Archives for michelle

Epsom Salts

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Most everyone enjoys a warm, soothing bath from time to time. So, what if I told you that by simply adding one ingredient to the bathwater, you can increase the healing power of your next soothing soak? And, what’s more, this ingredient can be found for a just a few dollars at your local drug store.

 

What is this magical ingredient?

 

Epsom salt.

 

Epsom salt baths have been used for centuries to promote relaxation and detoxification, as well as to reduce muscle pain and soreness.

 

Epsom salt is comprised of magnesium and sulfate. This makes Epsom salt an ideal way to restore and replenish magnesium levels in the body. Replenishing these levels is a good thing, as most people are magnesium deficient. Magnesium deficiency can be caused by poor diet (excess processed foods, coffee, sodas and overindulgence of alcohol further deplete the body’s stores of magnesium) and lifestyle factors, including high levels of stress, chronic diarrhea, high blood pressure medications, antibiotics, diuretics and other drugs. What’s more, our mineral absorption capability tends to decrease as we age, so the older you are, the more likely you are to have a magnesium deficiency. Since your skin is the largest organ system of the body, an Epsom salt bath allows the body to easily absorb this extra magnesium.

 

Here are a few specific ways that Epsom salt baths can be of benefit:

 

MUSCLE SORENESS AND ARTHRITIS PAIN

The magnesium in Epsom salt baths can help relax sore muscles and avoid the onset of muscle soreness by helping flush out lactic acid. If warmth seems to help your condition, especially muscle strain, muscle cramping and muscle pain, draw up an Epsom salt bath to expedite the healing process and decrease the pain.

 

Epsom salt baths can also be of benefit for arthritis sufferers. If you have arthritis pain in the joints of the hand, make an Epsom soak in a small bowl or a pot. When trying to relieve pain in the wrist, hand or fingers, be sure to incorporate motion while soaking. Try opening and closing the hand while it is fully submerged in the pot of warm water with Epsom salts. This will increase blood flow, decrease inflammation and soothe the joints.

 

DETOXIFICATION

Epsom salt soaks can help detoxify the body and can even help stem off a cold. When you feel a cold coming on, try soaking in an Epsom salt bath for about 20 to 30 minutes.  The combination of magnesium and sulfate in the Epsom salt is believed to help strengthen the body’s detoxification pathways.

 

If you are drawing a bath for detoxification purposes, combine one to three cups of Epsom salt with one cup of baking soda and three to six drops of essential oil, such as rosemary and eucalyptus. Mix the ingredients together before dumping it into warm bath water.

 

RELAXATION

Not only are Epsom salt soaks scientifically proven to relax your muscles, but they can also help relax your mind and provide a much-needed break from the frantic pace of daily life. Soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath is very calming and grounding. The relaxing effects of soaking in a hot tub can be helpful for those suffering from things like insomnia, depression or anxiety.

 

If you are soaking for relaxation, remove the baking soda from the recipe listed above and simply mix a couple cups of Epsom salts with lavender, frankincense or your favorite scent, and sit back and enjoy.

 

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.

 

Sugar

Tips to Kick the Sugar Habit for Good

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

In the 1700s, the average adult consumed about four pounds of sugar a year.  Today, the United States Department of Agriculture estimates the average adult eats between 150 and 170 pounds of sugar a year.  According to the American Heart Association, that works out to 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day in the form of foods, drinks and sweets — good deal over the recommended 9 teaspoons a day for men and 6 teaspoons a day for women.

Excess sugar consumption and a high-sugar diet have been associated with a host of chronic health conditions, from diabetes, to heart disease and even cancer. In fact, researchers from Harvard Medical School have reported that up to 80 percent of all human cancers are driven by the effects of glucose and insulin, which stimulate the proliferation, migration and invasiveness of all types of cancer.

The problem is, sugar can be hard to quit.  Part of the reason is physiological – when you eat sugar, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the brain’s pleasure center.  The brain likes this feeling and begins to crave more. That means the more sugar and excess carbohydrates you eat, the more your cravings will persist.

