2-5-2016 5-14-57 PMIt’s that time of year again: the time where you see red hearts everywhere you go. Everyone is talking about love, giving tokens of affection and giving out heart shaped candies and cards. But that’s not the only thing going on in February. Not only is it almost Valentine’s Day, it is also when the American Heart Association is in full swing to educate people about their heart health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the number one cause of death in men and women nationwide. In looking at a map of the US, which shows geographical variance of the disease, Alabama and Mississippi were two of the states with the highest average of the population having some form of heart disease.

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One of the things that we are seeing in the healthcare world is that younger and younger people are coming to doctors to be seen for chest pain and ultimately heart attacks. Those people that we would have once thought too “young,” “fit,” or “healthy” to have heart problems are now the ones that we are seeing with poorer outcomes than their older counterparts. Not only are heart attacks occurring earlier in adulthood, the symptoms are sometimes silent. They are not the classic presentations that we in the healthcare field look for.

I recently read a story about a 37-year-old woman who was training for her second marathon and ate fairly well. Two things she noticed were that her workouts were getting harder rather than easier, and she was experiencing terrible back pain. She pushed herself to work out harder, and chalked up the back pain to spicy food. Then she began researching her symptoms online. Her research prompted her to go to the Emergency Room where multiple tests were run. Many of the tests were negative, including an EKG, CT scan and X-rays. It wasn’t until the doctors did a cardiac catheterization (a procedure in which a catheter is run through an artery into the heart to look for blockage of arteries) that they found a 100% blockage of one of the main arteries in her heart.

Doctors also realize that treatment should be more focused on education and prevention BEFORE a heart attack occurs, than waiting to treat the patient afterward. This education should start early, before habits and lifestyles become deeply rooted. Dr. Lori Mosca, a cardiologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital had this to say in regard to healthy habits in young adulthood:

“This is a time in life when habits are firmly established, because this is a time young adults become independent. They develop lifestyles and habits they’ll carry on [as they get older]. I’m going through this myself with my son who is 25. He just moved to Colorado, is building his own house, and he’s very interested in his long-term habits, like learning to cook healthy meals. [This age] is a good time to do a self-assessment.”

Some things that young adults can begin establishing in their lives to prevent this deadly disease include:

• Regular physical activity
• More fruits and vegetables your diet everyday
• Getting enough sleep
• Limiting fast and processed foods
• A good relationship with a primary care provider
• Knowing signs and symptoms of heart attack/stroke
• Keeping weight under control
• Understanding links between pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia as they relate to future risk of heart disease

So let’s change things up this February. Instead of opting for the processed candies and other treats, let’s show our anatomical heart some love. Give your body the fuel it needs to prevent heart disease.

A good friend of mine who is a doctor once said, “Your body never forgets how to prevent what it doesn’t yet have.”

For more information on heart disease, visit www.goredforwomen.org.
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN

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What exactly does being healthy mean? We use this term all the time. “I went to the doctor and she said I was healthy.” Or “My grandmother is very healthy and rarely has to visit the doctor.” Or “I wish I could get rid of these aches and pains so I could be healthy.”

Have you ever really considered what you mean when you say or think these things? Healthy is one of those words that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In general, the idea of health between the medical model and the chiropractic model of care differs significantly.

Ask a medical doctor what health is and they will likely say “a state free from disease.” This definition does not state what health is but what it is not. So, according to their definition, if you do not have a specific disease you are healthy. But what if you have headaches, stomach disturbances, body pain or fatigue? Unless there is a specific disease attached to these complaints you are still considered healthy. In pain, yes. Healthy, yes. How can a person be healthy if they have health complaints?

On the other hand, sometimes a healthy body does have health complaints. It’s true! At least, if you think of a body that is acting correctly as one that is healthy. For instance, if you have eaten food and now have food poison, your body will respond by vomiting and getting diarrhea. This means that your body is functioning in a healthy manner. Yes, you have symptoms. Yes, you feel terrible. But your body has recognized the “poison” and is working efficiently to rid the body of it. Other signs that some say show a lack of health that can actually mean your body is reacting in a healthy manner include vomiting, sneezing, coughing, and fever.

So what is health if it isn’t about symptoms?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as “a state of optimal physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Chiropractors understand the intimate relationship of a healthy body to the nervous system, which of course includes the vertebral column (or spine). The nervous system controls everything in your body. All your cells, tissues, organs, and body systems get information from the nervous system and learn what they are to do and not do based on that communication.

