Tag Archives: nutrition

Rethink Your New Year’s Resolution – Get Healthy!


Happy New Year! With the new year comes many “New Year’s Resolutions,” and its hard to miss all of the advertisements targeting the number one resolution – weight loss! Weight loss can be a great goal, but how you go about achieving your weight loss goals is important, and what mental approach you take is also important. As a chiropractor I see first hand how detrimental it can be to one’s wellness to have negative thoughts about yourself and your body. If your goal this year is to “lose weight” I challenge you to think carefully about what that means for you mentally. It can be easy to isolate the goal of losing weight from the goal of being healthier, which is really what you are aiming for! Instead of thinking about your new year’s resolution as a weight loss goal, think about revamping your nutrition and exercise lifestyle to “get healthy.”  Here are a few tips going into the new year for your “get healthy” resolution!


Choose good, healthy nutrition goals:

Instead of looking for the perfect “diet,” I suggest you make steady changes toward eating more of a high vegetable, whole foods diet. My brother, a board certified chiropractic neurologist, wrote a series of excellent nutrition tips – if you do ONE thing from this post, read the posts below! (And if you’re in Virginia and looking for a Staunton Chiropractor, give Valley Family Wellness a call. I’d send you his way even if he wasn’t my twin.  )

  1. Eat Real, Living Foods
  2. Eat Often, Avoid Sugar, and Stay Hydrated
  3. Considerations for Gluten, Dairy, Supplements, and Detox


  Make a commitment to regular exercise

The combination of healthy eating and consistent exercise has been shown time and again to be the best way to achieve and maintain healthy weight loss. Working your way up to an hour of exercise 3-5 days a week has been shown to provide the best weight loss and weight maintenance results. This can be in whatever form of exercise you prefer – ideally a combination of cardiovascular activity (swimming, jogging) and strength-building activity (weight lifting, conditioning).

Be positive:

Be kind to yourself as you start to make changes to your eating and exercise habits! Give yourself affirmations even when you don’t feel like it – “I am doing great!” “I am working toward my goal.” “I am becoming healthier.” Creating a mentally positive atmosphere for these changes will allow you to be persistent.

 Chose a steady, slow pace:

Don’t expect overnight, rapid results – those results typically aren’t the most healthy. Too rapid weight loss leaves your body lacking nutrients and detoxing from chemicals in cell waste too quickly. Reframe your outlook to a long, slow-paced journey toward a more healthy lifestyle.

Good luck, and happy New Year!

Wellness Considerations for Healthy Aging

*This blog post is an adaptation of the wellness talk Dr. Dodge gave to the Coppell Senior and Community Center in July of 2012

My grandparents, dancing at my wedding in 2008

Wellness Considerations for Healthy Aging

There are many factors that contribute to developing and maintaining health. As we age, our lifestyle choices become more important to ensure that we age in a healthy manner. “Sleeping regularly and adequately, eating well-balanced meals, engaging in physical activity, not smoking, not using or moderately using alcohol, and maintaining a healthy body weight”[i] are a few healthy habits and lifestyle choices that can help us all age well. These suggestions may be some things that you have heard before, but it is important to understand them and know how to implement them correctly in your life to age as healthily as possible.

Sleep As we age, our bodies tend to need less sleep. However, getting adequate sleep is important for your body to repair, rest, and re-energize from daily activities. Your body also uses this time to process and store memories and events from the day. These memories and events are moved from short-term memory storage into long-term storage and your brain helps to organize the information that was learned through the day. Not getting enough regular sleep can lead to decreased immune system functioning and put you more at risk for developing short-term and chronic disease processes.

