Why Vacations Are a Critical Part of Your Job

Dr. James Proodian and FamilyAs 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

Happy 80th Birthday, Mom! Love, James

james and momAs 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.

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Cholesterol: Separating Myth from Reality

Myths about CholesterolAccording 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

Are Medical Errors a Growing, Life-Threatening Problem?

medical errorsThe 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

Research: Fast Food Processing Increases the Risk of Exposure to Chemicals

Fast Food effects on healthWe 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

New Research Suggests Soda Affects the Brain’s Recovery from Head Trauma

New Research Suggests Soda Affects the Brain’s Recovery from Head TraumaWe 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

Why the Impact of Chronic Pain Is Far More than Physical

why chronic pain is more than just painAccording 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.

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Why More Sleep Could Help You Boost Workplace Productivity

Sleepy office worker 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?

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How CityWell Continues to Change Lives

CityWell city of Long BranchAny 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

New Research Links Processed Sugar to Cancer Growth

Sugar and Cancer 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

How Sugar Can Affect a Child’s Brain

Children's brains and sugarWe 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.

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Why Acupuncture Has Become a Go-To Treatment for Athletes

acupuncture for athletesIn 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.

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How Carlos Got Back to Throwing Heat, and the Value of Integrated Therapy

Proodian healthcare Patient Success StoryI 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

Integrated Medicine: Separating Buzz from Substance

Integrative Medicine 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

Natural Treatment Options for Arthritis

ArthritisIn 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.

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Preventing Neurodegeneration by Taking Care of the Brain

what is neurodegenerationAll of us are born with a certain number of brain cells. Over the course our lives, brain cells inevitably become damaged and die. Yes, the brain actually shrinks, so if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

This is the process of neurodegeneration. Neurodegeneration is a combination of two words – “neuro,” which refers to nerve cells, and “degeneration,” which refers to progressive damage.

The quicker your brain cells die and degenerate, the faster brain function deteriorates. You start to deal with depression, headaches, anxiety and fatigue. You have difficulty making decisions and suffer from memory loss. This leads to serious neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Continue reading

Why Not All Forms of Arthritis Are the Same

Arthritis When you hear the word “arthritis,” it’s similar to when you hear the word “cancer.” Most people tend to lump all forms of arthritis or cancer into the same group. Just like there are many forms of cancer, there are many forms of arthritis that fall into one of two general categories – osteoarthritis and autoimmune arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear, the degeneration of cartilage and bone at the joints as we get older. If you live long enough, you’re probably going to develop osteoarthritis. It’s a chronic condition that affects about 27 million Americans, mostly over the age of 65.

Osteoarthritis affects joints anywhere in the body, but most commonly occurs in the knee, hips and spine. A number of lifestyle factors contribute to osteoarthritis, including running and other repetitive joint trauma, the physical demands of a job, accidents, deconditioning and weight gain. An inflammatory diet also increases the likelihood of arthritis. Continue reading

When is Fasting Okay?

Fasting has been practiced for thousands of years. In fact, it’s a Biblical term. Every religion has a time of fasting when people stop consuming food, drink or both for a certain period of time to purify the body, mind and spirit.

There are medical reasons for fasting. For example, we’re often required to fast before surgery so digestion isn’t affected by the changes to the body that occur while we’re under anesthesia. We’re often required to fast before a blood test in order to get a more accurate baseline count.

Fasting has also been used to treat disease. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, known for the Nutritarian Diet that focuses on eating foods that are rich in micronutrients, has conducted research that suggests fasting can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy treatment for cancer and increase the likelihood of a cure. Continue reading

Instead of Resolving to Lose Weight, Resolve to Do This

New Years ResolutionsThis is one of my favorite weeks of the year because I usually get to spend an entire week with my wife and kids as I look forward to the New Year. Unfortunately, a lot of people quickly leave the joy of Christmas behind and become depressed or feel guilty about how they look, their relationships, or their career.

This helps to explain why nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Of course, the most common resolution is to lose weight, whether that means going to the gym or trying the latest fad diet.

The problem with the average exercise regimen is that most are unsupervised. Instead of following a customized fitness program developed by a professional, most people do what they see other people do – run on the treadmill, lift weights, take an aerobics class, and so on. Continue reading

What if There’s NOT a Doctor in the House?

Doctor in the houseMy wife, Stacy, and I were out enjoying a nice dinner a couple of months ago when a look of horror came over Stacy’s face. A man behind me passed out and fell backwards, and the back of his head slapped against the table, knocking him unconscious.

Fortunately, this was not a life-threatening situation, although he did have a concussion. I was able to provide emergency care until the ambulance arrived. The folks at the restaurant were very appreciative and gracious and bought us dinner.

A few weeks later, Stacy and I were sitting at the corner of a bar, having dinner. It was already late and we didn’t want to wait for a table. This time, Stacy screamed. Continue reading