You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category.

When patients receive trigger point needling for the first time it is often a significantly different experience then acupuncture treatments they have had in the past. The world of acupuncture is quite diverse with those practicing and favoring a variety of techniques based on their own clinical experience. Many patients that have experience with acupuncture are only familiar with distal needling practices so when they first experience local needling it can require adequate patient communication.

With distal needling, depending on style, the needling method may be pain free or focus on attaining “De Qi”. This can be very different than a twitch response elicited when a trigger point is directly needled. When I first see a patient, I always ask about previous needling experience. If they have had acupuncture before, I am sure to ask about the experience and whether they felt a twitch response. Often patients have also experienced needling from physical therapists, chiropractors, or physicians, which I also inquire more about as these providers treatment approaches can vary greatly as well.

I personally feel that the experience of Trigger Point Needling is separate enough from Distal or Constitutional styles that it even can have different home care recommendations and expectations. Not every practitioner may agree with this, but here is what I find most effective for my patients:

Move the day you are treated

This doesn’t mean have your most intense training session or compete right after needling. What this does mean however, is do not get a treatment and go rest all day. Taking a walk, going for a swim, doing a light work out or performing recommended exercises can all be beneficial movements. When we treat trigger points, we are increasing blood flow with needling and if the patient gets the blood moving it is even more beneficial.

Avoid NSAIDs

                This is a tricky one. I encourage patients to avoid NSAIDs as long as it does not counteract direct advice from their Physician. When we needle trigger points, we are somewhat reliant on micro trauma to create a positive healing cascade and NSAIDs are not going to help this process. In my opinion, if the patient can avoid anything that interferes with the healing cascade I recommend it. Movement, heat, and self massage can help instead. Ice is a topic onto its own. Qualified practitioners should be well educated on the topic to apply their knowledge to their patient’s specific needs.

Self massage is good in small doses

                Foam rolling, lacrosse balls and other methods of self massage are very common among well-informed patients these days. While I encourage my patients to utilize these techniques, I also give some time restrictions and try to limit overdoing it. A little bit can go a long way with these techniques. Use of these self care techniques for too long or too frequently can exacerbate symptoms and in my experience prolong the healing process.

Common occurrences

The other point I note to patients post treatment is common “side effects” and what to watch for. Obviously, the most common post treatment occurrences are bruising and temporary soreness. I think it is important to note that the bruises are not usually tender and the soreness should be brief but paid attention to (see the needle intensity blog for more). Fatigue can occur in some patients as well, but is not something I see often. Temporary exacerbation of symptoms also occurs occasionally enough to be called common, so being informative about this point can be very helpful to patients.

Want more tips and tricks for Trigger Point Acupuncture? Check out the Trigger Point Acupuncture facebook group!

 

Type “paleo diet” into google and you’ll find countless threads talking about it and most have a very strong opinion towards it. Some of these sites quite literally say it is the “healthiest way to eat,” while others talk as if it poison for every ounce of your being. Very few of these sites present pro’s and con’s and an informational approach. Hence my approach, an attempt at an unbiased review pointing out pros and cons so that the reader can decide and not be told the answer. Of course to do this, we have to first decide what the paleo diet is.

The concept of paleo from a branding standpoint is to mimic the diet of the caveman. Now of course, there is heavy branding going on and getting caught up in the specifics of this is missing the point. Essentially the diet is based on eliminating processed foods, grains, and dairy. It is a high protein, low carb diet attaining protein mostly from animal sources. Veggies, oils, nuts and some fruits are included in the diet. For the purpose of this article, we will leave it at that as getting too in depth with specifics will only cause arguments. Based off this definition, let us look further at some of the pros and cons.

Essentially the diet is based on eliminating processed foods, grains, and dairy.

Essentially the diet is based on eliminating processed foods, grains, and dairy.

Pros:

  1. Focusing on food- this diet gets you to pay attention to what you are putting in your body on a daily basis. It provides accountability and a map for eating. It encourages the avoidance of processed foods and aims for whole, organic foods. This is definitely a step up from the SAD (Standard American Diet) that is prevalent today. If everyone in the country took this step we would be a much healthier country.
  2. High Protein Low Carb- Want to cut weight? High protein low carbohydrate is the way to do it fast and effectively. Most athletes will follow that simple concept in sports nutrition at some point and be successful in certain ratios.
  3. Great Option for certain health conditions- Lactose intolerant? Celiac’s Disease? Gluten Sensitivity? Paleo has you covered as you are not eating Dairy or Gluten.
  4. Not your standard diet- I love that there is no calorie counting and Paleo is a sustainable dietary lifestyle versus a “diet”. It is something a person can embrace without having the likelihood of huge ebbs and flows due to difficulty of food choice availability.
  5. Group Mentality- The CrossFit community has really embraced Paleo. It practically comes packaged in some Boxes (CrossFit Gyms). Have a community supporting diet and lifestyle can be a very good thing and making it easier to stay on track.

