Gluten Freedom


The concept of the value and benefit of gluten-free food has been gaining momentum for the last 10 years. Discussion related to gluten-free diets goes back to the mid-1950s, but those peer-reviewed articles were primarily focused on the treatment of celiac disease and related gastrointestinal disorders. Today gluten-free diets are being adopted as an overall health-promoting measure by broad segments of the population. Is this trend merely a fad or are there actual advantages for the average person in cutting down on gluten intake?

Gluten is a structural protein found in wheat that provides a glue-like property and helps dough stick together. Gluten-containing wheat works best for bread making, and a few thousand years ago gluten-containing wheat became the standard wheat crop. Similarly, the protein in barley and rye is predominantly gluten. Researchers posit that tens of thousands of years ago our digestive systems were optimized genetically to process a diverse diet of grains. But a modern diet is mostly composed of uniform, gluten-containing grains. Our digestive systems were not designed to process such a heavy load of gluten, and the result is the development of a range of gluten-sensitivity disorders and autoimmune diseases.1

Gluten sensitivity has been proposed as a culprit in numerous conditions, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and infertility.2,3 The link to such conditions is not clearly understood, but case reports identifying gluten sensitivity as a causal factor have appeared in numerous professional journals for more than 10 years.

For children, adolescents, and adults with such disorders, it may be appropriate to adopt a gluten-free diet to eliminate a potential source of tissue inflammation. Other persons with various nonspecific digestive complaints may also benefit from a gluten-free nutrition plan. For example, if you experience frequent, or even periodic, upset stomachs or other gastrointestinal problems, consumption of gluten may be part of the clinical scenario. Two months on a gluten-free food plan should be sufficient to determine whether gluten protein is a contributing factor to such complaints.

Going gluten-free takes a lot of dedication, time, and effort. The first step is to learn which foods in your diet contain gluten. As noted, wheat, barley, and rye are primary sources of gluten protein. Quinoa, teff, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth are gluten-free replacements for gluten-containing grains. It’s important to bear in mind that many foods contain wheat and represent hidden sources of gluten, including beer, potato chips, brown rice sugar, soy sauce, and processed food such as deli meats, frozen burgers, and bread crumbs. Being gluten-free requires diligence, but the payoff may be substantial in terms of overall health and well-being.

1Sapone A, et al: Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification. BMC Med. 2012 Feb 7;10:13. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-10-13
2Isasi C, et al: Fibromyalgia and non-celiac gluten sensitivity: a description with remission of fibromyalgia. Rheumatol Int 2014 Apr 12. [Epub ahead of print]
3Herfarth HH, et al: Prevalence of a gluten-free diet and improvement of clinical symptoms in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. Inflamm Bowel Dis 20(7):1194-7, 2014

Chiropractic Care and a Healthy You

A healthy nerve system is required in order to have a healthy gastrointestinal system. For example, when you eat a meal the cells lining your stomach need to know how much gastric juice to secrete to aid in proper digestion. The cells lining your small intestine need to know how many enzymes to release in order to properly complete the digestive process. These processes, whose details are hidden from our conscious minds, take place under the guidance and direction of the nerve system. In fact, a healthy nerve system is required for healthy functioning of all your body systems.

Regular chiropractic care helps your nerve system to do its job effectively. Regular chiropractic care helps to keep your spinal column in top condition and helps to reduce muscle tension and other sources of nerve interference. By participating in maintaining a fully functioning nerve system, regular chiropractic care helps you achieve high levels of long-term health and well-being.

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Checkmate


In chess, checkmate occurs when a player’s king is under attack and has no safe place to go. The king is threatened and every possible escape route is blocked. Such an existential condition, an allegorical “no exit,” is known as checkmate.

In life, a person may be similarly threatened by a serious illness. For example, a person may receive a diagnosis for which there is no effective long-term treatment. Short-term, temporary solutions may be available, but these usually require enormous expenditures of resources, both financial and personal. Most often, when the temporary fix has run its course, the illness persists and the long-term outlook remains the same. Optimally, we would prefer to avoid such medical “checks” and avoid being faced with an untimely “checkmate.” As in chess, obtaining success with respect to our health and well being depends in large part on having a sound strategy in place.

Successful chess players think several moves ahead. High-level chess players such as grand masters have the ability to envision combinations involving ten or more future moves. Fortunately, being successful at the game of promoting personal health and well being is much less complicated. There are only a few elements involved in developing a strategy that works.

These elements are well known and include (1) regular, vigorous exercise; (2) a healthy diet1; (3) sufficient rest; and (4) a positive mental attitude. But despite being well known, only the minority of people actually implements these critical “moves.” The evidence for such lack of action may be seen in the United States, for example, where one-third of Americans are overweight and additional one-third are obese. Merely knowing something is not sufficient to obtain a result.

