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.
For individuals trying to build muscle but are not seeing results, can knowing factors like what foods to eat, how to work out, and genetics help achieve meaningful muscle gains?
Muscle Growth Nutritional Mistakes
Muscle growth is an important element of overall fitness and health. Individuals can make nutritional mistakes like not eating enough protein or carbohydrates and not properly hydrating themselves which can prevent them from gaining muscle. Factors that contribute to muscle building, include:
Individuals who want to increase muscle mass more efficiently can rework these issues to maintain consistency and commitment to exercise and nutrition. Benefits include:
Building muscle helps strengthen bones
Decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Experts point out some common mistakes that can hinder muscle growth, like not eating enough protein, not consuming enough calories, overtraining, or practicing improper form and technique. As everybody is different there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building muscle or hypertrophy. These include:
An individual’s genes contribute to how easy or difficult it can be to build muscle.
Some individuals have a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which increases growth potential.
The natural distribution of muscle and body fat also varies and can affect the rate and location of muscle growth.
There are also differences in individual recovery capabilities that can influence the frequency and intensity of training sessions.
Nutrition matters when trying to build muscle. Individuals need to eat enough protein for muscle repair and growth.
Individuals may need to consume more calories than they burn to create energy stores.
At the same time, individuals need to consume enough carbohydrates and healthy fats to fuel workouts and recovery.
Gaining muscle requires regular resistance or strength training exercises.
These exercises cause micro tears in muscle fibers, which then repair and grow back stronger and larger.
Effective resistance training includes – consistency, intensity, recovery, and progressive overload.
Progressive overload means gradually increasing the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in an exercise routine to challenge the muscles.
Muscle Strength for Healthy Aging
Research shows that performing exercises that build muscle mass can slow age-related cognitive decline and decrease the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. (Joseph Michael Northey, et al., 2018)
Northey, J. M., Cherbuin, N., Pumpa, K. L., Smee, D. J., & Rattray, B. (2018). Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis. British journal of sports medicine, 52(3), 154–160. doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2016-096587
Diverticulitis is inflammation of the colon. Dietary factors that influence the risk of diverticulitis include:
Fiber intake – lowers risk.
Processed red meat intake – raises risk.
Intake of red meat with higher total fat – raises risk.
Researchers studied 253 men with diverticulitis and determined that replacing one serving of red meat with a serving of poultry or fish reduces the risk of diverticulitis by 20%. (Yin Cao et al., 2018)
The study’s limitations are that the meat intake was recorded in men only, the intake was self-reported, and the amount consumed at each eating episode was not recorded.
It may be a helpful substitution for anyone at risk for diverticulitis.
Martone, A. M., Marzetti, E., Calvani, R., Picca, A., Tosato, M., Santoro, L., Di Giorgio, A., Nesci, A., Sisto, A., Santoliquido, A., & Landi, F. (2017). Exercise and Protein Intake: A Synergistic Approach against Sarcopenia. BioMed research international, 2017, 2672435. doi.org/10.1155/2017/2672435
Cao, Y., Strate, L. L., Keeley, B. R., Tam, I., Wu, K., Giovannucci, E. L., & Chan, A. T. (2018). Meat intake and risk of diverticulitis among men. Gut, 67(3), 466–472. doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2016-313082
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine/TCM practice in which extremely thin needles are inserted into the body at specific points, creating a network of energy pathways known as meridians.
These pathways circulate vital life energy/chi or qi.
Each meridian is associated with a different body system.
Needles are placed to target the organs associated with the condition being treated.
Acupuncture can help with allergies by targeting several meridians, including the lungs, colon, stomach, and spleen. These meridians are believed to circulate defensive life energy or a type of immunity energy.
A backup of defensive energy or a deficiency can cause allergy symptoms like swelling, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, allergic eczema, and conjunctivitis. (Bettina Hauswald, Yury M. Yarin. 2014)
The objective is to stimulate the points to restore balance in the energies and relieve symptoms.
One theory is the needles work directly on nerve fibers, influencing messages to the brain or the autonomic nervous system and transmission of signals within the body, including the immune system. (Tony Y. Chon, Mark C. Lee. 2013)
Another is the needles influence certain activities of cells, particularly the transport, breakdown, and clearance of bioactive mediators.
