Clinic Wellness Team. A key factor to spine or back pain conditions is staying healthy. Overall wellness involves a balanced diet, appropriate exercise, physical activity, restful sleep, and a healthy lifestyle. The term has been applied in many ways. But overall, the definition is as follows.
It is a conscious, self-directed, and evolving process of achieving full potential. It is multidimensional, bringing together lifestyles both mental/spiritual and the environment in which one lives. It is positive and affirms that what we do is, in fact, correct.
It is an active process where people become aware and make choices towards a more successful lifestyle. This includes how a person contributes to their environment/community. They aim to build healthier living spaces and social networks. It helps in creating a person’s belief systems, values, and a positive world perspective.
Along with this comes the benefits of regular exercise, a healthy diet, personal self-care, and knowing when to seek medical attention. Dr. Jimenez’s message is to work towards being fit, being healthy, and staying aware of our collection of articles, blogs, and videos.
A satisfying salad is a great way to get more fruits and vegetables high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A salad using the right ingredients can be a filling meal. With the summer heat kicking in, making a quick, satisfying salad using your favorite ingredients can help cool off, rehydrate, and refuel the body.
Making A Satisfying Salad
Start with leafy greens.
They’re low in calories and a healthy source of fiber.
Different varieties include iceberg lettuce, leaf lettuce, spinach, escarole, romaine, kale, and butter lettuce.
Adding beans will increase fiber, protein, and total carbohydrates.
Body Signals Decoded
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Roe, Liane S et al. “Salad and satiety. The effect of timing of salad consumption on meal energy intake.” Appetite vol. 58,1 (2012): 242-8. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.10.003
Sebastian, Rhonda S., et al. “Salad Consumption in the U.S. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2011-2014.” FSRG Dietary Data Briefs, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), February 2018.
Yen, P K. “Nutrition: salad sense.” Geriatric nursing (New York, N.Y.) vol. 6,4 (1985): 227-8. doi:10.1016/s0197-4572(85)80093-8
Working out on a treadmill is a great way to get cardiovascular exercise when unable to go outside or to change things up. However, it’s not just about getting on the machine and walking or running. Like anything, proper form and posture are important in preventing injuries. This allows the individual to walk smoother and faster, burn more calories, and get the full benefits. Individuals with a medical condition that impacts posture or makes it difficult to walk on a treadmill should speak to a healthcare provider for recommendations to ensure they can work out without aggravating the condition or putting themselves at risk. There is an option of working with a physical or occupational therapist to address any concerns individuals may have about using a treadmill.
Treadmill Walking Exercise Errors
A common error is getting on a treadmill with the belt already running. This may seem unnecessary, but many accidents happen when individuals just jump on. To avoid injuries, it is recommended to follow these safety tips.
Make sure the machine is off.
Know where the emergency stop switch is.
Stand next to the base/running deck.
Clip the safety key to your body to stop the treadmill if you slip or stumble.
Start the treadmill and set it to slow speed.
Look at the speed and carefully get onto the moving tread.
Gradually increase the speed once comfortably on board.
A healthy step is to strike with the heel in front with the forward foot slightly off the surface. The foot then rolls from heel to toe; by the time the toe is on the ground, the individual is halfway into the next step, and the forward foot is now the rear foot and ready for the toes to push off to take the next step.
This sequence is only possible with flexible shoes.
Wearing stiff shoes may not allow for the roll-through.
Stiff shoes force the foot to slap down.
The body and walking stride become a flat-footed stomp.
Take a few minutes during a walking session to think about what the feet are doing.
Ensure they strike with the heel, roll through the step, and the rear foot provides an adequate push-off.
If you cannot do this in your present shoes, then it’s time to look at other flexible walking/running shoes.
Holding The Handrails
The handrails provide stability, but natural walking posture or natural movement involves a healthy stride and arm motion.
Constantly holding onto the handrails doesn’t allow for this motion.
Walking or running at a slower pace is recommended without using the handrails.
Individuals will get a better workout at a slower pace than they would at a faster rate holding on to the rails.
Individuals with a disability or balance issues may need the handrails and should consult a trainer or physical therapist for healthy workout recommendations.
