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Plants and Air Quality

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove
Studies show we spend close to 92 percent of our day indoors. What’s more, certain
air pollutants are 100 times more concentrated in our homes than they are outside.
This means the quality of the indoor air we breathe is important for our overall
health.
Indoor air pollution occurs when certain pollutants from particles and gases
contaminate the air of indoor areas. These toxic particles and gases, called volatile
organic compounds (VOC), are released from the synthetic materials in our daily
spaces, including carpets, vinyl floors, cleaning products, air fresheners, paint,
upholstery fabrics and more. Two of the most common indoor VOC examples are
benzene, found in some plastics, fabrics, pesticides and cigarette smoke, and
formaldehyde found in some cosmetics, dish detergent, fabric softener and carpet
cleaners.
Walking into a home or office building is not likely to make you sick immediately
but, over time, your body can absorb potentially toxic substances in the air.
Exposure to indoor air pollution can resemble symptoms similar to a cold or
seasonal allergies, including headache, scratchy throat, dizziness, fatigue, runny
nose and itchy watery eyes. These symptoms usually disappear within a couple
hours after leaving the polluted environment.
While we are exposed to indoor air pollution daily, the good news is you don’t need
to invest in expensive air filtration and ventilation systems. There is another very
practical and affordable way to clean the air indoors: houseplants.
Studies conducted at the University of Georgia, Pennsylvania State University and
NASA have all demonstrated that potted plants in the home can absorb harmful
chemicals through their leaves and roots. In a study with the Associated Landscape
Contractors of America, NASA researchers discovered that indoor plants were able
to remove up to 87 percent of air toxins within 24 hours.
There are other benefits to houseplants, as well. Researchers at The Royal College of
Agriculture found students were more attentive and more likely to return to class if
there were plants in the lecture halls. The Agricultural University of Norway found
potted plants reduced stress in office workers and lowered the number of sick days
taken. Additionally, they found plants in the workplace decreased fatigue and
increased productivity.
Experts recommend one plant (6 to 8 inches in diameter) for every 100 square feet.
In office buildings, they recommend one large plant for every two employees. While
that may sound like an excessive number of plants for a large house or building,
keep in mind having some plants is better than having none at all. When adding
plants to your home or office, be sure to purchase them in clay pots, as plastic pots

can release VOCs.
Here are five of the most beneficial houseplants for improving indoor air quality:
Peace Lily
This tropical plant breaks down and neutralizes toxic gases like benzene,
formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. This is a great choice to add to your office, as
some studies show they absorb electromagnetic radiation from digital devices. They
acclimate to a variety of indoor environments, do not require much light, and droop
when water is needed.
English Ivy
A common outside climbing plant, this ivy may reduce the amount of mold in the air
inside your home, as well as absorb toxins from cigarette smoke. It is said to be
fantastic for asthma and allergies. It is easy to grow and care for but can he harmful
if eaten, so it is wise to keep the plant away from pets and children.
Mother-in-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant
This plant is easy to care for and grows well with little maintenance. It increases the
oxygen supply in the room, removes benzene, nitric oxide and formaldehyde. Do not
overwater this plant, as it will rot if the soil is moist for too long. This plant may also
be toxic when ingested, so take care if you have pets and children.
Bamboo, Reed or Lady Palm
This plant thrives in low light and easily tolerates the warm and cool air conditions
of the home environment. It readily absorbs out-gassing from furniture, so if you
have purchased a new chair or couch you may want to decorate with this palm. It
can grow up to 6 feet tall and add elegance to any room.
Aloe Vera
Aloe is well known for its healing properties and is especially soothing for burns.
However, it is also known to remove formaldehyde from the air. Aloe is a smart
choice for a sunny kitchen window.
Adding just a few potted plants can go a long way toward improving your indoor air
quality and reducing health risks.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove
draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food
allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and
wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake
Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Are you SAD?

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Being from the Great White North, a.k.a. Alaska, I have encountered numerous people affected by the “winter blues.” The winter months bring shorter periods of daylight and sunshine. Some people welcome this seasonal change, but others may experience something more serious — a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of clinical depression that comes and goes based on a specific seasonal pattern, hitting around the same time each year. Studies show about half a million Americans are affected by SAD.

