Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammation, and Diet

Can changing your diet ease rheumatoid arthritis pain?

Credit to LESLIE BECK , The Globe and Mail, Sep. 10 2012.

The question: I have rheumatoid arthritis. Should I avoid certain foods? And can certain foods reduce my symptoms?

The answer: Yes, certain types of diets, foods and supplements may help ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis as well as the side of effects of certain medications used to treat the autoimmune disease. The diet and nutrition strategies I am about to describe, however, should not be considered a replacement for any medication you might be taking.

You might have heard that people with arthritis should avoid nightshade vegetables such as bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes. These foods were once thought to aggravate joint pain. However, not one study has proven this connection and it’s no longer believed to be true.

Studies have found, however, that adopting a Mediterranean-style diet – one that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, extra virgin olive oil and contains little red meat – can help reduce inflamed joints and improve physical functioning. The characteristic foods of a Mediterranean diet deliver monounsaturated fat, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which can help reduce inflammation in the body.

A number of studies have also demonstrated that a low-fat vegan diet can bring about long-term improvements in symptoms. (A vegan diet eliminates all animal foods – meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy.) A plant-based diet plentiful in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and soy is thought to reduce inflammation and promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut that enhance the body’s immune system. (If you’re considering going vegan, I strongly recommend you consult a dietitian to help you design a nutritionally complete meal plan.)

If you don’t want to overhaul your diet, start by adding plenty of antioxidant-rich foods to your diet each day. During the process of inflammation, immune cells generate free radicals, compounds that may damage tissues in people with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, researchers have noticed increased free radical activity and lower levels of antioxidants (vitamins C and E, beta carotene, selenium) in the blood and joint fluid of arthritis suffers.

The best food sources of vitamin C are citrus fruit, cantaloupe, kiwi, mango, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and red pepper. Vitamin E rich foods include wheat germ, nuts, seeds, whole grains and kale.

Beta-carotene rich foods include dark green and orange produce in your daily diet such as carrots, sweet potato, winter squash, kale, spinach, apricots, peaches, mango and papaya.

Selenium is found in seafood, chicken, whole grains, nuts, onions, garlic and mushrooms.

When it comes to supplements, fish oil might help reduce the number of tender joints and morning stiffness, and reduce pain. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil (called docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, or DHA and EPA) hinder the body’s production of inflammatory immune compounds. Most studies have used a dose of fish oil that provides 3.8 grams EPA and 2 grams DHA per day, an amount that’s easier to get from a liquid fish-oil supplement than a capsule.

Tic Bites, Allergies, Anaphalaxis, Lyme's Disease

Here is an interesting article from Discover Magazine on tick bites and bizarre allergies. It’s not that ticks bites and allergies are chiropractic issues per se, however, I see lot’s of patients who have issues that befuddle even the best intentioned MD. And often, such people will ask me for my insight and direction. And, considering that ticks are now being found in the south Georgian Bay region – including Dear Ticks … the beasties known to transmit Lyme’s Disease … which has been positively identified in a number of local patients – this article may be timely. (A weak tic-toc pun). 

Also... for those interested in keeping up with emerging developments in an eclectic range of science topics, I highly recommend the very readable and enjoyable science magazine, Discover. 

 Best regards, Dr. Wayne Coghlan

How a Tick Bite Made Me Allergic to Meat

A disastrous allergic reaction sends the author looking for immunological answers.
by Helen Chappell.  Published online August 13, 2012

The last time I ate a hamburger, I spent the night in the emergency room. There wasn’t anything wrong with the hamburger itself—aside from being a bit overdone—but it sent me into anaphylactic shock.

It wasn’t always this way. Before last July’s “Hamburger Incident,” as I’ve come to think of it, meat and I had a long and happy history together. I grew up in a steak-and-potatoes sort of family, and one of my proudest achievements is chowing down on llama meat when I was on a college trip in South America. At the time of the Hamburger Incident, I had just returned to my native North Carolina after three years’ exile in the West, and I was looking forward to eating proper pulled pork barbecue again almost as much as I was looking forward to seeing my family.

Unbeknownst to me, a recent bug bite had squelched my dreams of greasy, vinegar-sauced deliciousness. It turned out, I eventually learned, that thanks to a single nip from Amblyomma americanum, the lone star tick, I was now violently allergic to meat.

