SOME FACTS ABOUT LOWER BACK PAIN (LBP) (from Chronic Back Pain, WebMD, Nov. 28, 2019)
- Nearly everyone has low back pain at some time during their life – Up to 80% of U.S. adults get low back pain at some point. Men and women are equally affected. Low back pain is more common as we get older, with people often having their first episode between ages 30 and 50. But it also can be the result of a sedentary lifestyle — with too little (and occasionally too much) exercise. And low back pain is the fifth most common reason for doctor visits.
- The most common source of LBP is in the muscles. Muscle spasms are the most common reason for low back pain. That’s why some treatments include muscle relaxers. You can strain a muscle with an unexpected pull or twist. Your chances of muscle spasms go up if you have weak stomach muscles, tight hamstrings, any back weakness, or a pelvis that tilts forward more than normal.
- A firm mattress is best not the best for relieving back pain. Firmer may not always be better. People who sleep on a medium-firm mattress are more likely to report that their back pain got better while lying in bed or getting in or out of bed. So if you think you prefer a firm mattress, you might want to try medium-firm. This type may place less pressure on the shoulders and hips, allowing you to sleep in a more natural position on your side. Your mattress should be firm enough to keep your spine in the same position as good standing posture.
WHAT ALCOHOL DOES TO THE BODY
Many times, a part of holiday celebrations involve drinking alcohol. Everything is best in moderation, but do you really know what alcohol does to your body? The following is from WebMD and may be new information to some of you.
It is Quick – Thirty seconds after your first sip, alcohol races into your brain. It slows down the chemicals and pathways that your brain cells use to send messages. That alters your mood, slows your reflexes, and throws off your balance. You also can’t think straight, which you may not recall later, because you’ll struggle to store things in long-term memory.
Your Brain Shrinks –If you drink heavily for a long time, booze can affect how your brain looks and works. Its cells start to change and even get smaller. Too much alcohol can actually shrink your brain. And that’ll have big effects on your ability to think, learn, and remember things. It can also make it harder to keep a steady body temperature and control your movements.
It Does NOT Help Your Sleep – Alcohol’s slow-down effect on your brain can make you drowsy, so you may doze off more easily. But you won’t sleep well. Your body processes alcohol throughout the night. Once the effects wear off, it leaves you tossing and turning. You don’t get that good REM sleep your body needs to feel restored. And you’re more likely to have nightmares and vivid dreams.
More Stomach Acid Is Produced – Booze irritates the lining of your stomach and makes your digestive juices flow. When enough acid and alcohol build up, you get nauseated and you may throw up. Years of heavy drinking can cause painful sores called ulcers in your stomach.
Your Kidneys Get a Workout – Your brain gives off a hormone that keeps your kidneys from making too much urine. But when alcohol swings into action, it tells your brain to hold off. That means you have to go more often, which can leave you dehydrated. When you drink heavily for years, that extra workload and the toxic effects of alcohol can wear your kidneys down.
Pancreas Damage and Diabetes – Normally, this organ makes insulin and other chemicals that help your intestines break down food. But alcohol jams that process up. The chemicals stay inside the pancreas. Along with toxins from alcohol, they cause inflammation in the organ, which can lead to serious damage. After years, that means you won’t be able to make the insulin you need, which can lead to diabetes.
What’s a Hangover? –That cotton-mouthed, bleary-eyed morning-after is no accident. Alcohol makes you dehydrated and makes blood vessels in your body and brain expand. That gives you your headache. Your stomach wants to get rid of the toxins and acid that booze churns up, which gives you nausea and vomiting. And because your liver was so busy processing alcohol, it didn’t release enough sugar into your blood, bringing on weakness and the shakes.
A Change in Body Temperature – Alcohol widens your blood vessels, making more blood flow to your skin. That makes you blush and feel warm and toasty. But not for long. The heat from that extra blood passes right out of your body, causing your temperature to drop. On the other hand, long-term, heavy drinking boosts your blood pressure. It makes your body release stress hormones that narrow blood vessels, so your heart has to pump harder to push blood through.
A Weaker Immune System – You might not link a cold with a night of drinking, but there might be a connection. Alcohol puts the brakes on your immune system. Your body can’t make the numbers of white blood cells it needs to fight germs. So for 24 hours after drinking, you’re more likely to get sick.
Thin Bones, Less Muscle – Heavy drinking can throw off your calcium levels. Along with the hormone changes that alcohol triggers, that can keep your body from building new bone. They get thinner and more fragile, a condition called osteoporosis. Booze also limits blood flow to your muscles and gets in the way of the proteins that build them up. Over time, you’ll have lower muscle mass and less strength
FOCUSING ON HEALTHY EATING CAN BECOME OBSESSIVE (from IDEA Fit October 2019)
Although eating nutritious food is an important part of an overall healthy lifestyle, for some people a preoccupation with so-called “clean eating” can become physically and socially damaging. In what appears to be the first extensive review of data on the psychosocial risk factors associated with orthorexia nervosa (an obsession with eating only healthy food), psychology researchers from York University in Canada say those who have a history of an eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive traits, poor body image and a drive for thinness are more likely to develop this unhealthy fixation on consuming clean foods.
The study authors stress that fixating on the quality of food can become unhealthy if it starts to affect mental health, leads to the elimination of food groups (and a possible spiral into nutrient deficiencies) or greatly alters how a person socializes with people when food is involved. Social media, where beautifully presented clean food is celebrated and anything less pure is vilified, is likely contributing to the rising numbers of people with orthorexia. Though eating disorders are most often associated with women, this research found about equal rates of an all-consuming obsession with healthy eating among both sexes.
ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAYS – BE SAFE – BE HAPPY – BE TOLERANT – AND SMILE A LOT