If you’ve been treated by me, attended one of my presentations, or read articles on this blog, you’ve heard me express my frustration, to put it mildly, with the food industry. Aisle after aisle at the average grocery store is filled with “food” that has little or no nutritional value and contributes to the chronic illness epidemic in our country.
That’s why I talk about the importance of doing your homework and becoming educated about the food you put into your body – what the ingredients are, where it was grown or produced, how it was processed, what it might have been exposed to, etc.
By and large, the people I encounter, both in clinical practice and during speaking engagements, want to do the right thing. They want to make better choices for themselves and their families. They want to choose healthy, nutritious foods.
Unfortunately, big food manufacturers are making it difficult for well-intentioned adults and children to make good choices. Here are a couple frightening examples of what we’re up against. Continue reading
Walk through the aisles of a grocery or health food store, or visit a trendy coffee shop or restaurant, and you’re likely to find kombucha tea. Some establishments promote kombucha as a healthy alternative to soda because of its sweet flavor and fizziness. You can even buy kombucha home brewing kits.
But what exactly is kombucha, and what is it about kombucha that makes it healthy?
Kombucha originated in the Far East about 2,000 years ago. Typically consumed as a tea, kombucha is a fermented drink with black or green tea, sugar, probiotic bacteria and yeast, and prebiotics (microcellulose).
Kombucha tea is made by combining a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) with sugar and tea and allowing it to ferment. After fermentation, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B vitamins, and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which serve as a nutrition source for cells in the colon. Continue reading
Did you know running can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and death? It can also improve body composition and help with stress management and anxiety.
Maybe you’ve been hesitant to start a running program because you know runners dealing with serious injuries and chronic pain, or you’ve heard that running can cause joint damage. Running injuries are common, but most injuries are the result of training errors, or a lack of muscular strength or endurance specific to running.
Also, recent studies have shown that running can actually improve joint health. With appropriate mechanical loading, the stress of the articular surfaces can improve joint health if correctly modulated.
So what’s the biggest difference between a running program that causes injuries and a running program that delivers the health benefits we just mentioned?
The right guidance. Continue reading
I’ve written previously about the confusion surrounding supposedly organic foods. Big food companies are capitalizing on the organic movement by using the word “organic” in their marketing.
Because these companies have proven for decades that we can’t trust them to tell us what’s in their foods in a clear, transparent way, here’s a quick primer on organic labeling requirements from the USDA National Organic Program (NOP):
- “100% Organic”: Must contain only organically produced ingredients other than water and salt.
- “Organic”: Must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients.
- “Made with Organic Ingredients”: Must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients and list up to three organic ingredients.
Any product with less than 70 percent organic ingredients cannot use the term “organic” except to identify specific organic ingredients. Here is the official definition of organic food from the USDA NOP:
Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Continue reading
There’s no shortage of misconceptions about chiropractic care. Most of these misconceptions are spread by people who have never had a chiropractic adjustment and by doctors who haven’t been educated in chiropractic care.
Chiropractic adjustments are excruciatingly painful. Once you start, you have to go forever. Chiropractic is only for back pain. Chiropractors aren’t real doctors.
I could spend a lot of time debunking various myths about chiropractic care, but I’ll just focus on reality. To understand what happens during a chiropractic adjustment and why you need one, you need to first understand the philosophy and goals of chiropractic care. Continue reading
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released proposed changes to its “Education Blueprint for Health Care Providers Involved in the Management or Support of Patients with Pain.” FDA guidelines now recommend that doctors learn about chiropractic care and acupuncture as treatment methods.
The new blueprint is part of an FDA initiative that began in 2011 to combat prescription drug abuse. The original version didn’t mention chiropractic or acupuncture, but the FDA is now encouraging health care providers to become informed about a broader range of treatment options, including non-pharmacologic therapies.
The document says health care providers “should be knowledgeable about the range of available therapies, when they may be helpful, and when they should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management.”
Chiropractic care and acupuncture made the cut. Imagine that. Continue reading
To protect the patient’s privacy, we’ll refer to her as Mary.
Mary, age 56, came to Natural Healthcare Center with what she called “the frustration of a lifetime.” She had been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia more than 30 years earlier. Mary had tried infusions, medication and supplementation with no success, and nobody could figure out why.
Mary had been living with chronic fatigue for years. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was causing constipation, bloating and stomach pain. She suffered from hypothyroidism, acid reflux, cold intolerance, hypoglycemic symptoms, and dizziness. She even had miscarriages. Mary was taking prescription medication for iron deficiency, acid reflux and hypothyroidism.
