A Fitter You = A Better Fighter Against COVID-19 Complications

To Your Health
February, 2021 (Vol. 15, Issue 02)

By Editorial Staff

While vaccine seems destined to remain the buzzword when it comes to COVID, let’s not forget about natural options that, while they may not prevent COVID-19 infection, appear to reduce the chances you’ll suffer serious consequences if you do end up contracting the virus.

The researchers’ conclusion, published along with their findings in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, makes the value of these study results clear: “Maximal exercise capacity is independently and inversely associated with the likelihood of hospitalization due to COVID-19. These data further support the important relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and health outcomes.”

respiratory infection - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

It’s Time for Better Sleep

To Your Health
May, 2020 (Vol. 14, Issue 05)

By Editorial Staff

OK, quick quiz: How much has your sleep been affected during the coronavirus pandemic? We’re not just talking about the amount of sleep; after all, some people may actually be getting more sleep than usual if they’ve been out of work, restricted in where they can go, etc.

Then again, losing your job or spending more time glued to the COVID-19 updates on TV or your cellphone probably isn’t helping your stress levels, which isn’t helping you sleep, either.

Here’s question #2: How well are you sleeping? Sleeping for eight hours a night and sleeping well for eight hours are two entirely different things. You can hit the bed at 10 p.m. and roll out of bed at 6 a.m., but those eight hours may have been filled with tossing, turning, stressing, thinking and never getting to the deep, restorative sleep your body and brain need.

If any of the above applies to you, and we’re certain it applies to literally millions of people these days, it’s time to do something about it. It’s time for better sleep. Here’s a simple three-step plan to do it:

1. Tune It Out: We know this can be easier said than done, but we all need to try. Particularly in today’s social-media-driven world, it’s far too easy to get news, opinions, and conversations at your fingertips, 24/7. The more we tune in, the more we take in, obsess about, reflect upon; and all that information stays in our brains, even as we try to get to sleep. Tips: Pick a few times during the day to review the latest news, check your social media, etc. Ignore the rest. Most of all, don’t tune in right before bed, or you’ll be up all night thinking, instead of resting.

bad sleep - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

2. Block It Out: We live in a fashion-over-function world, and our homes are a great example. We’re inundated with home renovation shows that teach us to crave a certain “look,” even if that look doesn’t deliver the function we need. Does your bedding look amazing … but keep you hot (or cold) all night? Do your window treatments keep your bedroom dark – we mean really dark – all night? Do you have a high-tech flat-screen TV mounted on your bedroom wall … that you tend to watch into the wee hours? Tips: If you’re going to achieve quality sleep, your bedroom has to be a help, not a hindrance. Fashion without function in your bedroom equals restless nights that will compromise your health.

3. Calm It Down: We’ve already told you to tune it out a few hours before bedtime; but you have to take it a big step beyond TV and technology. Much like a car, your body has trouble going from 100 miles an hour to a complete stop; it needs a slow, gradual deceleration. Unfortunately, when it comes to eating and exercise habits, too many people make a similar mistake. Eating or exercising right before bed essentially puts your body into overdrive, rather than slowing it down.

In the case of exercise, your muscles are initiating the repair process, rather than resting. In the case of food, your body is starting the digestion process. Either way, it’s a poor way to wind down. Tips: Try to exercise / eat your last meal of the day at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Also keep in mind that if your last meal is particularly greasy, fatty, sugary or fibrous, it could compromise sleep before it even gets started.

Sleep is rapidly being recognized as a major factor in overall health and wellness, with chronic poor sleep linked to a higher risk of numerous health issues. But don’t take our word for it; just reflect on how your body feels after a poor night’s sleep. Now extrapolate that to weeks, months or even years of inadequate, poor-quality sleep. Talk to your doctor for more information.

