Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolve your New Year's Resolution Disappointments

New Year's Resolutions have been going on for ages. They've also been broken for ages. If you've struggled with making New Year's Resolutions and breaking them in the first week or sticking with them for two months then falling off, you don't need to be so hard on yourself for not doing what you planned. That just adds extra stress and more pressure to get it right next year.

If you want to get started on keeping your New Year's Resolution this year and incorporating that into your everyday life, you need to start small.

Begin with something that seems easily attainable for you. Even if it almost seems like a joke because it's so easy, start with it. When you are able to stick with one simple resolution, it makes it that much easier to make and keep bigger resolutions.

So, if you've struggled with breaking your New Year's resolutions in the past, try making your 2011 resolution something as simple as going to bed at the same time each night. Before you know it, it will be second nature to go to bed at the same time each night. Then next year you can up the ante a little bit. OR, you can even do a Mid Year's Resolution to add on top of your easily attainable New Year's Resolution.

When you succeed at even something that may seem trivial or just plain simple, you're going to feel better about yourself and you can pat yourself on the back for doing something better for you and your body. And when you feel better about yourself, you're not only going to be a happier person, you're going to be a healthier person as well.

10 More Easy New Year's Resolution Ideas:
1 - Eat one fresh fruit or vegetable wth each meal
2 - Don't go grocery shopping when hungry
3 - Park further from the door
4 - Switch to organic butter
5 - Go to bed thinking about what you're thankful for
6 - Start a family game night once a week
7 - Read a book each month
8 - Drink 8 eight ounce glasses of water per day
9 - Start taking Vitamin D supplements
10 - Go for a 30 minute walk outside 3 times per week

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Happened to the Flu Season?

Is it just me or does it seem like there's no flu season this year.  Especially when you compare all of the hype that was going on last year with the "Swine Flu" H1N1, it seems like the media forgot about it this year.  The truth is, there is always a flu season.  But, that doesn't mean that we need to get all worked up about it.

What happens every year during the winter months is that people are more prone to getting sick with the changes in weather, increase in stress, and other factors.  When people are more prone to getting sick, more people will get sick.  That's why people get the sniffles, sneezes, and coughs right around the busy holiday season.  This doesn't mean that we need to rush off to the nearest pharmacy or grocery store to get the latest flu vaccine.  (The fact of the matter is that there are dozens of flu strains out there and the flu vaccine typically vaccinates against 3, so chances are, if you were going to get the flu, you'll probably still get it anyway.)  The good news is that your body can fight off the flu better than a vaccine can anyway.

When you are able to de-stress, eat healthy, and practice proper hygiene, you won't need to get the flu vaccine, or any vaccine for that matter.  You see, you're body is a pretty smart machine.  Your body wants to be healthy and when you give it the natural, correct means, it will tend to stay healthy.  So what you can do to help your body fight off the flu or any other microbe, is to eat well, think well, and move well. 

These 3 things will keep your body in tip-top microbe fighting shape.  If you need more advice on how to do the 3 things, look through the previous bogposts, there's plenty of information there.  Also, you innately know how to do all three things, just try listening to your body and being aware of what it's telling you.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One Quick & Easy way to Improve Posture

Over the past year of being in practice, I've come to the realization that most back and neck problems can be traced back to one issue, poor posture.  Now, I know that I was NOT the steward of good posture back in the day and today it's difficult to stay on top of always having good posture.  However, I do know a few ways to help keep people lined up and sitting straight.

With the exponential increase of sedentary jobs and an overall sedentary lifestyle, people are coming in to see the chiropractor for poor posture related issues.  The fact is, it's just plain difficult to keep perfect posture for 8+ hours a day while sitting at your desk.  However, if you keep an eye on it throughout the day, it will be second nature over time to sit up straight and tall.  In fact, it should become more comfortable to have good posture.

Now I said that there is one very good way to ensure that you have better posture.  However, it doesn't always work for everyone.  With that said, if you visit The "Back" Page on Cascade Chiro's website, you will find a couple of other good pointers to follow.  Alright, so if you are going to do one thing to help with your posture at all times do this:

Pull your shoulders back like you are trying to make your shoulder blades touch while pulling your head back over your shoulders.

If you do this one easy thing whenever you notice that your posture is lacking, you should notice that your overall posture improves as well.  Try it.  It's pretty difficult to slump or curl your lowback when you're doing it.

So the next time that you find yourself with rounded shoulders, slumping, or a hunchback, just try this easy exercise and hold it as long as you can.  Over time, you should notice that it gets a lot easier and you'll start to feel better as well.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What is a "Subluxation" Anyway?

If you've been to the chiropractor in the past, hopefully you've heard the word Subluxation and hopefully the chiropractor has at least breifly explained to you what a Subluxation is.  If not, I'll fill you in. 

There's actually been A LOT of debate within the chiropractic world about what a Subluxation is and how to define it.  In fact, there are some chiropractors out there who don't even use the word Subluxation because they can't explain it or they don't want to use the term.  I am not one of those chiropractors.  Personally, I treat patients who have Subluxations by doing a chiropractic adjustment (NOT manipulation - that's a whole other can of worms).  I do this because that is what Chiropractic was founded upon way back in 1895.  To me, the whole premise of Chiropractic is based upon the Subluxation and, to do away with the term Subluxation is to do away with what Chiropractic was founded upon.  OK, enough philosophy for now.

What is a Subluxation?

Technically, the word subluxation literally means "less than a dislocation".  When you're looking at a joint, there are 2 bone surfaces touching.  When the surfaces are touching as they were meant to be, you have full function and capability.  When you have a dislocation, the surfaces are not touching whatsoever.  When you have a Subluxation, or less than a dislocation, the joint surfaces are still touching, but not like they are meant to be touching.  When this happens, you can get problems.

When it happens in the spine, the vertebrae can get stuck and cause pain, swelling, muscle tightness, loss of function, and other issues not only in that area, but if that causes the nerve in that area to become irritated, all of those symptoms can occur anywhere along the path that the nerve is going.  That's why you can have a subluxation in your neck that causes tingling in your fingertips, or a subluxation in your midback that causes heartburn, or one in your low back that causes bed wetting.  When the subluxed bone causes an irritation to the nervous system, that is when I refer to the problem as a Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC).  The VSC is just a way of defining what happens when a subluxation causes problems to the nervous system.  Now, there's a whole lot more physiology and biochemistry that goes into it, but those are the basics.

