Patients are typically only looking for a different treatment for the headache. Few give thought to the possibility that previous care did not help because the initial diagnosis was wrong. So, if you suffer from headaches, do you know which type they are – and the best way to relieve them?

Cluster Headaches

One type of headache that exemplifies this concept is a cluster headache. The term cluster is utilized because the headaches occur is groups or clusters within specific time frames. The time frames vary from five minutes to several hours. Patients experience several headaches a day for many weeks followed by a period of time without headaches. Most people who suffer from this form of a headache will begin to experience symptoms at about 25 years of age. Men are affected five times more frequently than women.

Patients who experience a cluster headache usually describe the pain as one sided with stabbing eye pain. The headache usually begins just after the patient goes to sleep. The eye on the affected side will usually tear excessively during the headache. Constriction (narrowing) of the pupil is common, as is a drooping of the eyelid on the affected side. Some patients experience one-sided nasal stuffiness and runny nose.

Pain from the headache is carried through the trigiminal nerve, the nerve that provides sensation to the face. When the trigiminal nerve is activated it will trigger the severe eye pain. Patients may also experience pain in the forehead, temple, nose, cheek or upper gum on the affected side. The scalp may also become tender to the touch. Pain with cluster headaches can be so severe that some patients attempt suicide.

Like many migraine headaches, cluster headaches typically occur on one side of the head. This is one reason the two types of headaches are confused and misdiagnosed.

Cluster headaches can be classified as episodic or chronic. Episodic cluster headaches are more common (80 percent of cluster headaches), and usually result in two to three headaches per day for a two-month period. The headaches may then be absent for about a year. The pattern then repeats.

Chronic cluster headaches follow the same pain pattern, but they do not have long periods of relief. Patients with chronic cluster headaches may have as few as 14 headache-free days per year.

The cause of most cluster headaches is unknown. Many proposed theories focus on the autonomic nervous system and the nerve pathway at the base of the brain and nerves associated with the facial region. In some cases, the cause is a tumor of the brain or lungs.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Like most headaches, cluster headaches are usually diagnosed from the patient's health history. This is termed a clinical diagnosis. There is no specific "headache" test. Tests like CT and MRI scans of the head and thorax are usually only performed to look for rarer causes if conservative care fails.

Since the patient's history is the key component of diagnosis, the case history should be thorough. The doctor should take time to note the location, quality and severity of the headaches. Timing of the headaches, and factors that activate or relieve the headaches, should also be noted.

Medications like beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants are commonly given to patients who have been diagnosed correctly. Most patients frequently undergo several months of trial and error treatment with different medications in order to find the dosage cocktail that works for them. Even then, medication may not be successful, and of course, all medications have potential side effects that can make you feel even worse.

How Chiropractic Can Help

When medical methods fail to help, many people turn to chiropractic care for help. Chiropractic manipulation of the cervical and thoracic spinal areas has been shown to relieve signs and symptoms of cluster headaches. Since the cause of most cluster headaches is unknown, the reason manipulation helps is not completely clear. Still, manipulation may help the cluster patient by reducing signs and symptoms and decreasing the frequency of the headaches.

Doctors of chiropractic treat cluster and other types of headaches on a daily basis. In fact, headaches are among the three most common conditions treated by chiropractors nationwide. Chiropractors perform thorough health histories and physical examinations to help correctly identify the type of headache a patient is experiencing. In many cases, spinal X-rays are taken or ordered to help in the diagnostic process. Referral for additional testing is also an option. Chiropractors have access to outside laboratory and imaging facilities.

Patients suffering from "bad" headaches who have not benefited from care to date owe it to themselves to seek additional opinions to double check the accuracy of their diagnosis and investigate other treatment options. Only with an accurate diagnosis can accurate treatment be applied.

Patients suffering from "bad" headaches who have not benefited from their care to date owe it to themselves to seek the opinion of a chiropractor. Chiropractic care may provide relief and a better quality of life. It is safe, effective, affordable and always worth a try.

W20. Surviving the Holiday Crunch

By Editorial Staff

The joy of another holiday season brings with it an unintended, but wholly unhealthy complication: massive amounts of stress. Whether you're working overtime to finish out the year, navigating a hectic mall - or even the parking lot to get in and out of the mall - to find presents, coordinating multiple holiday trips to visit multiple relatives, or just dealing with multiple relatives in the first place, the holidays can pack on stress quickly.

Celebrate the holidays this season instead of stressing your way through them by taking these simple de-stress strategies to heart:

Plan: If you want to feel as if you're running around with your head cut off during the holidays, jump headlong into things without a plan. Staying organized is the key to holiday sanity, whether you're mapping out a sequential shopping route to hit all the right stores (or choosing an even less-stressful route by ordering items online), scheduling family and friend get-togethers early (instead of the last minute, which can often lead to scheduling conflicts, not to mention hectic preparation), or taking the lead in deciding the who, what, when, where and why of the family dinner, planning and preparation can make your holiday season less stressful for you and everyone around you.

Move: You might think running around all day at the mall or dropping off presents for various friends / family members is great exercise, but it might add to your stress. Burning calories is one thing; enjoying a good workout away from the mad rush of the holiday season is another. This year, don't forget to schedule exercise into your busy schedule. It will help you stay in shape through a month of likely overindulgence, but more importantly, it will reduce stress. Particularly good stress-reducing exercises are walking or jogging, because generally, you're outside in your "own little world," far away from your worst stressors.

Breathe: The best advice for reducing stress over the holidays is actually great advice to take to heart all year round: breathe. When stress starts to surround you, take a deep breath and figure out how to "get away." Whether that's stopping holiday baking for a few minutes to sit down and relax in a quiet room; putting your shopping on hold and grabbing a bite to eat, away from the crush of fellow shoppers; or making an appointment at your local spa for a little "you time," it's important to slow down and de-stress or you'll go crazy.

W19. Eat For Great Vision

When my patients ask me what to eat for healthy eyes, I usually resort back to telling them that when they eat a diet that is mostly plant-based with lean proteins which represent an anti-inflammatory diet, they will naturally be eating a diet that is rich in the nutrients we need for healthy eyes.

