Posted on

Do You Feel Knotted-Up? Is Muscle Pain Holding You Back?

If you suffer from headaches or chronic pain in your neck, shoulders, muscles, or joints,  then you probably have KNOTS in your muscles that are either the cause of the pain or contributing to it.

Why Do Knots Form? Factors that may increase your risk!

  • Chronic Muscle Overuse (repetitive muscle stress, strain and injury)
  • Poor Posture
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Injury to Vertebral Discs
  • Chronic Medical Conditions
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Stress and Anxiety

Where Do These Knots Come From?  

Chronic stress, strain and injury to the myofascial tissue (the muscle fibers and the fibrous connective tissue – that cover the muscle) can form taut, bulb-like pockets. These appear as contracted myofascial knots, which cause the muscle to shorten and tighten. As a physician, I can often find the areas where there are knots just by pressing on them.  

But…NOT all Knots are the SAME!

What Kind of Knot Do You Have?

  • An acutely inflamed knot feels sore when pressed.  
  • A  chronically inflamed knot will begin to calcify, and is often described as a “rock” or “pebble.”
  • A trigger point knot leads to localized shooting pain when pressed. In other words, a knot in one muscle can create pain in another area. This is an important distinction, as trigger points can result in severe muscle spasm, limit your movement, and decrease strength.

What are the Symptoms?

Trigger point pain is often misleading and misdiagnosed as something more serious.
The trigger point can cause severe unpleasant and even debilitating pain with a referral pain pattern described as a shooting pain, tingling sensation, or numbness to adjacent areas.  The referral pain mimics the symptoms of other common conditions such as a pinched spinal nerve; “sciatica” or peripheral neuropathy (peripheral nerve problem).

Here is a good example.

Acute strain or stress to trigger point(s) of the muscles of the shoulder, neck and face are a well known source of headaches and migraine symptoms. One common trigger point in this area is located at the top of your shoulder, in the trapezius and rhomboid muscles, which can refer pain to the neck and head. Trigger points can also occur in the low back and in extremities.

To complicate matters, the trigger point might develop secondary to an underlying joint, spinal disc or peripheral nerve problem. Even if the primary problem is treated, you may continue to suffer with pain, if the trigger point was not identified as an contributing problem.

This may lead to unintended consequences like prolong pain and chronic use of pain medications, with an increased risk of medication related side effects. The best-case scenario is to determine whether the trigger point is the primary or secondary cause of your pain problem with a trigger point injection.  

If you have struggled with chronic, unexplained aches and pains that seemingly have no cause, read on because there’s good news…

There is something you can do to help relieve your pain.  

Doctors like me who specialize in Pain Management and Physiatry, can “release” these knots by injecting different kinds of fluids into them, and can immediately relieve the pain and muscle tightness created by the trigger point. This simple procedure is called a “trigger point injection”.

What Exactly are Trigger Point Injections?

A trigger point injection is a routine office procedure involving an injection (usually a local anesthetic or normal saline) at the the trigger point (myofascial knot) site. The local anesthetic will numb the area, provided symptomatic pain relief, and decrease the muscle spasm.

As part of our Integrative Medicine approach, we also use Homeopathic injectables like Traumeel and Zeel for additional anti-inflammatory and healing benefits.  

Top 5 Benefits of Trigger Point Injection Therapy

1. Improved Headaches
2. Immediate Pain Relief
3. Improved Range of Motion
4. Improved Flexibility
5. Improved Posture

Are Trigger Point Injections Right for You?

  • If you have pain, reduced range of motion, or any physical issue that’s preventing you from  sleeping at night, exercising, or reaching your optimal performance, a trigger point injection might be for you.
  • It is used to both diagnose and treat the source of the issue.
  • As a diagnostic tool, it helps us know if muscle spasm, muscle cramp or muscle aches are in fact the root of your problem.
  • As a therapeutic tool, trigger point injections provide pain relief, help you move more easily with increased range of motion, and improves your tolerance of physical activity and exercise.

Other Treatment Options

In addition Trigger Point Injections, physical therapy, massage, manipulative therapy (osteopathy and chiropractic), and acupuncture are also good ways to treat trigger points, especially in the early stages of trigger point formation. However, for chronic trigger points, trigger point injection is the most effective treatment.

Advanced Trigger Point Intervention

Depending on the location of the trigger point, the injection can often be done by palpating it directly during a physical exam. At Blum Center, we also perform Musculoskeletal Ultrasound-Guided trigger point injection for hard to treat areas, especially calcified trigger points. Trigger point injections have been shown to provide significant pain relief and improvement of functional mobility.

Live in our neighborhood? Want to know if you are a good candidate for trigger point injections?   Make a Trigger Point Evaluation appointment with me! Call Blum Center for Health at 914-652-7800 to get on my schedule and relieve your pain.