If anyone is still confused about what a Subluxation is or why chiropractors adjust subluxations, just comment and I would be happy to expound.  Like I said, it's kind of an iffy topic within the chiropractic world, but I believe it doesn't need to be.

Happy Birthday to my brother Josh!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Healthy Holiday Travels

I know I will be one of the millions of Americans traveling during the holiday season.  I also know that, unless you're in first class, airplane seats are not very comfortable and car seats are one size fits most.  That means that on long trips, these seating situations aren't the best on your spine.  Even a relatively short flight or drive can cause irritation to your spine, especially with the overly sedentary lifestyle that most Americans lead.  That being said, there are a few things that you can do while traveling this holiday season to help keep your spine and the rest of your body in tip top shape.

#1 - Get proper support.  Most cars and airplane seats have little to no lumbar support.  Even rolling up a blanket and putting in behind the small of your back will help you sit up straighter and take pressure off of your spine.

#2 - Stay hydrated.  Water keeps your cells, nerves, immune system, and the rest of your body running at full capacity.  By staying hydrated, you will be staying healthy and increasing your energy levels for a trip.  It's especially essential with the drier winter air.

#3 - Bring a healthy snack (if possible).  Instead of stopping by a gas station for some potato chips, pack some homemade trail mix, granola bars, or dried fruit to snack on.  Not only is it healthier for you, but it will keep your energy levels higher for a longer period of time than that processed stuff in bag.

#4 - Avoid staying in one position.  When you are stagnant and not moving around, that's when you get cramps, aches, pains, and other issues.  Get up and move around, stretch out, and take in some fresh air as much as possible.  If you're in a rush and can't make any pit stops, try slightly switching the angle of your seat every now and then.

#5 - Share the load.  Don't be afraid to ask for help when lugging around all of the luggage and presents.  It's a lot easier to ask for help instead of dealing with pain while you're supposed to be on vacation.

#6 - If possible, split driving responsibilities.  When you're the only one driving on a long road trip, it takes a large toll on your body as a whole.  If you're able to share driving duties, you will be giving your body and brain a much needed break so that you can recouperate for when it's your turn to drive again.

Have a Happy and Healthy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

MVAs NOT to be taken Lightly

With the recent snow/ice storm that we had earlier this week, I figured that there were quite a few fender benders in the area.  So, what better time to talk a little bit about the necessity of at least getting a chiropractic examination after a motor vehicle accident (MVA).  Being the culprit of a couple accidents and not getting any chiropractic care afterward, I know first hand the essentiality of seeking care even after a minor incident.

The reason that you should at least get a chiropractic exam after a motor vehicle accident is simple, the accident can do moderate to severe damage to your spinal column even if it was considered a minor accident.  Anytime that you get rear-ended, t-boned, or anything else, your head and neck are by far the MOST vulnerable part of your body.  They aren't restrained by a seat belt and therefore it's essentially easy to get a whiplash injury after a minor accident.

The reason that whiplash injuries need to be taken seriously is because they not only cause headaches and neck pain, they can actually damage the spinal cord itself.  When you get a whiplash, your head lurches forward and then backward again.  When this happens, you weaken and even slightly tear the muscles and ligaments attaching to your spine.  When this happens, you can actually stretch your spinal cord.  Now, you may not feel symptoms right away, but down the road a couple days, months, or even years, you could get chronic headaches, neck pain, numbness and tingling in your arms or even legs, loss of function of areas of your body, weakness, arthritis, and many other serious issues.

This is why is is of utmost importance to at least get a chiropractic consultation and exam after even minor MVAs. 

In the meantime, if you need to do some sort of self medication at home, ICE will be your best friend.  AVOID HEAT AT ALL COSTS.  By putting heat on a strained and swollen area, you will only make the problem worse.  It's just like if you were to sprain your ankle.  You will never see an athletic trainer put heat on a sprained ankle.  It's always ice.

So be careful on the roads especially with all of the holiday traveling coming up and if you do get in even a minor fender bender, at least get a chiropractor to take a look.  You'll only be doing yourself and your spine some good.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to be Health Conscious during Thanksgiving

Yes, the holiday of Thanksgiving is about getting together with friends and family and being thankful for what you are given and what you have.  But, it has also become a time to gorge on rich food and sit around to watch the big games.  It doesn't have to be that way, but it also doesn't have to change that much to make sure that you are being health conscious at Thanksgiving.  Here's some quick, helpful tips that you can use to make your Thanksgiving a little bit healthier this year.

1)  It's all about portion size.  You can still eat the same foods that you do every year, just be mindful of how much you eat at each sitting.  Just because there are 15 different samplings to try, you don't need to have a mound of food on your plate.  Instead of opting to have enough mashed potatoes to make a replica of Devil's Tower, have a couple tablespoons.  Same goes for all the other fixings.  Plus, if you don't get enough of one thing, you can have more later.

2)  Skip some ingredients.  You can still have a tasty Thanksgiving meal without some of the ingredients that are not the best for your health.  Try cutting the amount of salt by half.  You'll still get the salt you crave, but you'll be better able to actually taste the food too.  Also, try leaving the whipped cream or Cool Whip off your pumpkin pie (if it's a good pie, you won't even think twice about the added calories).  I'm sure you'll be able to think of other ways to cut a few calories here and there.

3)  Get up and move around.  During halftime of the football game, trying getting up and doing some dishes.  Or, even better, you could go outside and toss around the pigskin yourself.  You've got to burn off those extra calories somehow.

4)  Try swapping some ingredients.  Instead of the marshmallow topping for sweet potatoes, try a dash of brown sugar (or you could go a whole different route and dust them with a little black pepper, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder).  Instead of regular mashed potatoes, you could opt for pureed cauliflower.  Just steam the cauliflower until soft, puree, add a little something to make them a little more creamy (try Greek yogurt), and season to taste.

