Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkin!!!

One of my favorite things about Fall is the arrival of pumpkin EVERYTHING season! I love the cool weather combined with warming, nourishing and not to mention delicious pumpkin! Eating seasonally is a great way to prepare your body for the change in weather.

Pumpkins also have many great health benefits, including:

-Pumpkin is an antioxidant/anti inflammatory food so it supports joint health, organ health, stress relief and some injuries.

-Pumpkins are high in vitamin C and zinc so they help boost your immunity.

-Pumpkins are high in vitamin A so they help protect your eyes from cataracts and degeneration.

-Pumpkins are high in magnesium which is great for bone and tooth health.

-Pumpkins contain L tryptophan which can help naturally fight depression.

So this fall, enjoy some pumpkin! Add it to your chili, your smoothies, your oatmeal, pie and more!

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Health Benefits of Whey Before Bedtime

One of the issues most of my clients struggle with when they first come to me is after-dinner snacking. They feel like they need a little “something” in those few hours between dinner and bedtime. One of the strategies I find most effective for my clients is using whey protein just before bed to help them boost metabolism, burn some fat and feel satiated. So what are some of the health benefits you can expect from incorporating whey protein into your bedtime routine?

  • Burn fat while you sleep: Whey protein provides a boost of amino acids which help increase your metabolism, allowing your body to burn additional calories while sleeping.
  • Improves post-workout muscle recovery: When you workout, you are tearing down your muscles to build them up. Whey protein allows your muscles to recover faster, especially when sleeping. Giving your body that boost just before bed helps tremendously with recovery and reducing muscle soreness. You ensure that your muscles are getting the protein they need to rebuild after a workout.
  • Improved sleep & waking up refreshed: Adding in amino acids and burning calories in your sleep helps you wake up feeling refreshed and energized in the morning.

There is a small minority that may have difficulty sleeping when taking whey protein just before bed (for some, an increase in metabolism may cause an increase in energy). If this is the case, you can try mixing it with magnesium powder or using magnesium lotion to help support natural sleep.

Please be sure that you are using a whey supplement that is low in calorie and sugar, it should really just be whey without any added ingredients. You’re looking for a supplement, not a small meal. Some suggested products include:

Whey Protein Supplement

Improved sleep with magnesium:

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Techniques to sooth and ward off foot cramping

Constant foot and leg cramping can be a sign of another underlying health deficiency. The most prominent catalyst for chronic foot cramps is a dietary deficiency or dehydration. In addition, if you run or walk for a long time, you’re bound to create temporary tension and involuntary contractions in your tendons and foot muscles due to stress. These minor problems normally clear up in a few days as does any muscle from exercise, strain or fatigue.
Another major reason for foot cramping is ill fitting, tight, and especially high heel shoes. Your foot and toes are compacted and all the tendons and various muscles are stuck in one spot with poor circulation.  Several signs your are wearing poorly fitted or inappropriate shoes are:

  1. Your toes graze the tip of your shoes.
    There should be a little room between your toes and you should be able to wiggle your toes. You need that bit of room because your feet swell throughout the day.
  2. Your arches ache at the end of the day. This is from too much constant pressure.
  3. You have blisters, calluses, or bruised toenails. Constant rubbing or compression will result in injury to your skin but also can lead to internal damage of the complex biomechanics of your foot. An early warning sign could be cramping but be aware this can grow into more painful harder to treat foot problems.

If you do experience foot, toe or calf cramps there are some ways to help prevent it from happening. Foot cramps typically pass quickly, but if you’re looking for some immediate relief, you can try a few things:

  • Try walking it off.
  • Take off your shoes or socks, or anything else that might be affecting your foot.
  • Massage your foot with your hands.
  • Apply heat (with a heating pad, or cloth, nothing stronger).
  • Do some simple stretches: a) flex your toes up and down or b) grab your toes and pull them towards you as far as you can, hold them a moment, then repeat until you feel the cramp passing.

If you suffer from nighttime cramps, stretch before you go to bed.

Easy stretches to keep calves and feet happy

Here are some simple stretches that can help stop pain and prevent it.

 Basic calf stretch

This calf stretch is commonly used by runners. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand with your palms placed against a wall, with arms stretched out
  2. Step back with leg of affected calf
  3. Lean forward on the other leg and push against the wall

You should feel a stretch in your calf muscle and the back of the leg.

