All Posts tagged Health

Vitamins Your Teen Needs To Be Taking

We all know that during adolescence our bodies go through many physical and biochemical changes.  As a result, we have an increased need for certain vitamins.  Here are some vitamins that we need to make sure our teens have adequate amounts of: Folic acid and vitamin B12 are needed as tissue synthesis occurs rapidly.

  • As the calorie intake increases, the need for vitamin B1 (thaimin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and vitamin B3 (niacin) also increases.
  • Vitamin B6 and vitamin D are needed in higher amounts for tissue growth and skeletal growth.
  • The completed structure and function of newly formed cells relies on the presence of vitamins A, C, and E.
  • There is a continued need for calcium, magnesium and zinc so that the bones can increase their density.

Because of the often inadequate diets of teenagers, the following problems have been found in relation to the nutrient intake of teens:

  • Calcium, zinc and iron are often lower than the required amounts.
  • Vitamin A and vitamin C have also been found to be low.
  • The phosphorus intake can be high because of the quantity of soft drinks consumed and this can have an adverse effect on the calcium balance in the body.
  • There can be an over consumption of high sugar and refined carbohydrate foods.

It is recommended that in addition to trying to eat a healthy diet that teenagers take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. The supplement should contain at least the following: Contents Per Tablet

  • Vitamin A                                    500 – 1,200 IUs
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)              2 – 10 mg
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)         2 – 10 mg
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)      2 – 15 mg
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)     10 – 25 mcg
  • Vitamin C                                    25 – 150 mg
  • Vitamin E                                   10 – 50 IUs
  • Biotin                                           20 – 50 mcg
  • Calcium                                      50 – 150 mg
  • Choline                                       5 – 15 mg
  • Bioflavonoids                           5 – 25 mg
  • Folic Acid                                  50 – 100 mcg
  • Beta-carotene                          2 – 5 mg
  • Iodine                                         10 – 25 mcg
  • Chromium                                20 – 30 mcg
  • Iron                                             2 – 3 mg
  • Magnesium                              20 – 60 mg
  • Selenium                                   10 – 25 mcg
  • Zinc                                             2 – 4 mg
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Sitting Is Bad For Your Health

As you read this, you’re probably sitting, something we all do countless times a day. We sit to eat, to work, and to relax.  However, research has found that this simple action can be incredibly harmful to your health.  A recent editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that people who sit still for prolonged periods of time, such as desk workers or couch potatoes, have a higher risk of disease than those who move a muscle every once in a while.  Other studies show rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even certain types of cancer are doubled and even tripled in people who sit a lot.  A woman’s risk of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes and heart disease, jumps 26% for every extra hour she sits in front of the TV, according to one study.

Researchers believe that muscle movement and contractions play a role in controlling important blood fats.  It is hypothesized that sitting stops of the circulation of lipase, an enzyme that absorbs fats.  So instead of being absorbed by your muscles, fat circulates in your bloodstream where it may end up stored as body fat, clogging arteries and contributing to disease.  Just standing up as opposed to sitting engages muscles and helps your body process fat and cholesterol in a positive way, regardless of the amount of exercise you do.  In fact, sitting for any length of time may overwhelm the benefits of exercise to the point that sitting less may be just as important as regular exercise for your health.

In fact, researchers have found that sitting not only has a negative effect on fat and cholesterol metabolism, but it also stimulates disease-promoting processes.  Even scarier, they found that exercising, even for an hour a day, does not reverse this effect.  An article on ScienceDaily.com stated that the enzymes in blood vessels of muscles responsible for burning fat are shut off within hours of not standing.  Standing or moving will re-engage the enzymes, but when people spend most of their waking hours sitting, they lose the opportunity for optimal fat metabolism throughout the day.  So if you do take the time to get regular exercise to stay healthy, you may not want to spend the time you aren’t exercising sitting because it will negate everything you just did.

Other studies found that just sitting may cause you to gain weight.  One study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that those who sat for 7 hours or more during the day were much more likely to be overweight than those who reported sitting for less than 5 hours a day.  In other words, just sitting may cause you to gain weight.  Another study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the longer a man sits at a desk at work, the greater his chances are of being overweight.  In addition, that study found that same man was more likely to have back pain, leg cramps, tense muscles, and boredom.

