Category Archives: Women’s Health

WATER – THE ELIXIR OF LIFE

Water, H2O, Adam’s Ale – whatever you call it – all life on earth whether human, animal or plant must have water to survive. Sadly, our planet is suffering from the pollution of its most precious resource in most parts of the world both on land and in the waterways and oceans.

 

Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface.[i] On Earth, 96.5% of the planet’s crust water is found in seas and oceans, 1.7% in groundwater, 1.7% in glaciers and the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland, a small fraction in other large water bodies and 0.001% in the air as vapor, clouds and precipitation. Only 2.5% of this water is freshwater and 98.8% of that water is ice and ground water. Less than 0.3% of all freshwater is in rivers, lakes, and the atmosphere.[ii]

 

Water and The Human Body:

 

The human body contains from 55% to 78% water, depending on body size. The average person is made up of at least 2/3 water. The brain alone is at least 85% water. Our digestive system, saliva, circulatory system and blood are all mostly water. Our joints are lubricated by synovial fluid which is almost completely water. To function properly, the body requires between 4 to 12 cups or approximately one to seven liters of water per day to avoid dehydration. The precise amount of dehydration depends on the level of activity, temperature, humidity and other factors.

 

Most fluids are ingested through foods or beverages other than drinking straight water. It is not clear how much water intake is needed by healthy people, though most specialists agree that approximately 6 to 7 glasses of water daily is the minimum to maintain proper hydration.[iii] Medical literature favors a lower consumption, typically 4 cups of water for an average male and slightly less for women, excluding extra requirements due to fluid loss from exercise or warm weather.

 

For those who have healthy kidneys, it is rather difficult to drink too much water, but, especially in warm humid weather and while exercising, it is dangerous to drink too little. People can drink far more water than necessary while exercising, however, putting them at risk of water hyperhydration, which can be fatal.[iv] The popular claim that “a person should consume eight glasses of water per day” seems to have no real basis in science. Studies have shown that extra water intake, especially up to 500 ml at mealtime was conducive to weight loss. Adequate fluid intake is helpful in preventing constipation.

 

If you drink a lot of water be sure to supplement it with electrolytes, available at health food stores, to keep your heart strong. Your heart beats 100,000 times a day and creates an electrical charge with every beat. An electrolyte is a substance that produces an electrically conducting solution when dissolved in water. Electrolytes carry a charge and are essential for life. All higher forms of life need electrolytes to survive. “Too much water intake will flush minerals from your blood and can weaken your heart leading to congenital heart failure.” Says Dr. Harry Elwardt, N.D.

 

Water Makes the World Go Around:

 

Water is a transparent and nearly colorless chemical substance that is the main constituent of Earth’s streams, lakes and oceans and the fluids of most living organisms. Water refers strictly to the liquid state, but often also to its solid of ice, or gaseous state of steam or water vapor.

 

Fresh drinking water is essential to humans and other lifeforms even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients. Access to safe drinking water has improved over the last decades in almost every part of the world, but approximately one billion people still lack access to safe water and over 2.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. Some observers have estimated that by 2025 more than half of the world population will be facing water-based vulnerability.[v]

 

Water plays an important role in the world economy. Approximately 70% of the freshwater used by humans goes to agriculture. Fishing in salt and fresh water bodies is a major source of food for many parts of the world. Much of long-distance trade of commodities, such as oil and natural gas and manufactured products is transported by boats through seas, rivers, lakes and canals. Large quantities of water, ice and steam are used for cooling and heating in industry and homes. Water is used as a solvent for a wide variety of chemical substances; as such it is widely used in industrial processes and in cooking and washing. Water is also central to many sports and other forms of entertainment, such as swimming, pleasure boating, boat racing, surfing, sport fishing and diving.

 

Most of all, however, it is the stuff we are made of so drink some water every day! Regular chiropractic check-ups will also keep your nervous system and spinal vertebra in top condition. Make an appointment today!!

[i] “CIA – The world factbook”. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 20 December 2008.

[ii] Gleick, P.H., ed. (1993). Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World’s Freshwater Resources. Oxford University Press. p. 13, Table 2.1 “Water reserves on the earth”.