But it is possible to break the cycle. The tips below provide some guidance for kicking the habit once and for all:

Plan ahead

As the saying goes, if you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to fail — and this is definitely the case with sugar cravings.  Don’t want to wait until you’re starving to make decisions about what you will eat. Plan your meals and snacks in advance – ensuring that each is a mix of protein, healthy fats and phytonutrients from vegetables or fruit.

 

Eat regularly

When you go too long between meals, blood sugar tends to drop.  This makes you feel hungry and more likely to crave sweet, sugary snacks for a temporary energy boost.  Aim to eat at regular intervals — every three to four hours — which usually equates to three meals and two snacks a day.

 

Ditch the sugary beverages

Sodas and other sweetened beverages provide about half of all the added sugar in the typical American diet.  If you find it hard to pass up carbonated drinks, try switching to sparkling water or seltzer water, which provide the “fizz” without the sweetness.  Add lemon, lime or orange slices for natural flavor.

 

 Reach for fruit

If you’re craving something sweet, reach for fruit first.  Fruit contains fructose, which is metabolized differently, and also contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber – all things a handful of gummy bears can’t offer.  But limit fruit to 2-3 servings a day – one serving of fruit is about the size of a tennis ball and equivalent to a ½ cup.  Be sure to stick to lower glycemic options like berries and green apples rather than pineapple and watermelon.  Frozen grapes make a great substitute for ice cream.

 

Incorporate some protein into each meal

Protein helps balance blood sugar levels, which limits cravings.  Healthy sources of protein include: grass-fed beef, whey protein, wild fish like salmon, mackerel or tuna, organic chicken, kefir, plain yogurt and free-range eggs.

 

Add in healthy fats

Healthy fats also protect against cravings.  Fat is digested slowly, so you feel fuller for longer.  But quality matters.  Get your fat from healthy sources like avocados, nuts, seeds and coconut oil.

 

Beef up your breakfast

The standard American breakfast is typically a mix of carbs and sugary or starchy foods, which sets the stage for more cravings throughout the day.  A “healthy” breakfast of low-fat yogurt and granola can serve up over 55 grams of added sugar. Revamp your breakfast plate by shooting for a serving of protein, some healthy fats and a dose of phytonutrients.  An example would be: two eggs scrambled in grass-fed butter with a side of sautéed spinach.

 

Limit pre-packaged food

While it’s difficult to omit packaged foods entirely, consider making your own condiments, desserts and soups so you can control the amount of sugar that goes into them.  If you do use packaged foods, read labels carefully and calculate the sugar content per serving.  Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon.

 

Nix the artificial sweeteners

While it might seem logical to substitute artificial sweeteners for the real thing, these alternatives often make cravings worse. Researchers have found artificial sweeteners can change the palate, causing you to desire more in order to feel satisfied. For a natural sugar boost, reach for green leaf stevia.  (Try to avoid stevia extracts and altered stevia products like Truvia, which are processed and can contain other ingredients.)

 

Out of sight, out of mouth

Finally, you can’t snack on something that isn’t there. If you’re serious about kicking the habit, limit the amount of sugary snacks you bring into your house.

 

 Consider supplements

Finally, certain herbal supplements can help with cravings and provide support while making the changes mentioned above. Patients in my office have had great success with Gymnema, used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to support healthy blood sugar levels.

 

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.

 

 

Alzheimer’s Disease

By: Alyssa Musgrove

 

According the Alzheimer’s Association, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is increasing at an alarming rate.

 

  • More than 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s
  • By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million — a 40 percent increase from 2015 numbers.
  • By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5.1 million to a projected 13.8 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent or cure the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is frightening, especially with statistics like this!

Recently, I came across an article titled “How to Make Your Aging Brain 12 Years Younger In 3 Months” written by Ronald Grisanti DC, DABCO, DACBN, MS. In the article, he discusses options for someone who may have the early signs of Alzheimer’s but has not yet been officially diagnosed. Dr. Grisanti has allowed me to include his article in this column.  Below is what Dr. Grisanti writes:

Medical science has coined a new term called AAMI. This stands for age-associated memory impairement. Basically, it represents a precursor of full-blown Alzheimer’s.

