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How Lifestyle Choices Impact Genes

For a long time, people believed that they could not do anything about their genetic makeup, but the science of epigenetics (genetics) has developed a few exciting theories which may disprove those old beliefs.The Boston University School of Medicine suspects that lifestyle choices directly impact different sequences of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Genetics has three major components: 46 chromosomes arranged in pairs, genes are the parts of the DNA that contain particular proteins that contain information that make cells throughout the body function properly.

The Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle

You have probably heard people say that sitting all day every day is worse for your health than smoking cigarettes.

Aston University School of Medical Sciences proved that women with high cholesterol were 64 percent more likely to develop breast cancer.

These statistics are potentially connected to the changes developed inside of the genes as the body responds to their body’s high cholesterol and may even alter genes that can be passed down to children and even grandchildren.

Advances in the Applications for Epigenetic Sciences

The Human Genome Project took 13 years to complete with multiple nations collaborating by mapping out the building blocks of our bodies in 2003. 

But the benefits of their research have helped multiple industries, mostly the medical community in massive technological advancements.

Epigenetics is trying to understand the expression and suppression of genes inherited at birth and those that change with lifestyle choices, environments, and situations. The field of epigenetics is exploring the connections between an individual’s habits, family structure, and how these variables impact carcinogenesis and the other processes that activate or turn off the cancer genes. 

Exercise

Humans are meant to be active animals. Our biology evolved by running away from predators and constantly being on alert for them. As human life has created conveniences and we have created a world where the majority of people no longer have to run for their lives from hungry beasts.

Instead, we sit all day in front of computers and then spend the evenings watching Netflix. The negative effects of being a couch potato at night and tied to a desk chair during the day are injuring our genes. 

Physically active individuals are less likely to develop a variety of cancers and other diseases. The very best way to protect your health is to eat well and exercise.

The process of methylation is when there is a change at the molecular level that responds to environmental factors like exposure to chemicals, asbestos, diet, exercise, and how viruses impact and mutate the genes.

Diet and Environmental Factors

Eating well with nutrition in mind versus eating for the way it tastes is a delicate situation to maintain. Many people in the western world struggle with obesity due to cheap fast food and sugar-intense treats that are readily available on almost every street corner.

Living near power plants, exposure to diseases, bacteria, and viruses all play a part in how our genes behave. Not all DNA tests are created with the same care, nor are the laboratories as diligent with evaluating these genetic screenings. That is why it is vital to consult an objective resource that will help you choose the right DNA test for your needs.                             

Written by: Kayleigh Jefferson


Family Meetings are Great for Couples Too!

While I’ve heard the term “family meeting” all my life, it was often in relation to someone being in trouble or there being a problem that parents had deemed out of hand and the meeting was called so that parents could voice their concerns and set expectations, or even scold. Such family meetings don’t sound fun at all. When I was trained in Positive Discipline, family meetings took on a whole new meaning. Instead of an experience reserved for the most pressing of problems, they became a way to connect, bond, give voice to all family members, teach problem solving skills, and have fun. Still, for over a year I thought, “we’ll start family meetings when our son is old enough to participate…they’re called family meetings after all.” But then, between figuring out how to parent a toddler and with little free time to connect as a couple or problem solve, I decided that it was time to implement regular family meetings. My husband and I picked a weeknight after our son goes to bed when we can talk without distraction, and we roughly follow the “9 Steps for Effective Family Meetings” included below. Here are some of the things that I found most helpful.

Building a culture of appreciation.

Family meetings are a great way to build a culture of appreciation in your relationship. When life gets hectic and tensions are high, it is often easy to notice what your partner is doing “wrong” or those personality traits that get under your skin. However, when we focus on those we can get caught in a loop of frustration, criticism, and defensiveness. That’s why it’s important to begin each meeting by sharing the things we appreciate in our partner. Giving and receiving appreciation helps us relax and move from a place of vigilance to a place of openness. You can work appreciations into your daily rituals as well, maybe right before bed or during dinner each night. 

Consistent, dedicated time for relationship and/or parenting concerns.

Every relationship (parenting, romantic, etc.) has its challenges. Sometimes these challenges are predictable and other times they seem to pop up out of nowhere. Family meetings provide an opportunity to really listen and respond to each other’s concerns. This dedicated time has been great for our relationship too. Instead of feeling like our only options are to address a concern in the moment or just let it go, we know we have a time when we are committed to listening to each other. Knowing that we will have an opportunity to be heard allows us to pause when needed without feeling dismissed. If one of us is busy when the other wants to talk, we can ask that the conversation be tabled until our meeting.

Planning something fun.

The last part of any family meeting should be to plan a fun activity for the week. For a couple, this could be a date night (or during COVID times a treat and a movie, a backyard fire, or a weekend walk). Again, this is all about connection. I encourage you to plan something as a couple, but you can also think of something to do with your whole family. 

While I look forward to the day when our son can participate in family meetings, I hope that my husband and I continue to have our own. We have always talked things through, but there’s something comforting about knowing we have that specific time. I’m also glad that we’re practicing now so that when our son does join us we’ll be better able to model connection, communication, and problem solving skills.

Written by: Magdalen Marrone, LCSW


How Can Chiropractic Care Help with Symptoms of Dementia?