3 Reasons to See Your Chiropractor (Now More Than Ever)

To Your Health
May, 2020 (Vol. 14, Issue 05)

By Editorial Staff

Here are three reasons why you should be making an appointment (either in person or via telemedicine, depending on what’s available right now in your area) with your chiropractor today:

1. You’ve been ignoring pain: And you’re not the only one. With stay-at-home orders in place for the past few months, most health care facilities have closed their doors to all but emergency cases. Unfortunately, pain isn’t generally regarded as an emergency, particularly not things like back pain, neck pain, headaches, etc. At the same time pain services have been limited, more people have likely experienced pain, and for several reasons: stress, inactivity, improper remote work set-up, etc. That means many people have been putting up with pain – or popping pills for temporary relief that doesn’t address the underlying cause.

If you haven’t experienced any pain, you should still make an appointment with your chiropractor, especially if you have a history of back pain. That’s because research suggests maintenance care – periodic visits to your chiropractor, even when you aren’t experiencing pain –  reduces the number of days you’ll be bothered by the pain: nearly 13 fewer days a year.

doctor's appointment - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

2. Immune support matters: COVID-19 is opening people’s eyes to a few realities. First, your immune system is pretty powerful. In fact, it’s constantly defending the body against attack by all sorts of viruses and other invaders. Most of the time, it’s very good at its job. But if you’re old, sick or otherwise immunocompromised, you risk experiencing complications from viral invasion — as we’ve seen during the pandemic, and as we see with other viruses, such as the flu.

You Can’t Beat a Strong Immune System

By Editorial Staff

To Your Health
March, 2020 (Vol. 14, Issue 03)

There’s a great deal we don’t know about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), but we do know if you’re a senior or someone with a significant health condition, you’re at greater risk for complications. What’s the common denominator in people who seem to have major problems with COVID-19: a weakened immune system – either weakened naturally by age or weakened because of a disease-compromised immune system.

Now here’s what we know in general about the human immune system: It responds quite favorably to certain nutrients available either in the diet and/or via supplementation. In other words, the immune system can get stronger. And people with stronger immune systems tend to fight back powerfully against the flu virus; so why not coronavirus? Here are some of the key micronutrients that can help boost your immune system, courtesy of longtime nutrition contributor and doctor of chiropractic, Dr. James Meschino. Always make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.

Immune cells have a high requirement for antioxidants – especially vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene. Many immune cells (i.e. , neutrophils) use these antioxidants to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals to kill viruses and other microbes. Immune cells also require antioxidants to protect themselves against the ROS they produce. With suboptimal antioxidant status, immune cells cannot kill viruses as effectively and they cannot protect themselves from the ROS they generate. The high ROS levels, in turn, damage immune cells and they become less effective or immunosuppressed.

Vitamin C

virus protection - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

As an example, a 2017 study reviewed all the available studies looking at the role of vitamin C on the immune system. The researchers cited the research showing that the ingestion of 250 mg per day of vitamin C in otherwise healthy people helps to enhance many important aspects of immune function. As we get older and immune function declines, some studies suggest that the combination of 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day and 200 IU of vitamin E per day improves immune function in people over 60. Thus, higher doses are required as we age.

Here is a quote from the research paper itself regarding lung infections, pneumonia and vitamin C: “Beneficial effects of vitamin C on recovery have been noted in pneumonia. In elderly people hospitalized because of pneumonia, who were determined to have very low vitamin C levels, administration of vitamin C reduced the respiratory symptom score in the more severe patients. In other pneumonia patients, low-dose vitamin C (250 – 800 mg/day) reduced the hospital stay by 19% compared with no vitamin C supplementation, whereas the higher-dose group (500 – 1600 mg/day) reduced the duration (hospital stay) by 36%. Vitamin C supplementation also showed a positive effect on the normalization of chest X-ray, temperature, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (a marker of inflammation and infection). Since prophylactic vitamin C administration also appears to decrease the risk of developing more serious respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, it is likely that the low vitamin C levels observed during respiratory infections are both a cause and a consequence of the disease.”