So, if you are one of those people who would prefer not to remember which specific foods help your eye health, then stick to the concept of eating foods that are not processed and is as close to Mother Nature as possible. That would be mostly fruits and vegetables and low saturated lean proteins in the form of animal products or plant-based proteins like nuts.

However, if you are one of those people who would like to know which foods specifically are good for eye health, let's get started with some top choices you can start incorporating into your daily diet.

Many older patients are concerned about macular degeneration and cataracts. There are certain nutrients that are especially helpful in the prevention and lessening of progression of macular degeneration. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, and beta carotenes are particularly helpful in the battle against macular degeneration. These are great for cataract prevention as well since nutrients like zinc and B vitamins like niacin are important for this particular concern as well.

The easiest way to make sure that you are getting plenty of these nutrients is to eat a lot of leafy greens along with bright yellow, red, or orange vegetables. It would also be a great idea to add some nuts, lean low fat proteins like turkey or ostrich, and fish.

Avocadoes, fish, and nuts are rich in healthy fatty acids that help to keep the blood vessels for the eyes healthy. The bright colored vegetables like bell peppers, carrots and sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotenes which are essential for our retinal health. Also for our retina, let's keep in mind that leafy greens like spinach are rich in the lutein and zeaxanthin that are good for our eyes.

If you are interested in adding in some variety to what's already been mentioned, there are other foods to take into consideration such as blueberries, raspberries, eggs, garlic, and even dark chocolate for the antioxidants, minerals and vitamins we all need for healthy eyes.

So as you can see, eating healthy for the goal of healthy eyes doesn't have to leave you with a bland and boring diet. A lot of these foods can be easily incorporated into a delicious lunch or dinner such as pasta primavera or lean turkey with a side of rainbow-colored vegetables. And for all of you out there with a sweet tooth, the dark chocolate would be a great way to finish off your eye healthy meal…so happy dining everyone!

W18. How to Reduce Your Diabetes Risk Naturally

A recent study suggests that men who perform weight training for an average of 150 minutes per week reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by 34 percent. This finding is particularly interesting because generally, we think of aerobic (endurance) exercise as an important intervention to prevent and treat diabetes.

The study, published in the Aug. 6 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests that the addition of weight training to a healthy diet and aerobic exercise plan may offer additional protection against the development of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers collected data on 32,002 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study from 1990-2008. During that time, there were 2,278 new cases of type 2 diabetes. In their evaluation, the researchers noted that while weight training reduced diabetes risk by 34 percent, men performing 150 minutes per week, on average, of aerobic exercise experienced a 52 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Moreover, men who performed weight training and aerobic exercise, at the above-noted threshold levels (150 minutes / week), showed the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes, (59 percent) compared to those engaged in only aerobic or only weight training programs.

How does weight training reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes? By helping to build lean mass. More lean mass means that muscle tissue will extract more glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream to keep itself alive from moment to moment. Muscle tissue has a fast resting metabolic rate. Thus, more lean muscle mass translates into more calories (including glucose or blood sugar) being burned per minute, even when you are at rest. This helps to keep blood sugar lower.

The other benefit is that weight lifting burns many carbohydrate calories stored within our muscles as a substance called glycogen. Thus, after a weight training session, many of the carbohydrate calories consumed during the day are used to rebuild the muscles' glycogen fuel tank in preparation for the next round of weight training. This effect also helps clear blood sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream, lowering blood sugar and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Talk to your doctor to learn more.

W17. The Good Side of Salt

Water does not work on its own. It needs help from both salt and protein. Salt and protein are like guardians; they move water to where it should be and keep it there.

Without sodium (salt) in the body, the water you drink would never be absorbed and drinking a glass of water would cause diarrhea. Basically, salt pulls water through the intestinal lining and into circulation.

Once water is circulating, proteins attract water in almost the same way that iron filings are attracted to a magnet. The attraction of water for the proteins in the blood maintains the blood volume and circulation. If there were no proteins in the blood, the water would flow right through the walls of arteries and veins and into the surrounding tissue. The blood volume would drop and cells and tissues would not receive necessary nutrients and oxygen and the cells would die. Insufficient salt and protein results in low blood volume and, therefore, very poor blood circulation. The most common symptoms of this are cold hands and feet, low blood pressure and dizziness when standing quickly from lying down or sitting.

Besides helping to control fluid volume in the body, sodium is also required for the absorption of many minerals and amino acids (proteins). Many people know that too much salt can be "bad for you." Individuals who eat a lot of processed foods have high salt diets that can be detrimental. One reason is that excessive salt intake causes increased excretion of calcium in the urine. Of course, processed foods do not contain adequate calcium or other quality nutrients so eating refined foods actually causes depletion of nutrients. However, if you are on a whole-foods diet and do not eat a lot of refined or processed foods, you might need to add some salt to your food. Many health-conscious individuals are actually salt deficient. Recent research has even found a link between salt deficiency and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The quality of available salt is very variable. Salt in its natural form is 82 percent sodium and chloride and 18 percent other minerals. Most salt sold in the grocery store is processed and therefore is almost 100% percent sodium and chloride. The purpose of adding iodine to processed salt is to prevent iodine deficiencies. Adding iodine to sodium chloride crystals causes them to turn purple. Since purple salt is not "acceptable," the salt is bleached to turn it white again. Flow agent chemicals are added to reduce the absorption of moisture from the air and keep the salt flowing from your salt shaker.

Most table salt is no longer in its natural form, it has had all the minerals except sodium and chloride removed and it contains residues of the bleaching chemicals along with the flow agents. Sea salt, frequently sold in health food stores, may also have had all the minerals except sodium and chloride removed. If a salt is very white and dry, it has had the additional minerals removed. Salt in its natural form is usually greyish, off-white, or even pink, and is moist.

W16. Even Thirdhand Smoke Is Dangerous

As if the documented dangers of primary and secondhand smoke aren't enough to sway people from the habit, now comes research suggesting that even thirdhand smoke - defined by the Mayo Clinic as "residual nicotine and other chemicals left on a variety of indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke" can be harmful.