 

SAD symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms can start out mild and become more severe in peak winter months. People suffering from SAD may experience a loss of interest in activities or decrease in motivation to socialize with friends and family.  Other common symptoms include trouble sleeping, decrease in energy, weight gain, irritability, and appetite changes — especially cravings for foods high in sugar and carbohydrates.

 

Unsurprisingly, location makes a difference in the occurrence of this condition since sunlight and temperature play a major role. SAD is more common among people who live far north or south of the equator due to abbreviated daylight hours. For example, in my hometown in Fairbanks, Alaska on December 21 (the shortest day of the year) there is about 3 to 4 hours of daylight and temperatures are often below zero. You can imagine the effect this has on the brain and body! In Georgia, the shortest day of the year still has 9 to 10 hours of daylight and is not as cold.

 

It can be challenging to differentiate if a person is suffering from “traditional” depression or seasonal depression, but the main difference is the duration.  With SAD, feelings will begin in September, be the worst in peak winter months, and ease up once spring rolls around in March or April. Health professionals typically wait to see if symptoms persist over two or three consecutive winter seasons before making an official diagnosis, however, no one should have to wait that long to start feeling better! There are several natural remedies that can provide relief.

 

Vitamin D is known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” because the body produces it when exposed to the sun. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to depression. Check with your doctor to make sure your vitamin D levels are up to par. Adding a supplement could help you feel better, while also improving bone health and boosting your immune system.

 

It can be challenging to get to the gym or go outside when you are not feeling great, but regular exercise has been proven to help with all types of depression. Staying active increases the production of endorphins – those feel-good chemicals that help ease depressive feelings and clear brain fog. One study showed just 20-30 minutes of walking for 10 consecutive days was enough to significantly reduce depression.

 

Research also has shown consistency and frequency of exercise has more positive effects then duration or intensity. You do not need to run a marathon or lift massively heavy weights in order to reap the benefits of exercise. Join a group fitness class, walking club or practice yoga. Also, when there is a ray of sunshine or the temperature is tolerable, take advantage! Get as much natural light as possible — your brain and body will thank you for it later. If you can squeeze in a workout outside, great! But even playing fetch with the dog outside will boost your body’s ability to make proper hormones and regulate your circadian rhythm.

 

Talking it out is another option. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people change unhealthy habits of thinking, feeling and behaving into positive solutions. Reach out to friends and family, and establish a support network to help ease feelings of isolation.

 

Finally, be sure to eat a healthy diet. People with SAD tend to crave sweet treats and sugary carbs, which make them look and feel worse. Try to focus on lean protein, leafy greens and fish, which will keep hormones in check and boost serotonin.

 

These simple lifestyle changes can greatly impact overall mood and health — and help minimize the “winter blues,” should they come knocking on your door this winter.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

 

Bone Broth

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Bone broth dates back to the Stone Age, when it was cooked in turtle shells over the fire to promote healing. Now, this ancient food is experiencing a 21st century resurgence, thanks to its many health benefits – including protecting joints, promoting gut health, supporting the immune system, fighting cold symptoms and maintaining healthy skin.

Bone broth businesses can now be found in health-conscious cities across America. Medea’s Real Food Café in Arden, NC sells bone broth from local bones, served hot in house or available frozen to take home. In New York City, there is a bone broth subscription service called Bone Deep & Harmony and a restaurant called Brodo where they serve warm broth by the cup with numerous add ins for nutritional boosts.

So, how exactly does drinking bone broth improve our overall health?

As we age, our cartilage diminishes and joints experience natural wear and tear. The result is a decrease in flexibility and sometimes pain. Bone broth is an excellent source of natural collagen, glucosamines and amino acids that assist the human body in forming connective tissue that covers our bony structures and seals the protective lining of our gastrointestinal tract. As bone broth simmers, the collagen from the animal bones leaches into the broth and becomes easily absorbable. Consuming these nutrients helps restore and support aging joints. Collagen also helps maintain skin’s youthful tone by reducing the visible signs of wrinkles. The amino acids assist digestion by helping the production of bile salts and regulating the secretion of gastric acids.