[iii] “Healthy Water Living”. BBC. Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2007.

[iv] Noakes TD, Goodwin N, Rayner

BL, Branken T, Taylor RK (2005). “Water intoxication: a possible complication during endurance exercise, 1985”. Wilderness Environ Med. 16 (4): 221–7. doi:10.1580/1080-6032(2005)16[221: WIAPCD]2.0.CO;2. PMID 16366205.

[v] Kulshreshtha, S.N (1998). “A Global Outlook for Water Resources to the Year 2025”. Water Resources Management. 12 (3): 167–184. doi:10.1023/A:1007957229865.

Honey – More Than a Sweet Treat

 

This sweet natural substance not only helps the medicine go down, it can actually be the medicine! The annual flu season is underway so you may want to consider honey the next time you get that itch in the back of your throat.

 

History of Honey:

 

Honey is produced by honey bees and is derived from the nectar of flowers. It is a mixture of sugar and several other substances. The taste and texture of honey can vary, both due to the type of flowers that the bees access, as well as how the honey is processed.

 

An ancient cave painting in Spain shows women collecting honey from beehives. Although first gathered as a food source, honey was also used as an ingredient in religious rituals. The ancient Egyptians held honey in high regard, as it was offered to their goddess of fertility and used prominently in baked goods of that era. The Egyptians even used honey in the embalming process of their dead.

 

In the Western hemisphere, the Mayans collected honey and believed it to be sacred. The sweet substance is mentioned in the literature of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism.

 

Honey in Folk Medicine:

 

In traditional Chinese medicine, honey is recommended for invigorating the health of the lungs, spleen and stomach. Herbal doctors in China would also give patients honey to treat dehydration, pain, fatigue and boost Chi energy. Other folk and herbal medicine traditions used honey for coughs, bronchitis and bolstering immunity. Honey was also added to other medicinal ingredients to improve taste and make it more palatable to patients.

 

Modern Research:

 

Most scientific studies on honey have looked at its effects on coughs, bacterial infections and damaged skin. It has been used for centuries as a throat soothing elixir, natural cough suppressant and decongestant. The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine published a study of 100 children (between the ages of 2 and 18) with upper respiratory infections who were given either buckwheat honey, dextromethorphan or nothing at all. According to their parents, the children who received the honey had the best relief from symptoms compared to the other methods.[i]

 

The University of Ottawa conducted a study using Manuka honey, which is sourced from New Zealand’s Manuka bush. Using this honey, scientists were able to destroy bacteria involved in the development of chronic sinusitis, which inflames the nasal cavity and may impact sufferers for months.[ii]

 

The immune system of a honey bee contains a protein called defensin-1, which gets passed into the honey when bees create it from flower nectar. Scientists believe this is the major antibacterial property within honey. The success of honey as an antibacterial may help develop new types of antibiotics that can overcome current drug-resistant bacteria.

 

Honey Hazards:

 

Honey should NOT be given to infants under 2 years of age, as it can contain botulism spores. The immature digestive system of an infant can’t kill these spores and could lead to poisoning and death. Consult a qualified health care professional on using honey for medicinal purposes. Honey made from Rhododendron flowers can be toxic, so if the source of honey is not known it is wise to avoid eating it.

Decline of the Honey Makers:

 

Since the late 1990s, beekeepers around the world have observed the mysterious and sudden disappearance of bees and report unusually high rates of decline in honeybee colonies. The loss of commercial honeybees in the United States since 2006 was 40%, in Europe since 1985; 25% and in the UK since 2010; 45%.[iii]

 

Bees are more important than just as honey makers – they are key to food production as they pollinate crops. Bumblebees, other wild bees and insects like butterflies, wasps and flies all provide valuable pollination services. A third of the food that we eat depends on pollinating insects, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices, edible oils and many more. In Europe alone, the growth of over 4,000 vegetables depends on the essential work of pollinators. Currently more and more bees are dying and their decline affects mankind. Human lives depend on bee lives, which has given rise to a poster with a bee saying, “If we die, we are taking you with us!” Perhaps an exaggerated statement, but the facts are there to show that if all bees die much of the human food supply would disappear.

