The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, consumed our nation from the time President Obama took office until the bill went into effect. It remained a lightning rod and a major talking point in the presidential election six years later.
During all of the drama that played out on TV, on social media and in the newspaper, I remember seeing a lot of politicians, insurance company representatives, lawyers and big pharma folks talking about how health insurance would be administered in our country.
The conversation focused on whether there should be a government run, public option. It focused on allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26. It focused on not allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to people or charge them more because of a pre-existing condition. It focused on removing lifetime and annual dollar limits for essential health benefits. It focused on reducing administrative costs. Continue reading
Regular readers of my blog know I have enormous respect for Dr. Mark Hyman, one of the world’s foremost advocates of functional medicine and chairman of the Institute of Functional Medicine. I’d like to summarize an article written by Dr. Hyman and share important information about what he calls “the most important molecule you need to stay healthy and prevent disease.”
This molecule is called glutathione, which is produced naturally by the human liver. What makes glutathione special is sulfur. Sulfur is sticky, and free radicals and toxins stick to glutathione for that reason. Glutathione then carries them to bile and stool before they leave the body.
That’s why glutathione is the most important part of the detoxification system. It cools off free radicals and recycles other antioxidants. Research suggests that, by supporting immune function and controlling inflammation, high glutathione levels can reduce muscle damage, speed recovery time, improve strength and endurance, and switch metabolism to develop muscles instead of fat. Continue reading
During the Olympics, we saw world-class gymnasts hurl themselves into the air and land on their feet. If the average person tried to perform these moves, their joints and discs could literally crumble from the force.
Why doesn’t that happen to gymnasts? Well, they obviously train for years to learn proper form. But they also protect their bones and joints by building thick muscles to absorb the force generated by the moves they perform.
Of course, building muscle isn’t just beneficial to Olympic gymnasts. Average people like you and me can reduce the risk of degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and other disorders of the tendons, cartilage and ligaments by building muscle mass.
Our muscles require anabolic stimulation to grow. Anabolic processes involve the synthesis of proteins and complex molecules in the body that lead to the growth of muscle mass. This shouldn’t be confused with anabolic steroids, which accelerate these processes through artificial means but can also be used to treat a variety of illnesses.
Early last year, 40-year-old guidelines from the government related to the consumption of cholesterol were changed. Basically, Washington finally caught up to science in understanding that cholesterol in the food we eat does not have a significant impact on cholesterol levels in our blood.
Thanks to decades of ignorance, one of the healthiest, most budget-friendly food options has gotten a bad rap. Because the average large egg contains more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol, which is approximately two thirds of the recommended daily allowance, egg consumption was incorrectly linked to heart disease.
Fortunately, the public is becoming educated about the myths and realities of cholesterol, and eggs are receiving long overdue recognition as a source of:
- Vitamins A, D, B6 and B12
- Minerals, including iron, calcium, folate, phosphorus, selenium and zinc
- Choline, which promotes normal cell activity, liver function, and nutrient movement in the body
- Amino acids
- Omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides to reduce the risk of heart disease
- Antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin
According to a recent Harris Poll of more than 2,200 U.S. adults, 78 percent of respondents believe having dinner at home involves cooking from scratch. I agree wholeheartedly. But some of the other findings have me scratching my head.
When asked what it means to have dinner at home, 45 percent said it could mean heating up something from the fridge or freezer. I can almost buy that if it means heating up leftovers that were made from scratch, using fresh ingredients. But I know that’s not the case.
37 percent said having dinner from home could mean using shortcuts such as precut veggies or pre-marinated chicken breasts for cooking. Pay extra for the convenience of precut veggies? Okay, if you must. Pre-marinated chicken breasts? Now you’re crossing the line into processed food. Continue reading
As summer winds down, I’ve been shocked to learn how many people don’t use their vacation time. After doing a little digging, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.
According to the State of American Vacation 2016 report from Project: Time Off, 55 percent of American workers didn’t use all of their vacation time in 2015. On average, Americans used 16 vacation days in 2015, down from 20.3 in 2000. Researchers estimate that Americans left 658 million vacation days on the table.
The top six reasons for not using vacation time were:
- Fear of returning to a mountain of work (37 percent)
- Nobody else can do the job (35 percent)
- Unable to afford a vacation (30 percent)
- Taking time off is more difficult as you grow in the company (28 percent)
- Desire to show complete dedication (22 percent)
- Fear of being seen as replaceable (19 percent)
Despite these numbers, employees who used 11 or more vacation days were more likely to have received a raise or bonus than those who used 10 or fewer days. Could it be that employers are taking advantage of the hard work and perceived insecurity of certain employees? Continue reading
As the youngest of four children, I always had a special relationship with my mom. She taught me at a young age the value of honesty, hard work, commitment and caring for others. She was also the primary voice who encouraged me to follow my dreams and pursue my passion. You see, I had a lot of dreams and passion!