Editor’s Note: Interestingly, preliminary reports out of Wuhan, China, the reported site of the first COVID-19 outbreak, suggest high-dose vitamin C is being used effectively to treat patients with coronavirus.

Vitamin D

An excellent review of how vitamin D works to strengthen the immune system against acute respiratory tract infections was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in 2010. These researchers performed a placebo-controlled, double-blind study involving 164 young men (18-24 years of age) undergoing compulsory periodic military training. Men given 400 IU of vitamin D per day during the six-month training period had significantly fewer respiratory tract infections and related fewer days of absenteeism from training compared to the recruits who ingested the placebo.

In this published paper, the researchers explained a novel way in which vitamin D affects immunity with respect to the prevention of respiratory tract infections. They explain that immune cells that line the respiratory tract have vitamin D receptors, which allows vitamin D to enter these immune cells. Once inside the immune cell vitamin D is converted to a more potent form of vitamin D, which is then transported to the nucleus of the cell.

Within the cell nucleus, vitamin D modulates specific genes involved in immunity. One of the gene effects is that vitamin D increases the secretion of a virus-killing molecule known as cathelicidin. As immune cells interact with various microbes, including viruses, in the respiratory tract, cathelicidin punctures a hole in the viral and/or bacterial cell membrane, destroying the invader and thus, preventing infection.

As such, lower vitamin D blood levels result in lower secretions of cathelicidin with resulting reduced anti-viral fighting abilities of the immune cells that line the respiratory tract.

Note: Some people need to be extra cautious with vitamin D supplements. These individuals include those with active tuberculosis, individuals with sarcoidosis (an autoimmune condition), lymphoma, and primary hyperparathyroidism. In each of these cases the body is often synthesizing very high amounts of vitamin D as a result of the disease. Taking additional vitamin D can easily cause vitamin D toxicity in these cases.

Editor’s Note: Former CDC Director  Dr. Tom Frieden recently suggested vitamin D could help boost the immune system as part of the discussion about potentially preventing and/or treating COVID-19.

Other Micronutrients of Importance

Other antioxidants have also been shown to be critical to immune function. For example, supplementation of healthy individuals over age 60 with 200 IU vitamin E per day improved many aspects of immune function and reversed some key age-related features of immune system decline.  In short, they had more youthful immune function with vitamin E supplementation.

Supplementation with other nutrients has also shown improved immune function in human subjects, including zinc and beta-carotene.  As well, animal studies show the importance of selenium to immune function.

Various researchers have conducted research providing healthy elderly individuals with supplement combinations such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E, or with a multiple vitamin/trace mineral supplement.  In many of these studies, the participants ingesting the supplements showed improved function of many immune parameters compared to their baseline values and compared to those who ingested the placebo.

Moreover, human and animal studies have proven that even marginal deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals cause a significant decline in immune function or immunocompetence. These nutrients include vitamin A, beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, riboflavin, iron, zinc, and selenium. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) show that many people are walking around with marginal deficiencies of some of these nutrients unless they are taking a well formulated multiple vitamin and mineral supplement.

Weight Loss 101: Slow Things Down

To Your Health
March, 2018 (Vol. 12, Issue 03)

By Editorial Staff

When it comes to weight loss, we often hear about the need to speed things up – train faster, train harder, train with more intensity and pace to burn as many calories and as much fat as possible. Well, research actually suggests slowing down may be a beneficial way to lose weight, too, in at least one circumstance: while eating.