You’ve likely heard the old adage that chicken soup will help cure a cold. As it turns out, there is scientific proof to support that claim. According to medical doctor and UCLA professor Irwin Ziment, bone broth naturally contains the amino acid cysteine, which chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine. In 2000, the official journal of the American College of Chest Physicians studied bone broth and found it helpful in clearing mucus, opening respiratory pathways and providing anti-inflammatory benefits. Drinking homemade bone broth during cold and flu season can help speed recuperation and relieve symptoms.

Bone broth is low in calories and high in minerals, making it a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. Homemade bone broth is the most nutrient dense, and simple to make. Since you are extracting minerals from bones and drinking them in concentrated form, be sure the animal source is as healthy as possible. Only use high-quality bones from grass-fed cattle, bison, lamb, pastured poultry, wild caught fish or locally hunted deer. There are several places to find good bones for stock from local butchers and farmers. You can save leftovers when you roast chicken, duck, goose or turkey. There are also online companies that sell high-quality bones for good prices, such as Tropical Traditions, US Wellness Meats and Thrive Market.

 

Broth ingredients:

-2 pounds or more of bones from a healthy source

-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

-3 celery stalks, chopped

-2 carrots, chopped

-1 onion, quartered

-sea salt

 

Instructions:

-If you are using raw bones (especially beef bones) I have found it improves the flavor to roast them in the oven before boiling them. Place bones on a pan and roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

-Place bones in a large stockpot or crockpot. Cover with filtered water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.

-Let bones sit for 30 minutes in the cool water with the vinegar to leach the minerals out of the bones. (The acid in the vinegar makes the nutrients from the bones more available.)

-Add vegetables to the pot and turn on the heat. Bring broth to a boil, then cover and simmer for 8 to 48 hours. If you have to leave home while it is cooking, a crockpot is recommended. Set it on low for 12-24 hours.

-Skim the “scum” (frothy/foamy layer) with a big spoon as it simmers the first few hours.

-Remove from heat and let the broth cool slightly, strain it to remove the bits of bones and vegetables.

-Store in glass jars in the fridge (up to a week) or freezer (up to 6 months).

-Drink the broth like a hot cup of tea. You can add sea salt or cayenne pepper for additional flavor, or use in soups or stews.

-Consume eight ounces daily upon waking or before bed as a health boost. Some restaurants whisk in an egg until cooked as a soup.

 

Fill your mug this fall with a savory bone broth and reap the benefit of valuable nutrients that will nourish your body throughout the winter season.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

 

Eating Out

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove
Eating out is both a fun event and a social event. Many studies, however, have shown there is a significant link between dining out, overeating and poor food choices. So how do you eat out and still stay on track with your health goals? Here are a few tips to making better choices when dining out that won’t require you to give up your social life or turn down those dinner invitations.
Substitute for success. Healthier options are always available, but you will likely have to swap out the unhealthy menu pairings that can ruin a great dish. Create your own meal around protein and vegetables. Scan the menu and then get creative; mix and match to make your own meal. Substitute extra vegetables instead of the pasta that comes with the fish or a side salad instead of french fries.

