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!