Mighty Muscles and Bones: How Our Muscular And Skeletal Systems Help Us Move

Our Mighty Muscles and Bones: How Our Skeletal And Muscular Systems Help Us Move

In the past we have explored the nervous system, brain function, cranial nerves, digestive function, adrenal function, and the immune system. Now let's take a look at the most glamorized, yet under-appreciated, part of our body—our mighty muscles and bones. So, how do the muscular and skeletal systems help us move?

Muscular Attraction

The muscles get a lot of attention with regard to how they can make us look attractive and sexy to others. Our muscle tone communicates how healthy our body is. The strength of the muscles, the lack of water retention or fat in the muscles, and how flexible we are, all indicate that we may be a good reproductive partner and produce strong, healthy offspring. This is one of the functions we all can relate to, but it is certainly not the most important function of our muscles.

Try to imagine what your life would be like if your muscle tissue could not form the shape of your body. What if it didn't allow you to physically move around your environment? Without locomotion, thru muscle strength and movement, we would be a lump of humanity, never moving from the spot we found ourselves in.

Mighty Bones

Our bones are so amazing too. Apart from their distinctive and critical role as part of the immune system carrying precious bone marrow, they are the armature upon which our muscles are draped. Bones allow cooperation between the muscles, to physically move, play, exercise, work, eat, sleep and achieve all of the mobility we experience throughout our day.

When we look at people stooped over with distorted posture and their musculature not functioning properly, we immediately associate this with either being ill or not vital. Our posture is the number one thing people notice, followed by how we are dressed. Our body language is expressed thru our bone/muscle function. In essence, our personality and how we view the world are all communicated in how we move through the space we inhabit.

Working Together

Our muscles and bones not only share the work load in glucose and immune regulation, body heat production, fat metabolism, mineral storage, and the ability for “fight or flight”—self-preservation. They also communicate to the world what we think about ourselves, others, and the world through the expression of body movement and non-verbal communication. This can be one of the most attractive or frightening aspects about us – depending on how we express our movement and actions.

Keeping your muscles and bones strong thru exercise and a healthy diet is a wise move. Without them, we are literally “going nowhere.”


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Why Some Men Can Not Commit Emotionally

Recently, a patient was referred to my practice who was experiencing depression and anxiety.  She thought the problem might be nutritional and asked her doctor for a referral. When we began to explore her issues, what she identified as a core problem in her life was that her husband put his mother before her – his wife.

She reported that the son was emotionally tethered to his mother and could not stand up to her. The patient stated that she felt betrayed, rejected and deeply resentful of her mother-in-law and her husband. These were the feelings that were living below her depression.

In researching Whole Health educational material to share with her, I came upon an article that really resonated with her issue. It did not, however, have an author’s name or the date it was written on it but the book referenced below is written by psychotherapist Patti Henry, M.Ed, L.P.C. I believe this is a little talked about issue that is far more prevelant than we realize. Hope you find it as helpful and interesting  as I have.

“There are many reasons why a husband puts his mother on a higher level than his wife, but I have found the most prevalent, by far, is emotional incest. Emotional incest occurs in childhood when a child’s emotional self is unwittingly violated.

More often than not, the child is unaware of his “de-selfing.” Being the “little man of the house watching over mommy” or the “golden child” sets the child up to feel special. (Sometimes this happens to more than one of the male children in the family.)


This happens when the energy in the parent-child relationship gets mixed-up and, rather than the parent taking care of the child’s emotional needs, the child is somehow responsible for taking care of the emotional needs of the parent.

Another problem with emotional incest is that it is so thorough. The child isn’t aware of the problem because it has been there almost since the day he was born. He has no other experience to compare it to. It is just “normal.”

Therefore, when describing their childhoods, adults who have been emotionally incested frequently are unable to identify any problems or unresolved issues from their pasts at all. The emotional incest is often seen as “love,” even though there was an incredibly high price to pay for that “love”: the child must disconnect from his authentic self to please the parent.

I, as a clinician, start looking for it when the wife complains that her husband’s primary relationship seems to be with his mother and not her.  If you as the wife can see it, I know you’ve probably tried to get your husband to see it.

If this hasn’t worked, you will need some outside help. Look for a marriage counselor who is very familiar with and experienced working with the effects of emotional incest. Give your husband this article. Give him a copy of my book, “The Emotionally Unavailable Man: A Blueprint for Healing.” Read Pat Love’s book.