When ordering an omelet ask for extra protein or vegetables instead of the toast. If ordering a sandwich or burger, ask for more of a “protein style,” such as a lettuce wrap or bed of lettuce instead of a bun.
Pay attention to preparation. Inquire about how the food is cooked and prepared. The way the food is cooked can make quite a difference in the amount of calories and nutrients it contains. Foods that have been grilled, roasted, poached or steamed are generally healthier options because these cooking processes require less oil and fat, and do not kill all the nutrients. Foods that are crispy, crunchy, fried, pan-fried, battered or sautéed in oil or sauce usually contain more calories, harmful ingredients and decrease the overall nutrient value. Instead of a fried vegetable, ask to have it grilled, steamed or roasted. Or, order your vegetable without the melted cheese or sauce that comes on top.
Be the first to order. In social situations, people tend to subconsciously mimic each other, and dining out is no exception. Other people can influence our decisions and eating behaviors without us noticing, so go ahead and lead by example. If you are at a table with a group that is likely to order something that does not align with your healthy lifestyle choices, make sure you order first!
Order two appetizers instead of a main meal. Research has proven that people are more likely to overeat when they are served larger portions. When you know you are going to a restaurant where the portions are huge, try ordering two appetizers or an appetizer and a side, instead of a main course that you might tempted to finish. This trick can help you fill up without leaving you uncomfortably full, wasting food or going overboard on calories.
Move it to the side. Ask for sauces and dressings on the side, as these can add a lot of extra
calories to a dish. For example, just two tablespoons of ranch dressing adds about 150 extra calories. Keeping the dressing on the side allows you to control the amount you eat. Another option is skip the pre made dressings and just use olive oil and vinegar with salt and pepper.
Practice mindfulness at your meal. Trying to be mindful while eating can help improve your self-control and prevent overeating. Mindful eating means giving your full attention to your meal, meal choices and the eating process. Take the time to savor the flavors and the smells of your meal. Try putting your fork down between bites, which will slow you down so you can enjoy the eating process. Mindful eating has been linked to healthier food choices and more enjoyment.
Chew on this. Digestion starts in the mouth. When you chew your food properly, your body releases digestive enzymes in the mouth and stomach that help break down your food so it can be converted into energy. When food is not broken down or digested you could suffer from issues such as constipation, low energy, heart burn, indigestion and headaches. Make sure you are swallowing the tiniest pieces possible. According to experts at Ohio State University, dense foods like meats and raw vegetables should be chewed up to 30 times before swallowing and softer foods 10 times. Chewing your food thoroughly can also slow down the eating process, increase nutrient absorption and prevent overeating.
Above all else, be flexible with your food choices and be conscious how that meal will fit into your overall health and wellness goals. If you follow healthy lifestyle habits and meal patterns most of the time, go ahead and treat yourself. Moderation is key to success, and even moderation should be done in moderation. An occasional indulgence can be good for the soul.
Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Frankincense

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Frankincense oil has been prized since ancient times. Just the mention of it, likely brings to mind the Christmas story – frankincense was among the gifts offered to the newborn Jesus by the wise men.  Its value in ancient times surpassed that of gold, and frankincense was often traded and used by those in North Africa, the Middle East and Egypt. In fact, there are records citing frankincense as a valuable trade commodity as far back as 3,000 BC.

 

But can this ancient oil still benefit us today?

 

Frankincense oil is derived from the dried sap, or resin, or the Boswellia tree. The resin is then steam distilled to create a potent – and pricey — essential oil. Frankincense is one of the few essential oils to contain sesquiterpenes, enabling it to go beyond the blood brain barrier and help stimulate the limbic system in your brain. The oil has a woody, earthy, spicy and slightly fruity aroma that is calming and relaxing.

 

Frankincense has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. The use of frankincense can be traced back to Hippocrates, a Greek physician credited with being the “father of medicine.” Hippocrates used frankincense oil for numerous conditions including toothaches, leprosy, indigestion, chronic coughs, hemorrhoids and the healing of wounds and sores. Other ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, used frankincense for perfumes, embalming fluid and even facial treatments.

 

Today, frankincense is still effective in reducing pain and inflammation. In 2009, a study published in Phytotherapy Research, found boswellia extracts inhibited pro-inflammatory molecules involved in joint cartilage degradation. Another study published in PubMed in 2012 found frankincense oil was found to have antinociceptive (pain sensation-blocking) properties in animals. Researched published in BioMed Central’s open access journal for arthritis showed significant improvement in osteoarthritis symptoms in as little as seven days after using frankincense.

 

Frankincense has also been shown to improve immune function, help fight infections and cleanse and detoxify the body. According to a study published in the Journal of Oncology, frankincense was able to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Other studies have shown frankincense may help in the treatment of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, asthma and anxiety.

 

Frankincense helps healthy cell regeneration and keeps existing cells and tissues healthy. This oil may help with aging by rejuvenating the skin, reducing the appearance of blemishes, razor bumps, scars and stretch marks. I add a couple of drops to my face moisturizer every morning!

 

Frankincense oil can be used topically or diffused through the air. Both methods are very effective since the molecules of the oils are so small that they easily pass through the skin or the olfactory system into the blood stream, where they can begin to protect and heal the body. After entering the blood stream, essential oils are circulated to the tissues and organs in the body, and then into the lymphatic system. The oils will typically last anywhere from 12-24 hours and will eventually be eliminated through normal body functions. When essential oils are combined with massage they can have a longer lasting effect, up to several days.

