Sitting: The New Sugar

Posted: 585 days ago in Health

Sitting: The New SugarWhaaaat? Are you confused? Don’t be.

All of you know that sugar is not good for you. There is no upside. You should minimize your intake, though that can be difficult because it is hidden in so many things. Sitting should be approached with the same apprehensions.

The best advice I can give you, bar none, is to move more, sit less. And by move more, I don’t mean that you have to exercise! Of course, dedicating 5-7 hours each week to exercise is a beautiful thing, but if you sit all day, it is simply not enough.

Did you know: People who seldom sit, but never exercise, are generally far healthier than those who sit a lot, even if they exercise regularly! A.k.a. the moms of toddlers, teachers, and construction workers are healthier than commuters, and desk jockeys (even if the latter are avid movers).

Let me repeat: if you rarely sit but don’t exercise, you will quite likely be healthier than those who exercise regularly, but sit all day! This actually blows my mind, but it shouldn’t. Our bodies were designed for movement, and depend on it to keep our muscles, bones and organs healthy, and our minds sharp.

Don’t panic if you are one of the millions that sit for many hours each day! You have many opportunities for movement – you just have to take them.

  • Stand or walk with every phone call
  • Practice active sitting on an exercise ball
  • Walk to a colleague’s office instead of emailing them
  • Stand on the train
  • Walk on your lunch break
  • Set an alarm on your iPhone reminding yourself to move at least once an hour

I did a sugar elimination diet and, well, it was hell for a few weeks, but then I began to realize how good I felt without it. Minimizing how long you sit can be a similar process, but I promise, you will be healthier for it.

Move more, sit less. Period.

The Doctor is In

Posted: 934 days ago in Health

doctor-is-in

I started chiropractic school in 1987.  

If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “Oh, you’re not a real doctor”, I would have been able to pay for my 8 years of higher education without the 6 figures in student-loan dollars I had to borrow.

So once and for all, let me assure you, that YES! I am a real doctor.

Chiropractors — like dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, and, yes, medical doctors — attend 4 years of undergraduate school, followed by at least 4 years of graduate work.

hours-docThe degree earned is specific to each profession:

Chiropractor = DC (Doctor of Chiropractic)

Dentist = DDS or DMD (Doctor of Dental Science)

Podiatrist= DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine)

Optometrist = OD (Optometric Doctor)

Medical = MD (Medical Doctor)

Additionally, there are national and state licensing boards that must be passed, and annual continuing education requirements to meet for all of the above professions.

Chiropractic care is covered by most insurance companies, and it has a place in the Medicare and VA systems. Most patients can access chiropractic care directly, without a referral from a primary care provider. Many patients see their chiropractor regularly as an important part of maintaining great health – along with exercise, nutrition and the like.

So – just like you have a dentist to maintain strong, healthy teeth, you should have a chiropractor to maintain a strong, healthy spine.

Hippocrates is quoted as saying, “Look well to the spine for the cause of disease”. And Thomas Edison said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

7710008L1Any questions?

5 Ways to be Kinder to Your Back This Week!

Posted: 1229 days ago in Wellness

5waystobekindertoyourbackIt’s a well-known statistic that 80% of our nation’s population experiences back pain on a regular basis. Can you believe that? That’s around 250 million people.

Sure I can sit here and point out the obvious culprits –  little to no exercise, desk jobs, accidents, pregnancy – but I’d rather focus on what we can do to solve the problem.

Here are five things you can do RIGHT NOW to help that back pain of yours.

STAND as much as you can. Sitting is the worst possible posture for your spine and pelvis, plus it puts significantly more pressure on the discs of your lower back. Stand to relieve the pressure and give your frame a break.

MOVE more. And don’t just “exercise” for an hour a day – though you should do that, too! Instead of sitting on the couch and chatting with a friend, go for a walk. Throw a ball with your kids. Take the stairs to a colleague’s office instead of emailing them. It all adds up!

DRINK water. The discs that cushion your spine are largely water. Chronic dehydration can contribute to their degeneration, making them more vulnerable to injury.

STRETCH often. Hang in a ragdoll position, sneak in a downward facing dog or arch your back. Gently roll your neck, or reach your hands high over your head. Muscles weaken and joints stiffen with lack of use, so move it, or most definitely lose it.

ADJUST regularly. When your spine is misaligned due to trauma or poor habits it will degenerate more quickly, be prone to hurting, and contribute to poor health overall. Chiropractors do a great job of keeping spines aligned and moving well, which is why I always suggest that individuals seek chiropractic care.

