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Keeping it Healthy When Eating Out

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Eating out is both a fun event and a social event, and an important part of life in the Lake Country. Many studies, however, have shown there is a significant link between dining out, overeating and poor food choices. So how do you eat out and still stay on track with your health goals? Here are a few tips to making better choices when dining out that won’t require you to give up your social life or turn down those dinner invitations. 

Substitute for success. Healthier options are always available, but you will likely have to swap out the unhealthy menu pairings that can ruin a great dish. Create your own meal around protein and vegetables. Scan the menu and then get creative; mix and match to make your own meal. Substitute extra vegetables instead of the pasta that comes with the fish or a side salad instead of french fries. When ordering an omelet ask for extra protein or vegetables instead of the toast. If ordering a sandwich or burger, ask for more of a “protein style,” such as a lettuce wrap or bed of lettuce instead of a bun.

Pay attention to preparation. Inquire about how the food is cooked and prepared. The way the food is cooked can make quite a difference in the amount of calories and nutrients it contains. Foods that have been grilled, roasted, poached or steamed are generally healthier options because these cooking processes require less oil and fat, and do not kill all the nutrients. Foods that are crispy, crunchy, fried, pan-fried, battered or sautéed in oil or sauce usually contain more calories, harmful ingredients and decrease the overall nutrient value. Instead of a fried vegetable, ask to have it grilled, steamed or roasted. Or, order your vegetable without the melted cheese or sauce that comes on top. 

Be the first to order. In social situations, people tend to subconsciously mimic each other, and dining out is no exception. Other people can influence our decisions and eating behaviors without us noticing, so go ahead and lead by example. If you are at a table with a group that is likely to order something that does not align with your healthy lifestyle choices, make sure you order first!

Order two appetizers instead of a main meal. Research has proven that people are more likely to overeat when they are served larger portions. When you know you are going to a restaurant where the portions are huge, try ordering two appetizers or an appetizer and a side, instead of a main course that you might tempted to finish. This trick can help you fill up without leaving you uncomfortably full, wasting food or going overboard on calories.

Move it to the side. Ask for sauces and dressings on the side, as these can add a lot of extra calories to a dish. For example, just two tablespoons of ranch dressing adds about 150 extra calories. Keeping the dressing on the side allows you to control the amount you eat. Another option is skip the premade dressings and just use olive oil and vinegar with salt and pepper.

Practice mindfulness at your meal. Trying to be mindful while eating can help improve your self-control and prevent overeating. Mindful eating means giving your full attention to your meal, meal choices and the eating process. Take the time to savor the flavors and the smells of your meal. Try putting your fork down between bites, which will slow you down so you can enjoy the eating process. Mindful eating has been linked to healthier food choices and more enjoyment. 

Chew on this. Digestion starts in the mouth. When you chew your food properly, your body releases digestive enzymes in the mouth and stomach that help break down your food so it can be converted into energy. When food is not broken down or digested you could suffer from issues such as constipation, low energy, heart burn, indigestion and headaches. Make sure you are swallowing the tiniest pieces possible. According to experts at Ohio State University, dense foods like meats and raw vegetables should be chewed up to 30 times before swallowing and softer foods 10 times. Chewing your food thoroughly can also slow down the eating process, increase nutrient absorption and prevent overeating. 

Above all else, be flexible with your food choices and be conscious how that meal will fit into your overall health and wellness goals. If you follow healthy lifestyle habits and meal patterns most of the time, go ahead and treat yourself. Moderation is key to success, and even moderation should be done in moderation. An occasional indulgence can be good for the soul.

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

Turmeric – A Spicy Powerhouse

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Herbs and spices have been used throughout the ages, not only to enhance the flavor of foods, but also for improving health and fighting disease. These low-calorie powerhouses have incredible health benefits due to their anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant activity. In fact, herbs and spices have more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables, and allow you to add more flavor without adding salt, sugar or fat.

 

One of the best spices for improving your health is turmeric. Commonly used in Indian curries, turmeric is part of the ginger family and comes from the root of the Curcuma plant. The main active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has potent anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation, if left untreated, can become a chronic health issue. And unlike aspirin or ibuprofen, curcumin reduces inflammation naturally, without damaging the liver or kidneys.