5)  Finally, be thankful.  By thinking about or even going around the table and saying what you are thankful for, you'll be having positive thoughts.  And, if you read my previous blogs, you'll remember that positive thinking goes a long way to how your body feels and the overall effectiveness and efficiency of your immune system.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Vaccines Aren't All They're Cracked Up to Be

This week I wanted to delve into the controversial realm of vaccination and immunization.  I think that the main reason that it's such a controversial topic is because we have been made to believe that vaccination is a necessary and vital part of our health.  I, however, beg to differ.

First off, let me state that I believe there is a place for some vaccines for deadly diseases such as smallpox.  But, there shouldn't even be a vaccine for a small, harmless disease such as chicken pox.

That's where our health society has gotten off track these days.  They want to vaccinate for every single microbe and virus that they can, just so we can avoid a little discomfort.  When I was a kid, I got chicken pox.  I don't remember it very much but I do remember that it was uncomfortable.  I wasn't in the hospital, I didn't need life support.  That's because chicken pox is so harmless.  In fact, my parents had me play with my older brother who had chicken pox so I could get innoculated the way that nature intended, by contracting, fighting off, and building up a natural immunity.

One reason that the chicken pox vaccine is such a bad idea (beside the fact that it's a harmless virus) is that it has been linked to an increase in a more serious condition, shingles.  Also, these people who are getting the vaccine aren't building up their immunity to the virus like they should.

With most vaccines, you get a shot.  How often, if you want to build up a natural immunity, are you going to get a shot of chicken pox or the rhinovirus (common cold)?  I would venture to say never.  That's because the majority of your immune system isn't even in your blood.

You see, your body is smart.  When you get sick, you usually inhaled or swallowed the microbe in question.  And for that reason, the majority of your bacteria and virus fighting immune system is actually in your digestive tract.  When you inhale or swallow microbes, your body has a much better opportunity to fight off those microbes because you have more capabilities to do so in your digestive tract.

Now, you may have noticed that I have only been referring to the topic as vaccination and not immunization.  This may be just semantics but, I don't call it immunization because your body is not building up a natural and full immunity to the virus.  Therefore, it is not immunization. 

My wife and I just had our first child, and after doing much research and self reflection, we decided to forgo the whole vaccination process.  The reason we decided to do so was because we believe that the risks of vaccination far outweigh the benefits.  Like I said before, since you are not getting a full immunity to the virus, you still have a good chance of contracting the disease at a later age, which is usually more serious.  Also, there are preservatives in all vaccines to make sure that they last longer.  These preservatives have been linked to serious health conditions such as Autism, Guillian-Barre syndrome, paralysis, and sometimes death.

So, once again, this is just me stating my opinion and trying to educate people about both sides of an argument.  What I want is for people to make an informed decision about their health and their children's health before jumping into doing something just because someone told you to.

Do some research.  Make an informed decision.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quick Tips to De-Stress

So, November at Cascade Chiropractic & Massage is Stress Less Month.  And, we have a few different ways to help you get rid of some of your Holiday stress that will be building up over the next few weeks.  We just opened a new Massage and Wellness Center right next door and you can get your introductory, 1-hour massage for just $25.  Also, Dr. Larry and I will be putting on a Stress Relief class on the 17th at 6pm.  OK, enough of the plugs.

My goal for this week's post to start off Stress Less Month will be to give just a few quick tips on things you can do throughout your day to help you calm down or avoid the impending stress.  So, here it goes:

#1 - Practice Belly Breathing.  When you are feeling stressed, there's no better way to get calmed down than to do some deep, relaxing breathing.  What you do is sit on a solid surface with your back straight up and down, shoulders pulled back, and head over your shoulders.  Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose making sure that you are not moving your rib cage as much as possible.  Focus on your belly going outward while you breathe in.  Then breathe out through your mouth focusing on your belly relaxing.  Do at least 10 deep, belly breaths and you should feel more relaxed.

#2 - Treat yourself to a massage.  An hour long massage is ideal so that you have enough time to let your whole body relax and let the masseuse do the work.

#3 - Focus on that for which you are thankful.  Before you go to bed each night, just mentally go through a list of all of the things in your life that you are thankful for.  You will be concentrating on that instead of all the holiday plans you need to get done.

#4 - Go for a walk outside (preferably when it's sunny).  By getting that fresh outdoor air and sunshine, you will be stimulating the parts of your brain to release feel good chemicals.

#5 - Go on a date.  Hire a babysitter, turn your phones off (or at least on silent), go to a new restaurant, and just have a nice, relaxing time with your significant other.

#6 - Delegate your tasks wisely.  You don't need to be the one who does all the planning and preparation each year.  Ask your friends and family to help you out (especially with the tasks you don't particularly like to do).

#7 - Laugh a little.  Studies have shown that just a little bit of laughing each day can raise your serotonin levels and make you feel happier.  By laughing, you can decrease your level of stress, even if it's for a short while.

Hopefully these quick tips will help you decrease the regular stress load that you experience throughout the holiday season.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to Shop the Grocery Store

I know that a lot of my posts during Weight Loss Month have been about diet, but that's because diet is one of the biggest reasons that Americans are overweight.  The American diet is centered on fast, easy, and unhealthy.  Along with avoiding fast food and making your own dinners, you need to know how to shop at the grocery store.

You see, grocery stores are smart.  They set up the junk food that tastes really good and stimulates the pleasure centers in your brain in the middle of the store and by the cashiers.  There's a reason all of the candy is sitting right next to you while you're waiting in line instead of the vegetables.  You're more likely to impulse buy a Butterfinger than broccoli.  You're also more likely to roam the middle of any store than the sides and back.  That's why, if you think about the grocery store you go to, most, if not all, of the processed, chemically enhanced, packaged "food" is in the center of the store.  That's where most of the people shop.

So, if you want one quick way to start shopping healthier, avoid the center aisles as much as possible.  Now of course, there are some very healthy necessities in the center of the store.  For example, eggs are in the center of the store I shop at.  But they are also right next to the sugar loaded, hormone filled yogurts. 

Another good rule of thumb is to try to avoid buying anything that's in a package.  Yeah it's typically faster and easier to make something in a package, but that also means that there are usually preservatives and other chemicals to help it stay "fresh".  When you prepare your own meals instead of throwing one in the microwave, you know for sure what is going into that meal and, for instance, you know that the chicken is actually going to be chicken and not chicken flavored chicken byproducts.