Due to the massive increase of Alzheimer’s disease, the government’s brain-aging experts came to the conclusion there should be an earlier way to recognize this terrible disease. With that said, the new AAMI label is now being used for people who have early signs of Alzheimer’s. The criteria for AAMI, includes the following:

 

  1. Over the age of 50
  2. Not demented
  3. Intellectual function adequate to remainproductive
  4. Complaint of gradual memory loss
  5. Objective evidence of memory loss on performance tests

As it now stands, 40 percent of people between the ages of 50-59 have [AAMI] and it increases by 10 percent every ten years.

Unfortunately, most physicians not trained in functional medicine do not have the knowledge to know how to measure the one ingredient needed every day to keep our brains healthy and memories vibrant. This important brain ingredient is called phosphatidylserine. Phosphatidylserine* is a key component of the cell membrane and is essential to cell-to-cell communication and transfer of biochemical messages into the cell (especially within the brain and central nervous system).

Phosphatidylserine may help improve memory function in older adults, suggests a 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. For the study, 78 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment were assigned to six months of treatment with phosphatidylserine supplements or a placebo. In tests performed at the end of the six-month period, participants with relatively low memory scores at the start of the study were found to have experienced a significant improvement in memory.

In another study, a group of people with a brain age of around 64 years were placed on phosphatidylserine 100 mg three times a day for 3 months. Before and after double blind testing showed this rolled the hands of time back to a brain age of about 52 –12 years younger by providing 30 percent improvement in memory! Do you know any drug that does this? These people had marked improvements in everyday memory items like phone numbers, faces and names and of all things, placement of glasses and keys!

It is important to understand there are a number of probable causes of disease. We must remember unless there is a drug or surgery to treat a disease, traditional medicine will say the disease is incurable. This is sad considering the thousands of brilliant scientists and researchers who have dedicated their lives to having clinical papers published in many of the most recognized medical journals showing documented discoveries in what may be at the root of many diseases.

This, of course, applies to today’s article on the precursor to Alzheimer’s, AAMI, and will go so far to say Alzheimer’s in and of itself.  So, my point is very clear, do not accept that your disease, whatever it may be, does not have a cause. I beg to differ considering the thousands of patients I have worked with who had been told their disease had no cause and had to settle on temporary relief with medications. These same patients are [now living healthy lives as] walking testimonials to the power of seeking the root cause via the science of functional medicine.

* Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid, which is a type of fat found in every cell and especially in the brain cells. It is vital for memory and cognitive function. Phosphatidylserine supplements are commonly used with patients that have high cortisol levels. High cortisol is often increased with high stress levels. Stress is one factor that is well known to increase aging and decrease memory and cognitive function. Supplementation with PS may be one thing we can do to help prevent the development of AAMI and Alzheimer’s, by slowing the aging of our brain.

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.

 

Back pain and the Psoas Muscle

Got Back Pain? It Might be Your Psoas Muscle

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

If you, or someone you know, is always searching for back pain relief, it may be time to examine the psoas muscle. I work on the psoas (pronounced SO-as) muscle every day with my patients. Many people have not heard of this muscle, yet it is a major player when it comes to back pain, especially when there is difficulty straightening up from a seated position.

 

The psoas is a rope-like muscle that attaches to all the low back bones (lumbar vertebra), runs down across the groin and attaches to the inside of the hip. The psoas is joined at the hip, literally, by the iliacus, which travels from hip to thigh. Together, the psoas and iliacus make up the iliopsoas – the body’s most powerful hip flexor. The psoas helps promote good posture and stabilizes your abdomen and pelvis as it works together with your abs, obliques and lower back muscles. Every time you stand, walk, or run, or play golf, you’re engaging the psoas.

 

When the psoas is weak or tight, it can cause symptoms such as pain across the lower back, groin pain, hip pain, pain in the buttocks, difficulty walking up stairs or hills, tight hamstrings, knee pain and even foot pain.