 

Meet Dr. Aligene:  Dr. Kathy Aligene is Double-Board Certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (Physiatry) and Interventional Anesthesiology Pain Management. She completed her medical residency and ACGME-accredited Fellowship training at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she served as Chief Resident. Her expertise in these complementing areas of medicine has led her to successfully treat patients with musculoskeletal, joint, spine, pelvic and nerve related problems without depending on chronic use of pain medication.  

She is recognized as a local and national leader in her field, an innovative physician in the field of Integrative Pain and Regenerative Medicine. She recently recognized as New York 2018 and 2019 SuperDoctors.

 

Posted on

3 Strategies to Create New Habits That Stick

Do you begin something new — like losing weight, exercising or meditating — maybe even have some success — and then STOP?

Do you catch yourself saying, “I have no willpower”?

Or my personal favorite, “I know what I need to do, but just can’t seem to do it.”?

All of these scenarios are about only ONE thing: Changing the ingrained behaviors that lead you astray.

It’s not about diet, it’s not about exercise, it’s not about meditation.

3 Strategies to Create New Habits That Stick

Forget about goals, and laser focus on Just One Thing. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t have the best intentions (“I’m going to workout 3 times a week.” “I’m going to meditate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.” “I’m going to eating cleanly all week.”) only to “fail” when life gets busy. And life always gets busy. Focus on one thing that you can do every single day, no matter what. And only one thing. You might want to lose weight, start flossing your teeth, exercise, and meditate. But, choose one thing.

Here’s an example:

I will meditate every day for 1 minute. Yes, 1 minute! The consistency of doing it every day trumps everything else. You’re teaching your brain to expect it and need it. Can you do more? Absolutely. Will you do less? Nope. Do at least one minute every day for a week, and then go up to 3 minutes. You might then go up to 5 minutes. Eventually you will get to the number that works best for you. And, in your back pocket you have your bare minimum: No matter what I will meditate 1 minute a day.

 

Pair Your New Habit With Something You Already Do — How many times have you tried to squeeze in a new habit, only to realize at the end of the day you either forgot or couldn’t make the time. The truth is time is finite and the way we use time is habit! Want to start a meditation practice? Either pair with it something you already do, or do it at the same time every day (and set a reminder). For instance, I meditate every morning with my tea. I sit in the same comfy spot, with a cup of tea, every single morning. Habit.

 

Stop Focusing On Staying On Track and Start Focusing On How Quickly You Can Get Back on Track — Everyone falls off track. Everyone! The absolute key to success long term is learning how to get back on track quickly, leaving behind the feelings of shame and guilt that often snowball when we “stop doing” the habit we are trying to create. One day turns into two, two days turn into three and before you know it a month has gone by.

 

It doesn’t have to be that way! It is 100% possible to meet your goals. You need a plan that works for you. It doesn’t have to work for your sibling, your friend or your co-worker. It has to work for you, and only you.

And I can help.

In our work together, you will create new habits that stick. And, perhaps most importantly:

You will have the exact tools you need to get back on track in record time when an obstacle gets in your way.

Game-changer. No, this is a life-changer!

 

“In working with Melissa I stepped outside my comfort zone and became motivated to move forward and accomplish things that I normally would not have.  I felt empowered, and learned strategies to stick to my diet plan and healthier lifestyle. — Christina, New York

 

Here’s How You Can Work With Me:

Private Coaching — Say good-bye to overwhelm and dread, let go of shame and guilt, and say hello to a new way, molded to fit you and you only. Your tools, your success. Ready to make a change? We meet online or in-person. Start Today
For in-person appointments contact 914-652-7800.  

Finding Your Path: A Women’s Group for Creating Change — Are you in a life transition and ask yourself “what’s next for me?” Are you wondering what the heck happened to your “swagger?” This breakthrough 3-session program is designed for women who want to put the spring back in their step. Ready to walk into a room and feel like you own it? Learn More Here

 

“Melissa is a fun, caring, knowledgeable, and insightful health coach, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for having this group.  She has helped me to realize what is important to focus on and helped me with strategies to get me where I want to be. She has great insight and a true gift for helping you realize your hopes and dreams.  I appreciate her knowledge and wisdom, and look forward to a continued relationship.” —Annie Acuti

 

Join me and start making lasting change today.

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

Posted on

How to Navigate the Elimination Diet During the Holidays

Tis the season to be jolly! A time to embrace all the fun, laughter, family, friends and warmth around you.

Along with this wonderful socialization comes FOOD! A common question I am asked is, “How can I stay on the elimination diet plan during the holidays?” Let’s navigate this together!

You started an elimination diet to help you understand what food may be contributing to your symptoms. You are into the second week and you are feeling the best you have felt in a long time! You have a holiday party to attend and want to stay as compliant as possible. Otherwise, if you reintroduce foods at the party, how will you know which one of those foods provokes those terrible symptoms again?

When you are not feeling well, an elimination diet plan can be the single most important thing you can do to bring yourself relief from the symptoms you experience. It’s common to hear my clients tell me that they can’t believe the foods they eat daily cause their body so much distress.