Since this is true, real health is about how well your nervous system can communicate with the rest of your body. This is why subluxations cause such big problems. Vertebral subluxation is defined as “an interference of the nervous system due to a misalignment and/or abnormal motion of spinal vertebrae which causes improper communication with associated organs, muscles, and tissues.” This communication block causes a variety of disease and illness.

It is amazing how many people come to the chiropractor with a spinal complaint, only to realize that chiropractic care has resolved not only their back pain, but other issues as well. Reducing subluxations creates positive results throughout the entire body.

Essentially, the medical model of health sees the body as a machine- a series of parts that need attention. That is why there are specialists: specialists deal with parts.
• Cardiologist: heart
• Gastroenterologist: digestive system
• Urologist: urinary tract
• Podiatrist: feet
• Orthopedist: bones
• Gynecologist: female reproduction
• Neurologist: nervous system

In order to “fix” the machine or “get rid of” disease, these specialists look to drugs to alter blood chemistry. In many instances, this approach does not address the root of the problem.

Those that see the body as a whole are known as vitalists. A vitalist doesn’t see the body as just a sum of parts, but realizes that the body has an “innate intelligence,” an ability to heal and desire to be whole and well. Chiropractors are vitalists, along with acupuncturists, homeopaths, and naturopaths, among others. The purpose of vitalist care is to restore your body to balance so that it can perform at the optimal levels. We do not merely mask symptoms and declare health when the symptoms are gone. Instead, we look for the root cause of the problem and work to eliminate that. Generally speaking, chiropractors are both mechanists and vitalists: they pay attention to the mechanics of the spine and look at a blocked nervous system and how it affects the entire body, understanding that correcting the subluxation can allow the body to heal itself.

What Healthy Feels Like

Most people have no idea what it feels like to be truly healthy. We may understand what it feels like to be free of illness or disease because most of us have experienced one or the other. The difference between having the flu and not having the flu is significant. We can definitely define what it feels like to not have the flu!

But what about true health? How does that feel? Did you know that it is not natural to get sick and take medications? Did you know that having any kind of pains, aches, or other complaints is not normal? Did you know that all the symptoms associated with aging do not have to exist? It’s true!

A healthy person has no sleep issues, skin rashes, dandruff, depression, colds/flu, heartburn, aches/pains, or immense stress. Instead a healthy person is full of energy, motivation, and vitality.

Chiropractic care allows true health to occur.
By: Dr John Boyle

1-8-2016 11-08-11 AMIt’s that time of year again: New Year’s. For many people, it is a time to set goals for the year ahead, an opportunity to start over. A new year signals something inside us to change, and we are more aware of our own shortcomings. There are all kinds of promises we make to ourselves, such as learning something new (my classes started on January 4th), paying off debt, or getting organized. Also, most people have at least one health-related goal on their list of “resolutions.” Incidentally, it is often the one that was also present last New Year’s, but that somehow never became a priority. Instead of needing to lose that 20 pounds, we now need to lose 30 or maybe even more.

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Why is it that we don’t meet these goals we set for ourselves? Part of the problem is that we don’t know how to set goals. If we set goals that are unrealistic, then we set ourselves up for failure from the very beginning. For more information on goal-setting, especially as it relates to exercise, see Janet Hunt’s article on page …

Rather than making a generalized goal like “eating healthy,” losing weight, or “getting in shape,” it is important to clearly and specifically define your terms. Make the most of your New Year’s resolutions by making a plan that you can actually stick to and accomplish that goal you’ve been setting for yourself year after year. Also, make sure that you are truly ready to change your habits before promising yourself you will. If you aren’t committed to the change, it is much less likely to occur, thus setting you up for lower self-esteem and more procrastination.

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Many people set goals for themselves with the wrong motivation. They think that if they lose that weight, get that new job, or pay off that debt, then it will make them happy, improve their relationships, or somehow make life easier. When these things don’t happen, the “bad behaviors” that people are attempting to change revert back to the comfortable lack of action.

In order to make your resolutions stick, you must rewire the pathways in your brain. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist, says “It all begins in your mind: your thinking, your emotions, and your choices. If your mind isn’t right, then you will not stick with anything, no matter how great.”

Below you will find some tips to improve your outcomes when making resolutions.

