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19 Feb

BLOG 255 CALLUSES & CORNS

Calluses and corns are the result of your body forming protective skin around a sensitive area. They might be unattractive or bothersome, but they serve a purpose.

Calluses form on the outermost layer of the skin and don’t cause any pain. They are found in places where friction occurs such as the hands or feet. This means a lot of rubbing has taken place on that location. A callus found on the foot is called a plantar callus.

Corns are found where there are pressure points. They mainly occur on the bottom of the feet or on the side of the toes. These can be painful. Corns can turn hard because this is a small patch of dead skin. Corns can also be soft, especially those that occur between the toes. Seed corns are the type you can barely see but are painful to pressure or weight bearing. They could be caused plugged sweat ducts.

Often times, calluses and corns are the result of the type of shoe a person is wearing. High heels are the worst, but any poorly fitting shoes and improper walking form can lead to either of these skin mishaps. Due to high heels, women are four times more likely to develop calluses or corns. Wearing shoes without socks can also cause additional friction.

The problem is that our feet our breeding grounds for bacteria because they are mostly enclosed and moist from sweat. Therefore, if a corn or callus bleeds because the skin has broken, possible infection can occur. Corns that discharge clear pus, means that it is infected and needs to be treated by a doctor. This is especially true for diabetics who have poor circulatory problems.

A doctor can examine the area to determine if you have a callus or corn. A callus, when scraped off, will not bleed. On the other hand, you could have a wart and when scraped off it will bleed. Warts are viral and spread, whereas calluses and corns do not. Most calluses and corns can be treated just by changing shoes or trimming them. The key is avoiding the friction or pressure. Mole skin pads can be placed on the area to alleviate pressure. Infected corns need to be treated and antibiotics are used to clear up the infection. There are moisturizing creams that can help soften the skin and remove calluses. A pumice stone or soft brush can be used to remove calluses as well. Sometimes a doctor will perform surgery to remove a planter callus. However, the callus can return. A podiatrist can recommend shoe inserts to help prevent friction as well. Wearing protective gloves when using the hands a lot can also help.

Even the skin doesn’t like pressure and friction. Keep your skin soft and smooth and the less rub the better. Don’t sacrifice cute shoes for painful dead skin later. Our hands and feet need a little attention too, especially since they do so much for us.

10 Feb

BLOG 254 CHIA SEEDS

Cha-cha-cha-chia…. you remember the Chia Pet?? Now, health food stores are making claims that these tiny seeds are packed with nutrients and can help curb hunger. Chia is a type of seed that come from the Mexican desert plant called Salvia hispanica. “Chia” actually means strength. The ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures ate these seeds for energy because they contain carbohydrates, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. A single ounce, which is about 2 tablespoons, contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, as well as other vitamins and minerals that can be absorbed by the body.

Most people consume chia seeds with other foods or in beverages. They have a mild, nutty taste. When mixed with water, they make a gel. Popular uses include on top of yogurt or cereal, with vegetables, in baked goods, or with rice.

The most appealing benefit of chia seeds is the claim that they aid with weight loss. These seeds are supposed to expand the belly upon consumption, which in turn makes a person fuller, meaning they will eat let, and thus weight loss will result. The evidence validating this is limited. Therefore, realistically, it is not the miracle weight loss aid. However, the USDA does claim that chia seeds contain no cholesterol, are a good source of energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber. They also contain vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin A, sodium, and zinc. They also contain the following antioxidants which help fight free radicals in the body: flavanol glycosides, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, and linolenic acid. Chia seeds have also been linked to raising good HDL levels and are a heart healthy food containing omega-3 fatty acids which help lower bad LDL cholesterol levels. They contain more than salmon or flax seeds. These seeds also contain fiber which help with the digestive system. Once the seeds enter the stomach, they become a gel that acts like a probiotic. Chia seeds can also help lower blood sugar levels which is great news for diabetics. The carbohydrates in these seeds are slowly released so they do not cause an insulin spike.

The list of benefits continues. Chia seeds contain more calcium than skimmed milk and boron which helps metabolize calcium. This is important for bone health and can even help your teeth. Chia seeds are known for their energy boosting power, which many athletes utilize for performance improvement. These seeds also contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which helps reduce inflammation in the joints and arteries. Chia seeds also are great for pregnant women because they aid in the baby’s brain development.