 

John Stiner, a massage therapist based in Durham, N.C., whose credentials include a 2008 stint with the Nike Oregon Project, has noticed an epidemic of psoas tightness among his running clients. The number one culprit, he says, is your chair. Sitting for long periods puts the psoas in a perpetually shortened state. The muscle has memory and will maintain this shortened state, even when you get up from your chair. “Our bodies simply aren’t designed to sit all day,” says Stiner.

 

Another cause of imbalanced psoas muscles are abdominal crunches. Performing too many sit-ups causes the psoas muscle to shorten, which can lead to an increased arch in the lower back and a head-forward posture. While this posture is normally seen in the elderly population, nowadays, we are seeing this type of posture in younger people.  Rather than just focusing on abdominal exercises, it is better to have a more balanced program that works the core muscles in the back, as well as the front of the body. Sleeping in the fetal position also causes prolonged periods of stress on your psoas muscle.

 

You can perform a simple test to determine if you have a tight psoas. Lie on your back with both legs straight. Pull one knee towards your chest. If the other leg lifts off the floor, then your psoas is too tight. Now try the other side.

 

Regular gentle stretching is the best antidote for a tight psoas. Keep in mind that it will take time to release the psoas. The muscle has to be retrained, and you have to be consistent with the stretching. Be careful not to overstretch, which can cause the muscle to contract and shorten. Start your stretch slowly and ease into it without straining. You want to feel a lengthening sensation of the muscle.

 

Here are two simple psoas stretches you can try at home:

 

KNEELING LUNGE

Kneel on one knee, with the front leg forward at a 90-degree angle. With your pelvis tucked, lunge forward, easing into the stretch without straining. If your psoas is tight, your natural tendency may be to arch your lower back; make it a point to keep the back straight. Raise your arms overhead for an added abdomen stretch. To dynamically stretch the psoas, complete 20 reps on each side, holding the lunge for 2 to 3 seconds.

 

WARRIOR YOGA POSE

Step one foot 3 to 4 feet in front of you. Lunge forward until your front knee is at a right angle. (Readjust your foot position if necessary.) Turn your back foot out about 45 degrees. Keeping your back foot firmly planted, and your head, shoulders, hips and knees facing forward, raise your arms overhead. Relax your shoulders; don’t let them inch up. Lift your rib cage away from your pelvis to really stretch the psoas. As in all yoga poses, breathe deeply and easily. Don’t strain. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

 

Other tips to keep your psoas in top shape include:

 

  1. Sitting less — Try to get up every 45 minutes, at least. If you are traveling long distances, stop every 3 hours and stretch or walk for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Reach for support — Add support to your car seat by using a rolled up towel or small pillow behind your lower lumbar spine.
  3. Professional massage — Massage can help relieve a tight psoas, although this type of massage is not always comfortable.

 

By consistently working to relax the psoas and gradually restore its length, you will help reduce lower back pain, hip pain, groin pain, buttock pain and tight hamstrings, as well as prevent future injury.

 

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.

 

 

 

Fiber

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Did you know an estimated 95 percent of American adults and children do not consume the recommended amount of daily fiber?

On average, adults in the United States consume just 10-15 grams of fiber a day – 50 percent less than the recommended daily intake. Why is this problematic?  Fiber provides many important health benefits. Published research shows those who consume the recommended daily intake of fiber decrease their risk of dying prematurely from a cardiovascular condition by 15-30%. In addition, consuming foods rich in fiber is correlated with a 16-24% lower incidence of stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and heart disease.

Fiber also helps keep our bodies functioning optimally. Foods rich in fiber require more chewing and are not completely broken down in the digestive tract. As a result, fiber-rich foods tend to increase satiety without adding calories, thereby helping with weight control. Fiber can help slow the absorption of sugar and prevent blood sugar spikes after meals. Fiber also helps speed up the elimination of toxic waste through the colon, preventing constipation while reducing the risk of developing hemorrhoids and colitis.