I promise that if you do these things on a regular basis, you will join the 50+ million people who aren’t part of the back pain epidemic.

Good luck! Let me know how those backs are doing come Friday.

The Circumcision Decision

Posted: 1242 days ago in Health

circumcision_decisionThis is a tough one for me. I don’t have a son, and that’s probably a good thing, since I have strong medical opinions on this controversial issue, and just as strong and yet conflicting, social ones.

You see, I truly don’t believe we were born with “extra parts.”  The foreskin covers and protects the glans – or head – of the penis because it’s extremely sensitive. Wouldn’t it be ludicrous to cut off a baby’s eyelids? How is circumcision any different than that?

The American Academy of Pediatric’s position is that there is no medical need for routine circumcision unless the child’s health is at risk.

It’s a hygiene issue, you say? Don’t some of our parts and pieces need a little more attention in the shower than others? Shall we cut off our kids’ outer ears because you could grow potatoes back there? That is a poor excuse in my opinion. All of the conditions that are potentially more prevalent in boys or men with uncircumcised penises are directly hygiene-related. Doesn’t it make sense that if you don’t wash well, you can harbor funky stuff down there? I don’t need a penis to know that!

Don’t get me started on the fact that this procedure is done without anesthetic. I’ve been witness to quite a few of these procedures, and the screams could shatter a person’s eardrums.

If circumcision is part of your religious beliefs, then I bow to you on this one. Nothing should come between you and your God or Goddess.

Now comes the [social] conflict for me. 

Though I am innately opposed to messing with my kids’ bodies, I would be hard pressed, if I had a baby boy, not to circumcise him.

I know, I know! I can be a walking contradiction but hear me out.

Have you seen one of those things? I have, and even in the dim light of the dashboard (don’t tell my mother!), it scared me to death! Can you imagine a young lady for her first time, encountering an uncircumcised one??

There’s also the fact that since my kids’ Papa is circumcised, I think it might be weird for Baby to look so different. How do you explain that one? Although, I’ve noticed that more and more parents are moving away from routine circumcision, so the locker room jokes are quite likely a thing of the past.

There is a lot of support from both camps, and clearly this is an issue that needs to be well-thought out if you are pregnant and expecting a blue bundle of joy. In the end, it all really comes down to what matters to you, the parents. That’s it. What factors tip the decision one way or the other?

Please, please, don’t let your son be circumcised without making an informed decision. After all, it will affect him for a lifetime. Clearly I am against routine circumcision medically, but okay with it for religious or social reasons.

Call it what you will.

This is just one of the difficult decisions you will have to make as a parent, and I wish you luck!

That’s all I’ve got for you on that one. Check out these resources for more information:

Parents.com     Mayoclinic.com     IntactAmerica.org      NoCirc.org

Your Grandmother was Right

Posted: 1264 days ago in Health

oldladyShe came at you with chicken soup and cod liver oil at the first sign of a cold, right?  

Well Grandma knew a thing or two, and we could well learn from her.  I’m a home-remedy kind of girl, and do all I can to avoid taking medication. At the first sign that I might be under the weather, here’s what my Grandmother would do:

Take a boat-load of Vitamin C.  
Linus Pauling won the Nobel Prize for his research on Vitamin C and prevention of the common cold. I figured that’s a good place to start. I take about 1000 mg every ½ hour or so, or to bowel tolerance. What that means is that you might get the runs. That’s a good thing! If there’s a nasty bug inside of you, pooping is a good way to get it out. Hence Grandma’s cod liver oil remedy, and my take on one side-effect of Vitamin C.

Eat some good old chicken soup.  
The steam opens up sinuses and makes your nose run….and the snot takes a lot of bad stuff with it!  If it’s the good, homemade soup then it packs a wallop of nutrients, too, which help to support your body toward fast healing. I put extra garlic – and by extra I mean A LOT – in mine when someone is sick. If not for the germs, then for keeping the annoying well-wishers away.

Some other good ingredients for cold-killing soup include onions, ginger, and turmeric.

Scrub and soak with Epsom Salts  
Reference my post: Slough Off the First Signs of Illness for more on that!

After a steamy soak, go to bed. 
Alone. Without your laptop or iPhone. Sleep is the best healer, and heaven knows you need it when you’re sick. It’s probably why you got sick in the first place: sleep deprivation will catch up with you over time.

Gargle and snort with sea salt water.  
OK, you don’t have to snort it, but using a neti pot or saline spray helps to moisten the mucous membranes of your nose and throat, which helps them to flush out toxins more effectively. Similarly, you can and should gargle with warm water that has sea salt dissolved in it.

