Dr. Ronald Lavine practices chiropractic in New York City and Princeton, NJ

Here are six brand new findings from the world of biomedical research that I think are particularly interesting.

One: Need Yet Another Reason to Exercise?

In order to be healthy, you need robust, diverse colonies of bacteria living peaceably in your gut. Eating the right mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats keeps these helpful bacteria in balance. Fermented foods or probiotic supplements help too. And as much as possible, stay away from antibiotics that indiscriminately slaughter the good guys and bad guys alike.

Now scientists are studying a new factor that influences the health of your intestinal flora – the amount you exercise.

Two: The Sense of Smell, A Window to Your Brain

Testing the sense of smell is a sensitive indicator of the state of your nervous system. Loss of smell is one of the most common (and most commonly overlooked) side effects of head trauma. Now, testing the sense of smell is proving useful in arriving at an early diagnosis of Parkinson’s syndrome.

Three: Exercise and Chronic Pain

Those with fibromyalgia and chronic pain often get some benefit from medication, but experts are learning more about the limitations of a strictly pharmaceutical approach. There’s a stronger understanding than ever that a moderate level of physical exercise goes a long way in addressing these conditions.

Four: Mind-Body Medicine and Low Back Pain

You can’t fully understand back pain by simply analyzing the physical components (the joints, muscles, ligaments, discs, etc.) that are damaged. Chronic spinal problems are a multi-dimensional experience, involving nutritional, metabolic, sleep, social, brain, and emotional issues. In particular, depression is strongly associated with chronic back pain and may need to be addressed in its own right.

Five: Risks of Low Back Surgery

Spine surgeons continue to be concerned about the risk of secondary problems developing above or below the level of the original low back surgery. People who have had spinal fusion are especially at risk.

The latest findings are that in 22% of spinal fusion patients, their “adjacent segment disease” is bad enough to require a second surgery within 10 years.

Six: Intervertebral Discs Show Regenerative Abilities

Scientists are studying the ways that intervertebral discs maintain their resilience – and even heal and regenerate – despite being subject to repetitive mechanical loads.

Recent research has unveiled a metabolic shift that can occur in the cells of the intervertebral disc. Depending on the biomechanical load they’re subject to, the cells’ genes will produce one of two different mixtures of proteins: “catabolic” proteins that break structures down, or “anabolic” proteins that reinforce disc strength.

Dr. Lavine has been an innovator in the use of movement and touch to promote health since 1981. He practices in New York City and Princeton, NJ.


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