Grocery shopping

Going shopping for healthy products can sometimes be overwhelming. There is so much behind what the label really says. We could spend hours in a place reading all the labels, ingredients etc trying to find the most appropriate for our needs. In another post I will go in more detail about the hidden names and things to avoid when buying either food or other products (cleaning, beauty) Here is some basic guidance.

Water: Filter water is preferred and having it in a BPA free bottle. Glass bottle would be better.

Fruit: There are no bad fruits, you just need to refer to your fructose chart to determine portion size and how much to eat in a day.  Certain fruits like watermelon and grapes are higher in the fructose, be aware of that. Preferably buy organic, if that is too expensive then at least try buying the ones with thin skin like blueberries organic and the ones with thick skin like bananas, regular.

Vegetables:You want to eat lots of vegetables, a variety not just the same one. Try buying organic, like we mentioned in the fruits the ones with thin skin are better organic (spinach, kale, arugula…) veggies with thick skin won’t absorb as much the pesticides etc that unfortunately sometimes we find in our foods.

Meats:  You want to buy natural meats that do not contain gluten, casein, nitrate/nitrite, hormones, antibiotics or preservatives.  Grass fed. Preferably going to you local butcher that hopefully treats the animals in a kind considerate way. Cruelty free!

Oils:  The best oils are Olive Oil (for low heat, sautéing, salad dressings) or Coconut Oil (for high heat, also adds coconut flavor when drizzled on foods cold.)  A little Sunflower or Grapeseed Oil is okay on occasion. Avocado oil is a good butter substitute. Avoid canola!

Vinegars:  All are fine except Malt Vinegar.  Apple cider vinegar is great for your immune system.

Broth: When shopping for broth make sure you check the ingredients for gluten, MSG and other mysterious ingredients like “modified food starch” or “natural flavor” which may have gluten. 

Sweeteners:  You can use stevia (not Truvia, just plain stevia), xylitol, coconut sugar/nectar or grade B/dark maple syrup.

Flours:  It’s best to avoid flours made from any grains or wheat.  You can have almond or hazelnut flour (best for baking), garbanzo flour and coconut flour.   

Milk: Instead of cow’s milk you can have unsweetened almond, coconut milk, cashew milk or hemp milk. If you want an animal milk, look for hormone free, organic.

Other drinks:  Herbal, rooibos, teas are okay.  You usually don’t have to worry about gluten in teas, but sometimes you’ll find it they can contain barley.  Fizzy or sparkling water is fine as long as it doesn’t have artificial sweeteners. The ingredients should be carbonated water and natural flavor.   Kombucha tea is great for your GI system. It is fermented (don’t shake it) and contains probiotics. It has a sour flavor, so some people may not like it, but you should try it and see what you think.   

Toothpaste – Most toothpaste has gluten and artificial sweeteners

Hair/skin products – Refer to your list of gluten ingredients in these products.  This is sometimes the cause of skin irritation or loss of/thinning hair.

Cleaning products: Stay away from chemicals as much as possible. Some of the recommended brands are Mr.Meyers, Seventh Generation and Dr. Bronner’s. There is a website: grove.com that sell natural beauty and cleaning products.

  • Read labels for any hidden ingredients. Remember sugar has lots of synonyms, be aware of it! It is better quality than quantity.

Pic: Nicotitto/NRD in Unsplash

Skin

The skin, as we know, is the largest organ of the body. It protects us from microbes and the elements, helps regulate body temperature, and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold.

Skin has 3 layers (and :

  • The epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone.
  • The dermis, beneath the epidermis, contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
  • The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is made of fat and connective tissue.

Its a strong protective “covering”but still can get affected by multiple factors: environment, chemicals, nutrients, diseases, accidents…Skin cells last for about 2-3 weeks. Four types of cells make up the skin, and they are produced mainly in the epidermis near the basement membrane. There is way more information about the skin, not provided here, but we all know it is a very important organ. Like most organs, we can have skin transplant, graft. Mostly done after some type of injury like a burn. Skin grafting is a surgical procedure that involves removing skin from one area of the body and moving it, or transplanting it, to a different area of the body.There are two basic types of skin grafts: split-thickness and full-thickness grafts. A surgeon will begin the operation by removing skin from the donor site. Once skin is removed from the donor site, the surgeon will carefully place it over the transplant area and secure it with a surgical dressing, staples, or stitches. Amazing!

