Summer Sandbox Safety for Your Child

Summer Sandbox Safety for Your Child

Summer Sandbox Safety for Your Child

Sandboxes can be a great way for your child to spend time outside and play. Also kids don’t tend to wander far from the sandbox; that’s a positive for parents. As you know, play time is important for neural development, and sand provides a unique texture unlike plastic toys.  Exposing your child to different surfaces to walk, crawl, or balance on promote optimal brain growth. Before you send your kids to a sandbox, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Type of Sand Matters

The sand should be natural river sand or beach sand. Other types of sand can be a dangerous for your toddler. Sand made up of crushed limestone, marble, or crystalline silica can be inhaled and lead to occupational lung diseases later in life. I also recommend something that doesn’t create a lot of dust. This sand from Sandtastick is what you want.

Cover your Sand

When not in use, cover the sand. This is especially important for outdoor sandboxes. When it rains on sand, moisture can accumulate and harbor harmful bacteria and parasites. Even animals and bugs can use sandboxes for bathroom purposes. Cover your sandbox!

Sand Upkeep

Raking your sand is important too. Not only does this keep the sand dryer (less bacteria), but it is a good way to make sure the sand is free of unsafe objects like sharp sticks or used band aids. Gross. Also it’s a good idea to replace the sand every six months or so.

You are now a sandbox expert. I recommend not using your public sandbox. You don’t know what’s in the sand or the type of sand used.

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What Makes Micheal Phelps the Best Ever?

Micheal Phelps GOAT?

There are many factors that make Michael Phelps great. Experts say his long wing span, lung capacity, and ankle range of motion give him an edge over all of his competitors. That’s disputable because there are other Olympic swimmers with similar physical attributes, or swimmers with less impressive height and wing span that have gold medals as well. In this article, Kennan Robinson, Phelps’ strength coach, emphasizes a few things that played a part in what makes Phelps special.

Playing Multiple Sports

Robinson cites that Phelps grew up playing baseball and lacrosse which helped him avoid injuries at a young age. Specializing in one sport at a young age could increase the chances of injury and “burn out” according to the journal Sports Health. Take for instance the rise in arm injuries with youth pitchers. They pitch an excessive amount at a young age which leads to over training one side of the body. Repetitive movements can create structural shifts of the spine. Structural shifts of the spine can lead to secondary conditions or symptoms like muscle spasm, shoulder pain, and wrist injuries to name a few. Luckily for Phelps, he was able to avoid these injuries because he participated in sports that allowed for different movement patterns.

Sense of Awareness 

Robinson says Phelps has “great fluidity” in the water which allows for very little wasted motion. Wasted motion in Olympic competition can be the difference between gold and silver. I believe Robinson is referring to Phelps ability to sense his position in the water. This is known as proprioception. Abnormal structural shifts of the spine can directly affect one’s proprioception by creating stress on a muscles and tendons. Once normal structural stability and alignment are created, muscles and tendons are able to perform optimally. Optimal function of muscles and tendons improves the body’s ability to sense positions of body parts and structures. This allows for movement “fluidity.”

Normal Structure

Robinson and coaches also stress to Phelps the importance of “body alignment.” With proper body alignment, Phelps’ swimming stroke mechanics lead to greater propulsion through the water. Robinson stresses body alignment throughout the day and in the gym. When you optimize structure of the spine or direct it to a more normal position, you directly affect body alignment or posture.

Optimal structural stability leads to optimal function of the nervous system or wiring of the body. Phelps has this, and so should you.

Healthy Hamburgers and Science

Healthy Hamburgers and Science

Healthy Hamburgers and Science

People are creatures of habit. We simply do not like change. McDonald’s was the first chain restaurant to popularize hamburgers, and nothing much has changed after their first store opening in 1955. Nothing has changed because who doesn’t like a beef patty perfectly cooked and charred right off your home grill? I like cheese too, but I digress. Yes, there have been some imitations of a beef hamburger, but veggie hamburgers have not come close to satisfying meat lovers. Most veggie hamburgers taste like…. blah. Well, blah may turn into mmm after recent discoveries at Impossible Foods.