At the Blum Center For Health, we guide you through an elimination diet known as the Leaky Gut Diet.  We remove the most common food sensitivities such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, caffeine, and alcohol. These meal plans are further customized to meet individual nutritional needs as needed. These target foods are carefully reintroduced at a later date to test for tolerance. This is a perfect time to adapt to an anti-inflammatory eating plan by removing processed foods and sugars while determining possible food sensitivities that may be causing inflammation in the body. Once you complete the Elimination Diet, you are equipped with your own nutritional plan. Talk about power!

I did my first elimination diet years ago. I chose the month of December! It was the best decision I ever made. I suffered with daily bloating and chronic migraines. I had a great time trying new foods and recipes. While on the elimination diet, I ate without feeling bloated, my energy was optimal, and I was finally free from my headaches! I also lost a few pounds as a bonus! I encourage you to go for it and pick out your favorite holiday outfit!

5 Ways to Navigate the Holidays While on an Elimination Diet

Bring your own dish.

You have a food sensitivity and not sure what will be on the menu… play it safe and bring a dish. This will allow you a greater peace of mind so you can eat and socialize without being sorry about what food sensitivities could be lurking within the food around you. Besides, people will think you were so kind to contribute to the spread!

Don’t go to the event hungry.

Eat your regular meals so you don’t go to the feast ready to indulge.  This will help you prevent eating something you really wanted to avoid because to you were too hungry to resist. Stay hydrated. Sometimes we can mistake hunger for thirst.

Don’t be afraid to say, “No, thank you.”

I come from an Italian background and I know too well how a Grandparent could be offended if you say “no” to a food she is offering. My Grandmother used to say, “I didn’t see you eat this”, and would gracefully put a large portion on my plate. Always be polite and say it looks delicious, but no thank you. Recall how you felt before you started the elimination diet — it’s not worth setting yourself back. Know when you can practice the 90/10 rule with eating. For example, histamine sensitivity is all about threshold. You consume lemon in your seltzer and you’re fine but when coupled with a meal containing fermented vegetables and shellfish…you just ruined your evening!

You are not strange!

This is the generation of special diet modifications … gluten-free, nightshade-free, Paleo, low FODMAPs etc. People are more familiar with food sensitivities. Heck, they probably have tried a gluten-free or dairy-free meal plan themselves. Contact the cook or the person in charge of the menu. Nine times out of ten they have an alternative they can offer you.

Embrace how good you are feeling.

Live in the moment and let go of the stress. Embrace the joy the holidays can bring to you. You will be avoiding alcohol on your elimination diet. No problem, opt for a refreshing seltzer with lime.  Be creative with your food choices and make your own appetizers. Like popcorn, make your own version of a cauliflower popcorn. Use a head of cauliflower, cut into large bite size pieces and toss in avocado oil, sea salt and turmeric. Roast in a 425 degree oven until golden to your liking. Enjoy!

Above all be mindful of the food you are eating being grateful while savoring each bite!

Want to have your Best December Ever? Check out Health Coach Melissa Rapoport’s, terrific post this month about a December mindset vs. a Holiday mindset. Having a plan as you navigate through the holiday months will prove to reduce stress and the risk of unwanted guilt of feeling like your health spiraled out of control. → Show Me

Are you feeling the effects of too much holiday fun? About now many people feel heavy, bloated and blah. It’s the perfect time to do our 10-Day HealMyGut program — reboot and feel better —  it’s exactly what you need to bring your intestinal flora back into balance. Relief is on the way! — Yes, Please!

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

Posted on

Create your Healthiest December Ever!

Here’s a question: Do You Have a “Holiday Mindset” or “December Mindset?”

Here’s what I mean:

  • Do you put everything “on hold” during the holidays and think, “It’s the holidays. Once January 1st hits I’ll get back on track?” That is a “Holiday Mindset.”
  • Or, do you buckle down, stick to your plans and make stuff happen?” That is a “December Mindset.”

Most people, explains Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, have a “Holiday Mindset” (which puts life on hold and feels kinda crummy).

What does that mean from a health context?

You eat poorly, stop exercising, get caught up in holiday stress, feel overwhelmed and hit January 1st needing to make resolutions and a reboot.

But you can choose to create “The Best December Ever” by staying aware, committed and consciously understanding that everything you do this month sets us you up for success going into the New Year.

Doesn’t that sound awesome? Who doesn’t want success going into the New Year? Why wait for the ball to drop? Why even wait another day?

5 Steps to Creating Your Best December Ever:

1. Create Your Goal — I recommend creating one goal (okay, for you overachievers, you can have two — just be sure it’s something you can stick with for the month of December, one of the most stressful months of the year). It could have to do with food, exercise, self-care, meditation, family, journaling, how you approach the holidays — anything you want, but it has to be something that serves you and will make you feel awesome!

So what do you want to do? Let’s turn it into a “Smart” Goal. Smart Goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound.