A recent study funded by the University of California-run Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program adds to a growing of research implicating thirdhand smoke as a viable health hazard. The latest research supports the contention that even after smoke has left a room or other area occupied by a smoker, the toxic pollutants inherent in cigarette smoke remain - on everything from bedsheets, carpets and clothing to furniture and even walls. Not only do these hazardous compounds stay in the area for months, but they could combine with other commonly used household chemicals / products to create even greater health risks.

Thus, in a sense thirdhand smoke may be more problematic over the long term than primary or secondhand smoke because of its ability to linger. You can always quit smoking, but the impact of thirdhand smoke may persist. Again according to the Mayo Clinic, "Thirdhand smoke residue builds up on surfaces over time and resists normal cleaning. Thirdhand smoke can't be eliminated by airing out rooms, opening windows, using fans or air conditioners, or confining smoking to only certain areas of a home. Thirdhand smoke remains long after smoking has stopped."

If you're pursuing health and wellness through proper diet, consistent exercise and stress reduction, but remain a smoker, now's the time to do something about it. And if you know someone who smokes, keep in mind that anything you do to help them quit won't just help them; it will improve the lives of those around them – including you!

W15. Good Sleep Is Essential To Your Health

All animals require sleep. Sleep restores the body and the mind. Why do human beings sleep? All metabolic processes require restoration of their function, which is achieved through sleep. In 1834, MacNish stated: "Sleep is the intermediate state between wakefulness and death;" wakefulness being regarded as the active state of all the animal and intellectual functions and death as that of their total suspension.

Rodents die within about 21 days if completely sleep deprived and it is theorized that humans would die after about 180 days of sleep deprivation.

What are the stages of sleep?

As Dr. William Dement, the first physician board certified in sleep and founder of the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Center, stated: "The interest in sleep and dreams has existed since the dawn of history and perhaps only 'love' and 'human conflict' have received more attention from poets and writers." There are three distinct physiological states of the human body: awake, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The brain waves and the status of the neuromuscular system are different in each of these states. Alterations in the "normal" state of sleep has produced over 160 diagnosis of sleep pathology.

Non-REM Sleep

The awake state has a predominance of alpha activity as well as low voltage, mixed frequency pattern. Stage I sleep is the transition from the awake state to stage II sleep, shown by diminished or disappearance of alpha activity and a relatively low voltage, mixed frequency EEG pattern, often in the presence of slow-rolling eye movements. Stage II sleep has K-complexes and sleep spindles with a mixed frequency background. Slow wave sleep reveals high amplitude (>75 microvolts) delta waves with a frequency of 0.5 to 2 Hertz, that is between one-half to two seconds in duration. Delta sleep occurs more commonly in the first one third of the night and decreases with age.

REM Sleep

REM sleep is scored having three criteria: First, EEG returns to relatively low voltage, mixed frequency pattern with no K-complexes or sleep spindles. Some patients also reveal a "sawtooth" EEG pattern. Second, chin EMG decreases in amplitude to its lowest levels, and third, EOG reveals rapid eye movements. REM is more prominent in the last third of the night. Although one can dream in all stages of sleep, dreams in REM sleep are much more vivid and may have "phasic" body movements associated with them. This is commonly observed when one's dog is dreaming and chasing a feline friend with the extremities moving, the eyes fluttering and the dog barking or panting. REM sleep occurs 90-120 minutes after sleep onset and approximately every 90 minutes thereafter.

Sleep Disorders

One needs to understand normal sleep before under taking diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. There are four sections in the classification of sleep disorders: 1.Dyssomnias, which comprises disorders that cause a complaint of either insomnia or excessive sleepiness. 2.Parasomnias, which comprises disorders that intrude into or occur during sleep. 3.Medical and psychiatric disorders associated with sleep disturbance. 4.Proposed sleep disorders of new and rapid advances in sleep disorders, such as short and long sleepers and fragmentary myoclonus.

W14. The Health Benefits of Massage

Many chiropractors recommend massage in combination with chiropractic adjustments as part of an overall treatment strategy. What can a massage do for you? According to a recent study, it can do more than just ease away your stress; it can also have a positive impact on your blood pressure, heart and respiration.

An intriguing study out of Umea University, in Sweden, evaluated the physiological effects of touch massage and was published in the journal, Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical.

The study evaluated the physiological effects of touch massage on stress responses in 22 healthy volunteers using a battery of bio-markers to identify autonomic nervous system responses.

Participants received touch massage on their hands and feet, which "consisted of stroking movements on the ventral and dorsal side of hands and feet along with circular movements on each finger and toe. Touch massage was performed for 80 min in the following order: 20 min each on the left hand, the right hand, the right foot, and the left foot." Participants in the control group rested in the same setting. Outcomes measures included heart rate and heart rate variability (the variation in time between heart beats), cortisol stress hormone levels from saliva, blood glucose, and serum insulin. Data were collected before, during, and after touch massage or rest session.

The main finding in this study was, "After 5 minutes of touch massage there was a significant decrease in heart rate lasting for 65 min, indicating reduced stress response." Though findings suggested significant changes across several measures, "the only significant differences between the groups were the decreases in heart rate after 45 minutes and in the HF component [high frequency domain of heart rate variability] after 5 minutes." Group differences between treatment and control groups are typically the focus of studies such as this one, because these differences measure the effect resulting from the treatment. Though there were no significant differences between groups in levels of cortisol, glucose, and insulin, "Saliva cortisol and insulin levels decreased significantly after intervention, while the serum glucose level remained stable. A similar pattern, although less prominent was observed in the control group." The findings from this study suggest, "Touch massage reduces the heart rate by decreasing sympathetic nervous activity and evoking a compensatory decreased parasympathetic nervous activity in order to maintain autonomic balance." These findings suggest that after receiving touch massage the participants experienced a biological relaxation response - producing the experience of stress reduction.

This study provides evidence that supports one of the most popular theories for explaining the relaxing effects of massage therapy. Next time you see your chiropractor, inquire about getting a massage to complement your chiropractic session.

