Here are three very easy things you can do to stay healthy for the holidays
1.Take Vit. D, 2,000 I.U. at the very least. Sure, your skin makes Vitamin D but almost no one makes enough of it. The darker your skin is, the melanocytes you have. The more melanocytes you have, the more Vitamin D you are making but in the winter, there is just not enough sun to make enough. In fact, even in the summer most people do not make enough. Vitamin D is extremely important to your immune system and it encourages the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, which then build bone.
Data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), USA found that 9% (7.6 million) of children across the USA, was vitamin D deficient (defined as less than 15 ng/mL of blood), while another 61 percent, or 50.8 million, was vitamin D insufficient 15 to 29 ng/mL
2. If you feel sick, Gargle with salt water. Salt kills over 50% of the world’ bacteria because they can’t live in a salt environment. It also exfoliates the throat and helps to clear all of the mucous out of it.Just like you exfoliate the outside of your skin with scrubs, the inside needs some scrubbing too!
3. Take a probiotic that IS NOT IN YOGURT. Yogurt is a mucous-producer and it is a great environment for bacteria, both good and bad. It also stuffs your sinuses up. You want to take acidophilus that is not in dairy products.
Many people suffer from something called seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD, this time of year. Your body wants to sleep more and do less when there is less natural light. Many people also get depressed from the lack of light. You release more melatonin, which is a hormone that puts you to sleep. After summer we lose approximately one minute of light every day until December 21. On that day, we will start to gain approximately one minute of light each day until the summer solstice, Friday June 21. Until then, it is possible to make yourself feel better from the winter blues. Here’s how:
1. Get a happy light! Otherwise known as a full-spectrum light bulb, these lights act as a sunshine stimulator. There are many different full spectrum lights- some that can easily replace a light bulb in your home and others are full units that can be installed into your home to simulate actual lighting. Verilux makes some great full-spectrum lights but you can literally google “Happy light” and hundreds of options from prices of $20.00 to $5,000.00 will present themselves. More expensive isn’t necessarily better.
2. Exercise three times a week, for twenty minutes at a time. This stimulates endorphin production and release. Endorphins actually have an inverse relationship with melatonin, waking you up. The more endorphins you have, the easier it will be for you to combat SAD.
3. Eat foods that are in season. Each food is designed to help give you the proper balance of nutrients and minerals for adjusting to the weather patterns. Fall squashes and pumpkins actually have components that help your body adapt to the winter. Butternut squash soup is one of my favorites. In fact, here is my favorite recipe.
2 large butternut squash (about 4 1/2 lbs.) or 4 lbs. peeled and cubed butternut squash
2 medium onions
3 cloves garlic (optional)
3 Tbsp. butter or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt plus more to taste
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Halve, seed, peel, and cube the butternut squash. Set aside.
Halve, peel, and chop the onion. Mince the garlic, if you like.
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the butter or oil and the chopped onion. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the squash and the broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer small batches to a blender. Hold a kitchen towel over the top (to prevent burns) and whirl until completely and utterly smooth, 2 to 3 minutes per batch.
Return the soup to the pot and add more salt to taste.
I went out to the OTC to learn and see what the world’s best had to offer in terms of treatment. I wanted to see the best of best athletes and feel their energy and their general vibe while they get ready to compete. In my journey, I learned something much greater.
It all started with a sweet girl with flaming red hair. She had had eight surgeries, lost her dad to cancer, got into an accident, broke up with her significant other, all in the months leading up to the Olympics.
What did she do?
She competed in the Olympics and almost medaled. I met her 9 weeks after her 9th surgery. It was a particularly nasty surgery and extremely painful both surgically and for recovery. She has been in pain every day for the past nine weeks and this is her second surgery of this type. And yet, she has this radiant smile and loves people and fights to get back into her sport. Of course, she couldn’t pick a safe sport like archery or curling. She chose skeleton.
I never really knew much about skeleton until I met her. I have now come to learn that you are on your stomach, flying forward, head first, trying your best to hold your head up to see what is coming. It is scary and the athletes have to overcome that fear with every practice and every competition. When I was treating my new red headed friend, she didn’t really like the terms face up or face down or on your back or on your stomach. She prefers to have everything in her life as a positive. She said when I want her on her back, say luge and when I want her on her stomach, say skeleton. I agreed without giving it much thought at the time.
