backpacks

Backpacks – Are They Causing Back Pain In Children?

Are backpacks a potential reason children are having so much back pain?  Recent evidence suggests this may be the case.  It is also a reasonable assumption from a bio-mechanical perspective.  After all, a child wearing a backpack is essentially adding 10, 20, maybe even 30% of their body weight to their spine.  So, could this be the cause of their pain, are there any long term effects, and how can we solve this problem?

How do backpacksbackpacks contribute to pain?

Just like blood pressure and body temperature, there’s a range of acceptable and unacceptable for spinal alignment.  As you move farther away from this range of normal, you may develop a number of secondary conditions, or symptoms.  When a child adds a substantial amount of weight to their spine, it changes this normal alignment.  A recent study found that backpacks change 2 key spinal measurements.

  1. Vertebral Discs – Researchers used MRI and determined that increased weight compresses the discs. These discs are important because they act as a cushion between spinal bones.
  2. Spinal Curve – The same researchers found that backpacks increase the curvature of the lower spine beyond normal. When this happens, it shifts where the load is placed upon the spine.

Both of these contribute to pain.  The reason being, it puts abnormal strain on your discs and changes the normal curve.  When this happens, your muscles and ligaments need to compensate to absorb the abnormal load.  Prolonged strain will cause your muscles to tighten up and become irritated.  This can lead to trigger points and other painful conditions.

Are there any potential long term effects?

I am not sure there is any literature on the long term effects currently.  However, have you ever heard the expression, “as the twig bends so grows the tree?”  Essentially, the phrase references the fact that things occurring early in life can affect you later on.  From this perspective, things that cause abnormal spinal alignment now may propagate changes down the road.

For example, what happens if you start compressing discs at an early age?  Is it possible the ligaments and bones may start to wear down earlier than they should?  The same idea can be applied to abnormal spinal alignment.  When you are not within a normal range of spinal alignment, stress is placed on areas of the spine it shouldn’t be.  This stress requires your body to compensate and may contribute to future degeneration.

Now, I am not saying that backpacks undoubtedly lead to future complications.  I am not aware of any literature where researchers show the long term effects of back page use.  However, from a mechanical standpoint, it doesn’t seem out of the question to suggest it could lead to future problems.  If this is so, isn’t it better to address it early on?

What can we do?

Back pack use is different for adults versus children.  The reason being, the addition of 20 pounds to a 160-pound adult is different than adding 20 pounds to an 80-pound child.  For that reason, growing children need a few strategies to spare their back.  According to this article, children should:

  • Keep the weight of the backpack under 10% of the child’s weight
  • Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back. When heavy items are closer to the body, it places less stress on the spine, muscles, etc.  Need to experience this yourself?  Hold a 20-pound dumbbell next to your chest.  Now, straighten your arm and hold the weight out.  You will experience the difference.
  • Make sure your child is using both straps of the backpack, rather than slinging one over the shoulder. This will help create more symmetrical distribution of the weight.
  • If the backpack is too heavy regularly, consider a backpack with wheels.

There are probably many more strategies available and a quick search on Google will certainly help you out.

I grew up using a backpack – most of us did.  Who would have thought we may be hurting ourselves?  With an epidemic of neck and back pain on the rise in the United States, we need to evaluate every possible contributor.  It appears reasonable that backpacks may participate in back pain and could play a role in future complications of the spine.  Fortunately, there appear to be strategies available to less the burden of education on our spines.  You only get one – let’s take care of it.

inflammation

Why Does Chronic Inflammation Cause Pain?

Before you experience pain, your nerves need to transmit an unpleasant experience to your brain.  This is done by relaying electric signals over multiple nerves.  The first nerve receives the painful stimulus and sends an electric signal to your spinal cord.  From there, your spinal cord relays the message to a part of your brain called the thalamus.  Nerves from the thalamus then inform a part of your brain, called the Limbic system, that something problematic is going on.  Finally, you experience the sensation of pain!  As you can see, pain doesn’t occur until the electric signal gets to the brain – which means it can be altered along the way.  What might alter the electric signals?  One enormous factor is chronic inflammation.

