February. Valentine's Day. The season of LOVE. The "W Network" is playing romantic comedies back-to-back for easy binging. This is good news if you like that stuff. It can be torture if your relationship situation is not where you want it to be. I am not here to add salt to the wound, but I just read an article from Harvard stating that "good connections can improve health and increase longevity". How is that not adding salt, you ask? The studies quoted were not just looking at romantic relationships, butall satisfying relationships with family, friends, and within the community.
The article describes that, conversely, studies show that a lack of social ties is associated with depression and a cognitive decline later in life, as well as increased mortality. A study of more than 300,000 people demonstrated that a lack of strong relationships led to an increased risk of premature death by 50% from all causes. A swedish study found that the risk of dementia in those over 75 was lowest in those with a variety of satisfying contacts with family and friends. Now you will notice it says "satisfying" contacts. Stressful relationships can take a toll on health too! One study of married women in midlife found that those who were in highly satisfying marriages and marital-type relationships had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease compared with those in less satisfying relationships. One researcher has found signs of reduced immunity in couples during hostile marital spats. So if you don't want to get a cold- don't have a fight with your spouse!
What can I add to all of this? From my experience in my practice and in my life, I would like to offer two thoughts:
First, relationships can happen and grow when you think of LOVE as an action, not an emotion. Hollywood has taught us that love is an emotion- this overwhelming feeling that is accompanied by music and lighting changes, and this feeling leads to our lives being transformed to new heights. As a doctor, I have seen some patients that wait for motivation to act from a feeling that never arrives, and so they never end up getting to do their exercises or start that diet or whatever health change they intended to make. As a follower of the bible, I read about love being described as a verb. When love is an action and not an emotion, one behaves in a particular way, regardless of how they are "feeling". The amazing thing is, when one acts in a manner of love, that "feeling" of love is quick to follow. In married couples we have counselled over the years, if they haven't been "feeling close", we always advise them to start doing the right things- notes, cards, dates, flowers, etc. (this isn't our own idea- we've been told the same thing!) Invariably, the feelings catch up pretty fast. I remember when my daughter was a baby and cried in the middle of the night. I didn't feel loving and like cuddling with her, but when I dragged myself out of my warm bed and got her in my arms, the emotion of love caught up very quickly. If you desire to experience more love this month, in a current relationship or a new one, a suggestion is to be vulnerable and try and act in the manner of love.
The other practical on relationships I have seen is forgiveness. Many health problems I treat are related to unresolved resentment. When I hold things against others, it hurts me. They say that bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting to harm the other person. Forgiveness allows us to move forward- both in the relationship that suffered injury and in other relationships. Sometimes we can have trouble trusting someone because of something that happened with someone else entirely! Of course this is easier said then done, but it is worth the effort. One of the members of our pratice recently resolved a relationship with her adult daughter. They had not spoken in years, but all it took was vulnerability and a phone call to restart that relationship.
I hope you have a fantastic month of February, whether you choose to binge on romantic comedies or not. Perhaps you will watch movies with friends and loved ones, developing (to quote the Harvard article) "good connections that can increase health and longevity". While movies may entertain, they get some things really wrong, like "Love Stories" famous line "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Forgiveness is an integral part of all relationships.
As I looked through famous lines from movies, the one that struck me as most relevant is from "As Good as it Gets". Melvin tells Carol, "You make me want to be a better man". I hope we can all strive to be the best versions of ourselves in our relationships, for the good of our health!
Happy New Year! I know of people who begin the new year with resolutions for what habits they plan to break and growth they plan to make. "New Year, New Me" they chant! I know of others that refuse to make New Year's Resolutions. Perhaps they have experienced failure in previous years and felt frustrated as they end up making the same resolutions year after year- not having experienced a shift in the behaviour they desire to change. Others cite statistics, that 92% of New Year's Resolutions will fail!