W13. The 411 on Healthy Bones

Many of my patients have autoimmune diseases that predispose them to steroid medication exposure, so bone issues are always a topic that comes up over and over again in my clinic. Many of these patients have had bone mineral density studies that show osteopenia or osteoporosis, which means varying levels of bone thinning are already in place.

However, when we focus on a diet that is anti-inflammatory and supplements that help to lessen inflammation, some of these patients show up in follow up bone mineral densities with improvement of bone density. So, while an anti-inflammatory diet and supplement regimen is frequently seen as helpful for diseases like lupus, heart disease, or cancers - let's not forget that it can also be helpful for arthritis and bone mineral density improvement as well.

When we talk about bone health, the first thing to think about is what of your medications might actually be worsening your bone health. There are some studies that suggest varying levels of concern about proton pump inhibitors we use for heartburn or gastritis might worsen our risks of bone fractures with prolonged use. Similarly, as I mentioned before, steroid therapy also is concerning for bone health with prolonged or repetitive therapy. So, if you are one of the patients taking these medications, what can you do to protect your bones?

First, ask your physician about options on how to potentially come off these medications…yes, please have that discussion first with your physician and don't just take yourself off the medication because that may be dangerous. Also, your original symptoms for why you are taking these medications might rebound back stronger than before with abrupt stopping of the medication.

Second, ask your physician to check your vitamin D and calcium levels and even vitamin K levels. If any of these are low, ask your physician about dosing for the vitamin based on your lab result and also about foods that help you to build your bones. Many food options may include nuts and wide variety of vegetables and fruits.

In regards to arthritis, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, a diet and supplement regimen for anti-inflammation is very important. Some potential supplements you can ask your physician about using to help decrease destruction to your joints include, but are not limited to, fish oil, curcumin, ginger, MSM, boswellia, Chinese skullcap, rosemary, and holy basil. You should speak to your physician before starting any of these to make sure you don't have health issues that would keep you from taking these.

If you have osteoarthritis, making sure that you eat an anti-inflammatory diet and speaking to your physician about glucosamine and MSM is a good way to start. You also should make sure that your levels of vitamin D and calcium are sufficient. As far as activities are concerned, you should speak to your physician about repetitive activities that put you at risk or worsens your condition. There are various durable medical equipment options to help protect your joints or help support them, as well, such as knee braces or back braces, just to name a few.

In summary, we all know that as we get older, there will be some wear and tear on our bones and joints simply from the number of years we've spent living and enjoying life. However, by keeping our diet and supplements as anti-inflammatory as possible and staying on top of which medications or lifestyle habits might be worsening our bone health with regular discussions with your physician, you can try to keep your joints and your bones as healthy as possible so that they can keep you moving and living life as healthily and as happily as possible.

W12. Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?

Every day, there seems to be a new weight-loss diet in the news. One of the things I've found is that most good programs work, as long as you stick to the program. In my experience, I've realized that changing someone's mindset to their weight-loss approach and understanding how to fit a "program" into their lifestyle and belief system increases the changes of success.

Recently, I've seen a lot of interest in the concept of "intermittent fasting." Although this has been around for awhile, it's only recently gathering interest as a strategy to facilitate weight loss and/or improve overall health and well-being. That being said, you may have patients asking you about this in the near future, if not already. Let's discuss the benefits of intermittent fasting and explore the best situations in which this strategy can be an effective option to discuss with your doctor of chiropractic.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is the process whereby one avoids food intake for a specific period of time. Two terms you need to know for this discussion are fasting state and feeding state. Fasting state refers to the length of time one avoids eating. Keep in mind that during the fasting state, fluids are still essential. Drinking water, tea or even coffee is acceptable. The feeding state refers to the length of time one can eat. There's no strict timing of eating during this state. You can eat one meal, two meals, three meals or more during this state. The point is to eat naturally, rather than trying to fit in a whole day's worth at once.

Let's take a look at some of the different fasting programs out there; then we'll get into the benefits of intermittent fasting while shattering some of the myths surrounding the concept of fasting.

Alternate-day fasting: This involves a 36-hour fast with a 12-hour feeding state. Basically, the patient fasts every other day. If they last ate at 8 p.m. on Monday, they wouldn't eat until 8 a.m. on Wednesday, followed by a feeding state until 8 p.m. Wednesday, and then fasting again for 36 hours.

Eat-stop-eat: This strategy involves a 24-hour fast, one to two times per week.

Lean gains: A 16-hour fast followed by an eight-hour window of feeding. If the patient ate dinner at 8 p.m., they wouldn't eat again until noon the next day.

Warrior diet: A 20-hour fast followed by a four-hour window of food intake.

One last fasting method is what we call random. Some proponents of this model believe mixing up fasting times is similar to what our ancestors did and keeps the body guessing. Your body doesn't adapt as quickly when it's kept on its toes.

The 16-hour fast / eight-hour feed (lean gains) seems to be the most doable for the majority of people. Fasting has to become part of someone's lifestyle. The more difficult it becomes, the greater the chance you will quit, just like any other diet strategy.

The Benefits of Fasting

Although countless experts advocate the many benefits of intermittent fasting, understand that the research in humans is in its infancy. Many studies have been done on mice and rats, showing improved insulin sensitivity, increased resistance to neuronal damage, reduced cognitive impairment, cardiovascular protection, increased lifespan, and prevention of progressive deterioration of glucose tolerance.

W12. Beware of Statins

High cholesterol and arthritis are common conditions that continue to be on the rise and so are statin drugs, which are the most widely used prescription drugs on the market for these conditions.

These drugs carry a long list of side effects that can create a number of other health-related problems that can have impact on your daily life.

Two studies recently published showed some of the adverse effects of taking statin drugs. The first one published in Archives of Internal Medicine, was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and involved more than 1,000 adults.

The study found that one of the most prevalent side effects of statins was extreme fatigue or decreased energy, the occurrence of fatigue-with-exertion or decreased energy.

The researchers found that participants who received statins were considerably more likely to rate their energy and fatigue-with-exertion as "much worse" than those given placebo.