The combination of these actions is thought to decrease inflammatory conditions like allergic rhinitis – hay fever, in which the inside of the nose becomes inflamed and swollen after breathing in an allergen. (Bettina Hauswald, Yury M. Yarin. 2014)
A 2015 review concluded there have been high-quality randomized controlled trials demonstrating acupuncture’s efficacy in treating seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis. Smaller studies have shown some preliminary benefits of acupuncture when compared with antihistamines, but more research is needed. (Malcolm B. Taw, et al., 2015)
Some individuals who choose acupuncture are seeking alternatives to standard treatment like medications, nasal sprays, and immunotherapy.
Others are looking for ways to enhance the effectiveness of medications already being taken, such as antihistamines or nasal sprays, or shorten how long or how frequently they are needed.
Initial treatment usually involves weekly or twice-weekly appointments over several weeks or months, depending on symptom severity.
Improperly administered acupuncture needles can cause serious side effects that range from infections, punctured organs, collapsed lungs, and injury to the central nervous system. (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 2022) Before trying acupuncture, consult your primary healthcare provider, allergist, or integrative medicine specialist to make sure it’s a safe and viable option and the best way to integrate it into overall allergy care.
Fighting Inflammation Naturally
Feng, S., Han, M., Fan, Y., Yang, G., Liao, Z., Liao, W., & Li, H. (2015). Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. American journal of rhinology & allergy, 29(1), 57–62. doi.org/10.2500/ajra.2015.29.4116
Seidman, M. D., Gurgel, R. K., Lin, S. Y., Schwartz, S. R., Baroody, F. M., Bonner, J. R., Dawson, D. E., Dykewicz, M. S., Hackell, J. M., Han, J. K., Ishman, S. L., Krouse, H. J., Malekzadeh, S., Mims, J. W., Omole, F. S., Reddy, W. D., Wallace, D. V., Walsh, S. A., Warren, B. E., Wilson, M. N., … Guideline Otolaryngology Development Group. AAO-HNSF (2015). Clinical practice guideline: Allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngology–head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 152(1 Suppl), S1–S43. doi.org/10.1177/0194599814561600
Hauswald, B., & Yarin, Y. M. (2014). Acupuncture in allergic rhinitis: A Mini-Review. Allergo journal international, 23(4), 115–119. doi.org/10.1007/s40629-014-0015-3
Taw, M. B., Reddy, W. D., Omole, F. S., & Seidman, M. D. (2015). Acupuncture and allergic rhinitis. Current opinion in otolaryngology & head and neck surgery, 23(3), 216–220. doi.org/10.1097/MOO.0000000000000161
Individuals with digestive problems that cannot be diagnosed could be experiencing functional gastrointestinal disorders. Could understanding the types help in developing effective treatment plans?
Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
Functional gastrointestinal disorders, or FGDs, are disorders of the digestive system in which the presence of structural or tissue abnormality cannot explain symptoms. Functional gastrointestinal disorders lack identifiable biomarkers and are diagnosed based on symptoms. (Christopher J. Black, et al., 2020)
FGDs used diagnoses of exclusion, meaning that they could only be diagnosed after organic/identifiable disease was ruled out. However, in 1988, a group of researchers and healthcare providers met to devise strict criteria for the diagnosis of the various types of FGDs. The criteria is known as the Rome Criteria. (Max J. Schmulson, Douglas A. Drossman. 2017)
Vomiting and Aerophagia – cyclic vomiting syndrome, adolescent rumination syndrome, and aerophagia
Abdominal Pain-Related Functional GI Disorders include:
Childhood functional abdominal pain
Childhood functional abdominal pain syndrome
Constipation – functional constipation
Incontinence – nonretentive fecal incontinence
Although the Rome criteria allow the diagnosis of FGDs to be symptom-based, a healthcare provider may still run standard diagnostic tests to rule out other diseases or look for structural problems resulting in symptoms.