I get it. It is discouraging to set a goal and fail. Why do that to yourself??? Nobody likes defeat! However, the reason to set a goal is not about the end result you desire, it is more about the journey you are on. You can't steer a parked car. Michael Hyatt, the author, said, "Don't fear failure. Fear being in the exact same place next year that you are today." But will setting a goal on the first of the year really change our future self? It depends on why we are doing it, and the support we have to move toward this new future self.
Nelson Mandela said that "there is no passion to be found in living a life that is less than the one that you are capable of living." Setting goals can create energy and focus in self-transformation. Last year I participated in a 16 week "Body Transformation" challenge. I'm not kidding myself, I am 55 years old and don't expect to be retiring from chiropractic to take up a career doing swimwear photoshoots that show off a new "beach ready body". That being said, the energy I put into that physical transformation led me to push myself in ways I would not have- improving my health in a variety of ways and allowing me to enjoy more energy and focus in my day. Without setting that goal, I would not have made that progress, and my waist line would be 6 inches more than it was at the end of 2017. (Men's waist line measurement is an indicator of stored visceral fat which dramatically affect many areas of physical health).
It does not have to happen January 1, but I would encourage you to set goals. You are always one decision away from a totally different life. Goals are successful when they are set with proper support. Connecting yourself to people striving for the same goals will help. Set specific and achievable steps in the goal. A vague goal of "getting in shape" will never happen. Plan specific times and types of activities you will do that are achievable. It is best when you can attach a new desired behaviour to a previously existing habit in your life. Perhaps there is a television show you regularly enjoy watching. You could perform an activity during the show (eg. a certain number of calisthenics), or not allow yourself to watch the show until after you have completed a specific task (read a chapter in a book, tidied up the house, packed your lunch for tomorrow). What habits would your future self like you to develop? I don't think anyone comes to the end of their life and wishes they had watched more television. What new habits would transform you? It is never to late to set a goal.
If an area you desire transformation is in the realm of health and fitness, join us for our "All About Fitness" workshop January 16 and/or our "Sip & Sample" workshop January 23 to learn about weight loss, energy, athletic performance and healthy aging. As they say, if you wear your body out, WHERE are you going to live?
Okay, I'll share my "Before & After" Pictures with you. Transformation. I'm telling you, 6 inches from the waist is worth it...
The holidays are coming, and many cultures have traditions at this time of year that bring families together and create lasting memories. I had a conversation with some friends last week, and we had vastly different childhood memories of the season, but they had a common feeling and emotion attached. One woman remembered the unique smells- mandarin oranges (at that time a luxury found only in December!), the scent of cloves and heavenly aroma of shortbread baking. Another friend from Trinidad remembers the smell of Ox tail stew filling the home, as the house was cleaned from top to bottom, painted(!), and new curtains and pillows were put out for display. I remember the smell of pine needles from the tree, getting new pajamas after my Christmas eve bath, waiting forever to fall asleep and then the excitement of opening stockings on my parents' bed. We all had to wait impatiently while Dad set up the video camera to record us coming around the corner to see the tree with all the presents for the first time.
Growing up, we enjoyed many family traditions through Christmas. We ate exactly the same food for the special meals, used our red and green tartan table cloth and each person sat at their regular place at the table. My wife came from a much less traditional family. She did something different each Christmas, going on vacations or visiting extended family out of town and creating memories with these trips. When we were married, there was an adjustment as we found a balance in the new family we created. She taught me to become more flexible and I think I've shown her the benefits of some regular family traditions. Our new family has created our own set of traditions that have evolved over the years.
What I have found, dealing with patients in my practice and in my own life, is that some times our traditions serve us well. They create memories and bring the family closer together. Some times they don't serve us well. They lead to unhealthy stress and tension that could be avoided if we examine the tradition and consider the purpose of the practice.
For instance, holidays are a time we like to give gifts. Commercial advertising has built this in to a huge deal- leading us to confuse our "wants" with our "needs". Thus many people start the new year with credit card debt and the associated tension that accompanies it.
Also, holidays are a time we have meals together, but the preparation of the meals can lead to stress and injury as one individual tries to do it all, neglecting their own health to provide a feast for the family. (For this reason alone, I see more emergency visits at this time of year than any other!)