 

 

 

While you sip your tea sweetened with honey, don’t forget to help prepare your body for the cold and flu season by regular chiropractic adjustments. Your nervous system plays an important role in the function of your immune system. By keeping your nervous system free of subluxations, your body can harness its maximum innate power to fight bacteria and viruses.

[i] Effect of Honey, Dextromethorphan, and No Treatment on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality for Coughing Children and Their Parents – Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(12):1140-1146.

[ii] An investigation into the effects of Manuka honey on protein expression in meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus using 2D electrophoresis –Society of General Microbiology, Autumn Meeting, 7–10 September 2009.

[iii] Greenpeace – http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Agriculture/Bees-in-Decline/

Core Stabilization for a Healthy Lower Back

Our chiropractors, therapists and trainers often discuss core stabilization and how integral it is for the function and health of our bodies, especially for our lower backs. What is it and why is it considered so important?

 

Your Core Structure:

 

Core stabilization refers to your ability to keep your core structure consisting of torso, abdomen and spine, relatively stable as the legs, arms and connecting structures are recruited to do physical work like walking, running, throwing and lifting.

 

Consider what would happen if you did not possess core stability. Every time you wanted to move to bring either an arm or a leg away from your mid-line to perform a task, your body would be pulled in that direction and you would fall over. If you did not fall, you would most likely strain the ligaments of your joints instead, once the load became too great. Not a good scenario.

 

The Essential Components of Core Stability:

 

When most of us think of the core muscles, an image of a bodybuilder’s six-pack abs (rectus abdominis) usually comes to mind. Actually, this abdominal muscle is the one contributing the least to core stability! Instead of acting as a stabilizer, the primary role of this muscle is to move the torso into flexion – curling up into a ball.

 

The deepest abdominal muscle layer is the transversus abdominis and it is the prime stabilizer of the torso, aided by several other specific support muscles including the internal obliques and the multifidus. Scientific studies show that before any movement is initiated, these muscles are engaged beforehand, and the transversus abdominis muscles are always recruited first.[i]

 

If you think of a girdle or corset – those ladies’ garments often worn to cinch the waist and give that hourglass appearance – this would give you a good idea what the transversus abdominis muscle does for the body. When it contracts, this muscle squeezes and holds the trunk and torso quite rigid and allows for the arms or legs to do their job without pulling the body this way and that. You may be familiar with the competitive powerlifter’s thick leather belt – compressing and holding the lower back steady while the rest of the body prepares to lift, clean and jerk up to a thousand pounds overhead. Although this is an extreme example, the function is the same.

 

What if Core Muscles Don’t Function Properly?

 

Research reveals patients with lower back pain have delayed or insufficient firing patterns of the transversus abdominis muscles compared to control groups with no back pain.[ii] Although researchers admit it does not prove this muscle delay causes lower back pain, their findings clearly identify a relationship between core stabilization and lumbar spine symptoms. Results from these studies show that by increasing the activation of the core stabilizers, primarily the transversus abdominis, back pain may be reduced or prevented.

 

Does Increasing Core Stability Help Your Lower Back?

 

Recent evidence suggests that it does. Researchers took a group of 39 patients who experienced an initial episode of acute low back pain and then divided them into two groups: one that was given specific strengthening exercises for the transversus abdominis and multifidus muscles and another group that did not do these exercises.

 

Follow-ups with these two groups of patients one year and three years later revealed a significant difference between the two. In the group that was given the specific core strengthening exercises, there was a 30-35% recurrence rate of symptoms. Whereas in the other group that did not perform the exercises, there was a 75-85% recurrence rate of lower back pain.[iii]

 

Although a consultation with your chiropractor is your best bet for a speedy recovery from acute low back pain, it looks like an abdominal contraction-a-day can really help keep the long-term pain away! Ask your chiropractor to recommend the best core-strengthening exercise for you.

[i] Contraction of the abdominal muscles associated with movement of the lower limb – Phys Ther. 1997 (Feb); 77(2):132-142.

[ii] Inefficient muscular stabilization of the lumbar spine associated with low back pain. A motor control evaluation of transversus abdominis – Spine 1996 (Nov);21(22): 2640-50.