Cons:

  1. Inflammation- High animal protein equals elevated inflammation in the body, period. There is no way around it, no arguing it. If you eat a diet that is high in animal protein you will increase inflammation via arachadonic acid pathways.
  2. Dehydration- With a high protein diet you will need more water. Drinking lots and lots of water can help with this, but more often than not, markers will show up on a blood panel such as an elevated ESR (inflammatory marker).
  3. Global Impact- High animal protein equals a heavy impact on the planet. It is estimated that about 18% of human caused green house gases come from live stock production. That is a huge global aspect to think about when you are considering eating meat with every meal.
  4. Not for everyone- There is the obvious, Vegans and Vegetarians will not be on board with this diet. There are also health conditions that would not benefit from a Paleo diet. People with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ect or those with heart conditions. There are much better options for these individuals. This directly counteracts number 3 of the pros so I would say it is pretty balanced in this case.
  5. Excuse to indulge on meat- As a health care practitioner I have seen many patients that operate under the theory that Paleo means eat bacon all day, every day. They will look at paleo as a solid reason to offset any hope for a balanced diet. This can be argued for other diets as well (in fact I made a similar argument in a vegan diet blog). Balance is key with food.
  6. Elevated Cholesterol- Eating a diet where often every meal contains animal protein can have a negative effect on cholesterol. Many Paleo eaters find themselves on a high protein, high fat, low carb diet which can lead to an increase in LDL, decrease in HDL and increase in total cholesterol. In the event that an annual blood panel shows a negative increase in cholesterol, perhaps the Paleo diet should be reconsidered, especially in those with a genetic predisposition to elevated cholesterol. Interestingly, there are some studies performed that show people that switch to the Paleo diet actually have an improvement in Cholesterol levels. One study showed a decrease in LDL of up to 22%. The reason this is in the “con” section is it also shows the inconsistency of the diet standards. The Paleo diet can vary so much as to what is eaten, therefore sometimes having a positive effect and sometimes having a negative one. As mentioned in number 5, if the Paleo Diet is not well balanced, then is can be hazardous (as is the case with many other diets).

There is a brief synopsis of Paleo pros and cons. Part 2 coming soon will be a look at the Paleo diet from an East Asian Medical perspective. Don’t forget to subscribe if you want to check it out! What are your thoughts regarding the Paleo diet? Sound off below!

1)      Make a habit of not taking the easy route: Most people will wait for someone to pull out of that front spot in a a parking lot so they can take it and get into the store as quick as possible. Don’t be that person. Park further away and get a quick walk into your location. Same thing goes with elevators. There is no good reason (assuming capability) that you should take an elevator up one floor. Take the stairs! Another idea is, if you can use a hand basket instead of a cart while shopping, go for it!

The mind set of training over working out is highly beneficial.

The mind set of training over working out is highly beneficial.

2)     Don’t think exercise, think training: Mindset is extremely important. When someone asks me, “how often do you work out”, I say rarely, if ever. However, I do “train” about 6 days a week. Of course it is just a play on words, but there is some meaning behind it. People often think of “working out” as an activity done specifically to lose weight or get six pack abs and personally I never do that. I set goals and work daily to achieve them. The healthy management of weight and gain of lean muscle mass is just a cool side effect. For example, the goal I achieved to the right took a really long time to reach! Setting goals gives you something to focus on and create “work outs” around. Maybe you want to run a 5k? Or maybe you want to achieve a specific movement like a strict pull up? If you build your training schedule to achieve these specific goals, you will increase fitness levels while achieving these new skills.

3)      Get a partner or join a group: Some people love fitness groups to get motivated. For example, CrossFit or Yoga are large group fitness classes. Classes usually have around 10-40 people and this can create a great environment to encourage fitness.  A group or partner setting can easily be applied to any fitness situation. Training partners not only encourage you to reach fitness goals, but also can hold you responsible on those days where sleeping in or hitting the couch instead of training sounds good.

Go For a Hike4)      Find active activities you enjoy:  It’s no big surprise that not everyone enjoys the daily grind on a treadmill or hitting the weight room. In fact I’m that guy too! That is completely okay, but find something active you can enjoy. Don’t like a treadmill? What about hiking? Or golfing (walk the course!). Finding hobbies that are active will provide you exercise outside of hitting the gym. Who knows you may even find an activity that lets you look at gym time as training.

 

 

5)      Avoid negative reinforcements:  Becoming healthy is all about lifestyle changes and not temporary fitness and diet trends. Part of that can be making changes to habits that reinforce behaviors that won’t help you reach your goals. One example is “happy hour”.  Red wine in low amounts can be good for the heart and have antioxidant value, but more often than not, happy hour means cheap beer or high sugar beverages along with calorie laden appetizers. Hate to break it to you but they aren’t helping your heart or your fitness goals! Skip happy hour and grab a friend for a walk, run, or dance class instead!

6)      Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty: Not many of us like chores but, they can be a good way to stay active. Mowing the lawn, tending the garden, and even doing laundry can play a part in your fitness. Yard work is hard work!

7)      Don’t sit all day: It is all too easy to get stuck at the desk staring at a computer for hours on end. We are all guilty of it. It is important to take time once an hour to get up and walk around. It is the perfect time to go to refill that water bottle you have been using to stay hydrated (see what I did there?). Another great idea is don’t have lunch at your desk. Take 30-60 minutes and go for a short walk. Eat outside if the weather allows. Getting that extra movement will also help recharge you for the second half of the work day without needing a pick me up.

8)      Create a routine: And stick to it! This can be huge for developing great fitness. You don’t have to go Type A about it, a broad routine is okay. For example, I make a point of going hiking at least once a week. Sometimes it is a whole day, sometimes it is just an hour or two but, I get out there for a good hike.  Even if I only have one day off that week, I carve the time out of that day to do this activity and make it a priority. You can do the same. You can also be more specific with a training plan and come up with an agenda that you want to go to the gym 5 days a week, three days cardio and two days strength training.  The routine is up to you, but make sure you can commit to it. Start with a realistic and attainable plan. It will feel better to be able to commit to your routine and even be able to surpass it rather than feel like you are falling short because it is too much.  Remember the importance of mind set!