 

Here are some of the top health benefits of turmeric supported by research:

 

Arthritis. One recent study found that osteoarthritis patients who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan experienced reduced pain and increased mobility. Another study done with patients suffering with active rheumatoid arthritis showed significant reduction in tenderness and swelling of the joints when using curcumin. The study also pointed out that curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not have any adverse side effects.

 

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Many studies are being done on the effectiveness of turmeric for preventing and treating Alzheimer’s. Curcumin has been shown to help with reducing the amyloid plaques, or “tangles” of protein in the brain, associated with the disease. Curcumin also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that benefit the brain tissue. One study published in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology found turmeric helped improve the memory of patients with AD. There is no real treatment for AD, so prevention is key. Eating a low-inflammatory diet consisting of vegetables, fruits and lean meats, and spicing your foods with turmeric, is a great place to start.

 

Depression. Studies show curcumin can help increase levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a type of growth hormone in the brain linked to depression. Increasing levels of BDNF with curcumin has been shown to help fight depression. Other studies have shown curcumin can boost serotonin and dopamine levels, which also helps in reducing depression. One study found curcumin was as effective as Prozac in helping improve depression symptoms.

 

Heart Disease. Turmeric has been shown to reduce the oxidation of cholesterol in the body, which causes the plaques that lead to heart attack and stroke. Turmeric also contains vitamin B6, which helps reduce the homocysteine levels that can lead to increased heart disease risk. Other heart healthy benefits of turmeric include its ability to lower total cholesterol, raise HDL (”good” cholesterol) and lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol). One study showed an 11.63 percent decrease in total cholesterol, a 33 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol, and a 29 percent increase in HDL cholesterol when volunteers took 500mg of curcumin daily for seven days. Turmeric has also been shown to significantly lower triglycerides. 

 

Cancer. There are many studies that have been done on the benefits of curcumin in cancer treatment. Even PubMed, which provides the quality control in scientific publishing, acknowledges curcumin’s anti-cancer abilities. One study at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found curcumin was able to differentiate cancer cells from normal healthy cells and create apoptosis (cell death) in only the cancer cells. Curcumin was also able to improve the health of non-cancerous cells. 

 

Further research is also suggesting turmeric may be a promising therapy for other conditions, including Parkinson’s, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome and gingivitis.

 

Turmeric can easily be incorporated into your diet and has an earthy, peppery flavor. Add it to sautéed or roasted vegetables (such as cauliflower and broccoli), salad dressings, smoothies, fish, chicken, red meat, and soups — especially lentil soup. Just be sure to use turmeric rather than curry powder, since a study found that pure turmeric powder had the highest concentration of curcumin. It is important to use the spice in conjunction with healthy fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, ghee (clarified butter) or coconut milk, as the fats help increase absorption. Using black pepper with turmeric also helps to improve absorption. 

 

You can buy organic turmeric powder at the grocery store in the spice section, or fresh in the produce section near the ginger. The raw root herb is usually a few inches long, has a tough brown skin, deep orange flesh and fragrance that resembles a combination of orange and ginger. One caution: curcumin is a very potent yellow pigment and can permanently discolor surfaces when chopping if you aren’t careful.

 

Many people choose to take turmeric in a supplement form. I have had great success recommending supplements containing turmeric to my patients. It has been approved by the FDA, and doses of around 200 to 400mg daily for prolonged periods have been found to be safe and beneficial. If you have a chronic inflammatory condition, you may want to take about 1,800mg per day. Again, for best absorption make sure to take your supplement with a healthy fat such as coconut oil or olive oil, or take your supplement with a meal that contains healthy fats.

 

Turmeric can impact your platelet activity, so if you are scheduled for surgery, or use a blood thinner such as Coumadin, you may want to avoid turmeric and make sure to discuss your use of turmeric with your doctor.

 

The health benefits of turmeric are many and undeniable. This spice should be at the top of the list for anyone looking to improve her health in a natural, drug-free way.

Gluten Free Valentine Treat

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Valentine’s Day and sweet treats go hand in hand. But if gluten tends to be something you avoid for health reasons, navigating your way through this day of love can be daunting. The good news is, it is possible to enjoy delicious gluten-free, low-sugar treats this time of year. Gluten-free baking is not as difficult as you might think and is often a matter of just switching an ingredient or two. Whether you are celiac, gluten-free, gluten-sensitive, gluten-intolerant or just want to try a new recipe, here are a fewer options for your valentine:

 

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

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

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

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

No-Bake Dark Chocolate Energy Bites
Ingredients:
9-ounce package dairy-free dark chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand)
1 ounce freeze-dried strawberries
¼ cup favorite protein powder
½ cup cashew butter
6 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp fig balsamic

Directions:
Melt chocolate chips on low flame, stirring occasionally about 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Puree freeze-dried strawberries in the food processor until they are fully powdered. Mix together melted chocolate, powdered freeze-dried strawberries, protein powder, cashew butter, maple syrup and fig balsamic. Mix with a stand or hand mixer. 