What is required is actual action.2 In terms of exercise, evidence-based guidelines agree that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, done five days a week, will provide a sound foundation for health. Optimally, such exercise consists of both cardiovascular and strength training sessions, but the most important point is to do five 30-minute sessions per week. With respect to diet, all the evidence affirms that men, women, and children should follow specific calorie-intake guidelines.3 For example, a moderately active man, aged 31-50, should consume, on average, 2500 calories per day. A moderately active woman, aged 31-50, should consume, on average, 2000 calories per day. A man intending to lose weight, and then maintain an ideal weight, should take in about 1800 calories per day. A woman intending to lose weight, and then maintain an ideal weight, should consume about 1600 calories per day. Regarding daily food intake, the most important rule to follow is to consume at least five portions of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. It is also important, on a daily basis, to eat foods from all the major food groups. In terms of rest, most people require seven to eight hours of sleep a night. This may not be possible every night, of course, but over time people need to obtain the right amount of rest for them. The criterion is simple: if you do not feel rested after a night’s sleep, then you did not obtain sufficient sleep. Obtaining sufficient rest is an often-neglected component of a well-rounded health and wellness strategy.

Our strategy for helping ensure our long-term health and wellness contains only a few components, and involves many less moves than does a winning chess strategy. It should be easy to put such a strategy into place. What is required is a commitment and dedication to ourselves, our families, and our loved ones.

1Voeghtly LM, et al: Cardiometabolic risk reduction in an intensive cardiovascular health program. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 23(7):662-669, 2013
2Carson V, et al: A cross-sectional study of the environment, physical activity, and screen time among young children and their parents. BMC Public Health 2014 Jan 21;14:61. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-61
3Wang YC, et al: Reaching the healthy people goals for reducing childhood obesity: closing the energy gap. Am J Prev Med 42(5):437-444, 2012

Chiropractic Care and the Game of Life

As with the game of chess, success in the game of life requires planning and preparation. Such success depends in large part on long-term health and well being. Chiropractic care is a key component of any winning strategy for supporting a happy and productive life.

In contrast to medical care, which focuses on symptoms and disease, chiropractic care focuses on your body’s innate ability to promote wellness. It may be necessary, at times, to utilize the medical model to treat specific problems, but obtaining wellness over years and decades depends on your body’s innate ability to heal itself. Chiropractic care facilitates these innate healing processes by aligning your spine. This, in turn, provides an environment in which nerve signals can flow freely from your brain to the rest of your body. This freely flowing exchange of information provides optimal functioning of all your body’s cells, tissues, and organs. The long-term result is enhanced health and well being, thanks to the assistance of chiropractic care.

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Your Own Personal Trainer


Back in the day, there were no personal trainers. If you needed to learn how to exercise, you got a subscription to one of a few well-known “muscle magazines” and read several issues from cover to cover. Then you joined a “Y” and began to discreetly observe what was going in the weight room, trying to match up what you had read in the magazine with what you were seeing in the gym. Eventually, you put together a series of exercises, sets, and reps that worked for you. Back then, any strength training program you developed would be strictly based on a seat-of-the-pants approach. You learned by trial and error.

Today there is a vast body of scientific literature focused on the various benefits of numerous forms and types of exercise.1 However, scientific studies are not good at evaluating the how-to’s of getting fit. Fortunately many informal resources are available, all intended to point you in the right direction. But not all of these resources are accurate or trustworthy, and the challenge is to identify a set of basic principles that will be applicable to your specific situation.

Firstly, before getting started you need to make sure that it’s OK to actually get started. Let your doctor (your family chiropractor, family physician, or internist) know what you’re planning to do and have her tell you what you need to watch out for, if anything. Next, you need to make a commitment. Consistency is the key to deriving lasting value from exercise. Additionally, irregular exercise sessions will often lead to injury. If you’re serious about getting fit, then make a commitment to yourself to participate in a 12-week program. At the end of 12 weeks, you’ll evaluate how you feel, what you’ve accomplished, and whether you want to keep going.

In terms of strength training (that is, weight lifting), three sessions per week is ideal. By doing “split routines” you can exercise all the major muscle groups each week. On one day you’ll do exercises for the chest and back. Another day you’ll do exercises for the legs. On the third day you’ll focus on the shoulders, biceps, and triceps. This set of split routines will produce optimal results for many people.

Importantly, you’ll be doing chest and triceps (and back and biceps) on different days, thus avoiding the potential for overwork and injury. But you may find that an alternate set of split routines works best for you. The key is to start slowly and build up strength gradually. Once you have some experience and an improved level of fitness, you may branch out and vary your basic routine, experimenting and seeing what works best for you. In terms of sets and repetitions (reps), three sets per exercise and eight to 12 repetitions per set represent the classical, tried and true method of getting fit and making gradual strength gains over time. For any strength training exercise, start with a weight at which you can do eight repetitions comfortably. This should be neither too easy, nor too difficult. Of course, it’s far better to err on the side of caution. You never want to do too much too soon.