We meet with extended family and can experience tension in relationships. Having that annual fight with a family member over who helps more with the dishes is not a holiday tradition we really need to hold on to!
If you are looking for some tips for some healthy holiday traditions, see our previous blog "A Recipe for Healthy Holiday Times." As I have learned from my wife to let go of some of my routines, I hope you can let go of the traditions that are not serving you well, and still embrace those that bring joy and peace to you and your family over the coming holidays!
It is Thanksgiving weekend coming up. This is a time we often talk about gratitude, and it is a good time to do so! The government gives us a day off work, and we have an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular autumn weather. Why am I talking about this as a chiropractor? Look at the posture of the grateful person in this picture! What a wonderful treatment for text neck! Even if we don't get fantastic fall weather on the weekend (I think there may be some rain in the forecast), we will enjoy the long weekend if we have a gratitude focus. For Jane and I, our kids are coming home from University, and we will be together with extended family. All good things! As I have said in previous articles, gratitude and health are closely connected.
Studies show a great benefit to one's health by having a gratitude focus. A 2003 study by Emmons and McCullough found that participants keeping a gratitude journal had 16% less physical symptoms, 19% spent more time exercising, 8% enjoyed more sleep and 25% experienced increased sleep quality. Seligman (et al) found in 2005 that expressing gratitude reduced depressive symptoms by 35%.
A study was done in 2016 by Pratnik Kini (et al). A group of subjects were to write regular letters of gratitude compared to a control group that did not. The "study found that a simple gratitude writing intervention was associated with significantly greater and lasting neural sensitivity to gratitude – subjects who participated in gratitude letter writing showed both behavioral increases in gratitude and significantly greater neural modulation by gratitude in the medial prefrontal cortex three months later." This was visible during functional MRI scans! As an aging population, we are all looking for more neural plasticity these days!
The study mentions "behavioural increases in gratitude." I have noticed that when gratitude is connected to service, the benefits of gratitude are magnified. When we are outward focused instead of self focused, we will be healthier. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, "Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health." A study by Brown (et al) in 2005 showed that those who gave social support to others had lower rates of mortality than those who did not. Volunteer activities can strengthen the social ties that protect individuals from isolation during difficult times, while the experience of helping others leads to a sense of greater self-worth and trust. A study in 2002 showed individuals suffering from chronic pain experienced declines in their pain intensity and decreased levels of disability and depression when they began to serve as peer volunteers for others also suffering from chronic pain. (Arnstein et al., 2002).
When we have a gratitude focus, we see a health benefit. When that gratitude focus leads us to serve others, I believe that benefit increases. When we volunteer, we can give our time, our energy and our money. When this is done from a place of gratitude, we enjoy the experience more and our health reflects this.
There are a multitude of areas in which we can serve. It is helpful to choose an area that we personally enjoy and have something to offer. I like kids and have some experience with them. I volunteer my time teaching 40 preteens in a class on Sundays at church- organizing monthly activities for them and taking them to a summer camp in Maine. My own kids haven't been preteens for 10 years, but I still work with this age group. They keep me on my toes, and that keeps me young!
Jane and I joined the RIDE for Refuge this past weekend- getting exercise and raising funds and awareness for HOPE Worldwide of Canada, an organization that offers programs for the homeless and disadvantaged in the city.
I share these two examples of volunteerism, not to "blow my own horn", but to illustrate that gratitude can lead to action. I am grateful for the mentors I had in my life growing up, and my gratitude leads me to want to provide that for others. I am grateful for the home I have and the freedoms I enjoy, and this leads me to want to support others who do not have as many opportunities.