Mary knew there was a history of celiac disease in her family. She never tested positive for it, so her doctors in the conventional medicine community felt gluten wasn’t the cause of her anemia. Continue reading
We’ve heard reports in recent years that sales of soda are down, and more people are drinking water. People are paying closer attention to food labels and choosing organic products. The “farm to table” movement is picking up steam. More people are exploring chiropractic, yoga and massage therapy and trying to reduce their reliance on medication.
Then we got hit with a major dose of reality. According to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly four in 10 adults and nearly two in 10 children are obese in the U.S. Obesity rates are highest among minorities. 47 percent of Hispanic adults and 46.8 of “non-Hispanic black” adults are obese. The study was based on body-mass index of 30 or higher being considered obese.
Obesity at an all-time high in our country. The federal government’s Healthy People 2020 initiative aims to reduce obesity rates to 30.5 percent for adults and 14.5 percent for children by 2020. Chances of these goals being achieved are slim.
Why is this such a big deal? A recent study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that obesity contributed to 7 percent of all deaths around the world in 2015. Top causes of death involving obesity were heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and various forms of cancer. Continue reading
Every year around Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of the biblical origins of giving thanks, and what giving thanks has become in today’s society.
In the Bible, giving thanks is a frequent theme. It comes up 102 times in the Old Testament and 71 times in the New Testament. The Bible talks about giving thanks for blessings, for forgiveness of sins, for delivering us from evil, and for God’s love and strength.
That’s why we give thanks when we say grace, which comes from two Latin words – “gratia”, which means “thanks” and “gratus”, which means “grateful”.
Today, giving thanks is more of a social custom. We’re taught at a young age to say “please” and “thank you” because that’s good manners. It’s polite. We thank people all day long, not just for acts of kindness, but for the simplest things, like pumping gas. We end our emails with “thank you.”
Ask yourself this question. Every time you thank someone, do you mean it? Has giving thanks become trivialized? I sure hope not. Continue reading
If you pay money to a business for a product or service, and that product or service doesn’t meet your expectations, or you’re not happy with the experience, you move on. You don’t have to tolerate incompetence, poor service or poor results because there are always other options.
Did the dry cleaner shrink your clothes beyond recognition? Did the airline lose your luggage? Did the contractor install your windows incorrectly? Did the financial planner give you bad advice that caused you to lose thousands of dollars?
You fire them. At the very least, you explore other options.
Why don’t we hold doctors to the same standards? Continue reading
At this point in the fall sports season, kids are heading into the playoffs. The competitive juices are flowing. There’s a ton of pressure to perform at a high level and win a championship. Many athletes are looking to impress college and professional scouts.
In a previous post, I discussed the prevalence of repetitive use injuries, why they happen, and how to prevent them. Concussions are also becoming common, but they’re more difficult to prevent. Sure, you can use proper equipment and technique, but concussions are often the result of unintentional collisions, bumps and falls.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head, or even a blow to the body that causes the brain to quickly move back and forth. This can cause the brain to bounce or twist in the skull, causing a change in how the brain functions. It’s a functional injury, not a structural injury. In a child, a concussion can threaten the development of the brain. Continue reading
It’s time to face a few sad facts. Americans consume more medication, by far, than any other country in the world, which is a big reason why we spend more on healthcare per citizen than any country in the world.
However, we’re not the healthiest country in the world. Our healthcare system doesn’t produce the best outcomes. According to World Health Organization data from 2015, the U.S. ranks 31st in the world in life expectancy at 79.3 years, more than four years behind Japan (83.7) and Switzerland (83.4).
Following 1+1 = 2 logic, one can reasonably deduce that more medication doesn’t lead to better health. It’s not even debatable. But scientific data goes a step further and offers a much more shocking reality. Continue reading
Let me clarify two things. I’ve never smoked marijuana in my life, and this post has nothing to do with recreational marijuana use.
But that’s a big reason why the conversation about cannabis for pain relief goes off the tracks. People automatically associate marijuana, or cannabis, with illegal drug use. What they don’t understand is that you can consume cannabis to help relieve pain without getting high.
I use turmeric, curcumin and boswellia in clinical practice every day. These are herbals, each with its own uses and benefits. Cannabis is also an herbal that works for pain. Unlike opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin, cannabis is non-addictive and has no side effects when properly administered. Continue reading
Society is finally starting to realize that medication isn’t the only option for treating any number of conditions. There are substances that can be consumed, whether in food or supplement form, that are 100 percent natural, non-addictive, non-narcotic and have no side effects.
