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Sugar Ain’t So Sweet

by Dr. Willemin

TL;DR – Eating too much sugar is bad for you, especially added sugars. Simple diet tweaks can cut a lot of sugar from your diet and reduce your risk of a number of health conditions.

When we hear the word sugar, most people think of things like ice cream, cookies, cakes, candy, etc. What about bread? French Fries? Spaghetti Sauce? In the American diet we eat a lot of sugar, and it often isn’t as obvious as it seems. We are going to take a look at a diet that most people would consider to be fairly healthy, and see how much sugar is actually lurking there.

As with all of my blog posts, I like to explain why we even care about the topic. Well to put it simply, too much sugar is hard on your body. Sugar has been linked in studies to a variety of conditions including cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. (1-5) Remember 2 seconds ago when I mentioned that Type 2 diabetes was associated with excessive sugar intake? Well it gets worse from that. Type 2 diabetes was associated with decreased cognitive function and accelerated aging of the brain. Meaning that excessive sugar intake can lead to mental decline; making it more difficult to learn new things and recall memories. (6) While all of those things sound unpleasant enough, it turns out sugar also causes inflammation. Which means that chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis (among many others) can be made worse by excessive sugar intake.(7)

Unfortunately, Americans consume a lot of sugar:

Meal Food Grams of Sugar Calories
Breakfast 1 Cup Raisin Bran 18 185
½ Cup 1% Milk 6 51
1 Cup Coffee with 1 Sugar Packet 4 15
Morning Snack 1 Medium Apple 19 95
Lunch Turkey Sandwich* 4 214
15 Baked BBQ Potato Chips 3 120
1 Can of Coca-Cola 39 150
Afternoon Snack 1 Chocolate Chip Cookie** 14 120
1 Cup Coffee with 1 Sugar Packet 4 15
Dinner 1 Cup Zucchini Noodles 3 33
½ cup Prego Sauce 10 70
1 Piece Garlic Toast 2 80
Evening Snack 1 Cup Fruit Salad 14 124
Miscellaneous 2 Wint-O-Green Lifesavers 7 30

*Turkey Sandwich = 2 slices whole wheat bread, slice of cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, 4 thin cut slices of turkey, mustard

**Chocolate Chip Cookie is from https://amyshealthybaking.com

Now most people would think of this as a pretty good day of eating. I didn’t get any fast food. The only real indulgences were the cookie and the can of soda. Well, the total grams of sugar? Drumroll….147 grams! This diet also, only included 1320 calories…yikes! What the heck is going on? What if you substituted a cup of chocolate ice cream instead of fruit salad at night? Add 20 grams of sugar and 162 more calories. What if that afternoon coffee was a second soda? That’s 35 more grams of sugar and 135 more calories. The scariest part if you’re doing the math is that even with those things, we are still only at 1617 calories, while being at 202 grams of sugar! The average American male eats 1000 more calories a day than that (8) – how many more grams of sugar do you think they are adding?

So why are we so hooked on sugar? Well research suggests that sugar can actually be addictive. Sugar can actually change the way your brain works on a neurochemical level and can lead to behaviors of addiction – Bingeing, withdrawal, craving, and cross-sensitization. (9) Dopamine is a chemical in our brain which is a major part of our reward system – meaning it gives us a feeling of pleasure. Well sugar, actually causes the release of dopamine, and so quite literally, it gives us pleasure to eat it. Unfortunately, the more sugar we eat, the less intense the pleasure effect becomes, so we crave more sugar to get the same pleasure result. (10)

What can we do? The answer is actually fairly simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy. Eat more whole foods. Here is another example of a day of eating:

 

Meal Food Grams of Sugar Calories
Breakfast 1 Cup of Oatmeal with 2 teaspoons of sugar and cinnamon 8 330
1 Cup of Coffee 0 0
Morning Snack 1 Cup Raspberries 5 65
1 String Cheese 0 80
Lunch Turkey Sandwich 4 214
¼ Cup Almonds 2 200
1 Glass Iced Tea with 2 Sugar Packets 8 30
Afternoon Snack 1 Biscotti 9 110
1 Cup of Coffee 0 0
Dinner 1 Cup Zucchini Noodles 3 33
1 Diced Tomato 3 25
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 0 100
1 Tablespoon Parmesan Cheese 0 22
1 Garden Salad With Grilled Chicken and Italian Dressing 3 164
Evening Snack 1 Cup Strawberries 7 49
Miscellaneous Mouthwash 2X 0 0

 

The totals for this day worth of eating – 52 grams of sugar and 1422 calories. That is 65% less sugar!

