How Diet Can Affect Mood

How Diet Can Affect Mood

We’ve probably all heard the saying you are what you eat? What about you feel like what you eat? The bottom line is our food choices can impact our mood. This is because nutrients have the ability to impact our brain’s chemistry, which ultimately affects how we feel.

What’s Happening in the Brain

Foods that contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourish the brain while processed foods and sugars can impair brain function.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that impacts moods among other things. Most of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract which has many neurons in it. Because of that, the digestive system guides emotions while working to digest food.

How and What to Eat

How you eat can make as much of a difference as what you eat. Eating at regular intervals can keep your energy up and makes sure your body has enough fuel. Start your day with breakfast. Some research shows eating breakfast can lead to a better mood.

Eat a bit of each food group and make sure you’re getting enough nutrients.

Good Mood Foods

Foods with omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts can sometimes help improve your mood.

Eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Consume foods close to how they appear in nature. For example, an apple is closer to nature than apple juice.

Fish, poultry, eggs, leafy greens, and legumes contain lots of dopamine, which is a feel-good chemical. They also contain protein which can help slow how your body absorbs carbohydrates, increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine.

Magnesium-rich foods like almonds and spinach can help you sleep better, which in turn can improve mood.

Selenium is also important for moods. Taking too much selenium can be toxic, so try to get yours from food instead of supplements. Seafood, nuts and seeds, lean meats, whole grains, beans and legumes, and low-fat dairy products are selenium-rich.

Vitamin D comes from sunlight and it is also in milk, egg yolks, and soymilk. Keep an eye out for foods that contain folate and vitamin B-12. Vitamin D is important for your mood.

Fiber can slow down how the body absorbs sugar and increases serotonin. There is a lot of fiber in oats, beans, pears, peas, and brussel sprouts.

Fluids help the body flush bad things out, so be sure to drink lots of water each day.

Foods to Reduce

Some processed foods can lead to higher insulin levels and increase inflammation.

Try to avoid foods with added sugars and refined carbohydrates. Candy, soda, juices, and jams can cause blood sugar spikes, impacting mood. The same goes for refined starches like white bread, rice, and crackers.

Limit caffeine intake since too much caffeine can keep you awake at night and impact your mood. It provides a quick boost of energy but then suddenly drops off.

The professionals at B3 Medical can help you figure out what you should be eating. Nutrition counselors will help you through assessments to analyze your specific health needs.

Start your journey to better nutrition by contacting us today.

When to See a Neuromuscular Therapist

When to See a Neuromuscular Therapist

If we have pain, we want it to go away. Neuromuscular therapy (NMT) can help. Also called trigger point myotherapy, it’s a type of massage that focuses on the soft tissue.

Therapists use alternating levels of pressure on areas where a muscle is having a spasm. It might hurt a bit, but the pressure should relieve the spasm. Let the therapist know if there is intense pain.

How Massage Helps Reduce Pain

When a muscle hurts, it usually means blood is not flowing properly to the muscle and it becomes painful. Since there is not enough blood, there is also not enough oxygen in the muscle. The muscle produces lactic acid because of the lack of oxygen. That lactic acid makes the muscle feel sore. Massaging the muscles can help to release the lactic acid, restoring blood and oxygen flow.

Specifics of Neuromuscular Massage Therapy

NMT treats your pain at the source. Trigger points are often the reason behind most muscle pain. Trigger points are small knots of muscles that can cause pain when they are compressed. The pain can either be at the trigger point or somewhere else in the body. Massage is typically the only way to relieve pain caused by trigger points.

Many things can cause trigger points to flare up including:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Poor posture
  • Strenuous activity
  • Accidents or injuries
  • Pregnancy

During NMT, therapists apply static pressure to the specific areas, stimulating the muscles. The point of neuromuscular massage therapy is pain relief, not relaxation like a typical massage.

When to Try Neuromuscular Massage Therapy

Neuromuscular massage therapy can provide long-term pain relief and is something to try along with other non-surgical approaches.

Trigger points can cause pain and tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, and muscle stiffness. Sometimes, trigger point symptoms can mimic those caused by carpal tunnel syndrome or sciatica and can cause headaches or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.

Neuromuscular massage therapists can slowly get deeper and deeper into the muscle to release the pain so even people with intense pain can benefit from neuromuscular therapy since the pressure is often not deep in the beginning.

At B3 Medical, neuromuscular massage therapy is part of the overall approach our professionals take to treat pain. Finding the source of the pain is the best way to treat it, so looking at neurology first helps us to use the spine as a window to the entire nervous system. It coordinates and controls all of the body’s other systems, so it’s a good place to start.

Contact us today for a consultation and see if neuromuscular massage therapy is right for you.

Promote Healing With Custom Back Bracing

Promote Healing With Custom Back Bracing

Most people will have back pain sometime in their lives. Almost anything can cause a back injury. Lifting things by bending your legs and keeping your back straight can help prevent an injury, but not everyone remembers that advice all the time.