Quite the list of benefits for such teeny tiny little seeds. Super foods have the power to benefit the body in so many ways. A little goes a long way. Whole food nutrition is absorbed and utilized by the body to improve functions and help a person perform at their best.

06 Feb

BLOG 253 THREADING

Not everyone desires facial hair, especially the female population. Genetics and hormones can cause this unwanted hair to make its presence on cheeks, chin, and upper lip. There are a number of ways to remove body hair from anywhere, but when it comes to the face, one tends to pay more particular attention to what could happen after. Facial skin is also very sensitive and can range from oily to dry, have many or few pores, and then there is of course acne to consider. Eyebrow threading has become a popular hair removal process. Many people swear by this Middle Eastern method to remove their hair. Before making an appointment, there might be some factors to consider to see if this method is right for you.

Threading is a very precise process. It is considered the most sanitary hair removal method because no chemicals are involved at all. Over time, if a person is consistent with their upkeep, hair follicles can actually stop producing hair. Those who are not a fan of this method complain that this is a timely appointment. It takes longer than other methods. It is also restricted to the face only so not everyone thing can be addressed in one false swoop. Some say it is more painful than waxing. Sensitivity is of course a matter of opinion and a case by case basis. Some feel a pinching sensation. The process involves using cotton threads that are twisted to pull the hair from the root.

PROS:
1. Hair grows back thinner.
2. No heat or chemicals.
3. Cheaper.
4. Precise.
5. Redness disappears quickly.
6. Sanitary.
7. Can remove large areas of hair.
8. Safe for people taking medications.

CONS
1. Sensitive skin types might experience tenderness.
2. If the person is not properly trained, irritation can occur.
3. All makeup must be removed.

Because threading is very precise, people often use it for their eyebrows specially. A more desirable arch can be obtained. This method does have to be done by a professional, so there is not an at home option. The worst problem that can happen is getting a threat cut, but that is highly unlikely. The process sounds complicated but that is why going to a trained professional, laying back, and then standing up hair free is the way to go. Other options will always exist including plucking, shaving, waxing, and creams. Sometimes it just boils down to a matter of personal preference.

30 Jan

BLOG 252 MAYONNAISE

Mayonnaise, “mayo”, is a popular condiment used around the world. It is the combination of egg yolk, oil, acid, and either lemon juice or vinegar. This recipe might be tasty, but it is full of trans fat and saturated fat. The heart does not appreciate this. The list of negatives continues with this condiment being high in calories, high in cholesterol, and high in sodium. Mayo is mostly oil. Regardless, people love to use it on sandwiches, in salad dressings, and tarter sauce. Others just use it standing alone to dip foods in. Not paying attention to the portion quickly leads to high amounts of calories and fat in one false swoop. Think of potato salad, deviled eggs, and dressings… portion distortion is rampant.

Mayonnaise is the product of an interesting process called emulsification. Lemon juice or vinegar and egg yolk combine to turn a liquid into a solid. In the U.S., most commercial mayo is made with soy oil which is high in omega 6 fatty acids. There are 57 calories and 4 grams of fat in 1 tablespoon. For an item that isn’t necessary to have, it is more for flavor and your preference, mayonnaise could be opted out. There are reduced fat and lower calorie options, but these tend to be loaded with sugar. There are also a lot of artificial ingredients and preservatives in mayo.

In order to avoid some of the poor points about mayo, making a homemade version is a good idea. Using avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, or olive oil can help lower the amount of omega 6. There are different ways to add flavor so that this healthier version is still tasty. This might include adding hot sauce, curry powder, garlic, or pesto.
Having 4.5% of your daily calories from 1 tablespoon of mayo seems pretty high for such a small quantity. When having macaroni salad, potato salad, or different dressings, it is highly unlikely that just this portion is being consumed. Regular mayo eaters might experience weight gain. Yes, the body needs some fat and some sodium to operate, but we always have to consider the source. It is small daily choices that add of overtime and make a difference. For someone who tops their daily lunchtime sandwich with mayo, this accumulates over time. It can be avoided. Condiments are add-ons that are not necessary. If concerned, prepare at home and maybe that sandwich at lunch can have some of your own version to keep the flavor the way like it.