Now the take away from this article definitely is NOT to use artificial sweeteners. While they do reduce calories and sugar, it turns out they create the exact same problems, and sometimes even increase your risk. They have been shown to be linked with obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even type 2 diabetes. (11-12) The goal is to show that sugar hides in some seemingly innocent foods like raisin bran; and sometimes it isn’t hiding, but we underestimate the amount, such as soda. By switching to things like tea and homemade oatmeal, we can control the amount of sugar. You will be surprised at how much less sugar it takes to make something taste sweet enough when you are doing it yourself. Want a little self test? When you are home take a teaspoon and a plate. Then scoop out a teaspoon for every 4 grams of sugar in whatever food you are looking at eating, and decide if the pile of sugar in front of you seems like an appropriate amount to eat. This visual can really help you understand how much sugar is lurking in some foods.

Hopefully, you can take this information, make some simple changes to your diet, and reduce your risk of a number of potentially deadly diseases, as well as reducing pain and inflammation. That will definitely make life a little more sweet.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9298574
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8123778
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23460912
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15328324
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26376619
  6. http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/sugar-and-brain
  7. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/foods-to-avoid-limit/food-ingredients-and-inflammation-2.php
  8. https://www.livestrong.com/article/327754-how-many-calories-does-the-average-american-eat-daily/
  9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763407000589
  10. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/01/15/262741403/why-sugar-makes-us-feel-so-good
  11. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170717091043.htm
  12. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/14/artificial-sweeteners-raise-risk-of-type-2-diabetes-study-suggests

 

Migraines and Structural Chiropractic

by Dr. Willemin

TL;DR – Research shows that Structural Chiropractic care is really safe and really effective for migraines.

Your head is pounding, and just the lights in the room make it worse. You feel nauseated and even a whisper sounds like a megaphone pressed up against your ear. Yep…you have a migraine.

To put it bluntly – migraines suck. Let’s take a peek at the numbers. In America alone, there are 38 million people who suffer from migraines. Almost 1 in 5 women get migraines. Nine out of Ten people with migraines have missed work, with 59% reporting their work was cut in half! Migraines cost between $5.6 and $17.2 BILLION in productivity EVERY YEAR in the United States. (1)

Now, most of the people reading this, already know what a migraine is, because they are here because they have them. In case you are just reading because you want to learn something new, let’s get a quick overview of what exactly is a migraine. Migraines are severe headaches with specific symptoms. A migraine has four stages. Stage One: Prodrome Phase – the time preceding the migraine which typically has indicators such as food cravings, irritability, drowsiness, among others Stage Two: Aura Phase – this is typically a visual disturbance, but can also manifest as another sensory issue. Stage Three: Attack Phase – this is the acute phase of a migraine that can last from 4-72 hours. Finally, Stage Four: Postdrome Phase – this is the typically the 1 to 2 days following a migraine in which a person is recovering from the Attack Phase and is characterized by feeling drained or fatigued. (2)

Migraine diagnoses are not as clear cut as a positive or negative blood test or imaging scan. Rather, a migraine diagnosis comes from a combination of a patient’s history, symptoms and examination findings. (3) Unfortunately, not all migraines manifest the same way. Some migraine sufferers don’t have auras, or any distinct Prodrome Phase. This can make a migraine diagnosis a drawn out affair while symptoms are monitored, various testing is performed, and sometimes multiple medications are experimented with.

(Let’s take a second here to post this disclaimer – I am NOT a medical doctor. I am NOT making any recommendations FOR OR AGAINST medical treatments. For medical advice consult a medical doctor)

Some good news…sort of…Imitrex™ (Sumatriptan Succinate) has been shown in studies to be generally effective for migraine symptoms, and typically works within about 2 hours of taking it. The less great news is overuse can cause – you guessed it – headaches. The side effects of the medication are not pleasant either. Pain or tightness in the chest, jaw, throat, or neck; feeling of pressure or heaviness in your body; numbness/tingling in your fingers and toes; feeling hot or cold in your hands and feet; and feeling weak, drowsy, or tired are all COMMON side effects. In fact, feeling drowsy is so common that the medication warns against performing any task that requires you to be fully alert. (4) Hmm..the medication sounds almost as debilitating at the condition itself! Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not criticizing the medicine, the people using it, or the doctors prescribing it. Migraines really are horrible events and getting relief is a good thing. The question though, is this the only option?