In another study recently published in the Journal of Internal Medicine statin use was associated with a higher prevalence of musculoskeletal pain, particularly in the lower extremities, among individuals without arthritis. Evidence that statin use was associated with musculoskeletal pain among those with arthritis was lacking.

Both of these studies note that findings should be taken into consideration patients when considering taking these types of drugs to alleviate or deal with other health related issues.

Make sure to talk to your chiropractor about the use of statins.

W11. The Foods Cancer Loves

How is a normal cell transformed into a cancerous one? Normal cells should die off; however, they instead go through changes, creating cancerous cells that proliferate and do not die. Interestingly, one of the chemicals that pushes the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells is called prostaglandin E2, which is derived from arachidonic acid.

The average American eats an excess of arachidonic acid indirectly and directly.

We eat an excess of linoleic acid from refined foods, fast foods, and packaged foods. Some of the worst culprits are French fries and the various chips that have been cooked in linoleic acid-rich oils (corn, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed).

Our bodies convert linoleic acid into arachidonic acid. We also eat arachidonic acid in excessively in excessively fatty meats and farmed-raised fish, such as tilapia and catfish, which have subsisted almost exclusively on feed that contain linoleic acid. Arachidonic acid from the various sources is then converted into PGE2 by the COX1 and COX2 enzymes in the human body.

The bottom line is that an excess consumption of linoleic acid and arachidonic acid represents the pursuit of cancer because cancer transformation, in part, requires PGE2. And it is well-known that modern man consumes excessive levels of omega-6 fatty acids. In fact, over 20 percent of our calories come from omega-6-rich refined oils and obese meat, which means that the modern diet is really the "PGE2/cancer diet."

It is also well-known that modern man consumes excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates with high glycemic indexes/loads. Approximately 20 percent of our calories come from sugar and another 20 percent from refined flour. Research has demonstrated that cancer cells actually survive on sugar.

Sixty percent of calories in the current modern diet come from refined omega-6 oils, sugar, and flour, all of which feed the cancerous process. This means that the average American is pursuing cancer as a dietary goal. We need to stop feeding cancer and other chronic diseases the food they love.

This type of information is no longer relegated to conspiracy theorists in health food stores; research is proving it to be correct. Additionally, and surprisingly, even the mainstream media is reporting that sugar is a driver of cancer and stimulates the same "addiction pathways" in the brain as cocaine.

W10. Three Reasons to Limit TV Time

Say what? You're suggesting I back away from the boob tube and finding something else to do with my valuable time? These days, that's an increasingly difficult mandate considering how many Americans have immediate access to a seemingly endless array of reality shows, video games, music, movies and essentially anything else you could possibly watch on TV.

There are many problems with unrestricted television time, all of which impact directly on your health. Here are three important reasons to turn off the TV and tune into healthy alternatives:

1. One with the couch: Plop down on the couch with the remote and before you know it, you're effectively one with the couch. It might take a crane or a giant spatula to get you back on your feet. The problem: Every hour on the couch is another hour of inactivity, which lowers your metabolism, increases your odds of weight gain and means you have less time available to do one simple, extremely important thing: move. Studies suggest that people who spend more time watching TV spend less time exercising than people who limit TV time.

2. The snack bar is open: Inevitably, hunger pangs start to kick in as one TV show bleeds into another ... and another. The majority of the time, we satisfy our hunger not with a balanced meal, but with decidedly less balanced, less nutritious, more calorie- and fat-laden snacks, particularly the processed variety. Excessive TV time can also mean you stay up later than you normally would, chowing down extra calories right before bedtime. The problem: The more calories you consume, particularly the empty kind, ups your odds of gaining weight and developing a weight-related health condition like diabetes.

3. Information overload: Speaking of bedtime, evidence also suggests television can impact sleep in a negative fashion. Think about the last time you stayed up late watching hour after hour of TV. It's likely that you started to doze off on several occasions (or maybe even fell asleep altogether, only to wake up uncomfortably a few hours later). The problem: Refreshing, restorative sleep is innately tied to our health and wellness, particularly over the long term. Ideally, you should fall asleep before you're exhausted and sleep through the night, allowing your body to experience all of the sleep stages uninterrupted. Waking up on an uncomfortable couch after 2-3 hours, or stretching your limits to watch that late-night TV show, does little to give your body the rest it needs.

Television is a great way to get information, have a good laugh or cry, and just "escape" from the world for a little while. But like anything else, moderation is key. Talk to your doctor of chiropractic about the dangers of excessive television time and why you should make sure "family time" and "TV time" aren't one in the same.

W9. Sleep Right – Your Health Depends On It

When it comes to your sleep, a lot more than rest is at stake. Getting restful sleep is now being touted as the best way to ensure you avoid a range of health maladies that can derail your peace of mind. In two recent studies, sleep has been the primary focus. Simple sleep disruptions such as snorting or stopping breathing during sleep are now being associated with depression.

The journal Sleep reported this month that a recent study which included 9,714 men and women who participated in an ongoing national health survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used interviews about sleep symptoms and a well-validated questionnaire that screens adults for depression. Among those with a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, depression was more than twice as common among men and more than five times as common among women, compared with those who did not have the condition.

But the researchers also found that those whose partners reported that they snorted or stopped breathing were also significantly more likely to have depression, with the likelihood increasing with frequency of symptoms.

Men who were affected five or more nights a week were almost four times as likely to suffer depression as those who never had the symptoms. Women with these sleep troubles were more than twice as likely to be depressed.

Too little sleep — or disrupted sleep also seems to increase the risk of diabetes and obesity, scientists found during a recent lab experiment reported by the journal Science Translational Medicine.

To reverse some of these sleep disorder effects, talk to your doctor of chiropractic about how you can get seven and nine hours of sleep every night.

W8. Take Care of Your Vision

Our eyes may be one of our smallest organs but they are one of the most important ones. Our life would not be the same without our vision and for those of you with vision problems, you know this to be a fact when you remove your corrective lenses. So, what can we do to keep our small but extremely important organ healthy?

