Monthly Archives: June 2017

Can Yoga Soothe Back Pain?

Yoga may bring images of flexible lean figures bending their bodies in all different directions. Therefore, yoga may not come to mind when it comes to a solution for back pain.  yogaHowever, research shows that yoga can soothe back pain as well as physical therapy.

According to the National Institutes of Health, yoga is a mind and body practice that involves physical postures, breathing techniques, as well as methods of meditation and relaxation.  Yoga is good for improving muscle tone and strength, improving respiration, and reducing weight, among other things.

A recent study at Boston Medical Center looked at 320 patients that had persistent back pain for 12 weeks. The patients were assigned to either 12 weekly yoga classes, 15 physical therapy sessions, or  a book on how to manage back pain.  Nearly one-half of those who took yoga classes had “clinically meaningful” improvement. Also, 37-percent of physical therapy patients and 23-percent of book group patients, respectively felt similar improvement. The difference between the yoga and physical therapy results was not considered significant.

The lead researcher noted that both the yoga and physical therapy patients had pain relief for 12 months. However, he also suggests that not all forms of yoga are appropriate for those with back pain. The gentle yoga used in the study offered chairs and props. Therefore the study yoga was easy on the joints versus other types of yoga.

Yoga, however, is not effective for everyone with pain issues.  Acupuncture, massage, or natural supplements such as Vita Science’s Relocane can also help relieve pain.  Relocane contains natural ingredients such as turmeric and ginger that can decrease inflammation and help relieve minor aches, pains, and muscle cramps.  Use this supplement by Vita Sciences as part of your daily health regimen to feel your best. However, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement or exercise program.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Osteopathic Association (accessed June 26. 2017) “The Benefits of Yoga” http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/yoga.aspx

Medline Plus (June 19, 2017) “Yoga Soothes Back Pain” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166742.html

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (August 26, 2016) “Yoga” https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga


  • Are healthy fats as effective as statins in lowering cholesterol?

    High cholesterol is a common risk factor for heart disease. Over 31 million Americans have high cholesterol. The common treatment for this condition has been medicines known as statins. However, a recent study by the American Heart Association has found that eating foods containing cholesterol, statin, healthy fatshealthy fats may work to lower cholesterol as well as statins.

    You may think if you lower cholesterol in your diet, then you can lower blood cholesterol. However, it is saturated fat intake that has an impact on your cholesterol levels. There are two main types of cholesterol: High-density lipoproteins (HDL) and Low-density lipoproteins (LDL). The HDL, or “good” cholesterol, carries LDL, the “bad” cholesterol away from the heart to the liver to be broken down and used by the body for energy.  Also, LDL  can build up in the arteries causing plaques. This in turn can increase risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

    Statins work to lower cholesterol by preventing cholesterol from forming in the liver. Therefore, this reduces the amount of cholesterol that circulates in the blood.  Furthermore, statins also work to increase HDL cholesterol in the blood. Recent studies have shown that consuming healthy fats in the diet can provide these same benefits.

    The American Heart Association has found that replacing saturated fats with healthier plant-based fats in the diet can be just as effective in lowering cholesterol as statin drugs. These healthy fats, or unsaturated fats,  help improve cholesterol.  Fatty fish like salmon or trout, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and olive oil contain such healthy fats.  In particular, clinical trials have found that replacing saturated fats in the diet with healthier polyunsaturated fats can reduce cholesterol by 30-percent.  It is important to note that this reduction is similar to the effect of statins on cholesterol levels.

    Therefore, in order to lower cholesterol, swap out saturated fat foods such as fried foods, fatty meats, and processed food products with healthier fat options.  This small swap can make a world of difference in your heart health.

    In addition to diet changes, you can add in a supplement such as Vita Sciences’ AlestraAlestra contains heart-healthy compounds such as niacin, plant sterols, and garlic. These compounds have been found to support healthy cholesterol levels and promote heart health. However, be sure to ask your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your routine.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (April 2017) “HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides,” “The Skinny on Fats” &”Cholesterol Medications” http://www.heart.org

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (March 17, 2015) “High Cholesterol Facts” https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm

    Medline Plus (June 15, 2017) “Healthy Dietary fats Help Beat High Cholesterol” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166625.html


  • Could Obesity Increase Your Risk For Hot Flashes?

    As you get older, it can be harder to lose weight due to loss of lean muscle mass. In women, aging can also bring menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, dry skin, mood swings, as well as weight gain.  Recent research shows that there may be a link to being obese and having intense hot flashes.

    A study in the journal Menopause looked at 750 Brazilian women between 45 and 60 years old. Obese women had more intense hot flashes that impacted daily living and work performance than those non-obese women. It is suggested that body fat acts as insulation, which traps heat in the body.

    Joint pain, muscle pain, and urinary issues can also greatly impact obese women. This can be due to the extra pressure that excess body fat has on the bones, muscles, and organs. It is suggested that maintaining a healthy body weight can help improve quality of life in women as they age. Losing weight and staying within a healthy range is not easy. However, follow these tips to help get to menopause, hot flashes, obesityand keep a healthy weight for life.