Use a mini cookie scoop to measure out the dough and roll between hands to form balls. (If your dough is too dry, add equal amounts of cashew butter and maple syrup to soften). Roll into 20 balls and put on a cookie sheet covered in wax or parchment paper in the fridge until they harden, approximately 20 minutes. Store in airtight container in the fridge. 

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.

 

Stay Healthy with Healthy Gut

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Your digestive system, commonly referred to as your “gut,” contains both beneficial and harmful bacteria.  These bacteria help metabolize the food we eat and assist in digestion, but they also play a larger role in our overall health. 

 

Countless research studies have shown that a healthy gut may positively influence your immune system, sleep, mood, and the activity of hundreds of your genes, while reducing the risk for sickness and disease. 

 

Gut bacteria are an active and integrated part of the body and are heavily dependent on diet and vulnerable to lifestyle. The perfect balance should be approximately 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria. If this ratio gets out of balance, it affects the body in a negative way. By consuming certain types of foods, called prebiotics and probiotics, you can help bring these ratios back into balance. 

 

Prebiotics – Reach for the Fiber

 

Scientific literature indicates that increasing prebiotic fiber intake supports bone density, bowel movement regularity, weight management, immunity, brain health and digestive health. 

 

Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fiber compound found in fiber-rich foods.  These prebiotic compounds go through the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract undigested since the human body cannot fully break them down. Once they pass through the small intestine, they reach the colon where they are fermented by the gut microflora. The fermentation process feeds beneficial bacteria colonies (including probiotic bacteria) and helps to increase the number of desirable bacteria in our digestive system. 

 

The best prebiotic fiber is found in raw, whole foods. The following foods help add prebiotic fiber to your diet and improve your overall health:

 

  • Raw or cooked onions
  • Raw garlic
  • Raw leeks
  • Raw asparagus
  • Green peas
  • Snow peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Red kidney beans
  • Yams
  • Nectarines
  • Persimmon
  • Grapefruit
  • Under-ripe bananas
  • Couscous
  • Raw jicama
  • Raw cashews
  • Raw pistachios
  • Seaweed
  • Raw dandelion greens
  • Chicory root 

 

There are many ways to begin incorporating these foods into your diet. Bananas that are not yet fully ripe (still green) are not soft and sweet tasting, but work well in smoothies or warmed up as a dessert. Raw asparagus or jicama can be thinly sliced and thrown in a salad for added crunch. Try using raw garlic in dips, homemade salsa, spreads and tomato salads. 

 

In general, women should be getting 25 grams of fiber per day and men should be getting 35 grams per day. Most people, unfortunately, are only getting about 15 grams per day. 

 

It is not always possible to eat enough foods rich in prebiotic fiber to nourish your beneficial bacteria. If you are looking for a healthy way to supplement or add to your fiber intake beyond whole foods, organic whole-husk psyllium is a simple, cost-effective way to do it. (Be careful not to increase fiber intake too rapidly, as it can cause bloating, constipation and gas.)

 

Probiotics –  The Beneficial Bacteria

 

Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that are naturally created by the process of fermentation in foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and yogurt. Probiotics are most commonly consumed in pill form, yet are also available as an added ingredient in health drinks, such as kombucha, and some foods, such as miso soup.

 

Probiotics are most commonly recommended by health professionals in supplement form to patients on antibiotics in an attempt to repopulate the colon with desirable bacteria after the course of antibiotics has wiped out both beneficial and undesirable bacteria. Besides antibiotics, your gut bacteria are also very sensitive to chlorinated water, antibacterial soap, alcohol (except red wine), smoking, poor sleep habits, emotional stress, sugar consumption, environmental pollution and agricultural chemicals. 