As with any other organ in our body, our eyes need rest, oxygenation, hydration and nutrients for healthy functioning along with avoidance of damaging factors to the eyes. So if you wear contact lenses, remember to take them out and allow them to get adequate oxygenation and hydration overnight as you sleep. During the daytime, remember to wear your sunglasses to avoid ultraviolet radiation damage to our eyes as well. Lastly, our eyes also need nutrients we get from our food; so attention paid to our diet feeds more than our stomach and body, it feeds our eyes as well.

In general, a diet rich in plant-based foods, healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants are essential to our goal of taking care of our vision. When we eat a diet rich in rainbow-colored vegetables, we will naturally have sufficient intake of vitamin A including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, and copper, just to name a few. In addition, when you add whole grains and healthy fats found in nuts, olive oil, fish, and avocados, you'll be able to create a healthy well-rounded nutrient-rich environment in your body for your eyes to get all of the nutrients it needs to function optimally.

A typical diet that would be eye-healthy would include berries for its anthocyanins to help with night vision, various yellow and red vegetables for the necessary vitamins needed for ideal daytime vision, and foods like eggs, garlic, and onion that contain sulfur to help with the generation of glutathione to help create a healthy environment for our lens of the eye.

Even though what we eat is extremely important to our eye health, what we don't eat or drink is sometimes just as important. In general, I recommend that my patients eat organic if they can to avoid pesticides because chemicals found in pesticides can cause inflammation and can act as xenoestrogens, which can impact the body as a chemical hormone. Avoidance of caffeine is also important to avoid dehydration and poor quality of sleep. Finally, avoidance of processed refined sugars and carbohydrates are ideal since they generally cause inflammation in the body thus degradation of cellular functioning.

So, as the weather starts to improve and you are waking up to sunshine instead of darkness, allow your eyes to rejoice in the sunlight streaming in the window but remember to avoid and add the following to ensure healthy eyes for as long as you can:
1.Avoid prolonged direct sun exposure to eyes so wear sunglasses when it's bright.
2.Avoid pesticides, caffeine, and refined sugar.
3.Make sure to get adequate rest, hydration, and oxygenation to your body and eyes.
4.Make sure to eat a mostly plant-based diet with healthy fats, lean low saturated fat proteins, and whole grains.
5.Remember to avoid prolonged chemical or contact lens exposure so that you allow for a natural healing environment on a daily basis.

W7. 5 Ways to Get Kids Moving

Sometimes it seems as if slowing children down is parents' biggest challenge, but with video games, television, fast food and a vast array of other couch-promoting activities on the rise, keeping kids active is actually a growing concern.

What can you to promote regular physical activity? Here are five outside-of-the-box ways to get your kids moving:

1. Help It Grow: Teaching your kids the joy of gardening is not just an educational experience; planting seeds, picking weeds and tilling soil can help them work up a sweat while enjoying the outdoors. You'd be surprised how much physical exertion it takes to dig a few holes and pull stubborn weeds from the ground. (By the way, if your garden includes edible items, not just flowers, then you're also teaching your children the value of whole-food nutrition, which can only benefit their health, now and in the long term.)

2. Junior Olympics: Beyond any organized sports your children may play, why not involve the whole family in your own backyard Olympics? For example, just a few plastic cones, a large garbage can (the biggest you can find), and balls specific to several sports (soccer, basketball, football) and you've got a multi-phase competition. Have the kids run through the cones (design a challenging course) and try to score into the trash can, with each ball positioned at different points along the course. You can also design an obstacle course with minimal money and time that will keep them moving all day long.

3. Scavenger Hunt: A timed scavenger hunt between teams is another fun way to keep your kids active. Divide the family in half (or recruit neighborhood friends for larger teams) with a parent as the lead for each team. Predetermine items to be "scavenged" and a set time to gather all items on the list. Then start the clock and go! This works best if you've got a large yard or field where you can hide different things (much like an Easter egg hunt), or if you go to a mall or store and use your shopping list as the scavenger items.

4. Dance Contest: Family dance night is a great way to get the whole family moving, and if you've got a video camera, you'll get some great footage for the family archives as well. Have the kids compete against one another (with parents as the judges) or better yet, join in the fun and divide into teams, with each team having to dance to the same song. Who wins? Everyone does because you're all moving! (This is one activity where a video game isn't necessarily a bad thing; more and more game manufacturers are coming out with games that challenge players to replicate dance moves.)

5. Spring Cleaning: OK, so we admit that this idea might not be as fun as the rest, but from a movement perspective, it's an effective one. What better way to get your kids off the couch than by having them clean under, around and behind it? Whether sweeping, dusting or just helping move furniture so you (or they) can vacuum, cleaning is a great way to stay active. You can also get the kids to help with outdoor activities, such as shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, etc., to burn calories.

Need more ideas for keeping your kids in shape? Talk to your doctor of chiropractic about the value of regular physical activity and how your children – and you – can stay healthy by staying active

W6. Beat Those Allergies

With the seasons constantly changing, many people are forced to confront one unfortunate inconvenience that can wreak havoc on their daily schedules - allergies. Allergies are exaggerated immune responses to substances that are generally not considered harmful.

There are many different types of allergies, such as food allergies and skin allergies. Allergic rhinitis is a type of allergy that occurs when your immune system overreacts to airborne particles such as dust, dander, or pollen, causing symptoms such as a runny or itchy nose and sneezing. Some of the most common symptoms of allergies are a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, coughing and even fatigue.

So, what are some remedies? There is an abundance of over-the-counter medications on the market these days to tackle allergies, but often many of these have side effects and can cause problems with other parts of the body.

The good thing is that alternative medicine can come to the rescue by offering those suffering from allergies some relief. Almost 40% of Americans today try some form of alternative medicine, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says. Some effective allergy busters include acupuncture, herbal supplements and even tea.

Acupuncture is a healing practice that originated in China over 5,000 years ago and has been proven effective in tackling many allergies. In order to get the full benefit, acupuncture treatments must be consistent over a period of time. There are also numerous herbal remedies that have also proven effective in treating allergies. These 4 tips are also useful:

1. Drink More Water

Drink at least 8 to 10 cups of pure water daily to support the natural cleansing systems in your body.