We had a similar conversation years later, but the stakes were much higher. Let me explain.
I always knew I would end up in private practice. After nine years of work, I decided to buy a building and practice. At the time, my wife was pregnant with our third child and we had just moved into a fixer upper with two small daughters.
The opportunity presented to me in March of 2003 was the purchase of 10 West End Court in Long Branch and Atlantic Chiropractic Center. I was about to go heavily into debt. If Natural Healthcare Center failed, my family would be without a home because the bank used my house for collateral.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people have their cholesterol levels checked because they believe cholesterol is bad, it makes them ill, clogs their arteries, and causes heart disease. They believe cholesterol is a bad word. If it is elevated, they need to take a medication, such as a statin drug, to restore normal cholesterol levels.
Unfortunately, the average person’s knowledge of cholesterol is incorrect. This often leads to tests that are useless, habitual use of medication, and poor dietary choices. Let’s get into some of these myths and debunk them, one by one. Continue reading
The Institute of Medicine famously published a report in 1999 that estimated medical errors were responsible for as many as 98,000 deaths each year in America. This report was viewed with equal parts alarm and skepticism.
However, a new report from Johns Hopkins University, as reported by Bloomberg, claims that medical errors trail only heart disease and cancer among the leading killers in our country, claiming approximately 251,000 victims each year. This report combines data from four separate studies that examined deaths in hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, nursing homes and other healthcare environments. Researchers suggest the estimate may be conservative.
Critics of studies that attempt to measure medical errors point out that “medical error” is not a term with a standard definition. A medical error could include everything from the wrong diagnosis to an administrative error, which could lead to any number of mistakes. Continue reading
We know fast food is bad for us. The discussion about why fast food is unhealthy usually revolves around the high levels of saturated fat, sodium, salt and sugar. We talk about pairing a giant cup of soda with fries that have been submerged in corn-based oil, which is considered by many to be the unhealthiest oil to humans.
Of course, we also focus on the fact that the vast majority of fast food is unnatural and heavily processed. These manmade substances, which I would hardly classify as food, make us overweight and chronically ill.
The evidence about the effects of processed fast food on our health has existed for decades. But the danger may go deeper than the food itself and the awful ingredients. New research suggests that the high amount of processing exposes fast food products – and eventually the people who eat them – to harmful substances and chemicals. Continue reading
We already know that soda and other sugary drinks are a major reason for the obesity epidemic in our country, which affects more than one in three adults and about 17 percent of children.
We already know that regular soda can also contribute to heart disease, type II diabetes, stroke, cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Science tells us that soda consumption causes a spike in blood sugar, which leads to an insulin burst that converts sugar into fat. When caffeine is absorbed, pupils become dilated, blood pressure rises, and the liver sends more sugar into the blood stream.
And that’s just in the first hour. Continue reading
According to research from the Institute of Medicine, 100 million Americans deal with chronic pain. That’s more than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. Back pain is the most common form of chronic pain, while headaches, neck pain and joint pain are also prevalent.
First, let’s define chronic pain. Chronic pain is pain that lasts at least six months. It can be continuous or recurring, and it can range from mild discomfort to sharp, excruciating pain.
Second, let’s discuss how chronic pain affects our lives. There’s obviously physical discomfort. In some cases, the pain is debilitating. But physical pain is just the beginning.
According to a recent survey from Accountemps, about three quarters (74 percent) of American workers claim to work while they’re tired. More than three in 10 (31 percent) say they do so very often.
Not coincidentally, 52 percent have trouble focusing, 47 percent procrastinate, 38 percent say they’re grumpy, and 29 percent make more mistakes because they’re tired. And the consequences of lack of sleep are costly.
One survey respondent said an accident that was blamed on fatigue caused every employee to be paid twice. Another said weariness caused the deletion of a project that took 1,000 hours to create. All told, a study from Harvard Medical School found that sleep-deprived American workers cost their employers $63 billion in lost productivity each year.
So who’s to blame for the fact that most American workers don’t get enough shut eye?
Any reader of my blog or participant in one of my seminars knows how strongly I feel about the need to get away from the “sick care” model that reactively treats people after they become ill.
If we’re going to reverse the worldwide chronic illness epidemic, we need to adopt a “health care” model that focuses on keeping people well. Every individual needs to become educated so they’re capable of making better decisions on a daily basis about proper nutrition, exercise, and stress modification.