 

Fermented foods are the best way to consume probiotics and achieve optimal digestive health — two tablespoons per day is ideal. Apple cider vinegar is a great source of healthy acids that support the function of probiotics and can easily be added to salad dressing or beverages. You can also reach for traditionally-made fermented foods including various pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, carrots and okra. If you choose to drink kombucha or kefir, be sure to choose a version without high amounts of added sugar. 

 

If you regularly eat fermented foods that have not been pasteurized (pasteurization kills naturally occurring probiotics), your gut bacteria will thrive. If you do not eat fermented foods or drinks, taking a high quality probiotic supplement is recommended. But, keep in mind, supplement quality counts.  The bacteria in probiotic supplements are only effective if they are alive. Probiotic supplements will be ineffective if the bacteria are killed by time, heat or stomach acid.

 

Getting prebiotic fiber and probiotic bacteria from real whole foods is always going to be your best option. Supplementation should not take priority over eating a balanced, healthy diet. If you are interested in supplementing with a quality probiotic, contact our office. We carry supplements from highly-researched, provider-based companies only. 

 

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 Benefits of Plants

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Studies show we spend close to 92 percent of our day indoors.  What’s more, certain air pollutants are 100 times more concentrated in our homes than they are outside. This means the quality of the indoor air we breathe is important for our overall health.

Indoor air pollution occurs when certain pollutants from particles and gases contaminate the air of indoor areas.  These toxic particles and gases, called volatile organic compounds (VOC), are released from the synthetic materials in our daily spaces, including carpets, vinyl floors, cleaning products, air fresheners, paint, upholstery fabrics and more.  Two of the most common indoor VOC examples are benzene, found in some plastics, fabrics, pesticides and cigarette smoke, and formaldehyde found in some cosmetics, dish detergent, fabric softener and carpet cleaners. 

 

Walking into a home or office building is not likely to make you sick immediately but, over time, your body can absorb potentially toxic substances in the air. Exposure to indoor air pollution can resemble symptoms similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, including headache, scratchy throat, dizziness, fatigue, runny nose and itchy watery eyes. These symptoms usually disappear within a couple hours after leaving the polluted environment.

 

While we are exposed to indoor air pollution daily, the good news is you don’t need to invest in expensive air filtration and ventilation systems.  There is another very practical and affordable way to clean the air indoors: houseplants.

 

Studies conducted at the University of Georgia, Pennsylvania State University and NASA have all demonstrated that potted plants in the home can absorb harmful chemicals through their leaves and roots. In a study with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, NASA researchers discovered that indoor plants were able to remove up to 87 percent of air toxins within 24 hours. 

 

There are other benefits to houseplants, as well. Researchers at The Royal College of Agriculture found students were more attentive and more likely to return to class if there were plants in the lecture halls. The Agricultural University of Norway found potted plants reduced stress in office workers and lowered the number of sick days taken. Additionally, they found plants in the workplace decreased fatigue and increased productivity. 

 

Experts recommend one plant (6 to 8 inches in diameter) for every 100 square feet. In office buildings, they recommend one large plant for every two employees. While that may sound like an excessive number of plants for a large house or building, keep in mind having some plants is better than having none at all. When adding plants to your home or office, be sure to purchase them in clay pots, as plastic pots can release VOCs. 


Here are five of the most beneficial houseplants for improving indoor air quality:

 

Peace Lily

This tropical plant breaks down and neutralizes toxic gases like benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. This is a great choice to add to your office, as some studies show they absorb electromagnetic radiation from digital devices. They acclimate to a variety of indoor environments, do not require much light, and droop when water is needed. 

 

English Ivy

A common outside climbing plant, this ivy may reduce the amount of mold in the air inside your home, as well as absorb toxins from cigarette smoke. It is said to be fantastic for asthma and allergies. It is easy to grow and care for but can he harmful if eaten, so it is wise to keep the plant away from pets and children.

 

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant
This plant is easy to care for and grows well with little maintenance. It increases the oxygen supply in the room, removes benzene, nitric oxide and formaldehyde. Do not overwater this plant, as it will rot if the soil is moist for too long.  This plant may also be toxic when ingested, so take care if you have pets and children.

 

Bamboo, Reed or Lady Palm
This plant thrives in low light and easily tolerates the warm and cool air conditions of the home environment. It readily absorbs out-gassing from furniture, so if you have purchased a new chair or couch you may want to decorate with this palm. It can grow up to 6 feet tall and add elegance to any room.

