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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Cooking Oils You Need To Use

Cooking Oils You Need To Use

Cooking Oils You Need To UseRecently, I wrote about the topic of dietary fats for our Core News subscribers. You need to receive these great health tips and topics at Core News Subscription. Dietary fats are in most foods from animal proteins to oils. Oils like vegetable, nut, and olive oils are healthy, but they should be used for different applications.  The norm for most cooking has been olive or vegetable oils because of their familiarity, but olive and vegetable oils are NOT the best oils for cooking. Why? When cooking food on a medium to high heat, vegetable and olive oils will oxidize.  Oxidization happens normally in our body, and when oxidation occurs, free radicals form. Free radical formation at a high rate is extremely unhealthy. If free radicals are produced at levels higher than normal, then a myriad of diseases or negative reactions can occur.

When you heat vegetable and olive oils, they can create lipid (fat) oxidation products/ toxic chemicals which can lead to atherosclerosis,  arthritis, cardiovascular disease, conditions of digestive tract, and cancer.  Evidence has not been linked to humans, but animal studies have shown all the above when exposed to lipid oxidation products (LOPs).  Lipid oxidation product exposure hasn’t been extensively studied; thus, it’s hard to know how much LOPs are harmful.  To optimize your health., choose cooking oils with high amounts of saturated fats and very low levels or trans or polyunsaturated fats (oxidize with heat). Below are the oils you NEED to be using for different types of cooking or cold methods.

  • Searing (400 degrees Fahrenheit and above)
    • Palm Oil
    • Refined Coconut Oil
  • Sauteing (approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit)
    • Natural Butter (grass fed)
    • Coconut Oil
    • Lard
  •  Cold Applications Only
    • Olive oil (great for dressings and finishing oil)
    • Vegetable oil

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Optimize Your Health for Winter Part III Simple Exercises Done at Home

Optimize Your Health for Winter Part III: Simple Exercises, Done at Home

Optimize Your Health for Winter Part III Simple Exercises Done at HomeWe have made it to the new year, and some may be thinking it’s time to start a new year’s resolution. Resolutions are great. They can be fun, unless your giving up dark chocolate or nachos. I feel sorry for you if that’s the case. If you’re not giving up chocolate or nachos, but instead are trying to train or work out more, then continue reading. When I work out, I want to gain as much benefit from one singular exercise. Therefore, I want to engage as many large muscle groups as possible. These four exercises accomplish that goal. You can do these exercises at home when the gym gets crowded early in the year.

  • Lunge Thrusters
    • I learned this exercise from a fellow chiropractor, Dr. Tommy John.
    • If doing the exercise correctly, your calf, quad, and hamstring of the front leg should be engaged . Your hamstring and glut of your back leg should be engaged too.
      • Step 1 start in a lunge position (Front thigh parallel to floor)
      • Step 2 extend your back leg straight (modified lunge position)
      • Step 3 from modified lunge position engage both forefeet (ball of foot) and jump vertical an inch while keeping your modified lunge pose
    • It’s important to keep the modified lunge pose. Do not use your trunk or shoulders to help propel upwards.
    • If lunge thrusters are too strenuous, start with regular lunges first.
    • 3 sets 15-20 reps
  • Front Squats with light weight
    •  Do you have a can of soup or carton of orange juice? Use that or any weighted object.
    • This exercise will utilize your core and lower back muscles as well as you legs.
      • Step 1 position weight 12″ from your chest
      • Step 2 squat
    • Make sure your lower back is straight not curved when doing this exercise.
    •  3 sets 15-20 reps
  • Slow Push-up
    • This exercise is as easy as it sounds.
    • It’s a regular push-up, but the focus is on the when going down.
      • Step 1 From the top of your push-up position take 5-10 seconds going down towards the floor
      • Step 2 Push-up!
    • On the descent, it’s important to exhale.
    • The goal is to go as slow as possible. Try for a 20 second descent if you can.
    • 3 sets 5 reps

Now you don’t have an excuse for not exercising! As always drink plenty of water, and follow proper technique when doing any kind of exercise. Not only will you prevent injury, you’ll optimize your work-out.

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Optimize your Health for Winter Part II Reduce Stress

Optimize your Health for Winter Part II: Reduce Stress

Optimize your Health for Winter Part II Reduce Stress

The holiday season is usually filled with family gatherings and holiday parties, but sometimes the holidays can get overwhelming and stressful.  By decreasing your stress levels, you will be able to function ideally.  On the last blog post, I addressed the need for consumption of nutrient dense foods (Optimize your Health Part I: Food) because optimal health is not reached by changing one aspect of your life. Your health depends upon proper nutrition, rest, and exercise; all three are of equal importance.

Stress is a part of life, but it’s our response to stress that is the difference maker. When stress has taken its toll, it is important to understand that you are in control. Let’s discuss ways that you can combat stress.

A way to combat stress immediately is slow diaphragmatic breathing. Proper breathing technique is extremely important.  If you are breathing with more chest and shoulder involvement, then you are not taking in the optimal amount of oxygen.  To determine if you are breathing inadequately, look in the mirror, and breathe normally.  If your chest and shoulder move more than your belly, then you must practice diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is the best form because you are able to fill your lungs fully. The Cleveland Clinic has a great explanation on this technique (Diaphragmatic Breathing). 