Exercise Engaging in physical activity is another crucial part of maintaining health while we age. Physical activity has innumerable health benefits including decreasing body weight; increasing flexibility, endurance, and balance; extending life; improving cardiovascular health and blood pressure; lowering lipid levels in the blood, improving sleep quality; improving posture and mobility; increasing blood flow to the brain and maintaining mental ability; alleviating depression, maintaining muscle mass, and maintaining balance and coordination.1 Through the aging process, adults lose muscle mass and strength, as well as balance and coordination. Physical activity helps to counter act this by maintaining muscle mass as well as allowing your brain to be able to better tell where your body is in space, therefore maintaining balance and coordination. For those who have not been physically active, it is a good idea to start slow and ease into a routine. Below is a table taken from Rolfes’ Understanding Nutrition (2005)i that gives a few suggestions on how to ease into a work out routine. Beginning too quickly or pushing past what the body is use to or capable of is dangerous. This could cause injury that may have negative affects on ones short- or long-term health. It may feel like starting out so slowly is not enough physical activity. However, a gradual build in the amount, time and intensity of a work out routine will allow the body to adapt more easily, prevent against muscle soreness, and prevent other health complications that would inhibit any further progression in your physical activity.


Exercise Guidelines for Older Adults
Examples Endurance Strength Balance Flexibility
Start Easy Be active 5 minutes on most or all days Using 0-2 pound weights do 1 set of 8 repetitions twice a week Hold onto a table or chair with one hand, then with one finger Hold stretch 10 seconds: each stretch 3 times
Progress gradually to goal Be active 30 minutes on most or all days Increase weight as able; do 2 sets of 8-15 repetitions twice a week Do not hold onto table or chair; then close eyes Hold stretch 30 seconds; do each stretch 5 times
Cautions and comments Stop if you are breathing so hard you can’t talk or if you feel dizziness or chest pain Breathe out as you contract and in as you relax (do not hold your breath); use smooth, steady movements Incorporate balance techniques with strength exercises as you progress Stretch after strength and endurance exercises for 20 minutes, 3 times a week; use slow, steady movements; bend joints slightly


Nutritional Deficiencies Proper nutrition from a well-balanced meal plan is essential for healthy aging as well as a healthy lifestyle in general. As we age we need to be aware of some possible nutritional deficiencies that become more common. The immune system can be highly compromised if nutritional deficiencies exist. As we age, absorption of B vitamins such as B12, Folate, and Biotin may decrease. Calcium, iron and zinc absorption can become diminished as well, primarily due to developing inflammation in the stomach and digestive tract. These deficiencies can be addressed with proper supplementation as well as restoring proper digestive function by reducing inflammation. Vitamin D is another nutrient of concern that may become deficient as we age. Older adults tend to not spend enough time outside to allow adequate time for the skin to produce Vitamin D. Aging also reduces the skin’s capacity to make Vitamin D and the kidneys’ ability to convert it to its active form. Therefore it is important to supplement this with a high quality form of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D helps with supporting the immune system, maintaining important brain function, balancing calcium and phosphorous to help maintain bone health, and helping to prevent many other diseases. Water is another very important part of healthy nutrition and is vital to all the chemical reactions and functioning of the whole body. As we age we tend to not drink as much water because of several different reasons. Some older adults become more incontinent or have more frequent urges to urinate and do not want the inconvenience of getting up to use the bathroom frequently. In the case of incontinence, it would be of great benefit to seek out a physical therapist who specializes in restoring pelvic floor musculature. Many older adults also lose the sense and recognition of thirst and just do not think to drink water or realize their body needs more hydration. In these hot summer months it is even more important to remember to stay hydrated. Older adults tend to be more dehydrated and can dehydrate even more quickly in the heat. This can be dangerous because when older adults are dehydrated they are more susceptible to urinary tract infections, pneumonia, pressure ulcers, confusion and disorientation. It is important to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day.

Digestive Health It was mentioned earlier that as we age some nutritional deficiencies might be due to inflammation in the digestive tract. We need to make sure that our digestive tracts are functioning properly to allow for absorption of all the nutrients we intake. As we age we tend to develop more digestive issues, many related to inflammation that develops in the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. Many symptoms that occur after we eat foods can indicate that we may have inflammation in our digestive tract. Things such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, pain, etc. can show us that our digestive tract is not functioning the way that it should. There is a simple four step process that can be used to repair digestive function so that we can more effectively digest foods and absorb essential nutrients.

Four Step Digestive System Repair

1) Remove – Remove any potentially stressful or inflammatory foods and drinks from you diet i.e. sugar, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, coloring and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, gluten, casein (dairy), antibiotics, antacids, anti-inflammatory drugs

2) Repair – Repair the damaged, inflamed tissue in the digestive tract by eating plenty of vegetables and fruits as well as adding tissue healing supplements such as Omega 3 fatty acids, GLA, Aloe Vera, turmeric, licorice root and L-glutamine

3) Restore – Restore healthy colonies of good bacteria in the digestive tract by utilizing a probiotic with high quantities of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium as well as providing a good environment for the healthy bacteria to flourish with a prebiotic.

4) Replace – Replace digestive enzymes with a high quality digestive enzymes supplement to improve digestion and absorption of necessary nutrients.


Healthy Eating In addition to having a fully functioning digestive system, it is important to eat good energy rich foods. It is important to eat foods with higher quality nutrients that are not high in calories. Energy needs decline at about 5 percent each decade of life, because of lower energy expenditure and decreasing lean body mass.i So eating foods rich in nutrients and vitamins and minerals and limiting extra calories from sugars and processed foods is important. Having good sources of protein is important because it is a longer lasting energy source that helps to stabilize blood sugar and support a healthy immune system. Good sources of protein are things like poultry, fish, eggs, as well as a lot of nuts and legumes. Another important aspect to include in a healthy diet is quality carbohydrate foods that contain fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates help to protect the protein you are eating from being used up; and they allow your body to have a shorter acting source of good energy. Good options for quality carbohydrates include legumes, vegetables, gluten-free whole grains like quinoa and whole grain brown rice, and low glycemic fruits, like pitted fruits, apples, and berries (avoid things like watermelon and other melons and tropical fruit which can cause a spike in blood sugar). Fiber from vegetables, fruits, and other quality carbohydrates help to lower cholesterol, improve digestion and digestive regularity, and prevent against constipation. Having good fats in your diet is vital to support your nervous system and are essential for cell structure throughout your body. Good fats are anything that contains Omega 3, 6, EPA, DHA, GLA. You can get these from coconut oil, olive oil, almond or safflower oil, by eating fish, or taking a high quality fish oil or essential fatty acid supplement. Too much fat is never a good thing, especially if it is processed, or trans-fats. Processed foods use fat to improve flavor but do not usually use high quality good fats, they use saturated fats and trans-fats that are harder for your body to deal with and is more unhealthy.

Making healthy lifestyle choices can be difficult and takes dedication and persistence. However, in the end it is worth it so that you are able to maintain a healthy active life well into old age. Change does not have to come all at once though. Gradual changes in the foods you eat and your exercise routine will eventually lead to living a much healthier, happier life.


Supplements and Nutrition to Help Specific Conditions

Improve Short-term memory – Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E

Performance in problem-solving tests – Riboflavin, Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C

Mental Health – Thiamin, Niacin, Zinc, Folate

Cognition – Folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Iron, Vitamin E, Gingko

Vision – Vitamin A, Essential Fatty acids

Neurotransmitter Synthesis – Tyrosine, Truyptophan, Choline

Cataracts and Macular Degeneration – antioxidants, vitamins as well as zinc, carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin

Arthritis such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Osteoarthritis – antioxidants like vitamin E and C, omega 3 fatty acids, as well as a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement

Bone Strength and Health – calcium and magnesium, weight baring and resistance exercise

Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. – Eliminate artificial sweeteners like splenda and artificial colorings and flavors. B vitamins and Essential Fatty acids

Cardiovascular Health – Antioxidants, vitamin C, Vitamin E, B vitamins especially Vitamin B3 (niacin) omega fatty acids



i] Whitney, E., Rolfes, S.,( 2005). Understanding Nutrition. Thomson Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.