This weekend, as we celebrate thanksgiving, I encourage you to take some time to exercise your "gratitude muscles". Make a list of the things for which you are grateful. Share your gratitude list with others. If you want to see even greater gains from practicing gratitude, plan some ways you can volunteer or serve in response to that gratitude. Help at a soup kitchen or the Food Bank. Rake the leaves for an elderly neighbor. (I was going to make a joke that I'd better not see you raking my leaves in response to this article, I'm only 55 years old! On the other hand, far be it from me to stop you from getting some exercise and fresh air- just make sure you stretch first!) When someone makes you a wonderful meal, you can tell them "thank you". But when you do the dishes for them, or even just take time to write a card, you are really expressing your gratitude with action. We have been given a lot in our society, but we can "pay it forward" and give to others as we've been given to.
I watched a movie this summer where the main character shares the 6 rules of wisdom that he learned from his father. The fifth rule was to "lean into it". He tells his nephew that the outcome doesn't matter, what matters is that you are there for it, whatever it is- good or bad. I liked that. I used it this summer at Preteen Camp, as we experienced one day of rain and we were running the programs as usual. Jane and I were stationed on Kayaks, standing in the water and loading kids into boats. Some of the kids were worrying about getting wet, and I shared this pearl of wisdom with them, encouraging them to embrace getting wet- they were going to get wet anyway and this was a good day to do it! The lake felt warmer than it had all week and the kids had a blast with swimming, water guns and kayaking.
Sometimes we need to be encouraged to "lean into it", when a trial or challenge comes our way. We are in September now and a lot of people are bemoaning the end of summer and the approaching autumn. We can spend our energy in anguish for the lost summer days, or we can embrace the coming fall- planning activities that take advantage of the cooler weather and enjoy the changing leaves.
As I started to write this, I looked up the phrase, and it turns out that "lean into it" refers specifically to riding a motorcycle. I have never ridden one myself, but apparently when approaching a curve, the rider must lean into the curve to maintain their course without tipping over. The full expression is when life throws you a curve, lean into it. The urban dictionary now describes "Lean Into It" as an expression to indicate doing something to an extreme- to do it "big".
When we focus on the negative and don't embrace the challenge, we can miss out. This summer I finally got to create our lavender garden along our retaining wall. I scheduled for a load of gravel and top soil to be dumped on our side street on Tuesday morning at 9 am. I borrowed a wheel barrow from a kind neighbour, and was ready to work. To my surprise, at 7 am that same day, the city finally chose to tear up the entire sidewalk in front of our house. This was the sidewalk along which my wheelbarrow was to bring my new dirt and gravel! I had been waiting for 3 years for that sidewalk to be replaced, but couldn't believe it would be the exact day I was creating my garden. I was tempted to focus on the challenge this created for me but remembered my phrase "lean into it". My legs got a little more exercise pushing the wheel barrow over the grass and bump to our driveway and my arms got an extra work out shoveling it up and over the retaining wall. Not only that, but when I was finished, the city worker allowed me to put my extra gravel and dirt in the hole left by the unfinished sidewalk. I have no idea how I would have cleaned up and gotten rid of my extra without that construction close by. Had I "gone negative" and focused on the inconvenience I would not have noticed or appreciated the benefits.
Focusing on the negative aspects of a challenge can take a terrible toll on our health and wellness. When we "lean into it", whether it is a work project, health crisis or family stress, we can experience the challenge fully and be resourceful as we go through the trial. We can minimize the impact that the stress takes on our own body if we are present and positive. Doing SRI on our own can help us to recognize where we are storing tension and release stress held in our body. Regular Network Care allows our nervous system to be resilient and to manage and dissipate stress and trauma- be it physical, mental or emotional.
Curves will come along the road of our lives. Let's prepare ourselves- optimize our resources with SRI and Network Care, meet the curve with a positive attitude and lean into it!
May 1-7 is National Mental Health week. There have been numerous headlines lately on the topic of posture and depression, as a recent study demonstrated the correlation between our posture and our mood.
