From the monthly archives: "May 2012"

Whoa, check it: Japanese-American men with diets low in vitamin D had greater risk of stroke later in life. This according to recent long-term study looking at 7,400 Japanese-American men living in Hawaii. Just another confirmation that the sun nutrient, vitamin D, is paramount in maintaining health and wellness.

The study, which began in the mid-to-late-1960s, looked at Japanese-American men between the ages of 45 and 68, and examined and interviewed them about their dietary habits at that time. The men were then followed up with 34 years later, whereby 960 were found to have died of stroke. The men with the lowest vitamin D in their diets had a 22% greater risk of stroke, and a 27% greater risk of ischemic stroke (blood-clot type). No difference existed for hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke, however.

“Our study confirms that eating foods rich in vitamin D might be beneficial for stroke prevention,” said study author Dr. Gotaro Kojima, a geriatric medicine fellow at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. He also stated that it is unknown at this time whether these results could be extrapolated to women or other ethnic groups.

So here I present just another study showing the importance of vitamin D supplementation, and again I ask how there can still be so many “authorities” unconvinced of the need to supplement. True, vitamin D can be found in foods like fortified milk, breakfast cereals, fatty fish and egg yolks, which are all good sources. And, of course, nothing beats the vitamin D production of our skin from the exposure to direct sunlight.

The good doctor Kojima does point out that synthesizing vitamin D from the sun becomes more difficult as people age, so older people especially should increase their dietary intake, and in my opinion take a good D supplement.

Once again, I’d like to point out that many experts, myself included, believe that the recommended blood D levels are too low; and while they may prevent some diseases, like rickets, optimum levels are almost 2-3 times more than the medical and dietary standards.

So Japanese-American men (and all people for that matter) need to get adequate sunlight (15-20 minutes sans sunscreen daily), eat vitamin D rich foods, and supplement. Hey, you can follow the authoritarian naysayers and skip supplementation, OR you can just freakin’ supplement. Which do you think comes with a heavier price to pay if wrong? Well then…nuff said.

For twelve years I’ve been sports chiropractic in West Hollywood. I’ve seen my fair share of shoulder injuries and conditions. The one I see most is shoulder impingement syndrome, and I find the element most forgotten in this common sports injury is the biceps tendon.

Now you might think, “Wait…my doctor told me I have biceps tendinitis, but it just never got better.” Right–because biceps tendinitis is only 33% correct when it comes to impingement syndrome. Two other elements play a major role in this sports injury–the supraspinatus tendon and the subacromial bursa–and so solely focusing on the biceps will not solve the problem.

However…when a shoulder impingement is properly diagnosed, and all instructions are followed, as far as treatment and icing is concerned, then the element I find most responsible for any stubbornness to healing and persistence of pain is the biceps tendon.

The final solution is two-fold. First is icing and cooling down that inflamed tendon. In the video below, I show the best way to ice the biceps tendon. It’s important to get the long head tendon out to the surface–you’ll get the most complete icing that way. To do this you will need to externally rotate the arm. I instruct my clients to do this seated in a chair or couch, or anywhere in which the arm can be help up and rotated outward. This movement brings the long head of the biceps from the deep interior of the axilla (arm pit) out to the exterior, and the back rest can be used to hold the arm in place, because remember icing should be done for fifteen minutes, no more, no less.

Watch the video to see how to best ice your biceps-persistent shoulder impingement syndrome, and we’ll discuss the second step in a future post.

Got Gaydar? I do. At least I think I do. And here’s something…you might also. In fact, it looks like many of us have the ability to tell gay from straight; it’s an evolution thing. You’ll have to admit the neurological benefits to NOT having to think too hard about whether someone is a potential sex partner or not, right? I mean…it’s just biology.

Well, a recent study gives evidence that humans not only have a pretty good capability of telling another’s sexual orientation, but there may even be phenotypic markers that give it all away. Whoa! In other words, genetics may play an even bigger part than some of us have thought: How you look, and what you see, can get you laid…in the right way.

A study coming out of the University of Washington, Seattle sought to find out how we read faces to determine sexual orientation. Previous studies have shown that we possess the ability greater than what would be expected by sheer chance, so the UW team wanted to understand the mechanism.

What we know: People can pick out with relatively high accuracy both men’s and women’s sexual orientation relying on no more than grossly impoverished facial photographs (i.e., grayscale, hair-removed) presented for as few as 40–50 ms.