I’m so glad you asked! No – there is preventative migraine medication. Prevention sounds great, but there are a few qualifiers first. The official recommendation to be considered for migraine prevention is having frequent attacks – meaning more than 1 per week (3). While this still applies to 2-3 million people, that leaves 35-36 million people out of luck (1). I am going to use this time to repeat the previous disclaimer – I am NOT a medical doctor and I am NOT making any recommendations FOR OR AGAINST medical treatments. For medical advice consult a medical doctor. Okay, now that I have made that perfectly clear I will give you a brief table regarding preventative medications for migraines.

Types of Medications Medication Class Side Effects
Blood Pressure Medication Beta Blockers Fatigue, Depression, Nausea, Insomnia, Dizziness
Blood Pressure Medication Calcium Channel Blockers Weight gain, Constipation, Dizziness, Low BP
Antidepressant Tricyclic Antidepressant Weight gain, Dry mouth, Sedation, Decreased libido
Antidepressant SSRI/SSNRI Weight gain or loss, decreased libido
Anticonvulsant Anticonvulsant Weight gain or loss, Sedation, Skin rash
Serotonin Antagonist Serotonin Antagonist Blood vessel spasm, Abdominal scarring (very rare)

 

The way that these drugs are used for migraine prevention can range from a single medication to a combination of 3 or more. (3)

Now what…are there any other options? The answer is definitely yes – let’s talk about Structural Chiropractic Correction. (If you need some background information on what Structural Chiropractic Correction is suggest you read this.)

So let’s start with the most basic question – do people even go to chiropractors for migraines? The article, “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headaches” found that chiropractic is both a safe and effective treatment for migraines (as well other types of headaches) (6) A survey found that many chiropractors even carry what is known as a Heavy Migraine Caseload. (7) If you suffer from migraines and you aren’t getting adjusted, you are missing out on a well established treatment which has been shown to be both safe and effective.

Okay, so we know that the medication options for migraines have been shown to be pretty effective, but they have some less than desirable side effects. What could I expect for side effects with a chiropractic approach? Well, the news is…pretty good actually. A study focused entirely on the sides effects of chiropractic adjustment and migraine sufferers found that the most common side effect was local tenderness after the adjustment, with the second most common side effect being tiredness the day of the adjustment. The study also found that no serious or severe side effects were observed! (8)

Okay, so we have seen that a lot of people see chiropractors for migraines and the side effects are pretty minimal, so how effective is the treatment? The answer here is also pretty good. One study focusing on the structural realignment of the top bone in a person’s neck (C1) was associated with decreased migraine frequency, improved quality of life scores, and reduced migraine related disability! (9) Another study comparing medicinal interventions, chiropractic, and sham treatments found that the chiropractic adjustment group did better than the medicinal group at 3, 6, and 12 month follow-ups following intervention. Also migraine duration and intensity were reduced more with chiropractic adjustment. (10)

So for a quick recap, we can see that there are a lot of people who suffer from migraines and a few different treatment options for those people. One treatment option that offers reduced frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines, while having minimal side effects – none of which were described as serious or severe is chiropractic care. So, then why is this article about Structural Chiropractic Correction and not just chiropractic care? Well that answer lies in yet another study. The study examined x-ray findings and people with tension-type headaches aka cervicogenic and migraines. The results were pretty overwhelming – 97% had a significant x-ray finding! In fact, 9 out of 10 women in the study had a significant reduced, absent, or reversed curve in their neck. (11) That is a pretty great example of why Structural Chiropractic Correction is what we choose to focus on at our office. Changes to the structure of your spine are often associated with significant and and debilitating symptoms. Getting rid of pain is great, but changing the structure allows the body to actually return to normal biomechanics and physiological function, and still gets rid of the pain along the way.