I’ll use myself as an example. I want to exercise regularly.

My exercise Smart Goal is: I will workout 3x a week, mostly yoga, on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, for the entire month of December. It is specific, measurable (3x a week), attainable (it’s not out of reach — saying I want to snow ski 3x a week would be unattainable), realistic (saying 5 times a week would be unrealistic for me) and time bound (the month of December).

Your turn! What do you want to create this month?

2.  Write a “Gold Card’ and post where you will see it — basically, this is a love note to yourself. Mine says, “I honor my body and choose to nourish my body. I give myself permission to say “no” to commitments that do not serve me. I will not allow my family/friends to take me off-track. I choose to care for me. Love. Light. Replenish.” I post mine on the bathroom mirror. Yep, seriously. First thing I see in the morning. Last thing I see before I go to bed. It’s hard work to rewire our brains!

3.  Visualize yourself achieving your goal — Performance athletes use visualization to “see themselves” in action. Basically, you’re rehearsing success in your mind’s eye. This is very powerful stuff? Try it … sit quietly and envision yourself achieving your goal. Feels good, right? Add it to your mediation practice if you have one. Or, when you read your Gold Card, take a moment and use visualization.

4.  Get an Accountability Buddy! — ask someone to join you – check in with them by text every day (or every other day). Hint: sometimes it’s best not to choose someone who you know really well. Why? Because you both are more likely to let one another off the hook!)

I started my Best December Ever on Monday (a bit of a head start) for the month. Feels good already.

Your turn! What’s your goal?

Looking to create your best year ever? Now is the time to get started! What do you want to achieve? Lose weight, stick to a food plan or exercise program, start a meditation practice .. I can help. Set up a free consultation and I will help you create your roadmap to success. Call 914-652-7800 and let’s chat!

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

Posted on

When Does a Shoulder Ache Become A Shoulder Problem?

Did you know that shoulder injuries typically occur prior to the progressive aches and pains that follow the injury? The shoulder joint is the most complex joint of the upper body, designed for mobility and physical interaction.

For example, think about opening a jar: although the hand and wrist provides the twisting motion, the shoulder joint provides the greatest amount of strength and stability. In fact, the shoulder’s multidirectional flexibility relies on the ‘rotator cuff muscles’ – four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor) inserting around the shoulder joint that help move it, as well as providing stability. However, this architectural complexity creates an inherent risk for shoulder instability and injury, and is a common source of pain

Shoulder Aches and Pains

Most people are unaware of their shoulder problem for a long time. This is why: There are several muscles connected to the shoulder joint. When there is a deficit in one of the muscles, the other muscles have the ability to compensate. Therefore, shoulder injuries do not become apparent as problems until there are multiple deficits causing significant aches and pains.

Another important point to mention is that acute pain felt in the shoulder region may not indicate that there is a primary shoulder problem at all. There are several adjacent musculoskeletal regions (e.g. the neck) that can be painful but appear to be originating from the shoulder. In addition, there some body organs that, when inflamed, can “refer pain” to the shoulder- such as the heart, gallbladder, liver, and lungs. Therefore, a thorough clinical assessment must be made to differentiate whether it is a true shoulder problem, a problem with a nearby musculoskeletal region, or a problem with other internal organs.

The Common Presentation of Shoulder Problems:

  • Non-specific aches and pains in the shoulder area that occurs spontaneously, oftentimes unaware of source or trigger of pain.
  • Loss of range of motion usually in one or two directions (often goes unnoticed)- difficulty with regular activities (reaching for an object, pulling, lifting, holding, etc).
  • Noticeable weakness with activities, inability to lay on the shoulder, swelling, stiffness and difficulty with dressing (e.g. clasping brassiere).
  • If untreated, progresses to multi-directional loss of range of motion and muscle atrophy.
  • Shoulder discomfort with daily activities:
    • Reaching overhead – i.e. opening kitchen cabinet, grabbing an item on a shelf above your head
    • Repetitive motion- i.e.driving, combing hair, brushing teeth,
    • Sustained activities- i.e. pulling, lifting or carrying an item
    • Opening door
    • reaching for seatbelt or an item from the back seat of your car
  • Grinding or cracking sound with shoulder movement
  • Pain or discomfort when laying on the shoulder
  • Difficulty with upper body dressing (ie. clasping brazire)
  • Shoulder discomfort with daily activities, ie driving, carrying grocery, shopping

6 Common Musculoskeletal Shoulder Problems:

  1. Shoulder Arthritis (Glenohumeral Joint Disorder)
  2. Rotator Cuff Syndrome
  3. Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
  4. Shoulder Instability
  5. Shoulder Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Pain

Treatment Options:

Conventional Treatment includes:

  • Ice
  • Anti-inflammatories (oral, topicals, steroid injections)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Surgical Interventions

How Shoulder Problems are Evaluated and Alternative Therapeutic Treatments offered at the Blum Center:

