Is Chiropractic Therapy Good For You?

A while back I noticed a recurrence of some mild neck and right shoulder pain, with less mobility in my neck than I’m used to.  I noticed it hurt to turn my neck all the way to the right and left (to check blind spots while driving, for instance).  There was some tightness of the muscles of my right upper back as well.

So…  Off I went to see my chiropractor.  I’m a bit of a slow learner about some things, you see.  I know in my head that regular treatments are helpful for keeping the body healthy, but actually making time in the schedule for it is a challenge sometimes.

As I was talking with Dr. Bobbi Taylor at Crossroads Chiropractic and Acupuncture, I was thinking about not much more than getting rid of this discomfort in my neck and upper back.  Then I started wondering why more people with neck and back pain don’t see chiropractors.

Unfortunately manual therapies like chiropractic therapy have a little bit of a bad rap in the USA.  Health care is dominated by western medicine and if a therapy doesn’t involve cutting the problem out or drugging it away, western medicine sometimes doesn’t have much use for it.

So what are manual therapies, and do they work?  Manual therapies involve a practitioner using parts of their bodies (usually the hands, but sometimes other parts such as elbows, knees, or feet) to treat, influence or change parts of the patient’s body.

Examples of manual therapy are massage, chiropractic therapy, osteopathic manipulation (OMT), and physical therapy.  The laying on of hands in manual therapy is a powerful treatment in its own right.  When a skilled therapist uses touch to soothe tight muscles, realign spinal vertebrae, or restore proper joint balance, the improvement can be startling.

What does the science say about manual therapy?  Since I am committed to advocating and promoting evidenced based treatments, I looked into the evidence.  Manual therapy is helpful for neck and back pain, headache, recurrent otitis media in children, colic in babies, preterm delivery, Parkinson’s disease, and even heart attack patients.

What can you expect if you decide to see a chiropractor or other manual therapist?  It depends on the problem you’re addressing.  As with other practitioners it’s important to be clear from the first visit about your goals for therapy.  What’s wrong?  What do you want done about it?  How often can you expect to see the practitioner?  What will you feel?  How long will it take to see results?

It is also important to remember that manual therapy practitioners are people just like anyone else.  Most of them are good.  Some are excellent and a few are quacks.  Get recommendations from friends or family or check with the practitioner’s regulating body before making an appointment.  If your condition isn’t improving like it should, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion.

Manual therapy is an excellent addition to a holistic approach to wellness.  Give it a try and experience the healing touch!

QUESTION:  Have you seen a chiropractor or received other manual therapies?  What was your experience?

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Protein Intake Changes In Seniors

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that our diet changes over time. We like different foods, we tolerate different foods, we CHOOSE different foods at different stages of life. As we get older, these diet changes impact our chances of getting certain diseases.

There was a study published recently that looked at protein intake in seniors. They found that WHERE the protein in your diet comes from is associated with your risk of aging in an unhealthy way.

Researchers in Spain studied over 1000 seniors and had them fill out questionnaires about their diet and other habits and about their health status. Following them for over 8 years, they found that changes in where their dietary protein intake came from was associated with changes in their health status.

protein rich foods

Seniors who increased their calorie intake from vegetable protein showed healthier aging markers than those who decreased their plant protein intake. Similar changes were NOT seen in those who increased animal protein in their diet.

We have many instances of plant foods helping people improve their health and reduce their risk of disease. This is just one more example of the benefits of protein rich plant foods (like nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, soy, quinoa and others) for human health.

This won’t come as a surprise to many of my long-term readers who know I’ve been a plant-based eater for over 8 years. With my medical patients I recommend a plant-based diet for just about all humans. In fact I can’t think of a single condition that is improved by eating meat or dairy.

Looking for a simple way to get more plant protein in your diet? Yep, I’ve got a Shaklee solution! We’ve got both soy and non-soy options and they are super tasty – we guarantee you’ll like them. Want more suggestions? Shoot me an email at DrJen@jenniferwurstmd.com and let’s talk!

QUESTION: What are YOUR favorite protein-rich foods? Do you tend to reach for meat and dairy? Will this info change your habits?

