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Cold and flu season is upon us, and oh yeah, let’s not forget the elephant in the room, the PANDEMIC. With all of these seasonal and circumstantial immune system “villains,” it is essential to remember that there are plenty of simple steps we can take to improve our health and wellbeing. Health does not need to be reactionary. Quite on the contrary. If you can learn how to boost your immune system, you may stay ahead of any ailments that come your way. In this article, you will learn about our favorite immune-boosting foods, as well as other immune-boosting supplements and habits. 

With the current state of affairs, vocabulary words, such as “vaccinations,” have become extremely common. The ICU bed counts in every city are being blasted everywhere and are hard to avoid. Culturally, we are experiencing tragedy, anxiety, and mourning like never before. While science and the medical field at large are of the utmost importance in times like these, we must not forget that we were born with an incredible and sophisticated system to combat many things that may attack our health. Our immune systems are, by design, our body’s first line of defense. We each have the ability to strengthen our personal health with these top five immune-boosting tips.

1. Trade happy hour for a session at the gym.

Let’s face it. Alcohol has a way of taking the edge off some of the panic and anxiety we all may feel. Beyond that, it has a prominent place in our social structure. During the holidays, we drink. During birthdays, we drink. During social or work outings, we drink. The thing is, alcohol suppresses your immune functions. According to the US National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health), alcohol disrupts immune pathways in complex ways. “These disruptions can impair the body’s ability to defend against infection, contribute to organ damage, and impede recovery from tissue injury.”

So, the key to this immune-boosting tip is to drink in moderation. Make sure you stay hydrated, especially when drinking. Make a conscious effort to consume a full glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink.

2. Exercise often and maintain a healthy weight. 

Another way to boost your immune system is to exercise and stay active. When you increase your heart rate, you also increase blood flow to your organs, connective tissue, and lymph nodes. All of this helps your body to rid itself of toxins, flushing them out of your system and allowing new nutrients and oxygen to take their place. 

When you let your weight get out of hand, more goes downhill than your existing wardrobe. Your immune system will also take a hit. According to the National Library of Medicine (National Center for Biotechnology Information), obesity (like other states of malnutrition) alters your leucocyte counts, as well as cell-mediated immune responses. Also, evidence has arisen that an altered immune function contributes to the pathogenesis of obesity. This may be a “chicken or the egg” scenario. The bottom line is, do your best to stay in shape so that your immune system stays healthy. 

3. Commit to getting enough sleep every night. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that sleep has a powerful effect on immune system functionality. In fact, restricted sleep can lead to various disorders, including but not limited to inflammatory cytokines and a higher risk for infection. No thanks! 

In these crazy times (and every year during cold and flu season), it is vital to let your body rest and recharge. Create a bedtime routine to promote a restful night of sleep. This can be done in several ways, but firstly, minimize screen time before bed. That blue light emitted from your cell phone can make it much harder for you to fall asleep and can also cause interruptions throughout the night. 

Related:
The Importance of a Strong Immune System

Perhaps before bed, set aside some time (even 20 or 30 minutes) to meditate or reflect in a journal. Let your mind unwind in preparation for rest and relaxation. Perhaps use essential oils in a diffuser to help create a peaceful environment in your bedroom. Lavender is an excellent choice for promoting sleep.

4. May thy food be thy medicine. 

One of the most important and powerful immune boosters is the food you eat. Historically, humans (and all creatures in nature) ate to fuel their bodies and as a means of survival. The development of eating for pleasure or entertainment is a relatively new phenomenon in the grand scheme of the world’s history. While it is fun and convenient, our bodies may pay the price. 

As a culture, we (voluntarily) consume more chemicals and preservatives than the human body was ever designed to handle. We also overconsume calories because eating is as easy as a walk to the fridge, or at worst, a trip to the store. These habits are a detriment to your immune system. Instead, it would be best if you focused on eating as many whole foods as possible, with a particular focus on produce. Produce is loaded with vitamins and minerals (especially leafy greens – the darker, the better). Also, add as many immune-boosting foods (such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, and citrus) to your diet as possible. 

5. Stop smoking. 

One of the worst things you can do for your immune system (and health in general) is to smoke cigarettes. These nasty, cancer-causing little devils greatly suppress your immune system. They make it difficult for your lungs to do their extremely important job. On top of that, they suppress your appetite and may induce cravings for junk foods. If these reasons are not enough to convince you, cigarettes also cause a greater susceptibility to infections (like the flu and pneumonia) and lower your levels of antioxidants (such as vitamin C) in your bloodstream. 

And finally, don’t forget to wear your mask! While mask-wearing is not technically “immune-boosting,” it will help decrease your risk of being exposed to germs that may lead to sickness. In times like this, play it safe!


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While an injury may bench you from certain athletic activities, there are many low impact workouts and exercises that can keep you in shape and help speed up your recovery. If you are wondering how to speed up your ACL or hamstring injury recovery time, we are here to tell you that many of the exercises you likely already enjoy fall into the category of low impact exercises! Also, make no mistake, low impact does NOT mean easy. 

Suffering an injury can be an athlete’s worst nightmare. Training in the COVID-19 era, after several months of lockdowns and interruptions to our everyday lives, has left many with a higher propensity to get hurt. The more we stay put and the more we sit, the less we elevate our heart rate. The less blood flow we have to our joints, the more likely we are to get injured. No matter what level of pandemic restrictions are in place where you reside, make sure you dedicate time every day (and every hour, if possible) to move your body around. This will not only help you to stay in shape but will also help keep your joints healthy.

WHAT IS A LOW IMPACT WORKOUT?

To understand the benefits of low impact exercises, you must first know what they are. Low impact neither refers to how little your waistline is impacted nor how much muscle mass is gained. Phew! What a relief! So, where, then, is impact minimized?

Your joints! You can see all of the results that you usually see from exercising without the abuse and wear and tear on your body. Let’s face it, without healthy and fully functioning joints, you are going to be warming that bench indefinitely!

