Health and Wellness
Pass the salt — or not
|By Breeanna Jent|
Popping open a small bag of potato chips with lunch might seem harmless; however, one serving (1 oz.) of Lay’s Classic Potato Chips will set chip-lovers back 170 mg of sodium –- or 7 percent of the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium per day, according to CalorieCount.com.
Going “light” isn’t much better — one serving of Lay’s Lightly Salted Potato Chips contains 85 mg of sodium, or 4 percent of the recommended daily sodium serving.
In his 2013 article titled, “The salt myth –- how much sodium should you eat per day?” posted on AuthorityNutrition.com, Kris Gunnars, who started the website, wrote, “One-thousand-five hundred mg of sodium amounts to 0.75 teaspoons, or 3.75 grams of salt, per day, while 2,300 mg amounts to one teaspoon, or six grams of salt, per day. Most people today are eating much more than that. The average intake of sodium is about 3,400 mg, most of it coming from processed foods.”
Posted at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website is a claim that “at least 95 percent of the sodium” in American diets comes from some form of salt.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “More than 75 percent of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods –- not the salt shaker.”
Elizabeth Dunford, a Research Fellow for The George Institute for Global Health’s Food Policy Division and the project coordinator for the Global Food Monitoring Group, and nine others examined salt levels for products offered by “leading multinational fast food chains.” Dunford and the nine co-authors wrote an article, “The variability of reported salt levels in fast foods across six countries: opportunities for salt reduction,” for the “Canadian Medical Association Journal.” The article was published April 16, 2012.
In 2010, Dunford, who has a doctorate in public health, and her team of researchers studied fast-food chains in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Researchers studied seven types of fast-food products from six companies (Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway). They calculated and compared the results of the average salt contents in these products from each of these countries.
Dunford and her team found variability not only in the salt levels among countries, but also in the salt content among different food products.
“The salads we included in our survey contained 0.5 g (grams) of salt per 100 g, whereas the chicken products we included contained 1.6 g,” according to the study. “Chicken products from the UK contained 1.1 g of salt per 100 g, whereas chicken products from the US contained 1.8 g.
“Although the reasons for this variation are not clear, the marked differences in salt content of very similar products suggest that technical reasons are not a primary explanation. In the right regulatory environment, it is likely that fast-food companies could substantially reduce the salt in their products.”
In his May 15, 2013, article posted on slate.com and titled, “Why is there so much salt in processed foods?” Brian Palmer wrote, “Commercial food makers, indisputably, use more salt than we do at home. … Some commentators believe that packaged foods have higher salt content because they are otherwise bland, perhaps due to lack of freshness ... (but) there’s little evidence that salt-free processed foods would be otherwise flavorless ... .”
Palmer offered a more meditative theory: “The quasi-addictive effect of high salt consumption” compels people who regularly eat salt to crave it in increasing quantities; therefore, they purchase salty snacks from food companies on a regular basis.
Palmer referenced a 2011 study published by Philadelphia’s Monell Chemical Senses Center. The study found that “babies who eat salty, starchy foods almost immediately begin to crave salt at higher levels than their salt-naïve peers.”
“Perhaps even more importantly for the processed food industry, people who lower their sodium intake for just two to three months experience a measurable decrease in salt cravings,” Palmer wrote.
The CDC recommends in their 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that people consume fewer than 2,300 mg of sodium a day to maintain a healthy diet.
The FDA, CDC and other medical experts have claimed a link between high sodium intake and serious health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
Cardiologist Mark Creager, the immediate past president of the American Heart Association, said in a May 20 article in AHA News, “Today’s widely-accepted sodium recommendations are based on well-founded scientific research –- and that’s what people should understand.”
In recent years, the UK has implemented a national salt reduction campaign, joining more than 50 other countries that have done the same, the AHA reported.
Whether the U.S. will follow those countries’ salt-reducing campaigns is yet to be determined; meanwhile, health experts like Dunford advise consumers to carefully read their food labels and be aware of what they’re putting into their bodies.
Adventures in fitness tracker land
|By Robin Widmar|
As I write this, I am only about a month into my new residency in Fitness Tracker Land. I hadn’t planned on moving here because I wasn’t quite sold on the concept after reading articles that cast doubt on their usefulness.
A fitness tracker is an electronic gadget that monitors heart rate, the number of steps taken, estimated calories burned and more. In recent years, these devices have exploded in popularity and sales. According to Wareable.com, one leading brand of fitness trackers sold more than 36 million units between 2014 and the first quarter of 2016. However, the authors of a February 2015 editorial in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” claimed that more than half of people who buy fitness trackers stop using them. When I received a fitness tracker as an early holiday gift, I wondered if my shiny new bauble would soon wind up as a denizen of the junk drawer.
