Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The mind-body connection: Clear new evidence

Posted on November 3, 2014 by Stone Hearth News

For the first time, researchers have shown that practising mindfulness meditation or being involved in a support group has a positive physical impact at the cellular level in breast cancer survivors.

A group working out of Alberta Health Services’ Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the University of Calgary Department of Oncology has demonstrated that telomeres – protein complexes at the end of chromosomes – maintain their length in breast cancer survivors who practise meditation or are involved in support groups, while they shorten in a comparison group without any intervention.

Although the disease-regulating properties of telomeres aren’t fully understood, shortened telomeres are associated with several disease states, as well as cell aging, while longer telomeres are thought to be protective against disease.

“We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology,” says Dr. Linda E. Carlson, PhD, principal investigator and director of research in the Psychosocial Resources Department at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

“It was surprising that we could see any difference in telomere length at all over the three-month period studied,” says Dr. Carlson, who is also a U of C professor in the Faculty of Arts and the Cumming School of Medicine, and a member of the Southern Alberta Cancer Institute. “Further research is needed to better quantify these potential health benefits, but this is an exciting discovery that provides encouraging news.”

 The study was published online today in the journal Cancer. It can be found at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.29063/full

A total of 88 breast cancer survivors who had completed their treatments for at least three months were involved for the duration of the study. The average age was 55 and most participants had ended treatment two years prior. To be eligible, they also had to be experiencing significant levels of emotional distress.

In the Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery group, participants attended eight weekly, 90-minute group sessions that provided instruction on mindfulness meditation and gentle Hatha yoga, with the goal of cultivating non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Participants were also asked to practise meditation and yoga at home for 45 minutes daily.

In the Supportive Expressive Therapy group, participants met for 90 minutes weekly for 12 weeks and were encouraged to talk openly about their concerns and their feelings. The objectives were to build mutual support and to guide women in expressing a wide range of both difficult and positive emotions, rather than suppressing or repressing them.

The participants randomly placed in the control group attended one, six-hour stress management seminar.

All study participants had their blood analysed and telomere length measured before and after the interventions.

Scientists have shown a short-term effect of these interventions on telomere length compared to a control group, but it’s not known if the effects are lasting. Dr. Carlson says another avenue for further research is to see if the psychosocial interventions have a positive impact beyond the three months of the study period.

Allison McPherson was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. When she joined the study, she was placed in the mindfulness-based cancer recovery group. Today, she says that experience has been life-changing.

“I was skeptical at first and thought it was a bunch of hocus-pocus,” says McPherson, who underwent a full year of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries. “But I now practise mindfulness throughout the day and it’s reminded me to become less reactive and kinder toward myself and others.”

Study participant Deanne David was also placed in the mindfulness group. “Being part of this made a huge difference to me,” she says. “I think people involved in their own cancer journey would benefit from learning more about mindfulness and connecting with others who are going through the same things.”

Source - See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/mind-body-connection-clear-new-evidence/mindfulness/#sthash.QsMH8mC0.dpuf

Fibromyalgia patients may benefit from aquatic exercise

Posted on November 3, 2014 by Stone Hearth News

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Oct 28;10:CD011336. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011336. Aquatic exercise training for fibromyalgia. Bidonde J1, Busch AJ, Webber SC, Schachter CL, Danyliw A, Overend TJ, Richards RS, Rader T. Author information 1Community Health & Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan, 107 Wiggins Rd, Saskatoon, SK, Canada, S7N 5E5.


Exercise training is commonly recommended for individuals with fibromyalgia. This review examined the effects of supervised group aquatic training programs (led by an instructor). We defined aquatic training as exercising in a pool while standing at waist, chest, or shoulder depth. This review is part of the update of the ‘Exercise for treating fibromyalgia syndrome’ review first published in 2002, and previously updated in 2007.