It doesn’t matter if you feel you are treating your partner as primary – your partner must feel this. Your behavior must be consistent enough for her to register it. Your behavior, words, and attitude must convey, “You are more important to me than my mother.” Mothers are important, precious, and need to be honored, of course, but there is wisdom in the Biblical instruction to “leave and cleave.”

And how do you know you’re making progress? This paragraph is particularly written to men. Mainly you will know you are making progress when your primary relationship is with your partner, and she knows it deep in her soul. Your wife must feel primary, that is, number one. Knowledge is the best hope for an awakening.

Leave your family of origin and cleave to your wife and new family. Think of your wife and her happiness first as you make choices this holiday season. You may be surprised at what gifts you get in return.

I wish you clarity and strength: for breaking an emotionally incestuous bond is not easy. In fact, it is very, very difficult. But, as with breaking the incredibly strong bonds of addiction, people do it every day. You can, too.
May this holiday season bring you love and peace.”

With all good wishes,

Tylenol for a Broken Heart?

Here is a very interesting bit of research. Although I have shared this information on a national blog I write for, the information was so interesting that I wanted to share it again, here with you.

Last year there was a study conducted at the University of Kentucky, College of Arts and Sciences, that was examining the connection and possible overlap between physical pain and emotional pain. This particular study had 62 participants who were filling out the “Hurt Feeling Scale”, a self-assessment tool which measures an individual’s reaction to distressing experiences. In addition, the study was using doses of the active ingredient in Tylenol, acetaminophen, as art of its protocol. 

The researchers separated the study volunteers into two groups. The first group, after filling out their self-assessment tools, were given 1,000 mg of the acetaminophen. This is a dose that is equal to one Extra Strength Tylenol. The control group however, received a placebo  instead of the acetaminophen.

The finding from this study showed that the control group without the acetaminphen, after three weeks, did not experience any change in the amount of intensity of "hurt" feeling during the three week period. However, the group that did receive the active ingredient reported a noticeable reduction of "hurt" feelings on a regular, day-today basis.

The outcomes were so interesting that the researchers started a second study cohort group of 25 different volunteers, but this time upped the amount of acetaminophen to 2,000 mg daily and added computer games that were designed to create social rejection and a feeling of isolation in the participants. Also new to the study was MRI scanning which were able to identify when the participants had feelings of social rejection occur.

Now here is the "gold" of this research – the outcomes demonstrated that the area of the brain where emotional discomfort is felt is the same location that the physical pain is experienced in. This would explain why the group that was taking the acetaminophen, while having not physical pain, reported less feelings of hurt and rejection than the group that was not taking the acetaminophen but rather a placebo substance.

Geoff MacDonald, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto who is an expert in romantic relationships, co-authored this study. MacDonald states that our brain pain centers cannot tell the difference between physical pain and emotional pain.
So, while Tylenol is not recommended to be used routinely as it can lead to liver and digestive system disturbances, knowing that it can take away the pain of a broken heart, it may soon be that our therapists as well as our physicians will recommendation that we “take two Tylenol and call me in the morning” for heartache as well as for headache!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/227298.php http://web.psych.utoronto.ca/gmacdonald/Research%20Interests.html

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011, G. Donadio All Rights Reserved

Infertility and Stress

When a couple desires to have a child together and they are unable to conceive, it can be a time of great stress and upset for both partners. The inability to conceive, and the resulting longing that accompanies it, can be one of the most painful and difficult things a couple can experience together.

A number of years ago, in the New England Journal of Medicine, an article appeared that caught my eye because at that time there were a significant number or couples in my practice who were experiencing infertility. The article stated that often, regardless of the advances in medical technology and the various in-vitro methods available, a woman will ony become pregnant when her body is ready to carry a conception to term.

This wisely suggests that there are a number of reasons a woman may not conceive when she wishes to; and that the body’s innate intelligence knows when the best time and condition for a successful conception and birth of her baby is. The article also went on to say that stress is the number one reason women do not conceive when they wish to.

This is well demonstrated with women who adopt a baby when they cannot conceive, settle into motherhood, only to find that they are pregnant – something they or their doctors did not think would happen. The discussion of why women, in other cultures, become pregnant more easily that women in the US always leads back to our lifestyle and the abundance of stressful living we have in the US.

How does stress actually cause infertility? Here are the facts –

1. When we become stressed for periods of time, our body must make more cortisol, an adrenal hormone that deals with stress adaptation.

2. To provide this additional cortisol, the body diverts the production of sex hormones into the production of cortisol. This reduces fertility. Under stress, sex and reproduction is the first thing the body ignores.

