Healthy alternatives

Local experts clear up myths about improving your health with nontraditional treatments.



Sometimes all you need is a little adjustment. Whether it’s with your body, mind or overall well-being there are many ways to improve your health, aches and pains without drugs or surgery. 

Nutrition

Jared Toay, supplements specialist at GreenAcres Market in Jenks, recommends incorporating easy-to-digest foods into your diet because better digestion can mean better health.  

If you’re having digestive issues, Toay suggests eliminating a common “trigger food,” such as sugar, gluten, dairy or caffeine, from your diet for two weeks. For some, finding the trigger can be the hard part. One approach: start backward to find the root of the problem. By eliminating one possible trigger at a time, you can evaluate any differences in how you feel.  

“Eat the food your body responds well to,” Toay says. “It’s going to get the energy from those foods; it’s going to get the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs; and it’s going to be healthy and happy.”  

It’s also important to fuel your body with as many natural foods as possible, Toay says.

Commercial, nonorganic food can contain pesticides, waxes and coatings. Our bodies have to figure out how to eliminate these unnatural products, he says. 

From a cost perspective, it can be difficult to go 100 percent organic, so, start with a few items. 

“Choose one or two things that you constantly eat every single day,” Toay says. “For example, I love apples. My kids love apples. I’m always going to buy organic apples.” 

Aside from produce, Toay offers a general suggestion for ensuring other food is natural. Count the ingredients. If they amount to less than the fingers on one hand, generally it’s natural. If it comes in a box, it’s probably not.

Diet trends

Detoxification, also known as internal cleansing, has been touted by celebrities as a way to lose weight. If you’re thinking about trying this, consider a few things first.

Chris Emerson, owner of naturalfarms, says a detox is meant to remove toxins from your body. 

A detox that’s appropriate for your body can help rid excess weight, increase energy levels, strengthen your immune system, increase mental focus and help clear your skin. 

A detox that’s not right for your body will drain your energy, Emerson says. 

“A correct detox will give you higher energy and increased self-awareness,” she says.

Toay suggests a gentle juicing detox, which may help you feel healthier and more energetic, or simply increasing your intake of natural foods with fiber, such as apples and avocados.

“If this seems difficult to do, there are plenty of gentle cleansers on the market today geared to assist the body to eliminate toxins and waste accumulated in the body,” Toay says.

Diet pills and other weight-loss products such as shakes and supplements have been popular for some time, and new options are always popping up in the market.

However, Emerson recommends avoiding supplements that claim to help you lose weight quickly. The weight will usually come back, plus this method can be expensive. 

Instead of supplements, “Make sure you are treating your body well, giving your body nutrients it will need to function properly,” Emerson says.  

“Try to figure out ways to more efficiently use the good nutrients from the good foods that you eat,” Toay adds. “If you can do that, you’re going to be healthier and happier long term.” 

He admits he doesn’t like “diets” that restrict food intake and in fact suggests adding something to your plate.

“Try eating a vegetable at every single meal,” he says. “I can bet you your body would respond much more efficiently if you add a vegetable every time you ate as opposed to taking something out.”  

Chiropractic medicine

Recurring headaches, neck pain or lower back pain are not only uncomfortable, they also can be nuisances. 

Chiropractic medicine might be able to help. Dr. Thomas Cate of Cate Chiropractic Center; Dr. Michael Taylor, board-certified chiropractic internist at Marion Medical; and Dr. Sean Riley of Tulsa Spine and Rehab explain how seeing a chiropractor may benefit patients.

Chiropractic medicine is no longer considered an alternative by many. 

“It’s mainstream medicine,” Taylor says. “It’s just a different form or different approach.”

Cate works with physicians and surgeons in what he calls conjunctive care. These referrals are to avoid a first, second or even third surgery. He treats a majority of his patients in partnership with their primary care physician. 

“They treat the symptoms; I treat the cause,” Cate says. “I’m a big believer that you want a chiropractor that’s going to work with your M.D. and vice versa.”

Neck and lower back pain are the two most common complaints of Riley’s patients. Individuals with these types of conditions may often benefit from a manipulation or adjustment, which is a safe and effective treatment to increase mobility. 

“The goal of manipulation is to increase mobility while improving function,” Riley says. “In improving function, you reduce pain.”

Your chiropractor also may make lifestyle recommendations, whether about your posture or your work setup. Riley encourages his patients to keep moving
and stay active. 

