Physical Training & Avoiding Injuries

Posted on March 21, 2017. Filed under: Acupuncturist, Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Healing, injury, rebuild, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

monica back exercise

Monica Steiner at work in the gym

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

“I keep getting hurt – how can I train to gain without getting injured anymore?” This and similar questions are only slightly less common than “What did I do to myself?”

Let’s face it, little is more frustrating than being knocked off the training track once again. Finding a sticking point or plateau is bad enough, but what I might call “break down points” is probably even worse. The difference is critical – a plateau is that inability to surpass a certain desired goal in size, strength or muscularity. A breaking point is one of those times when “Oops, it happened again,” such as when training weights approach a certain level at which a back, shoulder or perhaps knee always seems to give way.

The essential bottom-line point is that if you are injured over and over again, your training will suffer. If your training suffers, it is not possible to reach your peak cardiovascular fitness. So, what are we to do?  Whatever the most motivating end goals, the underlying requirement is training consistency. A week here or a month there is of no value, other than in giving one a sense that “efforts are being made, I’m trying…” Largely futile and possibly dangerous – it used to be called “the weekend warrior” syndrome, which helps fill the waiting rooms of Monday morning chiropractic clinics as these individuals exert beyond what is their safe capacity.

The next essential step is to do the exercises correctly. One of my physician mentors used to have a saying – “If it’s not right, it’s all wrong!” He didn’t pick up this phrase from school however, but from an elite military unit of which he was once a part. He himself was a super-fit, super motivated highly intelligent man with very big uppers arms and a fighting spirit to match. His relevant point in his saying however, was that in times of high stress, structures and procedures had to be tip-top, or something would break.

In weight training, this refers to cheating on form while the body is under the greatest load, usually when performing the hard reps late in a set, or when using very low reps and very heavy weights. It’s then that the weak links give way, and injury occurs.

Sorry, but no one training method or scheme produces the perfect size, fitness, strength while taking no effort, being fun to do all the time and perfectly safe.  But, the real baseline is consistency and ability to replicate useful workouts time and time again while simultaneously performing them correctly without error.  The principle behind training without getting hurt is to stress the muscles without damaging the supporting structures such as ligaments and joint capsules in order to grow and maximize them without causing them injury.  If you are not sure if you’re doing something correctly, find an expert who can help and get that extra insight.

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The Concussion & Whiplash Connection

Posted on October 4, 2016. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Children, Chiropractic, Health, injury, rebuild, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , |

football-playerBy Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

 

Head injuries can happen in a variety of ways and are more prevalent in activities that involve a lot of physical movement.  Playing an aggressive sport like football, soccer, wrestling, or any such type; one is bound to get knocked or bounced around a bit.  Following a hard hit to the head is a possible concussion.  A person can bounce back normally from a low-grade concussion but there are warning signs to look for and keep in mind:

Nausea and vomiting
Headache
Blurred vision
Dizziness
Lethargic and slow to move
Unable to concentrate or remember
Balancing or coordination problems
Slurred speech
Ringing in the ears

With these symptoms there is some varying degree of concussion experienced and should be looked over by a physician to be on the safe side. Simply put, the impact on the head causes the brain to bang against the inside of the skull and create swelling or trauma.  The extra pressure can lead to cognitive impairment and some of the symptoms seen.  Something else that is often overlooked is the neck trauma.  If a person gets concussed, they often get whiplashed.  Sometimes with a hit, the head snaps which jerks the neck back and forth.  Maybe there’s a fall, so there could be a twist in there too.  So, the secondary damage is what happens within the neck area.

Recently I had a patient who took quite a hard fall and had symptoms of a grade 1 concussion but also had a quite painful neck afterwards.  Often the neck or back issue isn’t felt until after the concussion settles down.  Even if the concussion problem heals, there can still be a problem in the neck which could last for several days or even months.   With whiplash, such as in an auto accident, if the person is young and healthy, there could be damage up to a point but if you deal with a slightly older individual, who has an arthritic neck and their joints don’t fit or align properly, their tissues and muscles are less elastic and they are likely to be damaged far more seriously.

Chiropractic care and acupuncture can be very helpful.  It is important to gently work and mobilize the neck and examine for proper function and proper movement very carefully.  The upper back should also be checked because a certain amount of neck pain often originates from the upper back.  All the muscles and tissues are connected to one another so we work with the upper back to make sure the spine, joints, and muscles are working properly because they are the base that the neck sits upon.  The acupuncture can help with relaxation of the injured muscles helping reduce inflammation and being able to help with decreasing pain as well.

Accidents happen, it’s a part of life, but getting the proper treatment and care is an important step which shouldn’t be missed.

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Thinking About Acupuncture, Don’t Fear the Needle

Posted on July 29, 2016. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Acupuncturist, Children, Health, inflammation, Pain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

~by Dr. Gregory Steiner

Child receiving AcupunctureMany of us have heard about the benefits of natural healing, the thought of not being dependent on medications, the ability for the body to function optimally based upon proper diet and exercise, and holistic therapies that can heal us of afflictions. Eastern medicine has educated us on the benefits of massage, herbal and aromatherapy, and even acupuncture.  Unfortunately, many of us are reluctant to seek acupuncture treatment because we have a fear, a fear of the unknown and a fear of needles.  But what does the “typical” thought of needle conjure in the mind? Maybe we were traumatized when we received immunization shots as a child, anesthesia shots for fillings, or some other type of injection leaving our brains to associate needles with pain and uncomfortable situations.  Luckily, acupuncture performed correctly by a trained professional causes virtually no pain!

I’m afraid of needles, does acupuncture hurt?
Rest assured that acupuncture needles are in no way similar to hypodermic needles.  First of all, a medical hypodermic needle has a hollow point and sharp edge and must “break” the skin to either insert or withdraw fluid. Acupuncture needles are solid, round-point thin and wire-like and are sterilized and disposable.  With their small size, they are more comparable to a strand of hair.  They are hardly like needles at all.  The depth the needle goes is so shallow that it doesn’t even draw blood.  A helpful comparison is that  between 20 and 40 acupuncture needles can actually fit inside the hollow shaft point of a hypodermic needle (depending on size).  These needles are so small and thin that some of them can actually be passed through a balloon without popping it!

What does it feel like?
Many patients describe the feeling of the needle as either a tingling or pulsating sensation, or a dull ache which soon passes, or not feeling anything at all being inserted.  It only takes a second for the doctors to insert the needle and when working with an experienced practitioner, should relatively be painless.  If by chance, there is discomfort, the needle can be quickly removed and repositioned.  Pain isn’t something that should be felt or elicited; in fact, the acupuncture is used to do the opposite and help alleviate pain.

What is it used for?
Acupuncture can help with a variety of issues, including reduction or elimination of pain, whether it be for the back, neck, shoulders or joints to name a few.  It can help with headaches, stress & anxiety, and even help balance the body which in turn can positively affect the thyroid, menstruation issues, and hormones. It has also been used to increase energy levels and has been effective in weight loss and allergy symptom relief.  The list can go on and on for the benefits that acupuncture can provide.

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Repairing Your Body After Injury

Posted on July 14, 2016. Filed under: Aging, Exercise, Healing, Health, injury, rebuild, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Heat map Acupuncture doll

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

In its simplest terms, aging could be described as the body’s failure to repair. We grow, we mature, we reach various physical and mental peaks, and then…..we age.  When we are young our hormones, e.g. testosterone and growth hormone – are at high levels and command our bodies to grow and repair; our circulatory system is efficient as it transports those hormones and necessary nutrients towards muscles and organs; we have more enzymes that we know what to do with that make the chemical process necessary for growth and repair work at super speed. Though other factors are involved, hormones, transportation, enzymes and nutrients form the basis for growth, and its first cousin – repair.

Have you noted when an athlete of say, 20 years of age sustains an injury he or she seems able to be back on the field in just a few weeks? If an athlete of age 30 sustains an identical injury, it’s often much longer before return to play. At age 40, who knows?  The younger athlete’s speed of recovery demonstrates all those factors in play, working fast and in a coordinated way.

