Health Tips

Here’s How to Choose the Right Spine Specialist for You

By Abagail Sullivan

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Content by Ana Williams

Navigating the healthcare landscape isn’t easy, but it feels like even more of a feat when you’re bogged down with chronic pain amidst your search. Here, we guide you with six helpful steps in choosing the best spine specialist for you.

Make a Decision for Action

The first step to choosing your spine specialist is determining you want to take action. Begin your search straight away once you’ve made the decision. The best spine specialists are prepped to help their patients as soon as they’ve determined the needed treatment, making moves as directly as possible after a consultation. When you feel it’s time to take action, it is!

Commence the Surgeon Search

The spine is a complex collection of bones, nerves and tissue. Make sure your spine specialist has the experience and training to properly handle your condition. Providers devoted primarily to spinal orthopedics will have more experience treating your discomfort than general doctors will. The LESS Institute specializes in spine care with Professor Dr. Kingsley R. Chin, our founder, providing first class care of his own. Dr. Chin is a Harvard trained, board certified and repeatedly honored top surgeon and innovator in less invasive outpatient surgery.

Remember to Reference

Studies suggest that almost 80% of Americans will experience lower back pain, which means you’re bound to know a family member, friend or coworker who’s been treated by or heavily researched a spine specialist. There’s nothing like a personal referral to start. If that particular specialist is booked up or not accepting new patients, be sure to ask their office for an additional reference in the right direction.

Take the Time for Testimonials

Patients can provide the most personal insight into the type of care you may receive from the doctor and facility. Ask your potential surgeon to see their testimonials, or check out the practice’s website and social media pages for further info. At the LESS Institute, we’re huge patient advocates and hope they, too, feel the same in return. For our dedicated patients’ testimonials, head here.

Meet the Doc

Sure, you can learn a lot from research and online reviews, but you’ll get a much stronger feeling about your doctor by sitting down with them in person. An appointment will give you the opportunity to talk through your situation and discuss treatment goals. To request an appointment with our LESS Institute team, call us any time at 855-411-LESS.

Prep Your Qs

Undoubtedly, there will be aspects of your condition or recommendations for relief that you may not fully understand. Make sure to bring your past records and questions at the time of your visit so your surgeon can use that face to face time to explain next steps. The LESS Institute S.E.R.V.E. team, our concierge gurus, personally sits down with you (and even your family!) to educate on the recommended procedure to guide you on your road to relief. The concierge hotline is open to those patients getting a procedure and who may have questions after hours.

We’ve witnessed the hardships of living with chronic pain through our patients, and we hope these tips help you navigate the often overwhelming world of healthcare – to find the best spine specialist fit for you.


Feel Jollier All Season Long with These Healthy Holiday Choices

By Abagail Sullivan

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Content compiled by Esther Rodriguez & Ana Williams

The holidays are so close, we can practically taste that home cooked comfort food. With all the creaminess and goodness it’s no wonder the average American gains a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. Fortunately for us, this season doesn’t have to consist of dodging one food-focused frenzy after another. We can still enjoy the same delicious flavors we love, while cutting unhealthy fat and making a few tweaks to the classics – creating an all around healthier holiday.

Mashed Potatoes

Did you know that with every spoonful of mashed potatoes you serve yourself, you’re adding heaps of empty carbs and calories – and that’s before the added goodies like butter, gravy & cheese!? Stay light on your feet by making mashed cauliflower instead. It has the same texture and similar flavor – while staying a lot more belly-friendly.

Pies

Pie is an American classic, but try substituting one on your dessert table for baked, roasted or grilled fruit. If you’re a peach cobbler fan, try grilled peaches! This way, your guests will get the fruity sweetness they crave, minus the buttery, carb-heavy, calorie-dense crust.

Green Bean Casserole

Creamy green bean casserole is a go-to tradition for the turkey-day table (and a sorry excuse for a veggie!) With fried onions, butter, cheese, salt and cream of mushroom soup, this side’s ingredients are far from friendly. Toss in some oven-roasted Brussels sprouts for a savory, fiber-packed veggie or stick with the green bean classic, but sauté them over low heat in extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt & black pepper instead.

Creamed Spinach

Spinach is a source of a lot of goodies for our body – like fiber, vitamins A, C, E & K, folate, calcium, iron and more – but when we load that with saturadated fats, the whole “health” aspect is sort of rendered useless. This year, sauté those leafy greens in heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil and garlic, or toss a spinach salad – dressed with balsamic vinaigrette and topped with sliced apples or peas & toasted walnuts or pecans for added flair.

Stuffing

In place of a heavy, white-bread loaded side dish, try quinoa, couscous or faro-based stuffing to cut down on cholesterol, saturated fat and empty carbohydrates. When these grains are blended with all the other stuffing ingredients, you won’t even be able to taste the difference between the traditional vs. healthy versions. 