As you go along in your fitness program, you’ll add core exercise routines2 and aerobics exercise such as walking, swimming, biking, and running. If you work out slowly and gradually and maintain consistency, you’ll have a great deal of fun and gain substantially improved levels of health and well-being.3

1Storer TW, et al: Effect of supervised, periodized exercise training vs. self-directed training on lean body mass and other fitness variables in health club members. J Strength Cond Res 28(7):1995-2006, 2014
2Kahle N, Tevald MA: Core muscle strengthening’s improvement of balance performance in community-dwelling older adults: a pilot study. J Aging Phys Act 22(1):65-73, 2014
3Huffman KM, et al: Metabolite signatures of exercise training in human skeletal muscle relate to mitochondrial remodelling and cardiometabolic fitness. Diabetologia 2014 Aug 5. [Epub ahead of print]

Regular Chiropractic Care and Personal Fitness

Getting regular exercise is not a cure-all. Although it’s very difficult to maintain good health if you’re not exercising consistently, exercise in itself is not enough. Additional components of a healthy lifestyle include good nutrition, sufficient rest, intangibles such as a positive outlook on life, and regular chiropractic care.

Regular chiropractic care ties together all the other things you’re doing to achieve high levels of personal health and wellness. By identifying, analyzing, and correcting spinal misalignments, your chiropractor is helping to reduce nerve interference and helping to facilitate optimal functioning of all your body’s physiological systems. As a result, you’re able to make maximum use of the good foods you’re eating and get the most out of your exercise time. By making these healthy lifestyle choices, including regular chiropractic care, you’re choosing to enhance your personal health and well-being.

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Replacement Parts: What You Need to Know


If you’ve ever been involved in a motor vehicle collision, you’re probably familiar with the term “replacement parts” or “crash parts”. Your auto insurance company will usually offer to repair your car using after-market bumpers, door panels, wheel assemblies, and other parts. Or, you may prefer to have the repair done with parts from the original manufacturer. Regardless of the source of the parts, your car will not be the same as it was in its original condition. It’s important to bear the auto analogy in mind if a surgeon has recommended a hip, knee, or shoulder replacement as a solution to a problem of chronic pain.

The frequency of joint replacement procedures of all types is dramatically on the rise within the last 20 years.1 For example, in the United States there has been a 58% increase in total knee replacements from 2000 to 2006. There has been a 50% increase in total hip replacements from 1990 to 2002. Unfortunately, the revision rate (repeat procedures) for total knee replacement more than doubled and revision total hip replacements increased by 60% within the respective, above-noted intervals.

The simple fact is that although your body may appear to be a machine, it is rather an exceedingly complex entity whose whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Thinking of your body as a machine may be a useful metaphor, one that may aid considerably in medical practice. But the metaphor is not the reality, and forgetting this crucial distinction may lead to substantial and possibly irremediable problems for a patient. Manufactured joints are never as good as your actual physiological structures, no matter the quality of the replacement components.

Of course, there are many circumstances in which joint replacement is indicated and provides great benefit for a patient. However, such procedures should probably be a last resort and never considered standard of care. A best practice would be to reserve joint replacement for situations in which pain is unrelenting and the person has failed several forms of conservative care.

Optimally, in most cases measures are available to avoid such radical outcomes. The best steps for each of us to take is to begin ongoing programs of regular vigorous exercise and healthy nutrition.2,3 Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient rest will assist all our physiologic systems to achieve peak levels of performance. By making such beneficial lifestyle choices, we help diminish the likelihood of chronic, debilitating pain and loss of function. As a result, we help ourselves avoid the need for replacement parts.

1Singh, JA: Epidemiology of Knee and Hip Arthroplasty: A Systematic Review. The Open Orthopaedics Journal 5:80-85, 2011

2Marley J, et al: A systematic review of interventions aimed at increasing physical activity in adults with chronic musculoskeletal pain–protocol. Syst Rev 2014 Sep 19;3(1):106. [Epub ahead of print

3Tanaka R, et al: Effect of the Frequency and Duration of Land-based Therapeutic Exercise on Pain Relief for People with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Phys Ther Sci 2014 Jul;26(7):969-75. doi: 10.1589/jpts.26.969. Epub 2014 Jul 30

Regular Chiropractic Care and a Healthy Nerve System

The need for hip, knee, and shoulder replacement surgery often arises when the joint in question cannot be used without causing substantial pain. The person has avoided attempts to lift the arm, bend the hip, or flex the knee. But such loss of function may not be tolerable in the long-term, and surgery may be required.

For most of us, lifestyle choices could be implemented long before such a critical stage is reached. Certain courses of action can help us improve joint mobility and overall musculoskeletal function. Regular vigorous exercise, for example, consistently challenges joints and muscles, helping improve range of motion and tolerance for daily mechanical stress.

Regular chiropractic care is an important part of such lifestyle choices. By helping reduce nerve interference, regular chiropractic care enables your body’s master system to function at peak efficiency. The result is enhanced musculoskeletal performance and increased levels of overall health and well-being.

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