 

How Does Chronic Inflammation Affect Pain?inflammation

There are receptors on your nerves that carry pain messages.  These receptors, known as nociceptors, have to reach a certain threshold before they dispatch a message to the brain.  It is like an overflowing cup of water.  At first, water begins to build up in the bottom of the cup.  Progressively, the level moves up and when it finally reaches the top, it will spill over.  Your pain receptors work like the overflowing water from a glass.  Everything that happens before the cup fills does not matter.  However, after it reaches a certain level, a message is created that tells your brain you are in pain.

If we have a large 24-ounce cup, we are in luck.  It takes longer for the water to spill over and for us to experience pain.  However, what happens if this 24-ounce glass shrinks to 12 ounces?  You will experience pain more frequently, and to a greater level.  Chronic inflammation essentially shrinks your cup – or more accurately, lowers the threshold your nerves require to send a pain message to the brain.  Therefore, chronic inflammation has a role in producing pain.

 

How Does Chronic Inflammation Lower the Threshold?

The nerves in your body that conduct pain have receptors on them as I mentioned previously.  These receptors respond to inflammatory mediators.  Some examples you may be familiar with are prostaglandins.  When you injure tissue in your body, inflammatory mediators are released and bind to the receptors on your nerves.  This causes a sequence of events where electric signals travel to your brain and you experience pain.  Now, what happens if you constantly have inflammation in your body?  It will lower the threshold required to cause pain.  When this happens, regular movements that should not cause discomfort will!  They basically “preload” your nerves.  So, what causes chronic inflammation then?

 

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

Diet plays a huge role in chronic inflammation.  Humans are genetically adapted to eat predominantly vegetables, fruits, nuts, and animals that also eat vegetation.  Our modern diet tends to revolve around grains, animals that eat grains, refined starches, soda, and engineered foods!  Our current food supply promotes chronic inflammation because:

  • Omega 6 – Modern foods are high in Omega 6, which is pro-inflammatory. Ideally, we want a 1:1 ratio of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fats (anti-inflammatory).  A diet is pro-inflammatory if it contains 4 times the omega 6 relative to omega 3.  The typical American diet contains 20-30 times more omega 6 fats, well above 4:1 ratio!
  • Potassium – Most Americans do not get enough potassium. Low potassium results in decreased glucose usage, free radical release, acidic body pH.
  • Magnesium – Low levels of magnesium increase blood substance P levels. Substance P is inflammatory.
  • Phytonutrients – High in compounds that counter free radicals in our diet.

As you can see, our choices at dinner, lunch, and breakfast have profound consequences on our body.  Do you eat lucky charms in the morning?  It may contribute to your back pain.  Review the charts provided below for more information.

 

What can we do?

For one, we need to make healthier decisions when it comes to what we eat.  Unfortunately, if it comes pre-packaged or contains wheat, it is probably pro-inflammatory.  One of the worst offenders are refined carbohydrates.  As bad as they are, it is estimated that 36% of an American’s energy intake from food comes from refined carbs!  We want to replace pro-inflammatory foods with anti-inflammation foods.  For some examples, review the charts listed.

You can also supplement your diet with ginger, turmeric, and fish oil.  Fish oil is great because it is a substantial source of omega 3 fatty acids.  This helps counterbalance the abundance of omega 6 fatty acids in the American diet.  It also helps slow the destruction of your joints.  Inflammatory mediators actually stop the cells in your body from fixing the cartilage in your joints!

 

As you can now see, inflammation has a large role in many body functions – even pain.  A little bit of inflammation is a good thing.  Your body requires it to heal.  A chronic inflammatory response, however, is bad and progressively wrecks your entire body.  We need to change the way we eat and supplement appropriately to counter this problem.  Stay tuned for next week’s blog on the same topic when I discuss how it is involved in many chronic diseases!

chart anti inflaminflammation

 

 

migraine

Migraine Headaches – Is There Finally A Cause?

Migraine headaches are a debilitating condition that affect up to 20% of the population, per Harvard Medical School. They feature:

  • throbbing head pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • prolonged periods of exhaustion

Most migraines last 4-12 hours, although they can cripple some for much longer! Can you imagine losing a whole day because of a headache and nausea when you need to watch your child or work on a project? In addition, migraine headaches are responsible for between $5.6 and $17.2 billion annually in lost work productivity, hospital bills, medications and more! These statistics are the reason scientists conduct so much research on migraines. So, what do we know about this debilitating condition?

What causes a migraine headache?