Does someone have poor posture because they are dealing with depression, or can the poor posture actually affect an individual’s mood? In a New Zealand study led by Dr. Elizabeth Broadbent, 61 adults diagnosed with mild to moderate depression were divided into 2 groups. One group had specific work done to improve their posture while the other group had “sham” work done, to test for a placebo response. The researchers found that the group which worked to improve their posture felt “more alert and enthusiastic, less fearful and had a higher self esteem after a stressful streak.” Studies suggest that, compared to sitting in a slumped position, sitting upright can make you feel more proud after a success, increase your persistence at an unsolvable task, and make you feel more confident in your thoughts. The group in the study with improved posture also felt lower fatigue than the “usual” posture group.
“Changing posture is a simple, highly acceptable and low risk intervention that could be applied either by itself or alongside other treatments,” the researchers wrote in their paper, published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry in March 2017.
Our posture impacts our Nervous System in many ways, as we have discussed in previous articles. It is important that we learn ways to improve our posture, as everyday life leads us to postural decline. Gravity, the physical stress of sitting at computers, looking at cell phones, carrying bags on one shoulder, etc. all take a toll on our ideal posture. Learn about how to improve your posture and your mental health with Network Spinal Analysis. Join us for our workshops during National Mental Health week. Tuesday, May 2 – Stress Management. Wednesday, May 3 – Depression & Anxiety.
The first day of spring has arrived, and the weather alternates between cold blusters of winter remnants and the tantalizing teasings of spring- with the hopefulness of warmth and new life to come. It's time for SPRING CLEANING! This is when we go through the closets to get rid of junk, and wash the winter grime off the windows to let in sunlight and fresh air. Soon it will be time to get outside and rake the thatch from the lawn, clean the dead leaves from the garden and prepare the yard for a season of growth. Just as we need to get rid of the debris from our gardens to make them thrive, the same is true for our bodies. Spring is a great time to do it!
Why cleanse? Our bodies are bombarded by toxins. They are in our food, the air we breathe, everywhere in our environment! Toxins take a terrible toll on our health. The liver is a major organ that is responsible for getting rid of the toxins from the body. Unfortunately it cannot properly do its' job for a number of reasons:
1. Stress: When an individual is under stress, their body automatically diverts resources from normal digestion to focus on dealing with the stress. This is called "Fight or Flight". It can happen with a physical stress - like being chased by a wild animal, but it can also happen with a mental stress- like a deadline at work. The body cannot tell the difference between the two types of stressors! When stress physiology takes over, a number of normal bodily functions don't proceed as they should. One of these is the digestion of food and the normal elimination of toxins from the body.
2. Toxins: The liver also will not perform well if it is inundated by too many toxins. Have you looked at a list of chemicals in the ingredient labels of the foods we consume? In order to maximize shelf life and keep foods from spoiling in our urban environment, producers add large quantities of preservatives. Also, in order to get an abundant and healthy looking crop, farmers use vast amounts of chemicals to protect from bugs and fertilize the depleted soil. These pesticides end up in food we eat, and they are toxic to us!!!
3. Weak Nutrition: Finally, the liver will not function well if it is not receiving sufficient nutrition from the diet to have the necessary enzymes needed in processing the toxins. The soil with which we now farm is nutritionally deficient. Farmers specialize in crops and do not "rotate crops" or risk losing income by leaving fields fallow to replenish the soil's micro nutrients. Specific fertilizers are used to supplement the soil and force optimal growing for the specific crop farmed, but these fertilizers do not provide the person consuming that produce with the same spectrum of nutrients that humans require. A carrot grown today is not the same carrot that grew 100 years ago!
Do you want your toxins stored or eliminated?
If we cannot properly eliminate toxins from the body, guess where we store them? In FAT!!! We innately protect ourselves from the effects of toxins on our body by storing them, wrapping them in fat to reduce the negative impact on our body. This is a safety feature built in to our body. This visceral fat is stored around the organs, so it may not be too obvious, or it may be very obvious- that paunch that you've been working so hard to reduce!
The amazing thing is that all the sit-ups in the world will not reduce that belly fat! Our body is protecting the toxins that are stored there. Without proper nutritional support, our body does not want to release those toxins back into the blood stream. It is important that we allow the body an opportunity to cleanse or detoxify, while still providing the appropriate nutrition for the liver to function optimally during this process.
