Healthy Life Newsletter January 2018

 

High-dose vitamin D for 30 days improves breathing  in asthma patients--A case control study using 100 patients in a private clinic in Pakistan found that vitamin D improved lung capacity measurements for asthmatics within two months, and even more by three months. The treatment group took 50,000 IU vitamin D3 daily for 30 days. Forced expulsion of air (FEV) during 1 second was used to measure the change in lung capacity. The treatment group had a significant change in two months and highly significant in three months.  Read the abstract.

 

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Eating beets improves athletic performance--Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance. They gave physically fit men and women a cup and a half of baked beets, which is equal to about a can of beets, 75 minutes before running a 5K. They started out the same, but during the last mile of the 5K race, the beet group pulled ahead compared to the placebo group, who were given berries instead. Though the beet group participants were running faster, their heart rate wasn’t any higher. If anything, they reported less exertion.  Read the whole article
 

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Exercise: The Key to Better Grades?
 
For better or worse, we live in an increasingly competitive world, which means when it comes to education, grades matter – big time. While they don't necessarily reflect the learning process, effort expended or lessons learned, grades remain an important indicator of knowledge, critical thinking and other variables that translate well into adulthood.
 
And of course, when applying for college, few application reviewers consider the straight D student, even if that student gave 100 percent in the classroom every day.
 
With all the tutoring clubs, online support groups and other tools at students' / parents' disposal these days, it's encouraging to know a simple grade-booster exists that doesn't require money or even a great deal of extra time: exercise. Research suggests children who exercise more perform better in several academic subjects and are more attentive compared to their less-active peers.
 
The most recent study to examine this association reviewed 26 studies involving more than 10,000 children ages 4-13. Results, published in the peer-reviewed research journal Pediatrics, showed that increased physical activity, particularly physical education, improved various aspects of academic achievement , "especially mathematics-related skills, reading, and composite scores." Students who exercised more also appeared to stay more focused on their schoolwork than students who exercised less.
 
In the studies analyzed, researchers increased physical activity levels through expanded recess, afters-school sports or active breaks between lessons throughout the school day – which also may suggest academic performance is related to whether kids get breaks from their long days sitting in the classroom. Definitely food for thought for the education system.
 
From a parent standpoint, teaching your kids to exercise and encouraging them to take active breaks at home, particularly while doing schoolwork or studying for quizzes / tests, could help their academic performance – and will certainly help avoid the health perils of a sedentary lifestyle.

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Stop Parkinson's in Its Tracks
 
Current treatment strategies for Parkinson's disease include medications such as dopamine agonists. Other treatment options focus more on maintaining independence, reducing fall risk and overcoming the progressive speech difficulties that can develop as the disease advances.
 
In other words, not an encouraging picture for someone faced with Parkinson's.
 
What about exercise? Could something as natural, simple and straightforward as exercise help? Yes, suggests a growing body of research that includes a study in JAMA Neurology, a journal of the American Medical Association. The study found that intense treadmill exercise can substantially slow progression of the disease, while less-intense forms of exercise do not delay the progression of symptoms.
 
Researchers divided Parkinson's disease patients into three groups for comparison, with one group walking gently on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day, four times a week (moderate intensity – 60-65 percent of maximum heart rate); a second group exercising for the same duration and frequency, but at a more intense pace and incline (high intensity – heart rate 80-85 percent of maximum); and a third group that did not participate in either exercise program.
 
Patients received supervision for one month and then continued the program for an additional five months, at which time researchers evaluated disease status using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor score, which had been assessed at the start of the study as well. Patients who participated in the high-intensity treadmill program showed almost no decline in scores compared to baseline, while patients in the moderate-intensity program declined by approximately two points, and patients in the control group declined by three points. In other words, Parkinson's symptoms got worse in patients who did not exercise or who exercised at only moderate intensity, but stayed the same in patients who exercised at high intensity.
 
Just as significant, the exercise program proved tolerable to almost all patients, meaning it is a safe option for helping Parkinson's patients avoid progression of their disease. Considering the debilitating, frustrating nature of Parkinson's disease, that's news we're more than happy to share.
 

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The Problem With Surgery for Low Back Pain
 
If you've ever experienced back pain, whether acute or chronic, there are a few facts you should know. First, you're not alone; studies suggest 80 percent of adults experience at least one episode of low back pain in their lifetime. Second, thousands of people undergo back surgery every year for back pain, putting their bodies at risk for surgical complications. Third, chiropractic and other conservative, nonsurgical treatment methods have been shown to be effective for uncomplicated cases of LBP.
 
And here's one more important fact: Research suggests the big problem with surgery for back pain, particularly chronic back pain (recurrent pain over weeks or months), is that it doesn't seem to work – at least not any better than conservative care. The latest evidence: study findings published in the research journal Spine that found: "After an average of 11 years follow-up, there was no difference in patient self-rated outcomes between fusion and multidisciplinary cognitive-behavioral and exercise rehabilitation for cLBP (chronic low-back pain).
 
The results suggest that, given the increased risks of surgery and the lack of deterioration in nonoperative outcomes over time, the use of lumbar fusion in cLBP patients should not be favored in health care systems where multidisciplinary cognitive-behavioral and exercise rehabilitation programs are available."
 
This isn't the first study to suggest surgery isn't your best option when it comes to the back. And if you think you can go to any type of doctor, think again. Expertise aside, research indicates that the type of doctor you visit first – namely a surgeon vs. a doctor of chiropractic – can essentially determine whether you'll eventually undergo surgery. So think surgery last and visit a chiropractor first. Your back will thank you for it.
 

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Go Nuts About Protecting Your Heart
 
If you're nuts about nuts, you're in luck: besides tasting great, they're also a tasty way to help reduce your risk of heart disease, and the research continues to prove it. According to one of the latest studies, published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, eating nuts five times or more a week reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 14 percent and lowers the risk of coronary heart disease by even more - 20 percent.
 
In the study, nut consumption was defined as one 28-gram serving, which translates to about one ounce - the standard serving size for most nuts. The study also determined individual risk reductions based on the type of nut consumed:
  
  • Walnuts (at least once weekly): 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease / 21 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease
  • Peanuts (at least twice weekly): 13 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease / 15 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease
  • Tree nuts (almonds, cashews or pistachios; twice weekly or more frequently): 145 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease / 23 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease
 
So grab a handful of your favorite nuts and enjoy the heart benefits! Talk to your doctor for more information, and keep in mind that nuts are high in fat and can be high and sodium, so look for a no-salt variety if available.
 

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Don't Make Low Back Pain Worse
 
Don't think your spouse's back pain is a big deal? It may actually make the pain – which is a big deal to them, no matter what you think – even worse, according to new research.
 
While positive support and encouragement has been shown to reduce feelings of pain, this study confirms just the opposite: Lack of support can intensify pain.
 
The study involved couples, one of whom was suffering from chronic low back pain. While the back pain patient performed standing, walking, reclining, bending and stretching activities for 10 minutes, their spouse watched while researchers evaluated any criticism and/or hostility toward their spouse / the patient, as well as perceived criticism on the patient's part. Needless to say, greater hostility / criticism from the pain-free spouse correlated with greater pain experienced by the patient – particularly when the patient was a woman.
 
The moral to this story is a simple one: When someone's in pain, give them your full support! That means not only trying to understand and appreciate their pain, but also recognizing that what you think is support / helpful advice may actually be perceived as negative and lead to more pain, not less. Talk to your chiropractor to learn more about back pain, the potential causes, and how couples can work together whenever pain strikes.