So far so good. My little wrist-bound companion has been like a digital drill instructor, albeit a more polite version than what I encountered in boot camp many years ago. Instead of banging on a metal trashcan, my little device gently buzzes me awake. Another quiet buzz every hour tells me I’ve been sitting too long, prompting me to get up and move around until I’ve reached my hourly step goal. It celebrates my achievements with tiny pixelated fireworks, which is nice, but what I really need is something that slaps my hand when I reach for a slice of chocolate cake. Surely that’s on the technological horizon?
The biggest benefit I’ve reaped, though, is simply increased mindfulness. It’s all too easy to underestimate calories and overestimate activity if those data aren’t diligently recorded. Having hard numbers to show what I actually do (or don’t do) on any given day has been key to combatting a laissez faire attitude. For example, I use the tracker’s app on my smartphone to log what I eat, so now I think about every bit of food I consume because I know I’ll be documenting it later.
Before venturing into Fitness Tracker Land, it is important to understand the limitations of fitness trackers in general. According to a May 2016 article in “Men’s Health,” researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Health and Nutrition tested 12 different wearable devices for accuracy in the estimated-calories-burned category. The results ranged from relatively accurate to several hundred calories over or under actual amounts. Other research and consumer reviews indicate that devices worn on the wrist or arm may not be completely accurate when measuring heart rates and step counts. In response to queries, manufacturers generally reiterated that the goal of fitness trackers was not to provide exact scientific data, but rather to encourage people to adopt more active lifestyles and reach long-term fitness goals. Numerous positive consumer reviews on Amazon and other websites appear to support those philosophies.
Fitness trackers aren’t for everyone. They can’t make a person eat less or exercise more. That kind of discipline can only come from within. When used as intended, though, a fitness tracker may certainly provide some motivation for a healthier lifestyle.
A chiropractic unique technique
|By Lindsey Harrison|
As a chiropractor certified in the healing technique used by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractor Association, Dr. Michelle Nowakowski represents one of only 24 chiropractors in the world using the NUCCA technique. Nowakowski, who lives in Falcon, Colorado, is the only board-certified NUCCA chiropractor in Colorado. Her practice, Life Enhancing Chiropractic, is in Colorado Springs.
Nowakowski said NUCCA is a low force, low velocity type of adjustment that does not involve twisting or cracking. The treatment is so gentle that most people do not think they received an adjustment, she added.
According to the NUCCA website, Dr. Ralph Gregory developed the NUCCA technique; and, in April 1966, he formed the NUCCA association in conjunction with other interested chiropractors. His technique focuses on maximizing the human health potential by reducing Atlas Subluxation Complex.
The Back Pain Authority describes ASC (Atlas Subluxation Complex) as “a condition wherein the uppermost vertebra, called the atlas, is moved out of its proper and optimal alignment with the occipital bone above and the axis vertebra below … .To put it simply, in ASC, the first spinal vertebra is seated in a way that throws off the positioning of the rest of the spine.”
“Once that joint between the base of the skull and the atlas is in alignment, the nervous system does not have an interference in it and sends equal signals along both sides of the spine,” Nowakowski said. “When there is interference in the nervous system at the top of the spine, each side of the body gets a different signal from the brain.”
She said interference can result in migraines, insomnia, sciatica, infertility, impotency and more.
The initial alignment process can take time because it involves taking precise X-rays to determine the placement of the atlas bone in relation to the position of the neck and head before performing the adjustment, Nowakowski said. “The first adjustment is preceded by X-rays; and, immediately after the adjustment, more X-rays are taken to verify that the adjustment actually happened,” she said. “After that, the patient can be adjusted referencing those X-rays. The adjustments and corrections are reproducible and measurable so another doctor could get the same results.”
The ultimate goal is to produce stability in the spine, Nowakowski said. Once the patient learns to hold the alignment, they need fewer appointments because they are not going out of alignment as much, she said. “What happens over time is that patients can learn to predict when they are in or out of alignment so at the time, they can call to set up adjustments without having to keep scheduling appointments,” Nowakowski said. “It gives them a recognition about their alignment, and they listen to the signals their body is giving them so they can get healthier and healthier.”
NUCCA is not a miracle treatment, and one adjustment will not take care of all the problems, she said. Not everyone is a candidate for the treatment, either, but Nowakowski said she has a frank conversation with people during their initial, free consultation. “I can find out in that 30-minute consultation if you are a candidate; and, if you are not, I am going to try to find someone who can help you,” she said.