Patrick Brown of Impossible Foods is a biochemist at Stanford who set out on a mission to change the environmental impact of meat production by creating a meatless hamburger. Beef production has raised some concern about its long term sustainability and harmful environmental impact. Estimates show that it takes 7.5 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef. That’s a lot of grain. Producing large amounts of grain is taxing on soil and the water supply. There is more to the sustainability of beef, but let’s refocus on Dr. Brown’s potentially ground breaking meatless hamburger.

Brown and select chefs set out to create a hamburger made without beef. This is certainly a tall task as many veggie burgers have come and gone. Thus the challenge was to make a hamburger that would satisfy beef lovers, not just vegans.

The Impossible Foods hamburger needed to match many of the components of a beef burger. Beef patties when cooked correctly form a nice crust on the outside while also being juicy. The texture and the smell of the hamburger had to mimic the beef patty. The biggest obstacle was to create the beef hamburger’s umani flavor. Umani (oo-mam-ee) is the unique flavor you get from beef. Brown was able to create umani from a plant based heme which delivers oxygen to red blood cells and gives blood it’s red coloring. After many years, Brown has debuted his meatless hamburger to the public.

Early reviews are positive. People say the Impossible Burger tastes and smells like a regular beef patty, but it’s slightly different. Reviews can be read here and here. Unfortunately the Impossible Burger is only available in select cities, but I’ll be sure to try it out once it travels down south. Here is a video of the Impossible Burger in action.

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Is Chocolate Healthy?

Is Chocolate Healthy?

Is Chocolate Healthy?

This bit of news might be the most rewarding you will read this week, because it’s about chocolate. Chocolate is not only delicious, but it also has many known health benefits. Contain your urge to immediately leave the house and head to the grocery store, because not all chocolate is the same. Sorry.

What Makes Chocolate so Healthy?

Cocoa beans are the main ingredient of chocolate. Cocoa beans have many healthy compounds; the main one being flavanol. Flavanol is known for its cardiovascular benefits.  Studies have shown a correlation between high intake of cocoa and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. A study including subjects with previous myocardial infarction showed a 66% decreased mortality rate with the group who ate chocolate twice a week. Cocoa has shown positive influences on inflammation, endothelial function, blood pressure, platelet function, and glucose transport. Unfortunately, these study participants aren’t eating Hershey’s chocolate bars.

For the Brain

Flavanol rich cocoa has benefits for brain health as well. Cocoa has properties that increase the blood flow to the brain by vasodilation. Increased blood flow to the brain could mean improved brain function. Cocoa has shown protective benefits to the electrical wiring of the brain by preventing cell death. The antioxidants in cocoa inhibit cell death by neurotoxins. Even studies that involved cognitive tests showed very slight improvements with cocoa intake leading to believe cocoa may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Percentage of Cocoa Is Key

This next part is the most important. When buying dark chocolate, go for 75% or higher cocoa. A higher percentage of cocoa means more antioxidants. Also avoid chocolate that says “alkalized” or “Dutch-processed.” Alkalized and Dutch-process are a way of chemically removing the bitterness and harshness of cocoa beans. This greatly affects the cocoa because a large portion of the healthy compounds are removed.

There is no daily recommend amount to eat, but I suggest 1.5 oz of dark per day. Rejoice! Remember to buy dark with 75% or greater cocoa content and avoid the Dutch process or alkalization.

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Squat This Way

Squat This Way

Squat This Way

Squats are one of the most important exercises you can incorporate into your work out. If you are performing the exercise correctly, a squat activates the muscles of the lower and upper half of your body. Physiologically, squats are good for muscles and your brain. They also give great shape to your gluts, but no one notices that… Back to gluts in a moment though.

Since the squat is a complex exercise with many moving parts, it’s important to talk to your trainer or health professional about proper technique. Without proper technique and guidance, you are extremely prone to injury, especially to the knees and lower back. For this blogs sake, let’s say you’ve done your homework, and you know proper technique through Youtube videos. You might hear the trainers on the videos say, “KEEP YOUR KNEES OUT!!!!!” if you watching an intense workout video.

