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Laser Therapy for Diabetic Neuropathy Pain

Laser Therapy for Diabetic Neuropathy Pain

Approximately 20 million people suffer from some form of Diabetic Neuropathy Pain (DNP), while about 3 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Overall, about 60% of people with diabetes live with discomfort related to DNP. Previously, patients suffering from DNP were merely prescribed drugs to help them cope with the pain. The effectiveness of these drugs is underwhelming, with less than half of patients reporting only a 30-40% reduction in pain. Luckily, there is a new option: laser therapy for diabetic neuropathy pain. 

Laser Therapy for Diabetic Neuropathy Pain

High blood sugar can cause diabetic neuropathy, which damages the nerves that send signals to and from your hands and feet. In addition to numbness and tingling in the extremities, people with this condition also experience pain ranging from aching to burning. The pain comes and goes for some, but many also suffer chronic pain related to diabetic neuropathy. This discomfort can have a profound impact on everyday life, making even the most routine activities more difficult. 

Laser therapy uses light energy to promote healing in the bodily tissues. The light soothes the soft tissues, resulting in reduced pain, inflammation and swelling. There are no uncomfortable sensations during treatment and sessions usually last around 15 minutes per body part. This effective option has up to 90% efficacy for treating musculoskeletal pain and is used to treat numerous conditions in addition to DNP. Furthermore, doctors report better results for reducing DNP with laser therapy, as opposed to prescription drugs alone.  

Austin preferred has already treated numerous patients with laser therapy. It serves as an excellent complement to Physical Therapy or Chiropractic treatment plans and is popular as a standalone option as well. Moreover, we offer free consultations for patients who are interested in the healing powers of the laser. 

Call (512) 442-2727 with any questions or to set up an appointment at Austin Preferred. You can also visit our Services and Conditions pages for more information on treatment at our South Austin clinic. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Does health insurance cover laser therapy?

A: Health insurance does not cover laser therapy, which we only offer at the self pay rate. However, we do offer free consultations for people who are interested in laser therapy in Austin, TX.

Bridge Office Outing

Office Outing with Rocket Electrics

The staff at Austin Preferred Integrative Medicine prides itself on helping hundreds of people each week. Patients come in to the office because of chronic or acute medical complaints and often leave feeling much better. Because of our track record of success and patient satisfaction, Austin Preferred has become a top choice for Physical Therapy, Holistic Medicine and Chiropractic in Austin, Texas. Maintaining this level of service requires a great deal of teamwork. Consequently, we arrange an office outing several times per year for team members to bond away from work.

Given that Austin Preferred is extremely health and wellness oriented, we try to plan our outings accordingly. This one was no different, as the Fluitts generously surprised the staff with a fun evening riding around town with Rocket Electrics.

 

Office Outing: North Italia

This past Friday, we first gathered at North Italia in downtown Austin to relax after another busy week. With the collection of personalities we have, there is never any shortage of conversation or laughter at the table. After unwinding with some delicious food and hydrating for our next activity, it was time to hit the trail. We snapped the following photo on the way out:

North Italia Office Outing

 

Rocket Electrics

Next, we meandered a few blocks down the street to Rocket Electrics. Those who are unfamiliar with RE are missing out, as they provide guided tours of the city’s historical sites on motorized bicycles. After getting fitted for our bikes and a quick explanation of the controls, it was time to roll out. But not before we documented our progress with another photo:

Rocket Electrics Office Outing

 

Once we navigated our way out of the immediate downtown area, we found ourselves on the trail. Everyone got up to speed more quickly than expected, but the Texas heat was pretty intense. This prompted our guide to make plenty of stops, which we all appreciated. Along the way, we learned a little bit about the Pfluger Pedestrian & Bike Bridge, the Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial, the South Congress Bat Bridge and the abundant wildlife in the area.

Office Outing River

 

With another tremendous office outing in the books, the staff came back energized and in good spirits. Thanks for taking the time to learn more about our evening out and stay tuned for more information on Austin Preferred!

Call (512) 442-2727 with questions or to schedule an appointment at Austin Preferred. Moreover, you can visit our Services and Conditions pages for more information on treatment at our South Austin practice.

