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Could the Practice of Shinrin-Yoku Improve Your Health?

Have you ever gone to a forested area and walked around? How did you feel afterward? Did you feel refreshed, less stressed and more energetic? If so, evidence shows that spending time amongst trees and nature does have a positive impact on our health. The Japanese have a term for this: Shinrin-Yoku (Shinrin = “forest”; yoku = bathing). What they mean by this term is taking time to soak in the beauty and benefits of nature. Recent studies have shown that there are scientific reasons explaining these benefits.

The essential wood oils of plants called “phytoncides” are largely responsible for the health improvements noted. These phytoncides are chemicals produced by trees and plants to protect themselves from harmful insects and germs through their anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities. Researchers have also found these benefits to humans:

  • Boost immune system
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Lower blood pressure levels
  • Reduce stress
  • Increase energy levels
  • Increase ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • Improve sleep
  • Accelerate recovery time from surgical procedures and illness
  • Improve mood

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the benefits of Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing:

Immune System

As we walk through a forest, we breathe in the phytoncides that the trees and plants give off. (The phytoncides are what creates that “forest” scent you smell as you walk in a wooded area.) Once these chemicals enter our bodies, they cause our immune system to respond by increasing the number and activity of special white blood cells known as “natural killer” cells (NK). The job of the NK cells in our bodies is to kill off other cells that have been infected with tumors or viruses, protecting us from the tumors and viruses.

Blood Pressure and Stress Levels

Numerous studies show that taking time in a forest reduces blood pressure as well as two stress-related hormones, cortisol and adrenalin. “In addition, in studies using the POMS test, forest bathing trips were found to significantly increase the score for vigor and decrease the scores for anxiety, depression, and anger, suggesting that the subjects were physiologically relaxed during the forest bathing trips .”1

Ability to Focus

Children with ADHD suffer from Attention Fatigue. Studies show that when these children spend time outdoors in natural environments, they experience a reduction in Attention Fatigue. Researchers are now investigating the possibility of using forest bathing to supplement other approaches to managing ADHD.

The amazing aspect to this research is the amount of time that the effects of Shinrin-Yoku lasted. Researchers in Japan sent a group of men on a 3-day, 2-night trip to a forest and compared results to those found when these men spent time traveling as a tourist in the city for the same amount of time. They found that the NK cells (mentioned earlier) as well as granulysin-, granzyme A/B- and perforin-expressing cells, were still “significantly higher” seven days after the trip to the forest but not after the city trips. After 30 days, there was still increased activity and number of many of these cells. Their conclusion was that a monthly trip to a forest may help individuals to maintain a higher level of NK cells, those which help to kill virus or tumor cells which invade our bodies.

1ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/

Photo by Charles Black on Unsplash

The opposite of low-glycemic foods

The Benefits of a Low-Glycemic Diet

Low-carbohydrate, or low-glycemic, diets are always in the news. Sometimes they are even referred to as “no-carb” diets. Actually the standard American diet has become a high-carbohydrate diet. A low-carb diet, however, is what should be normal.  Three major diseases that are common for Americans are heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. For all of these, a low-glycemic diet can both prevent and correct the progression of these diseases.

Researchers have speculated that around 90% of our illnesses are due to carbohydrate metabolism problems. When excavating the remains of aboriginal people, archaeologists can tell what diet they ate by examining their teeth. Researchers found that those who ate a higher carbohydrate grain diet lost their teeth due to the extra sugar. Those from areas where a lower-carb diet was standard did not lose their teeth.

Many experts in the past have recommended replacing fats with carbohydrates. Fats were vilified as being a primary cause of heart disease. Recent studies, however, are showing negative effects of completely replacing fats with carbohydrates, especially the saturated fats that we see so frequently in processed foods. In 2009 an analysis was published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.which showed that replacing fats with carbs made no difference in the instance of heart disease. What did make a difference was replacing the saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats such as that found in olives, fish, or nuts. Adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to the diet also showed benefit in lowering risk of major diseases.