The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the benefits and harms of aquatic exercise training in adults with fibromyalgia.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched The Cochrane Library 2013, Issue 2 (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Health Technology Assessment Database, NHS Economic Evaluation Database), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PEDro, Dissertation Abstracts, WHO international Clinical Trials Registry Platform, and AMED, as well as other sources (i.e., reference lists from key journals, identified articles, meta-analyses, and reviews of all types of treatment for fibromyalgia) from inception to October 2013. Using Cochrane methods, we screened citations, abstracts, and full-text articles. Subsequently, we identified aquatic exercise training studies.

Selection criteria were: a) full-text publication of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in adults diagnosed with fibromyalgia based on published criteria, and b) between-group data for an aquatic intervention and a control or other intervention. We excluded studies if exercise in water was less than 50% of the full intervention.

We independently assessed risk of bias and extracted data (24 outcomes), of which we designated seven as major outcomes: multidimensional function, self reported physical function, pain, stiffness, muscle strength, submaximal cardiorespiratory function, withdrawal rates and adverse effects. We resolved discordance through discussion. We evaluated interventions using mean differences (MD) or standardized mean differences (SMD) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). Where two or more studies provided data for an outcome, we carried out meta-analysis. In addition, we set and used a 15% threshold for calculation of clinically relevant differences.


We included 16 aquatic exercise training studies (N = 881; 866 women and 15 men). Nine studies compared aquatic exercise to control, five studies compared aquatic to land-based exercise, and two compared aquatic exercise to a different aquatic exercise program.We rated the risk of bias related to random sequence generation (selection bias), incomplete outcome data (attrition bias), selective reporting (reporting bias), blinding of outcome assessors (detection bias), and other bias as low. We rated blinding of participants and personnel (selection and performance bias) and allocation concealment (selection bias) as low risk and unclear. The assessment of the evidence showed limitations related to imprecision, high statistical heterogeneity, and wide confidence intervals.

Aquatic versus control.

We found statistically significant improvements (P value < 0.05) in all of the major outcomes. Based on a 100-point scale, multidimensional function improved by six units (MD -5.97, 95% CI -9.06 to -2.88; number needed to treat (NNT) 5, 95% CI 3 to 9), self reported physical function by four units (MD -4.35, 95% CI -7.77 to -0.94; NNT 6, 95% CI 3 to 22), pain by seven units (MD -6.59, 95% CI -10.71 to -2.48; NNT 5, 95% CI 3 to 8), and stiffness by 18 units (MD -18.34, 95% CI -35.75 to -0.93; NNT 3, 95% CI 2 to 24) more in the aquatic than the control groups. The SMD for muscle strength as measured by knee extension and hand grip was 0.63 standard deviations higher compared to the control group (SMD 0.63, 95% CI 0.20 to 1.05; NNT 4, 95% CI 3 to 12) and cardiovascular submaximal function improved by 37 meters on six-minute walk test (95% CI 4.14 to 69.92). Only two major outcomes, stiffness and muscle strength, met the 15% threshold for clinical relevance (improved by 27% and 37% respectively). Withdrawals were similar in the aquatic and control groups and adverse effects were poorly reported, with no serious adverse effects reported.

Aquatic versus land-based

There were no statistically significant differences between interventions for multidimensional function, self reported physical function, pain or stiffness: 0.91 units (95% CI -4.01 to 5.83), -5.85 units (95% CI -12.33 to 0.63), -0.75 units (95% CI -10.72 to 9.23), and two units (95% CI -8.88 to 1.28) respectively (all based on a 100-point scale), or in submaximal cardiorespiratory function (three seconds on a 100-meter walk test, 95% CI -1.77 to 7.77). We found a statistically significant difference between interventions for strength, favoring land-based training (2.40 kilo pascals grip strength, 95% CI 4.52 to 0.28). None of the outcomes in the aquatic versus land comparison reached clinically relevant differences of 15%. Withdrawals were similar in the aquatic and land groups and adverse effects were poorly reported, with no serious adverse effects in either group. Aquatic versus aquatic (Ai Chi versus stretching in the water, exercise in pool water versus exercise in sea water)Among the major outcomes the only statistically significant difference between interventions was for stiffness, favoring Ai Chi (1.00 on a 100-point scale, 95% CI 0.31 to 1.69).