Joints get worn out both by overuse and as a natural part of aging. In ideal circumstances, all of the tissue that is damaged within a joint will naturally regenerate. Suppose you are an avid athlete with a training focus geared toward one sport (for example, a pitcher for a baseball team). In that case, you may experience pain, injury, or deterioration in your elbow joint. If you continue to train, even when the tissue has depleted, it will not have proper time to regenerate. Similarly, as we age, that very same tissue begins to wear down naturally and takes longer to heal and replenish. This is why you should cross-train with low impact exercises and give your joints a break so that they can recover.

So, without further adieu, our top three low impact workouts to help keep you in shape and for injury recovery and rehabilitation are yoga, swimming, and cycling. All three are excellent exercises to get your blood pumping without exerting much force on any of your joints. Read on to learn why we chose each of the three and how they can aid your road to injury recovery.

YOGA

Yoga is at the top of the list because who, especially in 2020, doesn’t love an exercise that also eases your anxiety? #amirite?? With yoga, you can improve both your physical and your mental well-being. By intentionally pairing your breath with your movement, you will increase your blood flow to your joints, which will help in the healing effort of any injury you may have.

Yoga is also a great way to target, activate, and workout your stabilizer muscle groups, which don’t typically get a ton of use otherwise. Your stabilizers offer a tremendous amount of support to all of your joints, so this may help you avoid injury in high impact sports.

You may also find that yoga can improve your flexibility and overall sense of well-being. While it may seem a bit “woo woo” for some, we are willing to bet that most serious athletes would find yoga to be far more challenging than expected. It is a great, low-impact way to stay in shape while you are rehabilitating any injury. An hour of yoga burns roughly 400 calories. If you are into hot yoga, that number can increase or even double.

Related: 

Yoga Physical Therapy: Healing From Within

SWIMMING

Another tremendous low-impact cardio workout is swimming. Exercising in water is fantastic because it not only provides resistance, helping you to build up muscle mass, but it also allows your motions to be fluid and weightless. This helps remove the impact from your joints. Imagine running on pavement. When your foot hits the ground with force, that sends a pressure shockwave through your foot, ankle, knee, and hip joints. That source of pressure can be damaging over time and can worsen an existing injury.

Now imagine swimming laps. You are kicking both legs repeatedly while your arms fluidly glide through the resistance that water provides. You are breathing heavily, in rhythm from side to side. All of this is increasing your heart rate, building muscle mass, and burning fat. Swimming is an excellent low impact workout to get yourself in shape! It is a full-body workout and can burn up to 700 calories in an hour.

CYCLING

While we are on the topic of gliding, cycling offers a similar low-impact exercise experience. Because the pedals move continuously on a circular track, your ankle, knee, and hip joints will experience a fluid range of motion. There is no forceful interruption of movement.

If you have ever ridden a bicycle uphill, you already know that cycling can be one of the most challenging cardio exercises out there. Propelling your entire body’s weight forward, plus the weight of your bicycle, will have you winded in no time. Plus, with the many resistance levels that bikes can offer, you will likely find that cycling builds muscle mass in the booty and legs very quickly. Unlike doing squats, which may strain your ankle, knee, and hip joints, cycling will keep the pressure off so that you can see results without experiencing pain. An hour of cycling can burn anywhere from 600 to 750 calories.


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December 11, 2020 Health & Wellness0

When Beyonce came out with the catchy pop tune, “Flawless,” it was impossible to escape teenage girls and Instagram models alike chanting the anthem, “I woke up like this!” Of course, Beyonce was not talking about waking up with an aching back. Experiencing pain as your first sensation of the day is neither glamourous nor #flawless. Welcome to adulthood, where the risk of injury in your sleep is all too real, and the sensations of aches and pains are inevitable. So, why does your back ache in the morning? We have a few ideas and insights that may help you target the cause of this common ailment. Read on to learn about four reasons why your back hurts in the morning and why you may be chanting your own agonizing version of #iwokeuplikethis. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 25% of adults have reported acute low back pain (LBP) in the past three months. That is one-quarter of our entire adult population that is suffering from back pain! The good news is that acute back pain is often defined as lasting less than four weeks, so it is not necessarily a permanent condition. The bad news is that almost 14% of insured patients who sought low back pain care were prescribed opiates, despite an overall lack of evidence to support their efficacy. Opiates are extremely addictive and can cause much more harm overall than a backache.

Related:
Treating Pain Without Pharmaceuticals

If you are among the mass population living with symptoms of morning backaches and pains, you may want to consider some alternative care treatments, such as Yoga Physical Therapy and/or Photobiomodulation Therapy. If you are in the greater Boston Metro area, contact LCG Boston to schedule an in-home or virtual session. We have many options to fit your unique needs. If you would like to personally troubleshoot the source of your back pain, we have listed four common causes below.

Common Causes of Back Pain

1. OLD OR POOR-QUALITY MATTRESS

Mattresses are not designed to last forever. In fact, the average lifespan of a mattress should not exceed seven to ten years, and that is pushing it. Aside from age, additional signs of a bad mattress are sagging, deep grooves or indentations, stains and smells that cannot be removed, bed bug infestations, lumps or bumps, allergens or asthma, squeaks and creaks, and aches or discomfort.

Luckily, mattresses are much less expensive than they once were. On top of that, many companies have shifted to the bed-in-a-box model to add to the convenience. In many cases, gone are the days of hiring a moving company to haul your mattress up the stairs to your apartment or room. New technology has enabled a vacuum packing system where an entire mattress can arrive at your doorstep via post. Check out this Zinus mattress on Amazon! For less than $300 (including shipping), you can have a brand new memory foam mattress delivered to your door! These mattresses are designed to sit on a platform, so you can eliminate the expense and hassle of purchasing a box spring. So, go ahead and #treatyoself. 