Proper walking posture means the body is upright, not leaning forward or backward.
Before stepping onto the treadmill, check and readjust your posture.
Proper arm motion allows the body to go faster and burn more calories.
The swinging motion can help shoulder and neck problems developed from unhealthy postures.
The legs only move as fast as the arms do.
To speed up the legs, speed up the arms.
Going Too Fast
Go only as fast as the body can go while maintaining proper walking posture and form.
If overstriding, leaning forward, or hunching shoulders begin to present, slow down until a comfortable/maintainable speed that allows the body to walk correctly is found.
If the workout doesn’t feel like it’s helping
Individuals with a bad walking form at high speeds may consider adding running intervals.
Running will create quick bursts of higher heart rate and change form.
Warm up at a slow speed for 3 to 5 minutes.
Increase walking speed to a fast pace that can maintain proper walking form.
Start a jog and increase the speed to match the jogging pace.
Jog for 1 to 3 minutes.
Return to the fast walking pace for 3 to 5 minutes.
Jog for 1 to 3 minutes.
Repeat until the end of the workout.
Finish with 3 to 5 minutes at an easy walking pace to cool down.
When the body has fully adapted to a workout, it’s time to challenge the body to achieve greater fitness and stay motivated. This is where workout variation intensity, duration, frequency, and/or mode come into play.
Add intensity by increasing the incline or the speed.
Increase the time spent on the treadmill.
If spending 30 minutes for several weeks, increase to 45 minutes for at least one weekly session.
After a couple of weeks, increase to 60 minutes.
Once the body is used to treadmill walking, try to incorporate a session every day or every other day.
Walk at a brisk pace for 30 to 60 minutes, going for a total of 150 to 300 minutes per week.
Type of Exercise
Try jogging or running.
Alternate using the exercise bike, rowing machine, or stair climber.
Add weight training, circuit training, or anything enjoyable that gets the body moving in different ways.
Set goals and get into the habit of using the treadmill regularly to reap all the benefits. Avoid common treadmill errors, stay safe, and make the most out of walking and running workouts.
Move Better, Live Better
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Benefits of Physical Activity.
Donlin, Margo C et al. “Adaptive treadmill walking encourages persistent propulsion.” Gait & Posture vol. 93 (2022): 246-251. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2022.02.017
Donlin, Margo C et al. “User-driven treadmill walking promotes healthy step width after stroke.” Gait & Posture vol. 86 (2021): 256-259. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2021.03.031
Hashiba, M. “Transient change in standing posture after linear treadmill locomotion.” The Japanese Journal of Physiology vol. 48,6 (1998): 499-504. doi:10.2170/jjphysiol.48.499
Liang, Junjie et al. “The effect of anti-gravity treadmill training for knee osteoarthritis rehabilitation on joint pain, gait, and EMG: Case report.” Medicine vol. 98,18 (2019): e15386. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000015386
MacEwen, Brittany T et al. “A systematic review of standing and treadmill desks in the workplace.” Preventive medicine vol. 70 (2015): 50-8. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.11.011
The spine consists of soft tissues, ligaments, the spinal cord, nerve roots, and cartilage, forming an S-shaped curve with three regions: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. Its primary functions are to keep the body upright, provide mobility, and support the upper body’s weight. Injuries or other factors can cause mild to severe pain-like symptoms that affect the spine’s three regions, leading to misalignment and disc herniation, which can cause further complications. Fortunately, non-surgical treatments like spinal decompression can restore the spine’s functionality by realigning the body and restoring the spinal discs. This article will discuss how disc herniation affects the spine and body and how decompression therapy can treat it. We work with certified medical providers who use our patients’ valuable information to provide non-surgical treatments, including spinal decompression, to relieve pain-like symptoms associated with disc herniation and prevent chronic musculoskeletal issues. We encourage patients to ask essential questions and seek education about their condition. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., provides this information as an educational service. Disclaimer
How Does Disc Herniation Affect The Spine?