Despite years of research, scientists do not know exactly why migraines occur. However, there does seem to be a consensus on what contributes to the pain aspect of a migraine. Scientists believe that swelling of blood vessels and irritation of nerves that surround the brain are responsible for the discomfort people experience. However, this isn’t necessarily the direct cause of the problem. Rather, this is secondary to an initiating event. What might be the underlying cause then? We need to evaluate what might irritate the nerves around the brain or cause blood vessels to swell in order to answer this.

What might irritate the nerves of the brain and cause blood vessels to swell?

migraine

Harvard Medical School Image

One of the main contributing factors appears to be a misalignment of the top bone of your spine – the atlas. If you review the image to the right from Harvard Medical School, you will see that an abnormally aligned spinal bone can pressure blood vessels and irritate nerves. How does this happen? There are a lot of blood vessels and nerves in the area of your atlas bone (image 2 below). If, for example, the bone gets stuck in a rotated position, it will disfigure the nerves and kink the blood vessels. The issue is magnified because the nerves and blood vessels interact with each other.

What do the nerves and blood vessels do?

 

  • Nerves – The nerves in your upper neck, and throughout your body, control the diameter of blood vessels. Your nerves are like the electric wiring in your house, and are susceptible to damage. If there is an obstruction in the electric system of your house, your lights may flicker or your outlets may not work. If a nerve in your body is disfigured, it may send altered electric messages to your blood vessels. This will affect the size of the blood vessel diameter. Imagine trying to water your entire garden through a straw rather than a normal size garden hose. The change in diameter adds to the difficulty of the job.

    Migraine

    Blood vessels and nerves in upper neck

  • Blood vessels – There are many blood vessels in your upper neck as well. They can become kinked by an abnormal spinal bone position. When this happens, blood going to and from the brain may slow. If the circulation to your brain is affected, the vessels in your brain are forced to expand. They do this in an attempt to allow more blood flow in – which your brain constantly needs. This can contribute to the terrible pain experienced with a migraine headache!

As you can see, when the nerves and blood vessels are disfigured, it creates a situation where the problem becomes exponentially worse. This is because the nerves alter the blood vessel size in addition to the direct “kinking” of your vessels as a result of the misaligned bone! This is a compounding problem.

What are the options for care?

According to the Mayo Clinic, treatment options include:

  • Pain relieving medication
  • Preventative medication
  • Alternative therapy

Medication may be effective, but it does not address a potential underlying cause. Rather, it acts more like a bandaid. A better solution may be to address any structural abnormalities of the spine.

Who treats structural abnormalities of the spine?

One profession that addresses structural issues of the body are surgeons. The procedure tends to focus on decompression of the stressed area. However, their methods are invasive and are a better option after conservative treatment. Who conservatively addresses structural issues of the spine? Chiropractors that focus on structural correction of the spine address structural problems. Through a custom plan of care dependent on objective exam findings, many cases of abnormal alignment resolve.

In conclusion, migraines are a huge headache for a large percentage of the American population. They can debilitate an individual for hours on end, and may cost the public close to $20 billion annually. We don’t know the direct cause yet, but it seems to involve irritated nerves and altered blood vessels in the upper neck. Interestingly, structural abnormalities of the spine are capable of affecting both. Could this be a major contributor to migraines? Further research is necessary, but it is a promising lead.

heart

How Does Your Heart Know To Beat?

Do you ever wonder – why does my heart beat non-stop, all day, without me thinking about it?  You are not alone.  Your body is a complex mesh of parts intertwined with electric wiring, also known as your nervous system.  Your nervous system features your brain, spinal cord and nerves.  Together, they form the computer network that controls every aspect of your body.  Naturally, this means your nerves influence your heart.  Does this mean your nerves are the reason it knows to beat all day then?

What tells your heart to beat?heart

To answer this question, we need to review a little anatomy and physiology.  Your heart beats at a rate determined by its own electric system.  A node, known as the SA node, starts the electric reaction when an influx of calcium starts a chain of events.  The electric signal travels throughout the cardiac muscle causing them to contract and pump blood to your lungs and body.  It is similar to how Christmas lights work.  After you hang your lights around the house, you need to plug them in to an outlet for your decorations to turn on.  The electric impulse travels from your outlet to all of your light bulbs through the cord that connects them.  That is similar to what happens during a cardiac contraction!

How does the nervous system influence your heart?

Your heart beats at a rate determined by the SA node, a part of the cardiac electric system.  If this is so, why does it need outside help from your nervous system then?  The rate changes based on what you are doing.  Do you jog or go to the gym?  If you do, you may notice that your heart speeds up.  This is because your muscles need more blood and oxygen.  How does it know to speed up then?  Your brain monitors everything going on in your body, like a thermostat monitors the temperature in your house.  When it determines what is going on, it sends signals through your spinal cord and nerves to tell the heart to speed up.  Its function is incredibly important, and therefore under constant control by your central nervous system!

What would happen if there was an obstruction in your nervous system?

If there was an obstruction in the electric wiring to your heart, it would undoubtedly affect its function.  Certain conditions, like an arrhythmia, are an example of what may occur if the electric messages to your cardiac muscle are altered.  As a matter of fact, surgeons are now treating some forms of epilepsy by placing a pacemaker directly on the Vagus nerve – a nerve that is in direct contact with your heart.  One of the side effects of this procedure is that it may slow your heart rate!  This is because the electric messages to your heart are artificially altered by the pacemaker.

In summation, your heart beats all day because of the electric wiring in your body.  That is very fortunate for humans.  Can you imagine having to think about it pumping every time you needed it to work?  Thankfully, we have a system in place that does it all for us.  One that is often overlooked – your nervous system.

 

 

michael phelps

Why Do Olympic Athletes Use Chiropractic?

Do you ever wonder why so many Olympic athletes mention a chiropractor as part of their strategy for success?  The reason might not be so obvious.  Sure, chiropractors probably help many Olympic athletes with their back pain, neck pain, headaches and other issues that may occur secondary to their intense training.  However, there is a much more important reason the top athletes in the world utilize chiropractic care.  It optimizes function of the human body.

What is the difference between first and second place?olympic athlete michael phelps

When you compete against the best in the world, every millisecond counts.  For example, Michael Phelps beat Masato Sakai by .04 seconds to win the gold medal in the 200 meter butterfly event.  That is roughly the time it takes to blink!  When the difference between first and second place is so small, you need every advantage you can get.  This is the reason so many Olympic athletes utilize chiropractic care.

How does it work?

So, what are chiropractors doing to enhance human performance?  The role of a chiropractor, particularly one who focuses on structural correction of the spine, is to conservatively stabilize the spine and direct it toward normal alignment.  There is a range of normal and abnormal spinal alignment, just like there’s a range for normal and abnormal blood pressure.  As your spine moves away from normal, it transmits neurological strain to your spinal cord and nerves.  Why is this a problem?

Your spinal cord and nerves are the electric wiring of your body.  The proper operation of your body is no different than the proper operation of your house or car – it depends on electric signals.  If there are obstructions in the electric system of your body, it will not perform at its peak.  For example, imagine your brain is a satellite dish and the cells of your muscles and organs are television screens.  When the weather is beautiful outside, the image comes in crisp and clear.  Now, imagine an obstruction like a thunderstorm moves into the area.  What happens to the image on the television?  I imagine it gets a little fuzzy.  That is essentially what happens when there is an obstruction in the electric system of your body.

How does this translate to Olympic races?

What if there is an obstruction in the electric wiring that runs to Michael Phelps’ important swimming muscles?  Do you think it might affect the muscle’s performance in a way similar to how a clipped iphone wire affects the ability to power up a phone?  In order to recruit every muscle fiber for maximum power, the nerves in Michael’s body have to be able to “talk” with all of them.  If there is a blockage, he may only recruit 80% of his muscle when he needs all of it.  This could be the difference between a gold and silver medal!

 

As you now know, the difference between victory and defeat in the Olympics occurs in the blink of an eye.  Anything that obstructs the spinal cord and nerves in your body can affect its function.  One thing that alters your body’s electric wiring is abnormal spinal alignment.  Fortunately, there is a conservative way to address abnormalities of the spine.  Olympians trust chiropractors to optimize their athletic performance.  Are you ready to enhance yours?

Raw Almonds

Your Almonds Aren’t As Healthy As You Think

In recent years, almonds have become a popular snack for many health conscious Americans.  This is because they are packed with healthy fats, high in protein, and filled with vitamins and minerals your body needs to run optimally.  They are even a member of the illustrious league of superfoods.  If all of this is true, then why am I writing an article about their nutritional pitfalls?  The answer dates back to 2001.