Of course with every injury comes scar tissue. If you tear a hamstring, it will eventually heal, but somewhere within the muscle will likely be a cluster of tough, stringy tissue that while strong, is nowhere near as elastic as the original muscle, nor does it have the same circulation properties which means the scar won’t receive or use nutrients as effectively as original tissue. One thing that I’d say every aging fitness person or athlete knows very, very well is what a painful body feels like. All the accumulated injuries of younger years are still present in scar tissue, and as the body loses efficiency and elasticity, the aging athlete feels them all the more. That’s why putting a strong emphasis on ‘repair’ is crucial to prolonging your active life and living a vigorous lifestyle.

While a team doctor for Master’s weightlifters in Scotland, I would often converse with coaches and lifters who had travelled to Eastern Europe and Russia to train, learn and exchange ideas. Though many bits and pieces of knowledge were exchanged during these travels, two factors truly stuck out. First, the emphasis on conditioning no matter what the sport practiced; and second, how much effort they would put into restoration.  One way of summing up the ‘conditioning’ emphasis was to say ‘an athlete is as good as his legs,’ meaning that legs take real effort to condition, and if the legs are strong and have stamina the whole person probably does too.

Repair then, is replacing what has been lost, mending what has been torn, restoring arrangements in what has been disrupted and so on. To live is to be injured, but through nutrition, good body mechanics, enzymatic replacement, and the right type of conditioning your body has the ability to restore itself.

 

 

 

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What is Sciatica and What Can I Do About It?

Posted on June 3, 2016. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Chiropractic, Healing, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , |

drgregportrait1test2~by Dr. Greg Steiner

Sciatica is something that strikes terror into the hearts of people who have had it before. It’s referred to as a pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back, through the hips or buttocks down the hamstring and into the leg.  Some people have described the pain like a blood pressure cuff contracting around the ankle.  They may feel  a fire or electricity in the leg or even weird sensations of ants crawling on them, but whatever it is, it’s not right and it usually gets worse with sitting.  They’ll start sitting sideways or in different positions and do anything to get comfortable.  Rarely do pain meds even help in this situation.  Some folks think that it has to do with circulation, but that’s not the case.  The simple formula is that numbness + tingling = nerves.  If you cross your legs too long and your foot goes to sleep, you’ve basically cut off some nerve for a time and when it starts to fire again, it hurts for a bit and then it’s ok.

There are a couple of different causes for Sciatica.  Sometimes it will be a twisted muscle or vertebrae in the back, with muscles pulling this way and that which tugs on the nerve and makes pain go down the leg.  Another way is when someone bends and picks something up, the disc between the vertebrae can be squeezed and when it bulges out, it pokes a nerve.  If it pokes a nerve, it doesn’t hurt where the nerve gets poked, it hurts down the leg.

If left untreated, sciatica can lead to surgery but we prefer a much more conservative approach.  We’ll go through a checklist to determine exactly where the problem is and we work with it to see if it starts to feel better by using chiropractic, acupuncture and body mechanics modification.   Other things that can help relieve sciatica that you can do at home include:

  • Specific exercises for pain relief
  • Icing –best used when sore or swollen
  • Heat – best used when the area feels stiff
  • Natural anti-inflammatories/ herbal therapies
  • Trigger points for self-massage

One of the best things you can do for Sciatica is prevent it in the first place.   The biggest cause of sciatica is actually lifting or handling objects incorrectly.  So, be sure to “Think before you lift”.   Ask yourself, “Am I standing in the correct position?”, “Are there any handling aids that can help?”   The second biggest cause is sitting down for too long which can decay the spine & disc.  When you sit too long, your spine is not moving and flexing thereby prohibiting an adequate supply of nutrients to the area.  If you still feel the pain, just be sure to get checked out with a thorough exam to determine exactly what the problem is and how it should be handled specifically to your needs.