9)      Cook at home: When you make meals at home you have total control about what is in them. When you eat out all the time you don’t always know what is snuck in there to get that rich flavor. Ever wonder why when you attempt to recreate a meal it doesn’t turn out the same as the restaurant? To be honest you may not want to know. Limit eating out and you may find success in the kitchen!

10)   Have your health team in line: Those who are really fit usually have a health team in order. Look at a professional athlete. These individuals have athletic trainers, coaches, physical therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, nutritionists, and chiropractors depending on what they find most useful. They do not just go to the doctor when something goes wrong, they see health care practitioners to prevent something from going wrong and to stay their best!

What kind of things do you do to keep active and fit? Leave a comment below! And don’t forget to subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook for lots of other great tips!

Getting an extra boost is always desirable for a workout. Whether you are looking for an edge on a big day or just dragging a bit and need a pick me up, energy drinks have become a quick grab for both the athlete and those trying to get through the work day. As always, it comes down to what is in the energy drink that should be considered. Obviously, the number one “pick me up” ingredient is caffeine. Now there isn’t anything wrong with utilizing some caffeine, but overuse will decrease its usefulness and have a negative impact on your body.

                Caffeine is a stimulant. That means it will give you energy, but it does not mean it does not come with side effects. For example, caffeine may cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. In that effect it is similar to a basic warm up before exercise; it will get our body temperature up, get the blood flowing, and prepare body for the actual workout. From that stand point, it isn’t the worst thing. Personally, when I climb mountains, I will have Cliff Blocks with caffeine handy because the extra energy and calories work great when I am at an altitude where the last thing I want to do is eat. These would not be as useful if I used them all the time though, as tolerance to caffeine also occurs. Unfortunately so does addiction.

                It is one thing to use caffeine for an occasional workout, but it is completely different thing to use caffeine all day. The more one uses caffeine, the less effective, more addictive and worse the side effects become. I mentioned some of the side effects and can reason how they would be good for exercise, but let’s think of those effects during times of rest or at least physical rest.  An example is 2 cups of coffee sitting in rush hour traffic. The caffeine can cause restlessness and perhaps anxiety. Coffee with breakfast, energy drink for your morning workout, mid afternoon iced coffee to get through the day, and then a soda with dinner now you’re in trouble!  Another fun side effect of caffeine is the increased excretion of calcium. Now that useful occasional drug has the potential to cause lasting side effects to the body including decreased bone health. So what do we do for energy instead?

                I don’t necessarily recommend stopping a single daily cup of tea or coffee. The increased antioxidants are a great benefit and the amount of caffeine isn’t going to send you on a downward spiral. I do encourage people to consider the thought behind the extra pick me up. Do you need a boost or do you need more rest? Caffeine can stay in the system for 6 hours, so that night cap is affecting your sleep whether you want to admit it or not. Realistically, you want caffeine, but you need water and electrolytes. Dehydration has a profound effect on energy levels. We recommend drinking half of your bodyweight in ounces of clear filtered water per day.  To gain electrolytes you can be sure to eat a balanced diet. What about energy for the everyday workout?

                If you are dropping back to a max one cup a day of tea/coffee and you are a multiple cup drinker per day, the first week will be tough. Nervousness, irritability, and headaches are not uncommon. Once that is done what are options for energy? A pre-workout energy shot can be useful and does not have to contain enough caffeine to turn a slug into a cheetah. My personal favorite is Elevate Shots by Thorne. It contains minimal caffeine (2mg per serving), which means the pick up is more gradual and thankfully the crash is non-existent. It works off a proprietary herbal blend to give adaptogenic support (think balancing more than stimulating). Using Elevate before longer workouts is awesome and you will experience great stamina. They are portable, single dose and even tasty. If you want to learn more about these, come into the clinic and check them out.  The other amazing and simple way to help maintain natural energy without overloading on caffeine is a homemade sports drink. Below is a great and simple recipe for one that I got from my colleague at Source Naturopathic Dr. Robert McElroy.

Home Made Sports Drink

An amazing and simple way to help maintain natural energy without overloading on caffeine is a homemade sports drink.

 

                This is just one of many options for creating a homemade sports drink. It is also significantly lower in cost than picking up a Gatorade (with way too much sugar) or an energy drink (with way too much caffeine) at your local store. It also allows you to pay closer attention to what your body actually requires in regards to nutrients. With adequate hydration (water and electrolytes) and the occasional use of adaptogenic herbs (see your natural health care provider first!), a high caffeine intake will no longer be as appealing. If it is, seeing a health care practitioner for a screening would be a great idea. Have questions? Please feel free to comment below or contact us directly. If you liked it please remember to share this with your friends! Thanks for reading.

False Grip Gymnastics Rings

I work with CrossFit enthusiasts regularly to help them improve specific gymnastic skills

 

As a hand balancing instructor, I work with CrossFit enthusiasts regularly to help them improve specific gymnastic skills. As a Bellevue acupuncturist, I see CrossFit enthusiasts with injuries some avoidable, some not.   Regardless of my relationship with the athlete, I’ve learned they enjoy taking their health and fitness seriously and want to reach their full potential. To help do that, I have compiled my top 3 tips for the Crossfit athlete.

Prehab– CrossFit can be very hard on the shoulders. In order to continue to train injury and pain free, consider a prehab routine. In the case of Crossfit, strengthening the core, rotator cuff and periscapular muscles should be considered.  Check out the video to see some great exercises that can help keep shoulders healthy and prepared for the stress that a good WOD can put on them.

