How is Your Balance? The Development, Deterioration, and Exercises to Improve Balance and Prevent Injury: Part 1


Balance is a state of equilibrium or equal distribution of body weight.  Some people, such as gymnasts or performers in Cirque du Soleil, have impeccable balance.  In other people, balance is so poor they cannot balance on one leg for more than a few seconds.  In part one of this two part article we will discuss the development and deterioration of balance and the risk of injury associated with poor balance.   

The Development of Balance
We are not born with balance.  Balance is something we develop from the first few months of life until the age of four.  When we are born, we have virtually no motor skills, or coordination of movement.  We go through very important stages of motor development called milestones.  Babies start on their back moving their eyes, neck, arms and legs.  Then they begin to roll onto their stomach, creep, crawl, sit, kneel, stand, walk, and eventually run.  Each of these milestones are critical for normal motor development and each stage sets the foundation for the next milestone.  During this entire process the nervous system is gaining more motor control of muscles that coordinate balance and movement.  The process involves a lot of shaking, wobbling, and many falls until the nervous system and muscles work it out and become completely coordinated.  By the age of four, the majority of us have well-developed motor skills that leave us with good balance and coordination.

The Deterioration of Balance
Balance is something that can be lost very easily to injury, misalignment, pain, poor movement habits, too much of one activity or too little of another activity.  There are many other causes of poor balance, such as circulation problems, nervous system disorders, or dizziness due to an inner ear problem (positional vertigo), or side effects from medication.  The scope of this article is to discuss balance problems related to injury and misalignment.  

An injury to a muscle, tendon, joint or ligament can damage specialized nerve receptors responsible for keeping the brain aware of position, balance and movement.  Damaged “balance receptors” can result in poor balance.  Injuries, including bone and joint misalignments, can also cause tightness and stiffness in the immediate area or an area distant to the site of the injury or misalignment.  A good example is someone who sprains an ankle.  The misalignment of the ankle bones and damage to the ankle ligaments may not only cause tightness of the muscles around the ankle, but may also result in tightness in the hip.  This tightness and loss of joint mobility alters perception in these areas resulting in poor balance.  

Some people can fully recover from an injury without a deterioration of balance.  In other people, poor balance is the result of an injury that does not receive proper chiropractic treatment and rehabilitation.  As a side note, misalignments usually do not resolve on their own without chiropractic adjustments and corrective exercises. 

The Sad Statistics of Poor Balance
Poor balance can increase the risk of injury, especially in sports or other exercise-related activities.  In seniors and the elderly, poor balance contributes to falls, the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in the United States.  More than one-third of adults over the age of 65 fall each year and approximately 300,000 fracture a hip.  The most staggering statistic is up to one-third of hip fracture patients die within one year of their fracture.  At the root of these falls in most cases is poor balance.  It is estimated that 36 percent of women and 29 percent of men at age 70 have balance problems.  At ages 88-90, the figures climb to 50 percent.  The good news is improvement in balance and injury prevention can be accomplished with a few simple exercises. 

In part two, we will discuss how to test your balance and how to improve balance with corrective exercises.


FDA Classifies Walnuts as DRUGS???


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently determined that walnuts sold by Diamond Foods cannot be legally marketed because they “are not generally recognized as safe and effective” for medical conditions such as heart disease.  According to the FDA, walnuts are now classified as “drugs” and the “unauthorized health claims” cause them to become “misbranded,” thus subjecting them to government “seizure or injunction.”  These are the allegations made by the FDA in a letter to Diamond Foods asking them to remove the claim on their website that walnuts are “heart healthy.”  This is not the first time the FDA has done this.  Similar rulings have been made against manufacturers of pomegranate juice and green tea.

The FDA Ignores Scientific Research
The FDA’s ruling makes it clear they chose to ignore the plethora of research supporting Diamond Foods’ health claims.  There are at least 35 research studies supporting the claim that consuming walnuts improves vascular health and may reduce heart attack risk.  Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Heart Association for example, have found reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol and improvements in endothelial function (healthy inner walls of arteries).  

Meanwhile, FDA Allows Potato Chips to be Advertised as “Heart Healthy”
You might not associate potato chips and other fried snack foods as being good for you, but the FDA has no problem allowing the Frito-Lay website to state the following:        

“Our all-natural sunflower, corn and soybean oils contain good polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which help lower total and LDL “bad” cholesterol and maintain HDL “good” cholesterol levels, which can support a healthy heart.”