“I think that’s a big part of what folks can do on their own,” he says. “Self-management strategies on top of treatment.”

As a chiropractic internist, Taylor treats a variety of conditions from muscular-skeletal cases, such as neck and back pain, to chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases.

“If you’re looking for a target-specific treatment, then you need to call and see who may have post-doctoral specialty training in that,” he says. “Most chiropractic physicians will tell you whether or not they have that training.” 

Once at your appointment, make sure your questions are answered. 

“You want to make sure your chiropractor explains his diagnosis, his prognosis and his treatment goals,” Cate says. 

If you have chronic, recurring pain, he recommends concentrating on finding the problem and correcting it, not just treating the symptoms.

“With my patients, the key is you fix it, you taper out and stabilize it, then you maintain it,” he says.

Yoga

Another healthy alternative is yoga, and don’t worry, you don’t have to be experienced to take a class. 

Liz Coffman, SALT studio manager, says it’s a misconception that classes are filled with elite, Gumby-like girls who never sweat and do every pose with perfect ease. Yoga can be adapted to any ability.

If you’re just starting out, “It is better to start with just once a week or five minutes a day and stay consistent than to try to go every single day but burn out in a couple of weeks,” she says. 

Practicing for one hour a week, you’re likely to experience some benefits. 

“Of course, the more you practice, the faster you will see changes and experience results,” Coffman says. “But most importantly, the goal is to be consistent.”

Although yoga can be a difficult workout, it has numerous benefits, including:

Increased flexibility “Yoga is unique in that it offers strength through flexibility, which in itself helps to alleviate aches and pains, including arthritic and joint-related ails,” Coffman says.

Muscle tone and weight loss You can develop muscle tone with power yoga classes, and you might lose a few pounds, too. Practicing hot yoga also builds deep muscle strength and helps burn calories. 

Better posture “Posture is improved and awareness of one’s optimal bodily alignment is increased,” Coffman says.

Stress relief “Practicing yogic breathing techniques has been shown to calm the nervous system and increase one’s sense of focus and mental clarity,” she says.

Pain relief In addition to reducing stress, therapeutic yoga also can help people with various conditions such as back and joint pain. Chiropractor Riley says it also can increase bone density and improve the immune system. “Therapeutic yoga is similar to traditional yoga while focusing on specific limitations and overcoming conditions,” he says. “It’s about change from the inside out.” 

Injury prevention and physical therapy

If you do any type of exercise, Dr. Ronald S. LaButti, a member of Central States Orthopedic Specialists, recommends starting down a road of prevention.

Begin with stretching, which is the best way to prevent major injuries. He recommends stretching your calves, hamstrings and quads, and then your arms and torso. 

“The trick is to warm everything up before,” LaButti says. “If you have really stiff joints, maybe do some moist heat, stretching — then you do your exercise.”

Adding a cool-down to your exercise checklist is essential, too.

“You cool everything down to keep it from getting inflamed,” he says.

“Overuse injuries” can develop from starting a new exercise regimen and increasing activity too quickly or not stretching properly. The condition is caused by inflammatory changes in the tendons. 

“The inflammation doesn’t have a chance to recover,” LaButti says. “If you’re doing a certain activity that really aggravates it, try to avoid that activity. You can probably resume that activity sometime later once the inflammation is resolved.”

He suggests stretching and doing an “ice cup massage.” Fill a Dixie cup with water and freeze it. After you exercise, rub it on the area that hurts most for 15-20 minutes.

Exercise isn’t the only cause of pain and injuries. If you fall and develop knee pain, for example, your doctor might recommend physical therapy. 

“Some people do need a little bit more of a tune-up, so to speak,” LaButti says. “Sometimes all it takes is a good supervised therapy program and a home exercise program provided by a therapist.”

He has seen many patients’ pain resolve after following a program, along with ice and heat therapy. 

“Most people feel better after they do a four- to six-week regimen of exercise like that and the knee pain resolves for the most part,” he says.

Whether you want to generally feel better, prevent an injury, or relieve an ache or pain, it’s important to consult your doctor before you start a diet or exercise routine.

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen, released by the Environmental Working Group, lists produce containing the highest amounts of pesticides. Consider buying the organic versions of these fruits and vegetables.

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Cherry tomatoes

4. Cucumbers

5. Grapes

6. Hot peppers

7. Imported nectarines

8. Peaches

9. Potatoes

10. Spinach

11. Strawberries

12. Sweet bell peppers

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