NorthStar Nutritionals Blog

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  1. The Ultimate Guide to Treating Joint Instability

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    instability jointsMost of the conversation about joint health is focused on arthritis, and that’s appropriate.

    But it also means that joint instability doesn’t get much attention – and that’s not appropriate.

    Because joint instability can be painful and difficult to live with in its own right.

    And surprisingly, joint instability can lead to arthritis.

    Instead of complaining about the lack of information about joint instability, we’re going to talk about it. Let’s look at joint instability, why it’s a problem, and what you can do to keep your joints healthy.

    What IS Joint Instability?

    In order to understand joint instability, you have to understand how a joint works. Every joint in your body is made up of the same components: bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and some would say the muscles surrounding all of those.

    When your joints are healthy, all of those components are healthy, too. However, a healthy joint needs the support of all of its parts in order to stay healthy and stable.

    So, once that support is weakened, for whatever reason, the joint becomes unstable, and guess what happens then - you end up with joint instability.

    What Might Cause Joint Instability…

    And why is this bad?

    One of the leading causes of joint instability is injury. So many components make up a healthy joint but any one of them is subject to injury, which would destabilize the entire unit.

    Another leading cause of joint instability is overuse. The kind that comes from a repetitive motion – or that comes from living a long, active life. Which means anyone “of a certain age” is susceptible to joint instability.

    Be on the lookout for these symptoms:

    • Discomfort or pain
    • A feeling of looseness in the joint
    • A feeling of “sloppiness” or like the joint is about to give way

    Any of these can indicate an onset of instability. Even if you don’t remember injuring yourself, you might have. Or, the joint may just be aging.

    The key is to not disregard these symptoms, just because you don’t think it’s arthritis or an injury. It doesn’t have to be – but joint instability can lead to injury and/or arthritis.

    So it’s important to deal with it, instead of just soldier through it, or minimize it.

    Treatments for Joint Instability

    So now that you know what joint instability is, what are you supposed to do about it?

    There are two sets of treatments: if you have joint instability and want to treat it or if you want to avoid ever dealing with joint instability. This second course of treatment works if you’ve recovered from joint instability and want to stay healthy, too!

    Reactive treatments – These are the steps you should take once you suspect unstable joints.

    1. Your first step if you suspect joint instability is to see a doctor. He’ll be able to help diagnose where the problem is and which component is weakened. It doesn’t do you much good to be treating a muscle strain when it’s a pulled ligament.

    2. Don’t be surprised if your doctor recommends physical therapy. Most cases of joint instability can be treated non-surgically! A physical therapist can help you recover from the injury or trauma.

    3. Exercise, as prescribed. Depending on how damaged the component causing your joint instability is, you may be given exercises, or you may be told to rest between physical therapy appointments. Whichever one you’re supposed to do, be sure to do it. Following your health care provider’s advice is essential to recovering from existing joint instability.

    Proactive treatments – these are the steps you can take to maintain joint health and prevent joint instability.

    1. Protect against falls. Since joint instability is often caused by injuries, do what you can to avoid injuring yourself. It seems like common sense, but many people forget they can be proactive about not getting hurt.

    2. Perform strength training exercises. These aren’t the exercises that will bulk you up or even give you tight abs. They are, however, the exercises that will keep the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your joints healthy so your joints stay stable. Each joint has different exercises, but you can check with your doctor about which ones would serve you best.

    3. Avoid repetitive motions whenever possible. Change it up every now and then. Or stretch out the joints you’re using most often if your job or favorite hobby include repetitive motions.

    Joint instability sounds horrible – and it doesn’t feel great, let’s be honest. But you don’t have to live with it, and you don’t have to experience it.

    Instead, take care of your joints, and they’ll take care of you!

  2. Could Gum Chewing Be Linked to Cancer?

    chewing gumGum chewing can’t possibly be bad for you.

    It keeps your breath fresh and, for many people, it’s instrumental in kicking the smoking habit and losing weight.

    Chewing gum is a harmless habit, right?

    Not necessarily… Turns out, gum chewing – or at least some common ingredients in chewing gum - may actually be linked to cancer.