Now, my intention writing this was to give some natural recipes or tips to help with your skin.

1st nutrition is very important. Of course water!!!! but also food rich in carotenoids (sweet potato, tomatoes, plantains, carrots, papaya…) Carotenoids, along with active vitamin A, help prevent premature skin damage. Diets high in carotenoids are beneficial for preventing UV light damage, which can lead to melanoma, aged-looking skin, wrinkles, drying, scaling and follicular thickening of the skin. Variety in your diet, fats are important like Avocado/coconut/olive oils.

Avoid applying products with chemicals in your body, like most skin products we see in store. Lots of the lotions, makeups etc contain harsh materials. Instead of soap or alcohol-based products use a natural toner/cleanser in your face. Instead of lotions fulls of parabens, DMDM (type of formaldehyde), retinyl palmitate and others you can apply a little bit of coconut oil for example or you can make your own. here some skin recipes:

  • TONER: Apple cider vinegar with water or water with Rose Water however a good recipe for sensitive skin is:
    • Mix ½ tablespoon Apple cider vinegar and ½ tablespoon witch hazel with 4 tbsp. water. Add 1-2 drops of each essential oil like lavender or geranium.
  • SUNBURNS: Aloe vera is the famous one, just by itself can help. But here a recipe:
    • 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1/3 cup of aloe vera gel, 10 drops of lavender oil. Combine and store in the fridge.
  • LOTION/MOISTURIZER: Coconut oil by itself is great. But here you go:
    • ½ cup of carrot or almond oil (carrot oil might stain a bit, clothes etc), 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1/4 cup of beeswax, you can add shea or cocoa butter and essential oils. Ingredients should be (oils) melted first and then mix.
  • SCRUB: Brown sugar or even coffee grounds by itself can be good. However:
    • 3 tblsp coffee grounds, 3 tblsp ground cacao, 2 tblsp brown sugar, 1 tblsp of coconut or avocado or almond oil. Mix ingredients and apply.

Hope this helps! Remember to always test in a small area 1st just to make sure you are not sensitive to any of the ingredients.

PicL Linda Prebreza, Pexels

SHOULDER ARTHROSCOPIC

Arthroscopy is a procedure  used to inspect, diagnose, and treat problems inside a joint.

During the procedure, the surgeon inserts the arthroscope into your shoulder through a small incision. It is mostly to repair any damaged tissues. To do this, your surgeon makes 1 to 3 small incisions (cuts) and inserts other instruments through them. A tear in a muscle, tendon, or cartilage is fixed. Any damaged tissue is removed. The scope is connected to a video monitor in the operating room. With the camera the Dr can inspect all the tissues of your shoulder joint and the area above the joint. 

Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, your surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incisions needed for standard, open surgery. This results in less pain for patients and shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favorite activities.

Shoulder arthroscopy has been performed since the 1970s. It has made diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from surgery easier and faster than was once thought possible. Improvements to shoulder arthroscopy occur every year as new instruments and techniques are developed.

Common arthroscopic procedures include:

  • Rotator cuff repair
  • Removal or repair of the labrum
  • Repair of ligaments
  • Removal of inflamed tissue or loose cartilage
  • Repair for recurrent shoulder dislocation

Different ways it can be performed are: Beach chair & Lateral decubitus. Your surgeon will determine which will be better for you.  

After the surgery is common to have some swelling, your doctor will instruct you about ways to take care of it and when your follow up appointment is. Also you probably will require some physical therapy or other forms of therapy to help with the ranges of motion and appropriate healing of your surgery. Good Luck!