Towel stretch

Do this stretch while you sit:

  1. Keep legs outstretched in front of you
  2. Point the toes of your affected foot at the ceiling so that the leg is engaged
  3. Take a towel or neck tie and wrap it around your foot, holding it with both hands
  4. Lift the leg slightly until you feel a good stretch

Keep cramps from happening again

Here are some tips to prevent lower extremity cramps:

  • Stay well hydrated
  • Stretch each day, especially before you exercise
  • Limit or avoid alcohol
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes natural sources of calcium, potassium and magnesium
  • Increase your activity level gradually

If foot cramps are occasional occurrences, you can generally manage them yourself. However, if they happen frequently, are severe, or if you are concerned any of your medications are the culprit, talk to your doctor. They could signal a medical problem that

Quick & Easy Stretches For Heel Pain

There are two different categories of heel pain. The first is caused by over-use repetitive stress which refers to a soreness resulting from too much impact on a specific area of the foot. This condition, often referred to as “heel pain syndrome,” can be caused by shoes with heels that are too low, a thinned out fat pad in the heel area, or from a sudden increase in activity. Plantar fasciitis, a very common diagnosis of heel pain, is usually caused from a biomechancial problem, such as over-pronation (flat feet). The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom surface of the foot, from the heel through the midfoot and into the forefoot. Over-pronation can cause the plantar fascia to be excessively stretched and inflamed, resulting in pain in the heel and arch areas of the foot. Often the pain will be most intense first thing in the morning or after a prolonged period of rest. The pain will gradually subside as the day progresses.

There are a few quick and easy stretches you can do at home to help prevent and treat heel pain.

staircase-stretch

Stair Case Stretch: Stand on a step with your feet together. The toes and balls of your feet should be on the step but your heels should overhang the step. Be sure you are supporting yourself with one hand on a railing or wall. Slowly lift up and down on your toes ten times. Repeat three sets of ten lifts. This exercise helps to strengthen your feet and heels, preventing and healing Plantar Fasciitis.

wall-stretch

The Wall Stretch: Stand facing a wall with both feet together. Place your hands at shoulder height and width on the wall in front of you. Take a step forward with your right foot so that it is now only a few inches from the wall. Shift your weight onto your right leg and bend at the knee. Keeping both heels on the ground, lean your upper body slowly toward the wall until you feel a good stretch happening along the calf muscles of your left leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Return to your original position with both feet together. Repeat the stretch, this time putting your left leg forward. Do this exercise three times on each foot.

toe-wall-stretch

Toe To Wall Stretch: To begin this stretch, the heel should be on the ground and the toes on the wall. Place the opposite foot behind you. Keep the legs straight and move the entire body forward. Do not move your upper body forward and stick your backside out. You should feel a very strong stretch in the back of the calf and some stretch in the arch. To increase the stretch, move your heel closer to the wall and increase the angle of your foot. To decrease the stretch, move your heel back and lower your toes. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat 3 times.

To properly treat heel pain, you must absorb shock, provide cushioning and elevate the heel to transfer pressure. This can be accomplished with a heel cup, visco heel cradle, or an orthotic designed with materials that will absorb shock and shear forces. When the condition is pronation related (usually plantar fasciitis), an orthotic with medial posting and good arch support will control the pronation and prevent the inflammation of the plantar fascia. Footwear selection is also an important criteria when treating heel pain. Shoes with a firm heel counter, good arch support, and appropriate heel height are the ideal choice.

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

What Causes Foot Cramps (7 Reasons and How to Stop Them)

If you’ve ever had a foot cramp, you know how uncomfortable – and even painful – it can be. Foot cramps happen when your foot muscles involuntarily contract. Foot and leg cramps (also called charley horses) are closely related. An estimated one in three adults will be affected by lower limb muscle cramps in their lifetime. As many as 60 percent of adults have suffered from nighttime foot and leg cramps during sleep. The good news is, although they can be inconvenient, these types of muscle cramps are usually harmless.
Researchers believe muscle cramping occurs when neurons in the spinal cord fire excessively. These neurons control the contraction of muscles. But what causes the neurons to over-fire in the first place? In other words, what causes foot cramps?
Foot cramping often occurs with no known cause. However, there are some medical reasons for foot cramps. Here are some of the most common causes, as well as the best ways to combat them.