Non-surgical treatment for herniated discs

Non-Surgical Treatment for Herniated Discs!

Herniated discs are among the most common spinal conditions and often require surgery to repair. Or so we thought… Studies reveal that there is an extremely effective non-surgical treatment for herniated discs: Spinal Decompression.

The spinal column is comprised of 33 bones that interlock with each other called vertebrae. These vertebrae are each separated and cushioned by intervertebral discs. These discs consist of fibrous bands which comprise the outside walls, protecting a soft, jelly-like center. These discs can become worn down over time, allowing the fluid from the center to protrude out into surrounding tissues. This condition is commonly known as a Herniated Disc.

Although some herniated discs don’t produce any symptoms, many cause pain and adverse reactions within the body. These effects can produce a constant state of discomfort, making personal and professional life more difficult. Symptoms commonly include:

Herniated Disc Symptoms:

 

While herniated discs are quite common, research shows that many more disc issues go undiagnosed. As many as 33% of adults without back pain have a significant disc issue that could be uncovered by an MRI. Moreover, depending on age, people could have a better than 50-50 chance at having a significant disc issue. Although many of these issues don’t produce symptoms at first, they could easily surface in the future without treatment.

Because the nature of the condition is different from person to person, there are multiple treatment options for herniated discs. Pain relief is the first goal of treatment, followed by healing the disc and, finally, building core strength to prevent future injury. The providers at Austin Preferred Integrative Medicine offer each of these techniques as they focus on non-surgical treatment for herniated discs.

Herniated Disc Treatment:

 

While each of these techniques is beneficial, Spinal Decompression is considered the top non-surgical treatment for herniated discs. During Spinal Decompression, the patient lies down on a motorized table, which moves back and forth. This gently movement pulls open the joint space, relieving spinal pressure while providing relaxation. This allows the center of the disc to reabsorb as it heals. Research has shown success rates of up to 93% using decompression, producing good-to-excellent results in most cases. Most health insurance carriers cover decompression, which is also available for $50 at the self pay rate.

Despite its effectiveness, we don’t always recommend decompression for each case. It is for this reason that the providers at Austin Preferred have patients in for a thorough evaluation before mapping out a customized treatment plan. Our staff believes input from the patient is crucial in designing effective, efficient treatment plans. Moreover, we use this feedback to make adjustments based on the patient’s response to treatment. This approach has made Dr. Jeff Fluitt one of the top options for relieving back pain in Austin, Texas.

Call (512) 442-2727 with questions or to schedule an appointment at our office, located in South Austin. You can also visit our Services and Conditions pages for more information on treatment at Austin Preferred.

Dry Needling

Complement Physical Therapy with Dry Needling

Due to the active lifestyles of many people in Austin, Texas, injuries are sometimes hard to avoid. Knee injuries for marathon runners, elbow injuries for golfers and herniated discs from heavy lifting are among the most common medical concerns treated at Austin Preferred Integrative Medicine. Even people who don’t live especially active lives still commonly suffer from auto accident injuries, work-related injuries and degenerative conditions.

Regimented Physical Therapy, Chiropractic and Manual Therapy treatments remain the best long-term solutions for issues of this nature. While these approaches produce cumulative results, sometimes an added dimension is necessary to produce short-term pain relief.

Dry Needling is increasing in popularity due to the oftentimes immediate effects it produces. Patients rave about improved range of motion in addition to reduced inflammation, tension and soreness in the soft tissues.

This is a simple yet precise treatment, involving strategic insertion of fine needles into sites of myofascial pain. The needles create an inflammatory reaction within the body that stimulates healing. In the past, our providers have recommended Dry Needling for patients dealing with:

Dry Needling Helps:

 

Because Dry Needling stimulates the body’s natural healing response, it is applicable to many other conditions besides those listed above. Like the other modalities mentioned, it doesn’t always produce immediate effects. However, the rate of patient satisfaction associated with Dry Needling is quite high and continues to climb. Over the last 60 days, 100% of patients reported positive outcomes from adding this technique to their plan of care.

Dry Needling is offered by a Physical Therapist and therefore requires a PT referral prior to treatment. For help obtaining a referral or to set up an appointment, call (512) 442-2727. You may also visit our Services and Conditions pages to learn more about treatment at our South Austin office.