3. Excess levels of cortisol interfere with oxytocin, the hormone required for fertile egg implantation in a woman’s uterus lining.

4. Excess stress over time suppresses the immune function as well as interferes with healthy digestive function that can lead to malnutrition.

If you or someone you know wants to conceive and is having a difficult time, they may greatly benefit from becoming familiar with this information and finding ways to decrease their anxiety about becoming pregnant, or reduce their lifestyle that may be causing high levels of physical stress.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

How Your Relationships Impact Your Health

NIWH is about to publish its first book on transforming relationships using our Behavioral Engagement model of behavior change. The book discusses all the interwoven components of how and why people change their behaviors and the number one overriding factor in why we behave as we do.

At the top of the list is our needs as human beings, right next to food, water and shelter, is the need to be in relationship with others. The Belongingness Theory is held by many psychologists to be rooted in evolution and how humans have been able to survive and thrive in extremely difficult and often dangerous environments. According to the theory, our bodies release neurotransmitter chemicals when we socialize and these neurochemicals have a positive affect on our nevous systems and sense of security and being part of a larger and safer group of others.

We all form what is referred to as “para-relationships” as well. In these realtionships we assoiate ourselves with others like TV characters in sit-coms or with groups of people, like a football team. These attachments allows us to expand our sense of “tribe” and belongingness as well as provide a “reflective” sense of accomplishment or achievement when the groups we associate with win a championship or an Emmy award.

Our realtionships and a sense of belonging are a top priority to all of us. We often lose sight of this until a relationship has ended or someone has passed away. Freud accuratedly said “we are never so hopelessly unhappy as when we lose love.” When it comes to our health, we often do not connect how imperative the experience of loving, being loved and belonging are to our overall well being and immune function. It feels important that from time to time that we remind ourselves about what really matters in our lives as our health and our relationships are intimately intertwined.

Do something good for your self today, and for those you are in relationship with. Take a moment of gratitude for the gift of family, friends, spouse, partner, peers who enrich your life and keep you healthy.

Without the gift of sharing love, our lives and our health suffer.

With all good wishes,
© by NIWH 2011 all rights reserved

Fish and Heart Health – a Surprising Study

The Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS), which involved 84,493 females aged 50-79 years old, analyzed data over a 10 year period on the effects of various forms of fish consumption and heart failure. At the start of this study none of the participants had heart disease.

Fish is well known as a food which enhances both physical as well as mental health. Fish oil is also reported to be a mental and physical nutrient which reduces disease development and mental deterioration. In evaluating fish and fish oil it would be natural to expect that positive outcomes would be observed and reported.

The study divided the consumption of baked or broiled fish into frequency catagories of less than 1 time per month; 1-3 times per month; 1-2 times per week; 3-4 times per week and greater than 5 times per week.

The study also observed the consumption of fried fish at the frequencies of less than one serving per month; 1-3 times per month and greater than 1 time per week.

The findings, however, were startling. The weekly consumption of 5 or more serving of baked or broiled dark fish, primarily salmon, mackerel and bluefish, was found to lower the risk of heart failure by an impressive 30%. While the consumption of fried fish, just 1 time or more per week, was associated to be related to a 48% increase in heart failure!

Another surprise within this study is that the assumption that taking omega-3 supplements will be as beneficial as eating fish. The study could not identify any significant change in cardiac failure rates that was associated with taking omega-3 supplements.

While the study came to no hard and fast conclusion of why the fried fish was so lethal, the thinking is that there must be some property to the oil when deep fried that creates the negative health affects. Another conclusion was that it appears better to eat fresh fish that is baked or broiled that to reply on fish oil supplements for heart health.

While this is a blow to those of us who love fish and chips, enjoying fish that is well cooked and healthy of our hearts is not a hard thing to get used to.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

The Healing Power of Pets

While it is generally difficult for large numbers of American to agree on the same issue, it seems when it comes to pets and the value we place on them, there is little disagreement. The 2011 American Pet Products Association (APPA) survey reported that an astounding 62% of all American households have a pet living with them. 

An identified 46.3 million households have dogs for a total of 78.2 million. Cat households total 38.9 million, however, cats out number dogs with a 86.4 million total, which represents that cat pets are generally in multiple numbers in their respective households. Fresh water fish, birds, reptiles and horses, along with small animals such as rabbit, hamsters, and others make up another 25.3 million pets. 

Americans, it appears, have also come to view and treat their pets in human terms. No longer satisfied with relegating the family pet to its own pet identified domain, today’s pet lovers are demanding the highest quality products and services for those they love and are also embracing their pets into all areas of the home.