The fact that tick bites can cause a meat allergy is still relatively unknown. For that matter, the fact that people can develop allergies as adults, rather than having them since childhood, is still relatively unknown, though it’s not unheard of to become allergic to shellfish or walnuts later in life. As a long-time sufferer of dust-mite allergies myself, I always believed allergies were something I’d grow out of, not into.

Unfortunately, I’m not alone in developing a meat allergy. A pile of evidence has amassed over the past several years proving that there are many others. I was hoping for some reassurance when I spoke with Dr. Scott Commins at the University of Virginia about the allergy. “We believe this is becoming an epidemic in the South,” he told me instead. There aren’t any published estimates yet of the prevalence of the allergy, but anecdotal evidence makes it clear that there are a whole lot of us missing out on our barbecue.

Commins is one of a few scientists who are starting to tease out some of the details of the allergy. So far, they’ve proven that lone star ticks, a common species in the Southeast, can trigger the allergy, but they suspect other species of ticks can as well. The same allergy has been observed in Australia, for instance, where there are no lone star ticks to spread it.
Not every bite from a lone star tick necessarily causes the allergy. The bite I blame for my allergy wasn’t my first tick bite—not by a long shot—or even my first that summer. Having grown up in the woods, I’m so used to tick bites that I don’t even notice them half the time. But I remember this particular bite because it left an itchy welt behind that lasted for weeks after I’d tweezed out the tick itself. Long-lasting, itchy welts, I now know, are one of the hallmarks of an allergy-causing tick bite.

So how does a tick’s bite transform your immune system into a meat-attacking machine? Tick saliva is “a really good provocateur of an immune response, even outside of an infection,” Commins told me, though they are not yet sure whether it’s bacteria carried in tick saliva or the saliva itself that is responsible. But they believe that something in some ticks’ saliva stimulates the human immune system to produce antibodies to a sugar present in mammalian meat, though not poultry and fish, called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal for short). The next time an unsuspecting meat lover chows down on a hamburger, those antibodies could rally a systemic allergic reaction.

As if the whole idea of a tick-induced allergy isn’t bizarre enough, the fact that alpha-gal is a sugar, not a protein, is particularly odd, says Commins. Most allergies are immune responses to proteins—peanuts, for instance, contain proteins that link up with antibodies in people who are allergic, triggering a reaction. To date, alpha-gal allergy is the only known case of a sugar-triggered allergy.

Even stranger, although most allergic responses are immediate, the reaction to alpha-gal is delayed by several hours. The delay, I can testify, was one of the most confusing things about my Hamburger Incident. I ate the fateful burger somewhere in South Carolina on my way home from a backpacking trip, but I didn’t develop any symptoms at all until I had driven hundreds of miles northward. Even then, my symptoms came on slowly, starting with hives that stubbornly resisted all the antihistamines I could throw at them, and eventually progressing to facial swelling, dizziness, and wheezing. Once my eyes started swelling shut, I decided to drive myself to the hospital.

(A public service announcement: Don’t do that. Even if you don’t crash your car, you’ll get scolded by the emergency room staff. And besides, you’ll need a ride home anyway once they shoot you full of intravenous antihistamines.)

But back to the delayed reaction: it’s part of what makes it so hard for people with this allergy to figure out what’s making them sick. You can have a steak for dinner and not know anything’s amiss until the middle of the night. Add to that the fact that different kinds of meats—or even different cuts of the same kind of meat—can cause more or less severe reactions, and you’ve got a recipe for confusion.

“It certainly takes longer than the average allergy [to figure out],” Commins told me. “Sometimes it takes years.”

Commins and his colleagues suspect that the delay could be a key to figuring out what is going on, though. They believe it might not be the body being slow to mobilize its response, but rather the allergen taking a while to put itself in the immune system’s way. “We think it has to do with the fat,” he says, “because…the fat takes anywhere from three to five hours to hit the bloodstream.”

Add to that the anecdotal evidence that some patients can tolerate lean meats and others get sick from eating pork rinds (which, oddly enough, don’t contain any actual meat at all, only fat), and alpha-gal molecules riding on fat are a strong contender for explaining both the unusual delayed reaction and the fact that it’s triggered by a sugar. Sugars, unlike proteins, have trouble sticking to enough antibodies to cause an allergic reaction. Fat molecules, however, might help make alpha-gal sticky enough to get he process started. But it’ll take more research to know for sure.