Benefits of therapy with Platelet Rich Plasma

Benefits of Therapy with Platelet Rich Plasma

Though the human body is a resilient organism, over time, damage from physical stress starts to accumulate. The wear and tear of daily life takes its toll on muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Over time this wear and tear results in small or large tears in the supportive tissue of joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that cause inflammation, pain, and instability. Today we will discuss the benefits of therapy with platelet rich plasma (PRP) for these types of conditions. 

These types of injuries, whether they happen over time or suddenly with a misjudged movement or accident, are incredibly common. They happen frequently in active adults who exercise regularly and are otherwise healthy. They happen more frequently with age as joints become more stiff and arthritic. And they occur in people whose muscles and tendons have weakened with inactivity due to various reasons. These types of wear and tear injuries of the musculoskeletal system are known as degenerative changes, because if you live long enough the degeneration of the body results in loss of resiliency.

So, if the problem is degeneration, then the ideal treatment for these conditions would be focused on regeneration. Your body has remarkable regenerative capabilities. After an acute injury or instance of inflammation there are many processes that are triggered to rebuild healthy soft tissue. This all starts with the release of growth factors in response to inflammatory cells that flood the site of the injury. So, in the beginning phase, inflammation is a friend of regeneration and healing. However, after the initial phase of healing drops off, continued inflammation can be harmful by causing prolonged pain and swelling. This is the point when anti-inflammatories such steroids and ibuprofen are used for symptom management rather than healing.

The Inflammatory Response:

Let’s think about inflammation as a fire alarm and growth factors as fire fighters. Once the fire fighters are tapped out of resources, they go home. After the acute phase of healing if there is still damage and inflammation without regeneration, you just have a raging fire with a blaring alarm and no fire fighters to be seen. Meaning if you have a chronic injury that keeps flaring up due to overuse you can wind up with prolonged inflammation and little to no regeneration. This is where regenerative medicine offers an exciting solution by rejuvenating the body’s own healing response in old injuries.

Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, is a regenerative therapy that offers remarkable promise in the recovery of chronic injuries. The therapy involves drawing a small amount of blood and then using a special process to manipulate the plasma in a way that it holds onto a high concentration of platelets. These platelets are valuable since they are rich in your body’s most potent growth factors. When PRP is injected into a chronically injured joint, tendon, or muscle, these growth factors start a highly productive healing phase that results in regeneration and remodeling of healthy new tissue. Since this process is initiated by your body’s own plasma, it is incredibly safe and highly successful. This procedure has been used for soft tissue regeneration for over 20 years now and has been embraced by prominent orthopedists, surgeons, researchers, athletes, and patients alike.

There are almost as many uses of PRP as there are body parts, with new techniques and procedures developed regularly. It was originally developed for tendon injuries and is well established as an effective therapy for all musculoskeletal injuries. Examples of injuries and conditions that respond well to PRP therapy include, but most certainly are not limited, to:

Platelet Rich Plasma Helps:

  1. Tennis Elbow
  2. Golf Elbow
  3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  4. Plantar Fasciitis
  5. Osteoarthritis of large joints
  6. Overuse injuries of large joints
  7. Tendonitis
  8. Torn Muscles
  9. Sprained Muscles
  10. Sprained Ligaments

 

Many people notice immediate improvement after PRP therapy, but some people have a brief period of increased pain for a few days following the procedure. This is because the influx of potent growth factors stimulates inflammation which, as discussed above, is important for calling on the cells needed for healing and rebuilding. Because this inflammation is so important, patients should avoid anti-inflammatories for a few days before and after PRP therapy.

After this brief period, the rebuilding phase commences, and it is highly encouraged for patients to actively strengthen the affected area with therapeutic exercises for the best chances of long-term recovery. Because the burst of growth factors supplied by the PRP injection dissipates after about a week, many people opt for a second injection two weeks following the first with the goal of compounding the regenerative effects.

As you can see, there are many benefits of therapy with platelet rich plasma. Call (512) 442-2727 or submit your information through the blue form to schedule a consultation at our South Austin, Texas location.

For information on the other treatment options available at Austin Preferred, see our Services page.