Specific cleansing with intermittent fasting will do even more than help us eliminate stored toxins from our bodies! It will improve our insulin sensitivity. Glucose will be absorbed more easily by the cells to be used as energy, allowing an individual better control of their blood sugar levels and reducing those sluggish/sleepy periods in the afternoon.
Join us for a workshop on April 19 as we discuss SPRING CLEANSING. Learn about how easy it can be to do your own cellular cleansing, what to expect from your body, and how to make it work for you. This is not a bowel cleanse I'm talking about- where you develop your own special relationship with your toilet! ;) We will talk about things you can do at home to minimize your toxin exposure- when is it worth the extra money to buy organic and when can you save and not buy organic? It's spring time- learn how easy it is to detox, you've got nothing to lose- except maybe some belly fat!
...yet here I am, recommending this product!
I have been a chiropractor for 28 years. In this time, I cannot tell you how many companies have approached me and tried to get me to sell their product. Let's just say, a lot! Vitamins, supplements, the list is endless. Other then selling a few pillows to facilitate some patients getting proper back support, I have had ZERO interest in aligning myself with a product.
Eight years ago, a colleague of mine retired from Chiropractic in order to market and sell a Nutritional System, because he was so excited about the product. I was happy for him, but did not try the product at all. I was just not interested.
Then Facebook came along, and a different colleague posted a "before and after" picture of himself, and I found myself intrigued. I have always been on the thin side. Over the years, I have tried numerous different exercise programs to put on mass, without seeing any significant or lasting change. Once I passed 50, I found that I was able to gain some weight, but it was all conveniently located around my belly! Not the look I was going for! In January 2016, when I saw the changes in my friend, I immediately set up lunch to ask him how he did it. He told me about a program called Isagenix- the same one I heard about 8 years before and dismissed!
I decided to try the product. I was still skeptical, but understanding how the system worked, that I was supporting my body with excellent nutrition while allowing it to shed the toxins stored in my belly fat- that made sense to me. I wanted to gain weight and lose weight, and the many "Before and After" pictures of satisfied clients motivated me to give it a try.
I was happy with the product from the beginning. The shakes were delicious, and allowed me to increase my protein intake significantly without spending all my time preparing food. The work out products also really made a difference. I started yet another weight lifting program and did not suffer the myriad of injuries that have accompanied all my previous efforts with weight lifting.
I liked it, but I still wasn't convinced I wanted to market the program myself. Over the past year I tried different alternatives- cheaper protein powders sold at Costco or health food stores. Amazingly, I could really feel the difference. When I "slacked off" and stopped supplementing my nutrition, I would find myself dragging with low energy through the afternoon. I had always thought that I ate pretty well- I work out of my home so I hardly ever eat out. (and my wife is an excellent cook!) Unfortunately, many of the foods we eat have been genetically modified and grown in nutritionally depleted soils, so it is nearly impossible to get optimal nutrition without supplementation.
A few months ago I was wearing a T-shirt at church, having just taught the preteen class. One of the guys that has known me for years stopped me and asked if I have been working out! Let me just say, he is now one of my new favourite people. I have gone years working out and not having a soul notice or comment on it, but he brought it up without prompting.
As Jane and I were deciding to get more involved with Isagenix this year, we decided to do a 30 day cleanse diet and do a little more investigation. We did this in the 4 week period leading up to Christmas- finishing on December 23 after a number of "pre Christmas" parties. In that 4 weeks, I lost 8 pounds, which included four inches of belly fat at my waist! Jane lost 11 pounds. This happened to be the month that our treadmill was broken, which was our main source of cardio fitness!
I have taken this past year to research and try many Isagenix products. I have become convinced that my own personal health and wellness are well worth the investment and plan to continue using Isogenix. I can be slightly tempted to regret that I didn't look into Isagenix 8 years ago, as I could have enjoyed the benefits for all these years. However, I recognize that it was not the time for me and I'm just happy to have found it now. I am not going to retire from chiropractic, but I am very confident to recommend Isagenix to members of my practice, friends and family. If you would like to know more about this nutritional system and how it can benefit you, please message me or join us for an information session on Tuesday, February 21 at 7 pm.