Picture: Artur Tumasjan Unsplash

Artificial neurons

Neurons, nerve cells, are the fundamental units of the brain and nervous system. Essentially they are the cells that transmit information throughout the body. There are different types of neurons: sensory, motor, interneurons…now we have artificial neurons. A team from the University of Bath, in U.K. ,used a combination of maths, computation and chip design to come up with a way to replicate in circuit form what nerve cells do naturally. The researchers replicated two types of neurons, including cells from the hippocampus, an area of the brain that plays a major role in memory, and brain cells involved in the control of breathing. The goal of this is to used them to help with certain diseases where the neurons have been damaged, like Alzheimer’s disease among others, however the study is concentrating more in heart diseases for now.

The synthetic, artificial, neurons are implanted into a silicon chip and produce the same response as a biological nerve cells. The research aims to lead to the development of implantable bionic neurons that would help to restore brain circuits that have lost their electrical connection and might help to combat paralysis and possibly diseases. Pretty amazing right?! Read the full research article in: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-13177-3

Image of the artificial neuron is from University of Bath: https://www.bath.ac.uk

Animal Chiropractic

Unfortunately the use of Chiropractic treatment in animals is not known by most people, but it is said that D.D. Palmer adjusted animals since 1896.   Chiropractic for animals is considered in the Veterinary world as an alternative therapy just like massage or acupuncture. It has poor acceptance of some veterinarians due to the lack of knowledge.  We know that Chiropractic is more than a “therapy”; it is health, bringing the body back to homeostasis.  

Like us, our pets, suffer from different subluxations; Why we don’t get our companions adjusted?  They can’t tell us if something is bothering or causing pain, although there are some patterns, behaviors that we see in them that can let us know what they are feeling and need.  I will share some signs that may help identifying your pet discomfort. It is very important to always observe them and look in changes in behavior, posture, gait among others. Their bodies are their communication system to let us know what is happening to them.

Some indications of a sacropelvic or cervical problem and the possible affected sites are:

– Inability to sit square: PSIS area

– Not wanting to flex or extend rear limbs : PSIS area

– Anal gland problems: Sacrum area

– Hold tail to one side: Sacrum area 

– Tail tuck: Coccygeal area

– Head tilt; head shake; floppy ears; decrease ROM: upper cervicals area

– Drop shoulders, lameness, don’t track correctly, decrease ROM: lower cervicals area

Clarifying that this is not intended to make a diagnosis or encouraging you to adjust your dog,cat, horse etc This are only helping tools to understand your pet.  For an analysis, adjustment and care you should go to an AVCA certified animal Chiropractic doctor to treat your pet. You can find more information in the internet, where there is a list of Certified animal chiropractors that can help your pet. Also it is not intended to replace your Vet, animal chiropractors work with your pet primary provider as a team.

We should promote and educate our patients and the community of all the advantages that animals get with Chiropractic.  Not only humans benefit from it so lets share this with the whole world!

Hiking

I like hiking, its peaceful, can be challenging or not depending on your mood & and trail), good workout, you get to enjoy nature, meditate… Lots of studies have demonstrated the benefits or exercising, what better way than doing it while enjoying nature! Hiking is a good way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, specially in trails that includes some hills, it will force your heart to work harder. Taking a hike on the slightly uneven surface of a trail can also provide a natural way to engage the core muscles in your torso.

It’s also a great way to spend time with friends and family. I getting information on the place before starting; of course every hike is different and certain factors should always been taken into consideration. There are easy, moderate, hard, short or long hikes. Check also the weather, State/place/city/country (humidity, altitude, dryness). Believe me, it is not the same doing any hike in a sea level tropical Island in comparison with a dry high altitude in the West. Check if they are open, seasons, hours. Remember, shoes, wardrobe, distance/time, enough water, snacks…Another thing, know what type of environment (insects, predators, plants…) Back home I never had to worry about a Bear or a Rattlesnake. My major concern would be the mosquitos…pss! I wasn’t even aware of the existence of Anti-Bear spray!! Just be prepare.