By: Nicole Griffis, HNP, APRN-BC

Thyroid Issues

A Sluggish Thyroid Can Be Sneaky

Hypothyroidism, or the slowing of function in the thyroid gland, is an extremely common condition across the population. It happens more frequently as people age and is typically seen in women more than men. But many forward thinking medical providers believe it is even more pervasive than we currently believe. Why? Because a sluggish thyroid can be sneaky and conventional lab tests often overlook important indicators of thyroid issues. So it is up to an individual and their thorough practitioner to pinpoint subtle symptoms as well as examine blood work thoroughly. Treatment plans for hypothyroid conditions should always address nutrition and lifestyle in addition to any discussion of thyroid replacement options, if appropriate. A thyroid lab test and exam should be a routine part of an annual physical.

Even with regular screening, a sluggish thyroid is still a sneaky condition. To understand this, it helps to understand the job of this hard-working little gland. The thyroid is responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism and use of energy on a cellular level. It is in constant communication with the endocrine (hormone) system. But the thyroid only works properly with direct orders from the brain.

The hypothalamus in the brain sends these orders to the pituitary gland which then sends orders to the thyroid by releasing TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). With this signal, the thyroid releases T4. T4 is an “inactive” thyroid hormone, it circulates in the blood waiting to be used. The body converts T4 to T3 in areas it is needed most to use more energy. T3 is the “active” thyroid hormone that actually gains entrance into cells to aid with energy production. This complex signaling system is amazing and efficient and unfortunately vulnerable to malfunction.

Typically, when a medical provider checks your “thyroid level” they are looking at the TSH level. The lower the TSH, the more active the thyroid is. The higher the TSH, the more sluggish the thyroid is. The latter would be a failure of communication between the pituitary and the thyroid, resulting in hypothyroidism. There is some debate about the level of TSH that indicates hypothyroidism.

Classically, a TSH of 5 or over indicates hypothyroidism, but many clinicians intervene when a TSH is 3 or over. To truly diagnose a sluggish thyroid, it is important to fill in more of the picture. By measuring free T3 and free T4 levels, it is possible to deduce whether hormonal messaging is breaking down before of after the thyroid in the chain of command.  When the thyroid is putting out adequate T4 levels but T3 levels are low, then there is an issue with thyroid conversion. This detail can change what kind of thyroid replacement is ordered.

Stress, lifestyle, and nutrition play major roles in maintaining a healthy thyroid. The body uses essential nutrients such as iodine, zinc, and selenium in the signaling and conversion processes. Chronic stress can drain the body of cortisol, a hormone that is vital for thyroid functioning. Insulin resistance and hypothyroidism are often found together because they create a feedback loop of fatigue, weight gain, and poor health; as seen with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.

There are whole books written on the various ways the thyroid system works to keep body systems functioning at their healthiest levels and the ways people suffer when this system goes awry. (See the end of this article for two of my favorites). It is best to catch these system glitches early so they don’t turn into failures. Many times the problem can be remedied by supplements, alterations in diet, and lifestyle modifications. Beyond that, thyroid replacement may be required.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism are not always obvious. They can appear slowly over a long period of time or just manifest in subtle ways. Some people have opposite symptoms to what is most commonly experienced with hypothyroidism. It is best to just pay a visit to your medical provider if you have any new symptoms you are worried about.

Symptoms of Thyroid Issues:

  • Sluggishness in the morning
  • Poor concentration/memory
  • Low-grade depression
  • Dry skin
  • Hoarse voice
  • Thinning hair and eyebrows
  • Coarse hair
  • Low body temperature
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness/cramps
  • Decreased libido
  • Puffiness around face and eyes
  • High cholesterol
  • Low blood pressure

 

To learn more about thyroid issues and treatments, make an appointment with me today. APIM’s holistic health services are designed to offer thorough testing and treatments using a natural approach that promotes long-term health and well-being. For more in-depth reading on thyroid issues from a functional perspective, I recommend the following books:

  1. The Thyroid Connection by Amy Myers, MD.
  2. Why do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? By Dr. Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS.

For more information on holistic health services at Austin Preferred, or to schedule a consultation with our holistic medical provider Nicole Griffis, please call (512) 442-2727.

