Dr. Melissa Clarke

Ten Ways to Help Strengthen the Knees and Reduce Knee Pain

  1. Anti-inflammatory Foods

Inflammation can be the cause of pain and weakness of knees. It is very important to include in your diet foods which are anti-inflammatory such as turmeric, walnuts, ginger, spinach, avocados, blueberries, sweet potatoes, tart cherries, olive oil, and salmon. Make sure to avoid inflammatory foods as white rice, white flour products, foods which are high in saturated fats, sugary foods, and soda.

  1. Swimming

Swimming can be very effective in treating knee pain and arthritis because it is an overall fitness. It will reduce the stiffness of the knees, strengthens the bones and the muscles of the knee joints.
You need to swim 30 minutes a day. Butterfly stroke, backstroke, and front crawl are the most effective swimming strokes. Make sure to avoid breaststroke because it applies pressure on the knees joints.

  1. Exercises

Exercises strengthen the knee bones and align the joints. The muscles surrounding the knee will be strengthened, which will improve their condition. Knee bends, step-ups, hamstring stretches with thigh contraction, lunges, straight-leg raises, squats with a Swiss ball, and single-leg squats are some of the most beneficial exercises. It is very important to perform these exercises 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times weekly.

  1. Epsom Salt

Usually, extremely low levels of magnesium are present in people who have weak knees, or people who suffer from knee pain because of osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium and it can effectively relieve this condition. It supports the calcium absorption, thus enabling a proper muscle function, and alleviating the inflammation around the knee joints. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in a half a cup of water. Soak a washcloth in the solution and apply in on your knees. Let it stand for 15-20 minutes. Then, you can rinse it off with warm water.  Repeat this procedure two times a week. Also, once or twice a week, you can make an Epsom salt bath. Add a cup of Epsom salt in your bath, and soak in it for 20 minutes.

  1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for the collagen formation. It is extremely important for the proper bones development, synthesis of collagen, and quality of bone matrix. Furthermore, it can enhance the bone mass density and reduce the risk of fractures. Vitamin C is found in foods like spinach, berries, lemon, broccoli, papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, oranges, cauliflower, and kiwi. Also, you can take it as supplements such as chewable tablets or capsules.

  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is significantly important for joints and bones health. The risk of minimal trauma fractures and bone loss is increased by the deficiency of vitamin D. Also, the body will not be able to absorb enough calcium, if it has a deficiency of this mineral. It is known that exposure to the sun is how our body produces vitamin D. So, spend at least 15 minutes a day in the sun. Vitamin D can be found in fish, fortified cereals, egg yolks, cod liver oil, and dairy products. Also, you can take some supplements recommended by your doctor.

  1. Calcium

Calcium is essential for the health of the bones. The deficiency of calcium can lead to weakening and thinning of bones, which causes osteoporosis. Because calcium is not produced by our body in a natural way, we need to take supplements and dietary sources in order to supply it. Calcium can be found it cheese, milk, dark leafy greens, almonds, edamame, blackstrap molasses, fortified orange juice, sardines, and calcium-fortified cereals. If you want to take supplements, choose those with vitamin D, because it helps the absorption of calcium. Visit your doctor so you can get the proper dose.

  1. Massage

Another effective way to treat knee pain and strengthen the knee area is massage. If it is done on a regular basis, it can improve circulation. Use coconut, mustard, or olive oil to rub your knees with firm but gentle movements (clockwise, and counter-clockwise) for 10-15 minutes. If you feel that there is a need, you can massage your knees two times a day. However, you should consult a massage therapist in case you suffer from a chronic knee pain.

  1. Fish Oil

Fish oil can enhance the bone density and strengthen the knee joints as it contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), omega-3 fatty acids. Also, the stiffness and joint pain will be alleviated due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties.

  1. Healthy Weight

The excess body weight can also be a reason for weaken joints. It applies much more pressure on the knees and the joints need to do much more work. The risk of hip or knee replacement is increased by obesity. In order to enhance the strength and stability of the knees, it is very important to lose excess pounds.
 
Source:  NutriLover.com

Lowering Your Cholesterol Naturally by Melissa Clark, MD

Statin medications that doctors use – Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol – all are effective at reducing cholesterol but can have side effects like muscle toxicity and pain. Most people prefer not to take medicines if they don’t have to. Some have turned to one of the more popular “natural” treatments for high cholesterol, red yeast rice, but it has the same potential side effects as statins. So if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and prefer to try start off with more natural remedies, talk with your doctor about trying some of these first. You should also let your doctor know of any supplements you want to take to ensure they do not interact negatively with any medications you are already on.
Natural or herbal options you can discuss with your doctor include:
1. Remember – food is medicine! There are great foods you can eat more of that can help lower cholesterol. These include walnuts, almonds and other nuts; foods high in omega 3 fatty acids – these include flaxseed or fatty fish like herring, mackerel, salmon and sardines; and olive oil. These foods along with ones high in soluble fiber (see below) can be substituted for foods high in saturated fats and trans-fats. Foods to eat less of, or to eliminate, include meat, full-fat dairy products like whole milk and cheese, and trans fats found in some margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes and cake mixes. Make sure to read your labels.
2. Eat more Soluble Fiber. Soluble fiber appears to binds with cholesterol in the intestines so that it is eliminated. It can be found as a dietary supplement, such as psyllium powder, or in foods such as oats, barley, rye; peas and beans; fruits like apples, prunes, and berries; and vegetables such as carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, yams. Five to 10 grams a day of soluble fiber has been found to decrease LDL cholesterol by approximately 5%. Soluble fiber products often say on the label that they are “heart-healthy”.
3. Niacin or Vitamin B3 is used to lower cholesterol. Specifically, it appears to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Niacin is available in prescription form and as a dietary supplement. The American Heart Association cautions patients to only use the prescription form of niacin. Because of side effects, niacin should not be used to lower cholesterol unless under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner.
Side effects can include the most common one, skin flushing, as well as increasing the effect of high blood pressure medication, causing nausea, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, gout, worsening peptic ulcers, or triggering gout, liver inflammation, and high blood sugar. Hold on though – better news follows…
4. Studies on Artichoke leaf extract show it may work to lower cholesterol by both decreasing the amount of cholesterol made in the body as well as increasing cholesterol elimination from the body. It has not yet been well studied but preliminary results show minimal side effects and after 1 week of 1800 mg, cholesterol lowering effects lasted up to 6 weeks.
Remember to check back in with your doctor frequently to make sure that the approach you have chosen is helping to get your cholesterol levels where they need to be.
Dr. Clark is author of the new book “Excuse Me Doctor! I’ve Got What? Taking Ownership of Your Health and making Healthcare Reform Work for You” This book was recently selected by Essence Magazine as one of its top picks and is spotlighted as a great read for helping one to keep his/her New Year’s resolution on keeping your body healthy in 2015