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Tai Chi To Prevent Falls in Seniors

A few years ago I went running in my neighborhood on Mother’s Day. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and flowers were blooming. I wound up limping home with blood dripping off my hands because I caught my foot on some uneven pavement and went sprawling.

The worst thing that happened to me with that fall was skin off my hands and my left forearm and difficulty typing at work for a few days. (Yay for jiu jitsu training and knowing how to fall properly!) For older patients, though, a fall can result in a much worse outcome. Hip fractures from falls result in surgery and extended time in rehab. About 25% of elderly patients who suffer a hip fracture never are able to leave the nursing home and live independently afterwards. Fall-related complications are the fifth leading cause of death in people over age 65.

There is a gentle form of exercise that promotes strength, balance and relaxation. It also happens to be a formidable martial art for those who want to study that side of the practice. It is ideal for seniors because it is simple to learn a set of moves, can be done anywhere, and generally is taught in a group setting (thereby promoting social interaction). At the beginning it is not physically demanding although as one progresses in practice moves can be modified to provide more physical benefits.

This exercise has been practiced for thousands of years. It is Tai Chi.

tai chi
Multi-ethnic group of adults practicing tai chi in park. Main focus on senior man (60s) in blue shirt.

I’ve studied Tai Chi since I was a teenager and have found it very relaxing and helpful with stress management and with my health. On days when I’m tired or have an injury and can’t do a full gym workout (or full martial art workout for that matter) I can always do Tai Chi.

Researchers have found that seniors who practice Tai Chi are much less likely to fall than those who don’t. They reviewed 18 research studies looking at almost 4000 participants. The researchers found that those who practiced Tai Chi were much less likely to fall than those that didn’t practice. In fact the effect was so strong that one fall would be prevented for every 10 seniors who practiced Tai Chi. That’s better than statins for preventing heart attacks!

If you or someone you love is getting older, worried about falling, limiting themselves due to fear of falling, or otherwise in need of exercise and social interaction, please check out a Tai Chi class. There are introductory classes available just about everywhere through adult community education or you can look up private studios near you. Tai Chi players

If you are located in northern Ohio I would encourage you to check out the non-profit studio where my family and I study Tai Chi and other martial arts: The Silent Mind in Twinsburg. We have free introductory classes, membership assistance for those struggling financially, and a wide variety of programs for everyone. Kids, teens and adults, beginners and experts, anyone will find something of interest here. Come play with us!

QUESTION: Have you studied (or do you currently study) Tai Chi or another martial art? What has been your experience?

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3 Reasons You’re NOT Losing Weight

So you’re exercising 5 days per week, watching what you eat and not seeing success with your weight loss efforts. Trust me, I have these conversations with patients all the time. There are 3 main reasons why you’re NOT losing weight.

Diet Mistakes

Eating Too Much

It’s very easy to eat too much. Sitting in front of the TV snacking on chips or pretzels or popcorn. Eating out too much. Rewarding yourself with a treat after a good workout at the gym. Tracking your intake with an app like MyFitnessPal can help keep you mindful of “extras” that can sabotage your efforts.

Don’t forget your beverages. Soda is a waste of calories and promotes the development of fatty liver disease. Alcohol is also a very high calorie indulgence and hard on the liver too. The best beverage for those trying to lose weight is plain filtered water.

Eating Too Little

Over-restricting can sabotage your weight loss efforts because the body goes into conservation mode. If you’ve been tracking and very attentive to your intake and you’re not seeing success, try loosening up and adding an extra piece of fruit or two daily (about 100 calories each).

Eating The Wrong Foods

Too much protein, too much convenience foods, too much processed carbohydrates, too much saturated fat. All these can change the metabolic and hormonal state in the body towards storing fat instead of burning it. Remember that the best macro balance is 50% COMPLEX carbohydrates (like whole grains, beans, legumes and fruit), 30% healthy fats (avocados, nuts, seeds and oils that are liquid at room temperature) and 20% protein (plant protein is best for your heart). Tracking for a short while can help you adjust your macros to the proper balance.

Indulging in artificially sweetened foods and beverages also can work against your weight loss efforts. Artificial sweeteners increase insulin and have not been shown effective in promoting weight loss.