Periodization– Creating a cycle of intensity in your exercise program helps achieve goals and improve the overall quality of said program. This is especially true if you compete in any CrossFit competitions, but works great for every CrossFit enthusiast. If you look at any professional athlete’s training program you will clearly see periodization.  It is an annual plan to layout goals, how to achieve them, and how to do so without getting avoidably injured. It is not written in stone and can be modified to meet an athlete’s individual needs. If you take baseball as an example, these athletes have a clear off season. This does not mean they sit on the couch and eat chips though. The professional athlete will utilize the off season to work on specific skills and to maintain overall health. During spring training season, they take sport specific time to get ready for serious competition. As spring training comes to the end, official season begins. This is when there is constant training and a high level competition occurring. This shows a clear annual training plan for these athletes and it keeps them at their best.  So how would this look for a CrossFit competitor?

If we break down skills of CrossFit into three aspects; gymnastics skills, weight lifting, and high intensity cardio, then periodization will be easier to implement. Most CrossFitters I work with tend to have a preference for a specific area, which from a competitors stand point can come back to bite them. Having a planned approach can all skills will be addressed to be well rounded. A good plan can also prepare the athlete for a competition. For example, take a certain competition, say the CrossFit Open, and make it the main event of the year. Planning that time to be a physical peak would be great to focus on. Divide the rest of the year into cycles where skills are focused on in divided sections. An example is to focus on gymnastic skills such as muscle ups and handstand walks for a few weeks, then switch to a focus on weight lifting for a few weeks followed by cardio skills (i.e. double unders). When working on specific skills, it doesn’t mean that is the only thing you do during this time, just that these skills will be the focus. Continue to rotate these during your off season. Perhaps two months before the Open, enter your own “spring training” where you begin to combine the skills you work on in a way that directly mimics how the Open competition will be. This is a good time to even check out other local competitions or encourage your gym to have an in-house competition. As the Open gets closer (about a week before,) taper the workouts down and take some rest days. The skills have been trained, mimicking of real life challenge has been performed, so taking some time to ease off will be very beneficial. Rest, prevent injuries, and prepare mentally. This will allow you to enter the Open fresh, trained and ready to PR!

Recovery– I could probably write an entire book on recovery, but some important aspects to ensuring an adequate recovery are:

Stretch– All too often people want to get in and get out with a workout. They will slam out a new personal record on the WOD, then get out of the gym to get on with their day. Taking just a few minutes to work on flexibility will not only help with recovery, but improve one’s overall skill level.

Sleep– Something people often neglect is rest. The body needs adequate sleep to work on recovery. When we sleep, we enter a parasympathetic state (rest and digest). The body gets a chance to relax and focus on repairing the day’s work. Personally, before sleeping is when I like to take my herbs and supplements tailored to recovery. I tend to think of sleep as my time to prepare so that tomorrow’s work out can be even better than today’s.

Nutrition– The best way to ensure the body recovers, is to make sure it is adequately nourished. This can be accomplished with a combination of good whole foods and quality supplementation. If you look back at our blog about supplements for athletes, it will give you a small intro into recovery supplementation. As far as diet goes, one simple tip is to be sure to get protein within 30 minutes after a workout. Protein is the building block for muscles. Feed the body protein and it will get to work on healing everything that is torn down during a workout.

Health Team– There is a reason they are called health care professionals. Take the time to have a team that is familiar with your health goals. This can be a Naturopath focusing in the nutritional aspects, an acupuncturist that focuses on sports (like the one’s at Pins and Needles!) helping manage pain and keeping muscles healthy, and a massage therapist to keep the kinks out.

 

Implementing these three tips into your life can really help improve athletic ability within CrossFit. Be sure to take the time to speak with professionals (health care and coaches) to reach your specific goals. If you have specific questions please feel free to leave a comment or contact us! And don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more great tips!

                Sports nutrition is often designed without the vegan lifestyle in mind. To be honest, many sports nutrition diets are designed without long term health in mind. That is the difference between a diet and a lifestyle, the latter is sustainable while the former is a temporary approach. That doesn’t mean temporary dieting is bad, done with periodization of training, it is very effective for competitive athletes. The lifestyle approach to food is what is done the rest of the time. For a vegan athlete, there are some concerns when attempting to maintain a high level of activity with a healthy diet. Some are more common misconceptions, while others are valid concerns. The following are 5 of the most common issues a vegan athlete may come across.

Vegetarian Trap- The dietary issue with the vegan lifestyle I come across as a health care practitioner is, what I refer to as, the vegetarian trap. It is similar to that of the omnivore’s great failing… too much processed high sodium foods. Many vegans ‘go vegan’ and think that means frozen readymade meals and pasta at every meal. This equates to excess salt, hydrogenated fats and way too many carbohydrates. It will undoubtedly offset the vegan athlete’s dietary goals. Vegans turn vegan for different reasons. Sometimes the reason is about animal rights or a personal belief and other times it is to become “healthier”. The best way to be a vegan athlete is to truly embrace a plant based diet. This should mean fresh, organic, unprocessed foods.