 

Like many essential oils, frankincense should be combined with a carrier oil prior to applying it directly to the skin. Frankincense is generally safe, however it is always advised to do a spot test first to check if you have any sensitivity to the oil. Applying 3-6 drops of frankincense oil to the bottom of your feet (along with a carrier oil) can balance your mood and promote feelings of relaxation, peace, and overall wellness. The oil is also quickly absorbed when applied behind the ears and on the wrists. For infants and small children, the oil should be diluted with a fractionated coconut oil (about 1-3 tablespoons of fractionated oil to 1-3 drops of essential oil for infants and one teaspoon of carrier oil to 1-3 drops of essential oil for children ages 2-5.)

 

Frankincense oil and clove oil can be diffused together to boost your immune system, protect you from getting colds, or to help you recover more quickly if you do catch a cold.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

 

 

Gluten Free Holiday

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

The holidays and dessert seem to go hand in hand. But if gluten tends to be something you avoid for health reasons, navigating your way through a gathering complete with holiday sweets can be daunting.  However, you may be surprised to learn that it is possible to enjoy delicious gluten-free and sugar-free treats at any gathering – no matter the holiday or time of year. Whether you are celiac, gluten-free, gluten-sensitive, gluten-intolerant or just want to try a new recipe, these options are sure to help you spread cheer all year. Gluten-free baking is not always as difficult as you might think and could be a matter of just switching one ingredient.

Coconut chocolate flourless goodness
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
½ tsp salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 cup chopped toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Have your oven racks placed in the middle and lower third of the oven. In a large bowl whisk together cocoa, salt and confectioners’ sugar. Then stir in almonds, coconut and chocolate chips. Add egg whites (room temperature is ideal) and stir until combined. Make sure not to overmix.
Drop the dough with rounded tablespoons, spaced about 2 inches apart, on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake 15-18 minutes until the tops are cracked and dry, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through for even cooking. Remove baking sheets from the oven and cool completely on wire racks.

Easy chocolate-nut butter cookies
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup roasted, salted nut of choice
1 cup creamy nut butter (cashew, pecan and sunflower seed is my favorite)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks positioned in upper third and lower third of oven. Beat the nut butter, egg, baking soda, sugar and salt until well mixed. Next mix in the roasted, salted nut of your liking and chocolate chips.
Moisten hands with cold water and roll the dough into balls, about 1 tablespoon at a time.
Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and space two inches apart. Bake and rotate the sheets halfway through until the cookies are golden and puffed, about 14 to 17 minutes. Let the cookies cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes and transfer cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Cookies are best stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to one week.

Not-Too-Sweet Spiced Nuts  (recipe courtesy ModernMrsDarcy.com)

 

1 pound raw mixed nuts

1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond brand preferred; reduce to 1 teaspoon if using Morton)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Combine salt, spices, and sugar in small bowl. Whisk egg white and water together in mixing bowl. Add nuts; stir to coat. Sprinkle spice mixture over nuts and stir to coat evenly. Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven. When cool, break the nuts apart and store in a tightly sealed container.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Massage Guns

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

If you’ve been browsing lists of the top holiday gifts to give this season, you’ve no doubt noticed hand-held massage guns top the list. A massage gun is a great tool you can use at home to give a little extra care to your soft tissue, but it’s important to know the best ways to use these devices to experience relief and avoid injury.

Massage guns have many different names, but most offer a form of vibration or percussion therapy that help promote blood flow, circulation and lymph drainage. This type of therapy allows more oxygen and nutrients into muscles, aiding in the tissue recovery process. Some people find they recover faster from workouts and experience less discomfort from exercise after applying percussion or vibration to stressed soft tissue areas.

Many people report improved range of motion after using massage devices. When muscles become shortened for long periods of time, they place additional stress on joints. This stress decreases range of motion and flexibility, putting you at risk for injury. Applying pressure on muscles after using them causes them to become more relaxed and less likely to place strain on surrounding joints and tissues. Some research shows applying pressure, such as massage, vibration or percussive therapy, to a muscle while actively stretching it could increase the range of motion of that muscle by 30-50% in just 30 seconds.

