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Artificial Food Colors: Pretty, But Are They Safe?

The basic definition of a food color additive is “any dye, pigment or substance which when added or applied to a food, drug or cosmetic, or to the human body, is capable (alone or through reactions with other substances) of imparting color.”

Girl holding a lollipop with artificial food colors
That’s pretty straight forward. Artificial food colors color food. However—why is coloring food important to begin with? With or without an additive color, the food to which it is applied has the same nutritional value. Well, it isn’t about nutritional value, but economic value. Foods without color simply don’t sell as well. Food companies recognized early on that food has to be appealing to look at as well as tasty, so food color additives, especially for processed foods, came into being.

As part of our healthy body focus, diet suggestions are included in our approach to individualized programs that we offer through Texas Spine & Wellness.

Let’s discuss food color additives, their place in the food chain, and how they can affect health.

The Why of Natural Food Colors

There is one word that describes what color has to do with diet (at least in terms of natural food): phytochemicals. These elements, whose only natural occurrence is in plants, provide additional health benefits past what you get from basic nutrients. And the interesting thing—some of those elements are indicated by the color of the food! The blue of a blueberry represents specific phytochemicals, and the belief is that those phytochemicals act in conjunction with the vitamins, minerals, and fiber inherent in fruits and vegetables to increase their health impact.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) indicates that phytochemicals might perform as antioxidants, and may well work to neutralize substances that cause cancer. Just how everything works together hasn’t been determined, but it’s a good idea to incorporate a nice rainbow of foods into your diet to have a good variety of phytochemicals and nutrients.

The Why of Artificial Food Colors

Farmers markets and the produce sections of most grocery stores are picturesquely colorful with the foods they display. The kitchens of the health-minded boast some colorful edibles, as well. In fact, almost everything we eat or drink adds to the rainbow aspect of our diets.

Those health-minded folks already know that bright colored fruits and vegetables are about more than eye appeal, that they’re essential for promoting good health and lowering the risk of disease in the human body. But not all foods are colorful, especially processed foods.

picture of healthy fruits and vegetables

People don’t find gray appetizing and brown isn’t much better. Pink generally makes people think of raw meat, while bluish colors aren’t popular at all. It’s believed that these colors actually depress appetite. By enhancing the appeal of colorless or off-colored foods, artificial food color additives make processed foods a viable commodity.

Another reason for the inclusion of artificial food colors is to replace color when it’s lost due to exposure to air, light, moisture, extremes in temperature, and poor storage conditions. Sometimes there are natural variations in color and the food company wants a specific product to have a standard color. Colas are expected to be brown, and margarine yellow, and that great mint ice cream must be green. Almost all processed foods are enriched with color additives.

And it works. Studies indicate that around 90% of American food budgets go toward processed foods that, after being butchered or harvested, have been altered in some way by treatment, stripping, or refining. Many of these foods don’t appear on the “what’s healthy?” list, but if it tastes and looks good, people buy and consume it with gusto!

Unfortunate Issues of Artificial Food Colors

While natural food colors are healthy and safe, the same can’t be said of all artificial food colors. Some of the issues attributed to artificial food color include increased hyperactivity in children, the possible worsening of asthma symptoms (Yellow No. 5), and cancer in test rats (Red Dye No. 2). FD&C Yellow No. 5 and sulfating agents can cause an allergic reaction (food intolerance) in some consumers. Blue No. 1 and No. 2, red No. 40, yellow No. 6, and yellow tartrazine are common artificial food dyes that have been banned in Europe. The suspected issues: brain and behavioral issues, thyroid and adrenal cancer, and chromosomal damage.

Europeans are far more cautionary regarding the use of artificial food colors, and in the mid-2000s they urged companies to remove the color additives from food products. However, in the United States the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all ood color additives to ensure 1) they’re safe to eat, 2) that they contain only ingredients the FDA has approved, and 3) that the additives are accurately labeled. In spite of the prevailing beliefs and standards in Europe, the FDA continues to approve the use of artificial color additives because they consider them safe as long as they are used properly. In the United States you’ll actually find these additives hidden in boxed macaroni and cheese, some sweet snacks, soda, cereal, energy drinks, and most ice cream.