Holistic Meals for the Family: Lentil Soup

It can be really tough to make healthy, tasty food for your family. Add in the importance of eating as organic as possible, and it can be expensive, too! Through our “Holistic Meals for the Family” series, we’ll share some of our family’s “frugal” recipes and ideas, and give you a little background on some of those special healthy ingredients you might not be familiar with. First up: LENTILS!

What are lentils?

Lentils are a type of legume, like dried beans. What we buy in the store to cook and eat are the dried seeds of the lentil plant, which come in little one- or two-seed pods.

They are small, so they cook pretty quickly. They also absorb flavor quite well, so they can be very versatile!


Why are lentils good for us?

Lentils are tiny but mighty legumes. For only about 230 calories per cup, they pack a ton of nutrients. Check out their nutritional contents here.

Lentils are an excellent source of both insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps your body get rid of cholesterol-containing bile, and insoluble fiber is excellent for overall digestive health. The fiber in lentils helps them act as a slow burning carbohydrate, which helps stabilize blood sugar. Lentils are especially healthy for people with blood sugar related conditions. The high folate and magnesium content in lentils makes them a particularly “heart healthy” food as well. Lentils are also a good source of iron, which is especially important for pregnant and nursing mothers. To top it off, lentils contain less than a gram of fat per cup! As far as we see it, these little legumes can’t do wrong! However, if you avoid high-purine foods, be aware that lentils do naturally contain a moderately high level of purines.

For more information, read The World’s Healthiest Foods article on Lentils. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=52


Where do I get them, and what do I buy?

You can find lentils prepackaged in most grocery stores with the dried beans and rices. You may also be able to find them in the bulk foods sections – Sprouts right here in Coppell carries lots of varieties at great prices. We get our organic lentils in the bulk foods section of Whole Foods. I’ve also found the Arrow Head Mills organic green lentils locally, at Market Street. We recommend buying the dried variety and cooking them yourself, rather than the canned option. This just brings you closer to eating less-processed foods, and avoids the potential for BPA-lined cans.


How do I cook them?

If cooking plain lentils, use a 1 cup of lentils to 3 cups of liquid (stock or water) ratio. You can bring the liquid to a boil with the lentils already added, or boil the water first, then add lentils. Either way, once the liquid and lentil combination is boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Green and brown lentils take right about 30 minutes, sometimes longer. Smaller, thinner lentils like red and orange lentils may be ready in 20 minutes. For recipes that call for cooked lentils, like a cold lentil salad, taking the lentils out a little “al dente” is usually preferred.


Recipe: Lentil Soup

I certainly don’t claim to be an excellent cook, but my two taste-testers, Dr. Dodge and little Charlie, are big fans of my lentil soup. It is pretty simple flavor-wise, so I think it is a great introduction to lentils. If you try it and hate it, don’t give up on lentils! There are lots of great recipes out there – I’ve linked a few at the end for you to check out! I also won’t add “organic” in front of every ingredient, but you can easily find all of these ingredients in their organic variety in the grocery store! We’ll post more in the future on the importance of eating organic and local!


Prep and Cook Time: 1 hour

Serves: 8-10

¼ cup olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)

2 cups diced carrots

1 ½ cups diced celery

1 ½ cups diced onion

2 cups dried green lentils (if you use a different type, read the instructions for cook time)

6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

1 tsp salt (I highly recommend pink Himalayan sea salt – it is delicious!)

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp thyme

There are lots of ways to jazz this up – I’ve added fennel, local sausage and bacon from Livestock First Ranch…add what sounds good!

Add olive oil, garlic, carrots, onion, and celery to a large sauce pan. Sautee (medium low – medium) until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Add lentils, stir to coat. Add chicken stock, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Let simmer for 30-40 minutes, until lentils are tender. Add stock, salt, and pepper to preference. Enjoy!


Yummy-Looking Recipes to Try:

Curried Lentil Soup from Oh She Glows

Mediterranean Lentil Salad from Elly Says Opa

Moroccan Chicken and Lentils from Epicurious



Please share your experiences with lentils! Do you have any great recipes we should try?