1. Focus on one goal as opposed to several. Changing just one little thing at a time is much more manageable than trying to totally reinvent yourself.
2. Make resolutions SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
3. Don’t wait until the new year to make your resolutions. Instead, try making one new resolution every 3 months (or more often if you like).
4. Fully integrating a change takes at least 21 days, so make a goal that you are willing to spend some time on.
5. Find a buddy. Having someone to hold you accountable will increase your likelihood of accomplishing your goals, and will help your friend accomplish theirs in return.
6. Focus on what you can do today. Worrying about tomorrow, next week, or next year only sets you back.
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN

Do you get up more than three times at night to empty your bladder? Do you leak unexpectedly when you get the sudden urge to urinate and can’t make it to the bathroom? Do you get the sudden urge to urinate when you hear water running, wash the dishes, or are exposed to changes in your environment? Do you have to urinate more than eight times during the day? If so, you most likely have a condition called Overactive Bladder (OAB).

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OAB and urinary incontinence (uncontrolled loss of urine) affects 1 in 3 women over age 45 and 1 in 2 women over age 65. It significantly impacts your quality of life by preventing a good night’s sleep, requiring you to wear protection (pads or adult diapers), and causes anxiety in social situations due to concerns about odor and embarrassment.

Your bladder has receptors that send messages to your brain indicating the bladder needs to empty, and your brain likewise sends messages back to the bladder, causing the bladder walls to contract, the bladder outlet to relax, and the bladder to empty. This feedback loop is what controls your bladder.

Normally your bladder fills without difficulty, sends the message to the brain, and the brain tells your bladder to empty, but then you can hold off emptying voluntarily until you make it to the bathroom. With OAB, the bladder will send the messages to the brain when the bladder is not completely full, and the brain sends messages to the bladder to empty that you cannot control.

You do not have to live with this condition, and many options are available. Changes in your diet, like avoiding caffeine, nicotine and acidic foods, and performing pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) can improve your symptoms. There are many medications on the market that can reduce or control your symptoms.

If you are having this problem, talk to a doctor trained to deal with this condition, and get a full workup to clarify the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, treatment options will be discussed, but unfortunately this is not an easy problem to fix. Often medications do not work or are not tolerated, and then other treatments must be discussed.

An exciting option that many are not aware of is called InterStim or neuromodulation therapy. InterStim involves placing a small electrode near the nerves going to the bladder, and then by a series of small electrical pulses, blocking the feedback loop to and from the bladder. This allows the bladder to fill more easily to a normal volume and then prevents uncontrolled bladder contractions, giving you back control of your bladder.

An outpatient test is done first, and after 5 to 7 days of the temporary test, you will know if it works. You should see a greater than 50% improvement in all symptoms, and if you do, then you are a candidate for a full implant. The full implant is like a bladder pacemaker. The permanent electrode is placed and then a small battery is placed under the skin of the upper buttock. The battery then needs to be replaced every 5 years, but the electrode stays in place.

InterStim not only treats OAB and urinary incontinence, it also treats urinary retention (inability to empty completely) and fecal incontinence (uncontrolled loss of stool). Patients who have to self catheterize to empty their bladder could benefit from InterStim. The same nerves that go to the bladder also go to the muscles that control bowel movements. By stimulating these nerves, the muscles have a stronger tone and allow better bowel control.

Studies have shown that InterStim is superior to medications (due to monthly medication costs, side effects and having to remember your medication) and provide a better quality of life compared to medications. Approximately 80% of OAB patients achieved success (>50% improvement) and 45% were completely dry after one year, 70% and 35% respectively after five years. Urinary Retention patients had a 77% success rate with 61% of patients completely eliminating the need for catheters, and this benefit persisted at the same rate after 5 years.

If you would like more information, check out Medtronic.com, or call to schedule a consultation with a specialist in your area. Not all offer InterStim as an option, so do your research. Medtronic provides a physician locator on their website.

Take back control of your life today! God bless!
By: Thomas C. Pitman, M.D., FPMRS, FACOG

(BPT) – Salt, or sodium chloride, is essential for life. In fact, no mineral is more essential to human survival than sodium because it allows nerves to send and receive electrical impulses, helps your muscles stay strong, and keeps your cells and brain functioning. However, sodium chloride (salt) is a nutrient that the body cannot produce, and therefore it must be eaten.

The average American eats about 3,400 mg per day of sodium, according to The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. You may have heard that this is too much, but according to new research, it may actually be on the low side of the healthy range. A 2014 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested sodium consumption in more than 100,000 people in 17 countries. The study found that the healthy range for sodium consumption was between 3,000 and 6,000 mg per day. Eating more than 7,000 mg per day of sodium increases your risk of death or cardiovascular incidents, but not as much as eating less than 3,000 mg per day. The low salt diet was significantly more harmful than the high salt diet.