    Two Potentially Deadly Ingredients

    Given the fact that gum is sold in just about every checkout aisle anywhere, you wouldn’t expect cancer-causing ingredients to be lurking in each piece. But depending on which brand of gum you’re chewing, that could very well be the case!

    Many people opt for chewing sugar-free gum in order to skip the extra, empty calories. Except that when the artificial sweetener aspartame is involved, gum chewing goes from helpful to harmful. What most people don’t realize is that aspartame was originally banned for human consumption by the FDA in 1980.

    While there are many physical conditions and symptoms linked to aspartame, one of the most frightening is its similarity to acesulfame potassium, which is thought to cause cancer in animals. It’s believed that the aspartame in sugar-free chewing gum reacts similarly because the two compounds are so alike.

    And that’s not the only carcinogen in chewing gum. BHT is a preservative used to help protect color, odor, and flavor in foods – and it causes cancer. It’s been banned in other countries because it’s such a toxic ingredient, but is considered safe in the United States.

    Other Unexpected – But Common – Causes of Cancer

    Think chewing gum is the only everyday event that can be dangerous? Think again!

    Alcohol. This one is frustrating, because like gum chewing, many people turn to it for their health. It’s accepted that a glass of wine a night can be good for your heart health. Unfortunately, it’s also linked to several different types of cancer, including breast cancer. Consider which is a greater risk to your health, and choose to have a glass of wine a night – or not – based on your own assessment.

    Diesel exhaust. Diesel exhaust has been officially linked to cancer – specifically lung cancer – since 2012. Luckily, most people don’t face the level of exposure that is going to cause a problem. However, if you’ve been in, or are still in, certain transportation or industrial trades, this is information you should take seriously.

    Grilled meat. First, gum chewing is no longer healthy. Now, grilled meat. In fact, cooking meat over any high temperature like grilling or pan frying can be problematic. The high temperatures trigger compounds that have been linked to cancer in animals, as well as benign tumors that are known to be precursors to cancer.

    Sugary drinks. Any foods that are high in sugar can be bad for your health and lead to cancer, but sugary drinks can lull us into a false sense of security. After all, a glass of lemonade or sweet tea on a hot day isn’t the same thing as an ice cream… Except that it very well might be. Sugar is sugar, and the sugar in sweetened drinks counts just as much as the sugar in a candy bar.

    Using sunscreen. Sunscreen is supposed to reduce your risk of cancer, not increase it! But the chemicals in many common sunscreens can actually be contributing to a greater risk of skin cancer. One of the worst offenders is zinc oxide. Instead, look for all-natural sunscreens that block the rays without causing damage!

    Talcum powder. Although talcum has been marketed as a way for women to “keep fresh” for generations, researchers have learned that regular use of talcum powder is linked to higher rates of ovarian and other cancers in women. Keep clean and fresh by taking showers and using bathroom wipes and leave the talcum powder in the past.

    The causes of cancer have always been around. The difference is we are able to identify them more easily now. Even the ones everyone used to think were innocent. From talcum powder to gum chewing – it’s not as harmless or as healthy as you thought!

  3. 7 Food and Drug Interactions to Steer Clear Of

    Drug and food interactions Before you start taking any new medication or supplement, you ask your doctor about it. And that’s a smart move. But do you ask your doctor about the foods you eat? Probably not. Unfortunately, you could be missing food and drug interactions that are making your medications less effective – or even dangerous! Check out these seven food and drug interactions to make sure you’re as healthy as you think you are! Continue reading →
  4. Wintergreen Oil Uses To Boost Your Heath

    uses wintergreen oilYou’ve heard about menthol as a pain reliever. And capsaicin. But have you heard about the way wintergreen can relieve and soothe your pain, and improve your health? If not, you should know about them – because wintergreen oil uses go so much further than just flavoring your gum! Continue reading →
  5. Supercharge Your Colon Cancer Diet

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    diet colon cancerColon cancer. Even the phrase is scary. And trying to get information can feel like wandering around alone in the dark. Well, we’re going to turn the lights on! You can protect your colon health and possibly even prevent colon cancer with one thing: diet. Start eating the right delicious foods, stop eating the unhealthy ones, and get on board with a colon cancer diet that can keep your doctor happy and you healthy! Continue reading →
  6. How is My Stomach REALLY? [Take the Leaky Gut Test]