If you follow these 2 simple suggestions as much as you can, you will find yourself buying healthier food and preparing more homemade meals that can fit into your weight loss diet a lot easier that the stuff in the middle of the store.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Exercising Without Even Knowing It

Exercise can be a lot of different things to people.  For someone, it could be a great release of stress and tension accumulated throughout the day.  For another person, it could be their chance for some alone time.  But, for most Americans, it's just a hassle.  It's just too much work.  But it doesn't need to be that way. You can increase your exercise and activity load 10 fold by just doing your normal, daily routines a little differently.

I'm going to give you a list of some small things that you can do throughout your day that will increase your overall activity level which will increase your overall health and wellness.

#1 - Park further from the door.  When you park as close to the entrance of wherever you're going, you're robbing yourself of valuable walking time.  Yeah, it takes a little bit longer, but who doesn't have an extra 20 seconds here and there to spare.

#2 - Mow the lawn with a push mower.  I know that riding lawn mowers are faster and paying the neighbor kid $20 to mow your yard is easier, but this give you the perfect opportunity to burn some extra calories and get outside to breathe in some fresh air (not to mention save $20 every couple weeks).

#3 - Chew your food more than you're used to.  It's true that this won't do much for exercise or burning calories, but every little bit counts.  Not to mention that digestion starts in your mouth.  When you chew more thoroughly, the rest of your digestive system doesn't need to work as hard.

#4 - Add a little spice to your diet.  Cayenne pepper has been shown to have fat burning qualities.  This is typically in larger amouts, but if you add a little here and there, it won't be doing any harm.

#5 - Take the stairs.  Instead of always opting for the escalator or elevator.  Use the stairs.  Even if you work on the 37th floor, take the elevator part of the way and the stairs for the last 2 or 3 floors.

#6 - Rake the yard.  Just like # 2, you get outside, you get your body moving, and you get to enjoy the brisk autumn air.

#7 - Swap your bad-posture-inducing home desk chair for an exercise ball.  You will need to rely more on your core muscles and the other muscles in your body that don't get enough attention by sitting on an exercise ball.  If you do this at work, you will probably want to only do this for part of the day to start out.

#8 - Start a garden.  Once again, you get outside and you're getting some good movement into the joints of your spine and body.  Plus, you will be growing all kinds of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices that will be much more flavorful and healthy than what you find in the grocery store.

#9 - If you have kids, play with them!  Wrestle around, play catch, kick around a soccer ball, play dress up, and whatever else your kids want to do.  It's gets you moving around and burns a couple calories here and there.

There you go.  A little extra exercise doesn't need to be time consuming, monotonous, or too much work.  By slightly changing your daily routine and habits, you can burn off some extra calories and have fun doing it!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Detox Diet

Continuing with our Weight Loss Month theme, I figured I would talk about a healhty way to cleanse your system and even lose a few pounds along the way.  There has been a lot of talk about famous, fit celebrities and their miracle diets.  When you actually look into most of them, they are starving their bodies of essential nutrients when they go on these diets to lose weight drastically.  That is not the point of this detox diet.

The Detox Diet focuses solely on giving a cleanse to your system for a short period of time to rid your body of toxins and waste remnants from all of the junk and chemicals that are in our food, drink, and air.  If you do the diet, you may notice that you lost some pounds and there's nothing wrong with that.  Also, after the Detox Diet is complete, you will most likely feel more energized, has fewer digestive issues, have clearer skin, and clearer sinuses to name a few.  I will tell you, you NEED to consult some sort of health professional before doing this Detox Diet as it is not for everyone.

So, here it is.  3 easy steps to follow and it lasts only 1 week.  (I'm not going to lie, it's not easy and it can be downright miserable in the first step but you should feel cleaned out and energized when it's all said and done)

Step 1:  "The Fast" - On days 1 & 2 of the 7-day Detox Diet, you will not eat any solid foods.  (Sounds crazy right?)  Drink at least 8, 8 oz glasses of water during the day.  With 2 of those 8 oz glasses of water, mix in 1 Tablespoon of psyllium husk (fiber).  The purpose of not eating solids, drinking tons of water, and taking fiber is to clean out your digestive tract.

Step 2:  "The Cleanse" - On days 3 through 7, you can add in some solid foods.  Try as best you can to limit yourself to fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.  If you feel the need for some meat, stick to fresh, wild-caught fish in 4 oz servings once a day.  Also, continue with the 8, 8 oz glasses of water per day, 2 with the psyllium husk.

Step 3:  Once you've finished with step 2, you're done!  But that doesn't mean you can go to McDonald's and gorge because you've been so good for the past week.  This is the perfect opportunity to start eating a more healthy, balanced diet.  For the first few days, avoid any dairy, wheat, fatty foods, and processed foods as mush as possible and slowly add back in the foods that you eliminated during the detox.

Quick Bits of Info: 
 - It's essential to drink enough water during the detox to keep your body hydrated, especially during the fasting portion.
 - You may want to plan to start the detox during the weekend so you aren't fasting while at work which culd lead to more crabbiness toward co-workers.
 - Get plenty of rest (at least 8 hours of sleep) and don't do any strenuous exercise (limit yourself to a brisk walk) during the detox.
 - During the fasting step, you will most likely experience fatigue, irritability, and hunger.  They should subside once you start step 2.

Finally, remember to talk to a health professional before beginning the Detox Diet to make sure it's OK for you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Flip your Diet Schedule

Gone should be the days of no breakfast and enormous dinners.  But, that's just what our American lifestyle has led us to.  We're usually so rushed in the morning that it's just easier to grab a cup of coffee and breakfast bar.  Then when we get home from a long day at work, it's just nice to sit down and have a filling, large meal right?  These habits might seem correct for your schedule and and your personal apetite, but they are not good for your overall health. 