    • Consume a healthy balanced diet by limiting processed and convenience foods. Processed and convenience foods contain more sugar, fat, and sodium than their whole food counterparts. Instead, focus more on consuming lean proteins, fiber-rich fruits and veggies, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
    • Stay active most days of the week.  Exercise such as walking, gardening, dancing, biking, or stair-climbing can all benefit health. At least 30 minutes of exercise for most days of the week can help heart health and weight management.
    • See a doctor on a regular basis. When you are overweight, going to the doctor can be a scary thing. The doctor’s office may be a place where such people have been told to lose weight without getting to voice other health concerns.  However, it is still very important to visit a healthcare provider at least once a year. Early detection of health problems can prevent chronic disease.  Visit the doctor more often if you already have chronic health issues such as heart disease or diabetes.
    • Have vitamin levels checked. Recent research is finding there may be a link between vitamin D deficiency and the risk of overweight or obesity in children. Also, a 2013 study found a link between vitamin B12 deficiency and being overweight or obese. This research shows the importance of checking for vitamin levels to prevent health issues.  Therefore, ask your doctor to have these extra labs checked each year.
    • Have thyroid and hormone levels checked. Thyroid disorders and hormone imbalances can cause weight gain and make it hard to manage weight.  Medication can help with treatment of such conditions if diagnosed. Therefore, ask your doctor to test for your levels if weight gain is difficult even with diet and exercise.
    • Take supplements such as Estrosa by Vita Sciences.  This supplement contains natural black cohosh and the antioxidant resveratrol. Estrosa can help reduce hot flashes, bloating, weight gain and mood swings.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    Abraham, S.B, et al (January 2013) “Cortisol, obesity, and the metabolic syndrome: A cross-sectional study of obese subjects and review of the literature” Obesity, 21(1):  E105-E117.

    American Thyroid Association (accessed June 3, 2017) “Thyroid and Weight” https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-and-weight/

    Baltaci, D., et al. (August 2013). “Association of vitamin B12 with obesity, overweight, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, and body fat composition; primary care-based study.” Medicinski glasnik, 10(2):203-10.

    Mayo Clinic. (April 21, 2016). “Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/basics/symptoms/con-20019726

    MedlinePlus (May 31, 2017) Obese Women May Have More Intense Hot Flashes” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166108.html

    Wakayo, T., et al. (April 2016) “Vitamin D Deficiency is Associated with Overweight and/or Obesity among Schoolchildren in Central Ethiopia: A Cross-Sectional Study” Nutrients, 8(4): 190.


  • Top Three Tips for Keeping your Heart Young

    Heart disease risk increases as you age. Vessels can become more narrow and damaged, while the heart can become thickened and weak. However, a recent study has found that with a little hard work, keeping a young heart into your golden years is possible.

    The American Heart Association states that “Life’s Simple 7” rules can help decrease heart heart, cardiovascular, vessel, cholesterol, diabetesdisease risk.  These rules include:

    • Keeping blood pressure normal
    • Maintaining low cholesterol levels
    • Keeping blood glucose levels down
    • Staying active
    • Eating healthy
    • Losing weight
    • Stopping smoking (or never starting if you don’t smoke)

    A recent review of the Framingham Study found that those individuals who met six out of seven of “Life’s Simple 7” were ten times more likely to maintain healthy blood vessels into old age than those who met none of the goals. Also, out of the 3200 adults aged 50 years and older reviewed, those who maintained the healthiest vessels did the following three things:

    • maintained a healthy weight
    • did not develop diabetes
    • kept cholesterol levels within healthy levels

    Furthermore, those individuals who had healthy blood vessels had more than a 50-percent lower risk of getting heart disease or stroke.  Subjects were thought to have healthy blood vessels if they had normal blood pressure and supple blood vessels as measured by pulse-wave velocity.

    Nearly 20-percent of those who had healthy blood vessels were in the younger end of the group, while only 1-percent were 70 years of age or older. Therefore, it is easy to see that maintaining healthy blood vessels into older age is not easy, but not impossible.

    Follow these tips to help keep young and healthy blood vessels for life:

    • Eat a low sodium and high fiber diet.  Consume mostly fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables for more fiber. In addition, reduce intake of processed foods such as deli meats, boxed goods, packaged snacks, and canned soups. Also, limit fried foods, whole fat dairy products, and fatty meats in your diet. Instead, replace such unhealthy fats with healthier fats such as plant-based oils, avocado, fatty fish such as salmon, nuts, and seeds.
    • Stay active for most days of the week. It is thought that moderate exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days a week can lower risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke. Moderate exercise does not mean boot camp or running. However, simply walking, dancing, gardening, or riding a bike can count as moderate exercise.
    • Take supplements such as Alestra by Vita Sciences. Alestra contains niacin, plant sterols, & garlic that has been found to support healthy cholesterol levels. Also, niacin and plant sterols are vegan-friendly for those who are following a plant-based diet.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (February 2014) “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults” http://www.heart.org

    Mayo Clinic (July 29, 2014) “Heart Disease: Risk Factors” http://www.mayoclinic.org

    MedlinePlus (May 30, 2017) “Can a 70-Year-Old Have the Arteries of a 20-Year-Old?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166076.html