Sweet Potato Casserole

We know, the melted marshmallows and brown sugar are to die for! But this year, try drizzling your baked sweet potatoes with a sauce made from extra virgin coconut oil, maple syrup, fresh grated ginger and pumpkin pie spice. While the syrup adds sugar, it acts as an unrefined form of the sweetener, which contains more natural nutrients.

Sour Cream

Our holiday favorites that “require” sour cream – from mashed potatoes to casseroles and sauces – can so simply be made healthier by subbing in nonfat Greek yogurt. And there’s no need to increase the amount – just a dash of ‘plain’ incorporated in the recipe, and your dish is just as delicious as it would be with its creamy cousin counterpart.

What approachable healthy holiday choices do you make? Next up, we’ll cover “amping up your healthy holiday” – highlighting ways in which we can get foster a healthier seasonal environment.

Inspired by Health.com’s 20 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps You Need to Try


Maximum Flavor, Minimal Guilt: Six Surprising Pumpkin Health Benefits

By Abagail Sullivan

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It’s a fruit! It’s a squash! It’s a PUMPKIN. 

Who doesn’t love pumpkin season? From classic decor to seasonally tasty treats, this fall favorite has become a true symbol of autumn. Luckily for us, this season’s ‘superfood’ has health benefits galore – and doesn’t have to be another major indulgence among holiday madness. Check out these six good-to-know pumpkin health benefits, fostering maximum flavor and minimal guilt.

Content compiled by Esther Rodriguez & Ana Williams of The LESS Institute

Clear That Vision
Filled with beta-carotene and almost twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, a pumpkin’s bright orange hue promotes good vision – especially in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Keep Your Hunger at Bay
Pumpkin seeds are not only fun to eat, they’re high in fiber – which helps keep you full longer and promotes digestion.

Ward off Disease
A serving of pumpkin can contain 50% of your daily recommended vitamin K, which has recently been found to safely suppress the growth of some cancers.



Promote Your Healthiest Heart
Pumpkin seeds are also rich in potassium, vitamin C, and essential fats that can help lower the risk of hypertension and contribute to a healthy heart.



Sleep like a Baby
Can you feel that Thanksgiving-day sleepiness already? The tryptophan found in pumpkin seeds is that feel-good amino acid that helps you relax and unwind. Pumpkin seeds promote better sleep – so go ahead, take that post-Turkey-day nap!

Foster Positive Vibes
Ask someone what their favorite holiday is and chances are, it’s Thanksgiving. The serotonin found in pumpkins is known to improve the mood of those consuming this flavored pie – so it’s no wonder fall holidays are the happiest time of year.

Check back for more helpful health & wellness tips from our LESS Institute team – and let us know your favorite pumpkin health benefits (and topics you’d like to see covered), below!


Adding Vitamins and Minerals to Your Diet to Promote Back Health

By Abagail Sullivan

You may never have considered diet as a way to promote back health, but what you eat is most certainly an influence in whether or not your back is feeling up to par. Consuming enough nutrition – through back-health promoting vitamins and minerals – is crucial in the development, maintenance, and improvement of your bone, muscle, and disc health. Review this list of vitamins and minerals – whose back relief benefits we’ve highlighted – and find out where you can access these (easy, healthy recipes linked accordingly) to start promoting your best back, today!   Vitamin A   Vitamin A helps repair tissue and aids in the formation of bone.  Examples of sources high in vitamin A include: beef liver, carrots,  sweet potato , kale, spinach,  broccoli    To note: more than the recommended amount of vitamin A (about 900 mg daily for men and 700 mg daily for women) can promote bone fractures, so beware of excess intake.    Vitamin B3 (Niacin)   Vitamin B3, also referred to as Niacin, can help maintain a healthy nervous system, which is important for many spine conditions.  Good sources: turkey, chicken breast,  peanuts , mushrooms, lamb liver, tuna   Vitamin B12   Vitamin B12 is crucial for healthy bone marrow and for the spine to grow and function.  It reduces pressure in your back and eases chronic back pain.  Good sources:  clams , beef liver, mackerel, crab, tofu, bran cereal   Vitamin C   Vitamin C is necessary for the development of collagen, which allows cells to be able to form into tissue.  It is important in the healing process for injuries involving tendons, ligaments, discs, bones, wounds, and burns.  It increases calcium absorption in the body to promote strong bones and protects your back from damaging free radicals.  Good sources: oranges, red peppers,  kale , brussels sprouts, broccoli, strawberries   Vitamin D   Vitamin D is important for the development of healthy bones, aiding in calcium absorption to help prevent osteoporosis.  It produces new bone cells, decreases inflammation in the body, and can lessen spasms in the lower back.  Good sources: sunlight, sardines,  salmon , mackerel, tuna, soy milk   Vitamin E   Vitamin E can help alleviate lower back pain as a powerful antioxidant that fights off free radicals.  It increases the antioxidant reaction in your body and reduces muscle pain and soreness by repairing damaged tissue.  Good sources: almonds, spinach, sweet potato,  avocado , wheat germ, sunflower seeds   Vitamin K   Vitamin K is needed for the bones to properly use calcium, which in turn aids in the strength of healthy bones.  Good sources: dried basil, kale, onions,  brussels sprouts , chili powder, asparagus   Calcium   Calcium is essential for bone health and building strong bones, helping to maintain the necessary level of bone mass and prevent osteoporosis.  Good sources: watercress, mozzarella, milk,  yogurt , bok choy, tofu   Iron   Iron aids in the production of myoglobin, an important element of healthy muscles needed to support the spine.  Good sources: squash and  pumpkin seeds , chicken liver, oysters, mussels, clams, nuts   Magnesium   Magnesium helps maintain muscle tone and bone density, which can aid in the prevention of back problems.  It is also a factor in prevention of calcium deficiency and osteoporosis.  Good sources: raw spinach, squash and pumpkin seeds, mackerel, soy beans, brown rice,  avocado    Omega-3 fatty acids   Omega-3 fatty acids can help inflammation that cause back pain.  Good sources: cold pressed flaxseed oil,  salmon , chia seeds, walnuts, caviar, mackerel    Other sources that could be helpful…     Devil’s Claw   Devil’s Claw comes from a native African plant and can reduce flare-ups of chronic low back pain.  The ingredients in this plant  may be effective in reducing back pain , because it’s chemicals may decrease inflammation and swelling that cause the pain   Capsaicin   Capsaicin is the agent that gives hot peppers their heat, and this ingredient can be applied, using a cream, to  relieve back pain .   Turmeric   Taken as a powder in capsules, mixed into tea, or as a liquid extract, Turmeric contains effective  anti-inflammatory properties .

