Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Low Back Pain? Don't Stress It.

Happy Wednesday!!

If you are like the majority of people, you will get low back pain at some point in your life. It may be due to a fall, or a car accident, or lifting something wrong. But what about those of you who have had sudden low back pain when bending over to pick up a pencil or showering or just doing your normal daily activities? What most people don't realize is how much stress plays a role in our physical health. You may realize that stress can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, or fatigue, but did you know that it can also cause pain in the body?!

Stress from work and/or personal life as well as stress from your diet can not only weaken your immune system leaving you with less defense against colds and/or infections, but it can also make you more susceptible to pain or injury. Most of us can figure out where the stress is coming from at work or in our daily lives, but what about with our diet? Well, the 4 biggest stresses of our gut through our diet are 1) coffee, 2) pop, 3) chocolate, and 4) alcohol. When our gut gets stressed, then the rest of our body gets run down and fatigued which creates an environment where we are more prone to pain.

When a patient comes to my office complaining of low back pain that just started out of the blue with no trauma or injury ("My back just went out"), I usually address their stress level and diet. Most of the time, the person admits drinking a pot of coffee per day or a 6 pack of coke a day or just got back from a weekend of drinking a lot of alcohol or all of the above. Hey, it's the American diet, right?! If I ask further about their digestion, they usually complain of constipation or diarrhea or both. In these cases, acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation is a very effective treatment at our office, but I also try to have the patient modify their diet by drinking less pop, coffee, and/or alcohol to increase their natural healing ability. The patients that do change their diet usually notice an almost immediate improvement in their symptoms.

Next time you have sudden low back pain, or any sudden pain for that matter, think about the stress in your life and diet. If you have too much of any, try to modify things so that you give your body the best chance to heal!

Live Well.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Resolution Time

Happy New Year!

It is that time of the year again when you go to workout at your gym and you can't use your favorite cardio machine because there are so many people working out. Yep, it's resolution time! As you probably know, some of the more popular resolutions for the New Year are: losing weight, start exercising, spending more time with friends and family, quit smoking, get out of debt, etc. A common theme to all of these is living a better, healthier life.

I think having a New Year's resolution is great...if you can keep it. Everybody can make a change for a month and then go back to the old habits, but making a lifestyle change and staying committed to your resolution, your health, and yourself is the ultimate challenge. The biggest problem that most people have with keeping their resolutions is that they get burnt out. Determined to get in shape, they go from being a couch potato to working out 7 days a week and go right back to the couch within a month because they can't handle the load.

As with most things in life, moderation is key. Don't just hit the ground running. Take baby steps. Instead of going on a crash diet and cutting out all junk food, maybe just start by avoiding foods with high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils or add an extra fruit and vegetable to your daily diet. Then as you get used to this change, go a step further and try to avoid sugar and white and enriched flour while adding another fruit and vegetable and some fish to your diet.

As far as exercising goes, if you haven't been to the gym for a year, don't go every day. The best way would be to get a personal trainer to start you on a good program. If a trainer is not an option for you, here are some tips. Maybe start by going 2-3 times per week and walking on the treadmill for 15 to 20 minutes and increase the time as you get comfortable with the cardio. After a couple weeks, add some weight training by doing 10 to 15 minutes with weights. Then as you get comfortable with this, add another day or some more time or a fitness class. The biggest thing to continue to exercise and stay in shape is to keep it fun. Change up the workouts and try different machines and/or classes. But most of all, HAVE FUN!

For those of you who already have a good diet and workout regularly, but may have gained the "holiday" weight, a really good way to get the push in the right direction is with a detox. I recommend a detox at my office that I really like. It is a 21 day purification program that really focuses on eating the right things, not on losing weight. (Although everyone that does it, loses weight.) The first 10 days you only eat fruits and vegetables along with drinking a whole food nutritional shake and taking whole food supplements. Then on Day 11 you can add chicken and fish for the next 11 days. It may sound very difficult, but honestly after the first 3 days you really start to realize that you don't need or crave the pasta or the sugar. Plus, you start to realize how good you feel with more energy and better digestion. Personally, I do this twice per year to "detox" myself. If you are interested in this, the cost of the detox is $250 (supplements, shakes, recipes, education). If not, I would recommend to just focus on eating fruits, vegetables, and lean meats (chicken and fish) as much as possible.

Click HERE for a small study that shows imporvement of cholesterol levels with the purification program.

Whether you have a resolution or not, try to make small changes over the course of this year that will help create a healthier lifestyle. I will do my best to continue to give you useful and practical ideas on how you can make these changes. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me here or at I don't use outlook, so please e-mail me through your own e-mail.

By the way, for those of you who are annoyed by crowded gym...Don't worry, you will have your favorite machine available within a month!!

Live Well.