What we don’t know: Do people use featural face processing–relying on individual facial features, like eye and mouth cues–or do they use configural face processing, the relationship among facial features, like distance between eyes and such, or some combination of the two?

To study this, researchers took profile pictures of self-reported hetero- and homosexual men and women off Facebook, and doctored them with Photoshop, removing hair and ears, and essentially just leaving the face. They then showed the photos to 129 college students, some right side up, and others upside down. Previous studies have shown that an above-chance accuracy exists for determining sexual orientation through individual facial cues, and these cues are accurately assessed when viewed either right side up or upside down. In men, for instance, cues around the eyes alone or mouth alone led to high sex orientation accuracy.

But for configural processing–which include a) ordinal spatial relationships among individual features (e.g., eyes appear above noses), b) cardinal spatial relationships among individual features (e.g., the amount of space between the eyes), or processing the face in a holistic or gestalt manner (i.e., the general shape of the face)–things get a bit tougher. While people are able to determine categorical features, like gender or race, from primarily individual cues, and thus whether the view is right side up or upside down, other identity-based features, like familiarity or celebrity, which rely more on configural cues, are lost when the image is viewed upside down (called the Thatcher effect).

The researchers found that although participants were able to read men’s sex preference with above-chance accuracy, they were much better at reading women’s. And “false alarms” were less common in women, too–so with the gals, it appears…when we know, we know. But most surprisingly was that sexual orientation was picked out with above-chance accuracy in the upside down position, albeit not as precisely as when right-side up, thus the scientist concluded that both featural and configural processes are at work when assessing sexual orientation.

So we have facial features that conform to our sexual orientation individually and in their relation to one another, spatially and holistically. No doubt, these features tell our potential mates which way we swing. Some things we still don’t know is do the facial features and sexual orientation express together, or do our sexual orientation experiences shape phenotype (our looks)? Either way, you’ve got to admit this is an interesting study. I mean, most everybody thinks they’re equipped with gaydar. Truth is, we probably all are to a degree.

I don’t usually care for commercials, but they got me on one today. I usually get pissed when I have to wait five seconds to skip an ad…and those sly marketers did it. The simple headline, “Tips From Former Smokers,” grabbed me. What? And from the opening line–it’s genius!

“When you got a hole in your neck, don’t face the shower head.”

Bam! Powerful. And it keeps getting better. If this ain’t a deterrent for smoking, man, nothing’s gonna stop ya. Yeah, it worked for me.

Listen up, school boards…play this CDC video for every kindergarten, grammar school and high school in the world if you want to deter smoking. Make them in different languages. Don’t hold back, show the kids–you’ll probably decrease new smokers by fifty percent. G’head–dare ya. And tell ’em Campos told ya.

Duhhhhh….does soda make you fat? Don’t know…but it might make you dumb. So says a recent study out of the University of California, Los Angeles, which observed what happened when rats were fed a steady diet of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the principle constituent of soft drinks.

Researchers trained 24 rats over a five day period to complete a complicated maze (Barnes maze test, feeding them standard rat chow. They then randomly assigned the rats into four dietary groups: half receiving HFCS as their main beverage source, and half receiving water. Each group was then split into two, those with added omega-3 fatty acids to their diet (rat chow) and those without, so that the four groups looked like this:

  1. high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) only
  2. high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)  + omega-3s
  3. water only
  4. water only  + omega-3s
All four groups continued receiving powdered rat chow throughout (with or without the omega-3s). The results showed a few interesting things. First, although there was no difference in final weight or size of the rats, the HFCS groups preferred eating the sugar to the rat chow–they must have been American–although caloric intake stayed consistent among all the groups.

Second, although the rats were found to be in the same initial cognitive condition prior to their special diets, after six weeks the rats that were deficient in omega-3s showed a decline in memory, and thus a reduced ability to complete the maze. Hmmm…. And the results were even worse for the rats deficient in omega-3s and high in HFCS.

But even more interestingly is that the cognitive deficiencies (memory loss) were ameliorated by adding omega-3s to the diet. Whoa!… The researchers conclude that omega-3 deficiency led to a vulnerability of the rats’ brains to the high fructose corn syrup. Fascinating.
“The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity,” said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier.”