There is no greater example of this approach than the CityWell Municipal Employee Health and Wellness Program, a free resource created to help City of Long Branch employees and their dependents achieve and maintain a state of wellness and live a wellness lifestyle. As Health Educator for CityWell, I’m proud to say that the program has already exceeded expectations in terms of both participation and outcomes. Continue reading
In the previous post, I discussed how sugar and artificial sweeteners can affect a child’s brain. ADD, ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, poor memory and other issues are often traced back to a sugar-heavy diet. Scientific studies suggest that the early onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s can be linked to high sugar consumption.
This is why it’s so important to limit sugar intake and help kids establish good eating habits at a young age. Food and drinks with added sugar and artificial, manmade sweeteners are the ones to avoid.
Of course, if you pass on anything that comes in a can, a box, a carton or a drive-thru, you’ll eliminate the vast majority of sugar-heavy and artificially sweetened food products from your diet. Continue reading
We know that the American diet for children is largely toxic and leads to obesity, type 2 diabetes, poor development, and many other chronic illnesses. But we rarely discuss what it does to the brain.
Poor diet, especially one that is loaded with added sugar and artificial sweeteners, has a direct impact on a child’s brain chemistry. After all, obesity isn’t just a problem in the belly. It’s a problem in the brain because too much sugar creates a never-ending cycle of food cravings that cause kids to overeat.
Added sugar and manmade artificial sweeteners, which are toxic to the liver and reproductive organs, cause an immediate biochemical change in the body. As a result, certain neurotransmitters are released in the brain. Some children are more sensitive to these neurotransmitters and become depressed, anxious, or hyper. Some have memory issues and struggle to think clearly. Many have learning disabilities at school.
In the previous post, we discussed how an integrated treatment plan helped Carlos, a then 17-year-old high school pitcher with a 90-plus mile per hour fastball, recover from a herniated disc and bulging disc. Thanks to a combination of chiropractic care, nutrition, physical therapy, and the Cox Technic system for spinal decompression, Carlos is back on the mound for his senior season.
Another form of treatment in the Natural Healthcare Center shed that has become popular with athletes who push their bodies to the limit is acupuncture. From NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers to baseball Hall of Famer Randy Johnson to New York City Ballet dancers, more and more world-class athletes now view acupuncture as a critical part of their training and wellness programs.
Although the average person views acupuncture as a way to relieve pain, an athlete gains the greatest benefits during training – before an injury. Acupuncture can boost an athlete’s energy, improve overall performance, and help an athlete recover from a workout more quickly. Acupuncture can also reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and increase awareness and mental clarity.
I don’t claim to be a scout for a big league baseball team. But when I encounter a young man like Carlos, who at the time was 6-foot-6 and threw a baseball 90 miles per hour as a 17-year-old, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he could hear his name called at some point in a Major League Baseball draft.
Carlos came to Natural Healthcare Center in April of 2015 with pain in his hip and the lower right side of his back. Our integrated treatment plan included chiropractic care, physical therapy and sports nutrition counseling. The pain went away, but it would return when Carlos resumed the high level of activity that’s normal for serious athletes.
We sent Carlos to have an MRI, which revealed a herniated disc and a bulging disc. We dug deeper into our integrated toolshed of services and treated Carlos with the Cox Technic system of spinal decompression and pain management. We also continued with chiropractic care and nutrition, and focused his physical therapy on lumbar core stabilization.
Today, Carlos is fully rehabbed, training for his senior season, and throwing heat. Continue reading
About 15 years ago, “integrated” became a big buzzword. Companies in different industries started using “integrated” in their sales presentations, marketing campaigns, and business models. Some companies started using “integrated” in the name of the business.
You have integrated marketing, which is designed to make sure different marketing tactics are part of a single cohesive strategy and support the same objective and message.
You have integrated technology, which is designed to simplify the management of technology and make sure all departments within an organization have access to a single version of accurate, up-to-date data.
You even have integrated pest management, which is designed to coordinate methods for controlling pest populations and reduce the usage of pesticides and other chemicals.
I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these industries. But in the world of healthcare, I can tell you that the phrase “integrated medicine” is used far too casually – and often in a deceptive way. Continue reading
In the previous post, I discussed the differences between osteoarthritis, which is the gradual degeneration of cartilage and bone at the joints caused by wear and tear, and autoimmune arthritis, which occurs when the body’s immune system attacks normal cells at the lining of joints.
Most people think the default treatment for arthritis is a pain-relieving pill. After all, every case of arthritis involves joint inflammation. A variety of anti-inflammatories can be used to reduce inflammation, and because various forms of arthritis can cause severe pain on a day-to-day basis, pain medication can indeed be part of a treatment plan.
However, medication is not the only treatment option. At Natural Healthcare Center, our goal is to minimize the use of medication and stimulate the body’s natural healing powers, whether we’re treating arthritis or any other condition. Osteoarthritis, like any condition that ends in “itis,” is an inflammatory disorder and should be treated nutritionally with an anti-inflammatory diet.