 

What Happened In 2001?

In 2001, a salmonella outbreak in Canada was traced to an almond farm in California.  Consequently, the FDA began investigating the way almonds were manufactured.  Another outbreak occurred shortly after in 2004, unfortunately forcing the government’s intervention.  From what I understand, these particular farms were using questionable growing strategies that contributed to the salmonella outbreaks.  Rather than altering the farm’s methods, the FDA decided it was a better idea to require all American manufactured almonds be pasteurized.  Pasteurization kills any potential salmonella growth, which is definitely a good thing.  However, does this affect the nutrition composition as well?  We need to first understand the pasteurization process to answer that.

Raw Almonds

How Does Pasteurization Work?

There are four main types of pasteurization:

  1. Steam processing
  2. High heat treatment (roasting)
  3. Blanching
  4. Fumigation with propylene oxide (PPO)

The majority of almonds are pasteurized via steam processing and PPO.  Steam processing is used for pasteurizing organic almonds.  The process involves heating them up to 200 degrees for a brief period of time.  While this kills any potential bacteria, the high temperatures also destroy enzymes, vitamins, and bonds between the healthy fats.  This essentially diminishes the super hero qualities of these tasty treats.  With that being said, steamed almonds are still a much better alternative than their PPO fumigated counterparts.

 

Unfortunately, steaming requires equipment that may be too expensive for many almond farmers.  As a result, they utilize a more cost effective method to stay in business – fumigation with PPO.  Why is this problematic?  Well, the main issue is that PPO is a verified carcinogen.   The EPA declared PPO a carcinogenic chemical responsible for neurological, gastrointestinal, respiratory, immune system, and more health complications.  For this reason, it is banned in the European Union, Mexico, and Canada as a method to treat food.  It appears that consumers may need to avoid non-organic almonds in order to reduce exposure to PPO.

 

How Do You Get Raw Almonds?

What can you do if you want these nutritious nuts in their raw form?  It would appear there are two predominant methods for you to get them non-pasteurized.

  1. Buy directly from an almond farmer – Farmers can sell untreated raw almonds, in maximum lots of 100 pounds, directly to consumers from their farms or at a farmer’s market.
  2. Buy imported– Currently, imported almonds are not required to go through pasteurization.

I have personally bought almonds directly from farmers through Amazon.  It is actually a very easy process.  In addition, vendors typically advertise whether or not their stock is pasteurized.  If they are not, the price is actually comparable per pound to what you would see in a grocery store brand.  All you need to do is place the order and check your mail a few days later.  I have never had an issue with this method.  There are also international brands you may purchase, but it may be cost-prohibitive.

 

In conclusion, almonds are a great superfood in their natural form.  Unfortunately, the majority of American manufactured almonds are pasteurized by steam or PPO fumigation methods.  Consequently, this affects their nutrition content and may even subject consumers to unnecessary toxin exposure.  The benefits of raw almonds are undeniable.  It may take a little more work, but if you get them in their natural state you will reap the health benefits almonds are supposed to offer.  Eating any other form is nuts.

Bone Broth

Did You Say You Drink Bone Broth?

If you watch television, check Facebook, or use the internet, you have no doubt seen a product advertised as the next great cure for any number of ailments.  I see these things and usually chuckle.  Your body is a complex machine that requires millions of different parts to function optimally.  After all, can you build a house with just bricks or drywall?  These advertisements are making a recommendation for one piece of a massive jigsaw puzzle – not a “cure”.  While getting individual components isn’t a bad idea, doesn’t it make more sense to first utilize products that contain an abundance of nutrients?  When you do this, you can easily complement your diet with individual minerals you may struggle to get normally.  If this philosophy makes sense to you, let me introduce you to a nutrient powerhouse you may not be familiar with – bone broth.

What is bone broth?Bone Broth

Bone broth is a staple in the diets of many cultures.  Also referred to as stock, it is composed of animal parts that you cannot eat directly. This includes the bones and marrow, skin, feet, tendons and finally ligaments.  To convert it into broth, these “byproducts” boil and simmer over a period of days.  Over time, the simmering causes the release of many healthy vitamins and minerals that are stored within.  This includes:  collagen, proline, glycine, glutamine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur, and more.

