Healthy Life Newsletter November 2017
Time for Chiropractic
It's a great time to visit your chiropractor, and a recent Gallup survey makes it clear: pain is a major issue for many people, and overwhelmingly, they would rather try nondrug pain-relief therapies such as chiropractic care versus pain-relieving medications. Well, they're in luck, because chiropractic offers the answer.
According to the 2017 Gallup-Palmer College of Chiropractic Annual Study of Americans, pain is an ongoing issue for many Americans, particularly neck and back pain (two conditions commonly treated by chiropractors): "About one in four adults in the U.S. (27%) have seen a healthcare professional for significant neck or back pain in the last 12 months. More than half of those adults (54%) have had an ongoing problem with neck or back pain for five years or more."
But medication is not the preferred option, particularly in light of the opioid epidemic: Nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) of Americans "prefer to try other ways to address their physical pain before they take pain medication prescribed by a doctor." And yet pain medications are still widely used: "Among those who have had ongoing neck or back pain for less than 12 months, seven in 10 have taken a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as Advil®, aspirin or Aleve®, to manage the pain, and 45% have taken acetaminophen, such as Tylenol.®"
Americans are in pain, don't want to take prescription pain medication, but often take over-the-counter pain medication. Sounds like it's time for chiropractic instead, especially in light of the fact that according to the survey, Americans perceive chiropractic as safer than both prescription and OTC medication and back surgery for neck / back pain.
Don't risk the potential side effects of pain medication – drugs that only temporarily relieve the symptom (pain) – when your chiropractor can relieve your pain without drugs while addressing the root cause of your problem. It's time for chiropractic.
( Note from Dr. Mha Atma: While chiropractic care is often very effective at reducing or relieving pain, we must remember that diet is a huge factor. In fact, eating pro-inflammatory food is the number one cause of pain, disease and premature death in the U.S. And exercise is also a major component of a pain-free life. When you combine all three: anti-inflammatory diet, appropriate exercise, and chiropractic, you have the best chance to release pain and thrive!)
Vitamin D Deficiency May Make Asthma Worse
All asthmatics wish they could find a way to reduce the risk of emergency intervention (steroid treatment or hospitalization). Vitamin D, a micronutrient proving valuable for more health conditions on a seemingly daily basis, may be an option. In a review of seven previously published studies involving nearly 1,000 asthma patients, vitamin D supplementation reduced the likelihood that patients would suffer an asthma attack serious enough to require an ER visit or hospital admission (54 percent less likely); and reduced the likelihood of experiencing frequent asthma attacks requiring drug (corticosteroid) treatment (31 percent less likely).
Patients who were vitamin D deficient at the start of the study benefited the most from supplementation, at least in terms of asthma attacks; patients with normal vitamin D levels realized a much smaller reduction in attacks. That illuminates two morals to our story: 1) Vitamin D deficiency may make your asthma worse; and 2) All asthma patients should get their vitamin D levels checked to ensure they are not deficient. Talk to your doctor for additional information.
( Note from Dr. Mha Atma: Research featured at grassrootshealth.net consistently demonstrates that a vitamin D level for 40 to 60 ng/ml may be optimal for best health. My reading has led me to believe that 60 to 80 ng/ml is likely even better. The only way you can know is to get a vitamin D blood test, then take vitamin D to boost your levels and test again in six to twelve months. I recommend taking 5,000 to 10,000 IU/day until blood levels get near or above 60.)
If You're Not Walking, You're Dying
The simple art of walking: so relaxing, so stress-relieving ... so life sustaining? Yes, walking regularly may prolong your life, and it doesn't take much, according to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that evaluated walking habits among older adults (average age: 69-71 years).
Data on walking habits gathered from nearly 140,000 participants of the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort found that walking for two hours or less per week (lower than recommended activity levels, but more than none) lowered mortality (death) from any cause compared to no activity during the 13-year study period. Walking 2.5 to five hours per week (1-2 times the recommended levels) reduced all-cause mortality by 20 percent. Risk reductions through walking were also seen for cardiovascular disease and cancer-related mortality.
So get out there and walk a little – your (long) life may depend on it! In the morning before breakfast, on a break at work, after dinner and more, find time to walk and reap the multiple health benefits.
Eat to Sleep: Supplement Guide
By Todd Singleton, DC
Every night, millions of people have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. Traditionally, this is caused by stress, anxiety, caffeine, a lack of physical activity or overstimulation before bed, as well as by nighttime discomfort or pain. But there is another common cause few doctors consider – a poor diet.
If you are eating a poor diet, you may experience blood sugar swings, hunger pangs, cravings or other disturbances that affect your ability to sleep soundly. You may use prescription drugs to get to sleep, only to become dependent on them and frustrated by their side effects (and their cost!).
The Prescription Problem
Prescription sleeping aids not only fail to address the underlying reasons for sleeplessness, but are often addictive and can have side effects ranging from diarrhea to daytime drowsiness.