23 Jan

BLOG 251 CELL PHONE USE

Almost everyone has a cell phone. in fact, 94% of Americans have a cell phone, which means 9 out of 10 people. Everyone is ready to connect and communicate at any time. Most people have them on hand at least 16 hours a day, so that includes at night because of it’s alarm clock use. We are able to contact anyone almost anywhere at anytime. The average person checks their phone at least 150 times per day, much more than they ever considered that they do. The swipe and click across the screen become almost second nature. Between calls, text, emails, and social media, the phone is entertaining and used for many purposes. Did you know that 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes of receiving them? Fast communication anywhere we are has made incredible changes to the way we interact with one another.

Remember when all you could do was call a person’s home phone in the hopes that they are there? If not, you left a message with no expectation of when they might check it and get back to you. There weren’t private conversations like there are now. The home phone was used and shared by all in a central location. If you wanted to reach someone, you actually had to speak to them. Talking was the communication modality, whereas today, texting with emojies and shorthand has become a whole new language. There was an understanding not to call too early or too late because the phone ringing would disrupt the household. Calling before or after business hours was pointless. People are even using cell phones now while driving. Checking the cell phone can now almost be considered a hobby.

The fact is that you could be reading this very article on your cell phone now. Scrolling can become an addictive behavior. It fills time while waiting, can be a distraction from the task at hand, and it spikes your curiosity and interest. All the apps are designed to hook you in. Social media notices what you like and look at then start to use this in the advertising and marketing that is displayed in your feed. The cluttered landscape of ads and scrolling makes you feel like you can’t concentrate anymore with information overload. People are using their phones for calendars, appointments, stop watches, alarm clocks, banking, credit card processing, Netflix, and the list goes on and on.

So where does the disconnect begin? You set it aside for a while, decide to take a break from social media, try to not look at your text and emails so often, but in the end society has changed. There’s an expectation to be connected. There’s an expectation to be available. We could all benefit from being present int eh current moment. The idea of this seems impossible since new and improved versions of phones continue to be released. Don’t forget those who are right next to you in the same room. Don’t forget to look up from your phone every now and then.

16 Jan

BLOG 250 GROWING PAINS

Sometimes it can appear “the boy who cried wolf” might be occurring when children complain. However, when it comes to complaints about aches and pains in the body, specifically those that may not be visible, a child or preteen might be telling the truth about their growing pains. These crampy, achy, muscle pains can occur in both legs. They usually onset in the afternoon or evening and can keep the child awake. They might start as early as age 3, can subside for a number of years, and then resurface about age 8 to 12.

Even though they are called growing pains, that doesn’t mean these symptoms are the result of actual growth spurts. Instead, the muscles may in fact be worn out due to activity. Running, jumping, and climbing are the common culprits. A full day of sports can certainly cause this. The pains might come and go, and some children can eventually outgrow them. The pains normally go away in the morning and doesn’t disrupt the performance of actual activity during the day. The pain arises when the child comes home and in the evening. The main areas are the knees, quads, back of the knee, and the calves.

Getting checked by a doctor is always a good consideration. The doctor will ask pertinent questions for diagnosis. If the child is having growing pains, a doctor won’t exactly see anything abnormal even in an X-ray. The key is easing the discomfort for the child. Massaging the legs can be helpful to increase circulation and alleviate tight muscles. Stretching can help, although young children might have difficulty with this. Heating pads or a warm bath can be effective. A doctor might recommend an over the counter pain medication like ibuprofen. Aspirin should never be given to a child. If the pain is only in one leg, it may be a more serious condition. There could have been a fall or injury. Limping or difficulty walking might be more serious as well.

Communication is important with the child to understand the source and site of pain. Then choosing a treatment plan accordingly can be done. Just like adults, everyone varies in their tolerance for pain. Staying awake at night because of pain is never good.

08 Jan

BLOG 249 DUPUYTREN’S CONTRACTURE

Dupuytren’s contracture is a condition marked by tightening of the elastic skin (tissue) found under the skin of the palm and fingers. This tissue is called fascia and is composed of fibers that are like cords which run from the palm to the fingers. However, with this condition, the cords tighten up and contract, which causes the fingers to curl and the hand to make deformed shapes. Severe cases can cause extreme crippling of the hands.