The researchers believe that the lack of omega-3s caused the brain to become insulin resistant, which would increase the sugar concentration in the blood. This sugar dysregulation then, they think, disrupts the brain’s ability to process sugar, a necessary food source for the brain to process thoughts and emotions.

“Insulin is important in the body for controlling blood sugar, but it may play a different role in the brain, where insulin appears to disturb memory and learning,” Gomez-Pinilla said.

High-fructose corn syrup is commonly found in soda, condiments, applesauce, baby food and other processed snacks. The average American consumes more than 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of high-fructose corn syrup per year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

“Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” said Gomez-Pinilla.

“Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”

So the take home lesson here is two-fold: One, and for me the most important, is to make sure you are getting sufficient omega-3s in your diet. Because the typical western diet is high in omega-6s and low in omega-3s, then supplementing, in my opinion, is the best bet.

And two…HFCS is garbage! I’ve been saying it for over a decade, and nothing’s come along to alter my opinion. The typical American is both omega-3 deficient AND consumes too much HFCS. Think about that if you still can…

Was recently asked by a Twitter follower what the best exercise for the low back would be. My unsatisfying answer: “Well, what do you need a strong back for?” Taken at face value it might seem that I am denying the need for a strong back, but nothing could be farther from the truth, although I do think the pelvic and leg muscles are more likely to be in need of strengthening.

Nevertheless, I think the wisest approach to determining which exercises should be carried out is to think functionally–that is, what are you attempting to improve? Do you need power for a sport, endurance, or is it to alleviate low back pain? Really, the end result matters.

So this particular gentleman disclosed to me that he was having pain and difficulty getting up and out of a chair. Okay…I’ve got an answer for this. The best exercise to reduce pain and difficulty getting in and out of a chair, then…is to get in and out of a chair. Forget back extensions, or superman, or anything like that–be functional: Reproduce the activity you need to do. Doesn’t that make sense? Don’t do biceps curls so that you may jump higher…

Watch the video below to get the gist of what I mean. You’ll want to observe some basics, like…keeping your back straight, and tightening your abdominal core. If you are uncertain of how to do that, please watch the video on abdominal hollowing and plank pose. While you’re at it, watch the video on pelvic tilting as well. Gaining control of the abdominal core is essential to strengthening the low back.

So, again, before looking to strengthen a particular area, ask yourself for what purpose, because this will dictate the exercise you need to do. Then do a functional exercise–one that simulates the movement–and you should be cool. Enjoy the vid and the exercise. Thank you, Ricardo.

If your good looks, vitality and ability to interact with your loved ones ain’t enough to keep you focusing on your health, then how ’bout this: Newly retired couples may need $240,000 throughout their retirement  for health care costs alone! Got that saved, boomers? No?… then try something different…like caring for your health now!

This post isn’t just for people entering retirement, it’s for young folk, because the time to care for your health is now, today…not when you get sick. Check it: What you do today, determines how you live tomorrow. That’s right, your current lifestyle habits–and let me emphasize habits, because that occasional drink isn’t hurting you, nor is that occasional walk around the block really exercise–believe it or not, are cumulatively affecting your body for better or for worse. Eat an occasional Big Mac? Big deal. Live off take-out, however, and it’s $240K and counting.

According to a study conducted by Fidelity Investments, a Boston-based consulting firm, the estimated $240,000 that a newly retired couple will need to cover health care expenses reflects the typical pattern of projected annual increases. They cite President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul as the reason for the increase.

“As long as health care cost trends exceed personal income growth and economic growth, health care will still be a growing burden for the country as a whole and for individuals,” says Sunit Patel, a senior vice president for benefits consulting at Fidelity, and an actuary who helped calculate the estimate.
So let’s read between the lines. The average American doesn’t think too much about their health until it goes awry. Then they run to the doctor to get “cured.” The average American drinks more soda than water. The average American over 65 does not exercise. The average American eats a high processed food diet; recent reports even have 42% of all Americans obese by 2030 (not that far off, folks). So yeah, $240,000 for health care actually sounds cheap to me.
But let’s look at things this way: Cut the processed foods and start eating whole, natural foods. Exercise 3-5 times per week, even if that just means walking around the block after dinner (it’s something…). Get regualr bodywork to decrease the need for “arthritis meds.” Rest and recuperate regularly. Try something outside of lifetime antidepressants. Listen to your body and change what isn’t working so you don’t have to be on lifestyle drugs. In other words…DON’T BE AVERAGE…and guess what? < $240,000. (Cheers!)
Simple math, folks…oh yeah, with a little health and wellness wisdom to boot. So it’s up to you: Pick up some healthy lifestyle behaviors and practice them regularly…or start saving.