Know your limits. A short, hike is best for beginners. Some of them is like walking on a sidewalk but with nature view. Gradually work up to trails with hills or uneven terrain. Use poles or other equipment that might help. If you are hiking by yourself, always let someone know. Unfortunately things can happen, and some trails might not be very busy, so no one can around can help.

Honestly it is fun! and in lots of them you can have your dogs…tired dogs are the best lol! Enjoy!

Healthy Tksgiving!

Besides been grateful for the past year, experiences, loved ones, we also associate Thanksgiving Day with FOOD! To the degree of getting the famous food coma. Pies, Turkey, casseroles, mashed potatoes, gravy, eggnog… Here I share some side dishes healthier options for Thanksgiving, less guilty food coma?

MASHED PURPLE CAULIFLOWER

1 medium purple cauliflower, cut in florets.

4 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon of thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary

1/4 of milk substitute of your choice (not a sweet one)

salt & pepper

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

  • Boil the cauliflower florets. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover, allowing the cauliflower to steam for 10 minutes, or until tender.
  • Drain & dry the cauliflower and set it aside. In a pan heat and add in the olive oil and garlic. Saute briefly, just until the garlic is softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. 
  • Transfer the cauliflower and garlic to the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an “S” blade. Add the “milk”. Season with salt and pepper, and the rosemary & thyme.
  • Process until the mixture is smooth and resembles mashed potatoes. You can add a splash of water if needed, but usually the cauliflower already has enough moisture that you won’t need it. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt & pepper if desired.

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 cup walnuts, chopped

½ cup full-fat coconut milk (can)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp coconut oil

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and/or paprikaBoil the chopped sweet potatoes. Remove from heat and strain the excess water. In the meantime pre heat over 350F.
  • Return the sweet potatoes to the pot they were cooked in and drizzle 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil on top of them. Using a blender mash/mix the potatoes until smooth. Slowly pour the coconut milk in, followed by the vanilla extract. Once it has been mixed well, season as you like. Transfer the mashed mix into a baking dish.
  • In a medium bowl, toss the walnuts in the remaining oil or butter. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and then give it another good mixing. Evenly cover the mashed potato mixture with the topping, put in the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes.

SPINACH CRANBERRY SALAD

16 oz baby spinach

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup pf shredded carrots

1 tbsp chopped scallots

vinaigrette of your choice or just olive oil and vinegar for the dressing.

  • Mix ingredients in a bowl.

Pic: Debbie Hudson, Unsplash

Concussions and new devices to diagnose it.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can occur after an impact to your head or after a whiplash injury. It results in temporary loss of normal brain function. We have heard a lot about athletes getting concussions, but it can happen to anyone and are actually pretty common. Some signs of concussion are:

  • Loss of memory
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • problems with vision
  • nausea/vomiting
  • balance problems
  • Among others

The standard treatment for concussion is rest. Maybe some acetaminophen and cognitive therapy, is all depending on the severity of the concussion.

It’s a serious matter but thankfully there is technology helping doctors diagnose them better. We have the standard and most common diagnostic imaging like CT scans and MRIs to make sure there’s no bruising or bleeding in your brain, plus a good health history and neurological examination. Now newer technology that might be less expensive for the patient and more comfortable for them as well are been tried. Here a link with the list from the FDA: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/neurological-devices/medical-devices-assessing-head-injury

Here I present some of them (info from the websites of those companies):

Brainscope® is a medical neurotechnology company that focus in the assessment of brain injury, including concussion.  One of their cool and innovative products is “Brainscope one” is a non-invasive, handheld platform that allows physicians to assess head injures. The device is FDA-cleared and is based off of EEG technology. BrainScope One is painless and can be used on patients aged 18-85 years old within three days of a head injury. It measure and interprets brain activity and neurocognitive function to help physicians make clinical diagnoses. https://brainscope.com

The “Infrascanner” from Infrascan, enables clinicians to effectively, conveniently, and accurately detect intracranial bleeding in patients with head trauma. InfraScan, Inc. is a medical device company that invented and distributes hand-held diagnostic devices for head injury and stroke assessment based on Near-Infrared (NIR) technology. https://infrascanner.com/about/