Exercise Mistakes

Undertraining

If I had a nickel for every time someone said “I don’t have time to exercise.” Or “I don’t like to exercise.” Or “I can’t exercise because my XXX hurts,” – with XXX being the body part of choice (knees, back, feet, etc).

In order to lose weight you have to move around. It is extremely difficult to have long-term weight loss success without some sort of fitness regimen. Now it doesn’t have to be going to the gym or paying a lot of money for a trainer, although that is a good investment. I’ve written before about different exercise options. Joint pain requires different choices, but our health depends on regular movement!

Overtraining

It’s also important to rest and give our bodies time to recover between training. It’s not good to stress or work the same groups of muscles two days in a row, they need time to recover and build new muscle tissue. Even runners and cyclists have rest days.

Not Sleeping

You’ve got to sleep. It’s just one of those things, our bodies and brains need to have enough sleep and if we go without it does a number of bad things to us. One of those things is weight gain. Chronic sleep deprivation is a known cause of weight gain. It also increases stress hormones like cortisol and decreases our resistance to snacking and poor food choices.

Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep daily. You can get away with sleeping less for a little while but over time it will backfire.

If you’re trying to lose weight and not having success, first take a look at your sleeping habits. Then think about your eating habits and your exercise or lack thereof. The reason you’re not losing weight is probably there.

QUESTION: Did I miss anything? Did I miss an important reason why someone would have trouble losing weight?

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Healthy Cleanse Recipes

So in 2 days I’m starting my 7-Day Healthy Cleanse as part of my Prove it Challenge. I’ve done this Cleanse before – meaning I’ve used these products before. But I haven’t really done the Cleanse RIGHT. I’ve cheated.

This time I’m DETERMINED to do it right. I won’t cheat. I’ll eat fruits and vegetables that are approved for the Cleanse. I won’t eat soy. I won’t eat nuts. I definitely need help! Shaklee provides a LOT of support, and part of the support is a long list of suggested Cleanse recipes.

I was poring through the lists of approved Cleanse recipes to get ideas for low-carb, veggie and fruit recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I know if I let myself get overly hungry it is going to be MUCH harder to stick to it and stay away from the no-no foods.

Here are the three Cleanse recipes I’m most excited to try, and most likely to keep using beyond the Cleanse.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. rosemary
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 jalapeno (optional)
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 green onions

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add diced sweet potato, cover and let cook for approximately 10 minutes or until it begins to soften, stirring occasionally.

While the sweet potato cooks, dice the red onion and mince the garlic. Add to the skillet. Dice bell peppers, jalapeno, green onion and rosemary (if using fresh) and add to skillet. Cover and let cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until sweet potato is tender. Enjoy!

Tomato Bisque Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes, drained of their juices
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 shallots, quartered
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. low-sodium vegetable broth

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 °F. In a mixing bowl, combine drained whole tomatoes, carrots, shallots, and 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, and toss to coat. Season vegetables with pepper and place on a baking sheet. Roast until caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add remaining olive oil and allow to warm. Add crushed red pepper flakes and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 1–2 minutes, then add 2 Tbsp. of vegetable broth. Cook another 2 minutes. Add roasted vegetables, crushed tomatoes, and remaining vegetable broth.

Season with pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Purée the soup with an immersion blender until uniform in texture. Add more vegetable broth to adjust consistency if desired.

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium head (about 24 oz.) cauliflower, rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 scallions, diced
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1-½ limes
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro

DIRECTIONS

Remove the core and let cauliflower dry completely. Coarsely chop into florets. Place half the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is small and has the texture of rice or couscous—don’t over process or it will get mushy. Set aside and repeat with the remaining cauliflower.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, scallions, and garlic and sauté about 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the cauliflower “rice” to the pan. Cover and cook approximately 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside. Remove from heat and place in a medium bowl, and toss with fresh cilantro, lime juice, and pepper to taste.

I LOVE to cook but don’t usually make much time for it. I think one of the things I’m looking forward to with these Cleanse recipes is the opportunity to be more creative and intentional with my food! One thing is for sure – I’ll be eating healthy, and eating well 🙂

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite low-carb grain-free vegan recipe you can share with me?

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