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Untitled Document

Health-E-News January 2012
empowering you to optimal health

Your Health Choices Go A Long Way

Congrats to Kathy. She's a 53 year old woman, who after 3 heart attacks has realized she needs to be proactive in her health.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation's survey of more than 2,000 adults found that even though people know how to protect their heart health, the majority can't or won't commit the time to do so.

"Eight out of 10 people know that heart disease and stroke can be prevented, postponed or treated by making healthy lifestyle choices but they are focusing on the barriers rather than the opportunities,'' said David Sculthorpe, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Fortunately simple daily choices can have a profound affect on your health. The key is to make healthier choices a part of every-day living. Take the stairs instead of an elevator, for instance, or walking rather than hopping in the car to drive a very short distance.

Other recommendations include:

  • Getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity per week reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes by 30 percent. Break it down into bouts of exercise, 10 minutes or more in length.
  • Eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by about 20 percent. Low vegetable and fruit consumption can shave 1.3 years off a person's expected life span.
  • Controlling high blood pressure can cut the risk of stroke by 40 percent and of heart attack by up to 25 percent. High blood pressure can shave two and a half years off a person's expected life span. A recent study showed that Chiropractic adjustments can help keep blood pressure low. So be sure to get adjusted.

Let's partner together to make 2012 the healthiest year yet.


Getting to the Core of Good Health

Your core - the muscles around your abdomen and pelvis - is a pivotal area of the body to keep in shape. Why? Because the core is a key player in whole-body health, pure and simple.

Most physical activities depend on stable core muscles, which, in turn, promote balance and stability. Without a stable core, your low back, hips, pelvis and abdomen are more prone to dysfunction and injury.

Fortunately, training the core is easy; in fact all you need is yourself and a little space. Here are three bodyweight-only exercises guaranteed to work your core and improve your overall health in no time:

The Plank: Position yourself on the floor in a push-up position, except instead of using your hands for support, use your forearms. Keep your back as straight as possible, elbows even with the shoulders. Look straight down, not to the side or out in front of you (this will strain your neck). Hold the position for as long as possible (as little as 10 seconds is fine the first time out), and build up to 30, 45, 60 seconds or longer. To make this exercise more challenging, you can raise one arm off the ground, straight out in front of you for a few seconds; or do the same with the legs, lifting each off the ground for a few seconds.

The Glute Bridge: Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent. Squeeze your buttocks muscles as you push your hips up off the ground. Stop pushing when you can visualize a straight line from the knees and hips to the upper body. Keep your shoulders on the floor and make sure your low back is not overly extended. Concentrate on squeezing the glute muscles and keeping the abs tight throughout. Try to hold the bridge pose for up to one minute; once you've mastered that, you can do multiple one-minute sets.

The Bent-Leg Knee Raise: Lie on your back with your head and neck relaxed. Grasp something heavy (a piece of furniture, etc.) with your hands, which should be above your head. Now use your lower abdominals muscles to raise both knees up toward your rib cage/face, then slowly lower down to the starting position and repeat as soon as your feet touch the floor. Make sure you do not "roll up" too far as you bring the knees toward the chest; it will stress your lower back. Start with a few repetitions and build to 12-15 per set.


Vitamin D - Key To Better Health

Most people are not aware of the critical role vitamin D plays in their overall health. A deficiency in this key vitamin has been linked to various ailments and diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and even breast and colon cancer.

So, how can you make sure you are getting enough vitamin D to make sure you are not risking your health? It's very simple - get outside and eat more nutritious foods.

Some natural sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. Other foods such as cheese, egg yolks, beef liver and mushrooms also contain some vitamin D along with milk.

Making sure you get outside and catch a few rays of sun is also key. To get adequate amounts of vitamin D you will need to go outside for 10 to 15 minutes a day. If you are unable to do this, consider supplementing.

Recommended daily doses of vitamin D have changed throughout the years. Today, safety research supports an upper limit of a dose of vitamin D to be more than or equal to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3.

Optimum levels of vitamin D have been associated with a number of health benefits. Most recently, a new study found that among women younger than 75 years, intake of vitamin D from foods and supplements was related to decreased odds of early AMD (age-related macular degeneration). Better eyesight is just another one of the many benefits of vitamin D.


Fish Keeps Your Brain Healthy

Eating baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis appears to reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease. These findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

"This is the first study to establish a direct relationship between fish consumption, brain structure and Alzheimer's risk," notes study author, Cyrus Raji, MD, PhD.

"The results showed that people who consumed baked or broiled fish at least one time per week had better preservation of gray matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer's disease," adds Dr. Raji.

The study included 260 cognitively normal individuals. Information on fish consumption was gathered using the National Cancer Institute Food Frequency Questionnaire. Of the group, 163 reported consuming fish on a weekly basis (mostly one to four times a week).