Another company that works with the diagnosis of Concussions is ImPACT. Post-injury testing is comprised of computerized assessments that measure reaction time, memory capacity, speed of mental processing, and executive functioning scores for memory (visual and verbal), reaction, and speed. They also provide baseline testing (before an injury). They claim to be used by healthcare system, educational, and sports organizations to help assess and manage concussions.https://impactconcussion.com

The company Oculogica offers “The EyeBOX “. In under 4 minutes, Oculogica’s proprietary technology collects and analyzes over 100,000 data points to generate an objective assessment. Its technology is based on research relating cranial nerve function to eye movements, not subjective patient symptoms. http://www.oculogica.com

There are more devices and new test/technology.

Pic: Jesse Orrico, Unsplash

ACL surgery

The knee is the largest joint in the body and sadly is easy to injured. The knee has 4 major ligaments, the most common injured one is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). It is located toward the front of the knee. The ACL is often stretched and/or torn during a sudden twisting motion (when the feet stay planted one way, but the knees turn the other way). Skiing, soccer, basketball, and football are sports that have a higher risk of ACL injuries. It has been said that between 100 000 and 300 000 ACL reconstructions are performed every year in the United States.

ACL controls rotation and forward movements. Often people hear or feel a “pop” in the knee when an ACL injury occurs. The knee may swell, feel unstable and become too painful to bear weight. Depending on the severity, treatment may include rest and rehabilitation exercises or surgery to replace the torn ligament followed by rehabilitation. ACL reconstruction surgery uses a graft to replace the ligament. The most common grafts are autografts using part of your own body, such as hamstring tendon. Other types of grafts might be used like allografts (from a cadaver), xenografts (from different species) or synthetic ones. There are other types of surgery like: open surgery, techniques like intra vs extra articular reconstruction among others, single vs double bundle. Orthopedic surgeons have several factors to take into account when choosing the appropriate graft for ACL reconstruction. Consult with our Dr which one will be the best option for you.

Like we mentioned, Arthroscopic surgery is the most common form of surgery for the repair. Done by making small incisions in the knee and inserting instruments for surgery through these incisions. The goals of reconstructive surgery are to restore stability and to maintain full active ROM. The functional stability provided by the normal ACL is both in resisting anteroposterior translation as well as rotational subluxation. Also consult with your surgeon your rehab options. Therapy is typically broken down into stages (or phases) of activity, with goals for each stage. It takes time to heal properly, don’t get frustrated neither, nor tried doing too much too fast or even too little. This is very basic info, get inform before any procedure and look at your options.

More info: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Anterior_Cruciate_Ligament_(ACL)_Reconstruction

Here a simple animation so you can have and idea. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/acl-reconstruction-animation/

Pic: Anna Auza, Unsplash

Diabetes:Type 1- new treatment?

Diabetes Type 1 is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. It is an autoimmune disease and so far no cure have been found. It can be very serious if left untreated, it can have complications and affect major organs in your body, including heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys.

It was known as the “juvenile diabetes”but not only kids can get it, there have been adult onset as well. To maintain it under control you need to manage your glucose, your doctor, endocrinologist, nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, will work with you to guide you on how to do it. Proper diet, exercise, Insulin and monitoring are usually the treatment and prevention of it getting worse.

Now new technology might be use to treat this. Scientists at the University of Geneva & the Geneva University Hospitals have discovered a new strategy! They have created a more robust super-islets of Langerhans (pancreatic islets or islets of Langerhans, are the regions of the pancreas that contain its endocrine:hormone-producing,cells) Once transplanted, more of them engraft. Then these super islets start producing insulin much more rapidly. The Super grafts not only improve the success of cell transplants but also offer new perspectives for other types of transplants. Pancreatic islet transplantation it is still an experimental treatment for type 1 diabetes, but if it works how they predict can be beneficial and crucial for a lot of patients. Hopefully it does!

More info: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191106183107.htm

Article published: Journal Nature Communications.

Pic: Martin Lopez, Pexels.com