Researchers compared nearly 60,000 type 2 diabetics in a study designed to determine whether eating speed was connected to weight (excess weight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, among other health problems). All participants self-reported themselves as fast, normal speed or slow eaters. Based on these classifications and periodic checkups during the six-year study period, the researchers discovered that normal-speed eaters were 29 percent more likely to be obese compared to slow eaters. Fast eaters were even more likely to be obese: 42 percent more likely compared to slow eaters.

slow down - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

While the study, published in BMJ Open, does not establish a causal relationship between eating speed and obesity (meaning eating speed did not necessarily cause obesity), the authors emphasize that people who eat faster may end up eating more than slower eaters because the former don’t realize they’re full until they’ve overconsumed. Talk to your doctor for more information about dietary and exercise factors linked to weight gain (and weight loss), and how to pursue a balanced lifestyle conductive to a healthy weight.

Forward-Head Posture: No Laughing Matter

To Your Health
March, 2020 (Vol. 14, Issue 03)

By Editorial Staff

It’s frighteningly easy to spot forward-head posture – and a primary cause of the condition – these days. Just look around. Anyone who consistently uses their cellphone, tablet or computer either has FHP or is likely on their way to developing it.

Forward-head posture has also been coined “text neck,” “tech neck,” “nerd neck” and “iHunch,” among other amusing monikers.

FHP itself is no laughing matter, however; constant hunching of the shoulders, neck and head can not only compromise posture, but also generate pain in those areas. What’s more, recent research suggests FHP can actually influence the brain and the messages it receives, potentially affecting other areas of the body and overall function.

Published in the Journal of Gait and Posture, the study involved 160 participants, split evenly among people with forward-head posture and those with normal head alignment. Participants with FHP and resulting biomechanical dysfunction of the spinal column also can negatively impact the brain, namely nerve impulses that travel toward the brain. Researchers specifically evaluated how feedback to the brain from the upper neck (cervical spine) can be distorted by forward-head posture, finding that problems with this feedback (which then impacts the feedback the brain delivers to the muscles) can potentially compromise proprioception and the vestibular system.

forward-head posture - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

One consequence: A person with forward-head posture may be at higher risk of experiencing poor balance, upping the risk of clumsiness and/or a fall. But because FHP can compromise the autonomic system overall, the condition can have wide-ranging effects on the body. And of course, that’s in addition to the pain and dysfunction generated by forward-head posture itself. In other words, a major lose-lose situation when it comes to your health.

Fortunately, that’s where your chiropractor comes in. Your doctor can not only treat forward-head posture and get you back on the road to wellness; they can also help prevent FHP from occurring in the first place, and certainly minimize the risk of it recurring. Of course, prevention is also up to you, by reducing the activities that can contribute to FHP. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Fighting the Coronavirus With the Power of Nutraceuticals

To Your Health
March, 2020 (Vol. 14, Issue 03)

By Editorial Staff

The overwhelming majority of news coverage right now deals with the coronavirus: what it is, where it’s spreading, efforts to make a vaccine, who has succumbed to it and how to prevent it.

Here’s a prevention tip you may not have heard about: nutraceuticals.

You may have already observed that many of the deaths from these viruses, whether it be flu or corona (yes, thousands of people die every year from influenza as well), usually involve people with less-than-ideal immunity – older, suffering from a health condition or both. It makes sense, therefore, that anything which would boost your immunity could potentially help prevent coronavirus from advancing beyond a few harmless symptoms to something life-threatening.

What exactly are nutraceuticals? In a nutshell, they’re dietary supplements, compounds or other nondrug entities found in food sources that have benefits beyond basic nutrition. For the purpose of this conversation, we’ll focus on the nutraceuticals that may reduce corona and flu per a recent study published in Progress in Cardiovascular disease, and let the researchers explain their findings: “Nutraceuticals have potential for boosting the type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses.”

virus - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Type 1 interferon exerts several important functions, but the most important may be helping protect against viruses in neighboring cells that have not been infected. You can see how a boost in type 1 interferon could help prevent corona and flu viruses from taking hold and causing problems in the body.

