Pathways to Healing Blog

Travel Support

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Travel and the holidays seem to go hand in hand. But, while it can be fun to reconnect with family and friends, it’s no secret that traveling can wreak havoc on your body and your health.

 

Studies have found that one in every five people may experience a cold or illness following air travel. Add to that the other unpleasant “side effects” of travel, including stiff and painful joints, dehydration, swollen feet, sluggishness and high amounts of stress, and it becomes easy to see why many of us feel less than 100% after a trip.

 

There are many factors working against our immune system when we travel. To start, airplanes are a small enclosed space where people of all ages, from all over the world, stay for a long period of time. The University of Alabama conducted a study that found germs can stay up to seven days on a plane. The areas where the most germs can be found inflight are armrests, seat belts and buckles, seat pockets, tray tables and the touchscreen entertainment.

 

Lower oxygen levels at altitude (even in pressurized cabins) and low humidity in the cabin also play a factor. Decreased humidity can cause the mucous membranes in our nose and throat to dry out. The mucous membranes in our body are designed to protect us from most germs, bacteria and diseases we come in contact with everyday. Dehydration is also common during flights, resulting in dry itchy skin, red eyes and a parched mouth.

 

Is it possible to combat some of these issues?  The answer is, yes. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent illness and improve your holiday travel experience:

 

Rest Up. Be sure to get plenty of rest before your flight — a solid 7-9 hours is ideal. Rest is one of the best things we can do to ensure the immune system is performing at an optimal level.

 

Eat Well. What you eat has a huge impact on the strength of your immune system. While it can be difficult to make healthy food choices while traveling, do your best to focus on fruits and vegetables to nourish and strengthen the body. Options are improving at airport grab-and-go stores, so reach for snacks like crunchy snap peas or easy-to-peel bananas and oranges. Fresh fruit and cheese or vegetables and hummus are great inflight options. Try to avoid salty foods like chips and roasted nuts as they can speed up dehydration, which already occurs as a result of the pressurized cabin environment.

 

Bring Your Own Bottle. The best and easiest way to stay hydrated is by bringing your own water bottle. Most airports have water bottle filling stations, which makes it easy to fill up before your plane boards. It is recommended to drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour of flight time. Skip the coffee and adult beverages — both speed up the dehydration process. Reach for tea over coffee. Most airlines have a couple basic tea options, but you can always bring your own tea bag and ask for hot water on the flight.

 

Stretch and Roll. If you suffer from regular joint pain, you might notice an increase in discomfort while flying.  This is because changes in air pressure can trigger an inflammatory response. Most airplane seats intensify pressure on your lower spine and have an odd angle for your neck, causing tension in muscles and stiffness in your back. Well-worn joints might be stable until crammed into tiny chairs and sitting for long periods of time. I always fly with an inflatable lumbar support pillow to prop behind my lower back, which does not take up much room in my bag and is easy to find online. I also usually travel with my collapsible foam roller (a great Christmas gift!) so once I get to my destination, I can roll out my muscles and fascia. Stretching and foam rolling can help rehydrate muscles, relieve muscle stiffness and make you feel great again! Short strolls down the aisle while in flight can keep your joints moving and ensure proper circulation.

 

Reach for Supplements. We are approaching peak flu season, so it’s worth taking a few extra precautions to keep yourself well. Start boosting your immune system two to three days before you fly and for a few days after you return. There are always options like airborne and emergen-C for general support. Vitamin C can boost your body’s ability to fight airborne germs and reduce symptoms or duration of a cold. Other options are oregano oil, elderberry, echinacea, green juice (with low to no sugar content), vitamin D and b-complex. Adaptagens like ashwagandha, licorice root, rhodiola and ginseng can help support stress and reduce symptoms of jet lag.

 

Wishing everyone safe travels – and good health — this holiday 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.

