October 26, 2010 [Volume 4, Issue 22]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Understanding Wellness
Top Whole Foods for Health
An Education in Exercise

Understanding Wellness

The term "improved function" has been used by chiropractors for years to help patients understand the benefits of chiropractic care and the role it plays in true wellness. The body is made up of muscles, organs and glands that are controlled by the nervous system, and the nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord and nerves.

The brain sends signals down the spine and to the nerves, which tell the heart to beat, the lungs to breathe, the stomach to digest, the glands to produce necessary hormones, and so on. It's when the signals don't get from the spinal cord to the nerves and then from the nerves to the muscles, organs and glands that the body begins to lose proper function and symptoms begin to occur.

Mainstream medicine doesn't recognize these symptoms as simple alerts from the body that there's something amiss, but instead as something that must be eliminated through chemicals or pharmaceuticals. They don't seek wellness, but rather a lack of symptoms.

The biggest difference between mainstream medicine and wellness care is just that: medicine. Today's medical professionals are still treating symptoms instead of the cause of the problem. The bigger problem lies with the fact that the medicines usually begin to create their own list of symptoms that must be treated with more medicines. It's a domino effect leading not to health and wellness, but to illness and dependence.

These days, the term wellness is being overused and abused by a society that recognizes its importance but doesn't understand its application. Marketing departments around the globe are throwing the word around because it's popular, but often it's simply being used as a gimmick to improve sales of products that have nothing to do with improved health and function.

We live in a society that's been conditioned to believe there's a medication or a surgical procedure to fix every problem. Is that really the way you want to live your life? Now that you understand wellness, start doing something to ensure you can enjoy it. Talk to your chiropractor to learn more.

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Top Whole Foods for Health

Nutritionally, there is no perfect food, although a few come pretty close. And even if there were, who'd want to eat the same thing every meal, every day? Fortunately, variety and healthy eating can go hand in hand, particularly if you know where to look. Take a look at these foods that pack a nutritional punch and can be incorporated into a wide variety of meal plans.

Beets: Beets were one of the most successful crops in the Biosphere project. Basically, it simulated living on the moon. And if you had to pick one vegetable to take with you to the moon, you'd do well to pick beets. The roots and leaves are packed with antioxidant phytochemicals, provide much-needed minerals and vitamins, and are a good source of fiber.

Rye: Obesity statistics suggest a good portion of us could use some help battling the scale, and rye is on your side. Rye has an excellent reputation for helping us feel full, produces a low insulin response, and is typically a good source of fiber. It is a rich source of minerals, too.

Organic Berries: This isn't a hard sell, right? Juicy, bright, and tasty, berries add fiber, vitamins and antioxidants to your diet. These little gems appear to support healthy arteries, cognition, inflammation and eyesight. Many studies have found a benefit in drinking cranberry or blueberry juice for prevention of urinary tract infections.

Fermented foods: Face it Mr. Clean, the human body needs bacteria, and fermented foods provide "good" bacteria (probiotics) to give our native colonies a helping hand. Clinical trials continue to examine the benefits of probiotics on gastrointestinal complaints like diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as for conditions such as colic and eczema in infants.

Legumes: This low-fat, no-cholesterol source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals is among the best foods we can eat. As a substitute for meat-based protein, beans can help support our drive for heart health. And the fiber and protein in legumes are excellent tools in our weight-management toolbox.

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An Education in Exercise

Whether you're in good health, rehabbing a recent injury or have arthritis, osteoporosis or other chronic condition, the following key points should be followed to ensure you get the most out of your workout. Remember to talk to your doctor first so the two of you can work together to design an exercise program that's right for you.

LESSON 1: Before starting an exercise program, you and your health professional need to understand what your immediate goals are. Are you trying to lose weight? Increase strength? Train for a particular sport? Do you have any swelling? Pain? Weakness? Are your joints stiff? Once you know what you want to accomplish, it's a lot easier to figure out where to start.

LESSON 2: Exercise should consist of three clear phases. Begins with five to 10 minutes of warm-ups. Keep in mind that a "warm-up" is not the same as stretching.

LESSON 3: Type of exercise is just as important as the three phases. Try to incorporate different types of programs, such as stretching, strength training, balance training, and aerobic conditioning. Each of these affects the joints and body in different ways. By using all of them, you'll be able to make better gains in your health.

LESSON 4: There can be some discomfort with exercise at first. Therefore, precaution should be taken to ensure you don't injure yourself. Remember that your body's response to exercise can change day by day. You shouldn't feel pain, particularly sudden/sharp pain, when you are exercising.

LESSON 5: Rest time is crucial for strength training. In the past, people tended to weight train every day. Research is showing that if a body doesn't get enough rest, it will break down instead of building up. Therefore, never strength train the same body part two days in a row. Always allow at least two days in between, if not longer.

LESSON 6: Lifestyle activities are also effective forms of exercise. For example, gardening, going for hikes, taking the stairs at work, or playing catch with your kids or grandkids is just as effective in producing positive effects as a more traditional "gym" program.

LESSON 7: Most guidelines recommend 20 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day. However, if you are not able to do this, then break it up into five-minute bouts several times a day. Research shows that doing smaller bouts of exercise through the day is just as beneficial as one continuous session.

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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.

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