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Salt Has Many Health Benefits

The other component of salt, chloride, is also essential to survival and good health. It preserves acid-base balance in the body, aids potassium absorption, improves the ability of the blood to move harmful carbon dioxide from tissues out to the lungs and, most importantly, it supplies the crucial stomach acids required to break down and digest all the foods we eat.

Because the level of salt consumption is so stable, it is an ideal medium to use for fortifying other essential nutrients such as iodine. Iodized salt first produced in the U.S. in 1924 is now used by 75 percent of the world’s population to protect against mental retardation due to Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD). Iodine is an essential element in healthy human life, enabling the function of thyroid glands to produce needed hormones for proper metabolism. When children in the womb don’t get enough iodine from their mother, fetal brain development may be impaired. During pregnancy, iodine deficiency can cause a child to develop learning disabilities and mental retardation as well as developmental problems affecting his speech, hearing and growth.

Salt is also a vital component of hydration. After exercise, it is critical to replace both water and salt lost through perspiration during exercise. That is why all athletes make sure they are consuming sufficient salt during and after a workout. Expectant mothers and seniors, in particular, need to guard against under-consumption of salt. Higher-salt diets have also been used successfully to combat chronic fatigue syndrome. Asthma sufferers, particularly in Eastern Europe, are often treated by having the person spend time in salt mines or salt caves. This is because the unique microclimate, containing ultrafine salt particles helps clear the lungs.

Low Salt Diet Myths

Low salt diets can be especially harmful for the elderly. In older people, mild hyponatremia (low sodium concentration) is the most common form of electrolyte imbalance in the blood. Indeed, several recent medical papers found a direct relationship between hyponatremia and unsteadiness, falls, bone fractures and attention deficits. Elderly people on low salt diets often experience lack of thirst which leads to dehydration and they experience loss of appetite that leads to a host of health problems.

Falls are one of the most serious problems for the elderly and about a third of people older than 65 fall at least once every year. Fall-related injuries in the elderly are associated with numerous psychological and physical consequences and are a leading cause of bone breakage and hip fractures, which can lead to complications and permanent disability or death. More than 5 percent of all hospitalizations in people older than 65 years are due to fall-related injuries. Sadly, the research shows that in assisted living facilities where almost all residents are given low-salt diets, the rate of falls and fractures are three times as great as in the normal home environment.

Salt and Life Expectancy

It is well documented that the Japanese and the Swiss enjoy some of the longest life expectancy rates of anyone in the world. It is less known however, that they also have among the highest rates of salt consumption. A review of peer-reviewed medical research around the world indicates that if people were to actually consume the low levels of salt recommended in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, they would put their health at risk. Fortunately, most Americans – including the elderly – when left to their own choice consume salt within the healthy range.
Courtesy BrandPoint Content

11-20-2015 4-03-52 PMLast edition of Athens Now, I began to explore the role of nutrition in mental health. I quickly became aware that this would be a series of articles, not just a one-time topic like I usually do. In the article, we explored the fact that depression is a result of inflammation in our bodies, not just a chemical issue. This edition, we will take a further look at neurotransmitters and how they are affected by what we eat. As we discussed, “traditional” diets (those that were common prior to the 20th century) can decrease the incidence of depression by as much as 25-30%.

Some examples of traditional diets include Mediterranean, Japanese, and Hunter-Gatherer diets. As we discussed last edition, Mediterranean diets are high in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, some cheeses, oily fish and red wine (modest amounts of alcohol, especially red wine, can decrease the risk of depression). Japanese diets are rich in rice, green tea, eggs (raw), lean meats, vegetables, fish, high-quality soy, and sake. Hunter-Gatherer diets are typified by meats (grass fed beef, lamb, etc., fish, and poultry), eggs, vegetables, oils (coconut, olive, avocado, etc.), fruits, nuts, and tubers like sweet potatoes.

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Inflammation is combated by antioxidants, which are mostly found in fruits and vegetables. We also get important nutrients from meats, nuts, and dairy products. Research suggests that fermentation magnifies the known benefits of these foods and influences their bioavailability and the activity of their chemical makeup. (Bioavailability is simply the degree to which whole food nutrition gets down to the cellular level where it can be fully utilized.) According to a study appearing in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, “the consumption of fermented foods may be relevant to emergent research linking traditional diets and positive mental health.” Also, fermentation may intensify specific nutrients (sources such as proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals) and phytonutrients (nutrients that come from plants) which directly and indirectly affect brain health.