  1. https://migraine.com/migraine-statistics/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-with-aura/multimedia/migraine-aura/vid-20084707
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20360207
  4. https://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/imitrex/
  5. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/preventive-treatments/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21640251
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29202816
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28324697
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26783523
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27696633
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1342581

Structural Chiropractic is a Golfer’s Best Friend

by Dr. Willemin

TL;DR: Golf requires your body to be able to coordinate complex movements and puts stress on your body. Structural chiropractic helps with that.

Stop! Wait! When is the last time you stood up from your desk!? Has it been more than 15 minutes? Okay, here is what I want you to do. Before you keep reading, stand up, reach as high as you can and stretch. Then lean back as far as you can. Then I want you to put your arms up and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Don’t worry…I’ll wait…

Did you do it? Really? Second chance…go ahead.

Great! I’m glad you that you did that. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a research guy. I read a lot of it. I belong to a research group and I’ve even published research (you can read the summary here). Something I find gets supported more and more with every piece of research I read is that, a better spinal structure will facilitate better function. Now what does all this have to do with golf? Everything.

First we will start with the more obvious – injuries. According to Dr. Tom LaFountain, director of chiropractic services for the PGA, about 80% of the golf related injuries involve the lower back. (1) Golfing requires complex movements that put a lot of strain on the lower back due to the rapid rotation of the trunk and the force generated by swinging the club. This means if your back is operating less than optimally it has a good chance to become injured. It’s not just backs that get hurt either. Based on compiled statistics 19% of the injuries for the PGA were associated with the neck, 7% the shoulder and 6% the elbow, wrist, or forearm. (1) If handled properly, these injuries don’t have to sideline you for an entire season, or worse yet, permanently. Additionally, chiropractic patients have been shown to have better long term results. Follow-ups for patients 1 year after receiving either chiropractic care, medication, or acupuncture showed that those who received chiropractic care showed sustained improvement in 5 of 7 criteria compared to 1 of 7 criteria for acupuncture or medication. (2) Structural Chiropractic typically involves special equipment such as laser therapy, spinal decompression, traction, and/or repetitive motion therapy.  This allows all aspects of an injury – soft tissue, bony structures, and affected nerves to be addressed for maximum healing.

Another reason a lot of golfers use chiropractic care is to improve performance. Most people don’t really think about the fact that just because their body isn’t actively hurting doesn’t mean that it’s working very well either. Pain is only one type of response to an injury. Lost flexibility, reduced balance, lost muscle strength, among many other things, are common problems often chalked up to aging, but they don’t have to be. The real reason we have these issues is that our body simply isn’t coordinating optimally. An example of this is that a properly aligned thoracic spine is associated with better lung function (3). The brain and the body coordinate function via the spinal cord, which is housed in the spinal column. Spinal alignment isn’t associated with just pain, it is relevant to all body functions. Nearly three-quarters of all PGA tour golfers use chiropractic. (1) The reason the number is so high is because they rely on their body to be operating at a peak level all year round. Chiropractic care has also been demonstrated to have a significant impact on range of motion (4) an essential part of being a top level golfer.

The last reason so many golfers are seeing chiropractors is longevity. Changes to the spinal structure affect normal physiology. One study demonstrated that different types of compressive loads caused different types of degeneration. (5) This indicates that if you put a repetitive type stress, like say oh swinging a golf club 1000+ times a day, you can cause parts of your spine to wear down faster. A structurally sound joint will reduce the stresses created by these activities. Less friction and inflammation, as well as more normal spinal loading, helps to prevent the degenerative changes which can sideline golf careers permanently.

Why should I care if I’m not a profession golfer, or what if you aren’t a golfer at all? Well, the benefits still apply. We all put repetitive stresses on our body. Whether it is sitting in the same chair at work, carrying the same heavy purse, or just a product of our normal habits, our body is constantly undergoing and adapting to stress. Structural Correction reduces the impact of that stress on your body and promotes healthy long term function as well.

Sources:

  1. http://www.chiroweb.com/archives/26/15/02.html
  2. http://www.chiro.org/research/ABSTRACTS/Medication_Acupuncture_and_Spinal_Manipulation_Follow_up.shtml
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27341855
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28731832
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29770581/

I just want to talk to the Doctor!

Our consultation gets such rave reviews because it offers an opportunity to discover if Align Chiropractic is right for you BEFORE you commit to us. No pressure, no tricks, just a simple conversation to help you decide.