Current research recommends individuals consume between 25-30 grams of fiber daily in order to achieve these health benefits. Optimal fiber intake varies with age and health goals, so how much fiber should you have per day? Here are some general recommendations from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Women under the age of 50:  25 grams per day
Men under the age of 50:  38 grams per day
Women over the age of 50: 21 grams per day
Men over the age of 50: 30 grams per day

Eating more than 30 grams of fiber per day may yield additional health benefits, but you typically do not want to exceed 70 grams. Eating more than 70 grams a day could cause unpleasant symptoms, which even happens to some people after 40–45 grams. You have consumed too much fiber when you experience minor gastrointestinal side effects, such as bloating or gas. These symptoms often are a reaction to a sudden increase in fiber intake and go away over time. Other symptoms of excess fiber consumption can include constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, mineral deficits, dehydration, acid reflux and, in rare cases, intestinal blockage.

Fiber supplements such as Metamucil, FiberCon, Psyllium Husk, and Citrucel can be helpful for some, however it is easy to over consume fiber with these supplements and these products do not provide the same amount of vitamins and nutrients as natural whole foods.

When adding fiber to your diet, keep in mind, there are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. It is important to consume a mix of both.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. As it moves through the digestive tract it changes and becomes more gelatinous. Soluble fiber is fermented by bacteria and is considered a pre-biotic. Good sources of soluble fiber include kidney beans, pinto beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, apples, oranges, grapefruit, grapes, prunes, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, flax seeds, flax seed powder and whole-wheat bread.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, so this type of fiber does not change its form as it goes through the digestive track. Insoluble fiber can also be fermented by bacteria in the colon as a pre-biotic. It functions to move bulk through the digestive track and control the pH levels in the intestines, helping prevent constipation. Food sources of insoluble fiber include vegetables — especially dark green leafy ones, root vegetable skins, fruit skins, whole-wheat products, wheat bran, wheat germ, brown rice, nuts and seeds.

Go slow when increasing your fiber intake to prevent unwanted side effects, and always make sure to consume plenty of water when eating high-fiber foods. Also, keep in mind that eating a high-fiber diet can interfere with the absorption and effectiveness of certain medications, so talk to your doctor about which medications to take with caution and when to take them.

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.

 

 

 

The Healing Power of Tai Chi

The Healing Power of Tai Chi
By Jamie Sills

Tai Chi is a common practice in China where large groups of people can often be seen practicing together outdoors. For centuries, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners have recommended Tai Chi to increase longevity, promote good health, flexibility, and strength, as well as aid in the treatment of many ailments including high blood pressure, depression, and arthritis.

Tai Chi was originally developed as a martial art for fighting or subduing an attacker.  The “martial” aspect is still there, but the art is primarily used now for health and wellness. In stark contrast to the body contact that typically comes to mind when we think of martial arts, Tai Chi focuses on slow, rhythmic, meditative movements designed to help you find peace and inner calm.

But the benefits of Tai Chi go far beyond just mental health. Numerous studies have shown Tai Chi offers several health benefits including:

  • Improved balance
  • Strengthened muscles and tendons
  • Reduced stress and balanced emotions
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Helps you learn how to use your body properly and more efficiently
  • Has been shown to help increase or stabilize bone mineral density
  • Can help increase or sustain memory and cognition as we age

There are five primary styles of Tai Chi that were developed beginning in the 16th century (and possibly earlier).  The most popular is Yang Style Tai Chi, first developed by Yang Lu Chan in the early 1800s. His grandson, Yang Chengfu (1883-1936) is perhaps the best-known teacher of his family’s style of Tai Chi.  The original Yang Style Tai Chi, called the long form, consists of 108 movements.  It is characterized by its large frame and slow, gentle, expansive movements.

Learning Tai Chi takes time and patience. It can be frustrating in the beginning.  Once the basic movements and sequence are memorized, however, it becomes a moving meditation that also helps balance and harmonize your chi or internal energy. Stick with it long enough and you’ll soon see what you once thought was complicated becomes easy. When you practice Tai Chi, your skills and knowledge are constantly evolving, so it never gets boring.

Practicing Tai Chi is a calming, healing addition to your weekly routine that can help you stay physically active and maintain mobility, while also alleviating the daily stresses of life. Those who participate in Tai Chi report improved well-being, increased alertness, relaxation, improved mental outlook and greater confidence. With so many physical, mental, and spiritual benefits, it’s easy to see why Tai Chi is one of the best practices we can do at any age.