A study done on unhealthy maternal and postnatal diets (diets high in processed and refined foods, high sugar beverages, and high sodium snacks) showed an increased risk of behavioral and emotional problems in those children. Depression risk is also increased in those exhibiting insulin resistance and elevated fasting glucose levels, which are precursors to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. In addition, your gut microbes affect glycemic control and contribute to glucose tolerance.

Below is a list of specific items contained in traditional diets that are individually associated with protection against depression:

• High-quality soy
• Turmeric
• Cocoa
• Green tea
• Coffee
• Blueberries
• Pomegranates
• Honey

Some specific nutrients in the above mentioned items include magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, folic acid/folate (vitamin B9), and vitamin B12.

Nutrients from foods are precursors to neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain. The lack of which is often associated with depression and other mental health problems.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps with constriction of smooth muscle, regulating cyclic body process (i.e. sleep/circadian rhythm, etc.), contributing to well-being and happiness, and mood stabilization. Foods high in tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin, include:

• Meat
• Poultry
• Fish
• Dairy products
• Walnuts
• Flaxseed
• Sprouted grains
• Bananas
• Plantains
• Pineapples
• Kiwis
• Plums
• Gooseberries
• Tomatoes
• Spinach
• Dark, leafy greens
• Dates
• Figs
• Grapefruits
• Melons
• Eggplant
• Avocados

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that aids in movement, memory, attention, behavior, hormonal processes, cognition, pleasure, sleep, mood and learning. Foods that contain tyrosine, which is converted into dopamine, are as follows:

• Eggs
• Poultry
• Cottage cheese
• Plant-based proteins

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate anxiety, and is known to match the effects of benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. Foods rich in this amino acid include:

• Fish
• Walnuts
• Brown rice
• Spinach
• Broccoli
• Lentils
• Bananas
• Oranges
• Almonds
• Oats

Emerging studies now show that the normally selective intestinal barrier might be compromised in depressed patients. Even mild chronic inflammation of the intestinal lining can increase the risk of depression. Things that increase the permeability of the intestinal tract (allowing waste products and inflammatory chemicals to pass through it and damage other tissues) include stress, exhaustive exercise, and the contemporary Western diet.

Some of these chemicals that are released due to the increased permeability of the membranes negatively impact neurotransmitters and elevate oxidative stress, a key component of depression and anxiety. One study shows that adherence to a traditional dietary pattern for ONE month can begin to reduce the chemicals that attack neurotransmitters by up to 38%. When this limitation of intestinal absorption is conquered, it curbs the breakdown and mirrors the proposed mechanism of prescribed antidepressants.
Oral probiotics and fermented foods can help build your gut microbiome and decrease anxiety and the perception of stress, as well as increase mental outlook. Fermented foods may increase the body’s ability to use magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, folic acid/folate (vitamin B9), and vitamin B12, and possibly even vitamin D. Fermentation is an ancient art that has value for health in many areas, including digestion and mental health.

Remember, you can choose a good mood by choosing good food.
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN

11-6-2015 10-59-00 AMFew of us are aware of the connection between nutrition and depression, despite the fact that we understand to some extent the relationship between nutritional deficiencies and physical illnesses. Depression is still thought by many to be a biochemical or emotional based issue, however nutrition can determine the extent and duration of depressive symptoms.

Neuroscience research conducted by clinicians like Dr. Caroline Leaf and others suggests that nutritional factors are very much intertwined with emotions, cognition, and behaviors. Some of the most common mental health issues include obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and ADD/ADHD.

Numerous studies show that the dietary intake pattern of most American and Asian populations as opposed to Mediterranean countries are often deficient in nutrients such as essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Also, evidence now suggests that the pathology of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) may be rooted either primarily or secondarily to oxidative stress in the body (A. Sarandol, ET AL.).

Our brains are more sensitive to oxidative stress and free radicals than other tissues. The brain is only about 2% of the weight of the human body, yet it uses approximately 20% of its energy. MDD is also distinguished by the activation of an inflammatory response system, thus increasing free radical production.