2. POOR POSTURE WHEN SLEEPING

We get it; it is hard to control your body when you are… well… sleeping. Unfortunately, the way you sleep may impact how you feel when you wake up. Luckily, there are ways to mitigate your posture when you lay down so that you can help your odds of sleeping with proper alignment.

If you are a side (fetal position) sleeper, be sure to place a pillow between your knees when you lay down. This will take the pressure off of your hip joints and sacrum because your knees will be aligned with your hip sockets. If you try it, you will feel an immediate difference and improvement. If you like to sleep on your back, consider placing a pillow underneath your knees. This will neutralize the curvature of your lower spine and increase blood flow to your back. If you prefer to sleep on your stomach, place a thin pillow underneath your stomach to prevent your lower back from collapsing on itself.

Voila! Sometimes all it takes is a pillow in the right place to change your whole life. (You’re welcome.)

3. OSTEOMALACIA (AKA VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY)

Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium. Because of this, a deficiency may be a precursor to arthritis, osteoporosis, or rickets. As you can imagine, this may be the culprit of agonizing and debilitating back pain. Luckily, the solution here is simple! You can take vitamin D supplements, get more sunshine, and incorporate more vitamin D rich foods into your diet. These include salmon, tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms.

4. LACK OF MOVEMENT AND EXERCISE DURING THE DAY

Like the Beastie Boys say, get your “body movin’!” If you are sedentary all day long, specifically if you are glued to a phone or computer all day, you will not get much blood flow to your spine. “Now, let me get some action from the back section!” Because if you don’t, you may wake up thinking, “hello, nasty.” (See what we did there?)

We get it. We are in the middle of a pandemic and have been told to stay home. This means that screen time has gone through the roof for most of us. For your health, safety, and sanity, make sure that doesn’t translate to staying still on the couch all day long. The change from a brick and mortar workplace to a home office (read: sofa or recliner) may also mean a change from a swanky, ergonomic office chair to slouching in your pajamas all day. This has an inevitable and negative impact on your posture, quality of sleep, and overall health. Make sure to take a break at least every hour to move around. Do some yoga (Cat-Cow is great for the spine) or take a walk.

If you are interested in meeting with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy to discuss any back pain you may be experiencing, you can book an appointment here!


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December 4, 2020 Health & Wellness0

Did you know that strength training is crucial for runners and cardio enthusiasts? That’s right! To optimize your athletic performance (hello, improved race times!), mitigate injury, and strengthen your joints and muscles, you can’t rely on cardio alone. Resistance training is especially important for runners. In fact, we will go as far as to say that strength training is as important as cardiovascular exercise for distance runners. In this article, we will explain the why and how of incorporating strength training into your routine. 

Why is Strength Training Important?

Most avid runners are mainly concerned with endurance and speed. It is not so often that you will hear of a group of track stars comparing six-packs, bragging to their friends about “getting yoked,” or flexing their guns for fame. That is largely because the runner bod is typically leaner due to long-term movements with a higher quantity of less-impactful reps (i.e., running). Over time, however, too much focus on cardio, without any focus on strength training, can lead to depletion of muscle mass and connective tissue and loss of flexibility. This will lead any athlete toward a greater propensity for getting injured.

For runners, strength training is an imperative counterpart to decrease the risk of injury and improve performance. For example, with weight training, your body will actually build muscle mass. The appeal of cardio exercise for many is that you will burn fat and lose weight. That is true, but what is also true is that you can deplete your muscle mass. Here is the kicker with all of that jazz:

The more muscle mass your body has, the more calories you will burn.

Read that again. Have you ever heard of the term “skinny fat?” If you haven’t, it describes slender people (like, they look great in their clothes) who are soft because they have no muscle and lack strength. If you only focus on cardio, you may end up “skinny fat.” While the importance of strength training exceeds your reflection in the mirror, it will help that too. The notion that to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume is nothing new. The more muscle mass your body contains, the more calories you will burn.

One of the other benefits of strength training for runners is a boost for your metabolic rate. This is because during your recovery period after finishing your workout, strength training demands a higher level of post-exercise oxygen consumption. This essentially means that the amount of energy needed to return your body to a resting state after lifting weights (or any other strength-building exercise) is much more work than doing the same post-cardio. In turn, your resting metabolic rate (MRM) will be boosted for more than an entire day after strength training!

Resistance training for runners can also lead to increased bone density, healthier heart functionality, and better blood flow. All of the connective tissue in your joints will benefit from the fresh influx of blood, which will greatly reduce your chances of injury. Your flexibility may improve as well, since you can focus on training ranges that wouldn’t otherwise be worked, decreasing the gap between active and passive flexibility.

(Related: Four Tips to Improve Flexibility)

The Best Strength Training for Runners

Now that we have covered why strength training is important, let’s move on to incorporating it into your fitness routine and/or athletic training.

Use Your Own Body Weight for Resistance!

We have found ourselves in a new situation where going to the gym (if it is even open) poses a considerable health risk for ourselves and others. The good news is that you don’t need gym access to change up your training routine. Your own body weight can be used to strengthen and build muscle mass. Don’t believe it? Look at the aerialists and acrobats in Cirque Du Soleil! There is a sizable range of challenging exercises that can be performed without the use of any equipment. You can work your major muscle groups and your stabilizers (which will help you in your battle against injury).

Consider holding planks

You can gradually increase your hold time as you get stronger. You can also add in side planks to work your obliques. (Always make sure to work both sides evenly.) You can also do lunges. If you really want to feel the burn, maintain a squat with your back up against a wall. Hold it for as long as you can and keep adding time as you get stronger. Another full-body equipment-free favorite is “air swimming.” Lay on your stomach with arms and legs fully extended, pulse your hands and feet up as high as possible, and back down to a hover above the ground. Repeat as many micro pulses as possible. You will surely feel the burn!

Incorporate a medicine ball into your workouts.