 

Thanksgiving Leftovers

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Did you know the average food shopper wastes 61 percent of the food he or she purchases? The hallmark of Thanksgiving is a dinner table covered with more food than you can possibly eat in one sitting. But the downside is that this holiday can also be top of the list when it comes to food waste. When it comes to meals, if you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail. To avoid facing a mountain of leftovers on November 24th, try some of these tips and tricks to help reduce waste and use your leftovers wisely.

 

Buy only what you need.

Go to the store prepared with a list of the food items you need. Try to make an accurate prediction of how much food you will need so you are not left with unnecessary amounts of leftovers that you cannot use.

 

Use the whole vegetable.

If you will be eating carrots, beets or turnips for example, you can eat both the root and the green. Rather than peeling veggies, leave the skin on. You will get more nutrients and reduce waste.

 

Compost your food scraps.

Many Thanksgiving leftovers can be turned into compost (with the exception of nuts, grains or meat). Composting benefits your own plants, the soil, and the environment. It improves the health of your plants, while also reducing pollution.

 

Freeze your leftovers.

If you cannot finish all of your food in a timely manner, freeze it for later use. A FoodSaver can package items so they can be kept frozen for longer periods, without the risk of freezer burn. Roasted turkey can be frozen for up to three months, but be sure to remove the meat from the bones first. Unlike other forms of cooked potatoes, mashed potatoes can be frozen for many months. However, the mashed potatoes should be well coated with a fat like butter (mashed potatoes made with just broth will not hold up well in the freezer).

 

Keep in mind that gravy is quite perishable and will only last about two days in the refrigerator. Flour-based turkey gravy can be frozen in ice cube trays for up to four months (milk-based gravies should not be frozen, as they will separate when thawed). Stuffing can be frozen for up to one month. In general, dishes made with pumpkin, sweet potato or squash should hold up in the freezer — especially if they have been pureed first. Rolls and bread will last for months in the freezer. Make sure to separate the rolls and freeze them individually.

 

Send your leftovers to someone in need.

If you have prepared foods that were not served, or packaged foods you did not eat, there are certain organizations that will distribute them to people in need. If your kids or grandkids are within driving distance, they can always take a goody bag home and take some leftovers off your hands.

 

Create new meals.

Get creative with your leftovers, repurposing them as soup, salad or healthy casseroles. Turkey is a lean meat that is low in fat and an excellent source of protein, so do not let it go to waste! Turkey provides tryptophan that helps the body make niacin and serotonin, which helps your mood.

 

Some recipes to consider are sweet potato hash browns, turkey pot pie with stuffing crust, turkey shepherd’s pie, leftover turkey quiche, turkey tortilla soup, southwest turkey lettuce wraps, curry turkey salad, sweet potato pancakes and next day turkey primavera.  The possibilities are truly endless.

 

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.  In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness.  Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro.  The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

 

 

 

 

Safer Cleaners

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

The cleaning products we bring into our homes can contribute to poor indoor air quality, and can expose us and our families to unnecessary chemicals that can contribute to chronic health issues. One of the easiest ways to start reducing exposures to harmful chemicals in the home is by swapping out your conventional household cleaners for brands that use safer, healthier ingredients.

 

When shopping for household cleaners of any kind, follow these guidelines to ensure you’re choosing safer options:

 

  • Shop for cleaning products at a natural foods store. While this is not a guarantee the products are totally safe and non-toxic, they will very likely be better than conventional cleaning products.
  • Rather than trying to memorize a long list of ingredients, focus on avoiding products containing the following ingredients.
    • Fragrance – a protected formula of undisclosed chemicals, often containing phthalates which are known hormone disruptors.
    • Triclosan – an antibacterial ingredient linked to hormone disruption, particularly of the thyroid.
    • Glycol Ethers – a class of solvents commonly used in household cleaners.
    • Ethoxylated ingredients – Chemicals with names ending in -eth, like laureth, ceteareth, Steareth-2, and any ingredients starting with PEG, as these may be contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane.
    • Methylisothiazolinone – a powerful biocide that is linked to nerve damage.
    • Bleach – extremely caustic respiratory irritant.