Do you experience stiffness or tingling in your neck, shoulders, or low back? Do you have radiating pain that is similar to other musculoskeletal conditions? Or do you feel aches and pains during stretching? These symptoms are often associated with spinal disc herniation, as research studies revealed, where the nucleus pulposus within the spine displaces and compresses the spinal nerve or cord. This can be caused by poor posture, incorrect lifting of heavy objects, or excessive twisting and turning, leading to wear and tear on the spinal disc. Left untreated, this can cause neurologic compromise or activity limitation to the rest of the body, as additional research shows. The three spinal regions can all be affected by this condition, causing a range of issues such as:
Numbness and tingling in the arms, hands, and fingers
Muscle weakness and stiffness in the neck and shoulders
Muscle weakness in hips, legs, buttocks, and feet
Sciatic nerve mimicry
An Overview Of Disc Herniation-Video
Have you been experiencing numbness, tingling sensations, or instability when walking? These issues could be caused by disc herniation, which occurs when the spinal cord and nerves are compressed or aggravated by the nucleus pulposus. This can cause pain in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar areas and affect the functioning of your extremities. Research studies have revealed the severity of the herniation depends on the section affected, the size of the spinal canal, and pressure on the nerves. However, non-surgical, safe, and gentle treatments, such as chiropractic care and decompression therapy, can alleviate the effects of disc herniation. Watch the video above to learn more about the causes of disc herniation and the available treatments.
Decompression Therapy Treating Disc Herniation
If you are experiencing disc herniation, some treatments can help restore functionality to your spine. According to research studies, decompression therapy is one such treatment that works by using negative pressure within the spinal disc to increase hydration. This process pulls nutrients and oxygenated blood back into the disc, reducing pressure on the entrapped surrounding nerve root. Additionally, decompression therapy relieves the associated symptoms caused by disc herniation. In “The Ultimate Spinal Decompression,” written by Dr. Perry Bard, D.C., and Dr. Eric Kaplan, D.C., FIAMA, they explain that individuals with a herniated disc who use decompression therapy will feel negative or non-gravitational pressure within their spinal canal, which reduces the pressure from inside the disc. Decompression therapy helps restore the spine’s functionality and facilitates natural healing.
Other Treatments For Disc Herniation
Combining decompression therapy with chiropractic care can be effective in treating disc herniation. Chiropractic care involves spinal adjustments and manual manipulation to restore the natural alignment of the spine, which can relieve pressure on nerves caused by disc herniation. Gradual realignment of the vertebrae can help alleviate symptoms and reduce pain and discomfort while restoring the spine’s strength, flexibility, and mobility.
If the spinal cord is affected by environmental factors or injuries, it can cause pain and discomfort to the person. This is known as disc herniation, where the nucleus pulposus in the spine protrudes out of the spinal socket and presses on the spinal nerve. This can lead to neurological problems and affect the three spinal regions, causing mild to severe issues depending on the pressure on the spinal cord. However, non-surgical treatments like chiropractic care and decompression therapy can safely and gently manipulate the spine, realigning and hydrating the disc so the body can heal naturally. This can relieve pain and discomfort in the spine and restore mobility to the body.
With the summer approaching, the day’s heat makes the body want to eat light or not at all. That’s when late-night hunger kicks in. Individuals can’t sleep because their stomachs won’t stop growling. Whatever the reason, the body needs something to eat to go back to sleep. The challenge is figuring out what’s quick, tasty, healthy, and can help promote sleep, as some foods contain compounds that can improve sleep.
Late-Night Nutritious Snacks
There are several reasons for needing a late-night snack, and a healthy snack can be a good way to get some additional nutrients for the next day. Having small nutrient-rich snacks under 200 calories is fine. Individuals who regularly have late-night snacks should consider having prepared snacks to promote sleep and not inhibit sleep. Planning is the key to choosing snacks to help support healthy sleep and satisfy hunger.
Snacks To Consider
Pumpkin contains tryptophan which contributes to sleep.
They also contain essential nutrients zinc, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and magnesium.
These can help combat illnesses related to inflammation.
Bananas are a healthy source of dietary melatonin.
In one study, individuals who ate a banana had an increase in serum melatonin levels two hours after eating.