Changes in recruitment of the abdominal muscles in people with low back pain: ultrasound measurement of muscle activity – Spine 2004 (Nov); 29(22):2560-66.

[iii] Long-term effects of specific stabilizing exercises for first-episode low back pain – Spine 2001 (Jun); 26(11):E243-48.

Urban Gardening

With the growing cost of food in supermarkets these days, many people are turning to urban garden plots. Whether these are back yard plots for family use or organized groups making use of vacant lots or patches in some parks that are allotted to nearby apartment dwellers, the practice has been growing for some years.

 

Benefits:

 

As well as the economic benefit of growing your own vegetables or fruit there are many other benefits. You know where the seeds you are using come from and whether they have been genetically modified or a natural seed cultivated from plants in your growing area. You can decide whether you want to use a growing medium or fertilizer that is organic or even use your own composted material.

 

If you become part of an organized group or just join a couple of neighbors in the adventure of growing a few tomatoes, carrots, lettuce or trying out new vegetables you can benefit from socializing with your neighbors giving you the opportunity of making new friends who also have an interest in gardening.

 

Urban agriculture can even reduce the carbon footprint in some neighborhoods as plants absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis, depending upon what type of crop is grown. Plants like strawberries for instance retain their green leaves while only the berries are harvested, allowing the plant to release oxygen as long as the climate allows them to grow.

 

One study in Flint, Michigan found that those participating in community gardens consumed more fruits and vegetables when taking an active role in urban gardening. Produce is perceived to be more desirable, fresher and better tasting than store bought produce. When children take part in the process it has also been reported by an Idaho study that a positive association with school gardens resulted in increased intake of foods high in Vitamins A, C and fiber among the children involved.

 

Urban gardening improves dietary knowledge.[i] Community gardeners were better able to communicate specific nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables on the body than those who had not participated in a community garden. They also tended to consume fewer sweet foods and drinks in a Philadelphia study.[ii]

 

Saving the Environment:

 

In large urban areas even rooftop gardens can be utilized for growing trees to improve air quality as well as growing garden vegetables and fruits. These gardens can apparently cut down on noise pollution as well. Most roofs or vacant lots consist of hard flat surfaces that reflect sound waves instead of absorbing them. By adding plants that can absorb these waves it has great potential to lead to a vast reduction in noise pollution.[iii]

 

In the case of vacant lots where contaminated soil or water may be present, vegetable gardens would not be suitable or probably safe to eat. However urban agriculture can be used as a method to rid an area of chemical pollution. Non-edible plants can be used to remove chemicals and hold the soil in place to prevent the erosion of contaminated soil thereby decreasing the spread of pollutants and the hazard presented by the lots.

 

Healthy Crops:

 

If there is any doubt about contaminated soil in your garden areas, soil testing should be done beforehand to avoid growing food crops where lead, mercury or other similar contamination may have leached into the soil. This is where containers, garden boxes or hydroponic (soil-less) gardening is an ideal solution.

 

There are also community groups in many cities that grow extra food to be delivered to food banks in order to provide fresh produce along with other food items. Extra produce is also shared in some cities where low income families do not have the space to grow, nor the income to access fresh produce.

 

Last, but not least, what a great way to get outdoors and exercise with planting and maintaining your garden patch. Keep yourself active and maintain good flexibility with regular check-ups with your chiropractor.

[i] Bellows, Anne C., Katherine Brown, Jac Smit. “”Health Benefits of Urban Agriculture” (paper and research conducted by members of the Community Food Security Coalition’s North American Initiative on Urban Agriculture)”. Foodsecurity.org.

[ii] Hale, J; Knapp, C.; Bardwell, L.; Buchenau, M.; Marshall, J.; Sancar, F.; Litt, J. (2011). “Connecting food environments and health through the relational nature of aesthetics: Gaining insight through the community gardening experience”. Social Science & Medicine. 72 (11):1853-1863. doi:10.1016/j. socscimed2011.03.044 PMC 3114166.PMID 21596466:

[iii] Passchier-Vermeer, W.; Passchier, W.F. (2000). “Noise exposure and public health”. Environmental Health Perspectives. 108(1):123–131.