There is a lot of “greenwashing” in the cleaner industry — brands that market themselves as green and non-toxic but are not. Choose brands that have a full commitment to safer, non-toxic products, and avoid the “green” versions from mainstream brands. Healther brand options include:

 

  • Branch Basics
  • Mama Suds
  • EcoMe
  • Meliora
  • Molly’s Suds
  • Greenshield Organics
  • Attitude
  • Pure Natural
  • Better Life (some products in their line contain methylisothiazolinone – skip these)
  • Bon Ami

 

And for minimal time and financial investment, you can make your own cleaning products. The three fundamental ingredients for home cleaning are vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda. Small amounts of plant-derived essential oils can be used to boost antibacterial properties of any of these cleaners.

 

All Purpose Disinfectant
Mix together and add to a new, unused spray bottle:

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons rubbing alcohol
  • 8-10 drops essential oils of choice: (thyme, tea tree, lavender, oregano, clove, rosemary).

 

Floor Cleaner

Mix together:

  • 1 cup filtered or distilled water
  • ½ cup white distilled vinegar
  • ½ cup rubbing alcohol
  • 2-3 drops of dish soap (not Castile soap)
  • 20-30 drops essential oils of choice: (thyme, pine, spruce, lemon, tea tree, rosemary).

 

Sink & Shower Scrub

Mix together:

  • Baking soda
  • Liquid soap

 

Mix until you have a consistency that works for the surface you’re cleaning. Make only as much as you need as it does not keep well. Apply with a sponge and wipe off.

 

Microwave Ovens

Make a paste of 3-4 tablespoons baking soda mixed with water, and using a sponge, scrub as needed. Rinse with a clean sponge.

 

Cutting Boards

It’s not true that wood cutting boards harbor more germs than plastic ones. In fact, they’ve shown to have less germs than many plastic types. Disinfect either kind of cutting board by washing them with soap and water and then spraying them with a vinegar and/or hydrogen peroxide solution. Air dry. To remove stains, make a paste with baking soda, scrub, and rinse.

 

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. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Recipes for the Season of Sweet

Recipes for the Season of Sweet
By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

The holiday season can pose a challenge for people trying to adopt healthier eating habits.  If you find yourself questioning how you’re going to make it through this sweet-laden season, fear not. The good news is you can indulge (in moderation) without guilt. The key is not to deprive yourself of the sweet pleasures. Instead, find replacement recipes so you can enjoy your treats and stay healthy. Below are a few common holiday recipes made with healthier ingredients. You’ll still get the great taste, but you’ll also get nutrients that you won’t find in the sugar-filled standards.

Granny Smith Apple Crisp
Courtesy of: ElanasPantry.com

Filling:
4 large Granny Smith apples
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder

Topping:
1 cup blanched almond flour
¼ tsp. Celtic sea salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup

In a 1.5-quart Pyrex bowl, toss apples, honey and lemon juice. Stir water and arrowroot powder together and make a slurry, then toss into apple mixture. Pour apple mixture into 8”x8” glass baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, salt and cinnamon. In a small bowl, combine vanilla, coconut oil and honey. Stir wet ingredients into dry (mixture will be very crumbly). Sprinkle topping over apple mixture. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until apples are soft, and topping is golden brown.

Healthy Hot Chocolate

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 rounded tablespoon of cacao powder

Stevia to taste (about 15 drops of liquid stevia or one packet of stevia powder)

1 Tbsp of coconut butter (you can find this in health food stores or online)

Directions:
Whisk all ingredients together in saucepan making sure ingredients are blended well while heating on the stove top. Serve when hot.