Don't miss out!
Foods that increase your healing potential
As part of my preparation for our talk on MAXIMIZING YOUR BODY'S HEALING DEFENSES, I turned to Dr. Google to research foods that increase our immune function. Of course there are varying views, but it is generally agreed that the foods listed below can help you fight the good fight. Of course, eating these foods is no substitute for the things discussed in our previous article. All the oranges in the world won't help you if you aren't getting adequate sleep...
Citrus fruits: These are rich in Vitamin C, which tops the chart as a necessary ingredient to keep your immune system running at 100 percent. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. Because your body doesn't produce or store it, daily intake of vitamin C is essential for continued health.
Red Bell Peppers: ??!? Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers have twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits, as well as being a rich source of beta carotene.(see Sweet Potatoes below).
Yogurt with probiotic: (live and active cultures) A Swedish study found that a group taking probiotics had 33% less sick days than a control group.
Garlic: The active ingredient is allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; the garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold! Other studies suggest that those consuming more than six cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer. Optimal intake according to one source– 2 raw cloves a day!
Oats & Barley: These contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than Echinacea. Oats or barley should be one of the grains consumed in your daily diet.
Mushrooms: "Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection," says Douglas Schar, Director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, DC. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch- experts recommend at least ¼ ounce to 1 ounce a few times a day for maximum immune benefits.
Broccoli: is supercharged with an arsenal of vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as numerous antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all!
Sweet potatoes: To stay strong and healthy, your skin (part of your immune defense) needs vitamin A. "Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, a key component of skin," explains David Katz, MD, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. Foods containing beta-carotene (like sweet potatoes), will metabolize into vitamin A. Other foods rich in beta-carotene: carrots, squash, canned pumpkin, and cantaloupe.
Almonds: When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, especially almonds, are packed with it. A half-cup serving, (about 46 whole, shelled almonds), provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.
Sunflower seeds: are full of nutrients, including phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamin B-6. They're also incredibly high in vitamin E, with 82 % of the daily recommended amount in just a 1/4-cup serving. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and is important in regulating and maintaining immune system function.
Beef: Zinc deficiency is a common nutritional shortfall among North American adults, especially in vegetarians and those who've cut back on beef. Zinc is an immunity-bolstering mineral and even mild zinc deficiency can increase your risk of infection. If you're not a beef person, you will find zinc in oysters, fortified cereals, pork, poultry, yogurt, or milk.
Tea: Black Tea People who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, in a Harvard study. The amino acid that's responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea—decaf versions have it, too. The optimal dose is several cups daily! Apparently, you can get up to five times more antioxidants from your tea bags by bobbing them up and down while you brew.
Green Tea: As well as L-theanine, green tea also contains epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG while Green tea is steamed and not fermented, preserving the EGCG. So green tea is even better than black tea, though both are good for you.
And finally, are you ready for this? Mother wasn't wrong...
Chicken soup! University of Nebraska researchers tested 13 brands of chicken soup and found that all but one (chicken-flavored Ramen noodles) blocked the migration of inflammatory white cells. This was an important finding because cold symptoms are a response to these cells accumulation in the bronchial tubes. The amino acid cysteine, released from chicken during cooking, chemically resembles the bronchitis drug Acetylcysteine. This may explain the results. The soup's salty broth keeps mucus thin the same way cough medicines do. Added spices, such as garlic and onions, can increase soup's immune- boosting power. Also, poultry is high in vitamin B-6. (100 g of turkey or chicken contains 40- 50% of your daily recommended amount of B-6). Vitamin B-6 is involved in many of the chemical reactions that happen within the body and in the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. Stock or bone broth, which is produced by boiling chicken bones, contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity.