In the meantime, education is a priority. The allergy is so bizarre and still so unknown that not only do sufferers struggle to figure out why they’re getting sick, their doctors do too. When I spoke with Commins’ colleague Dr. Tom Platts Mills after the Hamburger Incident, he told me, “Most of the patients who come to see us are looking to be reassured they’re not mad.”
I was lucky in that respect. My doctor has been practicing medicine in tick country for decades. Though she had never seen an allergy like mine before, when I pitched my tick-bite-meat-allergy theory to her, her response was wry: “At this point, I’d believe ticks could do almost anything.”

As for myself, I’ve now spent more than a year trying to avoid beef and pork, though here in the South, bacon seems to constantly sneak its way into places it doesn’t belong (a dish of Brussels sprouts being my most memorable example). When Dr. Commins told me about studies in which he and his collaborators feed patients a sausage biscuit and draw their blood every hour until they have a reaction, it made my mouth water. Any chance I could participate?
Nope. “I try to pick people who haven’t had those ‘I’m gonna die’ reactions,” he replied.
Too bad. I really wanted that sausage biscuit.

Helen Chappell is a museum exhibit developer and freelance writer based in Durham, North Carolina


Diet: Is a Calory Just a Calory?


When Dieting, Not All Calories Are Created Equal

A low-glycemic-index diet is better than a low-fat or Atkins diet in terms of improving metabolism and reducing the risk of various chronic diseases
A calorie is a calorie, goes the popular mantra. But now doctors and dieticians might have to eat those words.

Researchers have found that not all calories are created equal and that the types of calories you eat, particularly after losing weight, can have a profound effect on how efficiently your body burns calories and keeps off unwanted pounds.
The ideal diet that promotes a fast metabolism — that is, your body's ability to quickly burn off calories — as well as promotes long-term health in terms of disease-free organs appears to be (surprise!) fresh vegetables and whole grains or any foods that reduce the surge of blood sugar after a meal.

These foods are said to have a low glycemic index and are generally foods that are not processed. The Mediterranean diet is one example.

The study, led by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, is detailed in the June 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Blame it on evolution

Anyone who has struggled to lose weight knows that the harder part is keeping off that weight. One of the reasons is that, after weight loss, the rate at which people burn calories decreases, reflecting a slower metabolism.

Blame it on evolution: Your body doesn't want to lose weight, so it becomes efficient at doing more with fewer calories when faced with times of famine, which in these modern times is called a diet. As a result, some dieters find themselves packing on pounds even while on a calorie-restricted diet because their metabolism has become slower.

Cara Ebbeling of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital, first author on the study, and her colleagues have found that what you eat can significantly affect your metabolism rate. A diet full of processed foods and simple carbohydrates, which have a high glycemic index, eventually will lead to a slower metabolism. [7 Diet Tricks That Really Work]

This index, a scale from 0 to 100, is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate is digested and released into the bloodstream as glucose. So, 200 calories of corn flakes (93 on the glycemic index), or a diet filled with such processed foods, can continuously spike the blood with glucose and trigger a cascade of events that ultimately lead to more weight gain compared to 200 calories of hummus (6 on the glycemic index).

Not necessarily fat vs. carb

Specifically, Ebbeling's group studied three dietary paradigms: an Atkins' low-carb diet (60 percent of calories from fat, 10 percent from carbs); a mixed diet with foods generally low on the glycemic index (40 percent of calories from fat, 40 percent from carbs); and a low-fat diet with a mix of carbohydrates generally high on the glycemic index (20 percent of calories from fat, 60 percent from carbs).

Patients, who had recently lost weight, were placed on each of these diets for four weeks. They lived in the care of the researchers, who controlled meals and measured various aspects of their metabolism and blood profiles.

In terms of metabolism, the Atkins-like diet was the winner, said the study's senior author, David Ludwig, director of the obesity center. While on the low-carb diet, patients burned 300 more calories each day during normal activities compared to the time spent on the low-fat diet. Three hundred calories is about the amount of energy burned in an hour of moderate exercise, which the low-carb dieters are getting for free, Ludwig said.

But there was a catch. Blood samples taken while participants were on the low-carb diet revealed spikes in cholesterol and other measures of heart disease, stroke and even diabetes risk. [7 Foods Your Heart Will Hate]

The low-glycemic-index diet offered the best in terms of modest improvement in metabolism and reducing the risk of various chronic diseases, Ludwig told LiveScience. The low-fat diet — what's recommended by the U.S. government and the American Heart Association — performed the worse, Ludwig added, because it decreased the metabolism rate and raised the risk for diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Processed vs. non-processed

At first glance, this study might appear to rule out a so-called "low-fat" diet. Not so, says Dean Ornish, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., and of the low-fat diet that bears his name.

