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How Are Bones Made and How Do They Grow?
September 4, 2015, 2015 at 5:28 PM

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Each of the 206 bones in your body is constantly undergoing a process of breakdown and renewal, even if you have never suffered
a broken bone in your life. Your entire skeleton is completely replaced approximately every 10 years. The construction of bone tissue begins when we are a fetus in the womb, and continues until we die. Our genetics and both the nutrients we receive before we are born and those we get through our diet in our youth have a major influence on the strength and endurance of our skeletal system.


Fetal cartilage is the precursor to bone growth, and is transformed into bone in a process called ossification. The fetal cartilage
attracts the minerals calcium and phosphorus, which cover the cartilage cells. The fetal cartilage cells soon die off, leaving small
holes through which blood vessels can grow. Osteoblasts, the specialized cells responsible for bone growth, travel to the developing
bone via these tiny blood vessels. There they produce the collagen fibers that are the structure over which bone is formed,
and attract the calcium with which the fibers are covered. Osteoblasts eventually transform into osteocytes, which become part
of the calcium mix that helps to reinforce the collagen fibers and strengthen the bone.

Osteoclasts are the cells responsible for breaking down and removing old bone tissue, leaving small chambers that allow marrow to form. The small holes osteoclasts create are why this particular part of the bone is called spongy bone. Although it is hard, spongy bone resembles a common kitchen sponge. In our youth, the osteoblasts outnumber the osteoclasts, so we have a net gain of bone growth. This is when the growth of bone is referred to as modeling. Bone continues to grow until approximately our mid-20s, at which point we have reached our greatest bone density.
From our mid-20s on, our bones are in a constant process of remodeling. At this point, the osteoblasts can no longer keep up with the osteoclasts. While bone is continually being rebuilt, no supplemental bone is being added, so we can begin to lose bone density. Even though our bodies no longer add to our stock of spongy bone tissue after our mid-20s, we can still continue to add bone to the outer layer of our bones, called compact bone. Compact bone accounts for about 80 percent of our bone mass and protects the more fragile spongy bone inside. Although compact bone is considerably denser than spongy bone, it still has tiny channels for blood vessels and nerves to pass through.

Our spongy bone is filled with two types of marrow, red and yellow. Red bone marrow is responsible for the creation of our red and
white blood cells and the platelets that are necessary for clotting in order to stop bleeding when we are injured. Yellow bone
marrow consists mostly of fat cells and is more common in our long bones, such as the femur.

A healthy diet with adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K, along with a little regular
weight-bearing exercise, will help ensure that you maintain the greatest bone density possible as you age, and will help
protect against the danger of fractures due to osteoporosis.


How Coffee Affects Your Health
July 8, 2015, 2015 at 9:02 PM

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We seem to hear different things from the medical community every few years about either the positive or negative effect that coffee has on our health. So what is the most current information? Is coffee good or bad for your health? The answer, in short, is that it’s a little of both.

Too much coffee can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure, anxiety and upset stomach, in addition to its ability to become addictive. And don’t forget that added cream and sugar contribute to weight gain. For example, a 24-ounce Starbucks venti double chocolate chip frappucino contains a mind-boggling 520 calories!

Despite these drawbacks, moderate coffee consumption can actually have a protective effect, helping to reduce your risk of many problems, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, liver cancer, gallstones and Type 2 diabetes, to name a few. It can also lower the risk of stroke in women.

Current research has indicated that there is no increased risk of heart disease or cancer from moderate coffee drinking. The studies done earlier that reached that conclusion were flawed in that they did not take into consideration other lifestyle habits that went along with increased coffee drinking, such as smoking and lack of exercise, two major causes of these diseases. In fact, coffee has been shown to protect against many kinds of cancer.

A recent study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that there was a 25 percent reduction in cases of endometrial cancer in women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day. Scientists believe this may be due to the fact that coffee has the ability to lower concentrations of free estradiol and insulin, in addition to the cancer-fighting effect of coffee’s antioxidant phenols.

Even a few cups of coffee every day can cut men’s risk of developing prostate cancer by 30 percent, with those consuming six cups of coffee a day reducing their risk of a dangerous form of the cancer by a whopping 60 percent.

