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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 painSome 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, snapperfish 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.

5 Simple Exercises to Strengthen Your Core Muscles

What Is Your ‘Core’ and Why Is It Important?

There’s no specific definition of what the body’s ‘core’ is, but it’s usually a reference to the abdominal muscles. Fitness trainers place a major emphasis on exercises to strengthen your core.

women exercisingYour ‘core’ includes both the front and back muscles of the entire trunk and consists of the muscles running up your back and stretching down to your rear, as well as those located in the front and inside of your thighs.Those muscles are important because that’s where much of your body’s strength is focused. You use those muscles to lift something heavy, to kick a can down the street, or even to just stand up.

The most important role of ‘core’ muscles, however, is their support of the spine. After all, the spine isn’t a stable structure all on its own. Your ‘core’ muscles forms your posture.

Why Do You Need Exercises to Strengthen your Core?

Since your ‘core’ muscles expedite movement and enfold not only your spine but your organs and nervous system, strengthening them is essential. Important reasons for firming up your ‘core’ include:

  • To protect your central nervous system, your internal organs, and your spine. You need a strong sheath around your systems to keep them where they’re supposed to be in order to function properly. ‘Core’ muscles help keep unwanted pressure off your spine so their condition directly affects your quality of life.
  • To help prevent injuries from movement. Your ‘core’ serves as a natural stabilizer for intricate movement. A strong ‘core’ means the deep muscles near your spine are built up to provide that stability. If your ‘core’ is fit, you’ll experience an overall fitness, making it less likely you’ll be injured by the movements your life requires.
  • To help avoid back pain. Because there are so many muscles to contract and relax when you stand up and move, back pain is relatively common. If your tendons and ligaments and muscles are healthy, your back will normally be fine. But weak muscles, poor posture or excess weight can cause a strain that becomes back pain. Even if your back is strong, if your abdominal muscles are weak you can still get back pain. Your ‘core’ strength needs to be balanced.
  • To develop a confident posture. A strong ‘core’ provides a good posture. A straight posture not only looks confident, but it also gives you a sense of control over your body and how you feel about yourself.

A Few Exercises to Strengthen Your Core Muscles

You can accomplish ‘core’ training without major workout equipment and it doesn’t require a great commitment of time. A lot can be achieved in just 10 minutes a day, going for quality rather than quantity.

exercises to strengthen your coreRemember, there’s already an inherent strength in your ‘core’ muscles. After all, they attach to prime places in your body because they’re designed to support your ‘core’! They’re close to your joints, and are such a refined leverage system that if they’re properly used, there’s little effort needed to get a bunch of work done.
Some good exercises to start with:

1. Your deepest abdominal muscles are the Transverse Abdominis (TA).
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put one hand on your stomach and slide the other hand beneath your lumbar spine. Allow that natural curve to remain; don’t flatten your spine to the floor! Breathe deeply and let your stomach rise while your diaphragm pulls in oxygen. Exhaling, don’t let the pressure change on the hand under your back. Work your TA without letting your spine flatten.

Now use your TA to stabilize your body. Get on your hands and knees with your arms straight down below your shoulders and your thighs straight down below your hips. Extend one leg back and don’t rotate the leg. In fact, you shouldn’t feel any hip rotation. Center your attention on the inside of the leg; you’ll feel energy flowing along it. Once you feel stable, extend the opposite arm while keeping your spine straight. Stay in that position and take some deep breaths. Repeat on other side and do five repetitions on each side.

2. Two small but basic pieces of exercise equipment to help you build stability are stability balls and balance discs.

They generate unstable environments that your body has to work around in order to gain balance and orientation. The muscles have to keep shifting and reorienting around the ‘core’, forcing the TA and the rest of the deep trunk muscles to keep you oriented. Within just two weeks, a few minutes a day using the ball or disc will really improve your balance!

3. Strengthening your ‘core’ connections is important.
Lie on your back with legs open and arms extending out to the side. Don’t let your shoulders hunch up. Breathe deeply. Exhale then close your limbs (head, tailbone, legs, and arms) into your ‘core’ all at once to bring you into a fetal position on one side. Breathe deeply again, exhale and open your limbs back up into the position you started from. This exercise helps you feel how your body connects to your ‘core’, and it allows the ‘core’ to actually initiate the movement.

4. Stretching into your balance.
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched straight in front of you, place your feet in a “V” shaped position and point your toes. Tighten your ‘core’ muscles. Maintaining your leg and body position, lift your arms up and use them to climb an invisible rope. Twist your body a little each time you reach up. Reach as high as you can, drawing your arm completely down to your body each time you ‘pull’ yourself up. Complete 20 reaches for each arm.

5. A side crunch worth the effort.
Do a ‘side balance crunch’, starting with your left knee and hand on the floor while your right leg is up and extended straight out in line with your body and your right arm is extended straight up. It’s a great balancing act! Now pull your right knee in toward your body and when it’s bent, bring your right elbow down toward your bent knee. Straighten them again. Do 10 of those and switch to the other side.

Building health from the inside out includes taking care of the muscles that support your bones and joints and organs. You’ll not only move with confidence, when you feel fit you’ll exude confidence!

If you’d like personal assistance with exercises to strengthen your core muscles, we can help. Our team of exercise physiologists can develop a personalized training program for you. Not only will they you target your core muscles, but they will help you strengthen any other muscles or problem areas.

For more information, contact Texas Spine & Wellness in Garland, TX at (972) 840-2520. We have the staff and resources to help you accomplish your goals.