 

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Getting Tired Too Fast? The Key is Building Endurance

Posted on May 5, 2016. Filed under: Aging, Exercise, Health, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

drgregportrait1test2.pngBy Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Endurance, also known as stamina, comes in several flavors. We have general stamina – the ability to perform ever so well the necessities and luxuries of our daily lives, without undo fatigue or effort. (Life should NOT feel like an uphill-both-ways struggle! No, not even when we are ‘older’!) More specifically, we have cardiovascular stamina in which our heart, lungs and blood vessels work in coordinated harmony to let us safely exert ourselves in accordance with the needs of the situation we find ourselves in. We also have local muscular endurance, in which specific muscles happily find themselves able to repeat a needed motion again and again and again. We also have an ‘isometric’ stamina which enables us to remain in a position for as long as is needed.

When you read about aging as related to endurance, you read conflicting statements, e.g. “I get tired faster now that I’m older;” vs. “Endurance is the old man’s game.” What are we to make of this apparent contradiction?  Several things act to explain this. First, we have to look quite honestly about how the person of high stamina has lived his or her life compared to the person of low stamina. Is their weight still good? Has their diet been healthy? Has their stress level increased or decreased? Have they exercised diligently and appropriately? Genetics always, always play a role, but no matter what genetic cards we have been dealt, the answer to good aging is always the same: play the hand as best you can, wisely and diligently maximize your genetic strengths and arrange your lifestyle to counteract your weaknesses.

In an athletic sense it often comes to pacing. For example, young people run faster than older people and their ability to recover after exertion is often quicker as well. So, if an older person tries to do repeat sprints with little recovery, he or she might be very disappointed if they try to compete with a younger person. However, some older athletes become very good at getting into a pace and keeping that pace up for a very long time. The legendary Tarahumara people of the Copper Canyon area of Mexico are renowned for the endurance running of their older members, with distances reported to be 100 miles or more, and sometimes kicking a round wooden ball. Of course, they have a lifetime of training and cultural expectations that such apparent feats of stamina are definitely in the realm of possibility.

Many factors can contribute to increasing your stamina.  Basic cardio, high repetition weight training, hydration, and even deep breathing which boosts oxygen intake can all help.  But there is no substitute for having a good proper diet.  It’s better for everything including stamina.  Include protein, healthy fats, low glycemic index foods including vegetables (think veggies that don’t convert to sugar readily) and reduce carbohydrates unless you are doing strenuous activity for at least 30 minutes.  If you feed the “machine” right, it will help you reap the benefits of better strength, vitality and health overall.

 

 

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Why Strength is Important, Especially as We Age

Posted on May 5, 2016. Filed under: Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Health | Tags: , , , , , |

g&m1

Dr. Greg & Monica Steiner

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

What is the purpose of strength, anyway? Well, at the most fundamental level it’s to enable us to move our bodies though, over, under and around any pathway we find ourselves travelling on, or to surmount any obstacle that impedes our travel. Second, strength enables us to physically manipulate and transport our tools, equipment, and all resources we need for both ourselves and our ‘important people’ to live and thrive. And if these demands of life are satisfied, we are free to develop the strength necessary for sports, athletics and recreation, all of which enhance our lives. Remember, our bodies are essentially anti-gravity machines designed for motion! The greater the strength in our body, the better we defy gravity and the less it impedes us.  Climbing the stairs or carrying bags of groceries become easier just by virtue of being stronger.

Many of us have heard that we lose muscle-tone as we age.  There may be a slight decline, but not so much because of the aging, but because we quit the movement.  Strength decline is mostly from misuse.  Lifestyle changes, stress and poor diet combined with a more sedentary lifestyle can drop testosterone levels and decrease our muscle mass.  Pain also limits us but if we can train intelligently (what is best for your body at the time) we can minimize this decline and even reverse it.