2. Drink Green Tea

Green tea is packed with a powerful antioxidant phytonutrient called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that blocks histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE). Both of these naturally-produced chemicals are linked with uncomfortable allergy-symptoms. Drink two to three cups of green tea daily for the best results.

3. Pick Pineapple Enzyme for Allergy Relief

Extracted from pineapple, when taken on an empty stomach, the enzyme bromelain treats sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, and other respiratory disorders; acts as an anti-inflammatory; and reduces lung swelling.

4. Flush Your Nasal Passages

Flushing your nasal passages can help release toxins that may be making your allergies worse. Try to flush every month or every other week.

Talk to your chiropractor about your allergies for further guidance on treating them naturally.

W5. Massage the Pain Away

For many people, the thought of getting a massage often times sounds like a luxury, but recent studies continue to show a massage is one of the best ways to help anyone overcome back pain.

Massage along with chiropractic care is essential for a healthy back. A recent study showed that massage not only helped people feel better, but also seemed to help cells recover by boosting amounts of another protein called PGC-1alpha, which spurs production of new mitochondria — tiny organelles inside cells that are crucial for muscle energy generation and adaptation to endurance exercise.

Another study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Dr. Daniel C. Cherkin and his colleagues at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, compared massage plus usual care to usual care alone in their study of participants, ages 20 to 65 years old (n=401). Study findings; "suggest that both relaxation massage and structural massage are reasonable treatment options for persons with chronic low back pain." Participants in the study received 10 weekly treatments at no cost, which consisted of either relaxation massage or structural massage, randomly assigned. Twenty-seven licensed massage practitioners, all of whom had a minimum of five years experience, received 1.5 days of protocol training and provided massage treatments. The LMPs knew which type of massage they were performing, which they did not disclose with participants. Additionally, participants were provided kinesthetic exercises to do in the home setting to help relieve their back pain between treatments.

Study findings suggest, "massage therapy improved function and decreased pain more than usual care in patients with uncomplicated chronic lower back pain [LBP] after 10 weeks." The participants who received massage in addition to usual care reported significantly lower Roland Disability Quotient scores (p=<0.001) and symptom bothersomeness scores (p=<0.001). The beneficial effects of massage lasted at twenty-six weeks (p=0.007) and fifty-two weeks (p=0.049) when measured by the Roland Disability Quotient. Symptom bothersomeness was only significantly reduced at the end of the ten-week trial. The authors note that "massage recipients were more likely than participants in the usual care group to experience clinically meaningful reductions" in functional limitations and low back pain symptoms.

If back pain is an issue for you, check with your chiropractor about massage therapy. Many chiropractors offer massage therapy in their practice.

W4. Take Care of Your Spine and Your Spine Will Take Care of You

There is a saying in the world of chiropractic, "Your spine is the window to your health." How can the condition of your spine divulge so much information about your overall health? Your spine is the central support column of your body and its primary role is to protect your spinal cord. Think of it like the foundational frame of a house holding everything together. If the frame becomes dysfunctional, many problems will begin to manifest themselves.

The good news is you can perform a simple spinal health checklist to determine if you may benefit from the expert intervention of a chiropractor or other health care professional. Becoming familiar with simple spinal anatomy, structure and function will help empower you to take control of your health.

Through life's stresses, genetics, trauma, injuries, and neglect the spine can develop dysfunctions in these curvatures and the body must compensate by changing posture as a protective mechanism. What are some of the compensations your body develops and what can they tell you about your spinal health? Here are a few of the most common ones:

Rounded Shoulders: This is a very common postural distortion resulting from sedentary lifestyles. This poor posture pattern adds increased stress to the upper back and neck. Common effects are headaches, shoulder, pain, neck pain, and even tingling and numbness in the arms.

Uneven shoulders: One shoulder higher than the other is indicative of a muscular imbalance or spinal curvature. Stand in front of a mirror and you can easily see if this asymmetry is present. This asymmetry is a common precursor for shoulder injuries, headaches, neck pain and elbow injuries.

Uneven hips: Hips that are not level are like the foundation of a house that is not level. You begin to develop compensations further up the body so you remain balanced when walking. You develop altered spinal curvatures, shoulder positions, and head tilts. Signs of unbalanced hips may manifest in abnormal shoe wear, typically on the outside edges; and pants will fit unevenly in the leg length.

When you visit a chiropractor for a spinal evaluation, some of the things they will look for during your evaluation are underlying signs of spinal damage that you can't see. If problems are detected, corrective or preventive measures can be implemented to help your body function at optimum. The bottom line: See your chiropractor today to avoid health problems in the future.

W3. Meditation For Brain Power

Earlier this year, the journal of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging published a study showing that in just eight weeks of mindfulness meditation practice, structural changes in gray matter were observed.

The study had participants meditating for as little as 27 minutes each day. This is the first study documenting that meditating actually changes the brain.

Previously, comparisons of meditators to non-meditators had shown that the brains of those who meditated were different in areas of attention and focus, compassion and emotional intelligence, but this was only correlative. In addition, previous functional MRI studies have showed metabolic changes occurring during meditation, but these studies were not designed to document that these changes lasted beyond the meditation session. Now we have evidence of what many people already know intuitively, that meditation produces significant effects on our brains/minds/consciousness that last far beyond the time on the cushion, and affect our daily lives in profound ways.

Most of our waking hours are spent in unconsciousness. We drive unconsciously, we walk unconsciously, we eat, brush our teeth, even have conversations unconsciously. Our time is spent thinking about the future and the past. We are not aware of what is happening in the present moment. Many of us strive to become more aware of the present moment, to become more conscious, more engaged and more present. Most who have this aspiration will engage in some form of meditative practice.

Instead of moving through life mostly on autopilot or as a prisoner of past conditioning, meditation can be used as a way to create "a more passionate, full and delightful life," as Chodron put it. The creativity comes when the mind disengages with discursive thinking and is allowed to become spacious.