Are There Alternatives to Artificial Food Colors?

It’s interesting to look at a couple of examples that show the differences between the artificialfood color additives used in the United States and the natural color choices the United Kingdom prefers.

  • Fanta orange soda:
    U.S. Red 40 and Yellow 6 dyes
    U.K. pumpkin and carrot extract
  • Kellogg’s Strawberry Nutri-Grain Bars:
    U.S. Red 40, Yellow 6, and Blue 1 dyes
    U.K. beetroot red, Annatto, and Paprika extract
  • McDonald’s Strawberry Sundaes:
    U.S. Red 40 dye
    U.K. strawberries

Of course, these aren’t the healthiest foods to consume even when natural color additives are used. However, the comparison serves to show that there are options. Unfortunately, synthesized food dyes are easier and less expensive to produce than their naturally produced alternatives, and American food companies tend to focus more on the bottom dollar than on health concerns.

The FDA uses available science to determine whether or not there is “a reasonable certainty of no harm.” A reasonable certainty is not a certainty, but that’s the level of FDA safety coverage. The main regulation the FDA has managed is that artificial food color additives should be used only at their intended level and for their intended purpose.

Where to Go from Here?

Popular foods such as Froot Loops cereal, Pop-Tarts, Cheetos, Hostess Twinkies, and numerous other snacks use artificial food dyes. It’s difficult to cut out foods you enjoy. Whatever your favorite processed foods, start by cutting back and easing them out of your diet at a pace you’re comfortable with. If you don’t want to cut them out entirely, restrict yourself to only an occasional indulgence.

Check labels carefully and when you can, find a substitute food that either doesn’t contain the color additive you’re concerned about, or which appears to at least contain less of that given color additive. Some grocery chains, including Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, make it easier by refusing to sell foods with artificial coloring.

The best approach, of course, is to eat only natural, whole foods. In most cases, it’s simply suggested that you add as much of those foods to your diet as you can. Just make sure to include “rainbow” fruits and vegetables to ensure a diet that supports good health. Talk to us at Garland Chiropractic Clinic, and in conjunction with any exercise rehabilitation, massage therapy, or other chiropractic measures your health requires, we’ll help you plan the best diet possible to achieve an active and fit lifestyle.





Healthy Skin: How to Achieve and Maintain It

Skin defines us. It’s’ our largest organ, serving as the protective covering that supports the life of all our other body parts. Even our hair and nails are skin extensions that provide additional protection.

What Skin Does for Us

Besides being the most obvious body part that we present to the world, skin performs a number of crucial tasks:

image of healthy skin

closeup of female face. young woman beautiful girl taking care of her dry complexion applying moisturizing cream isolated. beauty treatment.

  • Prevents germs from reaching and injuring our internal organs
  • Helps maintain our immune system
  • Supports sweat glands that regulate body temperature
  • Works with the nervous system to provide a sense of touch
  • Alerts us to danger via sensitivity to pain, pressure, cold and heat
  • Manufactures Vitamin D, which promotes absorption of calcium essential to bone and teeth development
  • Repels water but allows the absorption of oils that prevent cells from drying out

How about hair and fingernails?

  • Hair cushions us from minor blows
  • It helps block the sun
  • It provides warmth
  • Hair can alert us to something touching us
  • It helps alert us to changes in the temperature
  • Helps to keep foreign objects out of those places where we don’t want them!
  • Fingernails are a protective plate for our fingertip sensations
  • They are “flattened claws” that make grasping things easier

How We Damage Our Skin

Finding someone who has completely supple, soft, and flawless skin is, in truth, impossible. Living is hard on skin! Winter is cold, harsh, and drying; fast foods and an unhealthy diet affects skin; and sleep deprivation makes skin problems related to the immune system worse than normal.