"The choice is not between a diet that is low in fat yet high in sugar versus one that is low in sugar but high in fat, or an in-between diet," Ornish told LiveScience. "An optimal diet is predominantly whole foods that are low in fat and low in sugar and [low in] other high-glycemic-index foods," a diet he has long advocated.

Ludwig agreed that a low-fat diet could work provided that the carbohydrate component of the diet is low on the glycemic index. But this is complicated in an American diet, he said, because even whole grains, when heavily processed, can spike the blood sugar. Soft, whole wheat bread can have an identical glycemic index profile as white bread.

"We believe that low-glycemic-index diets are easier to stick to on a day-to-day basis, compared to low-carb and low-fat diets, which many people find limiting," said Ebbeling. "Unlike low-fat and very-low-carbohydrate diets, a low-glycemic-index diet doesn't eliminate entire classes of food, likely making it easier to follow and more sustainable."

"The focus on fat reduction is a waste of energy," added Ludwig. "Low-carb has downsides, too."

Christopher Wanjek is the author of the books "Bad Medicine" and "Food At Work." His column, Bad Medicine, appears regularly on LiveScience.


Further reading:


Nutritional Counselling - Weight loss ... It's not that complex!

Nutritional Counselling - Weight loss ... It's not that complex!


To beat obesity, the answer flows free from the tap,

ANDRÉ PICAR,The Globe and Mail,Last updated Tuesday, Jun. 12 2012, 8:59 AM EDT

The human body is a pretty complex machine but it has simple fuel needs: Enough calories to replace those we burn, enough water to replenish what we expel (principally through sweat and urine) and some basic micronutrients that we will invariably consume if we eat a variety of foods. So, for time immemorial, we have harvested fruits, vegetables and grains and hunted or raised livestock for meat. For drink there was water, precious water, and, in some parts of the world, milk.

But, damn, we like to complicate things.

Consider what we drink. Instead of water, pure and simple, we have an endless variety of drink, many bolstered with more sweeteners, natural or artificial, and often highly caloric.
What we raise in our cup is symbolic of how we have become far removed from our food sources. Food no longer comes directly from a family farm, it comes from a supermarket (or, increasingly, a restaurant) via an agro-industrial operation. Even water doesn’t come from a well or the tap; it comes in a truck to the supermarket.

The yields from modern fields (or greenhouses) are amazing thanks to efficiencies of scale, fertilizer and antibiotics. But the end product – what we used to call “food” – often leaves a lot to be desired. Food is rarely fresh any more: It’s frozen, freeze-dried, canned, processed and packaged. It’s larded up with salt, sugar, preservatives and additives, then wrapped in plastic, bagged and boxed. All this to make it more attractive and, presumably, more palatable.
Even the “fresh” foods, mass-harvested and shipped around the world, tend to be devoid of taste, and often nutrients as well.

The result of these “improvements” is that we now have more malnourished people on Earth than ever in history, in absolute and relative terms. Malnourished used to mean those who were starving, usually as the result of drought or war-related famine. Today, there are more people on the planet who are overfed than underfed. In much of the world, Coke is easier to find that fresh water. 

In Canada, according to a 2010 Statistics Canada report, approximately 61 per cent of men and 44 per cent of women are overweight, a figure that includes roughly 20 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women who are classified as obese.  People get fat because they consistently consume more calories than they burn – it’s a fairly simple mathematical equation.

There are those who challenge this bare-bones science, arguing that the type of foods we eat – principally carbohydrates versus proteins – matter a whole heck of a lot too. The how-many-angels-can-dance-on-a-pinhead arguments are endless. Suffice to say that how and why we consume the calories we do in the quantities we do is as complex as it is puzzling. Just saying “no” doesn’t cut it.

What we do know is that, genetically, homo sapiens are built for a world of famine and feast – meaning our bodies store fat easily. But these days it’s all feast, at least in wealthy countries like Canada. Food is plentiful and easily accessible and bad food is more plentiful and more easily accessible.