 

Jules’ Banana Pudding
Courtesy: Paleo Comfort Foods

1 can coconut milk (Thai Organic is a good choice)

2 large egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract (without corn syrup)

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp coconut butter

3 really ripe bananas (almost black)

½ tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Whisk coconut milk, egg yolks and vanilla together over medium heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat.

In a small frying pan, heat the coconut oil and coconut butter over medium heat and add slightly mashed bananas along with cinnamon. You’re just cooking long enough to let bananas start to caramelize somewhat.

Pour the coconut milk and egg mixture into a food processor or blender along with the cooked bananas and process until smooth and creamy. Empty contents into a bowl and place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface. This will prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate to chill and serve topped with some sliced bananas.

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. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Back Pain

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.

 

 

 

Importance of 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:

Adult women under the age of 50 — 25 grams per day
Adult 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.

 

 

 

Seafood

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove
Seafood can be a great addition to a healthy diet, providing a great source of protein, and the heart, and brain-
healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But seafood can also carry a long list of chemicals that can render it unhealthy.

Due to widespread pollution, most types of seafood have some degree of contamination which is generally unavoidable. However, some types of seafood have such high levels of contaminants they qualify for seizure by the FDA.

Most consumer seafood guides rate fish based on sustainability (health of the population, environmental impact of fishing method, etc), but fail to consider the toxicity levels of those fish. Below are some guidelines to help you avoid the seafood with the highest level of contaminants and direct you toward healthier options.

Seafood to Avoid or Reduce Consumption of:
Tilefish, Swordfish, Shark, King Mackerel
These fish are the apex predators of the ocean and have some of the highest levels of the neurotoxic chemical methylmercury. Methylmercury exposure can result in a long list of serious health issues including autoimmune disorders, insomnia, memory loss, immune system damage, cognitive dysfunction, tingling in the extremities, seizures, depression, anxiety and delayed development. It’s best not to consume these fish.

Tuna
Tuna consumption is our primary exposure to the neurotoxic chemical methylmercury. Tuna are higher up on the ocean food chain and bioaccumulate toxins easily.
Atlantic Bluefin and Bigeye tuna, most commonly served as sushi tuna, have the highest levels of methylmercury of all tuna species and should be avoided, especially by women of childbearing age, and women who are pregnant or nursing.
Yellowfin & Albacore tuna are referred to as “chunk lite” and “white meat” respectively and are often found in canned tuna (although Yellowfin is also served as sushi). Both species of tuna have moderate levels of methylmercury. Limit consumption of this type of fish to 1-3 times per year, or never if you have known heavy metal issues.
Skipjack tuna is the smallest of the tuna species and therefore has the lowest amount of methylmercury contamination (although still much more than salmon). If you are going to eat any canned tuna, be sure it’s Skipjack, or that you’re buying the SafeCatch brand, which tests every fish for methylmercury levels. Children under 55 pounds should limit Skipjack tuna consumption to once per month.

Farmed Salmon
Most of the salmon in restaurants and grocery stores is farmed Atlantic salmon. Farmed salmon, no matter where it’s from, can have very high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PBC. These chemicals were banned decades ago due to their health effects, but because they are persistent in the environment are still found in animal foods. Similarly, farmed salmon can have high levels of dioxins, a potent carcinogen and hormone
disrupting chemical. Even imported salmon from places like Scotland and Norway are farmed, so pass on these as well.

Imported Shrimp
Most shrimp is imported from Southeast Asia, where regulations about fish farming are lax. Shrimp is notorious for being raised in filthy water, and is regularly dosed with antibiotics, pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals banned in other countries. Since the FDA inspects less than 2 percent of imported seafood, most of these contaminated shrimp pass freely into commerce. Shrimp farmed or caught domestically in the US are a healthier option. (There’s a vendor who catches shrimp off the Georgia coast every Thursday and sells them
fresh (not frozen) on Saturday at the Harmony Farmer’s Market.)