Dehydration
Dehydration was once thought to be a major contributing factor for muscle cramps. Recent research has shown that mild dehydration may not be the cause of exercise-induced cramps. Still, it doesn’t hurt to keep your body hydrated. Not getting enough water in your body can cause a host of health problems. The amount of water your body needs to stay hydrated varies according to your weight, gender, and level of activity. The Institute of Medicine’s 2004 guidelines state that women should consume an average of 2.7 liters of water per day from all foods and beverages. Men should consume an average of 3.7 liters.5

Exercising Without Stretching
Most people stretch their arms and legs before they exercise, but did you know you can stretch your feet as well? Stretching your calves and feet before exercising is a great way to prevent cramping. Also, don’t exercise right after you eat. Listen to your body – especially your feet – and when you work out, don’t overdo it.

Side Effects of Some Medications
Certain medications can have the unpleasant side effect of foot and leg cramps. Examples of medicines that can cause cramping include some diuretics, antipsychotics, beta-blockers, fibrates and statins, ACE inhibitors, beta2-agonists, and angiotensin II-receptor blockers. If you suspect your medication is causing your foot cramps, talk to your doctor to see if you could be switched to a different medicine.

Age and Activity Level
Foot cramps are more common in older adults. Nerves and muscles can wear out as aging occurs, causing cramping. Stretching, staying active, and eating a nutritious diet can help older adults prevent leg cramps. People of any age who lead a sedentary lifestyle are also at higher risk for leg and foot cramps. Becoming more active, as well as losing weight, can help alleviate foot cramping for some people.

Certain Medical Conditions
Many pregnant women suffer from foot and leg cramping, particularly in the second and third trimesters. Other medical conditions that can cause foot cramping include Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, multiple sclerosis, Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), and kidney disease. Talk to your doctor if you have one of these conditions and suffer from excessive foot cramps.

Nutrition Deficiency
If your body is low in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, or potassium, you could be at higher risk for foot and leg cramps. Try taking supplements of these essential nutrients, or eating their equivalency in foods, to stop cramping. Eat dairy foods for more calcium. Leafy green veggies, as well as nuts, beans, and seeds are high in magnesium. Bananas and avocados are full of potassium.
Sodium is also plays a role in foot cramping – your body needs a small amount of sodium to properly contract and relax your muscles. Although most people get more than enough sodium in their diets, you should talk to your doctor if you think you have a sodium deficiency.

Footwear
Wearing poorly fitted shoes can also cause foot cramps for some people. Many women love wearing high-heeled shoes, but these can often cause foot cramps as well. Wear supportive, comfortable shoes whenever possible.
Additional Ways to Stop Foot Cramping
Aside from the strategies mentioned with each cause of foot cramping above, there are several other things you can do for foot cramps. Massaging your feet, especially in the middle of a cramp, can help. If you are in pain, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. Cool or hot compresses can also relieve muscle pain.

In a recent study at Brigham Young University, researchers found that pickle juice was effective at stopping exercise-induced cramps once they started. Scientists aren’t sure why this worked, but they think it may have something to do with muscle fatigue.

When to Call Your Doctor
You should contact your doctor if your foot and leg cramps are severe and occur frequently. Other reasons for calling your doctor about muscle cramping include muscle weakness and atrophy and the inability to sleep because of nighttime cramps. Alcoholics who experience foot and leg cramping should seek medical care.

Although foot cramping can be a briefly painful annoyance, it is usually not serious. Take good care of your body, and you will experience less incidence of foot cramps.

Are leg and foot cramps waking you up at night? You’re not alone.

Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night because your calf is in a painful cramp? When it happens to me, I have to swing my leg to the floor to stretch the cramp out. After one cramp, I’m usually doomed to several more the same night, in the same muscle or down in my foot.

My episodes are infrequent, but they are painful. And my experience is hardly unique.

More than half of the people responding to a nationwide survey reported experiencing nighttime leg cramps. Nearly 30 percent of adults get them at least five times per month; 6 percent get them at least 15 times per month, according to an analysis of the survey results published in the journal PLOS One in June.

Study author John Winkelman, a sleep medicine specialist at Harvard University, was not surprised by the prevalence. “Not at all,” he said. “Because I see patients, I see how common they are.”

A European group of researchers queried 516 French patients age 60 or older and found similar numbers: 46 percent reported having experienced cramps, 31 percent said cramps had awakened them and 15 percent said it happened more than three times per month.

Doctors sure hear about it from patients, but they don’t have much solid advice to give. No one really knows what causes nighttime leg cramps. “As a sleep doctor, I tell patients, We don’t understand the causes, and we don’t have good, reliable treatments,” Winkelman says. (Winkelman is an adviser to a biotech company developing an anti-cramping treatment.)