Of course, there are countless diet books – ranging from sensible advice to outright quackery – and all manner of commercial weight-loss programs to help individuals fight the battle of the bulge. There are also trends that come and go. For a long time, we fought a war on fat, failing to distinguish between good and bad fats. The result was a wave of low-fat foods, where fat was replaced with salt and sugar. Then there was the carbs-are-the-enemy era, when protein was king.

These days, the villain of choice appears to be beverages.

While it will no doubt prove to not be a panacea, focusing a spotlight on what we drink is certainly a worthwhile endeavour, both individually and collectively. After all, it is estimated that 20 to 40 per cent of all the calories we consume are liquid calories.

That is an enormous change from a generation ago; our drink consumption patterns have changed much more dramatically than our food consumption ones. Last year, Statistics Canada reported that Canadians consume, on average, 26 teaspoons of sugar daily. What was not highlighted nearly enough was that the principal sources of that sugar were milk, pop and fruit juice.

Two of those three beverages are generally considered to be healthy, natural foods. But natural is not necessarily a synonym for healthy. Chocolate milk has, ounce per ounce, almost twice as many calories as Coke. And a cup of juice contains as much as 10 teaspoons of sugar – the equivalent of drinking a 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup. For example, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a bariatric surgeon who writes the popular food blog Weighty Matters, calls grape juice the “world’s least healthy beverage.”

This does not mean these beverages should not be consumed, but moderation is the key. The Canadian Paediatric Society, for example, says young children should not drink more than 1/2 cup of juice daily, and big kids no more than one cup.

Limiting sugary soft drinks (which contain fructose corn syrup, not even real sugar), or avoiding them altogether, is a no-brainer. Diet soft drinks are not nearly as bad because they are calorie-free, but there is growing evidence that artificial sweeteners pique interest for other sweets, which defeats the purpose.

All that to say, that the best beverage to have as the basis for a healthy diet is water – not vitamin water, not expensive sparkling water shipped from France, not bottled water, though a pretty good case can be made for some of its variants, like tea and coffee (as long as they are not loaded up with sugar and cream).

But, in our quest to find solutions to the bedeviling obesity epidemic, one of the most elemental building blocks for a healthier life is at our fingertips – and it comes out of the tap for free.

Aching Back No More - Straw Bale Gardening!

In this post, I’ll discuss two things I enjoy very much: helping you become and stay healthier through chiropractic, and gardening.

More specifically, let me introduce you to STRAW BALE GARDENING.

 Who should plant a Straw Bale Garden? 
  • Can't do heavy lifting?  If you are less capable or less interested in doing the heavy work of traditional gardening, such as tilling the soil, constant weeding, unending insect battles and persistent disease spraying, Straw Bale Gardening virtually eliminates these challenges.
  • Can't bend over?  If you have a physical limitation or handicap that restricts you from getting down on the ground, you will appreciate the easier access to the higher surface of a straw bale, which eliminates the bending to plant and harvest. 
  • Poor soil or limited space?  If your have a low soil quality, or if you have limited space that you can devote to a garden, you will love Straw Bale Gardening with its low cost, flexibility in garden placement, and great performance of the straw once it's properly conditioned.
  • Interested in broadening your gardening horizons?  If you are a seasoned gardener looking for a fun new method, you will be amazed at the results! 
  •  Joel Karsten http://strawbalegardens.com/
 The idea is that you plant our tomatoes or zucchini, petunias if you like, or pretty well anything you would plant in the ground, directly into a straw bale. The benefits are: you can grow a garden over any type of soil, including the sandy conditions in Wasaga Beach, or even over a drive way if you so choose; there are few if any weeds growing in the straw to disturb your prize veggies (Caution! Use straw bales, not hay, as hay bales contain seeds); the straw retains moisture which lessens watering somewhat; it eliminates the problem of root nematodes and other soil born pathogens that can carry over in the soil and prevent tomatoes from thriving; and… here is the part that relates to chiropractic and your health … the straw bales raise your garden and requires less bending a stooping! There is also less tilling, hoeing, and weeding, and ease of harvest. ****That is great for those who have low back pain, disk injuries, and arthritis****


To begin, lay the bale with its cut ends up (string parallel to the ground) and condition your straw bales over a ten day period. The recommended procedure is to sprinkle a ½ cup of cheap fertilizer (30-0-0) over each bale on days 1, 3, and 5, then water thoroughly. On days 2, 4 and 6, water. Days 7 through 9 use a ¼ cup of the fertilizer plus water. On day 10, apply one cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer and water. Use the least expensive fertilizer available. By the end of the conditioning period, the straw inside the bale has begun to compost. Don’t be surprised if earth worms have made a new home and mushrooms are sprouting.

