Archive for Healthy Lifestyle

Exercise Safety – 5 Ways to Begin Moving Again

Has it been a while since you were able to exercise? Even with the best intentions, life can get in the way. Before you know it, it’s been months since you were able to flex your muscles and build up a sweat. Now you’re eager to get back into the groove—but guess what? Your body isn’t too happy about the prospect of having to work again! You might need tips for exercise safety.

Senior citizens practicing exercise safetyConsider what happens to your body when you don’t exercise. When they aren’t used beyond the requirement to simply breathe, lungs tend to lose their elasticity. Lack of exercise causes your blood vessels to shrink, meaning decreased blood volume and less ability to draw oxygen from the blood cells. When that happens, your heart works harder just to get oxygen to your muscles. There goes your heart rate!

Equally important is how inactivity can lead to joint pain.

But even if you’re anxious to get back into shape, the last thing you need is to strain muscles or tendons in the effort. That would throw you right back out of the exercise mode and be painful, to boot.

Our Garland Chiropractic Clinic is all about being healthy and pain-free, so we have some tips to help you with exercise safety and ways to achieve your “back on the treadmill” goal.

  • Before you start any exercise program, Consult with your Doctor to determine your health ‘base line.’ Be sure you don’t have any underlying conditions that exercise could exacerbate.
  • Keep your goals realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure or disappointment by reaching for perfection. If you need to lose weight, go after the pounds a few at a time. Know your own body shape and accept that you might not end up like that model on a magazine cover. If you want to build muscle, strengthen yourself gradually and don’t focus on six-pack abs. The idea is to be slimmer, healthier, and energized.
  • Start Slowly! It took time to lose your physical edge; it’s going to take time to regain it. If you push yourself, you might stress parts of your body that aren’t ready for such attention. It’s OK to return to the same type of exercise you’re used to, but do so at a lower intensity. Intersperse your run with periods of walking. Break up aerobics with a few minutes of rest. If you do warm-ups, stretch them out so your body really has a change to loosen up. Same thing with cooling down. And keep the amount of time you engage in any exercise to a minimum until you’ve built up the strength and energy for longer periods.
  • Commit to a schedule. The easiest way to stick with a plan is to make it a habit. Select a time that works for you and try to keep it set aside strictly for that purpose.
  • Find an exercise buddy. You want exercise to be fun, so if you enjoy it more having a companion share the experience, then ask a friend to join you. It could make it easier to monitor yourself than if you do it alone. If you don’t have a human friend who can spare the time then bring along your dog if you’re running or walking.
  • Above all, be patient! Your body is adaptive, but don’t push it! And if you feel you have pushed it, ask your doctor to look you over to be sure you’re OK to keep exercising. He or she might recommend that you ease back, or they might recommend certain exercises that will help you get in shape without stressing your body.

Dr. Mixon and our staff at Texas Spine & Wellness know how everything connects in your body and can help you with exercise safety. We know common stress points and can help you avoid problems. Allow us to help you plan an exercise program that will enable you achieve your fitness goals without injury. Give us a call us at (972) 840-2520 and set up an appointment today.

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 colorsThat’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.

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Learning to Use the Healing Power of Music

Having studied the healing power of music for decades, scientists know it has a profound effect on the mind, body and emotions. Music has a way to move us that seems to go to our very core as living beings and can transcend borders, cultures and race.

Music can be highly therapeutic and healing. Stroke victims, for example, have recovered through intonation therapy when many other treatments have failed. Music triggers neurons in the brain in a way that few other therapies can, and its effectiveness as a healing tool should not be overlooked. Brain scans show that listening to harmonious music elevates activity in areas of the brain’s reward center triggering the release of dopamine,  a powerful brain chemical.woman experiencing the healing power of music

From pain, depression, epilepsy to even more extreme conditions such as heart disease, music has been shown to be incredibly effective.

Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to respond to music therapy, as songs and tunes from their younger days bring up memories that were seemingly lost to the disease. Incredibly, some doctors have given their patients a daily ‘playlist’ of songs timed so that the patients remember to do certain activities at certain times. Imagine, for example, The Beatles’ ‘When I’m 64’ reminding you to take your medicine or Mozart’s’ ‘Sonata in G Minor’ when it’s time to head to the cafeteria for lunch.

In June of 2006, the Journal of Advanced Nursing published a study that showed a reduction in pain and depression among patients who listened to music on a daily basis. It’s not hard to imagine that someone would cheer up when listening to a great rock and roll tune or a good Polka. However it boggles the mind to learn that an actual corollary between listening to music and pain reduction was found. That’s downright incredible.

These are some of the most interesting reasons that music can do all of these things:

  • Music has a way of organizing time that all humans seem to understand
  • Music encourages us to move, and that movement is enjoyable.
  • Music creates strong memories and even stronger emotions, which can last for decades.
  • Music can be mesmerizing and stimulates many areas of the brain at once.

Indeed, the power of music goes well beyond the pleasure that it gives when we hear it. It has an intense effect on our thoughts and our passions.

If you’re looking for alternative and complimentary therapies, don’t underestimate the power of music to calm, and to heal. Why not give it a try? The next time you wake up feeling stiff and achy, turn on the radio, find a pleasing, melodious tune and let your mind relax. You just might find this simple technique will help you get the day started with less pain.

If you are looking for safe and effective ways to treat joint and back pain, our Garland chiropractor’s office offers a wide range of available therapies including physical rehab, therapeutic massage and chiropractic treatment. We also offer advanced treatment options for pain, including injections using all natural remedies.  If you would like more information, please contact our office, Texas Spine & Wellness, at (972) 840-2520.