Bad habits don’t help. Smoking causes wrinkles. Sun exposure dries and wrinkles skin. Stress affects how we treat our skin, such as scratching, lip biting, or picking at nails. Poor hygiene affects skin health. Taking long hot showers deprives your skin of needed oils. For women, not removing makeup before bed is terrible for pores! Even touching your skin too often, especially the face, can trigger acne and pimples.

To make it worse, many commercially prepared skin care products contain ingredients that are NOT good for your skin. In fact, some harbor potentially carcinogenic constituents. Here are just a few of those scary elements:

  • Isopropyl alcohol – this is used in hand lotions, after-shave, some hair color rinses, and other cosmetics. This substance is also used in antifreeze and as a solvent in shellac!
  • Mineral Oil– unfortunately, all oil sold as “baby oil” is made from mineral oil, which is derived from crude oil! Mineral oil is actually a coating that prevents the skin from breathing and absorbing moisture.
  • Polyethylene glycol – this chemical is an active ingredient in de-greasing products used on machinery and in ovens. It strips moisture from the skin and is a potential carcinogen.
  • Propylene glycol – this wetting agent is a major antifreeze component. The form used in personal skin care products is exactly like that used in antifreeze! This chemical, which breaks down protein and cellular structures, is found in make-up, lotions, hair products, mouthwash and toothpaste!
  • Sodium Lauryl Sufate (SLS) – this skin irritant, which is used in testing laboratories, car wash soaps, and degreasers, is a major constituent in cosmetics, hair conditioners, and toothpaste, and is a large percent of your shampoo and foaming products. Studies have shown SLS “easily penetrates…the skin and…maintains residual levels in the heart, the liver, the lungs and the brain.” Potential toxicity to the body exists.
  • FD & C Color Pigments – there are many pigment colors that cause skin irritation and sensitivity, and some that deplete the body’s oxygen and can cause death! Colors able to be added to foods, drugs, and cosmetics are derived from coal tar and are carcinogenic.
  • Fragrance – fragrance added to a product can contain up to 4,000 synthetic ingredients! Some of them can affect the central nervous system and cause headaches, rashes, coughing, dizziness, skin irritation, and, in some cases, behavioral changes. What doesn’t have fragrance added? Think of deodorants, sunscreens, shampoo, and numerous skin and baby products.
  • Chlorine– this chemical doesn’t appear in skincare products, but chlorine is found in water from your tap, in your shower and pool, in laundry products, food processing and many other items. Exposure is a bygone conclusion. Chlorine can exacerbate a wide variety of health conditions, including anemia, asthma, hay fever, diabetes, heart disease, and irritation of the mouth, nose, eye, lung, skin, and stomach.

Natural ingredients for better skin

Let’s face it—we lather, slather, rub and spray our bodies with skin care products every day. Our bodies are like sponges that absorb much of the chemicals we expose ourselves to. Even if only small amounts are applied, constant use adds up.

Considering how damaging many skincare products can be, it’s important to check the labels of products before you buy. Better yet, focus on skincare products that contain only natural ingredients that are known to be good for skin health. But don’t be fooled by the mere use of the term “natural.” Look for ingredients that you know are natural and wholesome!

Beta Carotene, found in red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables, is a great skin nutrient. Green tea extract has high levels of antioxidants that sooth skin. Licorice extract has anti-inflammatory properties, which is great for skin redness. Colloidal oatmeal treats skin irritation and replenishes skin. Soy helps skin look brighter and lightens discoloration due to sun damage. Vitamin C fights signs of aging and is essential for smooth, firm skin. Willow herb is an anti-irritant that soothes conditions such as eczema and rosacea. It also kills the bacteria responsible for acne. Witch hazel is an old-time remedy that makes an excellent ingredient in skin-toners and moisturizers.