Curcumin is a prime example.
Curcumin is a chemical found in the bright yellow pigment of turmeric, which is part of the ginger family and made from the Curcuma longa plant. Curcumin is the most active ingredient in turmeric, which is also the main spice in curry.
In Indian culture, curcumin has been recognized as a healing agent for centuries and is part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine. I use curcumin as an anti-inflammatory herbal supplement in clinical practice every day. Continue reading
Did you know the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons found that nearly half of all injuries sustained by middle and high school students during sports-related activities are overuse injuries? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, about half of overuse injuries in children and adolescents are preventable.
Here’s the scary part. More than one in five young athletes say they’ve been pressured to play with an injury, according to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation.
I’m a big believer in telling kids, especially those younger than high-school age, to just go outside and play. Be active. Make up games. Exercise your body and brain. If you’re bored, figure out how to “unbore” yourself.
Unfortunately, a lot of young children are thrust into highly competitive sports environments before they’re even 10 years old. They play the same sport and participate in specialized training for that sport year-round. There’s no off-season. Continue reading
As another summer draws to a close, a lot of people who have been obsessed with weight loss since spring are relieved that they made it through beach season. They probably relied on crash diets to lose weight with the hope of looking better in swimsuits, shorts, skinny jeans and other clothes that were buried in the closet all winter.
But what happens when summer ends? They typically shift from one unhealthy eating habit, the crash diet, to their former unhealthy eating habit, which will cause them to put the pounds back on.
At the end of the day, what have they achieved? Is it worth it to go through this mentally and physically draining cycle year after year? Continue reading
Behavioral economics kind of flies in the face of the traditional economics approach. This rational choice model is based on the notion that rational people make sound judgments by weighing costs, pros and cons. They have the self-control to stay on the right path to achieving their goals.
I wish this was true, but it’s not.
Behavioral economics uses a variety of factors – psychological, emotional, cognitive and social – to determine why we make the choices, financial and otherwise, that seem to defy logic and traditional economic models.
In reality, people tend to make impulse decisions based on instant gratification and exhibit little self-control. Goals aren’t achieved because people often make decisions that aren’t aligned with their goals. Continue reading
Let me start by saying this blog post isn’t about global warming or climate change. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if you believe that it’s happening or that human activity is affecting it. Regardless of where you stand on those issues, everyone should be in favor of cleaner air, cleaner water, and cleaner soil.
That said, I hear a lot of arguments about the state of the environment and what can be done to reduce pollution. I hear about reducing emissions from cars and factories. I hear about focusing more on wind and solar energy instead of coal, oil and other fossil fuels. I hear about regulation and deregulation and the impact on jobs and the economy.
Those are all important debates to have. But I never hear anyone talk about the impact of cattle farming on the environment. Continue reading
Years ago, it started to become trendy to drink bottled water. In restaurants, I see people specify that they want bottled water, not tap water. In fact, soda sales in the U.S. have dropped for 12 consecutive quarters as more people have turned to bottled water and healthier beverages, according to a report from Beverage Digest.
While I’m happy to see that fewer people are drinking soda, I’m disturbed by the fact that people are still drinking anything from plastic bottles, including water.
Most water bottles are made from very cheap plastic. These kinds of plastics contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), particularly phthalates, which are banned in the European Union but legal in the U.S. Bisphenol A (BPA) is another common EDC found in tin food cans, plastic containers and cosmetics.
Also called xenoestrogens, EDCs affect the endocrine tissues that produce hormones They mimic natural hormones such as estrogen and androgen and bind to receptors in human cells, which prevents the body’s natural hormones from doing so. As a result, the body is unable to properly respond to stress and injury, regulate energy, and control growth and development.
This affects everyone – men, women, children and even unborn babies. Continue reading
One of the reasons why my role as a health educator is so difficult is that I constantly spend time exposing bad information when I’d rather be sharing good information. This blog post is a prime example of that dilemma.
A member of the Natural Healthcare Center team forwarded me an article from an extremely popular media outlet that suggested a gluten-free diet could have “unintended consequences.” The article was based on a study that found people who ate gluten-free had higher levels of toxic metals in their systems than people who ate gluten.
False. Or, at the very least, extremely misleading. Here’s why.
Suppose you replace food that contains gluten with highly processed foods that are marketed as gluten-free replacements or substitutes, such as gluten-free breads, pastries and pastas. All you’re doing is replacing something inflammatory with something that’s slightly less inflammatory – but still inflammatory. Continue reading