So what if you have a job that requires you to do a lot of sitting?  What can you do?  The first step is to take the opportunity to stand rather than sit as often as you can.  Stand up while you talk on the phone, when you’re taking public transportation, or when you’re on your lunch break.  The average person can burn 60 more calories each hour just by standing instead of sitting.  Over the course, of a day this can add up to a lot of beneficial health effects.

In addition to standing, try to come up with ways that you can exercise while working. (You can check out my previous blog post on this subject for some ideas)  But here are a few other ideas:  climb the stairs rather than use the elevator, walk to ask a co-worker a question rather than calling them, drink plenty of water so you’re forced to take bathroom breaks, or just get up and stretch every 20 minutes.  According the Mayo Clinic, your body cannot tolerate being in one position for more than 20 minutes before it starts to feel uncomfortable anyhow.  So every 15-20 minutes stand up, stretch, walk around or change your position for at least 30 seconds.

The more you get up and move during the day and the more you stand instead of sit, the better your health will be.

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Good Posture is Essential for Good Health

We often hear that good posture is essential for good health.  But lately it seems as if bad posture is becoming more of the norm.  I’m starting to see more and more teenagers and twenty-somethings in my office with things like back pain, neck pain, and headaches that are the result of bad posture.  I personally believe this is caused by a combination of things like heavy backpacks, poor posture while at the computer, and video games.  But why is it important to have good posture?

Benefits of Good Posture:

  • Helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so our muscles are used correctly. Abnormal wearing can result in arthritis and joint pain.
  • Reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.
  • Allows muscles to work more efficiently, therefore preventing muscle fatigue.
  • Helps prevent muscle strain and even back and muscular pain.

Conversely, poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles that can cause them to weaken over time.  As a result, people who have chronically poor posture are more prone to injury and back pain.  Stress, obesity, pregnancy, abnormally tight muscles, and poor shoe choices can contribute to poor posture.  Poor sitting, standing, and sleeping habits can also contribute to bad posture over time.

So how are we supposed to sit properly? :

  • Keep your feet on the floor or a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.
  • Don’t cross your legs.  Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
  • Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
  • Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
  • Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid back or use a back support.
  • Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

How can we stand properly? :

  • Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
  • Stand tall with your shoulders pulled backward.
  • Tuck in your stomach.
  • Keep your head level.  Do not push your head forward, backward or to the side.
  • Shift your weight from your toes to your heels or one foot to the other if you have to stand for a long time.

What is the proper sleeping position? :

  • Find the mattress that is right for you.  We recommend buying a firm mattress and adding a pillow or foam top to it if you like a softer feel.
  • Sleep with a pillow.  Special pillows are available for postural problems.
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach.  Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for back pain.  If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your legs.  If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees.

So now that you know what your posture should be, can you correct your posture if it is not correct?  In a word, yes.  Conscious awareness of your own posture and knowing what your posture should be like will help you consciously correct yourself.  With practice, the correct posture will replace your old posture.  Your doctor of chiropractic can assist you with the proper posture, including recommending exercises to strengthen your core.

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Chocolate, Good for Your Heart

With Valentine’s Day this past weekend, I’m sure many of you received chocolates from your special someone.  They probably wanted the chocolates to touch your heart – they may not have been thinking it would do that in more than one way.  The thoughtfulness of that someone may warm your heart, but the chocolate itself may make your heart work better.

Dark chocolate, in particular, has been shown to reduce blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 10%.  Because chocolate is rich in flavonoids, it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Flavonoids are plant compounds with potent antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Flavonoids in cocoa have also been found to prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries. Other foods that contain high amounts of flavonoids include red wine, tea, cranberries, peanuts, strawberries, apples, and many other fruits and vegetables.

Another benefit of chocolate is it helps the body process nitric oxide, a compound critical for healthy blood flow and blood pressure.  Nitric oxide causes arteries to dilate lowering blood pressure.  Red meat, fish, olive oil, nuts, and pomegranate juice also help the body to process nitric oxide.

Chocolate is made up of 3 kinds of fats, only one of which negatively affects cholesterol levels.  Oleic acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.  The second fat is stearic acid, which is a saturated fat that research shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol.  Palmitic acid is the third fat found in chocolate, and it is a saturated fat which can raise cholesterol.  Therefore, only 1/3 of the fat in chocolate is bad for you.

In order to choose the healthiest chocolate, don’t assume that the higher cacao percentage, the better the chocolate is for you.  Where the cocoa beans were grown plays a big part as well.  On average, cocoa beans grown in Ecuador, Columbia, and on the Ivory Coast have almost twice the flavanoid content of beans from the Dominican Republic and Peru.  Also, the Amazon and Forestaro varieties of cocoa beans are higher in flavanoids than the Criollo variety.