  • Comprehensive Physical Diagnostic Evaluatio
  • Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Diagnostic and Therapeutic Treatment
  • Comprehensive Physical Therapy Program based on diagnostic evaluation
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)– used to repair the damaged degenerative cartilage, tendons and ligaments
  • Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells– recommended for more progressive and severe joint issues
  • Prolotherapy– for loose and unstable shoulder ligaments and tendons
    Prolotherapy is routinely the preferred treatment option for chronic shoulder pain/injury. Prolotherapy can be used successfully for treating most chronic injuries of the shoulder including rotator cuff injuries and tears, arthritis, sprains, and AC separation. Prolotherapy is 85-90% successful in stimulating healing of the injured shoulder. Prolotherapy, the injection of a growth promoting solution in injured ligaments and tendons of the shoulder is an effective treatment that decreases pain, increases functional capacity and promotes healing better and in less time than standard treatment with physiotherapy.Remember, shoulder injuries typically occur prior to the progressive aches and pains that follow the injury. The shoulder joint is comprised of a complex system of muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments that act in a dynamic and flexible way to provide structural support and mobility. Therefore, if you suspect that you’re having progressive shoulder aches or pains, it is highly recommended to seek medical evaluation and treatment if necessary. If so, please call us to make an appointment!

Meet Dr. Aligene: Dr. Kathy Aligene is a Double Boarded Physiatrist and Interventional Pain Management Specialist, and an innovative physician in the field of Integrative Pain and Regenerative Medicine.  Her expertise in these complementing areas of medicine has led her to successfully treat patients with musculoskeletal, joint, spine, pelvic and nerve related problems without depending on chronic use of pain medication. Dr. Aligene treats men and women of all ages and activity levels to support their functional goals and promote an active and healthy lifestyle. Book an appointment with Dr.Aligene by calling 914-652-7800.

  • References
    1. https://www.myvmc.com/symptoms/pain-2/
Posted on

Intermittent Fasting and Autoimmunity

Many millennia before fasting became of interest for medical reasons, the practice of fasting — abstaining from all meals — was seen as a way to achieve a higher spiritual purpose.

The main religions often have annual fasts, and some have rites of passage, that include fasting so that one can undergo “purification.” The Hindus and Buddhists do, “atonement” through the Jewish tradition of Yom Kippur or the Catholic tradition of Lent, for clarity of religious purpose or become close to God as the Muslims do for Ramadan. And so on.

It is clear, through the passage of time and tradition, that there is a benefit – spiritual, emotional, and sometimes physical – to the practice of fasting.

Recently, fasting has become vogue but it is stemming from the resurgent scientific literature showing great promise in various fields including cancer therapy, metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity, and an anti-aging and longevity practice, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s and dementia and autoimmunity.

The definition of fasting is the abstinence of food, drink or both. The various fasting that science is starting to look at has much more nuance to it than just plain not eating.

The popular 5:2 intermittent fast for weight loss was popularized first in the UK. It features a normal eating schedule 5 days a week and 2 days of the week calories are restricted to about 500.  

The more specific intermittent fast, known as time-restricted feeding, has now been gaining more momentum. With intermittent fasting, you abstain from eating for anywhere from 13-16 hours of the day and keep food consumption during the other hours.

The weight loss that occurs with this approach is supported by studies stemming from Dr. Satchin Panda’s work at the Salk Institute. His research looks at the connection between the time you don’t eat and how it plays into the workings of the circadian rhythm, our internal clocks that can govern metabolism and sleep, for example. Recently, the University of Illinois at Chicago enlisted 23 obese volunteers and had them eat only between 10AM and 6PM. They lost weight and dropped their blood pressure significantly.¹

At the other extreme of fasting are those that abstain from anything aside from water sometimes for a day, but sometimes up to 7-10 days. Other variations include bone broth or vegetable broth fasts often diluted. And there are now low calorie versions of packaged fasts called “fasting mimicking diets” that are essentially 500 cal per day over five days.  

Promising Research on Fasting & Autoimmunity

The only study that looked at the role of fasting on autoimmunity in humans were on people who fasted for Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Fasting periods are typically around 12-16 hours but there is variation set by the individual. A systemic review did find a mild effect on the immune system but that was transient and returned to baseline once they resumed their regular eating schedule. Lipids improved in some and there was a reduction of oxidative stress markers in others.²

The most persuasive evidence of the benefits of fasting on autoimmunity come from animal studies. Mice that were bred to mimic an autoimmune disease similar to Multiple Sclerosis were used in the study. Multiple sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disorder marked by the demyelination of neurons in the brain that affect nerve conduction. This is in part thought to be due to the body’s own immune system causing the damage.  

The mice were put into 2 groups, one a ketogenic diet (high-fat ultra low-carb) or a fasting mimicking diet (very low calorie and protein) for 3 days every 7 days for a month.