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What is interesting is that inflammation shows up in different people as different symptoms. Some people may exhibit cardiovascular disease, others diabetes, or an autoimmune disorder. Still yet others manifest depression, anxiety and mental illness. It is no surprise that these things are often listed as comorbidities (the presence of two or more chronic diseases) since they have the same root: inflammation. What was interesting in the study relating MDD to oxidative stress was the conclusion: the drug combination used had no effect on measurable oxidative stress markers in the body at the end of 6 weeks.

So what is the solution? Many people think vitamins will help their nutrient deficiencies, but according to a study done at John Hopkins University, vitamins are at best a waste of money, providing no clear benefit. At worst, they can do more harm than good, with high concentrations of isolated and fractionated vitamins E and A, as well as beta carotene, could increase the risk of death in certain individuals. Therefore, use vitamin supplements judiciously, or avoid them altogether.

This still leaves the question as to how to nourish our bodies, and therefore our brains. The solution is a diet that is high in the various micronutrients we need to keep our bodies functioning such as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate (or vitamin B9), zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids (EPH/DHA). The Mediterranean Dietary Pattern (MDP) which is high in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and oily fish is now thought to reduce inflammation due to its richness in antioxidants that come from these whole foods.

“Optimizing our nutrition is a safe and viable way to help avoid, treat, or lessen the symptoms of mental illness. Poor nutrition is a significant and modifiable risk factor for the development of mental illness,” said Julia Rucklidge, a PhD professor of clinical psychology in Christchurch, New Zealand, who has studied the treatment of ADD/ADHD and other mental health issues with micronutrients for the last 10 years.

We rely on medications, but honestly we need to stop visiting the “pharmacy” and start visiting the “farm” to decrease the prevalence of mental illness. I am not dismissing the effectiveness of medications on some severe forms of mental illness, nor advocating that you should stop treatments prescribed by your healthcare practitioner without first consulting them. They can be very effective for some people in the short term, but on a long term basis have lasting effects on our bodies. Despite our reliance on these drugs, our outcomes are no better than they were 50 years ago.

The research is clear: the well nourished brain is better able to withstand stress and recover from illness. Sixty to eighty percent of people will respond to better nutrition. Let’s get serious about the role nutrition plays not only in our physical health, but also our mental health.
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN

10-17-2015 10-27-14 AM“All disease begins in the gut.”-Hippocrates

Hippocrates was a classical Greek scholar born in 460 B.C. His wisdom is over 2,000 years old, but has stood the test of time. He has become one of the most outstanding contributors to medicine, and is even counted the “Father of Western Medicine.” In fact, every doctor who graduates from medical school takes the Hippocratic Oath, one of the oldest binding codes of ethics that exists.

This quote on the relationship between disease and gut health isn’t just a nice saying. It is backed up by science. It is thought that three quarters of our immune system resides in the gut, with over 500 different species of bacteria that live there. The number of microorganisms present in the gut alone is 10 times the number of cells in the entire human body. Research now suggests that this is not merely a peaceful co-existence, but more of a mutual relationship. Without a healthy immune system, you are susceptible to all kinds of disease, thus the reason Hippocrates said, “Disease begins in the gut.”

In modern times, we have severely harmed the health of our guts. Between overuse of antibiotics, sanitizing EVERYTHING, a lack of proper nutrition, eating highly processed foods and sugars, we have effectively destroyed gut bacteria. Old World, or traditional diets around the globe include the use of raw and fermented foods that are full of bacteria. These cultures aren’t afraid of it; they understand its beneficial relationship with their gut.

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We are born with completely sterile digestive tracts because while in utero, we have no need to break down nutrients since our mother is doing that for us. We become colonized with various strains of bacteria (good and bad!) from our mothers during the rather messy but necessary process of vaginal birth. Breastfeeding also supports this process in infancy, due to strains of immune-boosting bacteria found only in breast milk, and provides a balance.

This is not to say babies who are born via c-section and/or are formula fed have no hope from the beginning. These babies just need a little extra help with supplementing what they didn’t get through vaginal birth and/or breastfeeding. Also, toddlers put everything in their mouths (dirt included), which helps build up the relationship of good bacteria in the gut if given proper resources for it to flourish, and thereby boost immunity.

Unfortunately, we don’t do a very good job at this anymore. We clean with bleach and make our worlds sterile. We eat too much sugar, starch, and processed foods, which alter the balance in the gut, leading to all kinds of problems with the integrity of its lining. This in turn allows the harmful bacteria to get into our bloodstream and deposit toxins throughout our cells and tissues. Problems with poor gut health have been linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Chron’s disease, Celiac disease, colitis, allergies, and even some mental illnesses.