Low to moderate quality evidence relative to control suggests that aquatic training is beneficial for improving wellness, symptoms, and fitness in adults with fibromyalgia. Very low to low quality evidence suggests that there are benefits of aquatic and land-based exercise, except in muscle strength (very low quality evidence favoring land). No serious adverse effects were reported.

Source - See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/fibromyalgia-patients-may-benefit-aquatic-exercise/fibromyalgia/#sthash.tPta7eR3.dpuf

Thursday, October 23, 2014

5 Nutrition, Exercise Habits That Will Actually Change Your Life for the Better


Most comprehensive weight-loss programs work. Most comprehensive fitness programs work. The problem doesn’t lie with the programs–the problem lies in the fact those programs require such major changes to our daily activities and lifestyles. It’s impossible to make every change overnight. So when you miss a workout or screw up a meal it starts to feel like you’re failing completely.
And soon our comprehensive program is in tatters and we think, “If I can’t do it all, there’s no sense doing any of it.”
So we quit.
Here’s a better approach. Don’t immediately go all in. Don’t waste your time adopting the latest trendy diet or the current fitness fad. No matter how incredible the program, go all in and you’re incredibly unlikely to stick with it.
Instead, just start with making a few simple changes to your day. You’ll lose a little weight, feel a little better, and then find it a lot easier to incorporate a few more healthy habits into your routine.
Building slowly over time will help you create a new lifestyle–in a relatively painless way–that you will be able to stick with.
So for now just make these five changes:
1. Drink a glass of water before every meal.
Everyone needs to drink more water. That’s a given. Plus when you drink a glass of water before you eat you’ll already feel a little more full and won’t be as tempted to eat past the point of hunger. More

- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/5-nutrition-exercise-habits-will-actually-change-life-better/benefits-exercise/#sthash.1YYdmCSo.dpuf

Later sunsets increase children’s activity levels

Posted on October 23, 2014 by Stone Hearth News

 Moving the clocks forward by one extra hour all year in the UK could lead to children getting more exercise every day, say researchers.

Their study of 23,000 children found that daily activity levels were 15% to 20% higher on summer days than winter days.

The UK research team said increasing waking daylight hours would have a worthwhile benefit on public health.

The clocks are set to go back by one hour this weekend across the UK. This will result in darker afternoons and fewer hours of daylight after children finish school.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Bristol analysed the activity levels of this large group of children aged five to 16 years old in nine countries, including England and Australia.

All the children wore accelerometers or electronic devices around their waists that measured body movement.

The results, published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, suggest that longer evening daylight can help keep children active for longer.

Proposals to shift the clocks forward by one additional hour for the whole year and not move them back in October, have been debated in parliament at various times over the years, but never been made law.

More Follow these topics: Circadian Rhythms, Daylight Saving Time, Public Health

- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/later-sunsets-increase-childrens-activity-levels/circadian-rhythms/#sthash.kdJmKM0f.dpuf