So here's the deal, since most Americans have their diet schedule all backwards, I may as well give some tips on how to turn that around.  The easiest way to remember what meal should be the biggest is as follows:

Breakfast - Eat like a King
Lunch - Eat like a Prince
Supper - Eat Like a Pauper

Now, of course this doesn't mean that you can only eat bread and butter for supper and have a 7 course meal for breakfast.  It simply means that you should get the majority of your calories for breakfast.  And it also means that you should get good calories for breakfast.  That means more protein, fruits, and vegetables.  Protein in the morning has been shown to increase energy, not only in the morning but throughout the day.  That means less of a crash at 11 am.  Some good sources of morning protein are eggs, nuts, quinoa, and lean/unprocessed meats (NOT sausage links). 

The same standards go for lunch.  More calories than supper but not as many as breakfast.  You need a pick-me-up in the midday to get you through the strenuous afternoon hours.  Sandwich rolls (meats and veggies) are a perfect way to get protein and vegetables in at lunch.  Also, a trail mix can be a perfect side dish for lunch or an afternoon snack.

Now comes the biggest difference, no more huge suppers.  The reason is that you don't need all of those calories at the end of the day.  The more calories you eat at night, the more calories will be going toward storage.  And, calories are stored as fat in our bodies.  So, one quick way to help you start to lose weight is by sticking to the Pauper Supper method.  Of course this doesn't mean that you can only eat nuts and berries for dinner, you can still have the same meal, just scale the portion sizes way down.  Try eating about 1/3 of what you would typically eat at night.  Now, if you're thinking, "I'll be way to hungry to only eat that much", you shouldn't be if you eat a large breakfast and medium sized lunch.  Plus, you'll have homemade leftovers to bring for lunch the next day.

So remember, a Breakfast fit for a King, a Prince's Lunch, and Pauper Supper.

October is Weight Loss Month at Cascade Chiropractic & Massage so all of the posts this month will focus on some type of strategy to aid you in your weight loss.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Beauty of Breastfeeding

I first want to state that I am in no way an expert on the topic, however, my wife is currently breastfeeding our first child, and to see the connection that he and my wife get from that action is truly amazing.  Anyway, with that said, I have recently been hearing quite a bit about formula and formula feeding, even people denouncing breastfeeding.  From a chiropractic and a health and wellness standpoint, breastfeeding should be your only option.

Like I said above, there is a scientific connection achieved between mother and child when breastfeeding occurs.  The skin to skin contact and suckling action somehow creates an unbreakable bond that lasts a lifetime.  There is plenty of research to back that up.  Also, breastmilk contains the EXACT correct amounts of nutrients, minerals, and immune boosting immunoglobulins that a growing baby needs.  Yes, breastmilk does make your baby healthy and help fight off all the bugs.  Furthermore, there are a plethora of scientific studies showing a positive link between breastfed babies and things such as IQ, healthy weight, attitude, etc.  Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but in the majority of cases, it's true.  Not to mention breastfeeding is FREE.  Who can turn down something that's free?

Now, this in no way means that women who do not breastfeed their children are terrible people and should be chastised for their decision.  The problem that I have is the reasoning behind the decision for some women (some, not all).  I have heard and read of a number of women who make this decision based solely on reasoning for themselves (not wanting to aid the affects of gravity, not having time, etc.).  I would just like to have those women really look at their reasoning for not breastfeeding and decide if their decision truly was for the betterment of all people involved.  Also, when you look at the health aspect of formula, it's hard to trust that formula is truly aiding in your child's health.  Most formulas are made from some sort of alternate source (cow, soy, hemp, goat).  Also, most formulas contain particles that are made in a lab somewhere.  Whether it's the "vitamins" in the formula or the immune boosting properties.  I have a hard time putting chemicals from a lab into my own body, there's no way their going into my baby's body.

However, there are reasons to not breastfeed also.  Some women are chemically incapable of producing breastmilk or are physically unable to breastfeed (mastectomy, mastitis, clogged milk ducts, etc.).  And in a lot of these cases, these women tried to breastfeed and couldn't.  Like I said above, I don't like people bashing others who prefer to breastfeed, but I also don't like people mocking those who don't just for the sake of mocking.

Once more, I just want to state my opinion on the topic.  Strictly from a health and wellness standpoint, if you are able to breastfeed, you should.  The natural vitamins, minerals, nutrients, immune boosters, and connection that your baby gets from breastmilk from the incredibly smart, precise, working-toward-wellness machine that is the mother's body will undoubtedly aid in the beginning of their long, arduous journey through life

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chiropractic and our Military

I figured that this week would be the perfect opportunity to talk a little about the essentiality of chiropractic for our nation's servicemen and servicewomen because we are offering a new benefit to all active members of the military.  If you are currently an active member of any branch of the military, you can receive chiropractic treatments for only $10.  It's just a way to say thank you for your service.  Anyway, now that the plug is out of the way, it really is essential that affordable chiropractic care is available to the military.

First of all, if you think about it, most, if not all, people serving in the military are far more active and weighed down by their eveyday gear than your "regular joe".  I've heard in mutiple cases where the packs can weigh at least 1/4 of the person's weight.  That means if you weigh 200 pounds, add another 50+ pounds to your body and carry that around for multiple hours per day.  Now when you have all of that extra weight on you, it really weighs down on your spine.  And, unless you are perfectly aligned before hand and have perfect posture, you are bound to get misalignments in you spine which lead to pain, irritation, and swelling in the short term but also may lead to arthritis, chronic pain, and disability in the long term.

The added physical stress isn't the only strain put on your body if you serve in the military.  Everyday, someone who served or is serving in the military deals with an increase in emotional or mental stress as well.  The toll of seeing things in combat or being overseas for your first child's birth would take cause undue stress on even the strongest willed person.  And, if you remember, there's a whole field studying the relationship to mental thoughts and how your body feels (psychoneuroimmunology).  The more mental/emotional stress you have, the more pain, stiffness, aching, headaches, etc. you will feel and notice.

Just a few simple reasons why there are hundreds of advocates trying to get chiropractic care covered by programs like TriCare and trying to get chiropractors into VA hospitals.  These are some of the people who could benefit the most from and deserve regular chiropractic care.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting Finicky Eaters Fascinated with Food

Since we still have Kids Month going on at Cascade Chiropractic & Massage, I'd like to stay with the kid theme.  And, we all know how picky kids can be when it comes to food.  In fact, an unnamed sibling still prefers a good ol' chicken nugget to to a plate of grilled halibut and steamed broccoli (yum!).  Anyway, I thought that I would pass along some tips that I have picked up along the way to aid in the process of expanding and adding healthy options to your child's diet.