The majority of pets today share beds and sleeping quarters in their households.  This trend is not confined to the US however. The Jakarta Post, Asia News Network reported that “Having a pet allows a person to learn to take care of something and elevates the sense of caring, which positively supports the development of well-being,” said Monty P. Satiadarma, a psychologist at the Tarumanagara University in Jakarta. Pets are a hit around the world.

In terms of dollars and cents – expenditure on pets for 2010-2011 is in excess of 50 billion dollars.  That is correct 50 billion. It is easy to imagine that this number must be a mistake as this represents more money being spent on pets in the United State than the gross national product for all but 64 countries around the world.

This 50 billion dollar figure also represents almost double the approximately $30 billion dollars Americans spend on popular activities such as going to movies, video games, or for listening to recorded music. Of the 50 billion spent on pets, 25 billion was spent on pet medical care and over the counter, as well as prescription medication, all without the benefit of health insurance to cover the cost.

The 38% of non-pet households are for the most part made up of individuals with allergies, who live in apartments or living environments that do not welcome pets and those who have no time left in their over scheduled lives to care for a pet. It seems people of all ages, ranging from infants to very elderly enjoy and welcome the company of pets.

The presence of pets is so popular today that nursing facilities host therapy pets on a regular basis. The one down side to this practice is that sometimes the residents start arguing and competing over who gets to keep the cat, dog or bird with them for the day.

What fuels our passion for pets? It is really quite simple. Our pets love us unconditionally. They listen to us, don’t complain or express disappointment in who we are. They provide companionship without the politics or agenda of most human relationships.  They accept our love and affection the way we to give it and best of all – they happily return it.

Our pets are the ultimate loving family member and we are now treating them as such. Can anyone blame us? Social networking has become the way we communicate and “do” relationships. These days it is often over e-mail and text messages that we are starting relationships or ending them, sharing major life events – even proposing marriage. The intimate contact with other human beings even 10 years ago, before the dominance of the internet and cell phones, is being replaced by our pets.

The American Pet Product Manufacturers Association (APPMA) estimates that this year millions of pet owners will purchase a Valentine’s gift for their pet, spending an average of $17 for the gift. Consumers will also spend an average of $6.30 on friends, $4.97 on classmates and teachers, and $3.41 on co-workers. What does this tell us?

Pets are not only beloved companions, but are also healers. Dogs have long been known for their service as seeing-eye dogs, but the use of dogs and other pets in numerous areas of healing and health monitoring are becoming widely utilized. Dogs who alert their companions for seizures or “sniff out” cancer, or pigs and horses that assist with helping draw out autistic children are easily found on the news or the internet. Therapy cats lower blood pressure, slow down heart rate and reduce depression and stress while providing companionship and affection.

A study by researcher Dr. Karen Allen, at the State University of New York, at Buffalo, identified that individuals suffering from hypertension after adopting a dog or cat had lower blood pressure reading during stressful situations than their counter parts who did not have a pet companion.

The National Institute of Technology Assessment Workshop, Health Benefits of Pets, identified that pets provide greater psychological stability which protects not only from heart disease and other stress related conditions but also reduces depression.  In the same study pets have been shown to lower the cost of health care as individuals with pets make fewer doctor visits, especially “for non-serious medical conditions”.

A Perdue University study demonstrated that when seniors face traumas or other adversity, the affection received from their pets and the bond between them, helps prevent depression and loneliness. Animals provide emotional support, which is an essential component for health and healing.

Pets enhance our psychological and physical well being. They love us, heal us and help us live longer and often provide more honest, non-judgmental and loving relationships than our human companions. Perhaps the health care reformists should modify Harry Truman’s “chicken in every pot” to “a pet in every home” to improve the health of Americans and reducing healthcare  costs.

All the best,
Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

Men, Women and Apologies

For most of us it does not come as a surprise that men and women really do think, behave and are in many fundamental ways different from one another. We also know that hormones play a large role in these differences.

Now science is beginning to unravel the specifics on how males and female brains function in large part because of male and female hormones which craft our brain development and orient our behaviors.

Two new studies look at the brain function of men and women and offer some interesting observations regarding the subject. One study is from the University of California in collaboration with the University of New Mexico, led by researcher Richard Haier, a psychology professor at the University of California.

The findings of their study shows that generally men have 6.5 times the amount of gray matter relating to general intelligence compared with women. Women on the other hand have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men.

“These findings suggest that human evolution has created two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior,” said Haier. But apparently these types of intelligent behaviors manifest differently.