That’s not to say there’s not plenty of advice out there in Googleland. Stretching regimens, hydrating and taking vitamins are some of the things that you’ll see recommended. However, the evidence is not strong for any of them.

Stretching the calves and hamstrings right before bed did yield a benefit, a small randomized study from the Netherlands found. Eighty people older than 55 had an average of three cramps per night at the start of the study. One group practiced the stretching exercises for six weeks: Its average cramp frequency decreased to one per night. The group whose members didn’t stretch reported an average of two cramps per night at the study’s end. This could have been a placebo effect from being under observation by researchers.

A small Israeli study assessed magnesium supplements in 94 adults, half getting the real thing and half getting a placebo. Both groups experienced a similar decrease in cramp frequency, which suggests a strong placebo effect.

A small study in Taiwan found an appreciable effect with vitamin B-complex supplements in elderly people with hypertension who had frequent nighttime cramping.

The list goes on, but you get the idea.

It’s not easy to study, Winkelman says. “It’s at night, during sleep — out of sight of a doctor. You can’t do a test for it.”

Also, there’s no incentive to do larger studies. That’s because the treatments that are proposed are already available, meaning they wouldn’t be profitable, and big studies are costly, says Andrew Westwood, a sleep medicine specialist at Columbia University.

One treatment that has some reasonable science supporting it is the antimalarial drug quinine.

“The best evidence is for quinine,” Westwood says. “But it’s not recommended because of its side effects.” Quinine can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, as well as fever, chills and dizziness. There are also rarer but more-serious side effects, such as severe loss of blood platelets. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against the use of quinine (brand name Qualaquin) for nighttime leg cramps.

Westwood came across a different idea serendipitously. Patients who had begun using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines for sleep apnea would volunteer to him that their nighttime cramps had gone away. Westwood and his colleagues started keeping track and published their case reports.

Westwood says it’s not clear why sleep apnea and nighttime leg cramps might be related. Still, he says, “now when patients tell me they have cramps, I think, hmm . . . sleep apnea?”

Nighttime leg cramps are more common in older people. They are sometimes related to such medical conditions as peripheral artery disease and diabetes. They also can occur as side effects of diuretics and some statins.

But often they just happen, without any obvious trigger. Doctors may suggest that patients try one of the treatments for which evidence is weak. “I have found in my clinical practice that trial and error works for most people,” says Richard Allen, a family medicine doctor at the Utah HealthCare Institute. “I’ll recommend one thing, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll recommend another. Eventually, everyone seems to find something that helps them.”

There’s little risk to doing stretching exercises before bed or taking B vitamins or magnesium. And they might work for you, at least a little.

Source: The Washington Post | Not affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide

Foot cramps can be signal of other health issues

Foot cramps are caused by painful, intense, involuntary spasms or a “knotted” feeling in the muscles. They are usually short-lived or may continue on and off for a few days causing some soreness. Foot cramps most commonly occur in the arch of the foot and can also move to the toes and calf muscle as well. Although cramps are harmless in most cases, they can be caused by fatigue, reduced levels of certain chemicals, hormonal factors or illness. Cramping can occur any time day or night and can often be associated with exercise. Anyone can get them but they become more common over the age of 75.  Here we will look at the symptoms and causes of calf, toe and foot cramps.

The body needs the appropriate balance of vitamins and minerals to function properly. Foot cramps are commonly caused by imbalances in:

Calcium: helps transmit nerve impulses to the muscle cells allowing the muscles to contract and relax normally. Excessive caffeine intake, lack of vitamin D and high sodium levels can reduce calcium levels

 Vitamin E: promotes good circulation and is needed for the production of red blood cells. Lack of vitamin E can therefore reduce oxygen levels to the muscles resulting in foot cramps

Potassium: low potassium levels are known as hypokalemia and can be caused by excessive vomiting or sweating, kidney problems and medication

Vitamin D: helps absorb calcium and magnesium. Getting at least fifteen minutes of sunlight a day helps prevent a lack of vitamin D.

Magnesium: lack of magnesium locks calcium and sodium ions into the muscle, preventing it from relaxing

 Vitamin B6: is vital for health function of nerves and muscles

 More general health causes of foot, toe and leg cramps can be:

 1) Nerve Damage

Nerves transmit the signals from your brain to the muscles, telling them when to contract and relax.  If a nerve is damaged or pinched, signals cannot pass through properly correctly resulting in foot cramps.

 2)  Dehydration

Sweating reduces the levels of calcium, potassium and magnesium.  Smoking and excessive alcohol intake also increase the risk of dehydration.