Preventing a problem is always easier than treating it once we have it. Below you will find some tips to prevent the depletion of the good bacteria in your gut, and ways to increase the balance if you haven’t been so proactive in the past.

Ways to Prevent Good Bacteria Depletion:

• Careful use of antibiotics and other prescription drugs
• Limiting use of antibacterial soaps
• Avoid overuse of harsh cleaning chemicals
• Adequate self care to reduce the amount of stress on the body that is the result of a lack of sleep, overexertion, etc.

How to Boost Probiotic Balance:

• Cut down on sugars, grains, starches, and vegetable oils. These things quickly destroy good bacteria, suppress the immune system, and can lead to a plethora of health problems.
• Eat real food. Fruits, vegetables, protein and fats help support the beneficial bacteria. Certain bacteria are needed to help break down fiber from fruits and vegetables, and support the body to culture more of the same.
• Consume fermented foods and drinks. Sauerkraut, kombucha (a fermented tea), kimchi (a spicy Korean form of sauerkraut), fermented salsa, kefir (a fermented milk drink), yogurt and naturally aged cheeses are all good sources of foods with naturally occurring probiotics that help build beneficial bacteria in the gut.
• Natural soaps and water instead of antibacterial. Antibacterial soaps are now thought to be a part of the problem with drug resistant bacterial infections like MRSA and C. diff. Instead, use good quality natural soaps like Bronner’s or goat milk soap.
• Begin gardening. A little dirt won’t hurt you! In fact, it’s good for you. You will get your Vitamin D from the sun, probiotics from the dirt (bacteria can enter through your skin), and you are growing your own food and/or flowers. What’s to lose?
• Take antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. While there certainly are times when antibiotics are needed, many illnesses can be left to run their course, like the stomach bug, colds, or ear infections. Antibiotics don’t just target harmful bacteria, they also kill all the good stuff. In addition, antibiotics don’t work on viruses, only on bacterial infections.
• Take a probiotic supplement. This should be done in conjunction with a change in your diet, otherwise you are just throwing your money away. Make a few simple changes, one at a time, and consider supplementing your new habits with a probiotic source other than foods or drinks. It is also a good idea to help replenish your gut after a round of antibiotics by adding the supplementation of oral probiotics in addition to the fermented sources already in your diet.
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN

10-2-2015 3-04-11 PMPregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness covers miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and any unexpected death of an infant. The movement began in 1987, and on October 25, 1988, President Ronald Reagan designated the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.

The movement was organized without the aid of cellphones, computers, or the Internet by Sherokee Ilse, Susan Erling, and Rhonda Wintheiser. They wrote letters and called other groups with similar missions and invited them to write letters congress. In the spring of 1989 as a celebration of the success and declaration by President Reagan, hundreds of bereaved families traveled to Washington, D.C. and carried 500 baby quilts displaying the names of thousands of babies.

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In addition, October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This campaign began in 2002 and was spearheaded by Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown, and Tammy Novak. They petitioned the Federal and State governments and by October 15, 2002, 20 states had signed proclamations. Since that time several other countries have also adopted proclamations, including Canada and Italy.

International Wave of Light is a campaign for people to light a candle at 7pm on October 15 in each respective time zone and leave it burning for at least an hour in remembrance. The goal is to have a continuous chain of lights spanning the globe for a 24-hour period.

Here are some shocking statistics. Every year, there are approximately 4.4 million pregnancies confirmed in the US alone. Almost 1 million of those pregnancies end in miscarriage, more than half of which occur before 20 weeks gestation. Twenty-six thousand are termed still born, which refers to babies lost after 20 weeks gestation. Another 19,000 infants die in the first month after birth. Thirty-nine thousand more occur within the first year of life, mostly as a result of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) which has no single identifiable cause despite years of research on the subject.

The emotional fallout from this kind of loss poses an additional problem. According to a study discussed in US News and World Report, miscarriage and its repercussions is an area in our culture where we have an unfortunately high level of ignorance and low level of skill when it comes to comforting parents regarding their loss. Sometimes, there are things that are said that are downright cruel. For example, a couple had announced their pregnancy on Facebook before the usual 12-week mark, then also shared their loss. One person said that people should respond to these types of things with “congratulations on your miscarriage.”

