"If you aren't seeing a chiropractor, you must be on drugs."

August 8, 2006 [Volume 7, Issue 17]

In this issue of To Your Health:

  • Good Posture Starts Early
  • Diabetic Patients Benefit From Vegan Diet
  • Exercise Balls vs. Mats: And the Winner is...

Good Posture Starts Early

We've all heard, "Sit up straight!" more than once, usually while sitting in a classroom many years ago. Posture was not taught, it was demanded. In an effort to weigh the possible benefits of back education, a group of researchers led a two school-year study of Belgian schoolchildren that concluded positive immediate and long-term results.

The study involved more than 350 9- to 11-year-old children. The program consisted of lessons on good posture, positive reinforcement from their teachers and the addition of exercise balls and sitting wedges in each class. The students, under the supervision of their teachers, were evaluated with a pre- and posttest that included 10 questions on the content of the lessons, a section on general posture knowledge, and an evaluation of back and neck pain in the previous week. In addition, three children in each class were randomly selected for observation of their posture.

Results showed that students who received back education showed increased back posture knowledge, improved posture, and a decrease in how often they sat with their backs bent forward and their necks craned at school.

Are your children aware of the benefits of proper posture and how to achieve it? If you aren't already doing so, now's the time to take them to an expert on appropriate care of the back: your chiropractor.

Geldhof E, Cardon G, Bourdeaudhuij I, et al. Effects of a two-school-year multifactorial back education program in elementary schoolchildren. Spine 2006;31(17):1965-1973.

Diabetic Patients Benefit From Vegan Diet

Although it is a difficult diet to follow faithfully, veganism has many health benefits. Not only are animal products avoided (meat, fish, poultry), but animal byproducts, such as honey and milk, are also not consumed. A recent study provides evidence that a vegan diet can help sufferers of type 2 diabetes. The study sought to investigate whether a low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factor.

Ninety-nine individuals with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to either a low-fat vegan diet or a diet following the American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines. The ADA suggests eating a wide variety of foods including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nonfat dairy products, beans, and lean meats, poultry and fish. Forty-three percent of the vegan group and 26 percent of the ADA group reduced diabetes medications. Body weight decreased 14.3 pounds in the vegan group and 6.83 pounds in the ADA group. LDL cholesterol fell 21.2 percent in the vegan group and 10.7 percent in the ADA group for individuals continued taking their lipid-lowering medications.

The researchers concluded that both a low-fat vegan diet and a diet based on ADA guidelines improved glycemic and lipid control in type 2 diabetic patients, but that these improvements were greater with a low-fat vegan diet.

Exercise Balls vs. Mats: And the Winner is...

Fitness comes in all forms these days. Every channel you flip to has a commercial with the latest, greatest and easiest-to-use exercise equipment. But what is legitimate and what is smoke and mirrors? Researchers from the Universities of Waterloo and New Brunswick, Canada recently conducted a study on the effectiveness of exercise balls for certain abdominal exercises.

All eight male participants were active and healthy, and none complained of lower back pain for a year preceding their involvement in the study. During the exercises, 14 pairs of electrodes were placed on the skin of each participant over seven different stomach muscles. Measurements were recorded while the participants performed three exercises on the mat and the same three on the exercise ball.

The results showed that the use of an exercise ball did not increase the degree of muscle use or work the abdominal muscles harder. There did not seem to be a training advantage associated with the use of an exercise ball while performing the basic extension exercises versus the use of a mat.

If you're looking to get into the exercise "game" but don't know where to start, talk to your chiropractor, who can outline a daily regimen of safe exercises suitable to your needs.

Drake J, Fischer S, Brown S, et al. Do exercise balls provide a training advantage for trunk extensor exercises? A biomechanical evaluation. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2006;29(5):354-362.