Bracing the lower back can help by stabilizing and protecting the back. Keep in mind that braces can’t cure your back problems, but they can help reduce pain and promote healing. 

When to Use a Back Brace

As with any type of pain, if it is so bad you can’t move without feeling severe pain, see a doctor. The same goes if mild or moderate pain does not go away after a few days.

If the pain is moderate, bracing it as soon as the pain begins can help give enough support to keep you moving. Staying immobile is bad for the back.

Don’t use a brace for more than a few days unless specifically directed by your medical professional. If you use it more, the back muscles can get used to the brace and could lose strength.

Medical professionals often recommend back braces for people with chronic or acute back pain. A custom fit back brace is a very smart idea if you have had a spinal procedure or a spinal surgery, no matter how minimal the surgery. These braces are custom fit to you with added support based on your specific injury. This brace should be used for support immediately following the procedure especially if anesthesia is utilized.

Because of the possibility of friction between the skin and the brace, you might want to wear a shirt under the brace.

Types of Back Braces

There are several types of back braces; soft corset, semi-rigid, and custom molded. All have the goal of limiting the back’s range of motion, but the custom ones are the most restrictive, then the semi-rigid, followed by the soft corset.

There are also braces designed specifically for certain purposes like industrial work and athletic activities.

The prices and materials of the different kinds of braces vary. Some are available in drugstores, others only come after a prescription from a doctor.

No matter which type you buy, make sure the brace fits you and the natural curvature of your spine. It should be in contact with all areas of your back and fit snug, but not too tight. It should be comfortable and feel supportive.

Look for a brace that seems durable and is easy to clean. Materials like nylon, polyester, and rubber are simple to clean.

Some braces have removable inserts for additional support. The adjustability also varies, so look for that. Also, check for padding that might make the brace feel a bit more comfortable.

How Do Back Braces Work?

The types of braces from the drugstore limit the movement in the spine and can relieve the pressure on some parts of the back. They can help improve posture and reduce the load on the lower back and can help make movements like transitioning from sitting to standing more comfortable.

Straps help to tighten the brace around the body, compressing the core muscles and stabilizing the area around the spine. Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) can counter the forces on the spine, allowing the stabilization.

The medical professionals at B3 Medical can discuss the use of back braces with you. They study the source of your pain and help you get your life back. Contact the office today to schedule a complimentary pain evaluation.

Foods That Can Help Relieve Stress

Foods That Can Help Relieve Stress

When our lives get busy and stress takes over, we tend to indulge in comfort foods. Most comfort foods don’t actually reduce your level of stress, however, there are some foods that can. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Foods that are high in vitamin C can help give your immune system a boost when you’re stressed. They can also help lower cortisol levels in your body, which is the stress hormone. Oranges, berries, kale, peppers, and kiwi have a lot of vitamin C in them. Blueberries contain a lot of vitamin C and other antioxidants.

Magnesium is also good for handling stress. Low levels of magnesium can cause bad moods, fatigue, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Leafy green vegetables like spinach contain a lot of magnesium. Beans and brown rice have a lot, too.

Folate is also important because it helps produce dopamine, the brain’s pleasure chemical. Spinach and other leafy greens contain a lot of folate. Asparagus is another good source of folate.

Avocados also have a lot of folate and other vitamins and minerals in them like B vitamins which help keep nerves and brain cells healthy. They also contain a lot of potassium which helps keep blood pressure low.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a complex carb that doesn’t spike blood sugar because the body digests it slowly.

It’s also warm and comforting. Add some berries and nuts and it could be a good way to help your brain generate serotonin, a destressing neurotransmitter.

Make it with milk and increase the stress-relieving powers. Milk contains a lot of antioxidants and B vitamins. The protein lactium has a calming effect on the body and there is also a lot of potassium in a glass of milk.

Nuts and Seeds

The hand-occupying task of shelling nuts can help reduce stress in some ways, but the nuts inside also have stress-relieving benefits.

Pistachios contain phytonutrients that help support cardiovascular health.

Almonds also contain a lot of vitamins B2 and E which help the immune system during stressful times.

Cashews contain a lot of zinc, a mineral that helps reduce anxiety. They also contain a lot of omega-3s and protein. But cashews and other nuts also have a lot of calories, so eat them in moderation.

Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds contain a lot of magnesium.

Dark Chocolate

This is the advice we’ve all been waiting for. A bite of dark chocolate can help reduce stress hormones. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure and improve circulation. Look for the kinds of dark chocolate that have at least 70 percent cocoa. Remember, a bite, not the entire bar.

What to Avoid

To keep stress levels regulated, avoid refined sugars. They give a quick boost of energy and then a sugar low follows. The same happens with white carbs like potato chips, flour, bread, and pasta.

Caffeine can also cause jitters, heart palpitations, and insomnia if stress levels are already high. Opt for decaf or herbal teas instead. Many herbal teas can help reduce stress hormones.