You might think to yourself “Why do I keep hearing this?” Instead of thinking of keeping your knees out, think about externally rotating your hip joints (hips move away from mid line). Your hip joint is made by the articulation of  two components: the femoral head and acetabulum of the ilium. Make sure you get a good look at your hip joint. Being able to envision your hip joint will help you perform this particular movement. It’s similar to concentrating on your biceps as you do a curl. If you are able to envision a activated muscle during an exercise, you’ll benefit more.

Before you squat, I want you to externally rotate both hip joints. When doing this motion, your feet will remain stationary, and you’ll feel your glutes activate if done correctly. Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart and externally rotate your hips while touching your glutes (best done in comfort of your own home). You should actively feel your glutes tense up. Activating your glutes before you start the descent of the squat will prime the muscles needed to perform your best squat. Biomechanically, external rotation will properly align your knees and ankles while performing a squat.

Also externally rotating your hip joints will help KEEP YOUR KNEES OUT!

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The Healthy Compound Found In Your Curry

Curcumin: The Healthy Compound Found In Your Curry

After you’ve had a delicious meal of chicken tikka masala (curry dish), you have been exposed to a small dose of curcumin. Curcumin is a polyphenol found in tumeric which gives yellow curries its yellow color. Polyphenols are important compounds found in a variety of plants and fruits. Polyphenols have anti-oxidant properties which can prevent and in some cases improve many conditions. That’s why health professionals harp on eating the colors of the rainbow. Many dark colored fruits and vegetables contain these important compounds. Think of kale, pomegranates, blueberries, chard, beets, and cherries. All contain dark colors.

The Healthy Compound Found In Your Curry

Curcumin is known mostly for it anti-inflammatory properties. A number of small studies have shown the improvement of inflammatory process with conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. There are many studies that cite this polyphenol as having positive effects with multiple types of cancer, pre-menstrual syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, acute coronary syndrome, post-operative inflammation and vitiligo. It’s important to note some of these studies used curcumin with another substance.

There are a few questions concerning the recommended dosage and its bio-availability. Unlike omega 3 fish oil, there isn’t a recommended dosage of curcumin. A study including ascending doses of 500 to 1200 mg produced symptoms of diarrhea, headache, rash, and yellow stool in 7 of 24 participants. The bio-availability of curcumin is relatively poor, but  combined with piperine (black pepper) greatly increases concentrations in the body.

In my opinion if you have an inflammatory condition, a curcumin supplement should be considered. Be certain if you buy a supplement it contains piperine.

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Juicy News

Fruit Juice: Good or bad?

Juicy News

Juice is commonly consumed. Are the contents you get in the carton the same as the fruit? The origin of juice starts with Louis Pasteur who invented pasteurization. Obviously he was proud of his technique to kill bacteria. Pasteurization was invented for safer consumption of milk, beer, and wine. Pasteurization paved the way for canned foods and fruit juice in the 1920s and 30s. Juice from concentrate was popularized during World War II for it’s ease of access and travel. From that point forward, orange juice has been a standard in households especially because of its level of vitamin c. Take that snippet to your next cocktail party… It will be sure to impress.

Getting to the point, juice doesn’t contain the original amount of phenols when bottled or cartoned. A key subclass of phenols (antioxidants) are anthrocyanins (give fruit its dark, healthy color). You may have heard that you should eat foods of dark color. Well, the anthrocyanins are one of many reasons to eat dark fruits and vegetables like pomegranates and rainbow chard.

There are two pertinent points that you should consider when drinking fruit juice. One, you must check to see if the juice is from concentrate or if it has added sugar (FDA approved new labeling of added sugar here.) Concentrated forms of juice remove the water content from the juice, leaving the product more like a Pixie stick than fruit juice. When consumed, your liver and pancreas go into over drive to produce insulin. That’s not healthy. It’s very similar to drinking a soda.

The next point… the phenolic contents reduce dramatically after pasteurization and the bottling process. A study showed a 40% decrease in phenols after it had been shelved for 30 days. The study involved blueberries, elderberries, and black current juice all of which have a high amount of phenols. Also, when shelved, the color of the juice was lighter; thus a decrease in anthrocyanins.

As you might have guessed, the actual fruit is best, but including a shot or two of pomegranate juice a day isn’t a bad idea. Remember to read your labels to avoid added sugars.