This brings up the question as to whether you actually need to lift heavy weights. Well, the answer depends on several things: your actual needs; your desire and motivation; and your actual physical ability to handle heavy loads.  If your ‘need’ is just to be fit for daily life in the city, you probably don’t need to lift heavy weights. If you have a physical job or hobby or are engaged in sports you may need a heavier program. If lifting heavy actually is a motivation and challenge to you, there is value in pursuing it because to engage in a positive challenge gives life that much more meaning. However, the final arbiter is whether your joints and muscle attachments actually thrive under the load; if you are constantly injured you would do well to rethink your goals and program, or risk accumulated injuries to point you can barely lift at all.  Consider exercises that use your bodyweight for resistance.  This is easier on the joints and tendons.  This includes exercises such as Yoga, Pilates, exercise bands or even dance.

Lastly, for the ladies, be rest assured that lifting weights is not going to give you a massive bulky she-hulk stature!  Most women don’t possess enough natural testosterone to build that much size nor do they eat the large amount of protein necessary to gain such mass.  As a matter of fact, most of the toned and lean women we see actually lift weights in order to produce their shapely curves.

 

 

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Natural Healing for Skin Problems

Posted on March 3, 2016. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Allergies, detox, Healing, Health, Immune System, inflammation, Pain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Magnifying Glass - Healthy LivingBy Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Usually at some point in our lives, we experience some type of skin malady, be it acne as a teen, eczema, dry scalp, psoriasis or rash.  The range of cause is diverse and can include exposure to external irritants (toxins/chemicals often found in soaps, lotions, and shampoos), infestation (ringworm), fungal, nervous system (shingles), allergies and even stress.  Many of these external skin conditions are actually representations of an internal disharmony.

The standard medical approach is to treat the inflammation with an anti-inflammatory, but that doesn’t always treat the cause of it.  Traditional Chinese medicine views it a different way.  For example, eczema is seen as an imbalance of body’s energy which allows external pathogenic factors to attack causing itch, inflammation, as well as dry and red skin. Chinese medicine treats eczema not by suppressing the immune response but rather correcting the imbalances that are causing the eczema. By correcting or removing these imbalances your body is able to heal on its own.

Acupuncture has been used quite successfully for skin conditions.  When the body is out of balance, there is often illness. If the skin problem looks red, this means the patient has heat (inflammation) in the blood. The redder the skin, the more heat in the blood. This gets worse in hot weather. Most cases of eczema involve heat (inflammation) in the blood. If the skin feels dry, this means the condition involves blood deficiency.  If the skin blisters or oozes or has pustules, this means that the patient has a condition called “dampness” in Chinese medicine.  Once those representations have been identified, the patient is treated accordingly.  If the skin conditions are identified as “heat” then acupuncture points would be used to literally “cool off” or counteract the heat and restore the balance.  Different points are used to restore and normalize things.

 

One of the greatest effects an individual can have on their own body is by modification of their diet.  Omega oils and essential fatty acids like wild-caught fish and flaxseed oil are extremely beneficial and can reduce eczema and psoriasis symptoms.  Refined foods and sugars have been determined to increase inflammation and therefore should be avoided.  Those with food intolerances should avoid any potential allergens which could be gluten, dairy, shellfish or peanuts.  There are also several Chinese herbs that work well according to the ailment which include Zhi Yang, Rhubarb, and Fen Ci.  All in all, the best approach is holistic, which considers the whole body.  Food choices, sleep, exposure, and even emotional health all play a role in our health and well-being.

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Why Does My Back Hurt?

Posted on February 2, 2016. Filed under: Chiropractic, Health, Joints, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

bigstock-Back-pain-14431652By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

There are many reasons why your back is hurting.  It could be poor posture, an injury, long term wear and tear, etc…  But the pain you are feeling, like fire shooting through your veins or the dull ache that seems constant is usually a form of inflammation.  Whether the problem stems from doing too much or too little, the result can end you up in the same place.  One of the worst things you can do is go from one extreme to another.  If you sit behind your desk all day long and then decide to go out and aggressively clean the entire yard (like shoveling mulch, pulling weeds, etc.) you could be setting yourself up for a painful injury.