Although no visible signs of disease or structural problems may be identified as causing the symptoms, it does not mean that they are not treatable and manageable. For individuals who suspect they may have or have been diagnosed with a functional gastrointestinal disorder, it will be essential to work with a healthcare provider on a working treatment plan. Treatment options can include: (Asma Fikree, Peter Byrne. 2021)
Nutritional and dietary adjustments
Eating Right To Feel Better
Black, C. J., Drossman, D. A., Talley, N. J., Ruddy, J., & Ford, A. C. (2020). Functional gastrointestinal disorders: advances in understanding and management. Lancet (London, England), 396(10263), 1664–1674. doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32115-2
Schmulson, M. J., & Drossman, D. A. (2017). What Is New in Rome IV. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility, 23(2), 151–163. doi.org/10.5056/jnm16214
Sperber, A. D., Bangdiwala, S. I., Drossman, D. A., Ghoshal, U. C., Simren, M., Tack, J., Whitehead, W. E., Dumitrascu, D. L., Fang, X., Fukudo, S., Kellow, J., Okeke, E., Quigley, E. M. M., Schmulson, M., Whorwell, P., Archampong, T., Adibi, P., Andresen, V., Benninga, M. A., Bonaz, B., … Palsson, O. S. (2021). Worldwide Prevalence and Burden of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Results of Rome Foundation Global Study. Gastroenterology, 160(1), 99–114.e3. doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2020.04.014
Hyams, J. S., Di Lorenzo, C., Saps, M., Shulman, R. J., Staiano, A., & van Tilburg, M. (2016). Functional Disorders: Children and Adolescents. Gastroenterology, S0016-5085(16)00181-5. Advance online publication. doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2016.02.015
Fikree, A., & Byrne, P. (2021). Management of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Clinical medicine (London, England), 21(1), 44–52. doi.org/10.7861/clinmed.2020-0980
For individuals trying to get into a regular fitness regimen, could using the FITT Principle help structure exercise, track progress, and achieve fitness goals?
The FITT principle is a set of guidelines for adjusting, revising, and improving exercise workouts. FITT is an acronym for:
Type of exercise
Individuals take these elements to create and adjust workouts that fit their goals and fitness levels.
For example, this could be a workout of 3 to 5 days combined with low, medium, and high-intensity exercises for 30 to 60 minutes each session that incorporates cardio and strength training. Focusing on these details and progressing over time helps create an effective program.
Workout frequency and how often the individual is going to exercise is the first thing to look at.
Frequency depends on various factors, including the type of workout being done, how hard the workout is, fitness levels, and exercise goals.
The next element of the plan is how long the exercise will be during each session. Exercise length depends on individual fitness level and the type of workout being done.
The exercise guidelines suggest 30 to 60 minutes of cardio, but workout duration will depend on fitness level and type of exercise. ((Carol Ewing Garber, et al., 2011)
Beginners are recommended to start with a 15- to 20-minute workout.
Individuals with some workout experience and are doing steady-state cardio, like jogging or using a cardio machine, might exercise for 30 to 60 minutes.
For individuals doing interval training and working at very high intensity, the workout will be shorter, around 10 to 15 minutes of high-intensity interval training.
Having a variety of workouts of different intensities and durations will provide a solid, balanced cardiovascular program.
How long an individual strength trains will depend on the type of workout and schedule.
A total body workout can take over an hour.
A split routine can take less time by working fewer muscle groups in one session.
The type of exercise you do is the last part of the FIIT principle.
It is easy to manipulate to avoid overuse injuries or weight loss plateaus.
Cardio is easy to adjust and change because any activity that increases heart rate counts.
Walking, dancing, running, cycling, swimming, and using an elliptical trainer are a few activities that can be incorporated.
Having multiple cardio activities is recommended to reduce burnout and keep workouts fresh.
Strength training workouts can also be varied.
They include any exercise where some type of resistance – bands, dumbbells, machines, etc. are used to work the muscles.
Bodyweight exercises can also be considered a form of strength training.
Strength workouts can be changed from total body training to adding, for example, supersets or pyramid training.
Incorporating new exercises for each body area is another way to vary the type of workouts.
Spending a few weeks working on functional strength movements, then switching to hypertrophy or strength-based training.
Each modality includes various alternative types of strength-based exercises.
The FITT principle outlines how to adjust workout programs to achieve better results. It also helps figure out how to change workouts to avoid burnout, overuse injuries, and plateaus.
For example, walking three times a week for 30 minutes at a moderate pace is recommended for a beginner to start out with. After a few weeks, the body adapts to the workout. This results in burning fewer calories, burnout, or weight management efforts, and goals are put on hold. This is where the FITT principles come in. For example, a change-up could include:
Changing frequency by adding another day of walking or jogging.
Changing intensity by walking faster, adding more challenging terrain like a hill, or jogging at certain intervals.
Walking for a longer time each workout day.
Changing the type of workout by swapping one or more of the walk sessions for cycling or aerobics.
Even just changing one element can make a big difference in the workout and how the body responds to exercise.
It’s important to change things up regularly to keep the body healthy and mind engaged.