Tai Chi may favorably affect the inflammatory system


A randomized controlled trial published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics indicates effects of a medictation technique, Tai Chi, on the inflammatory system. In older adults high levels of loneliness and/or psychological stress are associated with nuclear factor (NF)-κB increased activity. NF-κB controls the expression of genes that code for multiple inflammatory cytokines, and stress activation of the sympathetic nervous system stimulates NF-κB. Tai Chi Chih (TCC), a multidimensional behavioral therapy that integrates moderate physical activity, deep breathing and meditation to promote regulation of emotional and affective responses to stress, is thought to act on stress response pathways reducing markers of inflammation and the expression of genes bearing NF-κB response elements.
Authors hypothesized that TCC would reduce stress and slow the rate of increase in NF-κB levels in lonely older adults, as compared to those who receive a stress and health education (SHE) intervention. Twenty-six older adults (≥60 years), naïve to Tai Chi, who scored ≥40 on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, participated in this study. Participants were computer randomized 1:1 to a 12-week group-based program delivered weekly in 2-hour sessions. At both pre- and postintervention visits, psychological stress (14-item Perceived Stress Scale, PSS) and NF-κB were assessed. Blood was collected between 8 and 11 a.m. by an indwelling venous catheter, placed in heparinized vacutainer tubes and processed for peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
Findings showed that lonely older adults who received the health education intervention, did not report a decrease in levels of psychological stress. Moreover, these elderly showed significant increases in nuclear levels of activated NF-κB from pre- to post-intervention. Conversely, among lonely older adults who received TCC, psychological stress decreased, while NF-κB levels remained constant. Further, change in psychological stress was correlated with change in NF-κB activation from pre- to post-intervention examinations, which together suggests that treatment-induced reduction in stress may attenuate increases in NF-κB activation. Source
  See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/tai-chi-may-favorably-affect-inflammatory-system/inflammation/#sthash.wm6kQ2ua.dpuf

If your interested in learning more about Tai Chi please feel free to contact our resident acupuncturist and Tai Chi instructor, Stacy Moon. http://www.brooklynchiropractor.net/acupuncture/

Beetroot benefits athletes, heart patients: Kansas State U research


Newswise — MANHATTAN, Kansas — Football teams are claiming it improves their athletic performance, and according to new research from Kansas State University, it also benefits heart failure patients. The special ingredient: beetroot.
Recently, the Auburn University football team revealed its pregame ritual of taking beetroot concentrate, or beet juice, before each game. The juice may have contributed to the team’s recent winning season — and one exercise physiologist who has been studying the supplement for several years says that may be the case.
“Our research, published in the journal Physiology in 2013, has shown that the nitrate found in beetroot concentrate increases blood flow to skeletal muscles during exercise,” said David Poole, professor of exercise kinesiology and anatomy and physiology at Kansas State University. The journal Physiology is widely regarded as the world’s premiere physiology journal.
The researchers’ latest study, “Microvascular oxygen pressures in muscles comprised of different fiber types: Impact of dietary nitrate supplementation,” was published in the Journal of Nitric Oxide, Biology and Chemistry. This work provides the basis for how beetroot juice may benefit football players by preferentially increasing blood flow to fast-twitch muscle fibers — the ones used for explosive running. This work was performed by Poole; Scott Ferguson, doctoral student in anatomy and physiology; and Timothy Musch, professor of exercise kinesiology and anatomy and physiology, all at Kansas State University.
In addition to improving athletic performance, the research also found that beetroot juice can improve the quality of life for heart failure patients.
“Remember, for every one football player in the United States, there are many thousands of heart failure patients that would benefit from this therapy,” Poole said. “It’s a big deal because even if you can only increase oxygen delivery by 10 percent, that can be the difference between a patient being wheelchair-bound versus getting up and walking around and interacting with his or her family.”
The benefits of beetroot come from the nitrate found within it. The amount of nitrate in one 70-milliliter bottle of beetroot juice is about the same amount found in 100 grams of spinach.
“When consumed, nitrate is reduced in the mouth by bacteria into nitrite,” Ferguson said. “The nitrite is swallowed again and then reduced to nitric oxide, which is a potent vasodilator. The nitric oxide dilates the blood vessels, similar to turning on a water faucet, and allows blood to go where it needs to go.”
The beetroot juice consumption resulted in a 38 percent higher blood flow to the skeletal muscles during exercise and was preferential to the less-oxygenated, fast-twitch muscles.
“Heart failure is a disease where oxygen delivery to particular tissues, especially working skeletal muscles, is impaired, decreasing the capacity to move the arms or legs and be physically active,” Poole said. “The best therapy for these patients is getting up and moving around. However, that is often difficult. Increasing the oxygen delivery to these muscles through beetroot can provide a therapeutic avenue to improve the quality of life for these patients.”
Clinical trials are currently underway.
The researchers are collaborating with Andrew Jones, professor of applied physiology at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/beetroot-benefits-athletes-heart-patients-kansas-state-u-research/nutrition-is-medicine/#sthash.0OTyEZ3w.dpuf