Generally speaking, at-home massage devices are safe and low risk, but be sure to follow these tips:

  • Use your massage tool on your hips, legs, feet, back and arms but AVOID your neck, spine and other bony areas. If the device comes in contact with the spine, or directly onto a bone, it can be dangerous and potentially cause injury.
  • Use your massage device in moderation. Overuse can aggravate tissues in the body and potentially lead to injury, or leave you suffering with unnecessary pain.
  • Limit sessions to no longer than 2 to 3 minutes at a time. Longer sessions using soft tissue devices are not always better. Some areas can tolerate higher amounts of intensity and longer durations then others. Small areas like your forearms (great for those who work with their hands all day) will benefit from a couple minutes of therapy compared to large muscle groups like your hips and thighs, which may be able to tolerate up to 5-10 minutes.
  • Explore different muscle groups. One of my favorite areas to target is the bottom of my feet after a long day of standing at the office.
  • Healthy tissue does not hurt when you press on it. If you are experiencing tenderness when applying the tool to the skin, that area could benefit from therapy, just be aware of your pain tolerance. Any sore or tender area is a cue to do less.

 

  • Use the adjustable speeds and different massage head attachments to your advantage. If the surface area is small and sensitive, then choose a lower setting and work your way up to a higher speed and intensity.
  • When just beginning to use your device, test an area first, using a low intensity for short duration and then monitor your body’s reaction over the next day or two. If you notice any discoloration in your skin, such as the skin becoming red immediately after or any bruising long term, shorten your session and intensity.
  • Finally, if you feel any numbness, tingling, sharp pain, or a sensation of pins and needles, stop immediately. These are signs the massage gun may not be right for you or that particular area.

Although at-home massage devices offer a high level of convenience, keep in mind these devices should not replace professional massage therapy. Licensed massage therapists have extensive training that allows them to deliver more significant results than what you can achieve with an at-home device. Professional massage therapy can be a powerful tool in your healthcare regimen, as it elongates and relaxes muscles, allows you to hold your chiropractic adjustments longer and helps the body to eliminate toxins.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Thanksgiving Gratitude

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, that time of year when we gather with family and friends, and take time to reflect on the things in life we are truly thankful for. While the ritual of giving thanks once a year is certainly beneficial, research suggests expressing gratitude more often could actually be life changing.

According to studies, the benefits of gratitude rituals, be it giving thanks at mealtime, keeping a gratitude journal or sending thank-you notes, include:

  • Improved sleep, especially if your mind has a tendency to go into overdrive with negative thoughts and worries at bedtime
  • Higher levels of happiness and a more optimistic outlook on life
  • Greater likelihood to engage in healthy activities such as exercise
  • Higher relationship satisfaction
  • Higher work performance (in one study, managers who expressed gratitude saw a 50 percent increase in the employees’ performance)

Studies have also shown that gratitude can produce a number of measurable effects on systems in your body, all of which can translate into improved health. Biological systems positively affected by gratitude include stress hormones, inflammatory and immune systems, blood sugar, blood pressure, cardiac and EEG rhythms, and cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters.

Depending on the kind of year you’ve had, you may or may not feel like you have a whole lot to feel thankful for. If that is the case, you may be wondering if it’s still worth trying to express thanks. In a New York Times article addressing the subject, Arthur C. Brooks, Ph.D., writes:

“In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful. For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult … Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others … But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness .… whether you feel like it or not.”

The proven benefits of gratitude are such that your expression of it to a single day each year is definitely to your own detriment. If you’re unsure of where, or how, to start, consider starting by giving thanks privately in a journal or in prayer. Once this has become a comfortable habit, move on to expressing your gratitude publicly. Writing thank-you notes, saying thank you in person, or otherwise publicly proclaiming your gratitude all fall into this category.

Starting each day thinking of all the things you have to be thankful for is another way to put your mind on the right track. Before getting out of bed in the morning, think of five things for which you are thankful. It can be as simple as the comfortable bed you slept in, the roof over your head, having central heat and air conditioning, the sun shining, or the birds singing. If you forget to start the day with thankful thoughts, try writing down a few things you are grateful for before turning in for the night. A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found people slept better and longer when they spent about 15 minutes reflecting on things they were grateful for prior to going to sleep.