Dupuytren’s contracture can be caused by different biological factors and can be caused by Dupuytren’s disease, but the exact cause is unknown. Certain things such as having diabetes, persons with epilepsy, and drinking a lot of alcohol, can all be possible causing factors. This condition is very common in families, so the leading cause is that is it inherited. Families that have blood lines tied to Scandinavian (Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish) or are Northern European (Scottish, Irish, French, Dutch, and English) are at higher risk. Males are also more likely to have this hand issue and that risk increases with age, especially over 40.

The initial symptom is spotting visible nodules under the skin of the palm. The bumps can be tender to touch. The bands under the skin eventually become inflexible and cause the bending and curling of the fingers. Soon, it becomes difficult to un-curl the fingers. This is mainly true for the ring and pinky fingers. Both hands are become affected, not just one. Every day tasks start to become harder leading to difficulty picking up objects, putting hands in the pockets, or just getting your I.D. out of your wallet can seem too hard. Shaking a person’s hand is almost impossible.

A doctor will examine the palm and the number of nodules. They might do an assessment of your ability to grasp, pinch and straighten the fingers, as well as to see if you can straighten the fingers. There currently is no cure for Dupuytren’s contracture. It is not life threatening, rather, it can just be disruptive to daily living. It is not recommended to splint the fingers or trying to stretch them straighter. This will only cause increased trauma to the area. Corticosteroids can be injected into the nodule areas if inflammation is painful. This will not straighten the finger, but it will help alleviate pain. Thera are also medications that help dissolve the tissue. This medication is called Xiaflex which helps weaken the tight bands and let the fingers somewhat straighten more. On rare occasions, surgery is needed. This would involve removing the tight bands. The surgery is successful for most people, but one in five people do have the condition return.

We use our hands and fingers so much, making Dupuytren’s a difficult condition to tolerate. It can be frustrating but where there is a will there is a way. Relief is possible and patience is important.

31 Dec

BLOG 248 CHIROPRACTORS

Relief from back pain might mean a trip to the chiropractor for some people. In fact, 22 million Americans visit the chiropractor each year. Different causes can send a person to this type of medical practice including car accidents, sports injuries, and muscle strains. Although most people might go for back pain, other pains that need relief occur in the neck, legs, arms, chronic headaches.

A chiropractor uses what is called hands-on spinal manipulation. The idea is to properly align the body’s musculoskeletal system. When the spin is in alignment, healing can occur, and this is an alternative to medication or surgery. Most of the time tissue has been injured that is causing loss of mobility and range of motion. This tissue damage might be the result of a fall, lifting with little back support, repetitive stress, or some type of trauma. This form of treatment is called alternative. Through this manipulation, the tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, and connective tissue can find pain relief.

A chiropractor will attend 4 years of chiropractic school. Upon completion, they will be awarded the title “DC” next to their name. Their type of treatment is generally considered safe. The chiropractor will perform a physical examination on a patient and discuss medical history. Then treatment will involve manual adjustments to the affected areas. The chiropractor uses sudden force to help the area have improved range of motion.

It is not advised that persons with spinal cord compression, arthritis, who use blood-thinning medications, or who have osteoporosis, should use a chiropractor’s help. A chiropractor is a health care professional who can help treat neuromuscular disorders, but explaining medical history is important in order to avoid further injury. Their goal is to preserve the structural integrity of the spine. This form of treatment can be complimentary to other forms. If a chiropractor thinks additional forms of treatment are necessary, they will refer accordingly.

Low back pain can vary in severity. Most of the time it is non-specific in the lumbar spine and can be treated. There is no exact cause. Nerves can be problematic if one is pinched or compressed. Other potentially serious causes include infections, tumors, joint infection, prolonged bleeding, or artificial joint problems.

Pain can be intolerable and so uncomfortable that a person must seek help. Imagine if a rib was popped out of place. One’s primary doctor might not be able to address this, and surgery certainly is not always necessary, so someone like a chiropractor can alleviate this pain. Each case is different and each person recovers on their own time based on the frequency and necessity of treatment.