Another perfect home-gym option is the medicine ball. If you want to get started with strength and resistance training, but you aren’t too keen on bench presses, weightlifting, and the otherwise iconic, “macho” gym feats, a medicine ball is a perfect starting point. It isn’t intimidating or fussy (there are no bolts, gadgets, or know-how as far as equipment features are concerned). Plus, it can be incorporated into exercises that you probably already know and practice in your running warm-ups.

The other reason why we love the medicine ball is that it is so diverse. You can use it for exercises that require lifting, pushing, and isometrics. One of our favorite medicine ball exercises is reps of lunges with a twist while holding the ball. We also love medicine ball push-ups, which can be done by placing the ball underneath your hands with your body in a plank position. From there, execute push-ups as usual. You will not only be targeting all of the typical muscle groups used in standard push-ups but also all of the stabilizers that are keeping you from rolling off of the ball. The best part of the medicine ball is that it is just a weighted ball! It is simple, and there are no rules. Pick it up. Put it down. Move it around. Really, any way that you can think of manipulating it is going to build strength. Typically, medicine balls come in sets of different weights, so choose your own adventure!

 


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October 23, 2020 FitnessHealth & Wellness0

Brrrr! The temperatures have recently dropped, and Baby, it’s cold outside! And you know what that means… The holiday season is on the horizon! You know what they say about gift shopping. The early bird catches the worm! (Or in this case, the better prices.) Folks, it is time to start making your list and checking it twice. After the recent lockdown, the general consensus is that mayyyyybe it is time to hit the gym a little harder, the kitchen a little lighter, and bounce back from the quarantine-fifteen (or twenty…okay, or thirty.) Not to worry! We’ve got you! Read on for our top health-related gifts and gifts for fitness.

1. Bluetooth Headphones

Let’s face it, having to navigate a workout is hard enough on its own. Add in the complication of wires strewn about your body when you are trying to move and all chaos breaks loose! Thankfully the technology gods have risen to the occasion and brought us Bluetooth headphones! Check out one of the best gifts for fitness lovers, this wireless, noise-canceling Jabra Elite 85h headset. One of its greatest features is the nano-coating, water resistant technology to wick away sweat and water. The material on your head will feel like cloth (instead of plastic) for ultimate comfort.

On top of that, these bad boys feature an automatic ear detection sensor, so when you remove the headphones your music will pause automatically. They are also capable of pairing with two devices at the same time, so you can listen to music without worrying about missing call or message notifications during a lunch hour workout. The battery life totally rocks! With just fifteen minutes of charging, you can yield a whopping five hours of playback time! Not bad!

2. LCG Gift Card

Give the gift of long-term health this holiday season! If your loved one lives in or frequents the Boston area, they are going to love a contribution to their health and wellness efforts in the form of an LCG gift card! Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure, where the outcome is a combination of healing, longevity, and recovery. Your gift recipient can apply the card balance to Physical Therapy or Yoga Physical Therapy, or any of our alternative wellness & recovery services. These include Assisted Stretch, Strength & Conditioning, Golf Assessment & Mobility, Percussion Massage Therapy, NormaTec Compression Therapy, Photobiomodulation Therapy, and Dry Needling.

Related:
The Benefits of NormaTec Therapy

3. Personal Blender

The fitness-lover in your life will love having their own, single-serving blender. We like this Oster BLSTPB-WBL My Blend. Millennials have replaced “forty ounces of freedom” with 20 ounces of convenience. Health and fitness have never been more trendy with the 25 to 40-year-old crowd. Nothing beats a tool that allows you to prep breakfast for the next day and leave it in the fridge. The next morning, you can just blend and go. The blender is capable of crushing ice (with its whopping 250 blending watts of power.) The bottle itself is dishwasher safe, since it is stainless steel (BPA? No, thank you!) The bottle also comes with a shaker ball so if you are in a serious rush and only wish to mix protein powders or supplements, you can take and shake on the go, making it one of the best health gifts for busy people. For an added bonus, enjoy some delicious smoothie recipes, included in the manual.

4. Body Wipes

If you are looking for the perfect stocking stuffer, look no further! Millennials are busy people who often wear many, many hats. This means that they are very good at cramming a lot in to one day and are often on the go! Sometimes only an hour is allotted for an office lunch break, but a die-hard fitness lover will not let that get in the way of a dedicated work out regiment. With only an hour to break a sweat, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to hit the showers before returning to the office grind. Enter Goodwipes!

As the packaging touts, these are a “shower in a wipe!” Each one is jumbo-sized (9.5” x 11.5”) and individually wrapped so they won’t dry out in the package. They are 100% biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable. The individual wrapper is awesome because you don’t have to carry around a whole pack in your gym bag or purse (unlike their predecessor, baby wipes. Plus, these won’t leave you smelling like you just had your diaper changed.) Each pack comes with ten wipes so you can divide them into in-case-of-emergency places (i.e. glove box, gym bag, purse, office desk, etc.) Not only are they great for the gym and quick workouts, but they can also be a saving grace for camping, between flights, or music festivals (if those ever happen again….Thanks, Corona!)

5. Veggie Spiralizer

If you haven’t heard, the low carb, gluten-free, and Paleo lifestyles are trending hard right now! In the name of weight loss, better skin and gut health, and more energy, lots of people are swapping out traditional dishes for their low carb counterparts. For example, “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) have become a popular substitute for spaghetti. So much so, that they can be found already prepped in the produce aisle or frozen section of most grocery stores these days.

The thing about buying the pre-made version is that zucchini and other veggies lose their structural integrity and texture very fast when stripped of their protective skin. Not to mention that prepped food is almost always more expensive than making it yourself. To combat the case of the soggy zoodles, we recommend gifting your health-nut this Brieftons 5-Blade Spiralizer. This puppy can handle more than zucchini (try sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and even beets!) The whole, “eat the rainbow” adage is decades old. What better way than to recreate traditional pasta dishes with all sorts of mineral-rich vegetables? This particular spiralizer comes with attachments to cut five different varieties of “pasta.” (It includes a flat blade as well as a blade for angel hair, spaghetti, fettuccine, and pappardelle.) Plus, it comes with a LIFETIME replacement guarantee. Yes, you read that correctly!