The potassium content of bananas can help inhibit muscle cramps, a problem some individuals have when trying to sleep.
Glass of Milk
Warm or cold, a glass of milk before bed can help improve sleep.
Milk contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help improve sleep quality.
Sleep-inducing amino acids like tryptophan are also found in milk.
Dairy milk is not the only type of milk shown to aid sleep.
Soy milk is a good source of both melatonin and tryptophan.
Plant-based milk made with nuts can confer the same benefits as whole nuts.
Milk and Cereal
Individuals may reserve cereal for breakfast, but it can make a healthy late-night snack to promote sleep.
One study found that high-glycemic carbs in many corn-based cereals before bed reduced the time it took to fall asleep.
Limit portion size as the entire snack should be under 300 calories, especially for those with heartburn, as a heavy meal can exacerbate the problem.
Dairy products contain calcium, a mineral that directly produces the sleep hormone melatonin and is a natural relaxant in the body.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Foods like peanut butter contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which is converted into melatonin to promote sleepiness.
Carbohydrates like bread and jelly help make tryptophan more available to the brain.
Option for whole grain bread and natural peanut butter with no added sugars for added nutrition.
Yogurt with Fruit
Plain yogurt with berries, chopped nuts, and honey.
Yogurt provides a healthy source of calcium, which has been linked to better sleep.
Be sure to read the labels, as some varieties contain added sugar.
Fruit and Nuts
Fruit and nuts are great when hungry and tired.
They provide nutritional benefits, including vitamins, minerals, protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, and fiber.
They nourish, provide satisfaction, and help the body fall asleep.
An apple with a handful of almonds, a banana, and pecans, or a pear with a few walnuts.
One teaspoon of peanut butter on banana slices or dip apple slices in almond butter.
If almond butter is too thick for dipping, microwave 1-2 tablespoons for 30 seconds until it’s soft enough to dip.
Popcorn is a great snack that is low in calories.
Three cups of air-popped popcorn have fewer than 100 calories and about 4 grams of fiber.
Chickpeas, the primary ingredient in hummus, contain tryptophan.
Body In Balance
Bandín, C et al. “Meal timing affects glucose tolerance, substrate oxidation, and circadian-related variables: A randomized, crossover trial.” International Journal of Obesity (2005) vol. 39,5 (2015): 828-33. doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.182
Beccuti, Guglielmo, et al. “Timing of food intake: Sounding the alarm about metabolic impairments? A systematic review.” Pharmacological research vol. 125, Pt B (2017): 132-141. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2017.09.005
Behrouz, Sepide, et al. “The Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, and Immunomodulatory Effects of Camel Milk.” Frontiers in immunology vol. 13 855342. 12 Apr. 2022, doi:10.3389/fimmu.2022.855342
Gallant, Annette, et al. “Nutritional Aspects of Late Eating and Night Eating.” Current obesity reports vol. 3,1 (2014): 101-7. doi:10.1007/s13679-013-0081-8
Stobiecka, Magdalena, et al. “Antioxidant Activity of Milk and Dairy Products.” Animals: an open access journal from MDPI vol. 12,3 245. 20 Jan. 2022, doi:10.3390/ani12030245
Misalignment of the spine can occur due to various factors, causing stress and joint shifting. The spine plays an important role by supporting the body’s weight and maintaining stability, consisting of vertebrae, facet joints, spinal nerves and cord, and intervertebral discs. The surrounding muscles, tissues, and ligaments protect the spinal cord from damage. However, the spine may develop chronic conditions due to axial load pressure, affecting the body. Fortunately, non-surgical and non-invasive treatments can realign the spine and naturally heal the body. This article discusses spinal subluxation and its symptoms, along with the effectiveness of spinal decompression in alleviating subluxation. We utilize and incorporate valuable information about our patients to certified medical providers using non-surgical therapies like spinal decompression to alleviate pain-like symptoms associated with spinal subluxation. We encourage referring patients to associated medical providers based on their findings while supporting that education is a remarkable tool to ask our providers essential questions at the patient’s request. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., comprises this information as an educational service. Disclaimer
What Is Spinal Subluxation?