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    test leaky gut Are you suffering from symptoms from your head all the way down? Do you really not feel well, in spite of being “just fine”? Has your doctor given you a laundry list of treatments that don’t seem to be working? If any of this sounds familiar, we may have answers for you – finally. Because your symptoms may not be the problem at all. The problem may be in your gut. Take the leaky gut test, and learn if relief is just around the corner…   Continue reading →
  7. What’s My Healthy Sodium Intake? [Quiz]

    Intake healthy sodium You know you should limit sugar…and saturated fats…and yes, salt, too. But you’re not 100% sure what a healthy sodium intake really is. Or even if your sodium intake is healthy or way off the charts. Let’s be honest – it’s not so easy to maintain a healthy sodium intake every day if you’re not sure what that means. So, take this quiz and find out more about healthy levels of sodium and just how much you should be eating every day. Continue reading →
  8. Flu Vaccines: Pros, Cons, Myths, and Realities

    vaccines fluEven though flu season is almost over, it isn’t completely over. And you’ve still got questions about flu vaccines. There’s a lot of information out there about flu vaccines. Some people say they’re safe. Some people say they aren’t. What are you supposed to believe? While we can’t answer that question for you, we can tell you what we believe. We believe you have the right to make your own, fully formed, well-educated decision. So, in this article, we’re going to ask some of the most common questions and answer them as fully and objectively as possible. Continue reading →
  9. The Six Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking That Could Save Your Sex Life

    quitting smoking health benefitsYou know the health benefits of quitting smoking. You do. And yet it hasn’t quite happened so far. As it turns out, quitting smoking may be one of the greatest challenges of your life. You’ve heard the statistic: smoking is as addictive – and as hard to quit – as alcohol, heroin, or cocaine. And if you’re a smoker, trying to quit, you’ve lived out that statistic more often than you probably want to admit. But you’re not alone. In fact, 70% of all smokers wish they could stop. And the average smoker tries to quit between eight and eleven times before it finally sticks. Luckily, the more often a person tries to quit, the better their chances of success become. Since motivation is a key component of successfully quitting smoking, here’s one more health benefit you might not have thought of – quitting smoking can improve your sex life! Check out these six new health benefits of quitting smoking and stay motivated - Continue reading →
  10. The Shocking Link Between Sleep and Blood Pressure

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    Blood pressure and sleepWhen you were younger, you probably didn’t even think about maintaining healthy blood pressure numbers. They were just where you needed them to be. Now that you’re older, it’s a little different. These days, your doctor is more likely to look closer at those numbers. And you’re more likely to look closely. Because you both realize maintaining healthy blood pressure is more important than ever. But what happens if, in spite of your best efforts, you just haven’t quite figured out the proper equation for keeping those numbers exactly where you want them? Maybe that’s when it’s time to look at how much sleep you’re getting. That’s right – sleep. Because sleep and blood pressure are linked in ways you may not realize. Continue reading →
  11. The TRUTH About Cartilage Replacement

    replacement CartilageYou may have heard about cartilage replacement and repair. You may have even started to get excited about it if you have sore, achy knees. After all, a joint is made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles. The cartilage is at the very end of the bones, where they would rub together – except the cartilage acts as a cushion. When cartilage gets damaged or injured, you end up with creaky, stiff, painful joints. Which certainly sounds like a good time to get excited about cartilage replacement. Unfortunately, that excitement might be premature. Only a portion of people with problematic knees are eligible for cartilage replacement surgeries. The only thing you can do is research, ask your doctor, and see if this option is for you. So let’s look at closer at cartilage replacement and repair, and see if you could be a good candidate… Continue reading →
  12. What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

    virus zikaGlobal health concern. Travel warnings. Spreading throughout the United States. The Zika virus is everywhere these days. On the news, in the papers, all over online resources. First, it was spread through mosquito bites. Now, it’s showing up in bodily fluids like urine and semen. Some people are even discouraging kissing. With headlines about “public health emergencies,” new cases showing up in our borders, and even fears about athletes attending the Olympics, it’s easy to panic about this new disease and what it might mean for you. But panic doesn’t serve you or your health. So, we’re going to cut through the sensationalism and the soundbites and look at the facts about the Zika virus. What is the Zika virus? How is it transmitted? What are the symptoms? How can you avoid catching it? And how concerned should you really be? Continue reading →
  13. What Physical Pain Does to Your Body