Nowakowski said she determines if a person is a candidate using an anatomical measuring device that measures the level of a person’s hips; if their torso is leaning to the right or left; if they are leaning forward or backward; and how their weight is distributed on each foot.
Additionally, she uses a leg check to determine if one leg is longer than the other, indicating they are out of alignment, she said.
“If they are not out of alignment, then I do not do X-rays, and they are not a candidate for an adjustment,” she said. “I only adjust when people are out of alignment, so even if they come in for an appointment and are not out of alignment, I will not adjust them that day.”
Usually, the first year of NUCCA treatment is the most intense, but after that most patients have reached a decent level of stability and only need to be seen every couple of months during their second year of treatment, Nowakowski said. Following the second year, they need adjustments with less frequency, she said.
The process to become a board-certified NUCCA chiropractor is intense, and ultimately requires five sets of corrections on five patients in a row, with a correction level of 90 percent or greater — a level that is measurable and demonstrable through the before and after X-rays, she said. Nowakowski has been practicing NUCCA since 2001, she said.
“Upper cervical chiropractic treatment is done by other techniques, but NUCCA is the gold standard because of the pre- and post-X-rays,” she said. “We see what works and are trained to get those results.”
Marijuana medical research a Catch-22
|By Jason Gray|
Voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada approved the legalization of recreational marijuana this past November. In Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota, voters said yes to medicinal marijuana. In Montana, voters rolled back restrictions on using medical marijuana. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia now allow their residents to possess marijuana for recreational purposes or to use at least a small amount of medicinal cannabis products, in accordance with state laws.
However, the federal government reaffirmed marijuana’s “Schedule I” status in August, leaving marijuana and cannabis products in the same federal legal class as LSD, heroin and ecstasy.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Schedule I status has been retained largely because research related to the medical benefits of marijuana is limited.
Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the DEA, said in an August letter to governors requesting the re-scheduling of marijuana that the decision on where to place a drug in the Controlled Substance Act schedules is not based on how dangerous a drug is, but rather its potential for abuse versus its scientifically proven medical benefits.
The current state laws should be a good model for the federal regulations, proponents say. “The legalized industry works,” said Mark Malone, executive director of the Cannabis Business Alliance based in Colorado.”The people who are not meant to consume these products don't get it under proper regulations.”
For cannabis products to be moved from Schedule I status to another less federally restricted controlled substance status requires additional professional peer-reviewed research showing cannabis as a safe and effective medicine. However, it is difficult for research groups to study substances already on Schedule I. This creates a “Catch-22” situation for medical marijuana proponents.
For the last 50 years, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the DEA only allowed one grower to produce marijuana that could legally be used in federally funded scientific research in the U.S. “Under the historical system, there was no clear legal pathway for commercial enterprises to produce marijuana for product development,” said Michael Lewis of the DEA's Office of Diversion Control. Under the new policy issued at the same time as the letter reaffirming the drug's current scheduling, there will be a method for growers to be federally licensed to grow for research and product development by private companies and groups.
Marijuana has been on Schedule I since the Controlled Substance Act passed in 1970. Efforts to move it to less-regulated schedules started almost immediately, but were denied in Senate committees in 1974. Organizations like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, commonly referred to as NORML, have continued to lobby and litigate to have the plant downgraded.
Colorado's NORML group thinks that the recent ballot wins for cannabis at the state level will continue to put pressure on the federal government to re-schedule the drug or make scientific study easier. “I think clearly it was a victory for marijuana,” said Rachel Gillette, board member for Colorado NORML. “It's clear that people are supporting regulated marijuana in the states.”
If political pressure is not enough to force a re-scheduling, the scientific and mainstream medical industries will have to prove to the FDA that cannabis is an effective medicine for specific illnesses. Children's Hospital Colorado is using state funding to study marijuana in epilepsy, neuro-oncology and inflammatory bowel disease. The University of Colorado is studying the impact of CBD oil on tremors in Parkinson's Disease patients.
A three-year long Children's Hospital study that started in 2015 is looking at cannabis for otherwise poorly controlled epilepsy. It is an observational study, following kids who are already receiving cannabis products from their parents. It's also strictly “bring your own pot” because the hospital is not able to provide the cannabis products under current law and policy.
While the DEA says it supports medical research into marijuana's efficacy as a medicine, there are strict guidelines researchers have to follow to make sure the drug is secure. Federal law enforcement must review study guidelines and make sure the research facility has adequate safes, security equipment and other procedures in place to make sure no marijuana products can be “diverted” to illegal use, according to the August 2016 DEA guidelines.
When the researchers are providing the marijuana or derivatives, unlike observational studies at Children's Hospital where the patients already possess the cannabis, the marijuana must be sourced from the federally licensed grows. The strains and varieties of marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi lab licensed by the DEA may not have the CBD and THC ratios that the researchers and patients are looking for.