Jamie Sills is an avid martial arts enthusiast who has been practicing Tai Chi for over 13 years. She is also owner of Oconee Spirit Reiki (oconeespiritreiki.com). Ms. Sills is currently teaching Introduction to Yang Style Tai Chi at Exhale Yoga. Classes are Mondays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The six-week course began January 10th and is composed of 12 sessions, but students can join late for a pro-rated fee. Exhale Yoga is located at 921 Harmony Road, Suite C, Eatonton (next to Southern Laser Salon & Spa) and can be reached at (706) 818-1725. You can also register by visiting www.exhalelakeoconee.com

 

 

 

 

Cravings

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

All of us have experienced a craving for a specific food, whether it be for salty potato chips, creamy peanut butter or sweets like ice cream and chocolate. A craving is a signal from the body that something is needed. Cravings can be driven by physical, emotional or biochemical factors.   For example, pregnant women might experience strong cravings due to hormonal changes that disrupt and change their sense of taste and smell. When we’re feeling emotionally stressed, we might crave “comfort” foods.

When a craving hits, you’re faced with a few options: You can give in to it; you can find out what your body really needs; or you can find an alternative distraction like taking a walk, phoning a friend or jumping into your bath tub, hot tub or pool. Some cravings only last 3 to 5 minutes, so finding a distraction does not always have to be a long, drawn out affair.

Below are a few common cravings and some thoughts on what your body might really need instead.

Potato Chips
A potato chip craving could be an indication you’re low in sodium. Sodium, more commonly known as salt, is an essential electrolyte needed in large amounts — especially for normal nerve and muscle function.

We obtain sodium through food and drink, and we lose it when we sweat and urinate. When we sweat in the heat, we actually sweat minerals, not water. After excessive sweating, or long periods outside, the body needs more than just water to replenish what is lost. (Certain medications can also make the body excrete excess fluid.) Conversely, too much sodium can lead to heart issues like high blood pressure.

The recommended daily intake of sodium is around 2,300 milligrams. Instead of satisfying this need with processed food like potato chips, reach for healthy whole foods instead. Beets, spinach and chard are a great source of sodium and packed with disease fighting antioxidants. Raw cashews and walnuts can be a good replacement in moderation — keep the serving size to one ounce (about 18 cashews and 15 walnuts). Popcorn drizzled with a butter-flavored olive oil (sold locally at the Plantation Olive Oil Company) is another healthier option. My favorite salty, satisfying snack is ‘crunchy seasoned peas’ made by BHUJA, which can be found in the gluten free section at Publix (often hanging on an end display).

Ice Cream
If you find yourself craving the cool, sweet taste of ice cream, it could be an indication you are low on sleep. The amino acid tryptophan (also found in your Thanksgiving turkey) is found in high-fat dairy products. Tryptophan assists in the production of melatonin and serotonin to help you feel sleepy and relaxed. Instead of caving to a late-night bowl of ice cream, try getting to bed an hour earlier, incorporating an afternoon power nap, or enjoying some quiet time for 20-30 minutes. Naps help improve immune function, boost your mood and increase alertness. Adults should limit a nap to 30 minutes or less. If you are sleep deprived, a 90 minute to 2-hour snooze can be beneficial. Instead of ice cream, try snacking on frozen blueberries for a sweet, refreshing snack.

Peanut Butter
A peanut butter craving could be an indication you are low in healthy fats, which are essential for survival. Contrary to popular belief, eating fat does not make you fat. Healthy fats, such as omega-3s, help protect the nervous system and brain. Omega-3 fats can be found in oily fish like sockeye salmon. Calories from fat are more nutrient dense than calories from carbohydrates and protein, and can help you feel fuller faster. Try reaching for an avocado sprinkled with lemon pepper.

Chocolate
Some people get hooked on the boost that chocolate can give, which then leads to compulsive habits. However, a chocolate craving can also indicate a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is required for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include irritability, anxiety, extreme fatigue combined with insomnia, lack of concentration and muscle spasms. Before grabbing that candy bar, reach for magnesium-rich foods such as almonds. If nothing but chocolate will do, opt for quality dark chocolate, preferably organic and above 70% cocoa. A magnesium supplement may also help.