A less stressful work environment or home  is important for productivity. Less stress equals more productivity. Studies show that air quality, light wattage, work station ergonomics, and office layout impact work productivity. Clutter is controllable.  The more clutter in your environment the more opportunity for objects to divert your attention.  It’s hard to focus with clutter. The best way to de-clutter, is ask yourself, “Do I use this often?” If the answer is no, throw it away. If the answer is yes, store it into a proper file or box. If the answer is sometimes, put it into a separate file or box that is labeled.  Do this with supplements, cosmetics, documents, clothes, or anything that can distract you.

With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and News Year along with your busy schedule,  reducing social obligations during the fall/winter months can be helpful too. Instead of planning that long road trip, try spending the weekend at home. A weekend at home with family and friends can go a long way to help you recharge for the busy holiday season.

May your fall and winter be as stress free as possible! Take a deep breath and relax. My next post quick post- quick and easy exercises to get your blood flowing and large muscle groups activated.

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Optimize Your Health for Winter Part I Food

Optimize Your Health for Winter Part I: Food

Optimize Your Health for Winter Part I FoodThe number of errands and office work is mounting. The daily grind has taken its toll. After a long night at work, you wake up feeling achy and your throat is sore. You look up toward the ceiling, and plead, “Why now?!?” While in school I’d study so much that after a week of exams and stress, I’d get sick. I should’ve prepared myself for the onslaught of late and sleepless nights. I needed a strategy to optimize my performance and health by enhancing my diet, rest, stress management, and exercise routines. You need to do the same. We examine foods and beverages high in antioxidants; a must in everyday life especially during late Fall and Winter.

Antioxidants are important because they inhibit free radicals from damaging healthy cells. The result is prevention of further damage to DNA or cell membranes. Imagine: antioxidants plugging a leak in the dam protecting the village. If the leak isn’t fixed, the result could be disastrous. The leak will get bigger and water will flood the village. Choosing these beverages and foods are a great way to plug that leak.

  • Pomegranate Juice
    • It’s high in the antioxdant, polyphenol and loaded with folate and vitamin K.  Pomegranate juice is known for reducing cardiovascular risk factors, inflammation, arthritis, lower cholesterol, and its antibacterial effects.
    • Take a shot of pomegranate juice (try POM Wonderful) in the morning along with our next beverage.
  • Green Tea  
    • Catechin is the main antioxidant in green tea. Green tea has been linked to reduction of bad fats (LDL) and has positive effects on obesity. Green tea also has antibacterial, antiviral, and anticancer properties.
    • Curl up with a hot cup of tea with a teaspoon spoon of honey and a lemon wedge to soothe a sore throat or as an alternate to coffee.
  •  Blueberries
    • Blueberries have a different array of antioxidants such as: beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C selenium, and polyphenol.  Mix your berry intake with blackberries and raspberries.
    • Since berries are more plentiful in the summer, freeze some, and put them in a smoothie this winter.
  • Cocoa/dark chocolate
    • Cocoa is the main ingredient in the making of chocolate, but don’t start scarfing Hershey Kisses (Sorry!). Cocoa is a rich source of flavanols and procyanidins both antioxidants. Cocoa is linked to decreased blood pressure and inhibition of platelet activity.
    •  Eat dark chocolate that is at least 75-90% cocoa dark chocolate, and avoid brands that are “processed with alkali.”
  • Garlic
    • Allicin is the major player in garlic along with other healthy compounds. Garlic has shown to be antiviral and antibacterial. Studies have shown the potential benefits of garlic with cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure.
    •  Cook with garlic! If you want, pop a slice in your mouth, just keep the mouthwash handy afterwards.

There are other foods that are also great such as: green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, and nuts (Eat Them!). When incorporating these foods and beverages, it’s important to keep in mind that you won’t immediately feel different or better. The key here is prevention and optimization, and these foods are an important part of the equation. Part II: Increased Energy on our next post.

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Fat Accumulation and Sitting

Fat Accumulation and Sitting

Fat Accumulation and SittingIf a co-worker has said to you “Someone has a case of the Mondays!” then you may be in an office environment where sitting is the predominant “activity.” Sitting for periods lasting longer than twenty minutes is harmful to your health…yes, twenty minutes. Today people sit at an alarmingly high rate. People work eight to nine hour days sitting at a desk, and of those eight to nine hours, most people are able to count on their hand how many times they take a break from sitting. Take a break from sitting. What a conundrum!

Sitting has harmful effects to your body, and you might want to stand for this. Prolonged sitting has been linked to decreased metabolism (increased adiposity), type II diabetes, heart disease (heart valve problems, atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, heart attack, and stroke), breast cancer, and colon cancer. If that doesn’t get your attention, then this next part will. A study showed that men who reported more than 23 hours per week of sedentary activity have a 64 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease than men who reported 11 hours of sedentary activity. The inactivity of large muscle groups like the hamstrings, hip flexors, abdominals, and gluts contributes to adiposity and muscle degeneration (Meghan Trainor would be disappointed).

If you are a desk jockey or have a job requiring you to sit, there is hope. There are multiple wrist bands (Jawbone or Fitbit) that will notify you of prolonged inactivity thus vibrating or signaling you to move after a certain amount of time (try 25 min). These wristbands can also count steps and have other health related features. Now that you know when to stand up, what should you do? Walking is best, but if you aren’t able to move away from the desk try some standing calf raises or squats for a couple of minutes (calf raises may be more inconspicuous if you’re the office newb). What if you do get 150 minutes of exercise per week? Unfortunately, the effects of prolonged sitting will still occur.
The evidence is clear. Take a stand! Your promotion may be in your grasp; because, if you do stand up, your productivity will increase (studies say by about 15%). At worst, you’ll be much happier and healthier.

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