 

Aloe Vera
Aloe is well known for its healing properties and is especially soothing for burns. However, it is also known to remove formaldehyde from the air.  Aloe is a smart choice for a sunny kitchen window.

 

Adding just a few potted plants can go a long way toward improving your indoor air quality and reducing health risks. 

 

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

Coffee

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

According to the National Coffee Association, 83% of American adults drink an average of two cups of coffee a day. In fact, the United States spends about $4 billion a year importing coffee, and coffee is considered the world’s second most valuable trade commodity behind petroleum. 

So, coffee definitely has a wide fan base. But is coffee good for your health?  

Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system. The amount of caffeine in coffee varies dramatically depending on the bean used and the method by which the coffee is brewed. Dark roasts have a stronger, bolder flavor, but contains about 15 to 20 percent less caffeine than light roasts of the same variety.  This is because the roasting process of the bean reduces the caffeine content. 

 

An average eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee from ground beans contains about 90-100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine compared to a cup of green tea that has about 40-50 mg or Coca-Cola, which has 45 mg. One-ounce of espresso contains about 30-50 mg of caffeine.  Decaf coffee in the United States must be 97 percent caffeine-free, meaning an eight ounce cup will still have 5-10 milligrams of caffeine. 

 

Coffee can increase mental and physical performance and temporarily restore alertness, thereby increasing motivation and productivity. Coffee also increases blood flow to the brain, thereby increasing brain activity. Coffee can also be a performance enhancer and can contribute to higher stamina and concentration. One report, published by the School of Sport and Exercise Science, found athletic performance times were significantly faster among adult men who drank coffee prior to exercising compared to the placebo group, who drank decaf.

 

Coffee also contains a high source of antioxidants. When antioxidants are increased in the blood, it helps fight free radicals that can be damaging to the body. Coffee contains polyphenols, which are the same kind of antioxidants found in red wine and cocoa. These antioxidants may attribute to lowering oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially lowering your risk for disease.

 

There are potential drawbacks to coffee that are worth considering. The caffeine in coffee can leave some people feeling anxious and jittery. Additionally, consuming too much caffeine can have addictive side effects. Personal tolerance to caffeine is another factor to consider. For those prone to sleep-related problems, anxiety and heart palpitations, coffee might need to be off limits. People with low stomach acid or those who battle heartburn symptoms might be bothered by coffee, as well. 

 

Since coffee contains caffeine, which alters your physiology and mood, it also has the ability to impact hormones and neurotransmitter function. Many people use coffee to mask fatigue and exhaustion from working long, tiring days. When caffeine is used to keep you going, or you depend on it to wake up, it may disguise underlying fatigue that may be coming from another health condition or end up causing one from lack of rest. Sometimes your body needs rest and time to reboot when you are worn out. 

 

Black coffee is a better choice than energy drinks, soda, sweet teas and juices. Black coffee contains no sugar or carbs and minimal calories. Usually it’s what people add to their coffee that makes it unhealthy. If you do drink coffee, try to have it black or sweetened with organic cane sugar or stevia. For those who prefer milk in their coffee, reach for “no sugar added” nut milks (almond, cashew etc.), coconut milk or rice milk. 

 

“Bulletproof coffee” has recently been gaining in popularity. To make bulletproof coffee, take 1 to 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter or ghee, 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 1 to 2 cups of hot coffee and mix in a blender for 20-30 seconds until frothy. Bulletproof coffee can trigger weight loss by activating ketosis, a metabolic state generated by lack of carbs that stimulates the body to burn fat as a source of energy. This coffee mixture can also be a great way to get healthy fats first thing in the morning, suppress hunger or decrease cravings while providing energy without the sugar spike and crash.

 

Some people maintain cold-brewed coffee is healthier than regular, hot-brewed coffee. Cold-brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in room temperature, or cold water, for an extended period of time (8-24 hours). Advocates claim cold brew coffee is up to 60% less acidic than typical hot coffee. Less acidic coffee can have a smoother taste and be better for teeth enamel and stomach acid balance. It also keeps fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

 

Nitro coffee is cold brewed coffee put into a keg and infused with nitrogen gas. It offers that frothy and bubbly taste straight from the tap and does not contain (or really need) milk or sugar. Nitro coffee is less acidic than traditional hot coffee and includes about 30 percent more caffeine. Nitro coffee is becoming widely available in bottles and cans, so you can enjoy this trendy coffee at home or in the office.