Coffee also reduces your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma by up to 20 percent, according to scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Another study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who drink coffee (four cups per day) have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than those who drink no coffee at all.

It is recommended that you get no more than 500-600 mg of caffeine intake per day, the equivalent of about 6 to 8 cups of brewed coffee. Obviously, the amount of caffeine in a cup of espresso will be more than that in the equivalent amount drip coffee.

The key point to keep in mind is to consume coffee in moderate amounts, especially if you are pregnant. But all in all, the benefits of coffee consumption far outweigh the risks for most people, so grab a café grande and drink up!

Nutrition is a very complex and our understanding of it is constantly evolving. If you have questions about your current nutrition or supplement plan, please ask. We are here to help!


What Are Food Cravings? Is Your Body Really Trying to Tell You Something?
November 20, 2013, 2013 at 4:06 AM

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For some years, researchers had believed that having cravings for a particular type of food may be an indication that you are missing a particular nutrient in your diet. For example, if you crave red meat then you may have an iron deficiency, or if you crave ice cream you must need calcium. Studies have shown, however, that cravings have nothing to do with a nutritional deficiency, but are actually caused by chemical signals in the brain. Nutritionist Karen Ansel says, “If cravings were an indicator of nutritional deficiency, we’d all crave fruits and vegetables. The fact that we all want high carb, high fat comfort foods, along with the research, is a pretty good indicator that cravings aren’t related to deficiencies.” Yes–it’s really all in your head.

When you crave a food, the same reward justifys in the brain that are responsible for drug and alcohol addiction are more active: the hippocampus (memory), the insula (emotion and perception) and the caudate (memory and learning). These areas are all very receptive to dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that are responsible for feeling relaxed and calm and which spur reward-driven learning. The reason you crave things such as ice cream, potato chips and chocolate is that these items are full of fat and/or sugar. Both fat and sugar are involved in an increased production of serotonin and other chemicals that make us feel good.

There is a large societal aspect to cravings as well. For instance, women in Japan tend to crave sushi and only 6 percent of Egyptian women say they crave chocolate. Approximately half of American women claim that their cravings for chocolate reach a peak just before their period. However, research has found no correlation between fluctuations in women’s hormones and cravings. In fact, postmenopausal women do not report a large reduction in cravings from their premenopausal levels.

Studies have found that the more people try to deny their cravings, the greater the craving they have for the forbidden food. Researchers suggest that it is better to give in to the craving in a controlled way rather than denying yourself altogether. Just be sure to restrict what you consume to a reasonable amount. If your dopamine receptors are constantly bombarded with high-fat and high-sugar foods (or drugs and alcohol), they shut down to prevent an overload. This makes your cravings even greater and you end up eating more in an attempt get the same reward, but you never really feel satisfied.

Exercise and distraction are two good ways to reduce food cravings. One study found that a morning workout can reduce your cravings for the whole day. Smelling a non-food item can also help. Keep a small vial of your favorite perfume with you when a craving comes on and take a whiff when the craving hits you. It will occupy the aroma receptors that are involved in food cravings.


How Flexible Should I Be and How Can I Measure My Flexibility?
November 19, 2013, 2013 at 4:03 AM

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Watching a dancer her leg to her nose is an impressive sight, and many of us can perform similar feats when we’re children. But we begin to lose flexibility as we age if we do not make a conscious effort to remain limber. Inactivity causes muscles to shorten and stiffen, and muscle mass is lost with increasing years as well. However, maintaining flexibility as we get older is of great importance, since it allows us to retain our mobility and reduces the likelihood of aches, sprains and falls as we age.

Optimal flexibility means the ability of each of your joints to move fully through their natural range of motion. Simple activities such as walking or bending over to tie your shoes can become major difficulties if your flexibility is limited. Unfortunately, sitting for hours at a desk, as so many are forced to do on a daily basis, eventually leads to a reduction in flexibility as the muscles shorten and tighten.

There are a number of different tests used to measure flexibility, but the one test that has been used as a standard for years is the sit and reach test. It measures the flexibility of your hamstrings and lower back. The simple home version of the test requires only a step (or a small box) and a ruler.