By: Nicole Griffis, HNP, APRN-BC
Vitamin Supplements

Are Vitamin Supplements Necessary for Good Health?

Most people are aware that the body needs a diverse set of vitamins and minerals to function properly. Our bodies run via a symphony of chemical processes rapidly occurring every minute to keep everything running smoothly. These constant cellular transactions give us an efficient supply of cellular energy, removal of damaging particles and toxins, regeneration of blood cells and tissue repair, arming of the immune system to ward off disease, and the maintenance of biological cycles that affect sleep & concentration. This simplified list is a small fraction of what various chemical conversions provide the body. Most of these processes require vitamins or minerals in some form. If these nutrients are in small supply, the body makes due at the cost of other “less vital” functions, which can lead to adverse ramifications over time. Vitamin supplements can help make up for deficiencies in these areas.

In an ideal world, we would all receive the vitamins and minerals our bodies need through our diets. Intake of nutrient-dense foods is the best way to supply your body with vitamins and minerals. The importance of a healthy diet with an array whole foods cannot be overstated. Nonetheless, even with a healthy diet, most people could benefit from vitamin supplements.

So much of our food supply is grown in sterile, controlled environments that leach the soil of much needed minerals. Greenhouse produce is often deficient in antioxidants and vitamins compared to their counterparts grown outside in the sun, wind, and weather. Age, stress, alcohol and sugar intake, and exposure to environmental toxins can all decrease absorption of nutrients while at the same time increasing the body’s needs for such nutrients. Several long term studies confirm that most Americans are deficient in at least one basic vitamin and that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is lacking in several vital nutrients.

So chances are, you could benefit from a good multivitamin at the very least. Furthermore, many functional medicine practitioners recommend several additional vitamin supplements. Dr. Mark Hyman has wonderful information about nutrition and supplements on his excellent website. Here is a basic list of supplements I routinely recommend based on the needs of the average American adult:

  1. Multivitamin – a combination of essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C
  2. Vitamin D3 – necessary for bone health, most adults are deficient
  3. Magnesium – helpful with calming nerves and muscles
  4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – with EPA and DHA, important for heart health
  5. Complex of B Vitamins – energizing, vital for cellular health throughout the body

Before starting any regular regimen of vitamin supplements, it is best to start by seeing a trusted clinician for basic blood work to find out where your specific needs lie. A functional medicine or holistic practitioner, such as myself, can help you compose a personalized supplement plan based on your needs and concerns. You may want to add some herbs such as turmeric for its anti-inflammatory products, cinnamon for to help stabilize blood sugar, or ashwagandha for anxiety. Once you determine what supplements are best for you, the next step is considering which to buy and how to take them.

Because the supplement industry is loosely regulated compared to the pharmaceutical industry, it is important to ensure you are purchasing a quality product that contains what it is claiming to rather than fillers and additives. With herbal products, there is a risk for the presence of heavy metals and toxins that are not routinely tested for with some companies. Therefore, it is good to set high standards when purchasing supplement products.

One good measure of quality is the appearance of “GMP” on the label. This stands for “Good Manufacturing Practices” and should be the minimum standard for the products you choose. Make sure to look at all the ingredients listed; inactive ingredients should be listed as well. There are a number of organizations that test supplement products for purity and quality, look for their stamp of approval on labels or go directly to their websites to access ratings for particular brands and products:

Vitamin Supplements:

  1. Consumer Labs
  2. Natural Products Association
  3. U.S. Pharmacopeia
  4. Informed Choice
  5. Banned Substance Group
  6. NSF International

There are quality vitamin products available at health food stores and even drug stores, especially when they contain a commonly manufactured ingredient, like Vitamin C. However, if you are looking for a formulation that combines ingredients (so you can take less pills) and offers better absorption, you may consider ordering from a pharmaceutical grade specialty company such as Metagenics or NeuroBiologix. These are two companies that Austin Preferred works with to offer patients high quality supplements formulated using evidence-based practices to maximize their benefits in the body. Additionally, they are available for purchase through our website.