If you need help reaching your nutritional goals, the professionals at B3 Medical can help. Contact us today.

Home Remedies That Can Help Manage Any Back Condition

Home Remedies That Can Help Manage Any Back Condition

Experts estimate that about 80% of the U.S. population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. While seeing a doctor is the best way to find out the cause of your back pain, there are some things you can do at home to help manage the pain.

Ice First, Heat Later

If you injure yourself or have persistent pain after an activity, ice is a good option. Ice is best for the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation and slows down nerve impulses. Be sure to only ice for 20 minutes at a time.

Warmth might help relieve some of the pain, but it does not help the inflammation. In fact, direct heat can make the inflammation worse, which may lead to an increase in pain. After the inflammation goes down, heat can stimulate blood flow to the injured area to start the healing process.

Indirect heat like warm Epsom Salt baths can also help sore backs. The magnesium sulfate in the salts can make its way through the skin to the muscles to help relieve pain. Just make sure the water is between 92 and 100 degrees.

Rubs, Gels, Creams, Ointments, and Patches

There are many types of topical medications for back pain. Some ingredients to look for include:

  • Ketoprofen (Diractin)
  • Ibuprofen (Nurofen or Dolgit)
  • Diclofenac (Voltaren)
  • Lidocaine (Lidoderm)
  • Cayenne
  • Comfrey
  • Brazilian arnica

Some products contain capsaicin, the heat-producing substance in hot peppers. When rubbed on the skin, the capsaicin can help stop nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain, thus reducing the pain.

When using these products, you should test them in a small area first to make sure the cream isn’t going to irritate your skin. Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also a good over-the-counter option for back pain, but should not be taken long term without talking to a doctor first.

Concentrate on Posture and Movement

The spine is designed to move, so make sure you’re not sitting still for too long. For those who sit at desks all day long, it’s important to get up throughout the day and stretch out your muscles. Otherwise, they’ll become stiff, and if you suffer from back pain, that could only make it worse.

When you are sitting, make sure your posture is good. If it isn’t, this could be a contributing factor to your back pain. A good chair can help with your posture by keeping your spine aligned.

Sleep Well

Our bodies need sleep to rejuvenate and restore itself. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach since this puts pressure on the spine. If you choose to sleep on your back or side, use a pillow between or under your knees to keep the spine aligned.

During the day, try not to stay in bed for long periods of time. It’s better to keep moving so your muscles don’t stiffen up. If your back pain wakes you up a night, lasts longer than six weeks, gets worse, or comes with weakness, tingling, or numbness in the arms or legs, it’s time to see a doctor.

The professionals at Tampa’s B3 Medical can help diagnose the source of your back pain and help you find relief. Make an appointment today.

How a Massage Can Relieve Stress

How a Massage Can Relieve Stress

Stress is part of our lives each and every day and chances are you’re trying to get rid of some of it. Massage is a good way to relax and forget about life for a bit.

Massage reduces the levels of stress-related chemicals in the body like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. It can stimulate the release of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which are chemicals that make our bodies feel good. Massage can also lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Some types of massage work better than others for relieving stress. For example, a deep tissue massage usually isn’t thought of for stress relief, but rather pain relief. However, removing physical restrictions in the connective tissue can decrease stress. At B3, we believe that structure creates and maintains function. Our therapists work with you to decrease stress through a systematic approach that will eventually lead to lower stress levels in the body.

There are also a number of other things that can be done occasionally to help decrease stress. 

What to Ask For?

Swedish massage is the most common type of massage. Therapists use different motions to release tension, decompress muscle tissue, and get rid of those knots in the muscles. They use a variety of techniques, but the longer and smoother gliding strokes can be the most relaxing.

Most massage therapists will add aromatherapy to the massage, which can also help relieve stress. Lavender, geranium, and chamomile are some of the most popular scents for massage.

Shiatsu or Thai massage are also gentle and tension-relieving. Shiatsu means finger pressure and during this type of massage, a therapist uses thumbs, hands, elbows, knees, or feet to apply pressure to points in the body. The therapist might also rotate or stretch the limbs. Thai massage is more about stretching and is sometimes more energizing than relaxing.

Acupressure can help trigger points in the body to relax, which loosens tight muscles and leads to relaxation.

A hot stone massage is also good for relaxation. The heat from the smooth stones can help ease the tension causing muscle knots. The stones are especially good if you only like light pressure when getting a massage.

Scalp Massage

There are thin muscles on the scalp that can hold a lot of tension. A scalp massage can be a great stress reliever. Most people hold stress in the head, neck, and shoulders, so taking care of those areas can be beneficial, especially if you have a time limit.

The ears also contain many pressure points, so massaging them can help the central nervous system release endorphins. If you’re interested in integrating massage therapy into your overall health plan, talk to the professionals at B3 Medical. We can help you be a healthier and less stressed you.