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chronic Lower Back Pain Relief Via Body Mechanics: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center


Newswise — WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Oct. 6, 2014 – If you want to steer clear of lower back pain, remember this: Arch is good, flat is bad.
Back pain is anything but rare; only headaches and colds are more common. According to the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, Americans spend more than $50 billion each year on lower back pain, which is the No. 1 cause of job-related disability in the country and one of the leading contributors to missed time from work.
There’s acute lower back pain, sometimes intense but generally short-lived discomfort resulting from injury to the lower back incurred during sustained physical activity (playing sports, doing yard work) or by a sudden jolt (being in a vehicle collision).
But it’s chronic lower back pain, the kind that lasts for more than three months, that is more debilitating and more difficult to treat.
Much of that chronic pain is caused by damage to the discs – the spongy, multi-function structures that lie between the spine’s vertebrae – in the lower part of the back right above the pelvis known as the lumbar region. And much of that damage is caused by poor body mechanics – the way people stand, walk, lift, carry, reach, bend, sit and sleep – in which the back is too often flat, not arched.
“The key to avoiding lower back pain is keeping pressure off your lower lumbar discs,” said Tadhg O’Gara, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. “That means keeping an arch to your lower back.”
The intervertebral discs, essentially the spine’s shock absorbers, are under constant pressure, especially in the lower back, which supports the weight of the upper body. The five vertebrae in the lumbar region are naturally arched toward the front of the body, so bending forward compresses the front of these disks, which over time can force them out of position to press on one or more of the nerves emanating from the spinal cord. This condition – known as a bulging, herniated or ruptured disc – can cause pain in the lower back and elsewhere, especially the buttocks, thighs and even below the knee (sciatica). And that pain can be severe.
“People who haven’t had lower back pain don’t realize how painful it is,” O’Gara said. “And many health care providers don’t realize how painful it is.”
So how is chronic lower back pain treated?
“The first thing to figure out is what exactly is causing the pain, because that determines what approach to take with treatment,” said Kristopher Karvelas, M.D., assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Wake Forest Baptist. “That’s not always easy. Pain is usually related to the discs, but other causes of low back pain have overlapping symptoms and pain patterns.”
Basic diagnostic methods include physical examination, review of the patient’s medical history and patient descriptions of the onset, location, severity and duration of the pain and of any limitations in movement. Imaging techniques such as X-rays, MRI and CT scans also can be employed to pinpoint the source of pain.
Once the reason behind the pain is determined, the most frequently prescribed treatment is physical therapy, not surgery.
“I typically reserve surgery for patients who have a medical need other than pain,” Karvelas said. “There’s a large toolbox that we can go to for patients, and surgery is the last tool.”
Depending on the individual patient’s condition, physical therapy programs usually include exercises designed to strengthen back and abdominal muscles and to promote proper posture and balance. These can include stretching, swimming, walking and even yoga. But education also is a key element.
“Patients need to recognize that posture and activity are crucial in relieving and preventing back pain,” Karvelas said. “They need to learn what exercises to do on their own and how to do them properly to prevent future flare-ups.
“We can help resolve acute back pain episodes, but when we are talking about chronic back pain, the pain may never resolve completely. However, we do use a team approach to treat patients and teach people how to cope with their pain effectively.”
- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/chronic-lower-back-pain-relief-via-body-mechanics-wake-forest-baptist-medical-center/back-pain/#sthash.NB01H3fg.dpuf