With a little TLC and a sprinkle of good luck, you can nip this winter’s cold in the bud.

Do you have any home remedies you’d like to share? 

Post them and help a sister out!

For the Fast, Temporary Relief of….Everything??

Posted: 1271 days ago in Health

fastreliefI’m a big believer that whoever designed us did a pretty good job. 

So if we inhale a bacteria, our bodies actually surround it with mucous and cough it out.  Pretty cool, huh? But our office and classmates get annoyed if we keep coughing, so we take a cough suppressant. That makes us socially more “acceptable”, but it also keeps the bacteria in there longer.

Does that make any sense at all?

And why anyone would take an anti-diarrheal is beyond me. There is something that your body wants OUT, and we take a medicine to keep it IN. Huh? I mean, I understand that no one likes to sit on the toilet for a good portion of their day, but really people, out is better than in, especially in matters of intestinal troubles!

Don’t even get me started on fevers.

Now – if you have a little one 6 months or younger, ignore this next one and take him or her to the doctor – immediately. Otherwise, chew on this.

A fever is your body’s way of killing a germ that has invaded. If a germ can live and reproduce happily at 98.6, your body raises its temperature higher than that to kill it. But fevers can be uncomfortable and annoying, so at the first sign of one we run to the ibuprofen or Tylenol to bring our temperature back to normal.

That’s is just silly, not to mention counterproductive!

So when you are feeing unwell, think about how you can work WITH your body’s natural defenses instead of AGAINST them. And don’t forget  the great majority of the over-the-counter medicines are for the “fast temporary relief of [fill in the blank].” 

SURPRISE!!! They’re not at all curative.  

Additionally, they have a whole host of side effects (some of them quite serious) that can be way worse than the symptom you are trying to get rid of. The moral of this story?  If you ‘over-do’ your life and get sick in the process, try under-doing it for a few days to help your body rebound.  That means stay home, eat soup and go back to bed.

Most of the time, our bodies need zero help to heal  only zero interference.

Stew on that one for a while.

Oh, Crap.

Posted: 1283 days ago in Health

poopMy friend Kelly’s son (who was three when he said this, mind you) said this one day;

“taking a poop is like a little piece of heaven.”

I just so happen to agree with him. Don’t you?

Poop is funny stuff.  Everyone produces it, and most of us eliminate it every day, yet we continue to be disgusted by it.  (Note to my husband: Everyone except me, honey. I truly do not poop, and everything coming out of my body does indeed smell like Jo Malone perfume). 

Ok, where was I?

Oh, yeah – Defecation, a.k.a. the medical word for poop – is one of the ways our body gets rid of waste. What your poop looks like can tell you several things about your health. Stools should be semi-firm and well-formed, and they should sink (typically). If they are loose and liquidy, or hard and pebbly, then something is off. Aside from poop, did you know that 70-80% of your immune system lives in your gut? There is a LOT more going on in your intestines than the poop factory it would have you believe!

Many things affect our gut health. Taking antibiotics is a decent way to wipe out bad bacteria in our bodies, but they are equal-opportunity destroyers.  Along with the bad guys, they also tend to wipe out the good bacteria that is necessary for a healthy intestinal tract. You may notice that after taking antibiotics, you are more prone to diarrhea or constipation.

And guess what?  Even if you don’t take antibiotics, but eat conventionally grown beef or poultry or farm-raised fish, chances are good that they’ve have antibiotics that are now affecting YOU.

Fortunately, for many of us, there is a relatively easy way to move towards restoring the balance of good bacteria in the gut: Probiotic therapy. Probiotics are an over-the-counter supplement that can help to ‘re-plant’ the good bacteria in our intestine. You’ve heard the yogurt commercials promising the same thing, right? Yogurt does have the good bacterial cultures that our bodies need, but supplements have significantly more potency and none of the sugar that many of those yogurts tend to have.

I don’t take a lot of vitamins regularly, but if things are a little off in the #2 department, I add some probiotics to get my plumbing back on track.  For more on this, check out, Harvard Health – The health benefits of taking probiotics.

Posture Perfect

Posted: 1288 days ago in Health

perfectposture“Stand up straight! Stop slouching!”

How many times did your parents, and teachers say this to you while you were growing up?

Well, they had good reason to be concerned. Posture is a term for how we hold the frame of our body. Good posture not only looks better, it feels better. At the same time, structure does affect function, so if you have schlumpy posture, it is quite likely having a negative effect on your health. For example, bad posture can cause certain muscles to tighten up while others shorten, leading us to favor one side of the body over the other. Since the body is meant to carry weight equally, behaviors like this that go unchecked may cause deterioration of the joints on the favored side.