Before the test, warm up for about 10 minutes with some light aerobic activity and do a few stretches. Then place the ruler on the step, letting the end of it extend out a few inches over your toes, and note where the edge of the step comes to on the ruler. Sit on the floor with your feet extended in front of you, flat against the bottom step (or box). With your arms extended straight out in front of you and one hand on top of the other, gradually bend forward from the hips, keeping your back straight. (Rounding the back will give you a false result). Measure where your fingertips come to on the ruler. They should ideally be able to reach at least as far as the front of the step. Any measurement past the edge of the step is a bonus. No matter how far you can reach on the first measurement, do the test periodically and try to improve your score every few weeks.

If you find that you are less flexible than you should be, some regular stretching exercises combined with visits to your chiropractor can help to restore flexibility and improve range of motion, helping to ensure that you remain limber into older age.


What Exactly is “Ergonomics”?
November 18, 2013, 2013 at 9:00 AM

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The term ergonomics stems from the Greek words ergon (work) and nomos (laws). According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ergonomics is defined as “the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.” Good ergonomics in the workplace is key to maintaining our body’s proper health and function, and it can have a major effect on the quality of our work.

Ergonomics involves the physical stressors in our workplace as well as related environmental factors. For example, physical stressors are any activities that put strain on the bones, joints and muscles. These can involve things such as performing repetitive motions, vibrations, working in awkward positions and actions using excessive force. Environmental factors that contribute to bad ergonomics include loud noise, bad indoor air quality and improper lighting.

Bad ergonomics can increase the risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system, causing conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and neck and back pain, as well as creating a range of other health problems, including sick building syndrome, eyestrain and hearing loss. However, there are steps you can take to improve your workplace ergonomics that can help reduce health risks.

Cumulative trauma disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, are caused by repetitive motions such as typing. To prevent this, set up your computer workstation in a way that allows your hands and wrists to be in as neutral a position as possible. When sitting at your desk, your chair should be at a height where your eyes are level with the top of your computer screen, and your arms are at a 45-degree angle for typing. Ensure that your wrists are not angled up or down or to the left or right. If your desk is too high to keep your forearms straight, raise the height of your chair and use a footrest to keep your feet from dangling.

Your chair should be at a height where your feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest, while keeping your knees just slightly higher than the level of the seat. The chair should provide some light support to your lower back (use a pillow, if necessary) while allowing you to move freely. The arms of the chair should support your lower arms while letting your upper arms remain close to your torso.

To reduce eyestrain, adjust ambient lighting to diminish glare and adjust the brightness and contrast until your eyes are comfortable reading. If you are working in a noisy area, use earplugs or headphones that cut ambient sound (but not set loud enough to damage your hearing!).

Good ergonomics also involves taking frequent breaks. Move around, get some fresh air and focus your eyes on things at varying distances.


Applied Kinesiology Found To Benefit Chiropractic Patients with Urinary Incontinence
November 12, 2013, 2013 at 3:37 PM

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Two American chiropractors have used applied kinesiology (AK) to aid the treatment of 21 patients experiencing urinary incontinence (UI), with considerable success. Applied Kinesiology is a technique that uses the strength of a particular muscle (often a muscle in the arm) to diagnose problems in certain organs or in other parts of the body. The practitioner places pressure on whichever of the patient’s muscles that corresponds the particular part of the body being assessed, and the amount of resistance it gives determines if there is a problem in that area.

Urinary incontinence affects 10% of men and 40% of women at some point in their lives, with women being particularly susceptible to UI following childbirth. Current evidence suggests that weakness in the pelvic floor muscles, which leads to UI, can result from problems in other areas of the pelvis or lumbar spine as well as weakness in the pelvic floor itself. Chiropractic manipulation may thus be of considerable benefit in correcting these problems with a concomitant improvement in the symptoms of UI.

Chiropractors Scott Cuthbert and Anthony Rossner assessed patients who had UI by using AK muscle testing to determine the presence and location of musculoskeletal disorders in the lumbar or pelvic regions. The precise nature of the problem was then assessed by physical examination. Muscle testing was again used to guide chiropractic manipulation treatment. Interventions that improved muscle strength were continued, and those that failed to do so were not pursued. Patients were seen for up to thirteen treatments, and for no more than six weeks.

