Happy Summer! This sultry season brings us sandals and sundresses, relaxing vacations (if we’re lucky), and ample daylight to bike, walk, run, swim, or otherwise enjoy the outdoors. If you live in the south, you may be more inclined to chill out in air-conditioned comfort, or if you’re like me and live in San Francisco, you may need to put on a sweater! Remember the Mark Twin quote about his coldest winter spent in the summer in San Francisco. Thankfully, we’ve had lots of sunny days as of late, so armed with proper sunscreen, I’ve been able to frolic without too many layers.
In addition to the abundance of activity options, summer is also a prime season to enjoy fresh-from-the-garden produce. Take advantage of mother nature’s bounty by filling your plate often with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, such as bright, red tomatoes, yellow squash, orange carrots, green spinach, zucchini, and peas…you get the idea. One of the smallest fruits of the season, blueberries, are packed with nutrients and flavor for a relatively low amount of calories and sugar. The antioxidant-rich fruit offers such health benefits as reported protection from oxidative stress, thus reducing the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Blueberries also promote urinary tract and digestive tract health. Now, research suggests that the potent fruit may also help protect against colon cancer. Black raspberries offer much of the same benefits. Bon appetit!
Chiropractic Care for Lower Blood Pressure
One trip to the chiropractor could cause a blood-pressure drop equal to taking two hypertension drugs at once, according to research from the University of Chicago Medical Center. The study focused on an adjustment that targets the Atlas vertebra, the bone that works to hold up the head. The Atlas vertebra was misaligned in 50 percent of patients with high blood pressure. After treatment, subjects who received an adjustment experienced a significant drop in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Cell Phone Warning
It seems that no matter where you go, there’s someone on their cell phone: in the car, the gym, the Laundromat…I’ve even heard of people answering their phone during sex! I can’t think of any call that’s that important. Anyway, having that thing glued to your ear can not only annoy your neighbors, but may also pose serious health risks. For example, men who carry a cell phone or PDA on their belt or in a pocket could potentially reduce sperm counts by as much as 30 percent. Using a cell phone for 2,000 hours in a lifetime (teenagers talk an average of 2,600 minutes a month) raises the risk of getting a certain type of brain tumor by 40 to 270 percent. The risk is highest among people under age 20. Dr. George Carlo, a cell phone researcher and industry whistleblower, predicts 40,000 to 50,000 new cases of brain and eye cancer caused by mobile phones each year worldwide. By 2010, he estimates half a million cases. Powering down now…
A Big F.A.T. Problem: A Personal Note From Heather Johnson
I saved this message for last because I was too chicken to write it first. I’ve delivered little morsels of health and fitness for Dish since 2002, and enjoy writing every column. I’ve lived what I had considered a healthy lifestyle for many years, and love learning and reporting on nutrition, holistic medicine, and various modalities that support wellness so that we can all enjoy life to the fullest. But as much as I champion these things, I haven’t really been walking my talk.
Outside of my work as a writer, I am a competitive long-distance runner. I have a deep passion for running, and over the past few years, I’ve become equally passionate about racing, and my performance has improved by leaps and bounds, especially over the past year. I follow a very focused training plan to help me achieve my goals, but a couple of months ago, my body made me stop. I won’t be running for at least two more months due to a stress fracture to my pubic bone. A tear to my anterior labrum (a ring of cartilage that sits in the hip socket) may possibly require surgery. Sure, I have some postural and biomechanical stuff to straighten out, and I will, but the main reason this happened is because I did not feed my body properly, and haven’t for a long time.
I knew I was underweight, but so are a lot of distance runners, and it seemed like I performed better at a certain size. I started missing my period. Sometimes it came very light, sometimes not at all. I blamed it on low body fat, and hoped that since it came sometimes, sort of, I was okay. I am not okay. Because I didn’t give myself the calories I needed, my body couldn’t nourish itself properly and it couldn’t recover from my workouts properly. I ran out of gas and damaged a few parts in the process. I’m a classic case of the female athlete triad.
The components of the triad include disordered eating, amenorrhea (loss of a woman's period), and low bone density. I've struggled with this for years but never really did much about it other than deny that I had a serious problem. Now, my will to be truly healthy, strong, to be the best athlete I can be, and to live a long life without all of this stress has propelled me to finally seek help. I’ve found a support group, I can seek solace in my spiritual community, and will probably seek individual counseling to sort though all of the underlying causes of this crap. On the physical side, I’m pool running and biking, entering into physical therapy soon, and have an appointment next week with a specialist who will tell me if I have to have surgery. I pray not.
Why am I telling you this? Because I have to be honest. Because I want to walk my talk. And because I would hope that if anything I write resonates with anyone out there, they will have the courage to explore these issues seriously and take action when needed. If you’re an active woman and notice that your monthly “visitor” has disappeared for three months or more, please pay attention. I’d advise a visit with your Gynecologist first to rule out any hormonal problems. If all of that checks out okay, take a long, hard look at your diet and exercise plan and take whatever steps you need to get your “visitor” back. My journey toward true health and wholeness may not be easy. But it’ll be worth it in the “long run.” At least that’s what I’m banking on.
You can read about the female athlete triad here: www.femaleathletetriad.org. There are several good websites with information and resources for various eating disorders. A simple Google search will get you there.