 3)  Fatigue

If you have been over-working your muscles, e.g. too intensely or for too long, or your body is generally fatigued, you are more likely to develop cramp. Athletes and dancers who place more stress on their feet are more prone to foot and toe cramps, runners are more prone to calf muscle cramps.

 4)  Lack of Exercise

Being out of shape and non active can result in muscle weakness and even obesity, both of which increase the risk of muscle cramping from lack of use. It’s also more likely to cause muscle pulls when you suddenly do something strenuous.

 5)  Health Issues

Cramp may be a sign of an underlying health condition. Conditions such as Diabetes, thyroid problems, anemia, Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s all increase the risk of foot cramps.

Generally speaking, if you experience chronic foot and muscle cramps then it’s time to see a doctor. It’s best to see a Podiatrist who can evaluate your feet to make sure there is no underlying injury and from there recommend how to determine further treatments.

 

Why You Should Throw Out Your Rubber Flip Flops!

For many, flip-flops are a warm weather essential. Did you know that flip flops can be seriously damaging to your feet? Flip-flops are fine if you plan to slip them on for a quick trip to the store, but they should not be worn for extended periods of time.

Because of the design of standard rubber flip-flops, your toes have to grip extra hard to keep them on your feet. The overuse of these muscles over time can cause inflammation of the tendons in your feet. Flip-flops can also cause hammertoes and create or worsen bunions.

Lack of cushioning in most rubber flip-flops can also lead to stress fractures over time. The foot needs some support to cushion the bones under the weight of your body as it is in motion. Standard flip-flops don’t offer any cushioning or arch support.

The lack of support in a flip-flop changes your entire gait (the way you walk). This affects your posture as well as cause pain in your ankles, knees, hips and back.

While cheap flip-flops can be a cute and inexpensive accessory to throw on poolside, try not to make them an everyday staple. Opt for sandals or flip flops with better cushioning and arch support like the ones below. Your entire body will thank you!

flips-pronation

As you can see in the image above, Lynco Flips help to properly position the foot and ankle to align the body and prevent over pronation. In comparison, the leather and rubber flip flops offer little to no support, allowing the ankle to roll inward, causing misalignment.

pink-flips

To learn more about Lynco Flips or purchase them, click here for women’s or here for men’s.

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Easy Healthy Homemade Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I LOVE ICE CREAM! There…I said it! Who doesn’t??? However, I don’t love what it does to my waistline. This recipe is paleo friendly and very easy to make at home in your high-powered blender and ice cream maker.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full fat coconut cream
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a high powered blender (like Vitamix or Blendtec).
  2. Blend on high for 30 seconds until smooth (no clumps). Mix in chocolate chips after blending is complete.
  3. Turn on your ice cream maker.
  4. Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker while it’s moving and let it churn for 20-25 minutes until firm or is stops churning.
  5. Transfer to a freezer-friendly container (air-tight) and freeze for at least 1 hour, or until completely frozen.
  6. ENJOY!

Starting Summer on the Right Foot

Today more than ever, sandals are the norm in the warm weather, and more acceptable in the workplace. Your comfort, wellness and feet go hand in hand. One important factor to consider is the health and safety of your feet to suit your active lifestyle.

Our feet contain numerous bones and and joints all connected by hundreds of muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. This complex “bio machinery” works in an amazing dynamic motion that bears literally tons of weight and force as we go about our daily routines and activities. Not surprisingly most everyone experiences some form of foot pain or foot discomfort at some point do due improper protection.

A very important factor to consider is the amount of stress your feet will incur with no protection from an open sandal. Besides outside objects coming into contact with your bare foot, the base of your sandal needs to be a good shock absorber and structurally sound to keep your feet working well.

Problems with aching arches, stubbed toes, or toenail pain and problems, ankle soreness and even foot cramps after wearing unsupported footwear such as sandals. But we all know the glorious benefits of having our feet free of confining shoes and breathing in the open air. Before going out and enjoying the outdoors just give an extra moment to take precaution against untimely injury that could have been prevented. Most foot problems caused by repeated pressure and deficiency that does not surface right away but rather builds slowly until you suddenly experience pain and discomfort, and then it is too late.

Orthotic based footwear (which basically means specially designed to aid in your foot safety and comfort) is available in great looking styles for every season. They are lightweight, fashionable, and created with advanced foot orthotic technology to ensure optimal performance and durability. The best part is that you will definitely feel the difference in comfort and know you are taking care of your feet without sacrificing your favorite look and style.

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