Alkalization of cocoa powder decreases the flavanoid content.  Most cooks often prefer the smoother taste of alkalized or “dutched” cocoa.  However, the dutching process dramatically decreases the flavanoid content.  For maximum flavanoid content, choose un-dutched cocoa powder.

Preliminary research suggested that mixing milk and cocoa might diminish the bioavailability of flavanoids in cocoa, but several recent studies have shown no significance in flavanoid absorption from cocoa made with or without milk.  This is good news for those of you, like me, who enjoy milk chocolate.

So as you’re enjoying the chocolates, think that you are doing something good for your heart at the same time.

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The Numerous Health Benefits of Honey

Honey is considered the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life.  History has recorded honey as the most used medicine in ancient Egypt, and during World War I, honey mixed with cod liver oil was used to treat soldiers’ wounds.   Honey contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals and is a natural and powerful medicine, both internally and externally.

Honey is a great natural source of carbohydrates which provide strength and energy to our bodies.  Honey is known for its effectiveness in instantly boosting performance and endurance, and it reduces muscle fatigue in athletes.  The glucose in honey is absorbed by the body quickly and gives an immediate energy boost, while the fructose is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy.  It is known that honey has also been found to keep levels of blood sugar fairly constant compared to other types of sugar.

Amongst the many health benefits of honey, one of the most impressive is its ability to be a powerful immune system booster.  For thousands of years, honey has been recognized as one of the most natural home remedies to treat a wide range of ailments and complaints including yeast infection, athlete’s foot, and arthritis pain.  Its antiseptic properties inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and helps keep external wounds clean and free from infection. Honey has been used as a natural cure in first aid treatment for wounds, burns and cuts as it is able to absorb moisture from the air and promote healing. Its antibacterial properties prevent infection and functions as an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing both swelling and pain, and even scarring.

The list of honey’s other beneficial functions is a long one. Honey increases calcium absorption; can increase hemoglobin count and treat or prevent anemia caused by nutritional factors; can help arthritic joints, when combined with apple cider vinegar; fights colds and respiratory infections of all kinds; can help to boost gastrointestinal ulcer healing; works as a natural and gentle laxative; aids constipation, allergies and obesity; provides an array of vitamins and minerals; and supplies instant energy without the insulin surge caused by white sugar. Many have found raw honey helpful for its positive effects against allergies and hay fever, and one or two teaspoons last thing at night can help with insomnia. As an antiseptic, honey is also a drawing agent for poisons from bites or stings or infected wounds, and has outperformed antibiotics in treatments for stomach ulcerations, gangrene, surgical wound infections, surgical incisions and the protection of skin grafts, corneas, blood vessels and bones during storage and shipment.

Research Behind the Benefits of Honey

Many research studies have been done to prove the effects of honey.  Dr. Peter Molan, professor of biochemistry at Waikato University, New Zealand, has been at the forefront of honey research for 20 years. He heads the University’s Honey Research Unit, which is internationally recognized for its expertise in the antimicrobial properties of honey. Clinical observations and experimental studies have established that honey has effective antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It painlessly removes pus, scabs and dead tissue from wounds and stimulates new tissue growth. “Randomized trials have shown that honey is more effective in controlling infection in burn wounds than silver sulfadiazine, the antibacterial ointment most widely used on burns in hospitals,” explains Dr. Molan.

Dr. Molan believes that if honey were used from the start in cases of septicemia, there would be far less tissue damage resulting. “The remarkable ability of honey to reduce inflammation and mop up free radicals should halt the progress of the skin damage like it does in burns, as well as protecting from infection setting in”, says Dr. Molan. “At present, people are turning to honey when nothing else works. But there are very good grounds for using honey as a therapeutic agent of first choice.”

Honey is also exceptionally effective for respiratory ailments. One Bulgarian study of almost 18,000 patients found that it improved chronic bronchitis, asthmatic bronchitis, chronic and allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. It’s an effective treatment for colds, flu, respiratory infections and a generally depressed immune system. Whereas sugar shuts down the immune system, a good quality honey will stimulate it into action.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, reported in March 2004 that daily consumption of raw honey may raise polyphenolic antioxidant levels in blood and reduce the risk of damage by free radicals.

For more home remedies with honey, visit the blog tomorrow.

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