 B12 Deficiency– This is definitely a valid concern. The highest sources of B12 come in the form of meat products. If a person chooses to not eat meat they can usually be health conscious enough to get adequate B12 via fortified foods and not become ill from a deficiency. Just because you are achieving the bare minimum, does not mean you are achieving enough. As an athlete you are striving to be at your best, not to scrape by. This means the Vegan athlete will most likely need to supplement B12 to become as efficient as possible. There are many products on the market that claim to provide B12. If oral B12 is being taken it is often best absorbed in a sublingual form rather than a pressed pill. More often than not we would recommend an intramuscular injection of B12 to maintain a high performance level for an athlete. B12 shots are inexpensive, sustainable and easily put the vegan athlete on par with if not above the omnivore athlete in regards to B12. Intramuscular B12 injections are the number one method of absorbing this vitamin. To learn about B12 shots, contact your friendly neighborhood Naturopath (like the one at Pins and Needles!)

Vegan Athlete

The best way to be a vegan athlete is to truly embrace a plant based diet.

Protein Insufficiency– I personally believe this is more of a mythical threat as long as you don’t fall into the Vegetarian trap. There is more than enough protein available in a plant based diet to achieve optimal amounts. The trick is to not rely on one source of protein. As discussed in our last blog (check it out here), protein powders are wonderful for athletes. The problem with protein powders and the Vegan Athlete is finding a source that provides a balances complete protein. Our tip is to mix up the sources of protein in protein powders. This is the same tip we have for gaining protein through foods, be sure to mix it up! Examples of high protein vegan foods are tofu, seitan, tempeh, dark leafy greens (kale, spinach), almonds, and beans.

Calcium– We are more or less bred in North America to think dairy is how we get calcium. In fact I would give major kudos to the dairy marketing industry for having the capability to practically brainwash an entire population into thinking this is a legitimate fact. It isn’t true. The next big lie marketing campaigns came up with was, you need to get extra calcium via “calcium chews”. Again amazing campaign with a heavy impact to create desire for a product, that is usually junk. In fact, many Calcium products use Calcium Carbonate which has potential for worsening bone health by creating osteophytes. Attaining calcium without calcium chews or a cows milk product is actually pretty easy!  While we often recommend a calcium/magnesium supplement to patients, we always strongly encourage the majority of calcium to be obtained via food sources. Oddly enough, this is almost always accomplished from non dairy sources! Did you know that 1cup of cows milk contains 305 mg of calcium and 1 cup of collard greens has 357mg? Nice!

Iron– Along with B12 deficiency, Iron deficiency can be common in vegans. However, with a strong focus on incorporating dark leafy greens, it is less of a concern. There was a reason Popeye ate his spinach! If the vegan athlete embraces a plant based diet and avoids the vegetarian trap, iron deficiency would be less likely than that of a lacto/ova vegetarian. Some of our favorite vegan Iron sources include spinach, quinoa and lentils.

A vegan lifestyle will require frequent shopping to assure fresh foods. Below is an example of a vegan menu for a day that contains balanced nutrients to fit an athlete training for one to two hours a day:

Breakfast: (Steel cut)Oatmeal with ground flax

Snack: Trail mix/ nuts and fruit

Lunch: Salad including a Spinach and Kale base, garbanzo beans, shredded carrots, broccoli, oil and vinegar

Snack: Homemade granola bar

Dinner: Tempeh “steak” on a bed of lentils with edamame and chard

Pre Training- Apple with almond butter 30 minutes before workout

Post Training- Protein shake (pea and rice protein mix) and a banana within 30 minutes after exercise

                Of course this only an example and it can easily be modified to suit individual tastes. The vegan athlete definitely needs to do a great deal of research or seek out a health care practitioner that can help to provide a diet that helps achieve an optimal diet. The above only briefly covers some of the considerations for a sports diet.

If you have any questions please feel free to post in the comment section or contact us. Thank you for reading!

 

If you are an athlete of any kind then you have probably been inundated with suggestions on what supplements will get you to become the best athlete you can. From claims of magical pills to drinks containing vitamins (that you will never absorb), the market is full of options. A very large portion of them are unnecessary and essentially junk. In fact, one of the first things I like to do with my athlete patients is have them bring in supplements to the clinic. In doing so, we can go over all of the ingredients and figure out what is working for them and what they should add into their regimen. While everybody is different here are  a few items that should grace the cabinet of every athlete whether professional, amateur, or weekend warrior.

Weight lifters often treat this like it is a precious as gold, which to the body it can be.

1)      Protein Powder- Weight lifters often treat this like it is a precious as gold, which to the body it can be. Protein isn’t just for people trying to bulk up. Whenever we perform athletic activities we are breaking down muscle to some degree. Protein is what helps build that muscle back up. From a nutritional standpoint, protein is also great to have before a work out to assure adequate nourishment. The question is what kind of protein powder is best.

  • Whey Protein Isolate- Definitely one of the most popular. Whey is a milk based protein and is considered a complete protein (contains all the necessary amino acids). The thing to watch for is what other junk have they put with it and is if it is truly a Whey protein isolate. Quick tip to avoid junk: always read “extra ingredients” and look at the carb/protein/fat content. You don’t want a protein packed with carbs or fats. The only aspect where whey protein fails is that it is obviously not a vegan product and not so friendly to those that are lactose intolerant. Also, milk is very mucous producing so congestion/phlegm may be an undesirable side effect.
  • Pea Protein- An excellent option for those sensitive to dairy or concerned about welfare of animals. Pea protein is considered a hypoallergenic, vegan protein that is easily digested. The con of Pea Protein is that a Vegan athlete would need to consider integrating other sources of protein as well to assure an adequate balance of amino acids is achieved.
  • Hemp/Soy/Rice- Other powdered proteins include Hemp, Soy, and Rice. The most common complaint I hear about hemp is the flavor and that it is more limited at stores than Soy, Pea, or Whey. Soy protein is an acceptable option in moderation, although it is becoming a very common food allergy for people because it is quietly added in many of our foods. Also, finding an organic source may be more difficult and most Soy is not GMO free. Rice protein is a great option and is also easily digestible.