Practice being thankful for what you have. Create a list of 100 things you are grateful for in your life. You can list them in categories such as people, experiences you have had, qualities and abilities you have, etc. When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, your list can help you remember the many reasons you have to smile. Also, remember your future depends largely on the thoughts you think today. Each moment is an opportunity to turn your thinking around, thereby helping or hindering your ability to think and feel more positively in the very next moment.

Thankfulness is the one way we can improve our health without dieting, rigorous exercise, or taking a supplement. Practicing thankfulness every day can reward you with better health and a richer quality of life all year long.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

 

Stop the Holiday Stress

The holidays are supposed to be one of the most cheerful times of the year, but they can also be
fraught with anxiety, grief and stress.
Planning and attending parties, visiting family and friends, having family come visit (sometimes
for too long), having to shop for MORE groceries, and having to cook MORE food (not to
mention the over-abundance of sweets and desserts) all help to ratchet up stress levels. Financial
pressures also tend to peak at this time of year — worries over having enough money to purchase
gifts and take time off of work.
To handle stress, many people turn to food — especially sweets — and then feel guilty for what
they consumed. This guilt then increases their stress, and it becomes a vicious cycle that can be
challenging to break. It’s no wonder the holiday season is a time of increased illness, since stress
and sweets cause a major decrease in immune system function.
If the impending holidays are already causing feelings of overwhelm and stress, try
implementing some of the following suggestions:
Exercise
Exercise affects a neurotransmitter that has an antidepressant-like effect on your brain, while
helping to decrease muscle tension. Start your day with exercise. Go for a brisk walk on
Thanksgiving morning, when you are feeling anxious or to relieve stress after your company
leaves. After your meal, invite visiting family and friends to go for a walk. Not only will you
burn off some of the calories you consumed, but you’ll burn off some of that holiday stress, as
well.
Spend Time in Nature
Just five minutes in nature can help reduce stress and boost your mood, helping you to relax!
Take a Break
Taking a short 10-minute break to sit quietly and shut out the chaos around you can trigger a
relaxation response. Meditating during your breaks can help you redirect your mind to silence
and decrease feelings of stress and anxiety even more. Turn off your racing mind and simply
focus on the present moment and task at hand. Avoid worrying about what you need to do later
in the day or tomorrow. If you have trouble shutting out such thoughts, jot them down on a piece
of paper to help clear your mind and assure your brain you will remember and get to the task
eventually.
Drink Up
Ideally our body should be about 70 percent water. However, research shows many people are
only 40-50 percent water. This dehydration causes decreased metabolism and increases
inflammation in the body. Drinking water decreases inflammation, helps improve weight loss by
reducing cravings and helps body systems work more efficiently. Shoot for 64 ounces of water a
day — the equivalent of four 16-ounce bottles. Start with 16 ounces when you first get up. Have
another 16 ounces 30 minutes to an hour before lunch, and 16 ounces before dinner. Make sure

not to drink more than 4-6 ounces with meals so you don’t dilute your stomach acids and
decrease your ability to digest your foods.
Focus on Fiber
Fiber reduces cravings, and helps improve your metabolism and ability to lose fat. High fiber
foods help fill you up and feel more satisfied with less food. Reach for raw unsalted nuts,
vegetables, berries, legumes and hummus.
Mindful Eating
Chew slowly, at least 20 times per bite. This improves digestion and allows you to feel full and
satisfied with less food.
Don’t skip the most important meal
It is so easy to get in a hurry during the holidays with all the preparations that need to be done.
Many people will drink their coffee and fail to eat breakfast, or they will rationalize skipping
breakfast because they are “saving calories” for the big meal later in the day. Both of these
choices harm more than help by creating imbalanced blood sugar, which leads to cravings,
irritability and decreased ability to deal with stress. You don’t have to eat a big breakfast, just a
couple boiled eggs will give you a serving of protein and fat to get your metabolism going.
Practice Moderation
The holidays are a special time to enjoy yourself. It is okay to splurge every now and then. Eat
the foods you enjoy in small portions. If you eat well 80 percent of the time, then you can have
foods considered “treats” 20 percent of the time.
Bring a Side
If you are preparing the meal or bringing a dish, make something that goes along with your
nutritional needs, such as a green salad loaded with vegetables. By doing this, you will be sure
you have a healthy option when sitting down at the table.
Be grateful
Express your gratitude to those you gather with this holiday season. Go around the table and
have each person share one thing for which they are grateful. When we focus on the meaning of
the season, we reduce our stress and increase our joy and optimism. Keep a gratitude journal and
write down why you are grateful each day. Focus on what you do have this holiday instead of
what you don’t.
Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season!