Our backs have discs that are designed to cushion the bones.  When we move, those discs work like little squishy sponges.  When we move to the right, that part of the disc compresses while the other side stretches.  These discs need to ingest a certain amount of nutrients to stay healthy.

For the person who sits most of the day and doesn’t move around, the discs essentially start to starve because nutrients aren’t being circulated and they start to become brittle.  When they become brittle, they start to flake and decay and become inflamed at a quicker rate.  So by living a sedentary lifestyle and doing nothing, you can actually harm yourself even more.

For the opposite type of individuals whose career involves moving around a lot, especially those that are athletes, they too can experience problems.  For example, if a long distance runner has improper technique, the discs in their spine or “shock absorbers” can wear out faster.  Even though there is plenty of motion going on, the body is overwhelmed and can’t re-supply all the nutrients it needs quick enough to rebuild, so inflammation starts in that way as well.

Posture can also attribute to back pain.  If you take a bowling ball and hold it straight up, it’s not so hard to do, but if you keep moving it forward inch by inch, for every inch you let your arm creep forward, it will increasingly feel heavier and be harder to hold.  Imagine your head like the bowling ball with all that stress on your neck, there will probably be pain in the upper back which eventually will travel down the spine to include pain in the lower back as well.  The neck and back overwork all day long, the tissues hyper stretch out and they become inflamed and begin to hurt.

That’s why I recommend getting a checkup.  Having your posture analyzed and corrected  can help pinpoint some of the reasons you may be having back pain and help get you on the track to feeling better and reducing that back pain.

 

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Do I Need to Cleanse & Detox?

Posted on January 7, 2016. Filed under: cleanse, detox, Healing, Health, Pain, Weightloss | Tags: , , , , , , , |

~By Dr. Greg Steiner

Magnifying Glass - Healthy Living

Cleansing & detoxing seem to be all the rage these days.  There are 2, 5, 7, 10, or even 21 day cleansing programs available that promise to clean out all those harmful toxins that are currently ravaging your body and wreaking havoc on your immune system.  But if you think about it, our body is seemingly bombarded on a daily basis from toxins we get from water, household cleaners, air pollution, chemicals, food additives and the list goes on and on.  Some of these things become neurotoxins in our systems and impair proper nerve function, cause tremors, lack of sleep, inability to focus, unexplained weight gain, etc… Or they can become hormone disruptors, interfering with testosterone or estrogen.  What these neurotoxins & hormone disruptors do is block or disrupt normal metabolism.  They build up within your system and the effect can be cumulative.

What happens if you’re toxic?

The two organs most affected are usually the kidneys and the liver.  The liver is the metabolic power plant, but a lot of these toxins get stored in the fat as well.  When you go on a diet to lose weight and detox yourself, some of these toxins can still be released into your system and be metabolized or even re-metabolized in the body.  If they get into the liver, metabolic pathways may not function optimally.

These symptoms can be very broad and vague with headaches, muscle pain, body odors, or fatigue. Sometimes it’s hard to nail down exactly the issue, but you know you just don’t feel right.  In my own practice, I’ve seen many people vigorously & diligently clean up their diet, use a detox regimen along with drinking lots of water, allowed a little bit of time (patience being a key ingredient in this process), go through almost miraculous changes.  They feel a whole lot better and many have been able to minimize the medications they’re on and in some cases even come off of them.

How do I benefit from doing this?

Detoxification  is a lot about supporting organ function while minimizing exposure.  When you support the kidneys and liver and give them a rest from exposure to toxins or even regular food,  the theory is that your body will work to get rid of the garbage in your system and allow itself to recover and heal.  The real benefit is that while going through your “cleansing & detox” process, the herbs, clean “green” type drinks, and ample supply of water you drink help create the bridge over to living a better lifestyle afterwards.  Cravings for caffeine, sugar, and salty foods become greatly reduced, energy increases, and even your attitude towards exercise and staying healthy becomes predominately positive!

Be sure to do your “due diligence” in research when you start a cleanse/detox.  There is no magic drink or pill.  You’ve got to combine the program with the right type of nutrition for optimal success.

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