You can now plant directly into your conditioned straw bales by digging a hole large enough to take your transplants. If you are starting from seed, spread a 1 to 2 inch layer of soil over top to stop the seeds from falling into holes in the straw. As top soil often contains weed seeds, you may wish to use a sterilized mix. Space your plants as you would if planting in soil. (This method may not work well for corn as you can only plant one or two stalks per bale).  Because the composting process produces warmth, the roots will develop faster than normal leading to stronger plant growth and perhaps an earlier start for the gardening season.

You can use tomato cages to support your plants or let them sprawl. However, if you have a row of bales, secure a post at each end and string wires or fencing between them. Place your bottom wire about 12 inches above the straw bales and then each successive wire at 10 inch intervals to tie up your plants as they grow. The bottom wire allows you to use plastic sheet as a tent to protect young plants from cold spring conditions. When your bales are done in after a year or two, they can be spread out as mulch or compost and replaced with fresh bales quite easily.


 Where to buy straw bales for garden?
straw bale for gardening
  • Most garden supply centres and nurseries sell straw bales. The big nursery centres often have free trailer use to cart your bales home if you have a towbar and if you need more than one bale that won't go in your car. 
  • Farmers are your next bet if you live in the country. 
  • Also try animal breeding places and stables as they often buy straw bales in bulk for bedding and may sell you the odd one. 
  • With the popularity of straw bale house building, it's worthwhile asking at builder's suppliers for bales for your garden. 
  • Local councils, public road or transport control organizations are also worth a try for buying straw bales for gardening, as they sometimes use bales to buffer traffic and divert rubble from drains etc. If they won't part with one to you, they should be able to give you a supplier's contact.  
  • http://www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com/straw-bale-gardening.html

Don’t forget to share the bounty with your bounty with your neighbours and tell them you got the idea from your chiropractor.

I have my own straw bale demonstration garden going at the Collingwood Chiropractic and Sports Injury Clinic, at 516 Hurontario Street - at the corner of 9th, Collingwood, Ontario...  Stop over to check it out. Best regards, Dr. Wayne Coghlan.

Credit to Joel Karsten for his work in perfecting the technique and sharing it via www.strawbalegardens.com

Short leg syndrome

Standing straight when one leg is shorter is the equivalent of standing sideways on a hill. The person cannot help but lean to the shorter side. The spine may compensate by tilting the upper body in the opposite direction. This produces a "scoliosis" or sideways deviation of the spine. It also concentrates gravitational and kinetic stress on the area where the spine transitions to the sacrum and pelvis... the lumbo-sacral junction....  NOT GOOD.

Often a person will try to compensate for a short leg by perching on short leg, usually with the longer leg bent at the knee and turned out...effectively shortening the long leg. NOT GOOD. Rather than balancing the pelvis, fatigue and strain usually causes the pelvis to over compensate. In either case, the distortion of the spine unevenly loads the joints and muscles, and promotes faster wear and tear, and injury.

If you, or someone you care about, is persistently perching on one leg, or complaining of back pain, this needs to be evaluated.

The sooner the better.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at drwaynecoghlan@gmail.com

10 Dieting Tips

10 Tips for Deciphering Diet and Nutrition Claims [Excerpt]

A new book by Robert J. Davis explains away some of the confusion around conventional diet wisdom and wild health claims

coffee is good for you cover  
The Best Diet?: It might be no "diet" at all. Epidemiologist and journalist Robert J. Davis explores the science behind nutritional claims to offer up 10 easy rules for a healthful diet in his new book, Coffee Is Good for You. Image: Perigee/Penguin/Isabella Fasciano

Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the new book Coffee Is Good for You: From Vitamin C and Organic Foods to Low-Carb and Detox Diets, the Truth About Diet and Nutrition Claims (Perigee, 2012), by Robert J. Davis, who teaches the Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.