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Your Newborn Needs To Hear You Read

Your Newborn Needs To Hear You Read

Your Newborn Needs To Hear You Read

Story time is an integral part of your newborn’s neurological development to help the hear. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests reading to your child at home starting at birth through at least kindergarten. A 2015 study involving 19 3-5 year old children showed a positive activation of the parietal-temporal-occipital region of the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This area of the brain is associated with mental imagery and narrative comprehension.

Mental imagery and narrative comprehension play key roles in early childhood development. Once a child continues to books without pictures, their ability to imagine the story is easier vs children who aren’t read to at an early age.

The newborn brain is like a tree trunk. With water and fertilizer, the tree is able to grow and produce strong limbs, but without water and fertilizer, the limbs become weak. Weak limbs are pruned. A newborn brain has a full set of neurons and synapses/connections. These synapses can strengthen and grow till the age of 3, but without optimal stimulation (like listening to parents reading), half of these synapses/connections could be lost by age 15. Reading to your newborn is beneficial to the parent too. A study involving preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) showed parents reading to their newborn gave the parent a sense of normalcy, intimacy, and control. Post discharge from the NICU, parents felt a stronger connection to their newborn as opposed to parents that did not read to their children in the NICU.

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Fast Food and Academic Success

Fast Food and Academic Success

Fast Food and Academic Success

Fast food is caloric dense (no micronutrients), and we know it’s not beneficial. You can’t hide from these food chains, because they are all over TV and on road side billboards. Fast food chains even use comedians like Darrell Hammond or Norm MacDonald to sell fried chicken. Fast food is convenient. You can get it in a jiffy. Also, it’s an easy snack or dinner for your kids. It’s not a problem until the amount exceeds home cooked food. If this food accumulates in your child’s diet, it could negatively impact school performance.

I’m not talking about metabolic syndrome or all the unnatural ingredients in fast foods. I’m revealing the possible negative neurologic or brain based effects associated with fast foods. There are many studies that correlate fast food and low test scores. One particular study involving 12,000 5th graders, showed that kids who consumed high amounts of fast food (4 to 6 times over 7 days or longer) had significantly lower scores on reading and math tests. This study included factors of teacher experience, school poverty level, and school urbanicity to quantify study conclusions. This is scary considering over 1/3 of our children and adolescent population eat fast food every day. From a convenience standpoint, the best way is to plan meals and snacks ahead. I’ve started to cook a lot on Sunday in order to get healthy meals during the week. Now, let’s hope my productivity increases as a result.

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Migraines and Headaches Stemming from Spinal Shifts?

The Chicago Tribune recently wrote a story about famed and controversial quarterback Jim McMahon of the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears.  McMahon’s illustrious football career didn’t come without a price.  Jim has been suffering from post- concussive symptoms of debilitating headache, pain, and memory loss to name a few.  After years of health problems,  McMahon visited a chiropractor and got results after a Structural Correction adjustment. You can read the full Chicago Tribune story here.

Migraines and Headaches Stemming from Spinal Shifts?

McMahon played college and pro football for 19 years. His symptoms/Secondary Conditions were caused, in part, by Structural Shifts of his spine (the Primary Condition). After 19 years of football, you can imagine how far from normal his spine had shifted. Our spines have a normal placement or structure just like we have normal body temperature, eye sight, and blood pressure. How do you know if your tires are flat? You know what air filled, normal tires look like.  You have to know normal to appreciate abnormal. If your spine has shifted beyond what is considered normal, like McMahon’s, then Secondary Conditions such as headaches and migraines will appear.

Secondary Conditions appear because abnormal shifts from spinal segments put pressure on the surrounding blood vessels, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and most importantly, spinal nerves. The only way to improve or correct any Secondary Condition is, you guessed it, by first addressing the Primary Condition… a Structural Shift of the spine.

McMahon will not make a full recovery (memory loss and dementia are usually permanent).  By visiting his chiropractor, McMahon’s Secondary Conditions or symptoms greatly improved.  This was achieved by Structurally Correcting his spine to a more normal position implementing specific, gentle Structural Correction adjustments.

Look at the above picture above. The spine on the left is normal while the spine on the right is abnormal. Which spine do you think represents McMahon? Do you know someone similar to the person on the right? If so, a Structural Correction adjustment is may be necessary.

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