Healthy Chocolate, Part II

By Riva Preil

It’s no secret that chocolate is extremely popular throughout the world.  However, its reputation has long been one of a calorie rich junk food or candy with little or no nutritional value.  The reason for this is the addition of so many harmful ingredients- sugar, oils, fillers, and waxes- which dilute the favorable properties of cocoa.  Also the cocoa used in most commercial chocolates is manufactured with a harsh heating process that that destroys the powerful antioxidants and other nutrients naturally found in the cacao bean.

Fortunately, dozens of studies overwhelmingly demonstrate that properly processed dark chocolate still retains its vital antioxidants and other valuable nutrient compounds, and is able to deliver wide ranging benefits to the body.  The key when looking for a healthy chocolate is to make sure that it has been cold-processed to ensure maximum antioxidant benefit.  The many benefits of chocolate include antioxidant/anti-aging properties, improving cardiovascular health by improving platelet function and decreasing blood clotting, controlling blood sugar and insulin levels, improving blood flow to the brain, improving mental cognition and performance, relieving the inflammatory response, and improving oral health (because polyphenols contained in chocolate increase teeth enamel making them less susceptible to decay).

For more information about HEALTHY CHOCOLATE please visit or email Bonnie Pfeifer-Evans at . Enjoy, and bon appetit!

And while you’re searching the internet, take advantage of the IC Awareness September sale- 15% discount now through September 30 on select items including pelvic pads!

Healthy Chocolate?!

By Riva Preil

Fortunately for all of us- Yes, it’s true! Unknown to most people, chocolate originated as a life-giving and energy-providing beverage.  More than 2,000 years ago, the Olmec, Mayan, Aztec, and other Mesoamerican cultures consumed cocoa in the form of a healthy beverage eventually known by the Aztecan word xocolat, which means “bitter water.”  Cacao bean paste was mixed with water, chile peppers, cornmeal, and other ingredients and delivered a frothy, spicy “chocolate” drink.  All of the Mesoamerican cultures recognized early on that the cacao bean could provide a super-charged level of energy and nutrition unrivaled by any other source.

Soon enough, chocolate made its way to Europe and beyond, where it became an international hit and enjoyed a transformation from a spicy beverage to various sweetened concoctions.  Eventually, chocolate grew in popularity in the United States around the turn of the 20th century, and it was in the United States that the first solid chocolate was developed.

To Be Continued…

Posture Protection

By Riva Preil

The holiday seasons are wonderful times spent with family, friends, and prayers. It also provides physical therapists a perfect opportunity to review some basic postural advice in order to prevent back pain during the prolonged hours of sitting and standing in the same position.

While sitting, avoid slouching or slumped positions as well as overarching (extending) your back. If possible, try to sit with lumbar support (for example, a rolled up towel or small pillow resting behind the small of your back- refer to picture). In addition, the best position for your legs is hips and knees at 90 degree angles (“L” shaped) and with your feet resting comfortably upon the floor.

During prolonged standing, try to maintain equal weight over both feet.  Furthermore, if you have “flat feet” and are lacking adequate arch support in the soles of your feet, it would be wise to purchase over the counter arch support inserts to promote improved foot and lower extremity alignment.  Prolonged standing will feel much more tolerable with proper arch support.  (Ladies, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but high heeled shoes do not constitute proper arch support- please avoid prolonged usage of these despite their aesthetic beauty.)

In addition, try to maintain neutral spine and pelvic alignment by connecting the following dots: back edge of ears over shoulder tips over greater trochanters (outer hip bone) over middle of knees over midfoot (refer to picture). If you are having trouble finding neutral spine, try the following trick: stand tall, roll your hips forwards and backwards throughout the entire range of motion available to you. Then, try to find the midway point between both extremes- this should feel comfortable and pain free. It might feel “awkward” at first if it is not your natural standing posture, but it is a new habit worth creating which will feel more comfortable with time. Finally, please see the attached stretches below to help your back feel great: Hold each position for 20 seconds, repeat 4x each. Good luck with your posture and enjoy the holidays in the best of health!

Why Drinking MORE Water Helps You Leak LESS

By Riva Preil

Sounds counterintuitive, right? Believe it or not, drinking adequate amounts of water, specifically 64 fluid ounces per day (= 8 cups of water) promotes bladder health and helps people with urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence, the unintentional voiding of urine, can be related to bladder filling and storing deficiencies. Normally, the bladder (also known as the detrusor muscle) expands like a balloon as it fills with urine until the stretch receptors in the bladder send a message to your brain telling you, “Now I’m full, it’s  time to go to the bathroom.” However, the foods and fluids we eat and drink affect the bladder’s ability to store urine. Drinking bladder irritants (ex. alcohol, coffee, caffeine, and carbonated beverages) can cause the detrusor muscle to involuntarily contract, thus causing urine leakage.  These irritants can cause the bladder to contract even before it is entirely full. Therefore, if someone leaks urine it may be more related to their diet rather than to their bladder actually requiring to be emptied due to fullness. Therefore, it is crucial to load up on a NON-irritating, bladder healthy fluid- water- in order to flush out any potential irritants. This irritant dilution reduces the potential for involuntary detrusor contraction. Drinking MORE of bladder friendly water will allow for proper and complete filling and emptying of the bladder every 2.5 to 3 hours. If you or someone you know experiences urinary incontinence, a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder, or urinary frequency (voiding more than 8x/day or 0-1x/night), please speak to your doctor about pelvic floor therapy. It might be the perfect solution!

Learn More about Endometriosis with Padma Lakshmi!

Learn more about endometriosis treatment and patient interaction at this free Lunch and Learn with Endometriosis Foundation of America co-founder and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi!