Trying to make sense of the seemingly endless stream of food and nutrition claims can be overwhelming. Remembering the following 10 rules will make the task easier and allow you to stay focused on what's really important:
1. Don't fixate on particular foods. Be wary of lists of miraculous "superfoods" you must eat or "toxic" foods you should never touch. Rather than worrying about squeezing one food or another into your diet, focus on your overall eating patterns, which should include plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, legumes, and good fats, and limited amounts of refined carbohydrates, junk food, red meat, and trans fats.
2. Look beyond narrow categories like carbs and calories. Many diet books and seals of approval on foods emphasize one or two factors, such as the calorie or carbohydrate count, while giving short shrift to other important things, like fiber, sodium, or trans fat. The fact that a hamburger is lower in calories than a salad doesn't necessarily make it a better option. Likewise, just because fruit punch or cereal has added vitamins doesn't mean it's healthful. What's important is the overall nutritional profile. You can get this from comprehensive food-scoring systems such as NuVal, which ranks the healthfulness of foods based on more than 30 factors.
3. Forget about fad diets. A plethora of weight-loss plans promise to melt away pounds quickly and easily. But in the long run, they rarely work. About 95 percent of dieters eventually regain lost weight. Instead of searching for the secret to skinniness, which doesn't exist, try to eat more healthfully and be mindful of how much you're consuming. Combined with exercise, this approach can prevent weight gain and, over time, lead to weight loss. And unlike dieting, it's something you can stick with long term.
4. Recognize the limits of vitamin pills. While vitamin and mineral supplements can help make up for deficiencies of nutrients, they generally don't live up to their billing when it comes to preventing disease, boosting energy, or improving your overall health. Supplements pack far less nutritional punch than food, which contains multiple nutrients that interact with one another and with other foods in a variety of complex ways. As a result, vitamin pills can't compensate for an unhealthful diet. And they can cause harm if you take too much of certain nutrients.
5. Ignore health claims on food packages and in ads. A few such claims, such as those related to sodium and high blood pressure, are officially approved by the FDA, but most aren't. They fall under a loophole that allows companies to use sneaky language like "helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels" or "helps support a healthy immune system." Because these phrases don't explicitly say that the food prevents or treats disease—even though that's what any normal person would infer—manufacturers don't have to provide any evidence. What's more, there are no strict definitions for frequently used terms such as all natural, low sugar, and made with whole grains or real fruit. Because it's virtually impossible to distinguish between legitimate and misleading claims by manufacturers, the best approach is to disregard them all and get your information from the Nutrition Facts panel on the package.
6. Don't be swayed by celebrities. A number of entertainers have authored books pushing particular diet regimens, and the media often report on celebrities' dietary "secrets." It can be tempting to believe people we admire who are thin, glamorous, and beautiful. But their fame and looks don't make them authorities on nutrition and health. Though celebrities may cite studies and so-called experts to make their case, their approaches can be scientifically baseless and even potentially harmful. Just as you wouldn't look to nutrition experts for entertainment, you shouldn't look to entertainers for nutrition advice.
7. Verify emails before forwarding them. The vast majority of emails about food and nutrition are half truths or outright hoaxes. If someone forwards you an email claiming, for example, that canola oil is toxic or that asparagus cures cancer, assume it's not true, no matter how scientific it sounds. Check it out with a reputable source like Snopes.com or Urbanlegends.about.com. Forwarding unconfirmed claims only adds to the hype, misinformation, and confusion.
8. Don't be influenced by just one study. When you encounter news reports about the latest study, don't jump to conclusions based on that alone. Remember that it's just one piece of a puzzle. What matters is the big picture—what scientists call the totality of the evidence. For a credible overview of the science, check out online sources such as the Nutrition Source from Harvard School of Public Health, or newsletters such as Nutrition Action Health letter, the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, and the Berkeley Wellness Letter. Or go to www.pubmed.gov and look up the research yourself.
9. Learn to live with ambiguity and change. We all want black and white answers. But that's not always possible when it comes to diet and health. We have to deal with, and distinguish among, various shades of gray. Understanding how different types of studies are conducted makes this much easier. Also, recognize that scientific information isn't set in stone; it's always evolving. This means advice will sometimes change as scientists learn more. Don't let that frustrate you. Instead, embrace the change and alter your eating habits accordingly.
10. Enjoy eating! As I said at the beginning of this book, all the admonitions about which foods we should and shouldn't consume can make eating a stressful chore. But it doesn't have to be that way. Using science as your guide, focus on the claims with the greatest credibility and relevance, and tune out the rest. That way, you'll feel less overwhelmed. While following sound nutrition advice is important for good health, it need not spoil your dinner. Bon appétit!

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