Future federally legal grows may also not have the experience of groups like Black Forest's Stanley Brothers, the company that developed the high-CBD strain, Charlotte's Web. Applications under the new process could be denied if “the applicant has engaged in previous illegal activity involving controlled substances, regardless of whether such activity is permissible under state law,” Lewis said.
The new White House administration and Congress can also direct a change in marijuana scheduling without the FDA's approval. However, they also can tighten restrictions on research.
“It's tough – the whole industry is in a wait and see,” Malone said.
New Years’ Resolution Recipe
|By Dave Corder, NSCA-CPT|
To help you with that get-in-shape New Year’s resolution, here is a healthy recipe by David Corder.
This is a unique new salad recipe that’s far from ordinary. With cabbage, green olives, chickpeas, quinoa and a lemony dressing, this salad really satisfies! It’s fantastic as a meal all on its own, or served as a side dish.
There are many elements of this salad that stand out, most particularly the green olives. With a creamy feel and smooth taste, these olives are a perfect pair with the lemony dressing. Enjoy!
Toasted Lemon Quinoa Cabbage Salad
Here’s what you need:
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals 107 calories, 5g fat, 401mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, and 3g protein
David Corder CPT
Perfect Fit Wellness Center
What your nose knows
|From the National Institute of Health (published in August 2016)|
Your sense of smell enriches your experience of the world around you. Different scents can change your mood, transport you back to a distant memory, and may even help you bond with loved ones. Your ability to smell also plays a key role in your health. If your ability to smell declines, it can affect your diet and nutrition, physical well-being, and everyday safety.
Whether coffee brewing, pine trees in a forest, or smoke from a fire, the things we smell are actually tiny molecules released by substances all around us. When we breathe in these molecules, they stimulate specialized sensory cells high inside the nose. Each of these sensory cells has only one type of odor receptor — a structure on the cell that selectively latches onto a specific type of “smelly” molecule. There are more smells in the environment than there are odor receptors. But a given molecule can stimulate a combination of these receptors, creating a unique representation in the brain of a particular smell.
“It’s estimated that the number of odors that people can detect is somewhere between 10,000 and 100 billion, or even more,” says Dr. Gary Beauchamp, a taste and smell researcher at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. People have different combinations of odor-detecting cells in their noses, so people vary greatly in their sensitivity to smells, Beauchamp said.
For thousands of years, fragrant plants have been used in healing practices across many cultures, including ancient China, India, and Egypt. Aromatherapy, for example, uses essential oils from flowers, herbs, or trees to improve physical and emotional well-being.
Smell is also important for taste. Chewing food releases aromas that travel from your mouth and throat to the nose. Without smell, we can detect only five basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami (savory). But our brains incorporate information from both taste and smell receptors to create the perception of many different flavors.
Some people may think they’ve lost their sense of taste if food begins to taste bland or slightly “off.” But in fact, they may have lost their ability to smell.
Many things can cause smell loss. A stuffy nose or a harmless growth in the nose (called a polyp) can block air and thus odors from reaching the sensory cells. Certain medications, like some antibiotics or blood pressure pills, can alter smell. These effects are usually temporary. Your smell should come back once you’ve recovered or stopped the treatments.
But some things can cause a long-lasting loss of smell. A head injury or virus, for example, can sometimes damage the nerves related to smell. And your ability to smell may naturally fade as you get older.
People who’ve lost their sense of smell sometimes try to boost flavor by adding more salt or sugar to their foods. But these additions might cause problems for those at risk for certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, or diabetes. Talk with your doctor if you think a smell deficit might be affecting your quality of life.
Smell loss can also put you in harm’s way if you don’t notice a “warning” smell. The recent national health and nutrition survey found that one in 10 people couldn’t identify the smell of smoke, and about 15 percent couldn’t identify the smell of natural gas.
“With age, there is a decline in the ability to smell to some extent in the nose, but much more in the brain itself,” said Dr. Davangere Devanand at Columbia University, an expert on neurodegenerative diseases and smell loss. “The main reason appears to be that the functioning of the brain regions involved in smell and memory become impaired as we grow older.”
But problems with your ability to smell may be more than normal aging. They can sometimes be an early sign of serious health conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or multiple sclerosis. Devanand’s group is currently studying the relationships between smell dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease.
Like all of your senses, your sense of smell plays an important part in your life. If you think you’re experiencing a loss of taste or smell, see your health care provider. There may be ways to help fix the problem. If not, your doctor can help you learn to cope with the changes in smell and taste.
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