Stocks and broths you find in your big box grocery store do not typically contain the same nutrient density.  The reason being, they are usually artificially flavored, full of chemicals, aren’t created from healthy animals, and frequently include MSG.  A good stock is made from grass-fed animal parts and does not include any chemical additives.

What are the benefits of bone broth?

To begin with, bone broth:

  1. Protects joints – It is one of the best sources of natural collagen. Collagen is a component of cartilage, an essential material for protecting your joints.  In addition, it also contains gelatin.  Gelatin acts like a lubricant for your joints, allowing them to slide easily without friction.
  2. Good for your gastro-intestinal tract – It appears to have a role in restoring the gut lining, combating food sensitivities, and can help promote good bacterial growth similar to a pro-biotic. Amino acids in the broth help heal the lining of your intestine, which is abused by passing food frequently.  This abuse can lead to tiny holes in the lining which may develop into a “leaky gut”.  This is problematic because a leaky gut allows food particles to more readily escape into the blood stream.  When this happens, your body may think it is a virus, bacteria, or other invader and initiate an immune response.  Could this be the reason we see so many food sensitivities?  Is it possible your body’s auto-immune responses are the result of confusion?
  3. Maintains healthy skin, nails, and hair – Collagen again has a role in the maintenance of these body parts. It helps form elastin and other compounds in the skin responsible for maintaining skin’s youthful tone, texture and appearance.  It may even reduce cellulite, since cellulite forms due to a lack of connective tissue.

There are many more potential benefits to bone broth in addition to what I listed.  When a food contains this many nutrients, it will be beneficial for your entire body.

Where can you find bone broth?

Firstly, you can make it yourself!  A high quality slow-cooker, water, and chicken bones are the beginning steps on a journey to homemade bone broth.  Don’t want to deal with a potential mess or don’t have time?  Check out google to see if there are any organic, high quality supplement stores in the area that may be able to supply you with this super food.  Organic grocery stores may work as well.  Remember, quality is important here if you want to reap all of the benefits.  If it contains MSG or added artificial flavoring – steer clear.

Bone broth seems to fly under the radar for many Americans.  I know it did for me.  This is probably because we have an excess amount of food in the states and typically don’t use the “byproducts” of animals.  However, as you just found out, these parts also provide incredible nutrient density for your body.  It can protect joints, help heal your gut, maintain youthful looking hair and nails, and much more.  Don’t wait until your body breaks down.  Give your body what it needs today.

 

 

Workout Routine

Is Your Workout Routine…Boring?

The benefits of exercise for your well-being are exponential.  It improves your heart health, helps you lose weight, increases your brain function, lowers your risk for type 2 diabetes, and provides countless more perks that can’t be listed in a single blog.  Unfortunately, half the battle with going to the gym is actually going to the gym.  Motivation can be hard to come by when you dread your stale, repetitive workout routine.  Is there an alternative that may be more motivating, will help you lose weight more efficiently, and can actually be better for your overall health?  Let me introduce you to a new concept – high intensity interval training.

Is Your Workout Routine Boring?Workout Routine

Have you ever driven to the gym, stepped out of your car, looked at the front door, gotten back in your car and returned home?  You are not alone.  Sometimes the thought of going through another monotonous workout routine is crushing.  Variety is the spice of life, and high intensity interval training (HIIT) is your oregano.  HIIT is great because it often involves circuits of revolving exercises.  Don’t want to do squats this week?  Try box jumps.  Push-ups aren’t really wetting your appetite today?  Grab some TRX bands and feel burn.  The person crafting the routine is the only limit.  This form of training is even found to be more enjoyable – with a higher rate of people continuing to exercise regularly, according to this study.  Don’t let boredom affect your health.  Try something new.

Is Your Workout Routine Burning Calories Effectively?

Are you someone who thinks the only way to lose weight is to run a marathon every other day?  While long distance running works, here is some good news for you. High intensity interval training:

 

  1. Burns as many calories in 15 minutes of training as 1 hour of jogging on a treadmill.
  2. Boosts your metabolism – this burns more calories at a faster rate.
  3. Burns calories even after you leave the gym – When participating in high intensity workouts, your body’s repair mechanisms go into hyper drive.  As a result, your body will burn calories and fat for hours after you complete your routine.