So, back to nutraceuticals: Which ones could help? The researchers provide some suggestions based on the evidence: elderberry, zinc, glucosamine, spirulina, lipoic acid, selenium, ferulic acid, N-acetylcysteine and yeast beta-glucan. Your doctor can tell you more about these and other nutraceuticals that can boost immune health, including the food and/or supplement sources.

Young People Love Chiropractic

To Your Health
March, 2020 (Vol. 14, Issue 03)

By Editorial Staff

Here’s one reason of many reasons why: Younger people (ages 10-24) who are experiencing spine pain improve with chiropractic care, suggests research. Pain scores, assessed through the Numeric Rating Scale, which asks patients to rate their pain from 0 (no pain) to 10 (unimaginable pain), decreased significantly following chiropractic management.

Reduced pain scores were reported in all four spinal regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral. Spinal manipulation, mobilization, soft-tissue therapy, acupuncture, and other modalities within the chiropractic scope of practice were utilized.

young people - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Now here’s one of the many reasons why these findings are so important: Evidence also suggests people who experience spinal pain at a younger age are more likely to experience it when they get older, potentially setting up a cycle of pain and dysfunction that can recur (or even last) over years.

Here’s another reason: While public perception is changing, many people still don’t believe chiropractic is necessary for children, adolescents and young adults. But as research and experience continue to show, chiropractic benefits everyone – regardless of age. Your baby benefits. Your children benefit. Young adults benefit. We benefit. So start them while they’re young, and plant the seeds for a lifetime of health and wellness.

Breakfast Is Good for Grades

To Your Health
February, 2020 (Vol. 14, Issue 02)

By Editorial Staff

With all the talk about weight loss and the benefits of intermittent fasting, sometimes it’s easy to think everyone should be losing weight and skipping meals. Certainly not the case when it comes to the average child. Kids need food – and lots of it, especially if they’re active. That starts with a healthy breakfast; if nothing else, to ensure they perform well in the classroom.

Case in point: a study published in Frontiers in Public Health that evaluated academic performance among secondary-school students based on the frequency with which they ate breakfast. Children who rarely ate breakfast scored, on average, two grades lower in various course subjects (assessment tests) compared to students who regularly ate breakfast. Breakfast habits were evaluated based on self-reports by students on all food and drink consumed over a one-week period (seven days), culminating on the day of testing. Researchers defined “breakfast” as any food or drink containing at least 5 percent of total daily energy expenditure consumed before 10:00 a.m. on a school day.

grade a+ - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

So, what’s a good breakfast (beyond the energy requirements stipulated above)? It can vary by the child and their preferences. As long as it’s balanced and as low as possible in sugar / processed carbs (both of which will burn quickly and lead to fatigue later in the day), it doesn’t necessarily matter. Just get your child to the breakfast table and send them off to school in a position to achieve.

More Steps = Longer Life

To Your Health
February, 2020 (Vol. 14, Issue 02)

By Editorial Staff

Sounds simple enough – and research is proving it. If you’re a senior, particularly an older woman, remember this simple formula: more steps equal a longer life. That’s the conclusion of a large U.S. study involving more than 18,000 women (average age: 72 years) from the Women’s Health Study. Participants agreed to wear an accelerometer to track steps during waking hours over a seven-day period. Steps and several measures of stepping intensity were variables assessed, and researchers tracked mortality (death) from any cause over a four-year period to correlate steps taken with mortality.

According to findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, “as few as approximately 4,400 steps/d was significantly related to lower mortality rates compared with approximately 2,700 steps/d. With more steps per day, mortality rates progressively decreased before leveling at approximately 7,500 steps/d. ” Just as significant, “Stepping intensity was not clearly related to lower mortality rates after accounting for total steps per day.”

family hiking - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

In other words, it doesn’t really matter how you get your steps as long as you get them! And keep in mind that while this study involved older woman, one can reasonably assume that older men can also benefit from taking a few more steps every day. Talk to your doctor to learn more, especially if you have a health condition that increases your risk of balance / falling issues when walking.