Baked Goods and Pastries
If you are feeling anxious or stressed, baked goods and pastries can provide a temporary calming feeling. That’s because the sugar triggers a quick dopamine rush, also known as the “feel good” hormone. But that sugar rush soon turns into a blood sugar crash, which fuels inflammation and will leave you feeling sluggish. The naturally occurring sugars in fruits such as peaches, berries and apples are a healthier choice. You could also try a small amount of dried fruit, such as prunes or raisins.

Soda
Sparkling water, with a squeeze of lime or slice of orange, delivers the carbonation found in soda, minus all the excess sugar.

The next time a craving hits, dig deeper to uncover the real reason behind it. If anything, try making a lateral move and reaching for a healthier choice.

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.

Balance

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

One in three adults over the age of 65 has a serious fall each year. About 20 percent of women who fracture a hip become permanently disabled and another 20 percent die within a year.

While the elderly population is more prone to falls that can lead to serious complications, balance is important for all ages. Balance training can benefit everyone – whether you are older and want to improve basic day-to-day function or an athlete wanting to enhance performance and prevent injuries. With balance, it’s always best to be proactive. If we work on enhancing our balance and stability now, we can help prevent serious falls and injuries later.

The key to maintaining our balance is staying active. By staying active and continuing to challenge our balance, we can improve our overall stability. While improving balance will certainly help protect you from falls, it also can help improve overall mobility and fitness, while also allowing you to maintain independence and complete daily activities with ease.

Below are six strategies you can begin incorporating into your daily routine to help strengthen the muscles that keep you steady on your feet.*

1. Incorporate simple exercises. The following exercises help strengthen the core and lower-body muscles, which are critical for stability.

* Exercise 1: This move helps improve one-legged balance. With feet together, pick up one foot with the knee facing forward or to the side. (Be sure to keep a stable chair or wall within arm’s reach for safety.) Hold the position with eyes open, then closed. Switch feet and repeat for four reps on each foot. You can also try to do this while you are washing the dishes. Once you can hold the pose for 30 seconds on each side, stand on a less stable surface, such as a couch cushion. To increase the challenge even more, do it with your eyes closed.

* Exercise 2: The same sobriety field test cops give drunk drivers also improves balance. Take 20 steps forward, heel to toe. Then walk backward, with toe to heel, in a straight line.

  1. Strengthen those knees. Knee strengthening exercises,like leg presses and lateral movements with the arms, can help build strength. As knee strength builds, it helps improve proprioception awareness with the mind and body, and also allows you to continue a movement or action in place far longer with proper form.
  2. Consider Tai Chi or Yoga. Studies show Tai Chi participants were less likely to fall than those who took part in basic stretching programs or made lifestyle changes. Yoga works, too: According to Temple University research, women 65 and older who took twice-weekly yoga classes for 9 weeks increased ankle flexibility and showed more confidence in walking. That last part is important, says lead researcher Jinsup Song, PhD, “because when people are fearful of losing balance, they tend to do less to challenge themselves.”
  3. Work your core. This table top exercise increases core strength, which is directly linked to your balance. Using a mat to protect your knees, get on all fours on the floor in table top position. Make sure the back is flat and the neck is aligned with the spine. While looking at the floor, raise and extend your right arm and your left leg at the same time. Keep a tight core. Hold for 3–5 seconds and repeat on the other side. Perform 10 reps on each side.
  4. Focus on the legs. Sturdy legs can help prevent a stumble from turning into a fall. To build quads, start with a simple squat: With feet hip-width apart, bend knees and hips and slowly lower yourself as if sitting in a chair behind you. Keep arms straight out, abs tight, back straight, and knees above shoelaces. Stop when thighs are parallel to the floor or as close as you can get, then contract the gluteal muscles in your buttocks as you stand back up. Aim for three sets of 10, with a one minute break after each set.
  5. Sleep more than seven hours a night. A study at the California Pacific Medical Center showed how sleep deprivation reaction time is directly related to falls. Researchers tracked nearly 3,000 older women and found that those who typically slept between five and seven hours each night were 40 percent more likely to fall than those who slept longer.