Making a Low–Carb Diet Easier

A low-carb, or low-glycemic, diet is much easier to follow if many of the sugars and starches are replaced with protein, healthy fats/oils, and low-carb vegetables and fruits. After changing their diet to these foods, people find that their cravings for sugar are eliminated. This is because they are getting into glycemic balance. Other benefits include more energy, reduced inflammation and pain, fewer food cravings (of any type), reduced cholesterol levels, reduced body fat percentages, increased concentration span, as well as others. Weight loss is also a benefit!

If you would like guidance on how to get your body into balance, please give us a call at 864-963-9304 to schedule a free consultation.

 

 

*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional.  Please consult your chiropractor or physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.

 

Image by Michelle Maria from Pixabay.

Sugar: The #1 Addiction

The #1 Addiction in America May Surprise You

The biggest source of addiction in America isn’t cocaine or marijuana. It is sugar. Most of us would not admit to being “addicts,” but we may have succumbed without realizing it. Ask yourself these questions:

 

  • Do you have a hard time stopping once you have started eating a sweet snack?
  • Do you crave simple carbohydrates such as pasta, white bread, or pastries?
  • Do you find yourself eating sugary foods even when you don’t want to?
  • Do you have a stash of sweets that you hide from others?
  • Do you find yourself making extra trips to the store or coffee shop to load up on more sweets?
  • Are you tired all day?
  • Do you have memory issues?
  • Do you find yourself reaching for fat-free items? (Most fat-free items have replaced the fat with sugar for added flavor.)

 

Studies done with animals have shown refined sugar to be more addictive than morphine or heroin, and it can be 8 times more addictive than cocaine! Sugar addiction has also been linked to food intolerances as well.

 

The Domino Effect

 

Another interesting side of eating high-sugar foods is the domino effect. According to a recent study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating sugary food triggers the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain the controls reward and craving. Not only does this trigger affect your eating habits at the current time, but it also seems to affect behavior at the next meal. This leads to hormonal havoc. The blood sugar raises the insulin level. This then blocks the satiety hormone leptin. Cortisol levels are also increased, which causes you to crave more comfort foods. The high cortisol during sleep increases ghrelin, the hunger hormone, so the next morning you are more likely to reach for a quick sugar fix for breakfast. And the whole cycle begins again.

 

Eliminating sugar, however, is not easy. According to Mark Hyman, MD, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine,

 

There are 600,000 processed foods in the marketplace, 80 percent of which have added hidden sugar. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, mostly hidden, and the average teenage male has 34 teaspoons a day (more than two 20 ounce sodas). One serving of Prego tomato sauce has more sugar than a serving of Oreo cookies. Sweetened yogurts can have more sugar than a can of soda.

 

The Addiction Can Be Broken

 

Many people who have been addicted to sugar have been able to defeat it in just a few weeks with the right strategy. People find that their taste buds come alive again! They are able to taste flavors that they had missed for a long time. If you would like to be free from your sugar addiction, please give us a call at 864-963-9304. We would love to help you improve your health.

 

See also:

Functional Medicine: What Is It?

Refined Sugar: What to Use in Its Place

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

older-couple

Stroke: Is Chiropractic Care Safe?

Some groups that are opposed to chiropractic care have made claims that spinal manipulations can cause stroke, especially among seniors. However, a report released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) refutes that argument. Their report, first published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, January 15, 2015, and updated on March 3, stated that “an analysis of Medicare claims data from older Americans who sought care for neck pain from chiropractors suggests that cervical spine manipulation is unlikely to cause stroke.”

The Stroke Study

The study involved 1.1 million claims dated 2006 through 2008 received by Medicare. The patients’ ages were 66-99. Each of them had a diagnosis of neck pain. Each patient had either visited a chiropractor or a medical doctor due to this pain. Researchers from Dartmouth College and the Southern California University of Health Sciences analyzed the data to determine the number of patients who had suffered a stroke within either 7 days or 30 days of their M.D. or chiropractic visit.