 

Whether or not coffee is good for your health depends on your own body and how well you are able to tolerate it. If you do not have any issues consuming it, it’s safe to indulge in a cup. 

Massage Devices

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

With the current pandemic, more and more people are turning to self-care measures at home. As a result, I have noticed that at-home massage devices have been growing in popularity. If you recently gained a massage gun over the holidays or have already purchased one of these popular soft tissue tools, it’s important to know the best ways to use these devices in order to experience relief and avoid injury.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Himalayan Salt Lamps

Himalayan Salt Lamps

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Himalayan salt lamps have grown in popularity in recent years, but you might have wondered what exactly is the purpose of these large chunks of glowing pink rock?

Salt lamps, also known as rock salt lamps, are made from large chunks of Himalayan salt that have been hollowed out.  A light bulb is then placed inside the salt to emit light and heat. Deep mines in the western edge of the Himalayan Mountains are the only source of true pink Himalayan salt. Oftentimes, these lamps are purchased for the pleasant glow they emit, but they actually provide numerous health benefits, as well.

First and foremost, salt lamps can help remove contaminants and allergens from the air, which is helpful for those with seasonal allergies and asthma. While salt lamps may not completely “cure” these conditions, they can help to significantly reduce symptoms. The lamp also acts as a deodorizer, leaving you with fresher air to breathe inside.

How exactly does a salt lamp remove air contaminants? Water vapor in the air carries indoor air pollutants like mold, dust, pollen, cigarette smoke, pet dander and other allergens. Salt is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts water molecules to itself. Once the water vapor comes in contact with the salt lamp, pollutants remain trapped in the salt. Since the salt lamp is heated, the salt dries out and is able to continue the cycle of attracting water vapor and pollutants and releasing clean water vapor back into the air. 

Salt lamps can also help reduce electromagnetic field radiation (EMF).  These days, many things around us release EMFs in the form of unhealthy positive ions, such as cell phones, computers and televisions. EMFs may be invisible to the naked eye but constant exposure is believed to increase stress and inflammation in the body, while causing side effects like fatigue and a weakened immune system. There have been numerous studies on the toxic effects of EMFs, and scientists have concluded “chronic exposure to low-level radiation [from cell phones, for example] can cause dementia, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and a variety of cancers.”


One way to neutralize electromagnetic field radiation is to increase your exposure to negative ions. Salt lamps are natural negative ionizers. When the gentle heat from the lamp warms the salt crystal, the salt emits a negative electrical charge, helping to counter the harmful positive ions from EMF radiation.

Himalayan salt lamps have been shown to help reduce anxiety symptoms. The warm, pinkish glow of salt lamps is calming and brings a happy presence into a room. The negative ions released by salt lamps are also believed to increase serotonin levels in the brain, boosting mood, increasing energy, and helping to relieve stress and depression. Many people find having a salt lamp in their bedroom produces a calming atmosphere that encourages sleep and focus.

Salt lamps can often be found at health food stores, and stores like Homegoods; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Whole Foods and Amazon. When purchasing a salt lamp, be sure to take into consideration the size of room you are planning to use the lamp in. To effectively cleanse the air of a space, you need one pound of salt rock for every 16 square feet. You may need to use multiple salt lamps in larger, open rooms.

Keep salt lamps away from household moisture like showers, dishwashers, washing machines or window seals, because prolonged exposure to high humidity will cause the salt to melt. Always practice proper safety as well, keeping your lamp in a place where a child cannot pull or knock it down — salt lamps tend to be heavy! Make sure your light bulb is not too strong, which will cause the salt lamp to overheat. A night light sized bulb works just fine. You can check the heat of your lamp by touching the salt. The lamp should only be turned on while you are in the room or the house. 

So, choose a room where you spend the most time, whether that is your bedroom, living room, kitchen, or home office, and try using a salt lamp.  Getting started is as easy as just plugging it in. Not only do salt lamps make a beautiful addition to your home or office, your health may enjoy a boost, as well. 

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 Benefit of Frankincense Oil

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

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

 

But can this ancient oil still benefit us today? 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Frankincense is just one of hundreds of essential oils that can be used to heal the body and promote overall health. 

 

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, call the Pathways to Healing office at 706-454-2040. If you would like to know what brands we trust, please email us at pathwaysth@gmail.com.

 

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 Gratitude

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. 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.