Fight wrinkles from the inside out with Collagen Hydrolysate

Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate
Collagen hydrolysate supplies three amino acids found in our skin – proline, hydroxyproline and glycine. Although the reports of firmer skin are mainly anecdotal, the collagen supplies a great source of easily digestible protein. It is a best selling product within our Garland Chiropractic clinic, primarily because it has helped so many people with joint pain issues.  When taken at night, it can also help people achieve a more restful night of sleep.  The recommended dosage is one rounded tablespoon both morning and night.  You can buy collagen through our office or online here.

Last—but certainly not least!—use natural moisturizing lotions to pamper your skin into health. The best way to assure the ingredients are really natural is to make your own. Here are some easy but effective recipes:

  • Moisturizing honey masks –
    1) Spread a generous scoop of honey over your face. Rub it in and let it sit from 5 to 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
    2) Combine 1 tablespoon of buttermilk with 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 egg yolk. Rub it on your face and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
  • Honey skin lotion – Mix a spoonful of honey with a teaspoon of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Apply to dry skin areas and let it sit for 20 minutes. Clean off with a warm washcloth.
  • Coffee scrub – to smooth dry, rough patches of skin, combine 2 cups of coffee grounds, 1/2 cup raw sugar or sea salt, and 2/3 tablespoon of massage oil in a small bowl. For a nice scent, add cinnamon or vanilla extract. Apply to wet skin in a circular motion. Rinse.
  • Sweet citrusy lip balm – Melt 3 tablespoons of cocoa butter in the microwave, then add 3 or 4 organic chocolate chips and stir until melted. Add 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil and 1/4 teaspoon of orange extract. Mix well and place in a small container.
  • Whipped coconut oil body buttler – Place 1 cup of solid coconut oil into a mixer bowl. Run the mixer on medium- high for a few minutes. The coconut oil softens as it whips, and will have the texture of whipped butter! Add lavender or peppermint essential oil for scent. Store it in a jar and use like any body lotion.

Dr. Mixon and the our team of health professionals believe in a holistic approach to help you achieve the good health you want for an active, full life. If you would like to learn more about our chiropractic services, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy or our nutritional products, please give us a call at (972) 840-2520.



Cold Weather and Joint Pain – How to Protect Yourself

Did you ever wonder why cold weather causes joint pain and aching bones? Or what you can do to alleviate your pain?

Weather-induced inflammation

a person suffering from a joint pain
Some scientists believe it’s not actually the cold that affects your joints, but the changes that occur in the weather when temperatures drop from warm to cold. Before the start of bad weather, the atmosphere changes and barometric pressure drops. Barometric pressure is the weight of the surrounding atmosphere, so when that weight lessens, it allows the tissues that encompass the joints to expand. That puts pressure on your poor joints and as your body strives to adjust, the pain begins. It’s even worse if you already suffer from an injury or stressed joints!

Another scientific theory is that joint paint arises from blood flow issues. Cooler temperatures affect circulation, which means there is less blood in joint areas to keep them warm.

And here’s one more theory; 70 percent of our body composition is water, and colder temperatures change the thickness of our joint fluids. Think of how difficult it is to stretch a rubber band after it’s been in the refrigerator! Our bodies, like that rubber band, lose elasticity during cold weather.

Natural treatment for joint pain

There’s simply no denying that when cold moves in, joints tend to swell and tighten. Keeping yourself warm helps with joint and muscle flexibility. And certainly exercising to keep your blood flow healthy and to strengthen your joints is important. But what about the foods you eat? Foods play a far greater role in joint pain than most people realize.

First, let’s look at the foods that worsen the condition. Ideally, you if you suffer from joint pain, you should trying avoiding these foods, or at least lessen how much and how often you eat them.