Whenever looking for a protein powder, stay away from ones that add sugar.

2) Daily Multiple- If you are an athlete you are using up more nutrients than an average person and you need to replenish these. Choosing a daily vitamin can be tricky. Check out our previous blog article about choosing a proper daily vitamin here.

3) Ca+Mg- Calcium and Magnesium in combination is an excellent step in recovery. While it is important for an athlete to consider products that will improve athletic ability, the ability to recover is just as important. Calcium and magnesium need each other in the body, so it is great to take them together. Ca+Mg taken in small doses at night can act like an all natural muscle relaxer due to the magnesium content.

4) Fish Oil- Continuing along the lines of recovery, fish oil is anti-inflammatory. Like all supplements, all fish oils are not created equal. There are also many ‘types’ of fish oil, depending on the content and ratios of the ingredients. One fish oil recommended for an athlete would be different than one recommended for cognitive health or during maternity. For pain, choose a high grade, pure triglyceride form fish oil with high grade eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) over a high level of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Ratios of EPA and DHA can important in tailoring the treatment for different conditions. The benefit of supplementing with Fish oil over just eating fish is twofold. Often, people cannot eat enough fish to attain a therapeutic dose and there is also concern of mercury content, especially if certain fish are eaten. The downside of fish oil is obvious; it is not for the vegan athlete. Vegans often utilize flax seed instead, but this provides ALA (Alpha-lionlenic Acid) which may not provide the same therapeutic effect.  As a vegan athlete it is difficult to attain the benefits of EPA directly leaving ALA as main option. Other considerations before starting a fish oil would be to consider current medications and avoid with some medical procedures. As with everything in this article, it is best to discuss individual needs with a medical professional before starting supplementation.

5) Chinese Herbs- This is a very broad statement. Chinese herbal medicine has an apothecary of hundreds of herbs. Almost always, herbs are combined together rather than used alone because TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is all about balance. It would be necessary to see an East Asian Medicine Practitioner to find out what herbs would be best for each athlete. For an example however, one commonly used formula for athletes is Yu Peng Feng San Wan. Because training can be very draining and tax the immune system, supplementing short term with this formula can be very beneficial to help burn out or prevent what is called a “Wind Invasion” in TCM. While this is only one example, there are many other uses for a patient to take Chinese herbs such as pain, digestive upset, or even fatigue.

For athletes, considering any or all of these products is a great idea. Whether a weekend warrior or a serious competitor, every athlete deserves to get the best performance they can.  If you enjoyed this information please subscribe to our blog and for more great tips follow us on Facebook!

*The preceding is not intended to diagnose or treat and is for informational purposes only.

February is American Heart Health month and it is a great month to focus on becoming aware of heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and has been for years. The best way to prevent heart disease is applying early detection methods and treating them accordingly. I would challenge everyone to make it a priority in the month of February to consider the following methods for detecting heart disease and taking the appropriate steps to identifying your heart health.

  1. Blood Pressure– Considered a basic vital test, blood pressure identifies the amount of pressure pushing against the walls of vessels as it circulates through the body. Testing blood pressure is a quick and simple procedure that everyone should take advantage of knowing. A healthy blood pressure is important as it relates to how hard your heart is working. While it is expected to work harder during exercise (which is healthy) it should remain at a rate of 120/80 or less at rest. For American Heart Month our office is offering complimentary blood pressure screenings!
  2. Pulse– Another basic vital sign, measuring a pulse is a simple procedure that literally takes a minute! By feeling the inside of the wrist on the thumb side you can palpate the radial pulse. By simply counting how many beats you feel for 1 minute (or multiply it by 2 after 30 seconds) you can assess your pulse. A resting pulse for a normal adult can range between 60-100, and is another indicator of how hard you heart is working. If the pulse is consistently high or low it is something to discuss with a doctor. There are many other aspects to a pulse to consider but as a baseline the number of beats per minute is “vital” to know. If you are interested in the many other aspects of the pulse, ask your local acupuncturist!
  3. Total Cholesterol– Cholesterol is an important part of building healthy cells and is found within the blood stream. A normal amount is great! However an increased amount of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. High cholesterol, unlike the previous two markers, does not have any associated symptoms when it is present. The only way to accurately assess cholesterol is through a blood lipid panel. This is a simple test and depending on the patient’s age and previous test results is recommended at different intervals. One standard acceptance is that a total cholesterol over 200 should be addressed. Do you know your current cholesterol level?
  4. Other blood tests– Cholesterol is a common test taken that most people are at least familiar with. In fac,t it is so well known that there is constant conflicting opinions on what aspects are important and how best to treat it among many health care practitioners. There are also other blood tests that work to assess cardiac health that should be considered during American Heart Month. Another example of a  blood test that can be used to consider cardiac risks are CRP and Homocysteine.  A C-Reactive Protein test isn’t a specific heart test. It is actually a test to measure inflammatory markers in the body. Elevated levels simply tell us there is inflammation…somewhere. That being said when taken into consideration with other factors (age, health history, lifestyle habits, family history). CRP isn’t done as commonly as Cholesterol screening however it can help with a better overall picture. There are also other blood tests such as homocysteine and fibrinogen that can be utilized to assess cardiovascular risks. It is important to discuss what tests are best suited to discover your heart health!
Image

Blood Pressure is one of the easiest and vital signs to help assess the health of the heart.