 


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October 9, 2020 Health & Wellness0

Fad diets have dominated the health and wellness industry for decades. By now you have probably heard of them all, from vegan, to keto, to paleo, to the South Beach diet, there seems to be a dietary prescription for weight loss and wellness around every corner. The thing is, all bodies are different. What may work well for one, could potentially do nothing, or worse, even harm another. To believe that diet, weight loss, and wellness are a one-size-fits-all conversation, could be short-sighted and lacking the nuanced needs of each individual. So, why not consider eating for your blood type?

Most blood types emerged as a direct result of environmental and/or evolutionary necessity. Because of this, there are large concentrations of certain blood types in geographic regions. Experts believe that your blood type may be closely related to your body’s ability to metabolize specific types of foods. If you adopt the proper diet for your blood type, you are likely to experience a healthy weight, an increase of energy, mental clarity, and even prevent certain diseases. Read on for dietary tips and lifestyle suggestions for each of the four blood types.

If you are Blood Type A:

A is for apple, artichoke, and arugula! If you are blood type A (positive or negative) you will be nourished the best by a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables. People who are blood type A have been shown to have less stomach acid than people with other blood types. Because of this, meat (especially red meat) may be difficult to digest. Therefore, a mostly-vegetarian diet will be optimal.

Seafood and occasional lean, white meat, such as turkey or chicken will be better for those with this blood type than beef. Tofu and tempeh will be the best consistent sources of protein. Dairy intake should be mostly restricted. Cultured dairy is better than uncultured. People with blood type A will be able to easily digest yogurt, kefir, goat milk products, and select cheeses (such as feta and goat cheese.)

When it comes to healthy fats, most nuts are okay for blood type A. The best and most beneficial nuts for this blood type are peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. For cooking, marinades, and salad dressings, type A folks should stick to flaxseed oil and extra virgin olive oil. Cod liver oil is extremely healthy and can be taken as a supplement.

Blood type A people are more likely to develop cancer and diabetes than other blood types. Routine check-ups and evaluations from a health care provider are recommended.

If you are Blood Type B:

B is for balance. A balanced diet will serve those with type B the best. This blood type first appeared in the Himalayan Highland areas (present-day India and Pakistan). This blood type is actually the rarest in the Western world. Type B makes one very adaptable and apt for a nomadic lifestyle. If this is your blood type, you will benefit the most from a diet rich in produce and most meats, except for chicken and pork. The key for you is to maintain even amounts of nourishment from both the vegetable and animal kingdoms because if your diet ventures too far in either direction, you will potentially fall ill from being out of balance.

As far as health challenges and indications go, those with blood type B tend to produce higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) than those with other blood types. Because of this, blood type B folks have a higher propensity to develop inflammation, and Syndrome X (which may result in chronic viruses such as Lupus, CFS, MS, and autoimmune diseases.) People with blood type B (if adhering to proper diet and exercise regimens) are more apt for physical fitness, and less prone to mental illness. They are also able to adapt to changes in altitude than people with other blood types.

If you are Blood Type AB:

If you are blood type AB, you are the rarest of the bunch! Less than 5% of the population has this blood type. As would be imagined from its title, type AB was developed by consistent mixing of the A and B blood types over several centuries. This is unusual, as every other blood type emerged as an adaptive means of survival, and as a direct response to environment and evolution.

Those with the AB blood type should avoid all alcohol and caffeine. They are more apt than other blood types to suffer from stress and stress-related illnesses. These folks should also avoid all cured and smoked meats. Because they inherited lower than average stomach acidity from their type A predecessors, they too have a proneness for stomach cancer. Luckily, they also inherited the blood type B’s ability to digest meat. They must be mindful of the types of meats they eat. Because of this, people with blood type AB should stick primarily to seafood for their protein intake.

If you are Blood Type O:

People with type O blood are considered the hunter/caveman archetype, making them the complete opposites of those with blood type A. They have much more stomach acid, which enables them to digest meats more easily. If this is your blood type, chances are that your body has an enhanced ability to process the cholesterol in animal products. By now you have probably noticed that for every benefit of each blood type, there is also something that isn’t well-suited. For the folks with blood type O, the latter would be grains and dairy. These should be avoided or completely omitted from the O diet.

If you are blood type O, your most likely health-related issue will be anything that involves inflammation of the joints and tendons. Arthritis is something that you should watch out for. You are likely to enjoy (and be very good at) high-intensity athletic endeavors. Unlike some of your blood type counterparts, you thrive in a competitive, high-risk environment. Because of this and your propensity for inflamed joints, you must take extra precautions during warming up and cooling down. Maintaining flexibility and joint mobility will be important so that you don’t strain or injure yourself.

Related:
Four Tips to Improve Flexibility


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They may look like space boots, but NormaTec devices won’t take you to the moon. They will, however, propel you to a faster warm-up and workout recovery. Compression therapy has been hot in the health and fitness industry for decades. NormaTec compression boots have added a whole new level of sophistication, technology, and science to the age-old compression wear products typically found on the market. Read on to learn more. 

What is NormaTec?

Okay, so far, we know that NormaTec boots look like something that an astronaut would wear and that they are some sort of fancy shmancy compression device. But, what makes them different from a brace or even an Ace Bandage? The answer is a whole lot of technology. But don’t worry, you don’t need to purchase an in-home device to enjoy the many benefits of NormaTec. Treatment sessions are now available at many health groups nationwide, including our own! If you are located in the Boston area, book now.

You are probably wondering, “What does NormaTec do?” The technology we are referring to is compressed air on the interior of the boots. They can be programmed to perform pulse massage patterns up and down your legs, increasing blood flow, improving athletic performance, speeding up recovery after training, and relieving pain. Can your Ace Bandage do that? …We didn’t think so.

Who is NormaTec for?