It is true that some polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat can lower bad cholesterol and possibly maintain or improve good cholesterol, but what they do not tell you is the bad news about these oils.  These oils are extremely high in omega-6 fat and extremely low in omega-3 fat.  Oils of this nature are known to be highly inflammatory to the human body and is associated with heart attacks, thrombotic stroke, arrhythmia, arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammation, mood disorders, obesity, and cancer (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2006).  Inflammation is far more responsible for causing disease than cholesterol. 

They also do not tell you these foods are high in acrylamide.  Acrylamide is a toxic compound formed when carbohydrate foods, such as potatoes are cooked at high temperature.  According to the National Cancer Institute, acrylamide is considered to be a cancer causing compound and an FDA funded study found that potato chips and other fried carbohydrate foods were especially high in acrylamide.  The FDA, however, has not stopped companies selling high acrylamide-containing foods from promoting them as healthy.

For the FDA to allow Frito-Lay to make misleading claims there are heart benefits from consuming their highly inflammatory, disease-producing snack products, while censoring the ability of walnut companies to make scientifically-substantiated health claims is harmful to the health of the American public.  

Censoring Health Information and the FDA’s Apparent Hidden Agenda
It is quite apparent the FDA is censoring health claims that have been shown in studies to be good for you.  Their actions also imply who will benefit from these actions.  It is certain that the pharmaceutical companies and processed food companies will benefit from the FDA’s misdeeds.  The more people that eat unhealthy processed foods, the more diseases will emerge and more drugs will be required to control these diseases.  As a result, pharmaceutical companies will reap tens of billions of dollars each year in profits.  An obstacle standing in their way is scientific evidence showing that eating healthier food can prevent diseases from developing in most people.  

It appears the FDA is functioning to enrich Big Pharma and processed food companies, while the public shoulders the financial burden of today’s health-care cost crisis.

Does this latest proclamation that healthy foods are now illegal drugs show the FDA has the public’s health interest in mind or do they have an agenda? 


Low Vitamin D May Contribute to Asthma


According to a recent study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, not getting enough vitamin D may lead to asthma or make asthma symptoms worse in those who already have asthma.  One of the findings showed that people with low vitamin D performed worse on breathing tests. Researchers found the lower the vitamin D levels, the worse their breathing performance.

The study also showed that low vitamin D levels were associated with increased production of an inflammatory protein in the blood, which may be one of the mechanisms related to inflamed bronchial tubes, lungs and subsequent asthma symptoms.  Finally, the study found that people with low vitamin D levels didn’t respond as well to asthma treatments compared to people with higher vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D is most commonly produced by the skin in response to exposure to sunlight.  Very few foods contain adequate amounts of Vitamin D.  The flesh of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna are the best sources.  Vitamin D supplements are the best way to ensure that adequate amounts are met.

Our Recommendations:  If you or any of your family members has asthma, make sure these Vitamin D requirements are met:  Get 20 to 30 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen at least three days a week in the summer months (May 1st to September 1st) and take 5,000-10,000IU of vitamin D a day in the winter months to prevent low vitamin D.  Take vitamin D year-round if you do not get enough sun exposure in the summer or have skin sensitivities to the sun.

Chiropractic Adjustments Found to Improve Creative Thinking

Woman looking into distance whilst thinking

Creative thinking is one of the greatest human assets to solve problems with new ideas.  A  study published in the Chiropractic Journal of Australia found chiropractic adjustments improved creative thinking and suggests that spinal subluxations may interfere with creative thinking.

The “alternative uses test” was used to measure creative thinking abilities before and after a chiropractic adjustment. 

After the initial test, each person was assessed for spinal subluxations. Subluxations are misaligned spinal vertebrae resulting in undesirable changes in spinal joints, muscles, and the nervous system which can cause pain and adversely affect organ function and general health.

Following spinal assessment, the participants were given chiropractic adjustments to restore normal alignment of the vertebral column.  The participants were then interviewed two to eight days after the adjustment to measure lasting effects on creativity.  After receiving adjustments, 60 percent reported a significant improvement in their performance on the alternative uses test, 70 percent indicated they had new directions in a real world creative task, and 60 percent claimed to have renewed energy towards a creative project they had already planned. 

In the chiropractic field, spinal subluxations are thought to be linked to “interference” in the nervous system’s ability to function normally.  Creative thinking of the mind is certainly a primary component of the nervous system’s ability to functional properly.