1)  When it comes to kids only liking the "white bread" options (chicken nuggets, hotdogs, mac 'n cheese, etc.) it really comes down to what you (the parent) are giving them.  Yeah, these options are easy, but they are also typically devoid of nutritional value.  More ethnic foods will usually have more flavor, nutrients, and use better, more natural ingredients.  By introducing your child to ethnic varieties at an early age, such as Indian, Ethiopian, or Japanese food, you are opening their palates to a greater variety of tastier, healthier, less-processed cuisine.

2)  The same goes for fruits and veggies.  The more you give to them when they are young, typically the more they will enjoy and actually want them later on.  I know quite a few kids who prefer carrot and celery sticks over a candy bar every time.  Also, it's important to have that variety of fruits and veggies so that they don't get stuck in a rut of only "liking" one type.  However, this also means that you need to consciously and wholeheartedly limit the junk that goes into their bodies.  There's a reason that candies and sugary things are the smallest portion of the food pyramid.  They are to be viewed as luxuries and once-in-a-while treats.

3)  One of the best ways to get your child excited about what they are going to eat, even if it's healthy, is to get them involved.  Almost every child wants to be able to do what mom and dad are doing, why not let them help plan or even make meals with you?  There's a pretty cool resource out there that let kids engage in a nice, healthy competition aiming to plan and create the healthiest meal possible.  http://www.zisboombah.com/ is a website that allows kids to login and creat their own virtual meals (with parental oversight of course).  These virtual meals can then be e-mailed to their parents and they kids, along with their parents, can share in the opportunity of making a healthy, fun meal.

(By the way, if you haven't tried or even heard of Ethiopian food, I would highly recommend it.  Your kids will like the experience because you eat with your hands!)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Back to School Bugs

With all of the excitement of buying new clothes, supplies, and books for the new school year, the health of your child tends to fall by the wayside.  So, I'm just going to give a couple of reminders of what you can do for your child and what they can do on their own to help fend off the bombardment of germs from their grimey classmates.

1 - Of course we all know the importance of washing hands after using the restroom or before lunch, but how about trying to avoid getting those little grabbers dirty in the first place.  You should remind your childrem to sneeze and cough into their arm, not into their hands.  It's one of the easiest ways to keep them clean.

2 - Boost their immune system the natural way.  In order to make sure that your child gets ample immune boosters, make sure that they are not only getting enough fruits and veggies, but make sure that they are getting a good variety of them as well.  Different fruits and veggies have different amounts and kinds of vitamins and minerals that are essential to add oomph to your natural germ and virus fighters.

3 - You DON'T always need to get the latest, greatest flu shots.  First of all, getting a dead or partially dead virus injected directly into your bloodstream in NOT the best way to build immunity.  Secondly, the drug companies make an educated guess about what strains are going to be the big strains to innocuate against.  Finally, the flu is a relatively mild sickness.  It's best to fight it naturally to build up your immune system for later on in life. (I'll expound more on this topic at a later time)

Of course, like always, there are a ton of different ways to boost your child's immunity for the beginning of school.  These are just a few suggestions.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why Buy Organic?

Over the past few years, there has been a growing "fad" of buying organic fruits and vegetables.  But, I argue that it's not just a fad.  When there's a fad, there's usually no good, sound reason that people do/buy something.  If you can tell me good, sound reasoning for buying a pet rock, I stand corrected.  That's why I think buying organic fruits and vegetables is NOT a fad.  There are plenty of healthy reasons why you should buy organic.

#1:  If a fruit/vegetable is truly organic, then it has been grown without pesticides, hormones, and genetic modifications (hint: future topic).  All of these chemicals and changes are good at keeping bugs away and making the food bigger, but they are detrimental to your health.  There's a reason that pesticides are constantly being taken off the market and re-invented.  It's because they cause harm to your body. 

#2:  Since organic fruits and vegetables are devoid of these synthetic chemicals, they typically taste like they should.  I just read an article yesterday where a group of people taste tested non-organic and organic fruits and vegetables.  Every single one they tasted said that it had more flavor and tasted more like the fruit/vegetable should.

#3:  By buying organic fruits and veggies, you are helping the environment.  Every year, we are inundated with changes to our ecosystem by runoff from fields that are doused in pesticides and other chemicals.  Since organic farming does not use these chemicals, you don't get the damage to the ecosystem, mainly our water supply, from these farms.

#4:  Bigger is not always better.  Just because an apple is huge and looks like it came from a photoshoot, doesn't mean it's good for you.  More than likely, that huge, gorgeous apple is stuffed with hormones, pesticides, and altered genetics. 

Just because you may be getting more bang for your buck, it doesn't mean that your body is getting more bang for your buck. You always need to consider what is best for your body when you are adding to your body.

Of course, there are more health benefits to eating organic fruits and veggies, but, I can't write a long dissertation for a blog post.  So, comments and suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Power of Positive Thinking

I know that when I'm in a good mood, it's easy to have good thoughts and when I'm having just a whopper of a day (sarcasm) it's pretty easy to focus on everything that's not going so great.  And when I think about it, when I'm having those bad thoughts, my body has a tendency to not feel so great either.  That's because there is a connection from our brain to our body.  The spinal cord.  You know, that thing that chiropractors work to keep stress free by keeping the spine in tip top shape.  But you don't only feel cruddy when the spine is out of alignment, you can also feel cruddy when your thoughts are out of alignment.

You see, everything your mind does has some sort of effect on you as a whole.  You tell yourself to pick up a penny off the sidewalk, your body does it.  You ate an apple, your brain tells your innards to digest it.  You think good thoughts, your body feels good.  In fact, there's a whole realm of study dedicated to your thoughts and how they affect your body and your well-being.  It's called Psychoneuroimmunology. 

Psychoneuroimmunology is a relatively new area of study but it's been gaining steam within the recent years.  The whole basic premise is that your brain (psycho) is connected to your immune system (immunology) via your nerves (neuro).  And the main focus of the majority of their studies has been the correlation between your thoughts and your health.  And the overwhelming consensus is that your health is directly related to the "health" of your thoughts.  Sounds pretty crazy but it's true. 