Sweet Potatoes

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

They might make an annual appearance on your Thanksgiving table in the form of sweet casseroles and pies, but sweet potatoes are also a surprisingly nutritious vegetable that can be incorporated into your diet year-round.

 

Sweet potatoes are high in fiber – just one medium sweet potato fulfills up to 15 percent of your fiber needs for the day. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar to prevent crashes and spikes in blood sugar levels. This makes sweet potatoes an excellent dietary addition for those with diabetes. (Compared to white potatoes, sweet potatoes have a lower score on the glycemic index.) The fiber in sweet potatoes can also aid in weight loss. Fiber helps promote satiety and cuts cravings as it moves slowly through the digestive tract. Since sweet potato is slowly digested, it is also great to incorporate on gym session days, providing you with long-lasting energy and fuel.

 

Vitamin A and C play a role in many aspects of health but are especially important in boosting immunity. One medium sweet potato contains 438% daily vitamin A requirements and 37% vitamin C daily value. Vitamin A and C help stimulate the production of immune cells that fight infection and disease. In addition to boosting immunity, vitamin A plays a large role in maintaining healthy vision. If you suffer from night blindness or dry eyes, this could be a symptom of vitamin A deficiency.

 

There are many different varieties of sweet potatoes, and they come in a rainbow of colors. The outer skin can be white, yellow, red, purple or brown, and the flesh can be white, yellow, orange or purple. Sweet potatoes that have orange flesh are high in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free radicals that are harmful to the body and may protect you from things like diabetes and heart disease. Beta-carotene can protect your skin, promote healthy vision and has been shown to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Studies show colored sweet potatoes contain more potent antioxidants than white sweet potatoes. Purple sweet potatoes contain the highest amount of antioxidants.

 

Some people refer to sweet potatoes as yams and use these terms interchangeably, however there are some major differences. To begin, yams and sweet potatoes are two entirely different plants. Yams are related to lilies and grasses, while sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family. Yams are native to Africa and Asia, while sweet potatoes originate in South and Central America. Sweet potatoes have tapered ends with smoother skin and vary in color. Yams tend to have rough skin with white flesh and are more cylindrical in shape. They also tend to be drier and starchier than sweet potatoes. While yams contain a large amount of potassium, manganese, vitamin C and B6, they are higher in calories and carbohydrates, and lower in protein. Both sweet potatoes and yams can be healthy additions to your diet when used in moderation and proper portion control.

 

Preparation method is crucial in order to preserve the nutritional content of these roots. Sweet potatoes are often deep-fried, salted and served in larger portions then necessary, thereby lowering their overall nutritional profile. Instead of fried, try them baked: Preheat oven to 425 degrees, cut potatoes into fries, toss in coconut oil, sea salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes. Then flip and bake until crisp, about 10 more minutes depending on thickness and desired crisp.

 

Sweet potato nachos are another personal favorite: Preheat oven to 425 degrees, slice sweet potatoes into ¼ inch rounds and toss with coconut oil, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes, turning them over halfway through to ensure they do not burn. Remove from oven and add toppings like black beans, chicken or beef and cheese. Return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Finish by sprinkling with your favorite nacho toppings, such as chopped green onion, avocado or guacamole, salsa, greek yogurt, olives, jalapeños and salsa.

 

Other healthy recipe ideas include sweet potato hash, maple cinnamon sweet potato pancakes, turkey stuffed twice-baked sweet potato, sweet potato enchiladas or tacos, and sweet potato brownies.

 

As with anything in life, there are precautions. If you have a history of calcium-oxalate kidney stones, you may want to limit your intake. Sweet potatoes are high in oxalates that can combine with calcium and lead to the development of unwanted kidney stones. If you have diabetes be aware that, although sweet potatoes have many health benefits, they do contain carbohydrates that can raise blood sugar levels if eaten in excess. So, be sure to pair your sweet potato with a good source of lean protein and a non-starchy vegetable to make a well-rounded, nutritious meal that stabilizes blood sugar.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.