December 15, 2007 [Volume 2, Issue 2]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
A Bare-Bones Look at Bone Health
Raising Baby Einstein
Beat the Blues (Without Drugs)

A Bare-Bones Look at Bone Health

Contrary to what you might think, there is more to supporting healthy bones than drinking milk. While calcium is an essential nutrient for your bones, it is by no means the only nutrient your bones need.

Your bones are made up of living tissues that are continually breaking down and building up. This process, called remodeling, occurs throughout your lifetime. When you are young, bone buildup outpaces bone breakdown until you reach peak bone mass between 25-35 years of age, depending on your genes and gender. Once you reach peak bone mass, bone breakdown begins to surpass bone buildup. That is why it is essential to develop healthy eating and exercise habits during childhood and adolescence. Research suggests that you can reduce your risk of bone disease by achieving a higher peak bone mass.

In addition to whole-food sources of nutrients that support bone health, like calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, zinc and dietary protein, lifestyle factors also play a critical role in the health of your bones. Exercising, avoiding tobacco products and limiting the amount of alcohol you consume can help you maintain healthy bones. Your bones, like your muscles, will strengthen with exercise. Bones need specific types of exercise – weight-bearing exercise and resistance (or strength) training – to maintain and build density. Weight-bearing exercises are exercises that require your bones to support your body's weight. For example, when you jog or walk, your legs are bearing the weight of your body. Resistance or strength training involves using weight or resistance to build strength. Research has shown that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures, particularly for postmenopausal women who have a high risk for bone disease.

Smoking and alcohol may be linked to increased loss of bone. Researchers have linked smoking to an increase in fractures and hypothesize that for some women, smoking may interact with estrogen in a way that could reduce intestinal calcium absorption. While moderate alcohol consumption has not been linked to osteoporosis, studies have shown that consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day may decrease bone formation and reduce your body's ability to absorb calcium.

To learn more about bone health and bone disease prevention, talk to your doctor. The good news is that you can prevent bone disease with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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Raising Baby Einstein

Pregnancy is a time of great expectation, of new beginnings, and the excitement of bringing life into the world. Wouldn't it be nice to know some of the latest techniques from clinical neurobiology to increase the IQ of your unborn child?

Preconception care in America is aimed at reducing risk of birth defects and disease – not maximizing the intellectual potential of your unborn child. We can increase our IQ as we age by challenging ourselves with new skills such as learning a new language or taking piano lessons. (Of course, having an intelligent spouse is also a great leap forward in producing a gifted child.)

The most critical element in a newborn's health is the overall health of the parents. Maternal health is addressed in the majority of medical literature, but poor paternal health and subsequent sperm quality can compromise the future mental health of a child, increasing the probability of schizophrenia, autism and Down syndrome. A common-sense approach would be for the mother and father to eliminate smoking, drug and alcohol use, and caffeine and reduce the mother's exposure to heavy metals, solvents, cleaning products, MSG, aspartame and processed foods leading up to and during pregnancy. An organic diet for both parents would be the optimal way to go.

One surefire way to optimize fetal development is to provide the basic building blocks of neurological tissue: omega-3 fatty acids. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases birth weight and lowers complications of pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia, preterm delivery and gestational hypertension. However, results were inconclusive in terms of the infants' cognitive development.

The best advice for couples who are planning a family is to take excellent care of themselves – get plenty of exercise, at least eight hours of sleep each night and quality supplements to improve their health, which in turn offers their children the best chance at a strong mind and healthy body. Although DVDs, CDs and modern toys may stimulate your baby's brain, nothing can replace the neurobiological components of a healthy mind. Any way you look at it, boosting your child's IQ starts with caring for yourself. Ask your doctor if you are doing everything you can to create a bright future for your baby.

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Beat the Blues (Without Drugs)

Depression affects approximately 18.8 million American adults (about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population ages 18 and older) in a given year. With "black box" warnings and dangerous side effects of commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs, why not try natural alternatives? According to a number of recent studies, exercise can be as effective in treating depression as drug therapy.

In the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers report that 30-minute aerobic workouts of moderate intensity, performed three to five times per week, cut mild to moderate depression symptoms nearly in half. Researchers noted remission rates of 42 percent for those on antidepressant medications and 36 percent for those receiving cognitive behavior therapy. Low-intensity exercise cut depression symptoms by 30 percent compared to 29 percent for stretching/flexibility exercises alone. The ability to reduce depression through physical activity related to the intensity of the exercise and sustaining it for 30-35 minutes per day.

Another study, published in Psychosomatic Medicine, included 202 men and women ages 40 and older who were diagnosed with major depression. They were broken into four groups: one worked out in a supervised, group setting three times per week; one exercised at home; one took Zoloft; and one took placebo pills. After 16 weeks, 47 percent of patients on the antidepressant, 45 percent of those in the supervised exercise group, 40 percent of those in the home-based exercise group and 31 percent of the placebo group no longer met the criteria for major depression.

Researchers believe exercise enhances mood by releasing norepinephrine and serotonin – the same nervous-system chemicals targeted by antidepressant drugs. Exercise also boosts feelings of self-efficacy and promotes positive thinking. If life's got you down, try 30 minutes of moderate exercise to help you fight depression the all-natural way.

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The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. MPA Media is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.