In order to try it out, one easy way to make yourself have positive thoughts, is to think of what you are grateful and thankful for everytime you notice that you are in a crummy mood.  Try it out for a couple of weeks and see how you feel.  If any readers have any suggestions, feel free to comment because there are a plethora of other ways to increase your positive thought load.  One more way to get your lifestyle closer to a wellness lifestyle.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to School Backpack Safety

Being a chiropractor, it's almost my duty to be mindful of your spine at all times.  That's why it is only natural that I should be concerned with what your child is putting on their back for the majority of the year.  The added weight of a backpack on your child's back will change the physical distribution of the weight on their spine and the other joints of their body which means that it will change their posture without them even noticing.  And we all know that posture is essential at all times of the day (if you read the previous blogpost, you'll know what I'm talking about).  Long-term, poor use of an ill-fitting backpack can lead to spinal health issues down the road.  I know I never wore my backpack correctly when I got a little older, so it's important to make sure that your child is taking good care of their back while wearing their backpack.

Here are 5 easy things to keep in mind when shopping for a suitable backpack and wearing that backpack:

1 - Do NOT buy a backpack that is wider and taller than your child's torso.  This will only lead to problems like in number 5.

2 - Make sure that the backpack has 2 adjustable shoulder straps with ample padding.  By having 2 straps with a good amount of padding, you will be able to distribute the weight of the backpack as evenly as possible.  And make sure they use both straps!

3 - Look for a backpack with a padded back.  The back padding will protect your child from sharp objects poking through and will add a degree of comfort to the backpack.

4 - Don't allow your child to let their backpack hang below their waistline.  By doing so, your child will be putting far too much stress on their upper back which in turn leads to extreme posture changes.

5 - Keep the backpack as light as possible.  By putting too many heavy books, pens, pencils, MP3 players, lunchboxes, or what have you in your child's backpack, you will just be adding to the undue stress on their spine.

I hope you found these tips useful. Happy backpack shopping!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Function of Fluff (Pillows and your Sleep)

Yes, pillows are supposed to be soft, fluffy, and comfortable, but they are also supposed to be functional.  They're not just a place to rest your head after a day of screaming kids, phones ringing off the hook, or bosses breathing down your neck.  Pillows are actually a postural device.

Yep, a postural device.  Think about it.  What other part of the day are you in essentially the same exact position for 5-9 hours?  There isn't another time of the day.  When you sleep, you are basically in 1-4 positions the whole night: on your back, on your right or left side, or on your stomach (a big No-No!).  That means that not only do you need a good mattress with ample support, you also need a good pillow. 

Now, it does matter what kind of pillow you should get depending on how you sleep.  If you are a primarily a back sleeper, you need a "contour" pillow that has a roll to go under the curve of your neck.  It also can not be too thick of a pillow.  However, if you are primarily a side sleeper, you need a pillow with enough support to support your head.  You want your neck to be in line with the rest of your spine, not to be slanted up or down the pillow.  In both of these circumstances, the pillow will act as a postural device to keep your spine in correct alignment while you are dozing and dreaming.

If you noticed, I didn't recommend a type pf pillow for you stomach sleepers.  And that's because you should NEVER sleep on your stomach.  Even if it may feel good, it's not good for you.  When you sleep on your stomach, your head needs to be cranked to one side in order to breathe (kind of essential).  In this case, you are putting pounds upon pounds of unnecessary pressure on the bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints in your neck and upper back.  And that can only lead to bad things down the road.

So if you take 2 things out of this, remember Support for your Side and Bend for your Back.  Enough support to hold your head in alignment with you spine for you side sleepers and pillow with a bend or curve to fit the curve in your neck for you side sleepers.  And of course, if you have any questions at all, feel free to comment or talk to one of the doctors in person.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Taking the Fishiness out of Fish Oil

Taking fish oil every day sounds appetizing doesn't it?  Bring back bad memories when you had to wolf down a tablespoon of cod liver oil?  Well, the fact is, your mom was thinking about your overall health when she forced that oily concotion down your throat.

The main health benefit of taking daily fish oil is that fact that it is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids.  The main benefit to taking Omega-3 fatty acids is that they are naturally anti-inflammatory.  That means that they can aid is diseases and processes that cause inflammation (also known as swelling).  Aruguably, inflammatory processes are THE most common cause of many diseases including Celiac's, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and many more diseases.  That can only mean that taking a regular regiment of Omega-3's will help with many of theses diseases.

But Omega-3 fatty acids aren't strictly for reducing swelling.  They are also crucial elements in different structures of your body.  First of all, most (if not all) cells in your body contain Omega-3 fatty acids in the cell walls and other structures.  Secondly, your nerves and nervous system are cushioned by Omega-3 fatty acids.  So if you think about it, when you don't get enough Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet (which I can guarantee that at least 90% of the US population does not) you are more prone to cellular malfunction/destruction and nervous system lockdown (that's why fish is typically referred to as "brain food").

There's a reason why drug companies are starting to market prescription fish oils.  It's because they have realized how important taking fish oil can be for many different ailments.  The fact of the matter is, you don't need a prescription for taking fish oil, we sell them in the clinic and they are readily available at health food stores.  Just talk to one of the doctors if you have any questions about what a good fish oil would be.  Not to mention there are quite a few choices that eliminate that fishy taste if you're not into seafood. 

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Danger of HFCS

Last week I commented on how high fructose corn syrup (or HFCS for all of you abbreviation afficionados) was a topic in and of itself, so I figured I would tackle it briefly this week.

So, HFCS is a sweetener.  The main component of HFCS is fructose which is a naturally occurring sugar, typically in something like corn.  However, nothing in nature comes with high fructose corn syrup.  That means that it needs to be made in a laboratory somewhere.  And, we all should know that if something needs to be made in a lab, it's generally not good for you.

The problem with the process of making HFCS is that you need to use different chemicals to extract the fructose from the corn and concentrate it to become high fructose corn syrup.  One of those chemicals that is used is (wait for it) Mercury!  Yep, the toxic metal that is liquid at room temperature and is being taken out of vaccines because it's so toxic.  There was a study recently published in the Environmental Health Journal in 2009 showing that mercury is found to be more than elevated (in some cases more than 10 times greater than a serving of some fish) in some batches of HFCS, even "organic" HFCS.