For some people, taking multiple pills and capsules everyday is a chore, and one they are unlikely to adhere to. Some products come in powders or liquids that can be mixed with juice or added to smoothies which are more appealing options to certain folks. Moreover, there are even some formulations that come in the form of a topical cream. It is important to find a regimen that works for you and that you are likely to continue.

Schedule a Consultation!

If you wish to start a supplement regimen or just streamline your current one, consider coming in for a visit! I will analyze your blood work and physical symptoms from a holistic perspective. If it is appropriate, we also offer genetic testing that provides more information on how your body processes and uses nutrients. This information can be very useful in creating tailored supplement formulations. Feel free to bring in any products you are already taking so I can check them out.

There a plenty of store bought brands that I trust and can recommend. We can work to create an easy, affordable regimen that gives you energy and offers long-term health benefits. Call (512) 442-2727 to schedule an evaluation at our South Austin practice.

By: Nicole Griffis, HNP, APRN-BC

Wellness Goals

Self-Compassion & Accomplishing Wellness Goals

The start of a new year is the most popular time for people to set personal well goals for self-improvement. Whether you are inherently a goal-setter or not, it is hard not to look at the start of a new year as an opportunity for a fresh start to pursue your inner wish list. Some people set concrete, obtainable goals with measurable outcomes and deadlines. Others set vague goals like “to be active,” rather than, “I’ll work out for twenty minutes five times a week.”

Whatever your goal-setting style, there is the unavoidable wall we all hit when trying to challenge ourselves and we start to fall short or lose motivation. This is when the self-critic steps in and often times engages is self-punishment or abandoning our goals altogether.  It is easy to think that harsh self-talk, deprivation, or comparison with others will be the motivating push we need, but quite the opposite is true. Making self-compassion a top priority will help you find long term success in meeting your goals.

Essentially, practicing self-compassion means treating yourself as you would treat someone you really love. If you had a loved one constantly beating themselves up for not losing weight fast enough because they don’t like they way they look, you would (hopefully) let them know there are many ways they are attractive to others. You would tell them to be patient and focus on losing weight in a healthy way that makes them feel energized and creates meaningful change.

You would perhaps tell them they are human, and they are going to make mistakes, but these mistakes do not take away their value or the fact that they are worth starting again. If compassion for others comes easily for you, then using that well of compassion for yourself can be highly beneficial.

The leading expert on self-compassion as a psychosocial concept is Dr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor of psychology at UT Austin. She has done extensive research on the impact of self-compassion on various measures of psychological and physical health, has written a book on the topic, and teaches workshops and seminars on developing self-compassion as a skill.

She has published research linking the active use of self-compassion to improved body image among women, greater self-control, higher self-esteem, reduced symptoms of PTSD, enhanced coping skills, lower stress, greater sense of contentment, and a better sense of well-being over all. The benefits of self-compassion practice strongly resemble the goals set by many of us each year for a reason; we are all human and we all want to be happy. Learning to love ourselves and finding connection with others, faults and all, can help us reach this ultimate goal.

When some people hear the term “self-compassion,” they envision a self-centered egomaniac using every excuse possible to avoid discomfort. But this is not the case at all. Having self-compassion, means connecting with the ways we all suffer and using love and forgiveness to help overcome obstacles. Dr. Neff is very clear in outlining what self-compassion is not:

Self-Compassion is Not:

  1. Self-Pity: Self-pity means believing that your problems are worse than everyone else’s and that your situation is unique. Self-compassion means recognizing that everyone has problems, some worse than yours, and using this perspective when dealing with  your suffering.
  2. Self-Indulgence: Self-indulgence means ignoring your weaknesses and the consequences of an action by partaking in what is harmful. With self-compassion, for example, you are aware that you lack self-control when it comes to ice cream so you don’t buy a quart of it at the grocery store after a bad day. You may buy a single scoop while out and about as a small treat knowing that you are focused on the big picture of your health. And because you love yourself, you want to prevent the horrible feeling of eating a whole quart alone at home.
  3. Self-Esteem: Maintaining a high self-esteem often means comparing yourself to others and constantly having to feel “special” or above average. While self-esteem is important, placing too great an importance on feeling exceptional can inflate the ego in harmful ways. Self-compassion means loving yourself no matter what, with all faults and shortcomings, and feeling a connection to others based on our shared human condition rather than who is the best or worst.