To give yourself the best possible posture your body is capable of, try this experiment:

  1. Sit in a chair looking forward into a mirror.
  2. Now, imagine that someone is pulling a string from the top of your head, straight up.
  3. You should find that from the front, your nose lines up with your belly button.
  4. Your ears, shoulders and hips should also be level (this part is crucial).
  5. And from the side, there should be a straight line that goes through your ear, shoulder, hip and ankle.

Many of us will have some deviations from that norm, either because of poor habits, injuries or genetics. That’s when we need the help of a chiropractor in addition to exercise and lifestyle changes. Trust me, this is a preferable option to surgery due to those deteriorating joints I mentioned.

Once you know what good posture looks and feels like, you can – and please, SHOULD – take measures to minimize poor postures and correct for habits that contribute to poor posture. This applies to times when you’re both standing and sitting.

Do you often text? How about that day job, do you spend hours hunching over a laptop? Do you carry a 20 lb. baby, briefcase, or purse day-after-day-after-day? No wonder we all hurt! These types of things can put some serious wear-and-tear on our bodies.

So your homework for today is to stand in front of a mirror, and pull your body up tall, in all of its glory. I recommend that you have someone take a picture of you in your normal, relaxed posture from the front and side. Then, have them take another set of pictures after you pull that imaginary string up.

See how different that looks and feels? Now you know why your parents and teachers nagged you so much.

Coughs and Sneezes, Sniffles and Wheezes

Posted: 1296 days ago in Health

sickieIt’s cold and flu season.

What’s up with that? Why do we tend to get sicker during the colder months?

I’ve got a few of my own theories about that, and some common-sense remedies to keep you firing on all cylinders this winter.


Problema Uno:  

We get less sunlight – and therefore less Vitamin D than during the summer months.  Vitamin D has been found to have a significant effect on immune function, and since we tend to OD on sunscreen, we have few, if any, stores to get us through the winter.

Solution: Supplement with Vitamin D.  Some reliable sources say that unless we supplement, we are assumed to be deficient.


Problema Dos:  

We spend much more time indoors, breathing recycled/dry air. This dries out our mucous membranes making them more vulnerable and less effective at catching and expelling airborne disease.

Solution: Get fresh air as much as possible. Crack a window even on a cold winter’s day, heating bills be damned.  My German mother used to bundle us up until only our eyes and nose were exposed, and park us outside in the sun at every opportunity.


Problema Tres:
  

Sleep deprivation. We are hard-wired to sleep when it’s dark, but we tend to just fight through that all winter long. Fatigue wears a body down and increases its susceptibility to all disease.

Solution: Tired? Sleep! Don’t power through it, day after day, using sugar and caffeine to psych your body out.

The best defense is a great offense!  A defense paired with great nutrition, exercise, stress management, and a little attention to your parts and pieces through chiropractic, massage or acupuncture, etc. – and you can expect greater levels of health and fewer sick days this winter.

Oh – and don’t forget to wash your hands a LOT!

Baby Got Back

Posted: 1331 days ago in Wellness

BABYGOTBACKWe are a society of flexion.  

Flexors = the muscles in the front of your body. A.k.a., the muscles everyone loves to work. It’s sexy to have defined abs, so we crunch and plank till we puke.

Most everything we do on a day-to-day basis (sitting, driving, watching TV, etc.) also puts our bodies into a forward-flexed position. This constant flexion creates weak back muscles and a huge imbalance, not to mention schlumpy-looking posture.

To stay healthy and avoid looking like a question mark as you age, you must counteract all of the flexion in your life with extension.  

What does that look like? You’ll need to strengthen your extensor muscles – essentially the muscles on the back of your body – to keep you sitting and standing nice and tall.  Additionally, you’ll need to stretch your flexors.

There are a bunch of ways to practice extension, all the way from beginner to experienced. For example, imagine a backbend (the kind you used to do when you were little), that’s the perfect way to stretch your flexors. So, if you are an experienced yogi or gymnast, go for it!

If you’re a beginner, don’t panic, I have exercises for you too.

Here are my favorite stretches and strengtheners to keep you balanced and healthy:

yogaposesJust being conscious of something is often all that we need to address it. So the next time you’re working out, or even if you’ve just been sitting at your desk for more than an hour, remember to stretch your front AND strengthen your back.  

Your 80-year-old self will thank you for it!