26 Dec

BLOG 247 HOW WEATHER AFFECTS THE BODY

Remember when quirky Aunt Sally used to say, “My knees are hurting, must be a storm coming”?? In our adult lives, we now might relate to her wives’ tale. There may actually be truth to her statement. When barometric pressure changes in our body, weather forecasting becomes our new super power. Feeling increased pain before the weather changes is actually quite common in people with arthritis and chronic pain. Knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists are the popular trouble zones. When mother nature cries, so too can our joints.

There are a couple theories that might explain this. Barometric pressure (air pressure) seems to be the common denominator. This is the weight of the atmosphere around us. Think of what happens to the body when you go up on an airplane. You feel different sensations due to the change of air pressure.

Our joints are like a balloon. High pressure makes the joint push against the body and the tissues aren’t able to expand. When this pressure drops, which is what happens before rain, hail, or snow, there is less air and pressure on the body. This causes the tissues to start to expand. We feel this pressure sensation as the tissues put pressure on the joints. The cold weather causes our muscles, ligaments, and tendons to stiffen up. Synovium is the lining of our joints which have nerves at their ends. The nerves become especially sensitive post-surgery, if you have arthritis or fibromyalgia, or if you have had an injury. Think back to the plane. Just like in the airplane, where the pressure in cabin is less, this can result in swollen feet.

Another theory is that the change in humidity and temperature might affect the pressure in our brain. From this, our pain receptors are affected and not doing their blocking job. This aligns with the theory that people with migraines experience weather related headaches.

This does not mean that people with this pressure meter of pain can be alleviated by living in an ideal climate. Even the most minute changes can affect someone. Your body adapts wherever it goes. Warmth can help joint pain, so when it is cold dressing in layers and using a heating pad can be helpful. Loosen up those joints through exercise, because the combination of stiff and cold joints, only worsens the problem. The winter month is not a time to stay cooped up. Those joints need blood flow to ward off pain.

Fortunately, weather related pain is temporary. It comes and goes. We aren’t mother nature, so the weather is not in our control. How we manage our pain is. There a medications, creams, pads, and such, but just walking in place (movement in its simplest form), will help alleviate this condition. Use movement for joint pain relief come rain or shine. Use your weather super powers wisely, and be proactive about protecting your joints from pain.

18 Dec

BLOG 246 QUITTING SMOKING

Quitting smoking is a battle many cigarette users face when attempting to stop cold turkey or even reduce the number of smoke breaks per day. Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S., but nicotine users are certainly addicted and hooked. Smoking kills more than 480,000 people per year. It Is estimated that 14% of U.S. adults are smokers. Of these, 75% of them smoke every single day. Ages 25-65 seem to be the target group most involved. American Indian and Alaska Native are the highest race/ethnicity that smokes.

There are several different ways to try to quit smoking. Some people have mad multiple attempts, revisiting the addiction after stopping for some time. Some people are able to make up their mind and walk away forever. Our brains are wired differently so finding a solution might be a task of trial and error unit habit is finally eliminated.

1. Quitting cold turkey: Only about 5-7% of people are able to do this on their own without any type of help. About 90% of people attempt to quit smoking without the use of therapy, medicine, or different aids.
2. Nicotine replacement therapy: There are many types on the market. These include patches, gums, inhalers, and sprays. The catch is that the person is trying to quit their addiction to nicotine itself, so sometimes changing for a different form doesn’t make the craving and desire for nicotine any less.
3. Behavioral therapy: This involves working with a counselor to address triggers that make the person want to smoke. These might include emotions or situations. Together, a plan of attack can be created to know what to do when these circumstances arise.
4. Medication: Chantix and Bupropion can be prescribed to help with withdrawl and cravings.
Of course the first few days are going to be difficult. Change of any type adds an element of uncertainty and a withdrawal from something that once was. It becomes important to avoid situations, triggers, or places, that could create a desire to want to reach for a cigarette. It is extremely important to succumb to cravings. Allowing yourself to have that cigarette when the want is so strong, only tricks your brain that permission is granted, and it is okay to keep smoking. Send the right message from the start for long term success. Reward yourself for hitting milestones such as going one week with none. Stay active and busy and get out. Don’t let boredom and too much time let cigarettes lurk in your mind. Of course much of this can be considered easier said then done and for many cigarette smokers they have heard it all before.

Change is possible. Quitting is possible. Think of all the positives and remember your health is a priority and shouldn’t be compromised to the power of nicotine addiction.