Researchers found was that mice on the fasting mimicking diet had reduced levels of inflammatory cytokines, increase in endogenous corticosteroids and improvements in T cell immunity. Aside from markers they saw that mice actually had REMYELINATION meaning the damaged components of the neurons regenerated what was damaged by the body’s autoimmune process. This was specifically though to happen during the re-feeding periods. Amazingly 20% of the mice had a complete recovery and all mice had a reduction in symptoms.³

This is certainly a very fascinating finding that will spur on further research to elucidate the utility of fasting in certain autoimmune conditions and we’ll hear more as time goes on.

I am big proponent of fasting in certain circumstances and I utilize the full spectrum of fasting methods in the right person. Would I have this discussion on fasting in an autoimmune patient, yes. But given the current data in autoimmunity it is not a methodology that I advocate early on.

Caution: Fasting is something that one can consider exploring on their own if they are not within the extremes of ages, healthy and without any active disease for which they are taking medication but if one does not fit in this category, it is advised that they seek the guidance of a knowledgeable  physician who can advise and monitor them through this process or to be able to assess if they are the right candidate to go through the process.

Do you have a health condition and wondering if fasting is right for you? If you live in our neighborhood, make an appointment with Dr. Yee. Or, if you live afar, consider a Tele-Education call. Send us an email for more information — > Email Now

 

References
  1. https://today.uic.edu/daily-fasting-works-for-weight-loss
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29230208
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29230208
Posted on

Is There a Way to Prevent and Delay Knee Arthritis?

Chronic Inflammation in the bones and the joints (osteoarthritis, OA, or commonly referred to as arthritis) is one of those hushed terms that we tend to associate with aging or obesity. Yet, as the U.S. population ages, surviving well past “old age,” and remaining physically active, more and more people will suffer from OA. Due to chronic pain and limited range of motion, OA places a significant functional limitation on the individual and can negatively impact mental health and well-being.

How do people develop OA?

Knee osteoarthritis, the most prevalent type of OA, is a main cause of disability, and affects men and women equally. Over a person’s lifetime, bones and joints are subjected to normal wear and tear. Our bodies will naturally repair itself through an inflammatory and healing process. As we age, inflammation in bones and joints can become unchecked, made worse by poor diet and other system-wide triggers of inflammation like digestive issues (imbalanced gut microbiome) and chronic stress. (You can learn more about that in Dr. Blum’s book, Healing Arthritis).   In weight-bearing joints, such as the knee, in addition to systemic inflammation, the direct and repetitive physical impact with abnormal loading forces and stress to the joint, further contributes to increased inflammation and slowing of the healing process.

How you can prevent or delay knee arthritis 

Luckily, knee OA  is more preventable than is commonly assumed. The early stages of joint degeneration often does not cause pain, and early detection is key to making sure your arthritis doesn’t progress to irreversible damage. So, what are some of the warning signs to look out for?

Signs that might indicate you have knee OA:

  • Decreased range of motion or pain on initiating movement (sitting to standing, getting up out of bed, squatting)
  • Difficulty walking up/down stairs
  • Knee swelling (with exercise or activity)

How can we solve the Knee OA problem?

Here are ways you can help make sure you don’t get OA, and how you can prevent it from getting worse:

  • Have a Physiatrist (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialist) evaluate the physical factors that might be adding wear and tear to your joints:
    • Biomechanics — addressing underlying or potential biomechanical problems leading to abnormal forces or stress on your knee joint.
    • Ergonomics — activities or position that lead to knee ache, pain or stiffness.
    • Footwear — wearing well-fitted and appropriate footwear that supports the entire foot
    • Physical and Joint Health — maintaining joint stability with muscle strengthening, range of motion and balance exercises. The key to maintaining active exercise routine is to use proper positioning techniques that are personalized to you. Using proper techniques during any activity, decrease your risk of abnormal joint stress.  
  • Work with a Functional Medicine Practitioner, such as ours at Blum Center for Health, to treat underlying medical conditions that may cause chronic inflammation, like improving your gut microbiome.
  • Work with a Nutritionist to learn how to eat an anti-inflammatory diet.

How is Blum Center of Health helping to change the course of Knee OA?

We are thrilled, that in addition to our functional medicine and nutrition team, we are now able to offer Regenerative Medicine — a state-of-the-art treatment focused on directly impacting the damage in, and around, the joint.

Treatment Options:

  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)– used to repair the damaged degenerative cartilage, tendons and ligaments.
  • Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells– recommended for more progressive and severe knee OA
  • Prolotherapy– for loose and unstable knee ligament and tendon

Remember, knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a medical condition that is increasing in prevalence in the US, as the population ages and survives longer. OA is a chronic condition in the soft tissue of joints that causes significant disability due to pain and limited range of motion. OA can be delayed, or even prevented with proper medical management and innovative/integrative medical interventions. If you or someone you love shows signs of OA, please call us to make an appointment!

Meet Dr. Aligene: Dr. Kathy Aligene is Board Certified Physiatrist, Interventional Pain Management Specialist and an innovative physician in the field of Integrative Pain and Regenerative Medicine.  Her expertise in these complementing areas of medicine has led her to successfully treat patients with musculoskeletal, joint, spine, pelvic and nerve related problems without depending on chronic use of pain medication. Dr. Aligene treats men and women of all ages and activity levels to support their functional goals and promote an active and healthy lifestyle. Book an appointment with Dr.Aligene by calling 914-652-7800.

Posted on

Summer Green Smoothie Instead of Coffee? You Bet!

Like most of you, I really love my morning coffee (my morning fuel of choice is espresso).  The nespresso machine in my kitchen has been an attractive nuisance since I bought it, making it way too easy to have one or two shots as I am revving up to start my day.  As August rolled around, I decided to do an experiment to see if my espresso was affecting how I felt, good or bad. To do this, I decided to kick the habit, and substitute my espresso for black tea (which also has caffeine), followed by a green smoothie made from contents of my garden. Yummy live food that I whipped up in my Nutrabullet.  And here is what I discovered.

It took a few days to adjust, but by day 3, I noticed that I was sleeping deeper and longer.  Since I was having my espresso only very early in the mornings, it shocked me that it had such a dramatic effect on my sleep so many hours later. I always thought that because I wasn’t having caffeine or coffee after 10 am, it wouldn’t make a difference.  Boy was I wrong!

I found myself sleeping later in the mornings and remembering my dreams.  If you are having any sleep issues whatever, I strongly recommend quitting coffee and see what happens!  It has been about 4 weeks now, and I am still sleeping great, feeling more rested in the mornings.

What I Learned About Green Smoothies

I used to be more of a berries-in-the-smoothie girl, but I switched to a more tart, savory drink instead of sweet.  You will see my recipe below. After my live, green, smoothie breakfast, I am zipping to work and buzzing with a better energy than I used to get from espresso!  I decided to write this blog to inspire those of you that read this, to try this experiment. The good news is that you can get greens triple washed and ready to use, making this smoothie super easy to make each morning.  I usually go out to the garden and add fresh parsley, rosemary, basil, or mint, in addition to the kale and spinach. You can customize this to your taste.

Here are the nutrition facts:

Total calories:  265;

Fat: 12.9 grams; Carbs: 34.6 grams; Fiber: 7.2 grams: Sugar: 17 grams; Protein: 11.2 grams

Green Smoothie Recipe:

½ apple, skin on

½ banana

½ cup Baby Kale

½ cup Baby spinach

1 TBL fresh lemon juice

1 TBL fresh lime juice

2 TBL organic Hemp seeds

1 cup cold filtered water

Optional:  A twig of rosemary and a handful parsley from the garden, or other herbs of your choice like a few leaves of mint or basil.

Put all ingredients in the Nutrabullet and enjoy!

 

Posted on

Coffee Was My Lifeline. Why Did I Give It Up?

For over 20 years I have maintained, “Coffee is my medicine.” Imagine the shock when I realized recently, that, in fact, coffee has been playing havoc with my health.

Shock. Horror. Dismay.

Here’s the backstory: From the time I was a toddler I have suffered from migraines. As a young adult I went to the Montefiore Headache Clinic in New York City. I was put on a strict diet, eliminating every known migraine trigger, including coffee since too much caffeine creates “rebound” headaches. Once my system was “trigger-free” for several weeks, trigger foods were added back one-by-one to see what I reacted to.

With one exception: Coffee.

Coffee replaced all medications: One cup of coffee early in the morning, one cup of coffee around 2pm.

My mantra for the last 20 years has been: I can’t give up coffee! Coffee is my medicine! Doctor’s orders!

This came to a crashing halt recently. You see when I committed to the 14-Day Whole Life Detox, I decided to follow Dr. Blum’s plan exactly as outlined. That meant no coffee for 14 days.. The week before I started Whole Life Detox I reduced my coffee consumption from 2 cups to 1 cup.

Then one Day 1 of Whole Life Detox, the reckoning: No coffee.

What happened next shocked me! After completing the detox I decided I would add coffee back into my morning routine. I bought fresh beans, ground it to fill the kitchen with that delightful smell, and brewed the perfect cup of coffee in my French Press. I could not wait to taste it.

Oh, that coffee goodness! Full body, lovely bouquet, chocolatey, caramel flavors.

And then? A big, fat case of the shakes!

What? How can this be? I even tested it two days later to see if I was right. Yep, same response.

And the reality is …. several weeks later … I have less headaches without it.

So here’s the thing: We hold on tightly to the things that cause us pain.

I challenge you: What do you think you can’t live without? Sugar? Bread? Cheese? Meat? Whatever it is, drop it for a week and see what happens.

Looking for an easy 14-day detox to reduce your toxic load, and jumpstart weight loss & healthy choices? Check out the Whole Life Detox. It’s a great place to start. Show Me Whole Life Detox

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

 

Posted on

Let’s Talk About Sugar

A common question I ask my client’s is, “If you could change one thing to improve your health what would it be?” I get many different answers but many times I get a return question asking me what I think is the most important thing someone can do to improve their health.

My answer in short is….

R-E-M-O-V-E     S-U-G-A-R!

Why is removing sugar from your dietary plan the single most important action YOU can take to better your health?

So glad you asked!

6 Ways Sugar Ruins Your Health

Sugar …

  1. Feeds unwanted bacteria such as candida, causing an overgrowth of these bacteria resulting in oral thrush, yeast infections, skin rashes and fungus, digestive issues, food cravings, exhaustion and more…
  2. Ages your cells and Increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.  
  3. Raises your blood sugar levels. Sugar in the blood causes the secretion of the fat storage hormone, insulin, causing an increase in belly fat. This results in systemic inflammation, weight gain and an increased risk of developing diabetes.
  4. Is the top fuel for the growth of cancer cells.
  5. Weakens your immune system.
  6. Raises blood triglycerides levels increasing the risk of heart disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  7. And the list goes on…

This is why we created the 7-Day Sugar Detox, a FREE, easy-to-follow program designed to make sugar cravings a thing of the past. Join us and get started today! It’s FREE!  Yes, I Want Off the Sugar Roller-Coaster

Sugar is Everywhere!

Sugar exists in so many forms and carries many names. There are simple processed sugars such as fructose, corn syrup, glucose, agave, sucrose (table sugar), and dextrose. Then there are more natural sweeteners including honey, pure maple syrup, molasses, monk, date or coconut sugar.

Sugars, whether in a more natural form or highly processed, can negatively affect your health, especially in high quantities. It’s summertime, a time full of barbeques and party events where sweet treats come along with the territory. Keeping the consumption of these sugars, whether natural or highly processed, to a minimum is key!

What about Sugar Substitutes?

Another category of sweeteners that are popular with “dieters” are low-calorie sugar substitutes.

There is an abundance of artificial sweeteners on the market today. Some common names include: Aspartame (Equal or Nutrasweet) and Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), Sucralose (Splenda), and sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol and xylitol. These substances can be found in an abundance of different foods from yogurts and salad dressings to the gum that you chew! Sugar alcohols are generally considered “safe” in small amounts when compared to artificial sweeteners but may cause some gastrointestinal upset (gas and bloating).

Artificial sweeteners are unnatural man-made chemicals that are harmful to your health and can even cause weight gain. Yes, I said weight gain! Simply said, these sweeteners tend not to satisfy the sweet addiction our bodies crave so we tend to eat more of them!

I prefer you to consider fresh fruits or organic pure Stevia instead. Stevia is an herbal plant that is 200x sweeter than sugar so you only need a little bit when you use it.

The magic question is…how much sugar should you consume?

The answer to this question becomes a complicated one. If we take a look at the latest USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020), it recommends no more than 10 percent of our daily calories come from sugar.To understand this better, the Dietary Guidelines are based off of a 2,000-calorie diet. So, in general, ten percent of 2,000 calories equals 200 calories. This equates to 50 grams of sugar, the same as saying approximately 12 teaspoons of sugar!

The guidelines go further to explain no more than 100 calories (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for women and no more than 150 calories (36 grams or 9 teaspoons) of added sugar for men.  The FDA recently added to the food label “added sugar” and recommends no more than 10 grams of added sugar per serving. Added sugar is the sugar added in the processing of the product but this does not account for the amount of sugar already in the product. To understand this more clearly, see the label below.

 

Image adapted from the FDA.org

 

Subtract the amount of added sugar from the total sugar to find the total amount of natural sugar in the product.  Example from the label above: 12-10=2 grams of naturally occurring sugar.

The USDA Dietary Guidelines address the importance of reducing sugar in the diet but the truth has it…these guidelines are still too much!

A leading expert who is known for bringing the research forward on sugar is Dr. Robert Lustig. Check out one of his you-tube videos below https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM . It’s worth the short time you invest to watch it!

The best meal plan to keep sugar intake to a minimum is a one sourced from organic whole foods! A whole foods meal plan is devoid of refined flours and sugars, and contains food that is minimally processed and exists as close to its natural state as possible. A lot less need for math and food label reading!

Include a healthy source of protein and fat at each meal or snack to promote satiety and head off cravings for sugary treats!

Follow an organic whole foods meal plan so your body can thrive! Include:

  • An abundance of phytonutrient rich produce including leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables as well as low glycemic high fiber rich fruits such as berries.
  • Pasture raised hormone free animal sources.
  • May include a small amount of whole grains such as quinoa and wild rice.
  • Quality fats such as nuts, nut and seeds and their butters and healthy oils such as avocado, coconut, olive, flax and ghee.

Are your ready to get off sugar? Join our FREE 7-Day Sugar Detox! We will help you kickstart your sugar-free life. It’s easy to follow and FREE! Get My First Action Plan Now

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN, CLT, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.