March 15, 2011 [Volume 5, Issue 6]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
What's Causing Your Cough?
Healthy Eating: A Matter of Balance
There's No Better Time to Exercise

What's Causing Your Cough?

A cough, while common, can be caused by all manner of things; some fairly benign and some more health-threatening. Here are a few (varied) reasons why your child – or you, for that matter – could be coughing, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Respiratory Tract Infection: A cough is often a symptom of a cold, flu, pneumonia or other infection affecting the upper respiratory tract. Unlike most of the other symptoms associated with these conditions, it can linger for some time, whether because the infection is hanging around or because your airways are still inflamed and sensitive to irritation.

Asthma: The leading cause of chronic cough in children and also common in adults, asthma can also cause wheezing and shortness of breath, although with at least one type of asthma, cough may be the only symptom. As you might expect, asthma-related coughs may be worsened by respiratory infections or other conditions characterized by coughing.

Blood Pressure Drugs: Yes, some children (and many adults, of course) take ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, which may cause chronic cough; in fact, it's estimated that 20 percent of people taking blood pressure drugs develop chronic cough that may linger even after medication is discontinued. Your chiropractor can tell you about some of the other unpleasant – and potentially dangerous – side effects of over-the-counter and prescription medications.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: GERD causes stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, so the throat and even the lungs can be chronically irritated, the result of which can be chronic coughing.

There are other causes of cough, but keep in mind that an occasional, temporary cough is completely normal; it helps keep your lungs clear of foreign substances, secretions, etc., and helps to prevent infections. It's the unrelenting cough that deserves a visit to the doctor for further investigation, if nothing else than to rule out anything serious as a causative factor.

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Healthy Eating: A Matter of Balance

Balanced eating means taking in the amount of nutrients your body needs for optimal functioning, when your body needs it, and no more. Simple to understand, hard to do! Every person requires different levels of nutrient intake, and your age, activity level, whether you're a man or woman, and your current weight all play a role in what your plate should look like. One thing is for sure, though: It shouldn't look like one big bagel. Here's why.

Not to pick on bagels, but in general, they're unbalanced -nutritionists would call this "calorie dense / nutrient light," meaning that within your average medium-sized cinnamon-raisin bagel with butter, most of the 300-plus calories come from one nutrient: carbs. Exchange that bagel for something like a slice of whole-grain bread with cheese and tomato and you get a more balanced profile of nutrients and a lot more vitamins and minerals - key to a nutrient-dense food. And nutrient density is what you want.

Unbalanced nutrition (in either direction) causes your body to work harder. Eating a diet that's devoid of vitamins and minerals makes your body prioritize its activity - for example, without enough calcium, your body will take it from your bones to make sure your muscles have enough. Conversely, eating more than your body needs means extra energy goes toward processing nutrients, storing them and dealing with the long-term effects of extra weight (joint pain and inflammatory chemical changes, for example). The key is to get the right amounts of macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in the right balance so your body can function. Here are five easy ways to ensure balanced, healthy eating:

1.Pay attention to what you eat. It may be boring, but writing down what you eat is the best way to actually see what your daily diet looks like. And you may be surprised by what it shows. Once it's there in black and white, you can see what you're doing right and what you might want to change.
2.Make sure every grain you eat is a whole grain. Grain products like bagels can ramp up your calories without providing much bang for the buck. Be adventurous! Try a new grain like quinoa, or replace the white flour in a muffin recipe with whole wheat or even a mix of oat, whole wheat and bran.
3.Eat a fruit and vegetable with every meal. Yes, even breakfast. And no, most jelly doesn't count. Cold cucumbers with an egg sandwich or a reheated spinach omelet can help you meet your daily need for the vital nutrition found in fruits and vegetables.
4.Look at labels. If any one of the "daily values" for fat, protein, or carbohydrates is off the charts, put that item back.
5.Buy fresh and local as much as possible. Stay on the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh food lives. And if your grocery store doesn't stock local growers, talk to the produce manager and ask your friends to make comments, too. You could also join a community supported agriculture co-op, or make a point to visit your local farmers market.

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There's No Better Time to Exercise

When it comes to exercise, you have to find time, make time and save time or invariably, you'll have no time left in your busy day, week, month or year to make it happen. Regardless of how hectic your life is, here are four simple ways to ensure exercise doesn't drop off your daily To-Do List.

Rise and Shine. With the exception of extra sleep, which is important for health in its own right, few things should beat out exercise first thing in the morning. Start the day with exercise and you'll feel invigorated, if for no other reason than knowing you've gotten it done.

The World Is Your Gym. Too many people think that if they don't make it to the gym or hit the open road for a 5-mile run, they can't meet their exercise quota. Pure nonsense; after all, physical activity existed long before fitness clubs and fancy workout equipment did. Walk from work to lunch and back; take your dog for a jog; do push-ups with the kids; there are endless ways to stay active even during the busiest of days.

Two Is Better Than One. You want to go to the gym, but dread that it will consume precious hours of your time? Here's what you can do: Circuit train, which means working out different body parts one after the other with little or no rest. (Many gyms have an equipment "course" set up for this very purpose.) You can also "superset" exercises, combining biceps and triceps routines, for example.

Don't Go It Alone. If you're one of the millions who struggle to stay the course (whether it's exercise, diet, quitting smoking, etc.), it's not cheating to recruit a little help. Schedule workouts with a friend or office acquaintance, join a walking or running club, or even pay for personal training sessions if you can afford it; whatever it takes to ensure exercise stays front and center.

Increasing research demonstrates the powerful benefits of consistent exercise. Talk to your chiropractor about these and other ways you can incorporate exercise into your life – and keep it there.

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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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