NormaTec is for anyone who has legs and uses them. Seriously! While this kind of treatment will likely appeal mostly to athletes and those who are physically active, the benefit of NormaTec compression doesn’t end there. Anyone who experiences soreness from working on their feet or standing all day, or anyone prone to inflammation, can find relief in NormaTec recovery. If you work in a production or packaging warehouse, you know what we are talking about. If you work in a restaurant or hospital, running from table to table, patient to patient, you know what we are talking about. If you suffer from lymphedema (AKA chronic swelling), then you definitely know what we are talking about! Luckily, there is a solution.

How does NormaTec Work, and What Are the Benefits?

Sometimes, soreness is the result of the overuse of a muscle or joint. (This is typical in athletes.) Other times, the culprit of pain or fatigue is lactic acid. If we use running as an example, the faster you run, the more lactic acid your body produces and consumes. When you hit your maximum speed or maintain a high speed for too long, your body will produce more lactic acid than it can consume (or “clear”) from your bloodstream. 

In layman’s terms, the acid more or less builds up and gets stuck. This will prevent your muscles from being able to contract fully. When that happens, your mobility is compromised, and you aren’t going to be running anywhere. This affects your speed and your overall performance. When left as is, that build-up of lactic acid will leave you feeling very sore until your body can naturally flush it out. NormaTec treatments will speed up the lactate clearance process, reducing soreness, improving range of motion, and allowing your muscles to, once again, be able to contract fully.

NormaTec can also lower Oxidative Stress. If you aren’t aware, Oxidative Stress occurs when your body has an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals can enter your system from external sources (such as environmental sources, like pollution or radiation). Sometimes they are created internally, either during normal metabolic processes or temporarily during natural immune responses. (In the latter scenario, this usually manifests in inflammation while your body is fighting an illness or infection.) 

Cells in your body naturally produce some of the necessary antioxidants to fight the free radicals in your system. Your diet can also aid in adding antioxidants (and, who doesn’t love blueberries?) If you are not watching what you eat, staying active, or if you are a victim of environmental factors, your balance can quickly get out of whack. Oxidative Stress can contribute to faster aging and many other health complications. Given that the entire West coast has basically been on fire for the past several weeks, creating terrible air quality nationwide (Hello, free radicals. Please be gone now!), we know that some of you really understand what Oxidative Stress feels like. Luckily, another awesome benefit of NormaTec is that it lowers your Oxidative Stress levels.

Another benefit of treatments is an increased level of RPS-6, which is an essential protein for rebuilding and repairing muscles. When you exercise, the fibers in your muscles tear. Your body rebuilds them, and they come back stronger. With added levels of RPS-6, this process can occur much faster. The treatments also increase eNOS, which is a precursor to Nitric oxide. Among other beneficial cell processes, Nitric oxide widens blood vessels (this is known as vasodilation), increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This greatly enhances athletic performance. 

NormaTec Compression Therapy also increases peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator (okay, now say it really fast, five times in a row!) Only joking; it is shortened to PGC1alpha. This plays a key role in regulating cellular energy metabolism, as it participates in the regulation and metabolization of both carbohydrates and lipids. As your PGC1alpha levels rise, you will experience an increase in energy (and, therefore, stronger athletic performance). Users will also experience a thermography impact on the treated and contralateral limb. This is an indicator of improved systematic circulation.

So, what do you say? Is it time to ditch the compression braces and Ace Bandages? Those devices temporarily prevent blood from flowing to a particular area. When they are removed, the blood rushes back to that area, which provides a momentary sensation of relief. With NormaTec boots, the manipulation of blood flow and stimulated response is constant and calculated. The benefits are much greater and longer-lasting.


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September 11, 2020 CancerHealth & Wellness

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. To increase awareness and spread potentially life-saving information, we are going to explain some of the main causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment options for men with Prostate Cancer. Remember that the survival rate for Prostate Cancer is extremely high and that most men who contract it will not die from it. The most important thing to do is to educate yourself and/or the men in your family. Awareness is key! Although it can be scary to undergo screening or to even speak with your doctor about the potential risk of having Prostate Cancer, early detection and treatment have a much more favorable outcome than allowing cancer to progress. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Prostate Cancer is the second most common form of cancer among men in the United States. It is second only to non-melanoma skin cancer and is the fifth leading cause of death worldwide. While it may seem surprising that there are more cases of Prostate Cancer in developed countries, risk factors for the disease include overall health, diet, weight, and exercise. Considering the rate of obesity, the mass consumption of fast food and junk food, and the sedentary lifestyle primarily found in the first world, perhaps the prevalence of Prostate Cancer here isn’t so surprising after all. Genetics also have a heavy hand in determining a person’s potential risk. Studies have shown that men of African descent (in the Americas, the Caribbean, and in Europe) possess a genetic disposition that makes them more prone to both developing prostate cancer, and also at a younger age than men of other races.

What is the Cause of Prostate Cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, “Prostate Cancer is caused by changes in the DNA of a normal prostate cell.” It can be caused by DNA mutations or other changes that can lead to the overgrowth of cells. These changes, or mutations, can be inherited from generation to generation (which causes hereditary cancer), or they can be acquired throughout a man’s lifetime. While certain risk factors, such as age, race, and genetics cannot be controlled or mitigated, there are things that you can do to lower your risk.

In studies conducted by the American Cancer Society, obese and overweight men were found to be at more risk of developing prostate cancer. They are also more prone to develop advanced prostate cancer which patients are less likely to survive. In order to mitigate this risk factor, men are advised to both maintain an adequate amount of physical activity, and to adhere to a healthy diet. Several studies have also linked a higher risk of prostate cancer with over-consumption of dairy products and calcium. It is important to eat a balanced diet, full of nutrient-dense foods, and dietary fiber. Avoid consuming sugars, processed foods, and “empty” calories.