We start this friendly conversation with you telling us about your health concerns. Once we know what brought you in, then we will provide as much insight as we can pertaining to your issue. The third and final part of the consultation is where we will tell you what separates us from the community of chiropractors in the area, by telling you what we do.

Our Complimentary Consultation requires no commitment by you. You may have heard of chiropractors that have you in the exam room before you’ve even had a chance to introduce yourself. That isn’t how we would want to be treated, so that isn’t how we will treat you.

All we need is about twenty minutes of your time, after that it is your decision if you would like to move forward with an examination. There is no obligation, but for your convenience we always have a block of time for an exam available immediately following a consultation.

Maybe you’re just curious about chiropractic, the different types of chiropractic care available, or you want to find out what makes us different, but you aren’t ready to do a face-to-face sit down with the doctor. We’ve got you covered. Our office does periodic 20-30 minute workshops that will teach you the ins and outs of chiropractic care. At the conclusion of the presentation, we allow time for a question and answer session to let you ask anything you might have missed, including duration of care, insurance and finances, plus just about anything else you want. If you plan on attending a workshop, please call our office at 248-601-6100 to let us know.

What are my treatment options?

 

A vital part of our mission is to provide you with objective information regarding your treatment options. We aim to empower you to make the best decision regarding your healthcare needs.

In order to achieve this, we will do our best to explain to you how other chiropractors and and other healthcare professionals traditionally address your condition. We will not be rendering an opinion specific to any other chiropractic or non-chiropractic treatments for your specific health challenge, but we will try and help you understand the various approaches available for your condition.  Even if you choose to look elsewhere for a solution, we want you to know you can rely on us to act as an objective health and wellness resource.

We will also explore the best course of action to achieve a Structural Correction. We will discuss what services we recommend, as well as the details of the time and financial aspects of care. We don’t want anything to be a surprise while you are a patient at our office, and so we will do our best to share with you the whole picture of what Structural Correction involves.

Not surprisingly, this approach has led us to getting calls from relatives and friends of patients asking us questions pertaining to their health challenges. It is more important to us that people know they can get straightforward and trustworthy information from us, than to have them under our care. To us that is simply doing what is right.

 

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What are Secondary Conditions?

Symptoms, or as we refer to them, Secondary Conditions can be an indicator of a more serious underlying problem in your body. Your body uses these to warn you that your body is not functioning ideally. Some of the Secondary Conditions that present to our office:

  • Pain – Neck, Mid Back, Low Back, Hip, etc.
  • Numbness & Tingling – Arms, Hands, Fingers, Legs, Feet, Toes, etc.
  • Disc Injury – Bulging, Herniated, “Slipped”, etc
  • Radiculopathy – Sciactica, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, etc.
  • Muscular Spasms & Tension
  • Headaches – Tension, Migraines, etc.
  • Dizziness, Vertigo, and Balance Issues
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Stiff and Restricted Motion
  • Spinal Canal Stenosis
  • Rotator Cuff & Shoulder Pain
  • Wrist Pain & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Poor Posture
  • Muscular Imbalance

These Secondary Conditions are just some of the examples of what presents to our of office. If you have are currently experiencing a Secondary Condition, you may want to have us explore whether or not you have an underlying Structural Shift. The first step in that process is to schedule a Complimentary Consultation with the doctor and have a conversation, which at our office, is not a commitment.

 

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What do I need to know before my examination?

After being introduced to our office via a consultation with the doctor, when a prospective patient elects to proceed, the next step is to undergo our Structural Chiropractic Correction examination. There is no pressure to move forward immediately. If you feel that you need time to consider what has been discussed during the consultation, our examination can be scheduled for a later time and date. In order to thoroughly evaluate your condition our Structural Chiropractic Correction examination is comprehensive. Thus, you should plan on designating at least 45 minutes of your time for us during this portion of your visit.

What will the Structural Correction Examination consist of?

  • Orthopedic and Neurological Tests and Checks
  • Complete series of Structural Corrective Radiography with Specialized Analysis
  • Grid Posture Analysis
  • Bilateral Weight Distribution Test

The Structural Chiropractic Correction Examination, while essential for detecting Structural Shifts, also allows for a complete understanding of the underlying cause of your condition, and will allow for an improved understanding of “normal”. A conference will be scheduled following your examination where our findings will be explained, how we can help you, and what the approach will be if you decide to move forward with care at our practice.

 

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