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Can Food Choices Really Affect the Composition of the Microbes in Your Gut?

They say you are what you eat, but can your diet really have an impact on the microbes that live in your digestive tract? While thinking about the millions of microscopic life forms (collectively called the human microbiota) living in your gut might make you feel a bit squeamish, this topic has fueled a considerable body of research. The results strongly suggest that a person’s food choices do have a significant impact on their microbiota. And that this microbiota in turn has a real impact on their overall health and wellness.

Diet and Microbiota Content

One of the more recent studies that show the relationship between diet and microbiota was conducted in 2014 by researchers at Duke and Yale. In this study, researchers compared the microbiota of a group of volunteers. For five days, the volunteers limited their diet to rice and vegetables. After eating their regular diet for a week, the volunteers then spent another five days eating only animal and fatty products. The results showed that only three days after each dietary change there was a significant variation in the type of microbiota present.

A Gut-Friendly Diet

Even though the microbes in your gut are tiny, they can have a big influence on your health, particularly when it comes to digestion. Diets that are high in sugar, animal fats, and processed foods provide nourishment for the unhealthy microbes that cause digestive issues. Unfortunately, these foods are also a large part of the standard American diet. It comes as no surprise, then, that doctors see millions of patients every year for issues such as heartburn, bloating, constipation, irritable bowels, and diarrhea. Changing your diet to include foods that encourage a healthy balance of microbes can help keep you at your best.

Keep the following in mind when building a gut-friendly diet:

1. Limit foods that are processed and high in sugar. Cutting off this food source helps to keep unhelpful bacteria in check.
2. Increase your intake of beans, seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. These foods help to increase the amount of “good” bacteria.
3. Consider probiotic foods. Foods that are considered probiotic (such as kefir or Greek yogurt) contain live bacteria. These microorganisms help to supplement the good bacteria already in your digestive system and can help to tip the balance in your favor. Probiotics can be particularly helpful after a round of antibiotics, which can negatively impact your microbiota balance.

Your chiropractor can be a helpful resource when working to build a diet that is friendly to your digestive system. Because chiropractic care puts a special focus on lifestyle choices, your chiropractor can provide you with targeted feedback on how your food choices are impacting your overall health. Your chiropractor will work with you to build a food plan that improves your well-being in all areas, including your microbe balance.

Making food choices that positively impact the life inside of you can significantly improve your well-being. Keep your microbiota in mind when choosing your next meal: your digestive system will thank you!

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Chiropractic vs. Physical Therapy. Which is better? BOTH!

If you’re suffering from acute or chronic back pain–whether it’s been caused by an injury or some type of medical condition–chances are that you’re more interested in finding relief NOW than learning about the many different types of doctors who are part of the healthcare community. But the simple truth is that different types of doctors tend to approach their work in particular ways because of basic differences in their training and clinical experience. This means that it’s worthwhile for a back pain patient to understand at least a little bit about how a physician’s chosen discipline can influence his or her perspective and priorities when it comes to treatment.

The back and neck are very complex structures, and it can sometimes be difficult to identify the specific source of a patient’s pain and treat it effectively. This is why it is common for general practitioners to refer patients who are experiencing back problems more complicated than the typical muscle strain to physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders. Depending on the circumstances, your general practitioner may recommend a chiropractor or a physical therapist. Some cases may also benefit from a multidisciplinary or integrated care approach that draws on the expertise of multiple specialists. So, in what ways are chiropractic physicians and physical therapists similar? And how are they different?

The Chiropractor

A doctor of chiropractic diagnoses and treats disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, and works with patients to prevent disorders from occurring. This type of healthcare professional will attempt to identify the underlying cause of back pain and treat it using a variety of techniques that realign the spine to relieve pressure, restore stability and improve function. Chiropractic treatments are usually referred to as “manipulation”, “adjustment” or “mobilization”. They involve applying varying degrees of highly-targeted force (either manually or with the help of specialized instruments) to move vertebrae back into their proper position.
When a patient is experiencing acute or chronic back pain and/or has lost function, a chiropractor will also use manipulation and mobilization techniques on the joints and other soft tissues in the affected area to increase range of motion.

The Physical Therapist

A doctor of physical therapy also diagnoses and treats back pain, though most often in connection with a specific injury or following surgery. His or her goal is usually to help a patient regain normal function by building strength and stamina, increasing balance and flexibility, and improving coordination.