I've broken down the average pricing on some commonly prescribed sleep aids to give you an idea of the monthly and annual costs for the drugs you or someone you know could be paying for (these represent the average costs for seven days):
Lunesta (1 mg tablet): $56, which adds up to $2,912 per year
Sonata (10 mg capsule): $38, which adds up to $1,976 per year
Ambien (5 mg tablet): $54, which adds up to $2,808 per year
Beyond diarrhea and drowsiness, you may commonly experience headaches, dizziness and nausea. In more extreme cases, you may develop behavioral changes, difficulty swallowing or breathing, heartbeat irregularities, memory problems, or even hallucinations! You may seek further treatment for these symptoms, adding to your prescription list, worsening your health and draining your wallets.
An inability to sleep will affect your ability to work and function in the world, and can dramatically impact your health. Sleeplessness can leave you feeling groggy, irritable, unable to focus, and less able to deal with stress. Even minimal amounts of sleep loss will take a toll on mood, energy, and efficiency. Over time, these effects can cause you to gain weight, get sick more easily and become susceptible to a wide variety of chronic illnesses.
What's Missing: Education
The problem is our society accepts subpar eating habits as "normal." With fast-food restaurants on every corner and junk food in every convenience store, you may not even realize that the way you are eating is unhealthy. It's important to understand that the foods you eat have a direct effect on every aspect of your health, including your ability to sleep. It's critical to understand that by giving the body 100 percent nutrition, you pave the way for the body to readjust its biological clock and remove the impediments that currently interfere with sleep.
A Nutrition / Supplement Plan to Help Regulate Sleep
When used in conjunction with a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, supplements can help to fill in the gaps and ensure you are getting 100 percent nutrition. If you're suffering from insomnia, I recommend you talk to your doctor about adding the following nutrients to your daily regimen:
Calcium: Low levels of calcium in the body are known to contribute to frequent awakenings in the night. This mineral has a natural calming effect on the nervous system and works by helping the body convert tryptophan (an essential amino acid) into serotonin. Serotonin can be converted into melatonin, a key hormone that helps to regulate the sleep cycle.
Magnesium helps the body properly absorb and utilize calcium, helping to calm the nervous system and relax muscles. A magnesium deficiency can cause leg cramps and spasms, which inhibits restful slumber.
Vitamin B12 aids in the metabolism of calcium and magnesium, working with them to ensure that tryptophan is converted into serotonin (and then, into melatonin). This makes B12 essential for a healthy sleep cycle.
Vitamin D: Most Americans suffer from low levels of vitamin D, even though this vitamin is essential in supporting the body's usage of calcium and magnesium. It also helps in modulating the body's biological 24-hour clock as it relates to the sleep/wake cycle.
Melatonin is a powerful hormone that helps to regulate the body's sleep and wake cycles. Supplementing with melatonin can help to reset your biological clock and convince the body to fall asleep at the proper time.
Herbs can also provide natural relief from insomnia. I typically recommend a combination of valerian root, chamomile and hops flower. Together, these herbs promote restfulness and make it easier to fall asleep.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you're struggling to get the sleep you need, get help! By providing a combination of nutritional counseling and supplementation, your doctor can help correct the underlying deficiencies that cause you to develop insomnia in the first place.
"Treating Insomnia: The Newer Sleeping Pills." Consumer Reports / CR Best Buy Drugs.
"Insomnia: Studies Suggest Calcium and Magnesium Effective." Medical News Today, Sept. 8, 2009.
Hyman MM. "Magnesium: The Most Powerful Relaxation Mineral Available." Huffington Post, Jan. 15, 2010.
Sathranarayana Rao TS, Asha M. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Ind J Psychiatry, April-June 2008;50(2):77-82.
Mercola J. "Tips for Resetting Your Internal Clock and Sleeping Better." Mercola.com, Aug. 15, 2013.
"Sleep Drive and Your Body Clock." National Sleep Foundation (website).
Spending a Painful Day Off
We all have our "story" when we don't show up at work on any given day; some more valid than others. After all, "My car broke down" or "I had to take my daughter to urgent care" generally come off much better than "I slept in and missed the bus" or "I lost my car keys." Now here's a truly valid reason for work absenteeism, and unfortunately, it's becoming more prevalent throughout the U.S.: chronic pain.
According to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed research journal Spine, workers suffering from chronic pain are more likely be absent from work – and more likely to stay absent – compared to workers not suffering from chronic pain. In fact, among a study population of more than 8,000 workers, chronic pain sufferers were significantly more likely to be absent from work one or more days: 20 percent more likely if suffering from neck pain, and 22 percent more likely if suffering from low back pain or headache pain (migraines), respectively.
The good news is there are natural solutions to all three of these common conditions, starting with chiropractic care, and research supports it. Talk to your chiropractor if you're suffering from pain, whether acute or chronic, before it gets so bad that you have to miss work. After all, you deserve to save your personal leave time for a well-deserved vacation, not to endure chronic pain.
( Note from Dr. Mha Atma: I will repeat my comment above: A healthy anti-inflammatory diet with lots of vegetables and fruit and nuts and minimal refined sugar and refined grains and flour products and seed oils, adequate exercise--which could include walking and/or other aerobic exercise along with neck and back stabilizing exercises, along with appropriate chiropractic care, will provide the best odds of living a pain free life. Talk to me any time for details!)