Are you experiencing muscle tightness in your neck, back, or shoulders? Do you feel pain radiating down your arms or legs? Or are you experiencing muscle aches in different parts of your body? These issues may be caused by spinal subluxation, which research shows can occur in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine sections. A spinal subluxation can be caused by traumatic injuries or normal factors that cause the spinal vertebrae to shift out of alignment. This can cause a lot of discomfort. Studies also reveal that spinal subluxation can interfere with neuron communication between the brain and the rest of the body, leading to unwanted symptoms that affect the functioning of the nervous and organ systems and overall health.
Symptoms Associated With Spinal Subluxation
A spinal subluxation happens when the spine shifts out of alignment due to traumatic or normal factors. According to Dr. Eric Kaplan, D.C, FIAMA, and Dr. Perry Bard, D.C., in their book “The Ultimate Spinal Decompression,” biomechanical instability can cause the surrounding muscles and joints to destabilize or increase antagonist coactivation to stabilize the body. Simple movements like bending, twisting, or turning can cause the surrounding muscles to overstretch and make the body feel unstable. Research studies mentioned that displacement in any part of the spinal skeletal frame could press against the surrounding nerves, which can cause neuron signals to be hardwired and create too much or too little communication with the surrounding muscles and joints. Other symptoms associated with spinal subluxation include:
Muscle tightness around the back
Pain and discomfort
Digestive and respiratory issues
Thoracic Spine Pain- Video
Do you experience pain or discomfort when twisting, turning, or bending? Have you felt muscle aches, pain, or tenderness in your back, or do you feel unsteady when walking? These symptoms may be caused by spinal misalignment or subluxation. Subluxation occurs as pressure compresses spinal discs, causing vertebrae to shift from their normal position. A subluxation can occur in different spine sections, resulting in overlapping risks. This causes pain in various body parts, known as referred pain. Fortunately, non-surgical treatments like chiropractic care and spinal decompression can reduce the effects of subluxation, realign the spine, and promote natural healing for muscles, ligaments, and joints. The video above explains thoracic spine pain symptoms and how manual and mechanical manipulation can alleviate pain-like symptoms, rehydrate spinal discs, and kick-start the body’s natural healing process.
If you suffer from muscle pain associated with spinal subluxation, you can alleviate the associated pain symptoms in several ways. One option is spinal decompression, a non-surgical treatment shown to effectively reduce residual pain and disability, improve range of motion, and modulate neural mechanical sensitivity, as research studies mentioned. Through gentle spine stretching, spinal decompression helps realign the body and allows spinal discs to return to their original position. This, in turn, will enable nutrients, fluids, and oxygenated blood to rehydrate the discs and promote natural healing. For added benefits, spinal decompression can be combined with additional treatments, such as physical therapy and chiropractic care. Best of all, it is a safe and non-invasive treatment allowing individuals to be more mindful of how they move their bodies.
Spinal misalignment or subluxation can occur over time due to traumatic injuries or normal factors. This can cause the spinal vertebrae to shift out of alignment, leading to referred muscle pain and chronic issues that can eventually result in disability. However, non-surgical and non-invasive treatments like spinal decompression use mechanical traction to gently stretch the spine and realign it, releasing the body’s natural healing process. Additionally, non-surgical treatments like spinal decompression help individuals be more mindful of their bodies and prevent new injuries from occurring. Combining spinal decompression with other therapies can promote health and wellness in many individuals.
Kaplan, E., & Bard, P. (2023). The Ultimate Spinal Decompression. JETLAUNCH.