One of the best things about using FITT is that it allows individuals to monitor the length and intensity of their workouts. When individuals work out too frequently or don’t get enough rest, they run the risk of overuse injuries, burnout, and muscle strains. The FITT principle encourages adding variety to workouts. When following this practice, it allows the body to rest and recover properly. Because individuals are not working the same muscle groups over and over again, better results are achieved.
Fighting Inflammation Naturally
Garber, C. E., Blissmer, B., Deschenes, M. R., Franklin, B. A., Lamonte, M. J., Lee, I. M., Nieman, D. C., Swain, D. P., & American College of Sports Medicine (2011). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 43(7), 1334–1359. doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e318213fefb
McCall Pete. 8 reasons to take a rest day. (2018) American Council on Exercise.
National Strength and Conditioning Association. (2017) Determination of resistance training frequency.
Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2016). Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 46(11), 1689–1697. doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0543-8
Cardoos, Nathan MD. Overtraining Syndrome. (May/June 2015). Current Sports Medicine Reports 14(3):p 157-158. DOI: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000145
For individuals dealing with pain, inflammatory conditions, and stress issues, could adding acupuncture to a treatment plan help bring relief and healing?
Acupuncture treatment is a traditional Chinese medicine based on circulating the body’s life energy, or qi, with the idea that a blockage or disturbance in the energy flow can cause health issues. Acupuncturists insert thin needles into specific points throughout the body to rebalance the body’s energy, stimulate healing, and promote relaxation. (Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2023) Researchers are not exactly sure how the treatment works; however, theories suggest that it can help release endorphins, as well as influence the autonomic nervous system.
How Does It Work?
Researchers have not been able to understand how acupuncture works fully, but some theories include:
The needles stimulate the release of endorphins – the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals.
They can influence the autonomic nervous system, and specific needle placement impacts breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. (Tony Y. Chon, Mark C. Lee. 2013)
The health benefits can vary depending on the individual. It may take several sessions before benefits are noticed. (Tony Y. Chon, Mark C. Lee. 2013) Research is still limited; however, there are some studies that found acupuncture to be helpful for certain conditions.
Low Back Pain
A study on non-pharmacological options for lower back pain showed that acupuncture treatment relieved intense pain and promoted better back functioning.
In order to reduce the risks, the treatment should always be done by a licensed trained healthcare provider using clean, disposable needles. It is recommended to consult with a primary care physician before getting acupuncture, as the treatment may not be right for individuals with certain health conditions.
Yun, Y., Kim, S., Kim, M., Kim, K., Park, J. S., & Choi, I. (2013). Effect of facial cosmetic acupuncture on facial elasticity: an open-label, single-arm pilot study. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 424313. doi.org/10.1155/2013/424313
Chou, R., Deyo, R., Friedly, J., Skelly, A., Hashimoto, R., Weimer, M., Fu, R., Dana, T., Kraegel, P., Griffin, J., Grusing, S., & Brodt, E. D. (2017). Nonpharmacologic Therapies for Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review for an American College of Physicians Clinical Practice Guideline. Annals of internal medicine, 166(7), 493–505. doi.org/10.7326/M16-2459
Linde, K., Allais, G., Brinkhaus, B., Fei, Y., Mehring, M., Vertosick, E. A., Vickers, A., & White, A. R. (2016). Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2016(6), CD001218. doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub3
Linde, K., Allais, G., Brinkhaus, B., Fei, Y., Mehring, M., Shin, B. C., Vickers, A., & White, A. R. (2016). Acupuncture for the prevention of tension-type headache. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 4(4), CD007587. doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD007587.pub2
Lin, X., Huang, K., Zhu, G., Huang, Z., Qin, A., & Fan, S. (2016). The Effects of Acupuncture on Chronic Knee Pain Due to Osteoarthritis: A Meta-Analysis. The Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume, 98(18), 1578–1585. doi.org/10.2106/JBJS.15.00620
Tedesco, D., Gori, D., Desai, K. R., Asch, S., Carroll, I. R., Curtin, C., McDonald, K. M., Fantini, M. P., & Hernandez-Boussard, T. (2017). Drug-Free Interventions to Reduce Pain or Opioid Consumption After Total Knee Arthroplasty: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA surgery, 152(10), e172872. doi.org/10.1001/jamasurg.2017.2872
Chan, M. W. C., Wu, X. Y., Wu, J. C. Y., Wong, S. Y. S., & Chung, V. C. H. (2017). Safety of Acupuncture: Overview of Systematic Reviews. Scientific reports, 7(1), 3369. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-03272-0
For individuals trying to make healthy lifestyle adjustments, can adding protein bars into their diet help achieve health goals?
