February 16, 2010 [Volume 4, Issue 5]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Bone Up on Bone Health
Debug Yourself Naturally
Preventing Golf Injuries

Bone Up on Bone Health

The importance of good bone health can best be demonstrated by realizing the consequences of poor bone health. Over time, bone disease can lead to a steady decrease in the ability to perform everyday normal functions such as walking, standing, or dressing. Bone disease can also lead to hip fractures, which - depending on your age and overall health - can be debilitating and even deadly.

What can you do to ensure bone health as you age? Here are a few suggestions:

Exercise Regularly; Especially the Weight-Bearing Variety. In the past few decades, mounting evidence suggests that most people do not participate in enough physical exercise to support strong skeletal growth. A research review published in Sports Health emphasizes that weight-bearing exercises, especially those that include higher levels of strain such as running or jumping, can be effective in enhancing bone health and preventing future diseases and injury.

Eat Right and Take Bone-Building Supplements. Due to the mass consumption of processed, overcooked and nutrient-depleted foods, most people absorb and utilize too little calcium and vitamin D for good bone health - even if they're eating foods that are high in both. However, eating a diet that consists primarily of fresh organic fruits and vegetables will do the trick, since most contain healthy levels of calcium, vitamin D and many other beneficial vitamins and minerals readily absorbed by the body.

That said, for most individuals, dedicating oneself to getting enough calcium and vitamin D through an organic diet can be challenging, so supplementation becomes necessary. Remember that it's important to get adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, since the latter improves absorption of the former.

What About Dairy Products? Contrary to popular belief and advertising, dairy products, including cow's milk, while containing high levels of calcium, are in a form that is not compatible with human digestion, assimilation and absorption. Typically, they also are high in saturated fat, can have high levels of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, and if pasteurized, contain deactivated enzymes caused by high heat. Dairy products contain lactose, which many people have difficulty absorbing due to the lack of the digestive enzyme lactase.

Many bone diseases such as osteoporosis and osteopenia are preventable and treatable. Since there are no obvious warning signs for many bone ailments, it is important to be aware of the risks and be proactive in being responsible for one's own health primarily through diet, supplementation and resistance exercise. Talk to your doctor for more information.

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Debug Yourself Naturally

With the flu season upon us and a new flu strain (H1N1) on everyone's minds, there's no better time to discuss the importance of taking simple steps to protect your health and the health of your family. Take these seven suggestions to heart:

1.Frequent hand-washing with regular soap or, even better, a hand cleanser with manuka honey (a type of honey produced by bees that harvest nectar from the flowers of the manuka bush, native to New Zealand). Make it a ritual habit. This is most important if you are already sick.
2.Do not touch your face or nose if you can help it. This will reduce the likelihood that the virus will enter the body if it has been passed to you via a handshake or other hand-to-hand scenario.
3.Gargle twice a day with warm salt water, or 1 tablespoon of manuka honey and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water; or even antiseptic mouthwash. H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
4.Clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water using a spray/ syringe applicator, or Neti pot, or even by "snorting" a palm full of salt water. Blowing the nose hard once a day and /or swabbing just the first 1/4 inch of your internal nostrils with Q-tips dipped in warm salt water are also effective in bringing down viral population.
5.Boost your natural immunity with fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C. You may also supplement with 500 mg vitamin C tablets, preferably in lozenge form.
6.Drink as much warm liquids as you can, especially green tea. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. It helps wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach, where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.
7.Weather permitting, get some fall / winter midday sun and fresh air with a brisk 15-minute walk. Getting out of confined spaces where germs can spread easily is key to preventing transmission of H1N1 and other flu strains.

As a closing thought, consider the following quote from Ronald Goldman, MD, co-founder of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine: "Chronic infection is a vastly underestimated cause of disease and disability. The public needs to be mindful that low-grade infections are estimated to potentially reduce the healthy human lifespan by up to 20 years, robbing them of a lifetime of bountiful energy, productivity, and happiness. Bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites may well be the single most important yet undiscovered cause of premature aging and the chronic degenerative disorders of aging that now plague Americans."

Protect yourself from the flu virus and countless other "bugs" out there by taking natural, common-sense steps such as those outlined above. Talk to your doctor for more information.

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Preventing Golf Injuries

Let's analyze the golf swing for a minute. There are actually three phases to the golf swing, each of which can cause injury if executed incorrectly. Additionally, there are specific exercises you can perform to help reduce your risk of hurting yourself during that particular swing phase.

Phase 1: Take-Away. The take-away consists of the set-up movement to the top of the back swing. During this phase, the most common potential injuries involve the thumb and wrist, particularly on the lead hand. Here is an effective workout for the muscles of the wrist, hand and forearm. To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a 5-pound dumbbell in your right hand. Keeping your arm to your side and using only your wrist, raise the dumbbell as high as you can and lower it as far as you can. Do two sets of 25 reps. Next, do another two sets of 25 reps, but while moving your wrist from side to side as far as you can. Repeat this entire workout with the dumbbell in your left hand.

An advanced workout for your wrists would be to take a barbell/dumbbells with a weight you can handle, anywhere from 10-45 pounds, and do three exercises back to back to back without rest. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and grab the weight with your hands facing down, shoulder-width apart, held which each thumb. Reverse-curl the weight up toward your body, flexing the forearm as you finish the movement at the top. Do 10 reps.

Phase 2: Impact. The next phase of the swing is the impact, which consists of the downswing and impact with the ball. The most common injuries during this phase are attributable to stress on the back knee and compression forces acting on both wrists. Additionally, the lead elbow and hand/wrist are often hurt during impact.

In terms of exercises that can help prevent these injuries, leg extensions/leg curls and abduction/adduction exercises (almost all fitness clubs have equipment for these types of exercises), along with regular stretching and massage, are extremely effective for the legs. Triceps pushdowns using a reverse grip with the hands facing up is an excellent exercise for the triceps and will help to prevent injury to the elbows. High-intensity training (one set to muscle exhaustion for each exercise, using slow, deliberate movements) works well and is a safe method of training for all the exercises above. For the legs, do 15-20 reps; for the triceps/elbows, do 8-12 reps.

Phase 3: Follow-Through. Finally, there is the follow-through after impact. During this phase there is abdominal torque and risk of spinal injury. I recommend training the oblique muscles (essentially the sides of the abdomen) using a trunk rotation machine, twisting slowly in a circular fashion for 20-25 reps, and a lower back extension machine for 15-20 reps. Do not use heavy weights for these exercises and make sure to do them slowly and eliminate momentum. These exercises will help strengthen the core muscles and help prevent back injuries.

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