Evolution has created a strategy to respond to life-threatening situations. When we perceive a threat, our survival wiring takes over. The amygdala is in charge of emergencies and gets priority in such a situation. The problem is that in modern times many things trigger this response that are not really life-threatening, think PTSD or anxiety. When the amygdala has hijacked our consciousness we can only focus on the perceived threat to the exclusion of all else. In addition, the amygdala is only good at seeing the basic outline of the problem and can't sort out details. We respond from conditioned training to these situations and do not bring much thought to the process. This is good if a lion is in the room, but not so good if our boss just criticized our project.

According to Dan Goleman, author of "The Brain and Emotional Intelligence," the top five triggers of an amygdala hijack in our modern world are:

1.Condescension and lack of respect.
2.Being treated unfairly.
3.Being unappreciated.
4.Feeling that you're not being listened to or heard.
5.Being held to unrealistic deadlines.

Meditation trains the brain to keep the pathways open between the emotional centers and the thinking centers, specifically the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Basically, meditation trains us to use more of our brain for any given situation. Meditation practices offer natural, drug-free, self-administered ways to manage stress and to skillfully manage ourselves and our behavior towards others. Being able to modulate our initial feelings and thoughts and create a measured response is what makes us responsible citizens.

We strive for this because we have been told by most of the ancient traditions that this is where the truth lies. Where health derives from. Where happiness lies. We know this intuitively. More and more we have the help of modern science to substantiate this intuitive knowledge. Until recently, only those who had some degree of faith and spiritual inclinations would avail themselves of these techniques of mind cultivation. Now, those who only trust science can get into the act, and for their own good too!

W2. Overworked? Your Heart Can Feel It

Heart disease is bad news, pure and simple: In the United States, the condition causes more than one in four deaths, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women. Coronary heart disease, the most common form of heart disease, occurs when plaque accumulates inside the coronary arteries.

Since the coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart, it's a major problem whenever they become constricted by plaque.

While there are several causes of coronary heart disease, most notably excess consumption of cholesterol-containing foods (which lead to plaque build-up), a recent study suggests another risk factor: working for too many hours. People generally understand that being overworked can be stressful, but now a study shows that the number of hours you work can be a direct indicator of disease risk.

According to the study, which involved 7,095 adults (2,109 women and 4,986 men) ages 39 to 62 years, working full-time and without diagnosed heart disease the start of the study, the risk of developing coronary heart disease increased by 167% for people who worked more than 11 hours a day on average compared to those who worked only 7-8 hours daily. The study appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

As mentioned, there are several causes of CHD. Your doctor of chiropractic can give you more information about coronary heart disease and offer suggestions for reducing your risk of developing CHD by reducing stress, exercising consistently and improving your diet.

W1. Five Ways To Detox Naturally

Are colonics the way to go when it comes to detoxing the body of toxins? The answer is plain and simple - no. The natural function of our intestinal tract is to cleanse itself. There is no physiological need to further clean above and beyond what it naturally does as its inherent function.

Some people may want the colonic because they are constipated, but it would be better to place someone who has constipation on a regular bowel regimen, rather than an occasional colonic. Other people may want the colonic because they lose some weight with it, but that will come back once they resume eating and regular bowel functioning.

The process of the colonics is concerning because it disrupts natural intestinal micro-flora and has the potential to cause either microscopic or clinically significant intestinal tears. So, based on this idea of unnecessary trauma and risk to our bowel, the usual recommendation for those seeking "cleanses" is to use food as a natural non-harmful cleanse. Here's how...

Fiber acts as a natural cleansing tool for the body. By eating a stringent vegan/vegetarian diet for a few days, you can utilize the natural minerals, vitamins, fiber, phytonutrients, and water in the plant-based diet to "cleanse" your system without having to worry about potential mechanical trauma to your intestinal tract or physiological risk.

My usual recommendation for patients who are looking for a stringent cleanse to help calm and clean their system every few weeks or months is for the patients to eat vegan/vegetarian for 3 days before a vegetable-based juice fast for 2-3 days and again for 3 days after the juice fast.

This regimen can cause some fatigue when you first do the dietary cleanse and thus the juicing days should be on days where you do not need to be very active and can rest; weekends are likely the best time to be doing the juicing days. To make the juice, you would use a wide variety of vegetables and put them through a juicer machine and drink it fresh at each meal time.

I would recommend about 5 8-ounce glasses per day of the vegetable juice for those 2-3 days that you are consuming just the juice. Do not add sugars or processed foods or additives in the juice.

This juice cleanse should only be implemented once you have obtained approval and clearance by your physician first. It can be dangerous for those on certain medications (i.e., warfarin/Coumadin) and those with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney problems, hormonal issues, liver diseases, and electrolyte/mineral disorders, just to name a few. This is because the types of food, fluid shifts/amounts, and minerals/vitamins, just to name a few factors, are altered from your natural diet and can cause issues in an otherwise stable medical condition.

So, for those of you interested in doing a "cleanse," consider food as your friend and not your enemy. It's just a matter of choosing the right foods. And this method of 'cleansing' is much less risky and significantly less medically concerning than colonics.

So, the five natural detox methods we can safely use at any time are:
1.High fiber diet
2.Avoidance of processed foods or sugars
3.Staying hydrated with water and antioxidant teas
4.Eating the colors of the rainbow in plant-based foods on a daily basis at every meal
5.Get plenty of sleep and relaxation

These general rules help to maximize your body's natural tendency towards "detoxing" and "rebalancing." By eating a wide variety of plant-based vegetables at every meal, you are naturally absorbing all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to maximize your body's physiological functioning. When you rest and allow your body to relax, your body naturally turns toward cellular recovery and repair. So, instead of making drastic changes that may be too harsh on your body, why not just provide your body what it needs to naturally detox and repair.

Your money would be better off spent on purchasing healthy nutritious foods that act as a natural cleansing tool for our system; as Mother Nature had originally intended them to be, when she created the vast array of colorful fruits and vegetables grown in nature and made easily available to us at our neighborhood grocery stores.

Serving the 95758, 95757, and 95624 areas as an Elk Grove-Laguna Chiropractor for 14 years
Copyright Greco Chiropractic, Inc.

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