Related:
How to Help the Senior in Your Life Make Healthy Food Choices

Signs & Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Perhaps the scariest thing about Prostate Cancer is that more often than not, it can go completely undetected without a formal screening by a medical professional. For that reason, it is important to talk with your doctor about when and how often you need to be screened. That being said, in the rare cases where symptoms are apparent, they may resemble those of a urinary tract infection (UTI).

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, they may include the following:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night, and sometimes urgently
  • Difficulty starting or holding back urination
  • Weak, dribbling, or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty having an erection
  • A decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Pressure or pain in the rectum
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs.

If you or any of the men in your family are experiencing these symptoms, be sure to speak with your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment of Prostate Cancer can save lives.

Prostate Cancer Treatment

You may be wondering what treatment options are available and what they entail. The treatment and prognosis (AKA, chance of recovery) are dependent upon a few factors. The first determining factor is what stage of cancer the patient is in. Early stages are obviously much easier to treat and eradicate from the body. In cases where the cancerous cells have vastly multiplied and spread to other parts of the body (by way of tissue, the lymph system, or blood), treatment becomes more intense or may not even be possible. Treatment options will also depend on the age of the patient and whether the cancer is a new diagnosis or is recurring. It may be more difficult to treat Prostate Cancer for a second or third time.

The main treatments for Prostate Cancer include surveillance, surgery, radiation therapy or radiopharmaceutical therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or bisphosphonate therapy. The proper mode of treatment will be determined by a healthcare professional and will depend on the patient’s specific set of circumstances. Clinical trials for new treatments are underway. They include cryosurgery, high-intensity-focused ultrasound therapy, proton beam radiation therapy, and photodynamic therapy. Many of the available treatments may cause side effects. It is important to ask your doctor about any potential complications.

Remember, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. There is a very high survival rate (nearly 100% of 5-year Localized and Regional cases). All SEER stages combined boast a promising 98% survival rate. The most important things you can do to mitigate your risk are to ask your doctor for regular screenings and to maintain a healthy diet and exercise plan. The sooner Prostate Cancer is detected, the greater the chances are of survival.


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According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), chronic pain affects approximately 50 million U.S. adults. High-impact chronic pain (i.e., interfering with work or life most days or every day) affects about 20 million U.S. adults. The management of these symptoms may involve medications. However, there are several alternative and holistic methods available to treat chronic back pain and other ailments. With September being Pain Awareness Month, we will discuss some of the ways you can manage such pain. 

In the western world, pain management often involves taking pharmaceuticals, which may be a slippery slope, even when prescribed by a doctor. As a nation, we are facing an opioid crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 2.1 million U.S adults are addicted to prescription pain medication. An additional 467,000 are addicted to heroin. While opiate-based pharmaceuticals may offer temporary relief from chronic pain, the repercussions involved with addiction are likely to be far worse than the pain they were intended to treat. Luckily, alternative methods and healing arts can be instrumental in treating pain and enriching your life and health.

Physical Therapy

Chronic pain can be a severe interruption to your day-to-day life, activities, and even your career. But, what is classified as chronic pain? In the medical field, it is any pain that has been present for more than 12 consecutive weeks. A physical therapist is trained to evaluate your range of motion and capacity for mobility.

Related:
The Benefits of Physical Therapy

Once you have been evaluated, your therapist will treat you with a customized care plan tailored to your specific needs. They will help you regain mobility and work with you to relieve the pain you are experiencing. Treatments could involve mobility exercises, hot or cold compresses, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), or even ultrasound technology. Physical Therapy can help people experiencing pain in areas such as the back, neck, knees, shoulders, hips, and wrists.

Click here if you are in need of Physical Therapy services.

Exercise

Another way to help prevent pain or to treat existing pain is to exercise. Yoga is a fantastic way to heal your body from the inside out. Many types of Yoga, such as Yoga Nidra and Hatha Yoga are very low-impact and are restorative, relaxing, and have a strong focus on breathing and meditation.

Connecting your mind and body can be a powerful way to release pain and work through physical and emotional trauma. When you breathe heavily, you increase blood flow and oxygen levels within your entire body. This can be extremely beneficial to areas where you are experiencing pain. Regular stretching and movement can also increase your flexibility and overall mobility.

Related:
Yoga Physical Therapy: Healing From Within

If Yoga isn’t appealing to you, any form of exercise is beneficial. Swimming is low-impact for joints and can be incredibly healing. Even adding walking into your daily routine can help get your blood and oxygen levels pumping. Whenever possible, aim to walk or ride your bicycle instead of driving.

Click here if you are in need of Yoga Physical Therapy services.

Healing Arts

While often available in a spa setting, healing arts are not only for people on vacation or on #selfcaresundays kicks. Healing arts such as massage, acupuncture, Chiropractic adjustments, and Reiki, have tangible and measurable impacts.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recognized that massage therapy has been demonstrated to alleviate chronic pain symptoms. Harvard Medical School acknowledges massage as a legitimate therapy for some painful conditions. Therapeutic massage may relieve pain by relaxing muscles, tendons, and joints. Their publication explains that, “It can also relieve stress and anxiety, helping to, ‘close the pain gate,’ by stimulating competing nerve fibers and impeding pain messages to and from the brain.’

Speaking of stimulating nerves, acupuncture works specifically with the nervous system. Practitioners utilize very small needles, heat, and pressure on the skin to stimulate responses. Trigger points are accessed with the small needles, causing a release of chemicals into the spinal cord. The chemicals are similar to those found in opiates and pharmaceuticals that are used to treat pain (such as hydrocodone or morphine), but they are naturally occurring in the body and therefore don’t pose the threat of addiction.

Acupuncturists may also stimulate the release of neurotransmitters (AKA hormones) that regulate nerve endings. In other words, an acupuncturist may be able to actually “shut off” the sensation of pain by stimulating certain trigger points within your body.