The human body has muscles surrounding and protecting the spine to prevent pain and disability. The spine is divided into three sections in the body: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar, which form an S-shape curve to promote stability and good posture. The spine has several discs, facet joints, and spinal nerves that work with the surrounding muscles, making the body mobile. However, various factors can pressure the spine, compressing the spinal discs and invoking referred pain to the surrounding muscles and tissues in different locations, leading to overlapping risk profiles if left untreated. This article focuses on the lumbar spine, explaining what vertebral pain syndrome is and how non-surgical treatments such as spinal decompression can restore mobility to the lumbar spine. We utilize and incorporate valuable information about our patients to certified medical providers using non-surgical therapies like spinal decompression to alleviate vertebral pain syndrome associated with the lumbar spine. We encourage while referring patients to associated medical providers based on their findings while supporting that education is a remarkable tool to ask our providers the essential questions at the patient’s request. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., comprises this information as an educational service. Disclaimer
An Overview Of the Lumbar Spine
We will concentrate on the lumbar spine, one of the three spine sections. The lumbar spine or low back begins at the T12 (the last thoracic vertebra) and ends at the S1 (the sacrum). It comprises five vertebrae with a common structure supporting the low back. These vertebrae are as follows:
Superior/inferior articular processes
The lumbar spine has bigger and stronger bones that provide stability to the upper and lower parts of the body. Research studies reveal that the lumbar spine performs three essential functions that enable the body to function properly:
It supports the upper body.
It absorbs axial forces that move from the head to the trunk. This allows the muscles in the trunk to move without causing pain.
The lumbar spine forms a canal that safeguards the spinal cord and nerves.
The Structures Of the Lumbar Spine
The spine comprises several structures, including the vertebrae, spinal cord, spinal nerves, facet joints, and intervertebral discs. Each structure plays a unique role in keeping our bodies functioning properly. The vertebrae protect the spinal cord and nerves from injury, while the facet joints guide the motion of the vertebrae and help maintain stability. The spinal cord and nerves work with the central nervous system to send signals from the brain to the body for coordinating reflex actions. Intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers, allowing the spine to be flexible. Muscles, tissues, and ligaments protect the entire lumbar spine structure from pain. However, traumatic injuries or unwanted pressures can cause misalignment and low back pain. Low back pain is a common musculoskeletal complaint, and several factors can contribute to its development, often confused with vertebral pain syndrome associated with the lumbar spine, as research studies reveal.
Move Better, Live Better- Video
Do you have stiffness in your lower back or experience constant aches in certain regions? These may be signs of low back pain related to vertebral pain syndrome. Research shows that pathologic degeneration in the lumbar spine can cause low back pain, affecting all components. Several mechanical, traumatic, nutritional, and genetic factors contribute to spinal degeneration. However, non-surgical treatments can help reduce muscle pain and alleviate unwanted pressure on spinal discs. Chiropractic care and spinal decompression are two treatments that enhance mobility and function in the spine, relieving pain. The video above talks more about these treatments.
What Is Vertebral Pain Syndrome?
Experiencing pressure on the lumbar spine can result in various issues that can worsen low back pain. One of these issues is called vertebral pain syndrome. In “The Ultimate Spinal Decompression,” Dr. Eric Kaplan, D.C., FIAMA, and Dr. Perry Bard, D.C., explain that this syndrome occurs when environmental factors start affecting the lumbar spine. It can be caused by visceral pain in the lower back that disrupts neuron signals in the lumbar spine. This can irritate spinal nerves, leading to referred pain in the lower body. The book also mentions that vertebral pain syndrome can happen when the vertebrae end plates on spinal discs wear thin, causing pressure to move with the disc. This can inflame the spine, causing chronic low back pain.
How Spinal Decompression Alleviate Vertebral Pain Syndrome
How can non-surgical spinal decompression treatments help alleviate vertebral pain syndrome in the lumbar spine? Research studies revealed that spinal decompression could reduce pressure on the spinal disc and gently stretch the spine, restoring disc height. This treatment can relieve many people from low back pain and its associated symptoms. Moreover, it can rehydrate spinal discs by promoting the flow of blood and nutrients, which aids in the healing process to reduce the effects of vertebral pain syndrome.
Taking care of your spine is crucial as everyday factors can put pressure on it, causing damage to the spinal discs. This can lead to vertebral pain syndrome, which can cause lumbar back pain and referred pain linked to visceral problems. Luckily, spinal decompression therapy can ease the effects of this syndrome by gently stretching the spine and restoring hydration to the discs. Incorporating spinal decompression into your routine allows you to enjoy a pain-free life without worrying about lower back pain.