Protein bars provide a quick energy boost between meals that can help curb appetite and avoid filling up on high-fat, sodium-packed snacks for individuals trying to lose weight. They can also increase calorie intake for individuals like athletes trying to increase muscle mass. Protein bars can vary in terms of factors like additives, calories, fat, sugars, and other ingredients. Labels need to be read carefully; otherwise, the bar can be more of a candy bar than a healthy, nutritious mini-meal or snack. It’s important to have a sense of how much protein is really needed each day, and the amount varies depending on individual factors.
How Much Protein Is Needed
Protein is vital to many body functions, but the body can’t produce this macronutrient, and it has to come from food. Dietary protein is broken down during digestion, and compounds known as amino acids are formed:
These are the building blocks the body uses to build and maintain muscles and organs.
The ideal protein intake considers how much is eaten at individual sittings. The average individual is recommended to consume between 25 and 35 grams of protein at every meal. (Emily Arentson-Lantz, et al., 2015)
The richest sources of dietary protein include:
Fish and shellfish
Milk and other dairy products
Plant sources include:
These are foods that are easy to include in a balanced diet, so eating a variety in ample quantities daily will equal the recommended amount of protein. Recommendations are to stick with those low in saturated fat and processed carbs and rich in nutrients. However, eating too much protein can cause kidney problems. Therefore, individuals who are predisposed to kidney disease are recommended to be careful over-protein intake. (Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, Holly M. Kramer, Denis Fouque. 2020)
What To Look For
Incorporating protein bars into a diet, either as a between-meal snack, as a grab-and-go option when there is no time for a full meal, or as a part of a weight-loss or weight-gain strategy, individuals need to read and understand the ingredients on the different types of bars to choosing the healthiest options. Some general guidelines to consider:
For a between-meal or pre-post-workout snack, look for a bar with at least 20 grams of protein.
Meal replacement bars should have at least 30 grams of protein.
The protein usually comes from dairy or plant sources.
The most common include eggs, milk, rice, whey, soy, peas, and hemp.
Individuals with allergies or sensitivities need to choose a bar that is comprised of a type of protein that is safe to eat.
For a bar to eat between meals, recommendations are those with around 220 to 250 calories.
A protein bar that substitutes for a full meal can have 300 to 400 calories.
Ten to 15 grams of total fat and no more than two grams of saturated fat is ideal.
Steer clear of unhealthy trans fats found in partially hydrogenated oils.
Fiber is filling, so the more fiber, the more likely it is to keep hunger satisfied until the next snack or meal.
It is recommended to choose those that contain more than three to five grams of fiber.
Some protein bars have just as much sugar content as candy bars.
Some have as much as 30 grams of added sugar.
The ideal amount is around five grams or less.
Artificial sweeteners like erythritol, sorbitol, and maltitol are not better options as they can cause bloating and gas.
It is recommended to work with a nutritionist to figure out the most effective type so that they can be incorporated into an individual’s diet to achieve and maintain health goals.
Lonnie, M., Hooker, E., Brunstrom, J. M., Corfe, B. M., Green, M. A., Watson, A. W., Williams, E. A., Stevenson, E. J., Penson, S., & Johnstone, A. M. (2018). Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing Adults. Nutrients, 10(3), 360. doi.org/10.3390/nu10030360
Stephens, T. V., Payne, M., Ball, R. O., Pencharz, P. B., & Elango, R. (2015). Protein requirements of healthy pregnant women during early and late gestation are higher than current recommendations. The Journal of nutrition, 145(1), 73–78. doi.org/10.3945/jn.114.198622
Arentson-Lantz, E., Clairmont, S., Paddon-Jones, D., Tremblay, A., & Elango, R. (2015). Protein: A nutrient in focus. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme, 40(8), 755–761. doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2014-0530
Kalantar-Zadeh, K., Kramer, H. M., & Fouque, D. (2020). High-protein diet is bad for kidney health: unleashing the taboo. Nephrology, dialysis, transplantation : official publication of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association – European Renal Association, 35(1), 1–4. doi.org/10.1093/ndt/gfz216
Schoenfeld, B. J., & Aragon, A. A. (2018). How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15, 10. doi.org/10.1186/s12970-018-0215-1
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