But it's not all that bad since HFCS comes from corn and corn is all natural like the commercials say.  Right?  Typically, the corn that is mass produced for uses like HFCS or corn starch or other corn products comes from a Genetically Modified version of corn.  In these cases, the corn has typically had its DNA changed to incorporate pesticides and other toxic chemicals.  That means that it doesn't matter how much you wash it, the toxic chemicals won't come off, the chemicals are in their genes.  There's a very eye-opening documentary about that the genetic modification of food, specifically corn, titled "The Future of Food", which goes into much more depth than I can (it can currently be seen for free on Hulu.com here http://www.hulu.com/watch/67878/the-future-of-food). 

Just some things to keep in mind next time you go to the grocery store.  And just so you know, HFCS is a lot more prevalent than you might think, so read your labels.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why Water?

Why not?  I know that water isn't the most exciting, flavorful, or fizzy beverage for which to quench our thirst, but it is, without a doubt, THE best. 

It's what our bodies are made up of, besides a little carbon and nitrogen here and there.  It may be hard to imagine that more than 70% of our bodies are H2O since we aren't just rippling and floating our way through life, but water is needed in more functions than you might think.  It's what our skin needs to stay pliable and taught.  It's what our cells need to stay inflated and functional.  It's what our lungs and air passages need to stay open and mucousy.  There are plenty of other functions to list, but the list would get way too long for entertainment purposes.

So, since we have so much water in us, we probably don't need to add anymore right?  Wrong.  We lose a lot of our water through everyday activities from breathing to sweating to using the restroom to evaporation.  I recently read a medical article stating that the amount of water that we "need" is far less than what we thought.  I believe that they suggested that we only need 8 ounces of water per day to survive.  But we're not just here to survive are we?  We are here to thrive.  And in order to thrive and allow your cells and skin and lungs and all other parts of your body to function at their highest capacity, you need way more water than only 8 ounces per day.  So, in order to keep pace with all of the water that we lose during the day, you should be drinking at least 64 ounces per day (that's about 8 glasses of water).  And that's just water, not any of that other stuff.

But pop and juice and beer and milk are mostly water right?  They are.  But they also have plenty of other fillers in them.  Most other drinks have sweeteners in them whether they are synthetic like high fructose corn syrup (that's a whole other topic) to the lactose found in milk.  The problem is, most of that other stuff found in "tasty" drinks, including sweeteners, can have the opposite effect of water.  Caffeine, alcohol, and sugar can make you dump water.  Plus, you are still adding all of that unnecessary stuff to you body.  So, just stick to the water to get your 64 ounces.

The best way to make sure you get enough water during the day is to keep water right in front of you.  That way you will be reminded every time you see your glass or Nalgene or stainless steel bottle.  In fact, you probably got a little thirsty just reading this.  So if you haven't already, get a reusable water bottle and bring it with you to work, school, outings, wherever.  Just make sure you try to get that 64 ounces.  Your body deserves it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kids and Chiropractic

Having our most recent Kids Day at the clinic on Saturday got me thinking about why kids especially need chiropractic.

I know that as a kid, I was all over the place running around, falling, and getting bumps and bruises.  (In fact, it's been said that you fall more times in the first 4 years of your life than you do the rest of your life!)  Yeah, it may have hurt a little bit for a short time as a kid and maybe gave some outward appearance of minor bodily damage.  But that doesn't tell the whole story.  Anytime someone falls, bumps into something, gets hit, or anything like that, there's the potential for minor damage to the spine.  And over time, that minor spinal damage can add up and lead to things like chronic low back pain, headaches, weakness, asthma, indigestion, and a whole lot of other problems in the future.

The falls and bumps and bruises aren't usually even the most traumatic thing to happen to a kid.  Actually, one of the most traumatic events that anyone could go through in their entire life is the birthing process, especially if it was a non-natural process or if the doctors needed to yank and pull on you on the way out.  Think about it.  How often do you have someone pulling and twisting on your head with multiple pounds of force?  Not very often.  But most people had this done to them when they weren't even 1 minute old!  Now I don't know about you, but based on that, I think that a good deal of damage can be done to an infant's spine in the birthing process.

Those are some of the main reasons why we have a Kids Day.  It's important to get those stresses out of the spine especially during the growing periods.  That way, we can help prevent some more serious issues down the road and hopefully add some quality to those little lives. 

My wife and I just recently had our first child, and one of the first things I did was check his spine because I know how important it is for a child's development to have everything in working order.

So if you thought chiropractic was only for treatment following a car accident or to get rid of that chronic low back pain or crick in the neck, hopefully this was able to show why all people should at least get their spines checked, especially kids.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fun in the Sun

Living in the Pacific Northwest, we have all learned to appreciate when the sun is out. And now that summer is fully upon, that means that we will be getting more and more sunshine. But don't let all of those sunscreen lotion commercials fool you, a little bit of unprotected sunlight for our skin is just what our bodies need.


That's right, it's OK to get some sun without putting on sunscreen. But just like everything else, in moderation. Of course you don't want to lie out in the sun for 6 hours without any protection! You may be wondering, doesn't the sunlight still hit your skin even when wearing sunscreen? It does, but sunscreen blocks the UVA and UVB rays that the sun emits, which is a good thing when you're out in the sun for multiple hours. But those UVA and UVB rays are what our bodies use to synthesize Vitamin D. And Vitamin D is essential for hundreds of different vital processes in our bodies every single second of the day from skin health to energy levels and many more. Therefore, it's not just OK to get some unblocked sun, it's crucial!


So, how much unprotected sun is enough without getting too much?


One rule of thumb is to get at least 15 minutes of unblocked sun on your completely bare legs, arms, and head. Now, I know that my skin can handle a little bit more sun than that, so I usually go at least a half an hour before putting on some sunscreen. It's your judgment call based on your history. Some people burn really fast, others don't seem to burn at all. Just remember, it's all about using common sense and don't forget, a little bit of unprotected sunshine goes a long way toward your overall health and wellness.