What I see now is that even though both sports are extremely dangerous and you really never know what is coming, the only thing you can do in life is to hold your head up. Even when you crash, you can recover and it is time to once again hold your head up and see what is flying at you from around the bend.
Until recently, inflammation was associated with health conditions such as arthritis, sore joints, and broken bones. New research is showing that the effects of inflammation are far more wide spread. Research is showing inflammation may be one of the key contributors to diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Preliminary research suggests that diet can help reduce inflammation within our bodies, lowering our risk for these disease processes. As chiropractors, we are always looking for ways to prevent disease. As you continue to read, you will see how choosing the right foods can stop inflammation.
What foods will help me reduce inflammation?
Veggies are a fantastic way to stop inflammation. Vegetables are packed with nutrients and phytochemicals that can help fight inflammation and even stop it from forming in the first place. Luckily, there are tons of options when it comes to veggies. Green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, are a great start. If you really cannot stand those green vegetables or are looking to add more green to your diet, Chlorella and Spirulina are two great ways to supplement. If you are looking for more flavor, garlic and onions have great anti-inflammatory benefits. If you crave a starch, choose a sweet potato over a white potato.
Not all fruits are created equal when it comes to anti-inflammatory foods. Researchers are not quite sure of why, but fruits such as bananas and mangoes, which are rich in nutrients, are not recommended when trying to reduce inflammation. However, there are many options you can reach for in the fruit aisle. Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries all contain anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. If you are not a berry person, try pink grapefruit, cantaloupe or apples as part of your daily regimen.
We are not suggesting loading up on breads and pasta. When it comes to food, the less processing the food goes through, the better it is. So when we discuss whole grains, we are talking brown rice and bulgur wheat. These healthier options can help lower that unwanted inflammation.
Legumes & Nuts:
If you are looking for protein but want to avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as red meats, some great alternatives are soybeans, lentils, and kidney beans. Nuts such as almonds and walnuts are loaded with essential fatty acids that reduce unwanted inflammation.
Curry, turmeric, and ginger are great ways to spice up your anti-inflammatory diet. They all have proved to have anti-inflammatory benefits.
The number one anti-inflammatory food is fish. Fish are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids which stop inflammatory producing proteins, known as cytokines. When you are selecting your fish, look for wild caught fish instead of the popular farm raised fish. Some great options are salmon, halibut, sardines, herring, and rainbow trout. Supplementing your diet with fish oil can also give you the Omega 3 fatty acid benefits you may be looking for. Be careful when selecting your supplements. Always look for whole food supplements. If you have questions ask Dr. Veera or Dr. John for brands they recommend.
We have all heard of red wine’s anti-inflammatory benefits, but remember this is only red wine in moderation. No more than one to two glasses daily. Non-alcoholic inflammation busters include tea, especially green, white, or herbal, and pure fruit and vegetable juices.
Remember diet is not a fad, but rather a lifestyle.
So look for the lifestyle that best fits you and your family. There are great resources out there to help you on your journey. A couple of lifestyle diets include: The Paleo Diet, The Mediterranean Diet and the Okinawan Diet. Dr. Veera and Dr. John also want to remind you that a healthy body weight and regular exercise are also key factors in preventing excessive inflammation.
Many of our daily activities can affect our bodies and our spines in ways we do not even realize. The way you stand, the way you sleep, and even the way you talk on your phone can wreak havoc on your spine. Here are the top two bad habits that Dr. Veera Gupta and Dr. John Volpe see with their patients.
Number One: Talking and texting on your cell phone. Do you notice how you position your neck and upper body when you talk or text on the phone? Do you kink your neck to one side, or hunch over? Spending hours with your neck kinked is hard on your body. Basically, your skull sits on top of the atlas bone in your neck in these little grooves. If your head is kinked over, it is easy for your top bone to roll up your skull and get out of alignment with the rest of your spine. In chiropractic, that’s called a subluxation and it can cause headaches, neck pain, dizziness, insomnia, trigeminal neuralgia, Bell’s Palsy, and more. How can you fix this? BE MINDFUL. If you are on the phone a lot, make sure to talk on speakerphone, wear headphones, or use a hands-free device.
