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Is Exercise a “Cure-All?”

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Mon, 30 May 2016 12:05:36 +0000

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Is Exercise a “Cure-All?” Some of you may have heard about how a modified form of boxing is helping patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). If you haven’t, it’s been observed that people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) who engage in this boxing-like exercise routine can enhance their quality of life and even build impressive gains in […]

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Is Exercise a “Cure-All?”

Some of you may have heard about how a modified form of boxing is helping patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). If you haven’t, it’s been observed that people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) who engage in this boxing-like exercise routine can enhance their quality of life and even build impressive gains in posture, strength, flexibility, and speed. Proponents of the program report that regardless the degree of severity of PD, participants have a happier, healthier, and higher quality of life.

But must it be boxing? Maybe not. A report presented at the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders in San Diego in June 2015 found that patients with Parkinson’s disease who began regular exercise early into the PD process had a much slower decline in their quality of life when compared with those who started exercising later. The researchers found just 2.5 hours per week of exercise is needed to improve quality of life scores. According to the report, it didn’t matter what exercise the participants did — simply getting up and moving for a total of 2.5 hours/week was reportedly enough (that’s only 20-25 minutes / day)!

Looking beyond Parkinson’s, other chronic conditions also benefit from adding exercise into a person’s lifestyle. Studies show that regular exercise as simple as walking helps reduce one’s risk for memory loss, and it slows down functional decline in the elderly. Incorporating aerobic exercise into one’s lifestyle can also improve reaction time in people at ALL AGES. Exercise has also been shown to improve both physical and emotional well-being in those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease with as little as 60 minutes/week of moderate exercise! Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have also reported less stiffness and less muscle wasting when using exercise machines, aquatic exercise, and/or walking.

Research has shown just 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week can help reduce depressive symptoms in patients with mild-to-moderate depression. In a study involving teenagers, those who engaged in sports reported a greater level of well-being than their sedentary peers, and the more vigorous the exercise, the better their emotion health! In kids 8-12 years old, physical inactivity is strongly linked to depression. Even anxiety, stress, and depression associated with menopause are less severe in those who exercise! So LET’S ALL GET OUT THERE AND EXERCISE!!!

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Chocolate – Is It Actually “Good” for Me?

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Thu, 19 May 2016 12:29:47 +0000

http://backpainrc.com/?p=1553

Chocolate – Is It Actually “Good” for Me? Often referred to as a “sinful indulgence,” chocolate is usually not thought of as a healthy food choice. However, in the last 20-30 years, there has been growing evidence that there are indeed health benefits associated with chocolate consumption! Let’s take a closer look! Chocolate is made […]

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Chocolate – Is It Actually “Good” for Me?

Often referred to as a “sinful indulgence,” chocolate is usually not thought of as a healthy food choice. However, in the last 20-30 years, there has been growing evidence that there are indeed health benefits associated with chocolate consumption! Let’s take a closer look!

Chocolate is made from tropical Theobroma cacao tree seeds. The earliest use of chocolate dates back to the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica (1200 – 400 B.C.E.), the precursor to the Mayan and Aztec cultures (currently the states of Veracruz and Tabasco). Following the 15th/16th centuries, chocolate became extremely popular in Europe. Today, millions indulge daily on this unique, rich, and sweet-tasting food with the average American consuming around 4.5 kg (close to 10 pounds) per year!

So what is it in chocolate that makes it so good? The answer includes its richness in flavonoids and flavanols (such as anthocyanidin and epicatechins). In general, the darker the chocolate, the greater the amount of flavonoids and flavanols. These substances are thought to have antioxidant properties, which help neutralize free radicals—nasty things that can damage cells all over the body. Inflammation as well as pollution, UV exposure, and cigarette smoke all increase free radical production. This leads to oxidative stress, which is closely associated with heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, immune deficiency, and more!

Studies have shown that chocolate can reduce both blood pressure and the chance for stroke! Cocoa flavanols are reportedly helpful in reducing inflammation and relaxing blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure, lowers total cholesterol, and increases the “good guy blood fat” or high-density lipoproteins (HDLs). All of this adds up to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke!

A study published in 2012 looked at the association between chocolate consumption and the risk of stroke in a population of over 30,000 men in Sweden over a ten-year time frame. They found that moderate consumption of chocolate may lower the risk of stroke—“moderate” meaning about 63 grams/week (there are about 43 grams of chocolate in an average chocolate bar). Another study found that fruits and vegetables also lower the risk of stroke as did drinking four cups of black tea per day.

Getting back to chocolate, there may also be a link between eating chocolate and improved cognitive (brain) function. So not only is it smart to eat chocolate, but it may also MAKE YOU SMARTER!  This correlates well with an association between dementia prevention and chocolate consumption. Harvard Medical School scientists suggest that two cups of hot chocolate a day may keep the brain healthy and prevent memory decline in older people. Another active ingredient in chocolate is lavado, in which a 2014 study found may reduce or block damage to nerve pathways found in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Of course, there are “down sides” to eating chocolate. One is the sugar and calorie issue with the negative side effects of obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes. Another is an increased risk of forming calcium oxalate kidney stones, as chocolate / cocoa are high in oxalate. To gain the benefits of cocoa without the worry of sugar and calories, you can purchase cocoa-rich powders and supplements that can be added to beverages. So ENJOY your chocolate, but remember moderation, like in so many other things in life, is “KEY!”

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