 

Vertebrobasilar stroke is the type some have suggested was associated with chiropractic adjustments. This study showed that these types of strokes were extremely rare. There was also no difference in frequency of stroke between those treated by an M.D. versus those treated by a chiropractor. The researchers summed up their results by stating that “chiropractic cervical spine manipulation is unlikely to cause stroke in patients aged 66 to 99 years with neck pain.”

 

The president of the International Chiropractors’ Association, Dr. Michael McLean, stated, “For many years, there have been opponents to chiropractic who have tried to falsely claim that chiropractic is dangerous. The facts show that chiropractic is the safest form of healthcare available.” Dr, McLean also commented that “while no procedure in healthcare is 100 percent risk free, this well-done large study should finally put to rest any speculation that chiropractic care creates an increased risk for stroke.”

 

If you are considering chiropractic to help with your neck pain, please give us a call at 864-963-9304. We would love to answer any questions you may have.

 

See also:

http://maronewellness.com/osteoporosis-tips-to-help/

http://maronewellness.com/new-patient-center/chiropractic-first-visit/

teens-texting-with-poor-posture

Your Child’s Studying Posture: 5 Tips to Help Improve It

The school year is well under way by now. Have you noticed your children’s posture as they do their homework (or watch TV or play video games, for that matter)? When we are focused on the project at hand, we often do not think about our bodies. It is all too common to see children slouching, leaning against the arm of the couch, or propping their heads up with one or both hands. Children don’t see the long-term danger in poor posture, because they are not experiencing pain yet. It has even become “cool” to be seen this way and “uncool” to use good posture. All of this can make trying to change their bad habits difficult for parents. There are some things you as a parent can do, however, to help them with their posture.

 

  • Lead by Example: Show by your own good example what good posture looks like.
  • Show Them: A mirror is a great tool to show your child what his/her posture looks like vs. healthy posture. Have your child stand looking sideways into a mirror. Point out how the ear, shoulder, hip and ankle should be in alignment. How far from that is their posture? Which areas need the most correction?
  • Chair: The chair your child uses can either help or hinder their posture. The most important aspect of a chair is that it will allow his/her feet to rest flat on the floor while their knees are bent at approximately 90 degrees. This way their back does not have to try to balance with the weight of dangling feet. If all of your chairs are too tall, try putting a foot stool or wooden block under his feet. Back support is another issue. If the seat is too deep, your child is likely to slouch to try to reach the back of the chair. If you don’t have a chair that fits his body correctly, try putting a pillow behind him as he sits.
  • Desk:  Check the height of the desk he/she is using. Watch your child as he works. Where does the table meet his body? The desk tabletop should be at a level slightly above your child’s belly button in the middle of his torso.  If the table is too low, your child will tend to slouch forward while working.  If the table is too high, he/she will have to raise the shoulders (like shrugging) in order for their arms to reach their books and papers. This can cause overuse syndromes in the neck and shoulders. If the table is too high, try putting pillows under your child as he/she works. If the table is too low, try finding a lower chair to compensate. Then check to be sure this has not thrown his legs off balance. (See the last tip.)
  • Set Limits: What about the other activities—video games and TV?  Since most seating in our family rooms is not conducive to good posture, it is important to set time limits on these activities. Try limiting gaming to 20 minutes at a time. Set a timer; at the end of each 20 minutes, have your child get up and move around for a few minutes before going back to their game.

If you try these tips and still do not see improvement in your child’s posture, or if your child complains of pain, or has difficulty sitting still for longer periods of time, it may be that there is some underlying muscular tightness or weakness that is making it difficult for him to practice good posture. Dr.Marone can help in diagnosing the problem and help to get the body back to anatomical neutral through adjusting the spine and by recommending exercises for strengthening or stretching. It is this neutral positioning that puts the least pressure on the joints, reduces tension in our muscles, and optimizes circulation.

 

See also:

http://maronewellness.com/tips-healthy-laptop-use/

http://maronewellness.com/arranging-a-childs-computer-station-for-good-posture/

 

*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional.  Please consult your chiropractor or physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.