 

Developing a self-compassion practice is easy and simple. Journaling is a great way to identify areas where you are being critical of yourself, but you can just start to pay attention to the way you talk to yourself when you are struggling. Then ask yourself how you would respond to a loved one struggling with the same issues. Take a look around you and see how others are struggling too. Most importantly, make your goals realistic and try to make them in the spirit of self-compassion rather than pure self-improvement. Here are some examples of goals rooted in self-compassion:

Wellness Goals & Self-Compassion:

  • “I will do my best to exercise three times a week this year to be more fit and healthy.”
  • “I’ll stop rewarding myself with sweets because I deserve to treat myself better this year, and I’ll find a reward that makes me feel good, instead of shameful.”
  • I will stop mindlessly surfing the internet when I’m bored, because there are more productive things I can do with my time.”

 

Try to incorporate self-compassion into your goal setting and your daily routines wherever you can. It can only make you stronger and happier, even if you don’t lose all the weight you wanted to or if other obstacles get in the way of your goals. Being able to accept yourself in all your humanness everyday, is the ultimate achievement anyway. For more and Dr. Neff and self-compassion, visit her website.

The above information offers a glimpse at Nicole Griffis’ approach to helping patients achieve their wellness goals. To schedule an evaluation with Nicole, call (512) 442-2727.

Detoxify and Cleanse

Detoxify and Cleanse

Most of us take the time to clear clutter from our personal spaces on a regular basis. It is so satisfying to have a clean and ordered the garage, closet, refrigerator, or even an office drawer. It gives us a chance to start fresh, think more clearly, and hopefully be more productive. But how often do we give our bodies the same opportunity to clear the clutter and start fresh? We don’t think of our bodies as being cluttered, but that’s exactly what toxic buildup is: a backlog of toxins waiting to be dismantled and eliminated. As this accumulation grows the body’s defenses become more strained. This strain can manifest in subtle or extreme ways and vary between individuals. A health program designed to detoxify and cleanse can help ease this strain by decreasing the workload of the hard-working detoxifying organs.

If you stop to imagine the amount of toxins your body works to neutralize and clear everyday, the need for a detox becomes obvious. Our livers, kidneys, lungs, and skin are constantly breaking down the toxins that we breathe, eat, inhale, and absorb so they can be excreted and disposed of. The liver is the true star of the detoxifying process, by using highly specialized metabolic means to disarm toxins and send them on their way. But as toxins accumulate, the liver cannot always complete the process and toxins start to build up.

Sometimes partly-metabolized toxins are even more toxic than their original state. They are stored in the body’s tissues to be addressed later, but we all know what that kind of procrastination can lead to when you are already overworked! The poor liver falls behind deadlines and can never catch up. Meanwhile, the free radicals, or oxidizing particles, that are the byproduct of removing toxins, also continue to build up and can have direct damaging consequences to the cells and tissues of the body.

Scientists are exploring many theories regarding the consequences of the body’s toxic load. Among them is a growing school of thought suggesting that accumulation of hormones and pesticides within the body’s soft tissue is contributing to the obesity epidemic. Many experts believe the growing preponderance of thyroid disorders, hormonal imbalances, and autoimmune diseases are correlated with increasingly toxic environmental exposures due to a disruption of the body’s complex metabolic pathways.

A core practice of functional medicine is to address a range of common symptoms with a dietary and lifestyle detoxification. These symptoms include brain fog, fatigue, indigestion, skin rashes, acne, abdominal bloating, joint pain, and insomnia. It is interesting to compare this list of common symptoms with a list of the most purchased prescription and over-the-counter medications such as antacids, sleep-aids, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatories.

Where do these mounting toxins come from? Well, there are the obvious culprits: air pollution, pesticides and hormones found in foods, plastic packaging, medications, food additives, and heavy metals in the water supply, to name a few. Then there are those we are less likely to qualify as toxic: alcohol, fried foods, food with dyes or preservatives, constant exposure to screens and cell phones, frequent stress, and negative thinking.