Bravo to Vogue magazine…bravo. I have been saying for over a decade that if we want to make a dent in the perpetuation of eating disorders, it has to start with the images we choose to look at regularly, the ones we choose to deem “beautiful.” Well, Vogue mag is doing its part by banning the images of “too-skinny” models. Duh! And Bravo.

Not only is the mega-fashion mag doing away with too-skinny, but too-young is being flung, too. The 19 Vogue magazine editors around the world made a pact to project healthy, not ultra-thin. They agreed to “not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder,” and said they will ask casting directors to check IDs at photo shoots and fashion shows and for ad campaigns.

Most editions of Vogue made it common practice to hire girls under 16–a sure road to a future eating disorder. I mean think about it–which model isn’t going to psych-out when comparing herself to her immature, underdeveloped 14-year-old self?

“I want my prepubescent figure back…” Duh!

But, of course, not just models: Every young adult, teen, and heck…many women of all ages look to fashion magazines like Vogue for ideas on the latest looks, and these unfortunately…and probably subconsciously…include body types. I cannot tell you how many women I have heard say, “But clothes just hang better when you’re thin.”

My retort, “No…you just have set the convoluted images in fashion and celebrity magazines as your relative point…the standard,” if you will.

Seems that Vogue, however, is just following a healthy trend. The Council of Fashion Designers of America adopted a voluntary initiative in 2007, which emphasizes age minimums and healthy working environments during New York Fashion Week, and London Fashion Week designers sign a contract with the British Fashion Council to use models who are at least 16.

The primary fashion organizations in Italy and Spain banned catwalk models who fall below a certain body mass index (BMI) level, and earlier this year, Israel’s government passed an anti-skinny-model law. This all on the heels of the deaths of two young models in 2006-2007 following complications from eating disorders.

But up until now, the focus has been solely on runway models. This push by one of the worlds biggest fashion magazines, however, is a giant leap. As Vogue goes, so goes…well, everybody. The “Vogue pact” says the magazines will help “structure mentoring programs” for younger models and raise awareness of the problem of model health. They said they would encourage healthy working conditions backstage and encourage designers “to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models.”

So bravo, again, to Vogue and the entire fashion industry for taking the bulimics by the horns–it’s about time! Healthy bodies need to be celebrated in their full glory; and the health and safety of both models and the young women idolizing them will get a big boost from this move. What can I say, Vogue? You made this health advocate proud.
No, no, no, no NO! All wrong–watch the vid below

So I’ve now given you two great hamstring stretches–one that is the most basic, and where I would recommend everybody to start. Remember, it’s using a wall to brace yourself as you bend forward. Why do you need the object on which to brace? Simple…maintaining an arch while bending forward is probably a very different movement for you, so the wall will help you do the position easier. Truth be told, as you get more comfortable, you will probably not need the wall anymore; but I encourage you to master using the wall before getting cocky and going without, as you want to avoid causing injury (and thus spending the next several months to years getting treated by your friendly neighborhood sports chiropractor)

The first advanced hamstring stretch, then, was a lunge stretch to hit the upper hamstrings. It’s advanced because if you are very tight, you are susceptible to injury–pulls, tears, and possibly not getting back up without the help of the fire department. So you can try it if you are not sure, but go sloooowly. And if you are severely challenged…then back to the door for you.

The advanced hamstring stretch I demonstrate in the video now uses a prop such as a chair, a weight bench, or even a railing at the gym (or anywhere for that matter). However, the same principles as in the beginners hamstring stretch still apply, primarily that it is imperative that the arch in the low back must be maintained throughout. This is your limiting factor–so once you lose the arch, that’s where you stop. How far forward you bend is of least importance after the arch, the alignment of the hips, foot position and a good dorsiflexion of the foot.

You will see that as your hamstrings open, this stretch will become easier, and more rewarding. Watch the video to see the proper biomechanics in doing the advanced hamstring workouts and stretches for pain relief. Once you’ve got them down, you are on your way to getting good length into these back thigh workhorses. Have fun, and don’t forget the arch.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Nick Campos - All Rights Reserved.