This is the first blog in an upcoming series for American Heart Month. Please be sure to subscribe or check back for more useful heart related information throughout the month. Comments and suggestions are always welcome!

Supplement Review:KirklandSignature™ Daily Multiple

 

KirklandSignature™ Daily Multiple

Cost 14.99 (plus tax)

Amount of pills 500

Found At: Costco

 

The Short Of It

Pros: Affordable

Cons: You get what you pay for, Poorly made, many fillers, coatings decreasing absorption, low dose of nutrients, contains Iron, uses very poor nutrients that have limited bioavailability.

Common Patient Comments: Notice no change versus not using any supplementation.

Overall: I would never recommend this supplement to any patient. Specifically I would encourage patients not to take it, especially those who are pregnant, nursing, taking blood thinners, or have nickel allergies. In my opinion, athletic patients would not receive any benefit what-so-ever from this product.

 

What’s in it?

Serving Size: 1 Tablet

Each Tablet Contains – % Daily Value:

 

Vitamin A 3500 IU (29% as Beta Carotene) – 70% Vitamin C 90 mg  – 150% Vitamin D 400 IU – 100% Vitamin E 30 IU – 100%
Vitamin K 25 mcg – 31% Thiamin (Vit. B1) 1.5 mg – 100% Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 1.7 mg – 100% Niacin 20 mg – 100%
Vitamin B6 2 mg – 100%  Folic Acid 400 mcg – 100% Vitamin B12 6 mcg – 100% Biotin 30 mcg – 10%
Pantothenic Acid 10 mg – 100% Calcium 200 mg – 20% Iron 18 mg – 100% Phosphorus 109 mg – 11%
Iodine 150 mcg – 100% Magnesium 100 mg – 25% Zinc 11 mg – 73% Selenium 55 mcg – 79%
Copper 0.9 mg – 45% Manganese 2.3 mg 115% Chromium 35 mcg – 29% Molybdenum 45 mcg – 60%
Chloride 72 mg – 2% Potassium 80 mg – 2% Boron 150 mcg – * Nickel 5 mcg – *
Tin 10 mcg – * Silicon 2 mg – * Vanadium 10 mcg – * Lutein 250 mcg – *
Lycopene 300 mcg – *      

 

*Daily Value not established.

 

 

 

 

Ingredients: 

 

Dibasic Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Potassium Chloride, Cellulose Gel, Calcium Carbonate, Ascorbic Acid, Ferrous Fumarate, Starch (Corn and Tapioca),dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Zinc Oxide, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Gelatin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Croscarmellose Sodium, Magnesium Sulfate, Magnesium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, Copper Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Vitamin A Acetate, Polyethylene Glycol, Boric Acid, Beta Carotene, Folic Acid, Lycopene, Chromium Picolinate, Lutein, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Sodium Molybdate, Biotin, Phylloquinone, Nickel Sulfate, Sodium Metavanadate, Stannous Chloride, Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), Cyanocobalamin.

 

No Artificial Colors. No Artificial Flavors. No Preservatives. No Yeast or Gluten.

 

Detailed Review

 

First and foremost, the fillers in this product decrease the bioavailability of the product and render it close to useless. It is not highly recommended on that fact alone. Of course the choices of nutrients that are used in it are also low quality in comparison to a nutriceutical product as well, but we will get to that later. An example of a “filler” is Magnesium Stearate (octadecanoic acid, magnesium salt), which is non H20 soluble substance that is commonly used as a dilutent, which has been shown to slow the breakdown of the pill. Some health care professionals will also argue that those with decreased digestive health will not be able to absorb the nutrients within the pill. This is only one argument of how Magnesium Stearate decreases bioavilibility. There is much controversy on the topic and studies that show Magnesium Stearate has no negative effects to bioavailability.  Personally, I find it not so coincidental that products considered to be of strong nutriceutical value do not usually contain Magnesium Stearate in their products. On the contrary, companies attempting to produce mass quantities of inexpensive supplements almost always use it along with other fillers. Another “filler” in Kirkland’s Daily is Cornstarch. Why cornstarch is put into a supplement is beyond my comprehension. With many patients having sensitivities to corn, putting corn of any sort into a standard product is an obvious money saver with no therapeutic value. In a study[1]  attempting to decipher a therapeutic value of cornstarch found that it was effective in treating glycogen storage disease but, had side effects of diarrhea, flatulence, and weight gain. Way to go Kirkland Signature, take consumer health to the next level. Keeping up with lots of fillers is Methylcellulose, an emulsifier that can be used to treat constipation. It is non toxic and also not digestible… so why put it a pill that should aim for maximum absorption? You could argue it for the use of vegetarian capsules if there was not already gelatin (an animal byproduct) as an ingredient.

 

This lovely supplement also has Stannous Chloride, most likely used to coat the pill. It is probably decreasing absorption and break down of the supplement. As a fun side note, industrial companies like to use this as an oxidizing agent to make things like mirrors. Regardless, it is an unnecessary ingredient. The expected defense is the presence of Croscarmellose, which is used essentially to increase bioavailability. The issue associated with this is the common belief that it decreases the intestinal flora. In short, the product combines hard to break down pills with something that may harm the intestinal balance on top of it. No need to stop here though. Moving along the ingredient list, Nickel Sulfate is in this “health supplement”. Long term exposure to nickel has been tied to lung disorders and cancer. It is also not something known for humans to be deficient in. In fact about 10% of the female population has an allergy to it (cheap jewelry anyone). The only positive is the very low dose contained in the formula. Sodium Molybdate is another ingredient that makes little sense, as very few humans are found to be deficient in this area. It is commonly found in many foods (especially if the consumer has a healthy diet), so it is not usually put in quality supplements. Arguably for Kirkland Signature, it is considered to have some antioxidant qualities which may be beneficial.