It appears that you get a lot more “bang for your buck” when you train using HIIT principles.  There are not enough hours in the day for everything that needs to get done.  For that reason, don’t you think you should maximize the time you have?  Interval training is here to help.

Does Your Workout Routine Give You The Best Health Outcomes?

Finally, this form of exercise may actually be better for your overall health when compared to other traditional varieties.  The scientific journal, Cell Metabolism, reported that healthy, inactive people had immediate measurable changes in their DNA after a brief, intense exercise routine.  Another study found that unfit, but otherwise healthy middle-aged adults were able to improve their insulin sensitivity and blood sugar retention after just 2 weeks of training.  This could help counter the type 2 diabetes epidemic running rampant in the USA.  Diabetes is an expensive, chronic disease to treat.  Essentially, investing in a HIIT routine can actually save you money in the long run.

Also, HIIT may improve your heart function more effectively than standard exercise routines in less time.  A study by Slordahl et al showed a 12% increase in left ventricle mass and 13% increase in heart contractility.  What does this mean for you?  It means the part of your heart responsible for pumping blood all the way to your fingers and toes gets stronger.  In addition, increased contractility means your heart muscle can stretch a little farther and fill with more blood than it did previously.  As a result, your heart pumps more oxygenated blood to your brain, muscles, and other organs!

 

Don’t let your boring workout routine keep you from experiencing the health benefits of exercise.  High intensity interval training may be just what you are looking for.  It can provide you with motivation, can help you lose weight more effectively than traditional routines, and will deliver unbelievable health benefits – something that should be on the top of all American’s wish lists.  After all, it is easier to stay well than to get well.

 

Additional References:

 

 

Probiotic

100 Trillion Reasons You Might Need A Probiotic

The human gut is estimated to contain 100 trillion bacteria cells, outnumbering our own cells 10 to 1.  We are a fertile breeding ground for this microscopic species.  The good news is, it can be a mutually beneficial relationship.  They perform many functions in our body that we cannot complete on our own.  They produce vitamins, block other “bad” bacteria from growing in our intestine, influence our brain, and may have many more roles according to recent research findings.  It is becoming more and more apparent that they are important for our overall health.  So, how do they help us?  When can things go wrong?  And finally, how do we maintain this mutually beneficial relationship with a probiotic?

How Do They Help us?

Everybody has a distinct and variable set of gut microbes, although a core set of microorganisms are common to all individuals.  We start developing these bacterial colonies at birth.  The composition can shift throughout life based on changes in age, diet, geographical location, intake of food supplements, and other environmental influences.  The bacteria of our gut play a role in:

  1. Digestive health
  2. The immune system
  3. Regulation of body weight
  4. Production of vitamins such as vitamin b and k
  5. Mental Health

    Probiotic

    07

  6. Autism
  7. And much more

As you can see, bacteria can affect our entire body.  What can go wrong and change our gut biology then?

When Can Things Go Wrong?

To begin with, Americans consume a large amount of antibiotics.  These antibiotics kill a lot of the bacteria in our body, including our friendly ones.  This is troublesome because the helpful bacteria consume a lot of resources necessary for anything to reproduce in our body.  They essentially hoard all the food for themselves.  When they are killed, “bad” bacteria gain access to these resources and are able to gain a foothold in our digestive tract and can take over.  This can lead to a number of poor health outcomes.

Our diet affects the bacterial environment as well.  Certain foods, such as refined carbohydrates, provide a lot of nutrition for certain types of bacteria to reproduce.  This can lead to a potential bowel overgrowth.  In addition, many Americans lack fiber in their diet.  Fiber is indigestible material that helps push food through your intestine.  It is believed that each type of bacteria has a preferred type of resource to consume.  Many helpful bacteria use fiber and if our diet is lacking – they may die off.  This is especially true in the large intestine, which is one of the last parts of our digestive tract.

How Can A Probiotic Help?

How do we maintain this mutually beneficial relationship then?  A good start is a healthy diet for bacteria.  This diet includes healthy fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi, high fiber foods like organic vegetables, and other foods containing probiotics.  Another option is to supplement with a probiotic, particularly if you just took antibacterial medications for any reason.  Probiotic supplements will help promote the growth of healthy bacteria.  They are typically a combination of beneficial bacteria known to promote well-being as well as the substrate necessary for them to flourish.