Degenerative diseases of the brain are becoming common with the elderly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one out of three seniors dies with a degenerative brain disorder like Alzheimer’s or dementia. In the last two decades, deaths from Alzheimer’s have grown by almost 150%. It’s no secret that dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are serious problems that require serious care. And, in the same study regarding Alzheimer’s Disease, half of primary care physicians believe that the health-care industry is not prepared to handle the onslaught of dementia.

Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease have similar symptoms. Common symptoms include memory loss, concentration problems, confusion with familiar tasks, difficulty communicating, mood changes, and anxiety.

Types of Dementia

There are several types of dementia, not just Alzheimer’s. Most involve memory loss and confusion, but they manifest with other problems. For example, vascular dementia also include problems that look like stroke side effects, like difficulty walking, temporary paralysis, and other movement problems. Another type of dementia includes Lewy bodies. People with this diagnosis will have periods of being alert, then suddenly drowsy. They also have visual hallucinations and are likely to fall. The other type of dementia is frontotemporal, which manifests in a changed personality where the patient does not know how to behave in a socially appropriate way. People with frontotemporal dementia often struggle to communicate and they become obsessive. As people move through the stages of dementia, they lose their social awareness, their personalities change, and lose bladder and bowel control. Most people with dementia problems are over age 65, but there are younger people between 45 and 65 who show signs of the growing problem.

Growth of Dementia Diagnoses

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease have both been studied extensively in recent years. Dementia diseases do not have cures, but researchers believe that the cure is somewhere in the brain. There are several ways to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s, but the diseases will continue to run their course until the patient is no longer living. Dementia – the degenerative brain disease – is practically at an epidemic level, as the growth over the last twenty years shows. Fortunately, there are treatments available, including chiropractic care. When you recognize how chiropractic care works, it becomes easy to see why a neurological problem like dementia can be treated with a health-care program that values the spine.

Causes and Prevention

The latest research shows that there are several factors that increase the risk of developing dementia. They include hypertension, hearing impairments, diabetes, social isolation, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity, head injury, physical inactivity, and air pollution.
Research also shows that prevention for dementia should start at a young age and continue through the elder years. All children should receive primary and secondary education. The dangers of drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes should be shared with the public so people will avoid both to reduce their risks of developing dementia. Public health should train people to eat healthy foods so they avoid developing type-2 diabetes and other obesity-related problems. With healthy diets, people sleep better and are less likely to develop hypertension.

It is also important for people who need hearing aids to get them. Hearing loss is often a precursor to dementia. Finally, people should be able to live in communities that do not have excessive air pollution and homes should be free of second-hand smoke. Dementia care should include multidimensional treatments for the whole body. And, this is where chiropractic care comes into play. Many dementia patients take medications, but they only cover the problem, not solve it. Because so many people have dementia, Medicare is covering chiropractic care as a treatment because the care has proven to improve health, cognitive function, and life in general.

How Chiropractic Care Helps People with Dementia

Chiropractic care is dedicated to the maintenance of the central nervous system including the brain and spinal cord. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are degenerative brain disorders, so chiropractic care directly affects parts of the body affected by these diseases.

Feeding the Brain

There is research that shows the brain needs to have certain nutrients to function properly. When those nutrients are blocked, the brain changes and loses certain functions. When there are subluxations or misalignments in the spine, the body and the brain do not work as they should. Chiropractic care realigns the spine by removing the subluxations. The result is that
nerves can operate properly so nutrients can reach the brain, returning the spine and brain to normal function.

Typical Treatment Options

At this point, chiropractic care does not cure dementia or Alzheimer’s, but it does serve as a realistic treatment. Chiropractors work with patients who have problems with spine-related pain, joint stiffness, and extremity pain. Research shows that many of those problems manifest themselves as acute pain or restricted mobility. Most chiropractors use similar treatments:
● Myofascial therapies
● Ischemic compression
● Mechanical percussion
● Muscle stretching
● Thrust manipulation

Collaborative Changes to Meet Patient Needs

Patients who needed neurorehabilitation usually needed treatments that were different from the typical movement-related choices. According to research, people who needed chiropractic care for neurological conditions, like dementia, had chiropractors who developed collaborative plans with other health care providers. The programs required longer visits and non-standard treatment ideas. Chiropractors had to adapt to each patient’s cognitive issues and problems with communication.

Slowing Memory Loss

Chiropractic care is not a miracle solution for any degenerative brain disease, but it can help ease the symptoms. Some patients have found that chiropractic care has slowed their memory loss. Chiropractic care will not bring back lost memories, but research shows that thoughtful,
collaborative chiropractic will help maintain the status quo. Chiropractic care also helps improve musculoskeletal function in dementia patients.


If you have a loved one who is suffering through a type of dementia, you want the best for them. Rather than watching them go through the daily struggles, a chiropractor might be able to help slow the speed of degeneration. Your health care provider and a chiropractor can work together to improve your loved one’s quality of life, even in just a small way.

If you or a loved one is suffering from dementia check out this blog about counseling services for dementia related concerns.

Written By: Dr. Brent Wells.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His chiropractic practice has treated thousands of Juneau patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief. Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.



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