Each patient underwent 3-D volumetric MRI of the brain at baseline, and again 10 years later. Researchers controlled for age, gender, education, race, obesity, physical activity, and the presence or absence of apolipoprotein E4 gene. The findings showed that consumption of baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis was positively associated with gray matter volumes in several areas of the brain, which reduced the risk for five-year decline to MCI or Alzheimer's by almost five-fold.

"Consuming baked or broiled fish promotes stronger neurons in the brain's gray matter by making them larger and healthier," Dr. Raji explains. "This simple lifestyle choice increases the brain's resistance to Alzheimer's disease and lowers risk for the disorder."

Eating fried fish, on the other hand, was not shown to increase brain volume or protect against cognitive decline.

RSNA - November 30, 2011.


Stand Up Straight!

Postural issues are a big contributor to many different aches and pains and injuries to our bodies. Injuries related to poor posture tend to be overuse injuries. Muscle imbalances and joint dysfunctions associated with poor posture can create areas of too much motion in certain spinal segments causing instability. These areas may then wear out prematurely, while other areas may have too little motion in the spine resulting in problems.

Some simple ways to begin to improve your posture include becoming aware of the things that you are doing. Think of staying in a "tall spine" posture while sitting, standing, during exercise and also taking frequent breaks from sitting.

There are also some simple exercises you can do to help you get started on improving your overall posture. Here are a few:

  • Engage in daily use of a foam roll to provide self-massage. Spend 3-5 minutes a day rolling out the thoracic spine (mid-back) and shoulders.
  • Perform Chair Decompression: Sit in an upright chair with your arms behind you with your hands on the seat of the chair. Push downward, straightening the arms and leaving the buttocks in the chair. Hold the position for 5 seconds, release for 3 seconds, repeat 3-5 times.
  • Perform Bruegger's relief position: Sit at the edge of a chair and position your knees wide apart. Keep your feet under your knees. Next arch your back and rotate your arms outward so your palms face forward. Then separate your fingers and point your thumb backward. Finally tuck in your chin and hold this position while taking a deep breath in though your abdomen. Hold the position for 5 seconds, release for 3 seconds, repeat 3-5 times.
  • Perform Cobra: Lie face down on the floor and place your arms beside your hips. Activate the core by drawing in your navel towards spine and squeezing the glutes. With your core and glutes activated, lift your chest off the floor, and lift your arms up and back towards the hips rotating thumbs towards the ceiling. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Repeat 5 times.


Chiropractic Adjustments Improve Grip Strength In Judo Athletes

A growing body of research shows that Chiropractic adjustments improve athletic performance and ward off sports-related injuries.

A just-published report reveals that cervical chiropractic adjustments may boost performance in martial artists. Specifically, the analysis followed 18 judo athletes of both sexes in a top 10 national-ranked team.

"The athletes were randomly assigned to 2 groups: chiropractic adjustment and sham. Three interventions were performed on each of the athletes at different time points. Force measurements were obtained by a hydraulic dynamometer immediately before and after each intervention at the same period before training up to 3 weeks with at least 36 hours between interventions."

"Analysis of grip strength data revealed a statistically significant increase in strength within the treatment group after the first intervention (6.95% right, 12.61% left) as compared with the second (11.53% right, 17.02% left) and the third interventions (10.53% right, 16.81% left). No statistically significant differences were found in grip strength comparison within the sham group."

"The present study suggests that the grip strength of national level judo athletes receiving Chiropractic care improved compared to those receiving sham."

JMPT - November 14, 2011;Epub.


Want To Sleep Better, Exercise More

Regular physical activity promotes healthy sleep patterns, according to a new analysis, which followed 3081 adults ranging in age between 18 and 85.

To measure physical activity the study participants wore an accelerometer for 7 days. They were also interviewed about the amount and quality of their sleep.

After controlling for age, BMI, health status, smoking status and depression, investigators determined that individuals who met national exercise guidelines enjoyed better nighttime sleep and less daytime sleepiness, compared with people who did not meet exercise guidelines. Specifically, study participants who met the guidelines were 65 percent less likely to report often feeling sleepy during the day, compared with those who did not meet the guidelines.

Similar results were found for having leg cramps while sleeping (68 percent less likely) and having difficulty concentrating when tired (45 percent decrease).

"Our findings demonstrate a link between regular physical activity and perceptions of sleepiness during the day, which suggests that participation in physical activity on a regular basis may positively influence an individual's productivity at work, or in the case of a student, influence their ability to pay attention in class," comments lead author, Paul Loprinzi.

National exercise guidelines are at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise. That's only 22 minutes a day.

Mental Health and Physical Activity - December 2011;4:65-9.



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