Amy Stein will also be a featured speaker at the upcoming Endometriosis Lunch & Learn with Padma Lakshmi.  If you’re in the NYC area on September 29th, please join us. It’s free, and offers 5 CNE credits for nurses.

be a featured speaker at the upcoming Endometriosis Lunch & Learn with Padma Lakshmi.  If you’re in the NYC area on September 29th, please join us. It’s free, and offers 5 CNE credits for nurses.

Love Your Colon: Part II

by Riva Preil

I know you have been waiting patiently for more details about the I Love You massage.  Well, today is your lucky day, because you are about to discover a wonderful way relax your core and help promote colonic motility.

Here’s how to do it:

Lie on your back- preferably on your bed, but a firm sofa or other comfortable surface will do. You might want to wedge a couple of pillows under your knees. Use your hand in the most comfortable way possible- either as a fist, using your fingers, or using the edge of the palm. Begin on the left side of the body- think of the belly button as the center- just beneath the left rib cage, and massage down toward the pubic bone in a straight line. In other words, draw the letter “I” from the bottom of your rib cage downward. In doing so, you are massaging your descending colon. Repeat 15x.

Now for the L: This time, start on the right side of your body, just under the rib cage to the right of the belly button.  Massage from right to left, then down toward the pubic bone: across, then down, as in the letter “L”.  This also massages both the descending and the transverse colon.  Repeat 15x.

Finally, draw the “U”: Start to the right of the belly button, but this time, begin at the top edge of the pelvic bone, and massage up toward the right wide of the rib cage, then across to the left, then down to the top of the pelvic bone. Repeat 15x. This massages all the portions of the colon- ascending, transverse, and descending.  Good luck, and feel great!

Adapted from Amy Stein’s Heal Pelvic Pain. Refer to for details.

Love Your Colon: Part I

By Riva Preil

Anyone who has ever experienced constipation knows how uncomfortable this condition can be.  It is important to eat adequate fiber (please refer to previous blogs for details), drinking eight cups of water each day, and participate in exercise regularly.

It is also important to consider the anatomy involved with normal defecation.  The large intestine, also referred to as the colon, is one of the final legs of gastrointestinal trip.  Think of the colon as an upside down “U” consisting of three parts: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, and the descending colon (refer to picture).  Normally, the stool passes from the small intestine to the large intestine, where it travels through all three portions of the colon, from ascending to transverse to descending colon.  Once the stool completes its passage through the descending colon, it stores in the rectum until the rectum “feels full”, at which point in time the individual can pass a bowel movement through the anus.  The colon is a one-way street, so to speak, and the stool (especially if hard and firmly formed) may require assistance being transported through the three portions of the colon.  The “ILU (or I Love You) Massage,” is a self-help technique that many find beneficial in treating constipation.  Why is it called the I Love You massage?  How do I perform this technique?  Stay tuned to the next blog for the answers to these questions…

Pediatric Pelvic Floor Therapy at BBPT

By Riva Preil

Many children face challenges during the toilet training years.  Some children have difficulty with controlling urine flow during the day, and other children have difficulty remaining dry through the night (commonly referred to as bedwetters).  Both of these can affect the child’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being.  They might be embarrassed if their parents have to intervene or if their peers become aware (ex. unintentionally leaking urine while playing during recess).

Very often, diet (including food and fluid intake) can strongly affect a child’s ability to “hold it in.”  For example, many of the popular sport drinks contain dyes which irritate the bladder.  This may result in involuntary bladder (also known as the detrusor muscle) contractions which contribute to unintentional voiding. In addition, some children may also have bowel  issues (ex. constipation) which create stress and confusion in their pelvic floor muscles.  Pelvic floor therapy is an appropriate avenue to address the aforementioned symptoms. Pediatric pelvic floor therapists like those at BBPT appropriately educate both child and parent regarding how to properly contract and relax the pelvic floor muscles, and they also help incorporate diet and lifestyle changes to promote improved continence and passing of bowel movements.

Our Blood Pressure is Out of Control!

According to this article in Time Healthland, nearly 1 in 3 Americans has high blood pressure, but not nearly enough have it under control. High blood pressure is a major factor in heart disease and susceptibility to heart attacks, so it’s best to get it under control as quickly as possible! One of the top ways to reduce high blood pressure is of course through exercise, and at Beyond Basics we can help you assemble the best exercise routine for your needs. Just feel free to ask and make sure you’re on the right track to a healthy heart.

Easy as Pumpkin Pie

Now that you and your fellow bloggers have heightened levels of fiber consciousness, you will be happy to know that one of this season’s favorite vegetables, the pumpkin, is a healthy-eater’s new best friend. Not only are pumpkins chock full of fiber (3.5 grams per half cup of canned pumpkin, 1.5 grams per quarter cup of seeds) and protein (7 grams per 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas), but they also contain Vitamins A and C, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. These vitamins and minerals collectively help tame free radicals, preserve healthy bones and teeth, fight cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, and improve the immune system.  Furthermore, pumpkins contain carotenoids (like carrots, hence the orange color) which has anti-infection and anti-aging properties. Pumpkins pack a powerful punch!  (Try saying that one five times fast!)

Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll be on your way. Select a pumpkin that is heavy for its size, ideally a small pumpkin that weighs between 2 and 5 pounds. Whole pumpkins can be stored for up to six months, preferably in a cool dry location. Once they are opened they should be refrigerated for up to 2-3 days if raw or 4-5 days if cooked. Pumpkins may also be frozen once opened. Try out the recipes below to add some pumpkin spice and flavor to your healthy life! Enjoy!

Creamy Pumpkin Brown Rice

Pumpkin Chocolate Cake

Vegan Pumpkin Pecan Pie