You may never have considered diet as a way to promote back health, but what you eat is most certainly an influence in whether or not your back is feeling up to par. Consuming enough nutrition – through back-health promoting vitamins and minerals – is crucial in the development, maintenance, and improvement of your bone, muscle, and disc health. Review this list of vitamins and minerals – whose back relief benefits we’ve highlighted – and find out where you can access these (easy, healthy recipes linked accordingly) to start promoting your best back, today!

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps repair tissue and aids in the formation of bone.

Examples of sources high in vitamin A include: beef liver, carrots, sweet potato, kale, spinach, broccoli

To note: more than the recommended amount of vitamin A (about 900 mg daily for men and 700 mg daily for women) can promote bone fractures, so beware of excess intake.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3, also referred to as Niacin, can help maintain a healthy nervous system, which is important for many spine conditions.

Good sources: turkey, chicken breast, peanuts, mushrooms, lamb liver, tuna

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is crucial for healthy bone marrow and for the spine to grow and function.

It reduces pressure in your back and eases chronic back pain.

Good sources: clams, beef liver, mackerel, crab, tofu, bran cereal

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is necessary for the development of collagen, which allows cells to be able to form into tissue.

It is important in the healing process for injuries involving tendons, ligaments, discs, bones, wounds, and burns.

It increases calcium absorption in the body to promote strong bones and protects your back from damaging free radicals.

Good sources: oranges, red peppers, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, strawberries

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for the development of healthy bones, aiding in calcium absorption to help prevent osteoporosis.

It produces new bone cells, decreases inflammation in the body, and can lessen spasms in the lower back.

Good sources: sunlight, sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, soy milk

Vitamin E

Vitamin E can help alleviate lower back pain as a powerful antioxidant that fights off free radicals.

It increases the antioxidant reaction in your body and reduces muscle pain and soreness by repairing damaged tissue.

Good sources: almonds, spinach, sweet potato, avocado, wheat germ, sunflower seeds

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is needed for the bones to properly use calcium, which in turn aids in the strength of healthy bones.

Good sources: dried basil, kale, onions, brussels sprouts, chili powder, asparagus

Calcium

Calcium is essential for bone health and building strong bones, helping to maintain the necessary level of bone mass and prevent osteoporosis.

Good sources: watercress, mozzarella, milk, yogurt, bok choy, tofu

Iron

Iron aids in the production of myoglobin, an important element of healthy muscles needed to support the spine.

Good sources: squash and pumpkin seeds, chicken liver, oysters, mussels, clams, nuts

Magnesium

Magnesium helps maintain muscle tone and bone density, which can aid in the prevention of back problems.

It is also a factor in prevention of calcium deficiency and osteoporosis.

Good sources: raw spinach, squash and pumpkin seeds, mackerel, soy beans, brown rice, avocado

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids can help inflammation that cause back pain.

Good sources: cold pressed flaxseed oil, salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, caviar, mackerel

Other sources that could be helpful…

Devil’s Claw

Devil’s Claw comes from a native African plant and can reduce flare-ups of chronic low back pain.

The ingredients in this plant may be effective in reducing back pain, because it’s chemicals may decrease inflammation and swelling that cause the pain

Capsaicin

Capsaicin is the agent that gives hot peppers their heat, and this ingredient can be applied, using a cream, to relieve back pain.

Turmeric

Taken as a powder in capsules, mixed into tea, or as a liquid extract, Turmeric contains effective anti-inflammatory properties.