Chiropractors work primarily with the skeletal system. They are trained to make adjustments to realign the spine and surrounding muscles. If your job is sedentary, your back and neck may fall easily out of alignment from sitting for hours each day. Conversely, if you are extremely physically active, your spine may also be pushed out of proper alignment. Many women experience a spinal misalignment after giving birth. The coccyx can be pushed out of place when delivering a baby, which may lead to chronic sciatic and lower back pain if left untreated. A chiropractor can be extremely helpful in pushing the coccyx (AKA the tailbone) back into place. This can often lead to an immediate sense of relief.

While Reiki healing may sound a bit more on the esoteric side, it is a practice with an ancient lineage that originated in Japan thousands of years ago. The most current form of Reiki was officially developed in the 1920s by a Japanese Buddhist. The healing practice involves a practitioner holding his or her hands above an effected area and transferring healing energy to the patient. Reiki is based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient through touch, activating the natural healing processes of the patient’s body, and restoring physical and emotional well-being. The root of the practice is the ability to tap into a universal current of Chi (or energy) and transfer it to stimulate flow and release. Much like how Yoga asanas help someone release or shift the flow of blocked energy through movement, Reiki accomplishes the same thing by way of touch. The result of either practice is the relief from trauma or pain.

 


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August 22, 2020 Health & Wellness

Just like every other organ in the body, the brain grows, develops, and declines with every stage of human life. The brain is easily the most complex organ in the body, as it functions as the control center, the memory, and the ultimate epicenter and perceiver of the entire human experience. When brain functionality is compromised for any reason, including disease, old age, or injury, every facet of life may become more challenging. Those who experience compromised brain health may experience memory loss, anxiety, and changes in mood or typical behavior. Day-to-day tasks, such as eating, driving, and bathing may become difficult or impossible for one to manage on their own. Luckily, there are preventative and restorative exercises for brain health that can be done to maintain optimal condition.

According to the American Heart Association, a whopping 3 out of 5 adults will develop a brain disease in their lifetime. Many factors may contribute to optimal brain health and performance, including eating a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet and getting ample sleep each night. Additionally, staying in good physical shape and actively engaging parts of the brain with mental exercises (AKA neurobic exercises) can improve cognitive function and help to ensure the longevity of this major organ. If you would like to learn more about the best exercises for brain health, read on for our top five recommendations.

5 Best Exercises for Brain Health

1. AEROBIC EXERCISES

Cardio and aerobic exercises are some of the best exercises for brain health. Getting your blood and lungs pumping can truly be a game-changer for your entire body, and your “command center” is no exception. If you are wondering what exactly does aerobic exercise do for the brain? The answer (according to an article published by Harvard Medical School), is that increased blood flow can boost the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning.

Resistance training, balance, and muscle toning were not shown to have the same effect. So, anything that increases your heart rate is also going to help your brain stay healthy. Going for walks, jogging, HIIT training, and swimming are all great ways to promote brain health. Engaging in cardio-centric activities can also help with clearing, “brain fog.” These exercises will help you think more clearly and quickly.

2. DRAW A MAP FROM MEMORY

In addition to physical exercise, there are brain-specific neurobic exercises that can help strengthen and preserve memory and cognitive function. One of these activities is to draw a map of your town from memory. Don’t cheat by looking at a map or cell phone app. Include your house, any major landmarks, streets, intersections, or places you frequent. Try to be as specific and detailed as you possibly can. When you are finished, compare it with a store-bought or digital map.

You will likely be surprised by seemingly obvious features you may have missed. Anything that exercises your memory-recall functionality can actually improve your overall memory function. As an added bonus, use your non-dominant hand to draw the map. Skip down to number four on this list to learn why.

3. LEARN A NEW SKILL

Learning something new, such as an instrument, a sport, or a foreign language definitely takes commitment and discipline. The reward, however, transcends the knowledge of simply knowing a new skill. By actively engaging in challenging new patterns and routines, you are creating brand new connections between parts of your brain.

Think of your brain as a city full of rivers and valleys. By repeating new patterns, you are building bridges. Once the bridges are in place, you can travel throughout the city with far more efficiency than you could before. Learning new things is, by far, one of the best exercises for brain health.

4. USE YOUR NON-DOMINANT HAND

Similar to drawing a map from memory, completing tasks with your non-dominant hand (such as eating or writing) can be a powerful neurobic exercise. In training your “opposite” side to do what is otherwise familiar, you are actually changing the relationship between the right and left hemispheres of your brain. You are intentionally building another “bridge.”

Ambidexterity can certainly be learned. If you primarily work from a desktop computer, consider switching your mousepad back and forth to either side once in a while. If you are an athlete, consider switching which hand you pitch with, which leg you kick with, or which side you hold your golf club. Writing is another way to train your non-dominant side. An added bonus to learning ambidexterity is that in case of an injury on your dominant hand, you will have a back-up solution ready to roll.

“Put me in, coach!”

5. MEDITATION

Who would’ve thought that intentionally silencing the mind can actually strengthen the power of the brain? It doesn’t seem likely, but mindfulness meditation has a myriad of benefits, including brain cell regeneration. According to a study conducted by Harvard, engaging the body’s relaxation response (even just a single time) can reduce the body’s response to inflammation and strengthen DNA stability.

In addition to the direct correlation with brain functionality, meditation often also involves breathing exercises. As discussed earlier, anything cardio-related helps to increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. This improves cognitive function and longevity. The benefits of meditation are actually far greater than those of sleep. If you have to choose between the two, an hour of mindful visualization and breathing will have a greater impact on your overall health than an hour of sleep.

Related:
Yoga Physical Therapy: Healing from Within

Similar to any major organ in the body, exercising, preserving, and protecting the brain is extremely important. When the brain begins to decline, day-to-day life may become increasingly more challenging for an individual and anyone around them. In addition to ample exercise, be sure to get enough sleep each night and eat a well-balanced diet. The habitual consumption of supplements may also help to increase brain health. Consider adding fish oil, folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, and vitamin D to a nutrient-dense diet.

Related:
How to Help the Senior in Your Life Make Healthy Food Choices


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