Tilapia
Tilapia is a popular mild tasting whitefish. Nearly all tilapia is farmed and can contain several contaminants like pesticides and antibiotics. Additionally, because of the feed given to farm raised tilapia (like corn and soy), they have a higher ratio of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. This renders the fish nutritionally inferior, and with the pesticides and antibiotics, not a good choice for consumption.

So, what seafood should you eat? SMASH is a handy acronym to help you choose fish with the highest nutritional value and lowest levels of contamination. SMASH fish are all shorter lived, lower on the food chain species that can make great alternatives to the more contaminated types of seafood. SMASH fish include:
Salmon (wild caught from the Pacific only)
Mackerel
Anchovies
Sardines*
Herring
*Some types of sardines can have higher levels of PCBs and should be consumed in moderation.
By keeping the SMASH acronym in mind the next time you’re at the grocery store, you can reap the nutritional benefits of seafood, while limiting toxicity and chemical exposure.

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.

Fall is in the Air

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Last Saturday marked the first day of fall. Temperatures are finally cooling off and soon the comforting and soothing scents of the season will be cropping up all around us. It’s time for pumpkin spice and everything nice!

While it’s easy to reach for candles and air fresheners to enhance those fall fragrances this time of year, these products may not be the healthiest choice. Many scented candles and air fresheners use synthetic perfumes. These perfumes are not aggressively regulated, so it’s difficult to know exactly what is being released into the air. On top of that, many candles and air fresheners contain phthalates. Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors that have been shown to play a role in hormone abnormalities and other health problems.

The good news is that it’s very easy – and a whole lot healthier – to make your own stovetop air fresheners from whole food ingredients. A basic stovetop potpourri made of spices, dried fruit peels, and extracts will fill your entire home with a wonderful toxic-free aroma that lasts throughout the day.

Additionally, simmering potpourri on the stove is a great way to add moisture to the air. I often leave mine on for an hour or two, replacing the water as needed. All of that extra moisture helps the heat to stay longer and carries the aroma throughout the house.

Below are several of my favorite simmering pot recipes.  Any of these recipes can be modified to suit your personal preference. There are an infinite number of combinations, so go ahead and experiment!

Be sure to discard the ingredients in the pot once the mix starts to smell or look “off.” (I’ve never simmered a stovetop potpourri for more than a week.) It also helps to have a dedicated pot for your stove top simmers, as cleaning the pot afterwards can be a chore and involve some scrubbing. This is definitely not something you want to do in your favorite pot!

Basic Fall Stovetop Simmer

  • 5 cups water
  • 2 navel oranges, peeled
  • 1 apple, sliced in half
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon-sized knob of fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel

Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan and heat over low heat until simmering. I have kept this going for a few hours, adding additional water when needed. You can also place everything in a small crockpot and set it on low or high with the top off.

Other variations:

Ginger Orange

  • 3 cups water (or enough to cover the fruit and spices)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 oranges cut into wedges or 1 cup dried orange peel or 2 cups fresh orange peel
  • ¼ cup grated or thinly sliced fresh ginger or 2 Tbs. dried ground ginger

Cinnamon Apple

  • 1 quart water (or enough to cover the fruit and spices)
  • 2 apples cut into slices or 1 cup dried apple peel or 2 cups fresh peels and/or cores, organic if possible
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 Tablespoons whole cloves or 1½ Tablespoon ground cloves (I think whole have a stronger scent and I love these cloves)

Apple Cider Chai

Winter Woods Simmering Pot

  • ½ cup juniper berries
  • 1 sprig thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 sprig rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary)

Ginger Citrus Simmering Pot

  • ¼ cup grated ginger (or 1 tablespoon ground ginger)
  • peel of 2 oranges
  • peel of 1 lemon
  • 1 bay leaf

Citrus

  • 1 Orange, Sliced
  • 1 Lemon, Sliced
  • Cranberry Bliss
  • 1 orange
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon cloves

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

Improve your balance to prevent falls
By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Here are a few sobering statistics: 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.

 

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.