Back pain that results from injury, disease, general wear-and-tear or other environmental factors can prevent a person from being able to lead a normal life by limiting their mobility. Day-to-day activities like walking, climbing stairs and getting into or out of chairs can become difficult or impossible. For athletes, the impact can be particularly profound–limiting their ability to train and compete. A physical therapist considers how the individual’s condition is impacting their ability to move and develops a therapy program intended to improve their condition. Where the chiropractor will often use manipulation and mobilization techniques as the foundation of a treatment plan and reinforce these with structured stretching and exercise programs, the physical therapist will tend to focus more on supervised exercise.

For patients with debilitating injuries and those who have recently had surgery, both chiropractic care and physical therapy can be very good options. Well-trained and experienced doctors will provide customized treatment plans designed to help patients recover as quickly and completely as possible. The diagnostic and treatment techniques each type of doctor uses (as well as their general philosophy) may differ to some extent, but there is also substantial overlap. Both kinds of physicians use non-invasive, hands-on treatment techniques as well as high-tech therapies such as low level laser therapy (LLLT) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.

When the time comes to make a decision to see one type of doctor or the other for back pain, patients often make their choice based on referrals from their primary care physician or on reviews from other patients. But the most important thing to remember is that you DO have options, and that having the RIGHT doctor matters just as much as having the right kind of doctor. We believe that our relationship with patients–especially the way we communicate–is just as important as our technical skills in diagnosing and treating your pain.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach, we invite you to call or visit our office today.

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Chiropractic is best for Whiplash!

Whiplash is the term for neck injury or injury to the cervical vertebrae which occurs as result of acceleration or deceleration. This type of injury normally occurs during an automobile accident. Whiplash can cause great pain to the victim. Chiropractic care is a good treatment option for such injuries.

A number of literatures today contain numerous studies that proved the effectiveness of chiropractic care in the treatment of pain resulting from whiplash. One of such studies was published in Injury in 1996 by Woodward and his colleagues who were from Department of Orthopedic Surgery of Bristol, England.

Before the publication of Woodward et al, Gargan and Bannister in 1994 published their discovery on the rate of discovery of patients suffering from Whiplash injuries. They discovered in their studies that patients with whiplash injuries for three months are 90% more likely to remain in that condition. No conventional medical treatment could save them from their conditions. However, chiropractic physicians have recorded success in the treatment of these of these patients.

The above publication of Woodward showed that 26 people out of the 28 patients examined retrospectively and treated with chiropractic care improved significantly from their whiplash injury. This number represents 93% of the entire patients examined. The chiropractic interventions utilized in this study include cryotherapy, PNF and spinal manipulation. A greater percentage of those 28 people used in the study have been undergoing treatment with physiotherapy, NSAIDs and soft collars for an average time period of 15.5 months.

This study proved that chiropractic care is a good treatment option for patients that sustained whiplash injury in automobile accidents. Whiplash symptoms such as back pain, interscapular pain, neck pain and extremity pain associated with paresthesias can all be managed with chiropractic care. Positive results are normally recorded when these symptoms are treated with chiropractic care.

Whiplash injury as suggested by literature is also associated with cervical disc injuries. Another study on chiropractic care for disc herniations proved that patients with whiplash recorded significant clinical improvement. In the study, there was decrease in the resolution or size of the disc herniation in most of the cases as the repeat MRI imaging results indicated.

Khan et al also carried out a similar study on whiplash injured people suffering from cervical dysfunction and pain. The result of their study was published in the Journal of Orthopedic Medicine. The patients used for the study were grouped based on the symptoms they have or nature of their problems. The greater percentage of the people examined in each group recorded positive outcome.

Though this study did not include patients that have back injuries, TMJ injuries and extremity injuries, it has confirmed the evidence of the study of Woodward et al that chiropractic care could be utilized in the treatment of whiplash injured patients. Based on the studies, one can conclude that a chiropractic doctor should give treatment for whiplash injury and other related injury.

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Chiropractic is Cost-effective!

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) said that it was 40% more cost effective treating low back pain with chiropractic care than treating it with conventional medical care. This assertion was based on the result of a new study that featured 85, 000 beneficiaries of Blue Cross Blue Shield. The researchers drew a conclusion that insurers that did not allow chiropractic treatment for low back pain would spend more money on medical treatment of such cases than they should have if they had allowed access to chiropractic care.

The result of the study according to ACA is in line with the daily experience of chiropractors. They helped their patients to save on medications and surgery given the fact that chiropractic care does not involve the use of medication or surgery.