Women apologize more often than men do, according to a new study led by researcher Karina Schumann, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. It’ appears it not that men are reluctant to admit wrongdoing, they simply have a different perception regarding what they feel rises to the level of requiring an apology.

The research team saw no difference in the number of times men and women acted in ways that elicited apologies, but there was a distinct difference in the male and female perception of what constituted a situation that requires an apology.

“Men aren’t actively resisting apologizing because they think it will make them appear weak or because they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions,” says Schumann. “It seems to be that when they think they’ve done something wrong they [men] do apologize just as frequently as when women think they’ve done something wrong. It’s just that they think they’ve done fewer things wrong.”

“Ladies” – did we really need research to confirm this?

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

Just What ARE Emotions?

Most of us perceive our brain as being for “thinking” or intellectual functions.  We often think of ourselves, our personality as what is going on “from the neck up”.  In fact, there are several parts to our brain which contribute to who we are and how we form our personality – not just our cortex.

The cortex is what we refer to as our “smart brain”.  Most of us know individuals who are brilliant academically or intellectually, yet – they are emotionally dysfunctional almost in the extreme. We often presume erroneously that our thinking brain should be “smart” enough to exercise dominion over our emotions.

However, the missing piece of information here is that our emotions actually are a survival adaptation mechanism that each of us develops as we process our early environment and social conditioning.

Some of us learn to be assertive or aggressive in our environments to adapt and some of us may learn to become passive or try to become invisible to stay safe and secure. Nothing is more powerful in the human being than its drive to survive. Hence, our emotions win the day in the battle between thinking and feeling.

It is helpful of us to understand that our emotions represent how we learned to adapt in our surroundings and environment, especially during the first 0-5 years of our development. Our familial “input” taught us, as did Pavlov with his dogs, how to respond to the stimuli we received as infants and toddlers.

This embedded neurological conditioning is not overcome by the thought process, as the thought process for humans is the “newest” component to our primordial brain. It is in the survival adaptive portion of our brain where we form our “personality” and where we become conditioned to create and interact within relationships.

When we understand the possibility that interpersonal issues which frustrate us may come not from “being difficult” or “bad intent” but rather from our drive to survive and our interpretation of the stimulation and environment we were conditioned by, then we can begin to be “kinder and gentler” towards ourselves and others.

In summary, our emotions are the way we learn to live and survive in our world. We cannot “think them” into changing, but we can step back and appreciate the service and challenge they offer us in our daily lives. We can also explore techniques that allow us to have greater control over our emotions.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved G. Donadio

Alternative for Dealing with Seasonal Allergies

One of the most important aspects of being able to address a health issue you may have is to understand the cause and effect of how and why you are experiencing your symptoms and what they represent.

Seasonal allergies are for many the down side to the beauty of spring and summer. Itchy, runny eyes and nose, sneezing, coughing, and even wheezing can dictate an individual’s activity choices, where they can go and even what they can eat. None of this is desirable and much of it has been shown to be preventable.

To understand how you can take control of your seasonal allergies, let’s explore where they come from. When foreign proteins found in many airborne substances, such as pollen, dust mites and rag weed.

When mucous membranes that come in contact with these foreign proteins are not immunologically competent enough to break down these proteins, the membrane secrete mucous, fluids and histamine. This causes the itching, swelling, irritation and watery excretions that make seasonal allergies so challenging.

To improve allergy symptoms, steroid or steroid like medications, are often prescribed. These are anti-inflammatory chemicals that reduce the allergic immune reaction to the foreign proteins. By building up our immune and adrenal system we can enable our bodies to be better able to handle these allergens, which cause the allergy reactions.

Our adrenals are located either on top of or within the kidneys and produce cortico-steroids and other natural anti-inflammatory as part of our “national guard” system. Hans Selye, MD, PhD, who spent over 50 years researching the adrenals and immune system, discovered the important nutrition and lifestyle components to keeping this important body system working well: 

  • a diet or supplementation rich in B, C, E,  and A vitamins; unsaturated fatty acids, such as fish oils, adequate protein intake and minerals to aid in the production of natural allergy fighting anti-inflammatory.
  • adequate sleep and rest
  • elimination of infections
  • reduction of emotional stress
  • moderate exercise – avoid over exertion
  • avoidance of traumas, dental and medical surgery
  • elimination of extreme temperatures indoors and out

Seyle’s research demonstrated that by taking good care of our adrenal and immune system, allergies may be greatly reduced, and in some cases eliminated.