Summertime – Celebrate the Sunshine with a Healthy Backyard BBQ

Summertime is a time for friends and families to get together to celebrate friendship and the great outdoors. Whether enjoying a weekend camping or a backyard barbecue, food is usually the focus of the day. And it’s often a time when we feel justified in stuffing ourselves with our favorite great-tasting treats.

burger-and-hot-dogsWhy shouldn’t we watch the kids swim while chomping on a juicy hamburger piled with cheese, or deep-fried chicken wrapped in a thick, crispy batter?

Hot dogs buried in chili? Corn-on-the-cob bathed in butter and salt? Chips and dips? French fries? Potato salad?

In the moment, this delectable food feels (and tastes) like a dream come true. But by the next morning we may regret our impulsive choices. A day of indulgence has consequences, more so if you have health issues.

What’s So Bad About Those Nutrient-Sinful Foods?

  • Too much sodium in commercially prepared hot dogs can add to high blood pressure concerns and heart disease.
  • Hamburger meat? Surprisingly, there are about 16 grams of fat and 230 calories in the average ground beef patty. By topping it with high-calorie cheese, fried onions, sugary ketchup or fatty mayonnaise we add more calories to the total. And a typical Texas-sized hamburger patty is often large enough to feed two people!
  • Pasta, macaroni, and potato salads are laden with fats and simple carbohydrates
  • Hamburger and hot-dog buns are usually made from white bread, are highly processed and a generally stripped of nutrient value.

Healthy Food Choices That Still leave You Satisfied

It is possible to enjoy a backyard barbecue while still eating healthy flavorful foods.

To keep your carbohydrate consumption in a healthy range, select foods suggested in the Primal diet and/or the Mediterranean diet.

The Primal diet emphasizes eating foods that are as close to their natural state as you can find them. Specifically, foods that were eaten before the Industrial Revolution. That means omitting grains, beans, lentils, soy and peanuts, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, and refined vegetable oils in your diet.

So, what’s left? Many healthy food choices—every kind of fruit and vegetable, meats, fish, eggs, nuts (other than peanuts), seeds, healthy fats, and dairy products, both raw and fermented, including raw cheese. Sweeteners should be natural, such as raw honey and pure maple syrup.

Sound too strict? Then consider the Mediterranean way of eating.

The Mediterranean diet isn’t based on a single diet plan, but it does focus on some of the same foods as the Primal diet, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and meat. However, the Mediterranean diet is strong on some items not included in the Primal diet, meaning that whole-grain breads, beans, and dairy are important foods on the menu. In addition, olive oil, olives, yogurt and eggs in small portions, wine and potatoes are all considered essential. And they all sound pretty tasty.

To Boost the Nutritional Content of Your Barbecue, Be Creative!

grilled vegetablesInstead of a hot dog in your whole-grain bun, try a marinated chicken tender, or chicken sausage. Grilled shrimp is another tasty option. If only a hot dog will do, replace ketchup and cheese with onions and chopped veggies like avocado, jalapeños, or cabbage. Here are a few more ideas:

  • For hamburgers, eat moderate portion sizes. For a Primal hamburger, opt for ground beef from grass-fed, free-range cattle, if possible. To add a flavor of the Mediterranean, season your ground lamb or beef with oregano, fresh rosemary, a generous amount of feta cheese, and a splash of lemon zest. Spread a thick kalamata olive paste on the buns for a flavorful change of pace. Ditch the grains although by using topping your burger with tomato halves, large Portobello mushroom caps, or by wrapping the fixings inside a swath of lettuce! Add a small amount of raw cheese, avocados, onions, mushrooms, and olive oil or vinaigrette.
  • When barbecuing don’t use a sauce with high fructose corn syrup, sugar or ingredients like caramel color, food starch or preservatives. Google recipes for sauces using Worcestershire, tomato paste, tamarin sauce or even molasses. Or—check out a nice Primal barbecue sauce.
  • Stick to salads made of fruits and vegetables, like carrots with radishes or raisins, or avocados with grapefruit or bacon. Stuff a bell pepper with onions, tomatoes, pickle bits, celery and crunchy bacon and bind them with a homemade mayo. Try some delicious recipes like Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette, California Cobb Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette, or very healthy Almond Salmon Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette. A Mediterranean Grain Salad would be great! Or any other Mediterranean salad creation!
  • Grill corn and dab with chipotle butter to make your metabolism smile. For additional flavor, add lime. With that much flavor you might be able to skip the salt. As for the potato, trying baking it. You can up your daily vegetable intake by topping your potato with asparagus, broccoli, sprinkles of meat, and good fresh herbs.
  • Eat 100% whole grain bread in moderation. Dip it in herb flavored olive oil for a snack, or top with a Mediterranean spread.
  • Skip the chips. Crunchy vegetables pair nicely with dips made out of onions or clams, spinach or artichokes, or even beans or salsa.
  • Fruit is always an excellent dessert. Trying skewering cubes of mixed fruit on bamboo skewer for a more dramatic flair.. However if you want a slight taste of sinful, there are both primal desserts and Mediterranean desserts to satisfy your sweet-tooth without putting your body on a sugar overload.

Be happy, eat healthy and enjoy the summer… Autumn is just a couple of months away!

Dr. Mixon and his team of medical professionals is available to help you improve your health with a full complement of services. In addition to our lab-based nutrition programs, we offer ANS (Autonomic Nervous System) testing, to help you assess your current state of health, along with treatment for neck, back and joint pain.

Please contact us if you would like more information about our Garland, TX chiropractic clinic.