Cases of low back pain are very common in the US. It is reported that about 85 percent of Americans suffer from this condition at a particular time in their lives. The condition is rated among the 10 most expensive health problems treated in the US. About $50 billion is spent for its treatment in the states on yearly basis. Besides this, the condition makes employees less productive.

The study based on the experience of Blue Cross Blue Shield a Tennessee-based general health insurer was titled Cost of Care for Common Back Pain Conditions Initiated with Chiropractic Doctor vs. Medical Doctor/Doctor of Osteopathy. The December 2010 Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics contains the result of the study. The result is also available online. In the study which lasted for two, the fully insured population of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee was observed. They were allowed to visit medical Ds and DCs without any limitations to the number of visits to offices of medical doctors or chiropractors. The co-pay of the population studied was the same.

The findings of the study show that visits to DCs’ offices were 40% percent less expensive than visits to MDs’ offices. The researchers still observed that patients that visited DCs have a better savings than those that visited MDs even when they have risk-adjusted the cost of each patients. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee would have saved an estimated cost of $2.3 million if patients are allowed to visit chiropractors for the treatment of their low back pain.

From the result of the above study, it is evidently clear that chiropractic treatment is cost effective because patients will not be buying any drugs or going in for any surgery. The chiropractors can treat low back pain by applying certain chiropractic techniques using their hands or special equipment without administering any medication to the patients.

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The Psychology of Making Healthier Choices

Judging from the popular media, many of us have something in common—a shared frustration. It’s the experience of wanting to make important lifestyle changes (like exercising more, eating better and getting enough rest) but having trouble “following through” and actually achieving those goals.

For some, this has become a recurring pattern. And—recognizing the pattern—many of these same people will choose to give up altogether, believing they simply don’t have the self-discipline to succeed. But the truth is that success isn’t just about raw willpower. It’s also about having specific strategies in place to give yourself a psychological edge as you make changes and create new lifestyle habits.

In order to help you develop these sorts of strategies, we’ve gone through a number of recent health-, diet-, and exercise-related studies and extracted five psychological tips from them that you can use when trying to achieve your own health and wellness goals.

    • Set goals for yourself, but make them realistic goals. Several studies have indicated that setting specific goals for yourself when starting a diet or exercise program is good, and will help you to succeed. But the most important tip to remember is that the goals should be realistic and achievable. In other words, don’t just set yourself the goal of losing 20 pounds as fast as you can. Be more realistic and aim for losing one or two pounds per week (which is often cited as a safe rate of weight loss) or every two weeks, which is more doable. This type of a goal will involve less “pain and deprivation”, making it more likely that you will be able to stick with it consistently over time.

 

    • Become aware of the consequences of your choices. In a recent study, teens shopping in Baltimore corner stores were exposed to signs that “translated” the calorie count of sugary soft drinks into the number of miles they’d have to walk to burn off the calories in a 20-ounce drink. Overall sales of the high-calorie drinks were lower when the signs were posted, and sales of large sizes (over 16 ounces) of the drinks were also lower. Sales of water and non-sugary drinks increased. Most interesting, the effect of seeing the signs lasted for six weeks after they were removed. The more you know, the better your choices will be.

 

    • Exercise self-control to avoid temptations. A study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that one of the traits of people with high self-control was that they avoided situations that would tempt them. For example, asked to take an online IQ test and given the choice of a simple black-and-white version or one that had colorful background artwork that changed often, students with high levels of self-control tended to choose the version that offered less distraction. Applying this same idea to achieving your personal health goals, you might be better off avoiding the dessert aisle in the supermarket altogether rather than telling yourself you’ll just buy something small.

 

    • Focus on the fun aspects of your exercise program to avoid “reward eating” after workouts. Researchers have recently confirmed a phenomenon that some of us have probably suspected—people who put in the “work” of exercising often “reward” themselves by overeating afterward. In a study conducted by the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, participants were asked to take a two-kilometer walk around a lake. Half of them were told it was an “exercise walk,” and the other half were told it was a scenic nature walk. The participants were then given lunch, and researchers observed their choices. The group that had been told they were walking for exercise ate 124% more than those who had been told that they were walking for fun. Based on what they saw during their experiment, the researchers recommend that you do whatever you can to make your workout less work and more fun so that you won’t be tempted to “reward yourself” afterward with an extra helping of dessert.

 

  • Make a formal commitment to become more physically active. In a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers found that office workers who signed a contract to become more physically active were more committed to doing so. Workers who signed the contract decreased their inactive time by an average of 33 minutes a day and increased their active time by 21 minutes a day. Workers in the same offices who had similar goals but who did not commit to it contractually showed little change.