Number Two: Sleeping on your stomach. This is the absolute worst sleeping position. Your neck is going one way and your back is going the other way, so it puts a tremendous amount of tension on your spine. It also causes rotation in your neck, and over time these connective tissues become damaged so your neck will be “stuck” in that position.
So what is the best sleeping position? Ideally, you should sleep on your back with a gentle curve in your neck. This is way they make pillows with a slope in them, and those work great is you can sleep and be still. Unfortunately most people aren’t still, so they move around and eventually put their neck in bad position.
Dr. Veera and Dr. John recommend sleeping on your side with a nice feather pillow so your head is evenly balanced between your shoulders. If your neck moves up or down a little, that’s okay. It’s better than the alternative. The key thing is you want to make sure that you are not sleeping with your spine and neck twisted for hours and hours.
Your posture is an indication of your spine and joint health. Imbalanced posture can often lead to painful conditions. Dr. John and Dr. Veera encourage you to maintain good posture before you are in pain.
Poor posture is a leading cause of vertebral subluxations (misalignment of the spine). Vertebral subluxations cause a multitude of health problems, such as carpal tunnel, headaches, backaches, colic in infants, and ear infections. Vertebral subluxations can be corrected by chiropractic adjustments. Poor posture can also damage soft tissue and cause wear-and-tear on your joints. Good posture on the other hand, can strengthen the skeletal system. The damage caused by poor posture can also cause pain in other parts of your body, such as your knees.
Common Posture Problems
“Military Neck” occurs when the bones in your neck are too straight. It causes a loss in your range of motion, and can result in forward head posture where your neck slants forward.
“Humpback” occurs when the curvature of your spine is abnormal. Exaggerations of normal thoracic (chest) curvature can put you at an increased risk of chronic respiratory failure. Even slight curves or humpbacks can wreak havoc on the spine and your overall health.
“Swayback”, or lordosis, is an abnormal forward curvature of the spine that creates a “shelf” appearance over the buttocks. It is associated with poor posture, osteoarthritis, neuromuscular problems, back surgery, and hip disorders.
“Flatback” syndrome is often congenital and is associated with adult degenerative scoliosis. It can also be caused by surgical fusion of the spine. With flatback syndrome, vertebral discs in the lower spine are pushed outward. This reduces the natural curve of the back and makes is appear flat.
Reading with your head jutting forward strains your upper back, shoulders, and neck. Over time, this leads to a straightening of your spine’s natural curve. This can dramatically increase your head and neck pain. Instead, keep your head aligned with your shoulders and keep the middle of your back fairly straight. Also, keep your feet flat on the floor and choose a chair that supports your back. Take stretch breaks and drink plenty of water.
For good posture, stand with your weight evenly distributed but do not lock your knees. If you are standing for an extended period of time, make sure to rest often and stand on a mat if possible.
While walking, start out straight and tall. Leaning forward or arching your back strains your muscles and spine. Too long of a stride can cause your body to lean back and put strain on your lumbar region.
Obese patients are at a disadvantage when it comes to posture. Excess weight pulls you forward and misaligns your spine, compromising vertebrae in your lower back.
Check Your Posture
Try to make good posture a priority. Ask Dr. Veera and Dr. John to teach you a simple posture check that you can perform. Practicing this posture check once a week will allow you to keep tabs on your posture and the alignment of your spine before it becomes a problem.
These days it’s so easy to have bad posture. From tablets and cell phone where your head is bent forward, to lazy boys that don’t give you back support, and shoes that don’t support the arches of your feet it’s easy to develop neck pain, lower back pain, and rounded shoulders. If your posture is bad, don’t despair! With some mindfulness and some time, you can make it better. Here are some helpful tips for improving your posture:
1. Try to keep the muscles of your stomach nice and tight. Imagine “sucking in” your stomach all day and you’ll tighten up your core. Working with your back muscles and your core is what allows you to stand up straight.
2. When you’re sitting in a chair, make sure to use the back rest. That gives your back muscles the proper support they need to stay strong.
3. Imagine there is a string attached to the very top of your head pulling you straight up towards the sky. If you can focus on that string pulling you up you’ll have less of a tendency to stick your head out or hunch your shoulders.
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! All changes are about starting small and being consistent.