    pain physical No one wants to live with physical pain, let’s be honest. At the same time, though, people tend to think of pain as something you should just deal with….adults shouldn’t be crybabies…everybody hurts a little as they get older… But those attitudes are as much a problem as your physical pain! You should not “just deal with” physical pain. In fact, doing so can actually be unhealthy for you. Continue reading →
  14. 10 Ways to Help Make Joint Pain at Night A Thing of the Past

    night joint painDoes it ever feel like joint pain at night is worse than it is during the day? You’re going along all morning and afternoon, just fine, with your pain reasonably under control. Then night comes and your joint pain gets worse – and worse – until you can’t get comfortable, you can’t fall asleep, and once you do, you can’t manage to stay asleep. It’s enough to make you dread getting in bed. The pressure points, having to roll over, risking tweaking a joint because you turned the wrong way or because you got twisted in the blankets. But you can put that dread to bed because we’ve got ways to help you make joint pain at night a thing of the past! Continue reading →
  15. Is My Heart Healthy Enough for Sex [Take this heart-sex quiz now]

    sex-heartYour heart should be healthy enough for sex – but you’re still a little concerned. After all, it’s your heart. And you’re not a kid any longer. It’s easy to still have lingering doubts. How does your doctor know for certain? How do you? Well, it helps to know some basic information about your heart and sex, as well as to answer some very specific – but not too personal, don’t worry – questions about how your heart health may contribute to your sex life. So, we’re here for you. Take these tests. Between them and your doctor’s advice, you should be able to put aside any last, low-level concerns. Continue reading →
  16. Are There Different Types of Urinary Incontinence?

    urinary incontinence typesHaving a type urinary incontinence isn’t something most people like talking about. At best, it’s embarrassing. At worst, it can lead to social and professional isolation. But it shouldn’t be shameful, or a source of embarrassment, because it’s a medical condition, just like so many other medical conditions. In fact, nearly 13 million people are affected by some type of urinary incontinence – which is why we’re willing to demystify it and talk about it. Talk about the types of urinary incontinence and what, if anything, can be done about them. Continue reading →
  17. 10 Quick Tips to Soothe Dry Chapped Hands

    Winter brings snow…and hot cocoa…and cuddling by the fire…and dry, chapped hands that you just want to hide. Dry, cracked, maybe even bleeding hands are more than unattractive. They hurt! And exposure to the dry indoor heat and cold temperatures of winter will just make it worse. But you don’t have keep your hands hidden beneath the blankets or behind mittens! Soothe your dry, chapped hands with these ten quick tips that will do the trick and have you back to holding hands in no time. Continue reading →
  18. Is Your Nighttime Routine Helping or Hurting You?

    Routine nighttimeYou’re tired every day. You’re stressed every night. You toss and turn, unable to turn off your brain long enough to get to sleep. Or you wake up in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep. If any of these sound familiar, maybe the problem isn’t you – maybe the problem is your nighttime routine. After all, we know a healthy morning routine can make or break your day. Once you think about it, it makes sense that a nightly routine can be just as important. These suggestions can help make up a nighttime routine that will have you sleeping like a baby in no time. Not all of them may work for you, but feel free to pick and choose the ones that do. Continue reading →
  19. Make Joint Relief Your Ultimate Goal for 2016

    relief jointWhen it comes to New Year’s resolutions, joint relief may not seem all that interesting or exciting – unless you’ve struggled with sore, achy, stiff joints. At that point, you know that this is more than just a worthy New Year’s resolution – it’s the ultimate goal. So we’ve collected the twelve ways for you to achieve relief in your joints for 2016 – and beyond. Continue reading →
  20. The REAL Truth About Ergonomic Desk Chairs

    desk chairs ergonomicalHave you heard the hype about ergonomic desk chairs and standing desks? Because they are all the rage. But what’s the truth and what’s just marketing? We decided to look closer and report back. So here’s the real truth about ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and alternative work spaces. Continue reading →