Modern comforts and conveniences come at a price and we cannot eliminate many of these toxic sources from our lives. Nonetheless, we can minimize much of our toxic exposures by altering what we consume and how we consume it. Below are some recommendations to lower your toxic load and give your body the support it needs to stay healthy:

  1. Try to eat organic, pesticide-free produce whenever possible.
  2. Try to eat hormone-free, grass-fed meat and dairy products whenever possible.
  3. Use BPA-free plastic containers for food and beverages. Look for BPA-free canned foods.
  4. Avoid foods with preservatives and dyes.
  5. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to stock up on antioxidants.
  6. Stop using nonstick and coated cookware, this leaves toxic residue in your food.
  7. Drink filtered water, and plenty of it.
  8. Limit alcohol intake.
  9. Take breaks from your computer, TV, and phone.
  10. Take time for deep belly breaths and stress relieving activities.
  11. Make time to get eight hours of sleep per night.
  12. Get sweaty from exercise, hot baths or saunas.

 

These recommendations are general guidelines for leading a life with less toxic exposure. Consider joining Austin Preferred’s Detox 360 program if you’re interested in a more in-depth detoxification regimen. You can participate as a group or individual. The program includes meal plans, guidelines, informative articles, and gentle, plant-based supplements to aid your body’s natural detoxification pathways.

You can participate individually or as part of a group. There is no fasting as part of this deep cleanse, so participants can keep up their normal lifestyles. If you would like to learn more, call (512) 442-2727 or visit our South Austin location today!

Healthy Holidays

Healthy Holidays

The Holidays are upon us along with all the joys of the season. Joys such as seeing family and friends, watching silly movies, giving and receiving gifts, and partaking in all sorts of scrumptious foods and beverages. Sharing homemade treats and sipping spirits with loved ones is a warm way of bonding which holds a dear place in the heart of our culture. Heading into the holidays with a plan of deprivation and restriction is highly unlikely for most of us. So, why not approach the healthy holidays with a spirit of moderation and, above all, mindful enjoyment?

The following are some tips to keep in mind while the parties, family meals, edible gifts, and travel plans mount up over the next few weeks:

 

Sweets and Treats

  • If you have a very favorite dessert or treat during the holidays, then absolutely partake in it. BUT, serve yourself a small portion and take the time to taste and savor every bite. Use your other senses as well: the sound of family laughter, the beautiful holiday lights, the warmth of a fire or candles. Make your consumption a full sensory experience, then continue to enjoy your surroundings without reaching for seconds.
  • Do not feel guilty for eating your favorite treat. Instead feel grateful to enjoy healthy holidays.
  • Do not eat sweet treats that you don’t like. Sometimes we feel the need to partake to be polite to someone who made a treat. If this is the case, take as few bites as possible with a big smile!
  • Do not make dessert your breakfast. Leftover pie or cookies are easy to reach for in the morning but are an unhealthy way to start your day and will lead to a blood sugar crash well before lunch.

 

Parties and Gatherings

  • Bring a dish that is flavorful and healthy, or finger foods to add to the feast.
  • Fill 75% of your plate with protein and veggies, fill 25% with carbs.
  • Eat slowly, chew your food, enjoy the conversation.
  • Wait until after you eat to have an alcoholic beverage.
  • Choose lower calorie alcoholic beverages: dry champagne, vodka sodas, red wine.
  • Fill your glass with water between alcoholic beverages.
  • Bring a bag of your own favorite herbal tea to have toward the end of the night.
  • Use a ride share service or a cab to get home if you’ve had more than one drink.

 

Travel

  • Whether flying or driving, drink lots of water.
  • Avoid alcohol and extra caffeine.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • When waiting at an airport, walk around, don’t sit. Walk from one end of the airport to the other at a brisk pace if you have the time.
  • On the plane, be sure to stand up every thirty minutes. Do some simple stretching in the aisle.
  • Do gentle neck and shoulder rolls while seated every ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Bring your own healthy snacks: nuts, fruit, veggie sticks, etc.
  • If driving, use rest stops to stretch and do small bursts of exercise.

 

Enjoy your healthy holidays and stay tuned for future posts on detoxifying, as well as more health advice in the New Year! Call (512) 442-2727 to schedule an evaluation with the Medical Practitioner at our South Austin, Texas location.

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