So, what can a caring person do to help a couple who has experienced a miscarriage, still birth, or loss of an infant (either from SIDS or a traumatic event)?
• Allow the couple the opportunity to grieve and talk about the loss on their terms
• Give their loss the respect it deserves
• Do not speak to the medical issues unless you are qualified to do so AND have been asked to do so

If you are a someone who has experienced pregnancy loss, whether it be early in your pregnancy, in the middle, at the end or after the child is born, there are resources and support available through local crisis pregnancy centers and through an organization called First Candle. Their mission is “helping babies survive and thrive,” but also to provide grief support to families when they don’t. Their grief support hot line can be reached by calling 1-800-221-7437, with counselors available 24/7. There are also specific bereavement support groups available. For more information on pregnancy loss, please visit www.nationalshare.org or www.firstcandle.org.
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN

Medical Update – Just A Nurse

9-18-2015 4-45-47 PMThere has been a lot of controversy in the last couple of days concerning Joy Behar’s comments on The View about the nursing profession. Facebook has “blown up,” and in a good way. Nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals have come out of the woodwork in support of nurses.

In the 2016 Miss America pageant, Miss Colorado was a nurse named Kelley Johnson. While other contestants sang, danced, played instruments or demonstrated other talents, Kelley told a story about being “just a nurse.” She came out on stage in her scrubs, stethoscope around her neck. She told of a patient called Joe who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and experienced night terrors. She spoke of calming him by sitting with him and holding his hand. She relayed how he wanted to talk, and asked her about changing his treatments and medications. She responded, that no, she couldn’t do these things because she was “just a nurse.” But she was able to connect on a different level, a more personal one.

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They would talk about her volleyball, his grandbabies, and they enjoyed a lot of laughs together. One night she found him crying. She told him she understood that it was hard, but that he was not defined by his disease, his life was not “just Alzheimer’s,” that he was still Joe. His response was beautiful. He said “Nurse Kelley then the same goes for you. Although you say it all the time, you are not just a nurse. You are my nurse, and you have changed my life because you have cared about me.”

Nurse Kelley’s story highlighted that you are not just a room number, a diagnosis, but first and foremost you are a person, and you have a family and friends. She didn’t want to be a nurse that pretends. Joe reminded her that she was a lifesaver, and would never be “just a nurse.”

The cohosts of The View were discussing this story, and their tones were mocking. Joy Behar asked the question “Why does she have a ‘doctor’s’ stethoscope around her neck?” This ignited one of the most viral social media campaigns to date. There are approximately 3 million nurses in this country, and many of them have come out against this offensive comment by Behar.

We have told thousands of stories about patients, our jobs, and have banded together. It has amazed me. As nurses, we often “eat our young.” There is sometimes an attitude of one department being better than another (i.e. Emergency department nurses being better nurses than floor nurses). But suddenly, the bickering has stopped. Rather than fight amongst ourselves to try to prove something, we have banded together. We have united.

And it’s not just the nurses. Doctors are backing us up, explaining how they couldn’t do their jobs if we didn’t do ours. It has been amazing to see this, and in my opinion Joy’s words followed the “law of unintended consequences.” Her comment was made in mockery. But just like in the story of Joseph in the Bible, the Lord took the comment that was meant for evil and has used it for good instead.

The nursing profession is a special one. There are days that are hard, in which we hold our bladders for hours on end to make sure that our patient has the best possible care. We put off caring for ourselves so we can care for others. But make no mistake, we love what we do, and we make a difference every day.

I’d like to share here the comment I also posted on my Facebook page:

I am a #nurse, and proud of that fact. I didn’t become a doctor because I didn’t want to, not because I am not skilled or talented enough. I became a nurse because I wanted to change people’s lives the way I have been able to over the last 4 years. I have been the first hands to touch a newborn baby, and the last to touch the dying. I have spent countless hours on my feet, day in and day out, even on some days when I’ve been sicker than some of my patients. I don’t wear a “doctor’s” stethoscope. I wear MY stethoscope. It is one of my most important tools.?#?JoyBehar?, I think you owe us all an apology. #?nursesunite? ?#?justanurse? ?#?TheView?

One of my favorite comments came from Dr. Jeffery Hallazgo, and this is what he had to say:

Standing proudly beside my nursing colleagues from a very proud long time Emergency Department (and now Urgent Care) physician, unashamedly wearing around my neck the badge of honor of caregivers everywhere. To the yentas on that worthless program The View, Michelle Collins and Joy Behar, you have poked the bear. You have awoken the sleeping giant. (And as a result, you have sh*t the bed.) GIVE ‘EM HELL, GANG! #NursesRock

So, I say with pride, I am “just a nurse.”
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN