Food for Thought

With so much information out there today about healthy foods, damaging foods and superfoods etc, it is difficult to know where to start if you are looking to make some changes to your diet. Below is some information about the benefits of  certain foods to help encourage you to start making some of those changes today.

Watermelon: This is one of the world’s healthiest foods. Some facts about watermelon include: 1: It has a high water content, which means it has bulk without the calories. This makes it ideal for hydration and weight loss. 2: It contains high levels of vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which has an important role in eye function, immune function, cell growth and reproduction. 3: It is high in lycopene. 

Lycopene is a naturally occurring compound which acts as an antioxidant and gives certain fruits and vegetables their red colour. Studies have indicated that lycopene may help prevent certain cancers, such as prostate, intestinal and lung cancer, as well as having cardiovascular benefits.

Broccoli: It would be difficult to make a list of healthy foods without mentioning broccoli. Often classed as a ‘superfood’, broccoli has been recommended by the American Cancer Society as one of the best foods to help prevent certain cancers. This includes breast and cervical cancer as well as lung and esophageal cancer. Broccoli also contains compounds such lutein and zeaxanthin which are currently being researched for their ability to reduce or prevent macular degeneration. Further to these benefits, broccoli contains an abundance of antioxidant properties along with protein, fibre, potassium, calcium, vitamins A & C, magnesium and more! This makes Broccoli a real powerhouse when it comes to health and it should definitely be at the top of anyone’s list of ‘foods to eat’.

Nutrition

Wild Salmon: Wild salmon is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. The reason for this claim is because it is packed full of omega-3 oils. Omega-3 oils are a type of fatty acid that is thought to have substantial health benefits for your heart and brain. They are also thought to aid circulation and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Furthermore omega-3 oils raise your good cholesterol (HDL’s); whilst reducing bad cholesterol (LDL’s). Omega-3 fats also reduce inflammation within the body and even help to control blood sugar levels. Salmon also has a high protein content as well as containing potassium, selenium and vitamin B12.

In contrast, farm-raised salmon are bred very differently. Due to the way they are kept, they are susceptible to infection and disease; and because of this, are fed substantial amounts of antibiotics. In the wild, salmon eat mackerel, sardines and krill – they are carnivores, while in farms they are grain fed. In short, this leads to farm-raised salmon containing inflammatory fats, less omega-3’s and possibly an unwanted course of antibiotics! We are what we eat…… so are salmon!

Oatmeal: This is another food that should be on everyone’s list of ‘foods to eat’, although avoid the sweetened instant packs as they contain far too much added sugar. Choose the least processed oats such as Swedish cereal oats, Irish, Scottish or rolled oats. As well as containing soluble and insoluble fibre, oats also contain ‘Beta-Glucans’, which is a type of starch that boosts the immune system. Beta-glucans are also under the microscope at the moment as they may contain cancer-fighting properties. One more benefit to mention is that the complex sugars within oatmeal have a favourable effect on blood glucose levels; which is very important for diabetics.

The main down-side to oats is that they should be avoided if you are gluten sensitive, have coeliac disease or if you suffer with kidney stones or gout. Oats contain purines which unfortunately break down into uric acid in the body, which in turn can irritate the joints in certain people.

Water: We are told time and time again to drink more water, so I will spend only a short time reminding you why it’s good for you. Your body is about 80% water, your muscles are 75% water, your brain is 74% water and your bones are 22% water. Every metabolic process in your body requires water. The ligaments and cartilage around your joints also contain water, and that includes the shock absorbing meniscus in your knees. Keeping well hydrated also helps keep the plasma and viscosity of your blood thinner; making the job of pumping it around your body easier on the heart and artery walls.

Our body is made primarily of water. We use for a multitude of tasks, and we need it more than any other nutrient. So perhaps we should be drinking a little more water in our day to day lives?

Pomegranate Juice: This little beauty has been hiding under the radar for a while, until recently. Researchers have discovered that pomegranate juice contains very high levels of antioxidants and other beneficial substances called ‘flavonoids’. Flavonoids are thought to improve the immune system, reduce free radical damage and contain cancer fighting properties. Studies have also shown that pomegranate juice may help to protect the prostate gland, improve cardiovascular health, reduce bad cholesterol and possibly be a natural Viagra! This so-called newcomer on the block is well worth reading about and including in your diet.

Vegetables: To finish, let me make one thing clear; there are no bad vegetables! Anything that has a leaf and crunches when you bite into it is a good thing. Vegetables are low in fat and contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Green, yellow and orange vegetables are also rich sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and beta-carotene. These compounds along with antioxidants, protect the body from oxidative stress and certain cancers. Additionally, vegetables are packed with soluble and insoluble fibre, which promotes gut health and help protect against conditions such as constipation, diverticulitis and colon cancer.

A quick note on organic food: organic food is produced using environmentally and animal friendly farming methods; which are strictly regulated. Organic food generally tastes better, contains more nutrients, is free of pesticides and hormones, and is more humane for animals. Organic farming methods also nourish and preserve the soil in which the food is grown. It may take a little discipline and be a bit more costly, but buying organic is healthier for us, and the environment.

“Let food be thy medicine, let medicine be thy food”…..Hippocrates

 

For more information please contact Jason at: info@jhoughtonosteopath.co.uk or visit: http://www.jhoughtonosteopath.co.uk Tel: 01603 291925. M: 07736 449603.

Thank you for reading.

Knee Problems

Knee Problems

The knee is the most frequently injured joint in athletes. Most injuries occur due to the extreme stress during twisting activities such as football, skiing, squash and any other sport that requires a large amount of body movement. Fortunately, the muscles surrounding the knee generally do a very good job of protecting the joint and most injuries are not too serious. However, as there are a multitude of things that can go wrong with the knee joint, any prolonged or acute pain,along with restricted movement should be checked out. 

The Knee Joint:
The Knee Joint is made up of four bones: the thigh bone or femur, the two long bones of the lower leg: tibia and fibula, and patella, or knee-cap. The knee joint is a hinge joint, and although it may look like quite simple, it is one of the most complex joints in the body. It is also the largest joint in the body and more likely to be injured than any other. 

As well as flexing and extending, the knee also has a small degree of rotation. This is perhaps one of the reasons why there are so many injuries to the knee. It is also one of the main joints to be affected by arthritis as we age. Taking care of our knees in the younger years may possibly help prevent future complications in our more mature years.

Common Problems:
The Menisci (meniscus) are you shock absorbers. They sit between the femur and tibia to provide cushioning, lubrication, stability and load transmission. A meniscal tear can often occur whilst twisting the knee, leading to pain, swelling, locking or giving way. Operations are often performed to remove, or partially remove the damaged area of these structures. Surgeons often try to removal as little as possible as removing a complete meniscus can significantly reduce the shock absorbing ability of the knee.

The Cruciate Ligaments are found in the centre of the knee and are the major stabilising ligaments of the joint. You may have heard of these ligaments: the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL). These ligaments prevent the femur and tibia sliding in opposite directions against each other. ACL tears are usually dramatic with immediate symptoms, whilst PCL tears are often less dramatic, but still result in problems.

A rupture of one of these ligaments often leads to significant swelling and instability, along with pain, discomfort and other complications. Surgery is often be performed to repair theses ligaments, but is not needed in every case. Suitable and persistent rehabilitation can have very beneficial effects in regaining stability and mobility over time.

There are four main ligaments that stabilise the knee joint; the cruciate ligaments, which we have spoken about, and the two collateral ligaments, which sit either side of the knee joint. The collateral ligaments stabilise the knee in a sideways direction, and you can probably guess, a sideways force is often the mechanism of injury. Most injuries occur to the inside (medial) ligament through direct trauma and include pain to the touch and stiffness. Fortunately, the majority of injuries to this ligament are not serious and heal quickly.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disease that causes the hyaline cartilage within a joint to break down; and the surrounding bone to thicken and restrict movement. OA commonly affects the hips, lower back, neck and knee joints. OA in the knee affects over 70,000 people each year in the UK; and most physicians believe a combination of factors including muscle weakness, obesity, injury and aging are responsible. Symptoms of OA include pain, stiffness and thickening around the joint, as well as reduced range of motion. Pain is commonly worse in the morning and during weight bearing activity.

Other problems which cause knee pain include: OA under the kneecap (patella), rheumatoid arthritis, muscle strains, bursitis, tendonitis, Osgood Schlatter’s disease, thrombosis, fracture and dislocation. Other areas that can refer pain to the knee include: OA of the hip joint and lower back, along with problems around the foot or ankle, such as overpronation (flat footed).

Stay Injury Free:
As the knee joint sits between two long levers, the upper and lower leg, it is extremely reliant upon the surrounding muscles and ligaments. The muscles at the front of the knee are the quadriceps and the muscles behind are the hamstrings. As well as aiding smooth movement, these muscles also help to support and protect the knee from damage. Therefore, exercise will help maintain the strength and condition of these muscles, whilst movement will lubricate the joint and the structures within it. Overall, regular exercise which will help maintain the integrity and longevity of the joint and hopefully minimise problems later on. Be kind to your knees.

How an Osteopath can help:
Osteopaths can often identify the cause of knee pain or discomfort and can help to reduce this discomfort. Your osteopath should also provide information on exercises to help with your condition, or possibly activities to avoid. Osteopathy is predominantly a ‘hands on’ treatment, although it may also involve ultrasound, acupuncture or TENS therapy. Should your condition require further investigation, an osteopath can write to your GP asking for further investigation.

“The weight of the world may be on your shoulders; but think what that’s doing to your knees!” JH.

For more information please contact Jason at: info@jhoughtonosteopath.co.uk or visit: www.jhoughtonosteopath.co.uk Tel: 01603 291925. M: 07736 449603. Thank you for reading. 

Headaches

Headaches are a very common problem amongst both men and women. Headaches affect our ability to work, they can affect our sleep and of course cause us to worry. Although headaches can often be distressing and painful, they rarely indicate a serious condition.