All of the patients treated experienced an improvement in UI symptoms, with nearly half (ten out of 21) reporting complete resolution of their condition following treatment. It is particularly significant that ten of the patients had presented with long-standing symptoms of UI (at least five years, but greater than 40 years in two cases!). Annual check-ups for at least two years confirmed that these improvements were maintained post-treatment.

In addition to positively demonstrating the benefit of using muscle testing techniques to aid with chiropractic diagnosis, this research is important in showing the relationship between UI symptoms and musculoskeletal weakness in parts of the lower back and pelvis. A particular observation here was that the restricted breathing noted in many patients due to trauma to the diaphragm (and other muscle groups associated with inhalation such as the rectus abdominus and oblique abdominal muscles) was also found to impact on urinary continence.

This study suggests that combination of AK and chiropractic manipulation of the lower back and pelvis may be very helpful for patients with UI symptoms. Please call us or visit our office with any questions.

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Reasons to run a 5k race
November 12, 2013, 2013 at 9:07 AM

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Joe Carey, President of the Houston Area Road Runners Association (HARRA.org), wrote something interesting about 5k races in the June issue of the HARRA newsletter, printed in Texas Runner & Triathlete magazine. His words were “5ks get no respect”.

That’s an interesting quote, and I think for many long distance runners it is probably an accurate statement. And, I realize that while many of you reading this blog may already be runners, some of you aren’t. But, no matter where you fall in the running spectrum, whether you are new to running, whether you are a long-time runner, or even a seasoned athlete in general, are there reasons why you should run a 5K race?

Some thoughts for distance runners.

Mr. Carey’s article, outlined several great reasons why long distance runners should consider running 5k races (in addition to their longer races). Here are some of his thoughts:

  1. The post-race food at 5ks are often just as…

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Shoulder Arthritis Causes and Treatment Options
November 12, 2013, 2013 at 3:20 AM

While we generally think of arthritis as being associated with old age, shoulder arthritis is not uncommon among younger people as well. Any injury to the shoulder, such as a dislocation or a fracture, can eventually lead to shoulder arthritis.

The shoulder consists of two main joints. The first is the glenohumoral joint. This is a ball-and-socket joint in which the head of the upper arm (humerus) fits into the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). The second is the acromioclavicular. This joint is formed by the meeting of the collarbone (clavicle) with the top of the scapula (acromion).

Hyaline cartilage located on the ends of these bones generally allows for movement of the arm in the socket without friction, but a loss of cartilage here can cause the bones to rub against each other. Although not as common as arthritis in other parts of the body, shoulder arthritis can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating. The principal symptom of shoulder arthritis is steadily worsening pain, especially when the arm is moved. However, patients with this condition are also likely to experience considerable stiffness in the joint and weakness at the shoulder. Sleeping may become difficult as the condition worsens, especially on the most affected side.

Shoulder arthritis may be caused by any of the following:

  1. Osteoarthritis. This is the degenerative wearing of cartilage, especially at the acromioclavicular joint.
  2. Loss of cartilage through acute traumatic injury to the shoulder, such as from a car accident, particularly when there has been a tear to the rotator cuff.
  3. Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own cartilage.

Both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis are more prevalent in older people (osteoarthritis in particular tends to occur in those over age 50). It’s not surprising that the overall incidence of shoulder arthritis is increasing as the general population ages.

Initial management of shoulder arthritis is usually non-surgical. Possible treatment options include:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Targeted exercise programs to increase shoulder mobility
  • Heat and ice treatment
  • Nutritional supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which build cartilage and can slow joint degeneration
  • Rest and shoulder immobilization
  • Modifying shoulder movements to minimize irritation
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroid injections and other medications may be used in the case of rheumatoid arthritis

The National Arthritis Foundation reports that regular chiropractic care can help prevent the damage caused by arthritis. Chiropractic treatment can help reduce pain and restore movement and increase range of motion in the shoulder joint.

In severe cases, surgery for shoulder arthritis can help to reduce pain and improve motion if non-surgical treatments are no longer working. Glenohumeral surgery can consist of either replacing just the head of the humerus with a prosthesis (hemiarthroplasty) or replacing the entire joint (both the humeral head and glenoid cavity, a total shoulder arthroplasty).

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