As more research comes out, the importance of bacteria within our body becomes more significant.  Medicine is evolving and we are starting to analyze our bodies in their entirety, rather than focusing on its individual parts.  It is a well-oiled machine when it has everything it needs.  Bacteria have a role in providing resources for the body.  How are your bacteria doing?

 

 

 

 

http://www.eufic.org/article/en/artid/The_role_of_gut_microorganisms_in_human_health

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/17/gut-bacteria-brain-health.aspx

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290747.php

Could Abnormal Spinal Fluid Flow Be The Cause Of Scoliosis

Could Abnormal Spinal Fluid Flow Be The Cause Of Scoliosis?

Could Abnormal Spinal Fluid Flow Be The Cause Of ScoliosisAccording to findings in a recent article, the answer to the title’s question is yes.  Does this mean it is the only mechanism in play with respect to developing a scoliosis?  My opinion is no.  There are probably other contributing factors, but this is a good start to solve a topic that has confused the medical world for decades.

Your central nervous system (which includes your brain and spinal cord) is incredibly complex.  It is the most complicated computer on the planet and is constantly controlling millions of items simultaneously.  It is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid (referred to as spinal fluid as well).  This fluid brings nutrition, removes waste, and helps cushion your brain against trauma.  Research on spinal fluid flow and its importance is starting to pour into journals.  Not only is it linked to scoliosis, but it may have a role in neurodegenerative disorders and much more.  Why am I interested in this as a structural chiropractor?  Abnormal structural shifts of your spine can alter spinal fluid flow.

The first question that needs to be answered is, what is a scoliosis?  It is a three dimensional shift of your spine away from normal spinal alignment.  You may remember having a simple screening test done as a kid while you were at school.  The reason for this is because a scoliosis tends to develop during the adolescent growth period.  Some of the causes of a scoliosis are physical defects of bone and muscle.  However, a larger percentage are diagnosed as an adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.  This is a fancy way doctors say they have no idea what caused the condition. Fortunately, this new research may shed light on that.

What Are The Consequences Of A Scoliosis?

1) Pain – When the spine is in normal alignment it shares the stress placed on it by gravity evenly among the necessary structures.  When the spine is disfigured, the stress becomes pathological and muscles, joints, and the nerves conducting pain are put under tension.  This tension contributes to the pain someone with a scoliosis may experience.

2) Abnormal Development – There is a principle known as the Hueter-Volkmann Law.  This law states that the growth plate will develop bone unevenly if there are different stresses placed upon it.  The side where there is “compression” will grow slower than the side where there is “traction” of the bone.  This can lead to uneven skeletal growth.

3) Altered Nervous System Function – As the spine shifts away from normal, neurologic degenerative strain is passed to the spinal cord and nerves (the electrical wiring of your body) via denticulate ligaments.  This strain can alter the nerves in a way similar to a clipped wire in your house.  The conduction will be altered between the brain and muscles, organs, skin and everything else the Central Nervous System controls.

There are many more consequences beyond the ones listed above.  Your spine is the foundation of your body, and when the foundation is off, problems can arise everywhere.

How do structural shifts of your spine alter spinal fluid flow?  When your spine shifts away from normal, it transmits stress via denticulate ligaments to the spinal cord and nerves as I mentioned previously.  Some of this stress can traction your brain stem, which unfortunately may pull part of your cerebellum (specific part of brain) down as well (Book reference 1 below).  The cerebellum can block the foramen magnum of your skull which will impede the spinal fluid flow leaving your brain.  This can cause a backup of spinal fluid and is frequently seen in a more extreme condition known as hydrocephalus.

In addition, when you are standing, the spinal fluid in your brain drains through the spinal venous plexus rather than the internal jugular vein.  These veins do not contain valves and are dependent on hydrostatic pressure.  When the pressure builds up below the brain, secondary to structural shifts of your spine or any other cause, the fluid cannot flow the direction it needs to exit.  This can lead to faulty spinal fluid hydrodynamics.

As you can see, altered spinal fluid flow may be implicated in a number of conditions.  It is becoming apparent that we need normal flow to function optimally.  We must now figure out what alters it.  Abnormal spinal alignment appears to be one contributing factor among a potential group.  The importance of spinal alignment is become more evident daily.  When was the last time your spine was checked?

Reference 1:  https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/365467