Kang, J.-I., Jeong, D.-K., & Choi, H. (2016). Effect of spinal decompression on the lumbar muscle activity and disk height in patients with herniated intervertebral disk. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 28(11), 3125–3130. doi.org/10.1589/jpts.28.3125
Kaplan, E. & Bard, P. (2023). The Ultimate Spinal Decompression. JETLAUNCH.
Not getting enough fiber in one’s diet can lead to fiber deficiency. Fiber helps support gut and microbiome health. Individuals not getting enough fiber may experience irregular bowel movements, constipation, blood sugar fluctuations, not feeling full/satisfied after eating, or rising cholesterol levels. About 100 trillion microorganisms in the gut are integral to maintaining a healthy immune system. Fiber is the food these microorganisms eat that helps them to do their job. Without the proper amount, the immune system’s health may also be compromised.
Fiber and Gut Health
Fiber and gut health benefits include regulating the body’s sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check, helping to maintain a healthy weight, its ability to prevent or relieve constipation, reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Dietary fiber, or roughage, is the part of plant foods the body can’t digest or absorb.
It passes through the stomach, small intestine, and colon and out of the body.
It is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Soluble and insoluble forms are important to overall health.
This type dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance.
It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.
It is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, and barley.
This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through the digestive system.
It increases stool bulk, benefiting individuals who struggle with constipation or irregular stools.
Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes, are good sources.
Healthy Bowel Movements
Dietary fiber increases stool weight and thickness and makes it soft.
Fiber helps to solidify the stool by absorbing water and adding bulk.
A thicker stool is easier to pass, decreasing the potential for constipation and other problems.
Maintains Bowel Health
A high-fiber diet can lower the risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in the colon/diverticular disease.
Studies have also found that a high-fiber diet can help lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
Some fiber gets fermented in the colon.
Researchers are looking at how this can help prevent diseases of the colon.
Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed, and oat bran can help lower blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein or unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Studies also have shown that high-fiber foods can help reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
In individuals with diabetes, fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar and improve blood sugar levels.
A healthy nutrition plan that includes insoluble fiber can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Helps Achieve Healthy Weight
High-fiber foods can be more filling than low-fiber foods, helping individuals eat less and stay satisfied.
High-fiber foods can also take longer to eat and are less energy dense, meaning they have fewer calories.
Getting More Fiber
Ideas for adding more fiber to meals and snacks:
Fiber to Start The Day
Choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal with five or more grams of fiber per serving.
Choose cereals with whole grain, bran, or fiber in the name.
Add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to the cereal.
Add Whole Grains
Try to make at least half of the grains eaten whole grains.
Look for bread that lists whole wheat, whole-wheat flour, or another whole grain as the first ingredient, with at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
Experiment with whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, wild rice, barley, and bulgur wheat.
Substitute whole-grain flour for half or all white flour when baking.
Add crushed bran cereal, unprocessed wheat bran, or uncooked oatmeal to muffins, cakes, and cookies.
Beans, peas, and lentils are recommended sources.
Add kidney beans to soups or salads.
Make nachos with refried black beans, fresh vegetables, whole-wheat tortilla chips, and healthy salsa.
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber and vitamins and minerals.
Try to eat a favorite fruit daily.
Fresh fruits, raw vegetables, low-fat popcorn, and whole-grain crackers are healthy choices.
Try for a handful of nuts or dried fruits; however, be aware that nuts and dried fruits can be high in calories.
High-fiber foods are beneficial for the body’s health.
Adding too much fiber can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating, and cramping.
Increase fiber gradually over a few weeks.
This allows the natural bacteria in the digestive system to make adjustments.
Maintain hydration, as fiber works best when it absorbs water.
Individuals not sure how to incorporate more fiber can consult a nutritionist and health coach to help begin the process.
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Cronin, Peter, et al. “Dietary Fiber Modulates the Gut Microbiota.” Nutrients vol. 13,5 1655. 13 May. 2021, doi:10.3390/nu13051655
Fuller, Stacey, et al. “New Horizons for the Study of Dietary Fiber and Health: A Review.” Plant foods for human nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands) vol. 71,1 (2016): 1-12. doi:10.1007/s11130-016-0529-6
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