  • Dairy milk – Cow’s milk and cream cheese are considered highly inflammatory because of how often they can cause upset stomachs, diarrhea, constipation, hives, and even breathing issues.
  • Fatty red meats – Unfortunately for those of us who love meat like beef ribs, ground beef, and other fatty cuts, animal fats have been linked to numerous health issues and are tagged as inflammatory culprits.
  • Cheese – It’s not just cream cheese that is considered an inflammatory because of bad fat. Research indicates about 60-percent of people in the world have difficulty digesting cow’s milk, which is why cheese—especially the varieties high in sodium—can cause inflammation. Natural hard cheeses with less sodium are not as much of an issue.
  • Margarine – Along with other spreads, margarine is high in partially-hydrogenated oils or trans-fats, and exacerbates inflammatory responses.
  • Cured, processed meats – These kinds of meat are processed with inflammatory elements such as salt, nitrite, nitrates or sugar to increase their longevity and flavor.
  • Sugar – A rapid rise in blood sugar is a major cause of inflammation because sugar actually produces biochemical changes in your cells. Avoiding sugar is an important step in preventing sugar-induced inflammation! This includes soft drinks and juices that are sweetened.
  • Alcohol – Excessive consumption of alcoholic beer, wine, cider, or spirits in general has been linked to chronic inflammation.
  • Vegetable Oils – Surprisingly, too much omega-6 fatty acids, which include soy, safflower, and sunflower vegetable oils, are reported to cause inflammation.
  • Fried foods – Ah, there go the French fries, onion rings, hamburgers and potato chips! But the nature of fried foods makes them inflammatory offenders.

You get the picture. Who doesn’t love a thick, juicy hamburger and a side of hot, seasoned french fries? Unfortunately if your daily meals are dominated by the foods like those listed above, inflammation can whittle its way into your body.

When looking for natural treatments for joint pain, food should always be your first line of defense. Here are eight excellent anti-inflammatory edibles:

  • Fatty fish – Mackerel, tuna, sardines, salmon, cod, snapper
    fish and vegetables
    and bass contain omega-3 fatty acids that really slam inflammation. Frying isn’t a healthy cooking choice, so stick with boiling or baking.
  • Alcohol – Remember, excessive drinking is a problem in terms of making inflammation worse, but moderate drinking is reported to lower the potential for cardiovascular disease and isn’t considered an inflammatory issue.
  • Vegetable oils – Omega-3 fatty acid vegetable oils such as virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, and hemp oil are good substitutes for those Omega-6 fatty acids that you should avoid. The Omega-3 fatty acids help fight inflammation responses.
  • Whole grain foods – Any food containing whole grain is great for inflammation reduction because of the fiber content. Fiber tends to reduce the level of some inflammation causing proteins.
  • Nuts – Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds fight inflammation by providing an Omega-3 boost.
  • Soy milk – A good substitute for cow milk; or try rice milk or almond milk.
  • Olive oil – This is an excellent substitute for margarine. Or try ghee, a clarified butter, which consists of milk fat that’s been rendered from butter, separating water and milk solids from the milk’s butterfat.
  • Dark leafy vegetables – The vitamin E in spinach, collard greens, kale and broccoli, protects against the cytokines that cause inflammation.
  • Fruit – Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, and pineapple combat inflammation.
  • Dark chocolate – What an indulgent way to battle inflammation! Stick with chocolates containing no less than 70 percent pure cocoa.
  • Additional anti-inflammatory foods to consider include green tea, beans, soy, tomatoes, beetroot, garlic and ginger.

For your own comfort and health, grab a few of these nutritious foods the next time you’re grocery shopping.

A High Quality Supplement Designed to Fight Joint Pain

When you’re eating well and you still have pain, it may be time to try a natural supplement. Inflammease is a Boswellia-Turmeric Complex containing botanical extracts that provide support and protection for the body’s connective tissues. That means it’s not only good for your joints, but also the surrounding tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.

Inflammease contains a combinations of three well-researched herbs, Boswellia serrata, Turmeric root, and Devil’s Claw. All three contain powerful compounds that act as anti-oxidants and inflammation fighters.

Don’t let fall and winter slow you down!

Stiff, aching joints can be helped. You have choices! The right diet, exercise, and a supplement such as Inflammease are all safe and natural treatments for joint pain.

Stay healthy, stay active, and enjoy the seasonal changes.