By incorporating these techniques, you should notice improvements in your balance, coordination, posture, core strength and agility. Most importantly, you’ll help prevent future falls and be able to maintain your independence for years to come.

*It is always important to seek expert training and support when possible. Work with a physical therapist or licensed trainer to ensure you are selecting the right exercises to help you reach your goals safely and effectively. If you have severe balance problems or an orthopedic condition, get your doctor’s clearance before doing balance exercises.

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.

 

S.A.D.

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Being from the Great White North, a.k.a. Alaska, I have encountered numerous people affected by the “winter blues.” As we head into winter, cooler weather combines with 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.

 

Chair Yoga

Why should I participate in chair yoga?

By Renee Brown

 

Yoga is a form of exercise that has been shown to improve core strength and balance, increase flexibility, promote mobility, improve mental health, increase oxygen intake, reduce stress, and help control weight. However, age and injury can often pose a problem for the aspiring yoga student, who may have trouble getting up and down from the floor repeatedly.

Fortunately, there is an effective form of yoga that encourages healthy movement, healing, strength, and joint mobility — regardless of age and fitness level: chair yoga.

Chair yoga allows individuals to experience all the benefits of traditional yoga with the added stability of a chair. In chair yoga, all exercises are performed from a seated position. Chair yoga is a beneficial for people of any fitness level, from active seniors to those recovering from an injury. It integrates the best of flexibility and balance training, with the added benefit of being easy on the joints. Chair yoga also brings the additional benefits of providing movement and stretching to help with chronic pain and symptoms of arthritis, depression, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and a variety of autoimmune conditions.

Before participating in chair yoga, be sure to check with your primary care physician – especially if you have been living a sedentary lifestyle. Let your doctor know you would like to begin chair yoga and explain what it will entail, namely breath work, seated sun salutations lifting your arms and legs, movements to keep your joints lubricated, standing behind your chair for a few poses at the end, and then relaxation.

Once you gain approval from your doctor, check out your local programs. Exhale offers weekly chair yoga classes. You can also check your Silver Sneakers program for other locations, find televised yoga classes on channels such as PBS, or buy a DVD. You could also begin with a private chair yoga class if you have anxiety about being with others. There are added health benefits to participating in group activities and socializing with others but begin wherever you feel comfortable.

Though chair yoga is a low-risk and low-impact form of exercise, you should make sure you have the right equipment to prevent injuries and to get the most out of your workout. Essential chair yoga equipment includes an armless, stable chair (no wobbling!); a flat, level surface for your chair with a yoga mat underneath so it doesn’t slip; flexible, comfortable clothing that isn’t too tight or baggy; space to fully extend your limbs; and an experienced instructor or friend for safety. It’s also best to not eat a heavy meal two hours before yoga.

Once you’re set up and safe, you can begin by trying this overhead stretch:

Begin in a seated position with your feet planted on the floor, facing forward with your arms down by your sides. Take a long, deep breath in and slowly stretch your arms up toward the ceiling. Hold this position for a moment and bring your arms back down with a long exhale. Throughout this exercise, make sure your core is engaged and your back is as straight as possible. Nice slow deep breath in, slow exhale. Notice how your body feels before and then afterwards.

The most important thing when beginning any exercise program is to listen to your body. You may find a little soreness or discomfort when you first begin, but never move towards pain. Let go of the idea of “no pain no gain.” You can make big changes listening to your body and finding joy moving your body with your breath. It’s never too late to reap the benefits of taking care of your health and your body. The first step is to begin.

 

Renee Brown is the owner of Exhale, which offers a variety of yoga classes, including chair, low back care, restorative, yin, slow flow, mindful flow, meditation and power yoga. Exhale also offers Thai Bodywork, Reiki, and Reflexology. The studio is located at 921 Harmony Road, Suite C, Eatonton (next to Southern Laser Salon & Spa) and can be reached at (706)818-1725. Visit www.exhalelakeoconee.com to find a schedule, workshops, and upcoming yoga teacher training.