 

Finally, after we finish off the list of useless ingredients, we can look at the benefits people are hoping to get out of it. Many consumers see Magnesium and think “oh I need that”. I couldn’t agree more but, this lovely little pill has two types. One of them is magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salt). I regularly recommend patients to soak in Epsom salt however, I do not tell them to ingest it. Do not get me wrong, it is safe to ingest, it is used to treat constipation. Wait didn’t we  already have a few ingredients that flush through the system with no therapeutic use? The other type is Magnesium Oxide. Of the types of Magnesium beneficial to supplement with, this one is at the bottom. Magnesium Citrate should be considered the gold standard for supplements. The same can be said of the products Calcium content. The ingredients list; Calcium Carbonate and Dibasic Calcium Phosphate. Calcium Carbonate is the number one ingredient in antacids such as, “Tums” and is also great for Gym Chalk but, when ingested, actually leads to calcium deposit build up versus healthy bones. In other words, rather than being helpful it can be harmful. With Dibasic Calcium Phosphate you are once again looking at the bottom of the line Calcium. My preferred Calcium is Citrate Malate. At this point picking on the ingredients is probably redundant so I will leave it at this; don’t waste your money on this product. Save yourself the fifteen dollars and put it to use on a quality product.

 

I am not affiliated with any nutrition company, nor does any company provide me with free products outside of standard company policies. That being said, the world of supplements can be a confusing one. With the large scale availability to purchase supplements almost anywhere customers are overloaded with options. Many will purchase supplements from their local drug store or wholesale company, while others will go to one of the many “Supplement Stores”. I highly recommend a third option, purchase supplements from a qualified health care provider. The primary reason, there is a reason they carry lines of supplements customers cannot readily purchase at their local drug store, quality being the number one factor. In fact some lines (for example Nordic Naturals) provides to product lines, a customer direct line and a health care practitioner line. The practitioner line has almost double the amount of EFA’s in it. The second reason is supervision. Would you manage your pharmaceutical prescriptions on your own? Why would you with nutriceuticals? The purpose of this blog is to review both commonly found supplements such as Kirkland Signature or Centrum as well as professional lines such as Thorne and Pure Encapsulations. The reviews are based on personal opinions of professional health care 

practitioners utilizing information found on the label and clinical use. Any endorsements are based solely on professional opinion.

There are many common tips everyone hears that improve digestion. Switching to all organic food is an obvious one. Or perhaps increasing the dreaded “F” word (fiber). These are all wonderful ideas. In fact Chinese Medicine would definitely encourage the an organic diet and a healthy amount of fiber. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a much different approach to digestion as the physiology within it’s practice is very different. Below are 7 tips with a brief explanation of why these can improve digestive health.

1. Avoid cold and raw foods- In Chinese Medicine the nature (theoretical temperature) of the food is very important. If the food is considered in the cold category it taxes the Spleen/Stomach (two major organs of digestion in Chinese Medicine) complex. With this in mind it is better to steam veggies over eating them raw.

2. Introduce congee into your diet- Congee is a rice porridge that is made with a 1 cup rice to approximately 5 cup water ratio. It is considered neutral and sweet and therefore nourishing to the Spleen. Congee recipes can be specifically constructed by your local Acupuncturist.

3. Adequate exercise: Exercise such as Tai Qi or Yoga can have a very positive impact on your digestive health. For example, in Yoga there are many postures that help gently compress and relax the intestines to improve the Spleen/Stomach complex. Two to three classes per week can make a very significant impact.

4. Breathe: We all lead very busy lives and all too often forget to take time just to breathe. Digestion relies heavily on the sympathetic nervous system. This occurs best when you are relaxed. So take 10 minutes!

5. Switch to tea- Coffee has a good amount of antioxidants, but can lead to dampness especially with added sugar and milk. Switching to a variety of teas can be highly beneficial. For example, both black and green tea contain L-Theanine, which can be great for decreasing stress. Lowering stress helps keep your parasympathetic nervous system in check, allowing for better digestion.

6. Eat a variety- Not only does eating the same thing get boring but, it can lead to poor digestion. Try to create colorful plates and switch things up. Eating a variety of food provides different nutrients keeping your whole body better nourished!

7. Cut back on the dairy and wheat- in Chinese Medicine balance is everything. It is not uncommon for a large staple in North American diets too be wheat and dairy. Too much wheat and dairy can lead to a weak Spleen and cause dampness within the body. With dampness, people will have a more bogged down feeling amongst many other things. Also with a weak Spleen and dampness one will not be functioning optimally leaving the immune system weakened and open to a variety of undesirables.

Introducing these 7 easy tips into day to day diets is easy, not too restricting, and manageable to create permanent healthy life changes. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below.

Thanks!

Adrian Hillyer, LAc, LMP

Pins & Needles Acupuncture LLC

Sources: Yoga and Ayurveda (David Frawley), Book of Jook (Bob Flaws),

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Hours & Info

425-556-0484
M-F 10am-5pm
Saturdays by appointment only

There was an error retrieving images from Instagram. An attempt will be remade in a few minutes.