These foods will do amazing things to boost your immune system. However, as I said at the workshop, if you put jet fuel into an old broken down car, it isn't going to turn that vehicle into a racing car! We need to optimize our body's own healing potential by fine tuning our nervous systems- as well as supporting it with proper nutrition. Make sure you stay regular with chiropractic care during Colds and Flu season!
As we head into "colds and flu season", it is important that we take time to prepare. We are constantly exposed to all kinds of nasty germs. We must make sure we are fully armed in the battle for good health- whether it is the winter season or not.
In researching for our Wellness Workshop, I read a number of articles on boosting one's immune system. A Harvard Health Publication recommends some simple and basic things:
• Healthy Diet
• Regular Exercise
• Adequate sleep
• Decreasing stress
• Do not smoke.
• If consuming alcohol – minimal consumption.
• Avoiding infection through hand washing
Pretty common sense! Yet so many of us succumb to illness each winter. In our next "In Good Health" article, I will discuss healthy diet and foods that we may consume to improve our immune response. That's a big topic that deserves its' own article. Let's talk about the other things on the list. The second area listed by Harvard Health, "regular exercise", is important because physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. It can cause changes in antibodies and white blood cells. A study of 1000 adults published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that the group who exercised 5 or more times per week experienced 43% less sick days than the group who exercised one day or less per week. Also, when the first group did get cold symptoms, they were rated as significantly less severe. Exercise appears to reduce upper respiratory tract infection incidence by 18-67%, according to the study. Regular exercise also lowers stress hormone levels, and higher stress hormones levels are linked to lowered immune response.
Sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function. During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. These are needed when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you are under stress. Inadequate sleep may decrease production of these proteins and reduce the body's ability to fight illness.
As already stated, hormones created in the body during times of stress will reduce the ability of the immune system to function, so if fighting sickness is our goal, we must examine the stress we experience in our daily lives. Smoking has also been demonstrated to hinder the immune response, as has excessive consumption of alcohol.
Which leaves us avoiding infection through regular hand washing. Minimizing the spread of germs is certainly important. However, we will never live in a vacuum where germs don't exist. Louis Pasteur, who developed the germ theory, was later to remark that it is not the seed but the soil that determine the virulence of an illness. That is to say that the condition of the person is of much more importance than the strength of the germ to which they are exposed.
We see this in our lives today. A "flu bug" may pass through a classroom or office and some will get sick and some will not. What is the difference, if the germ that they face is the same one? The immune system is controlled by the central nervous system.
Chiropractic adjustments help to regulate the autonomic nervous system. The nervous system communicates with endocrine and immune tissue to modulate chemical reactions that keep you healthy. Researchers in New York found that people under chiropractic care for more than five years demonstrated 200% greater immune function that those who had not. One very interesting study measured a 48% increase in CD4 cells in HIV patients over a six-month period, compared to an 8% decrease in the control group over the same period of time. CD4 cells are important immunoglobulins that play a critical role in HIV and AIDS. Similarly, an enhancement in white blood cells has been measured with chiropractic care. Patricia Brennan, PH.D., found improved immune response in her test subjects following chiropractic treatment. The study specifically demonstrated the "phagocytic respiratory burst of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) and monocytes were enhanced in adults that had been adjusted by chiropractors."
There is so much information out there regarding the effects on the immune system of children specifically. There have been multiple case studies presented investigating the positive effect of chiropractic care on ear infections, tonsillitis, colds, asthma, and common childhood illnesses. Kids are exposed to lots of germs in the classroom environment, so it is important that they are under regular care to stay healthy.
I sometimes get calls from patients that are experiencing cold symptoms, asking if they should still come in for their appointment. The answer is always "ABSOLUTELY!!!" Having an entrainment will prime your nervous system to fight the cold more efficiently, provide some relief and get you through faster. If you're worried about "passing it on", we use a hospital grade cleaner on our chiropractic beds, and will clean yours immediately after your appointment if you let us know you may be contagious.
So as we face "colds and flu season", it is important to make sure that our bodies are "tuned up" to maximum efficiency. Dr. Donald Epstein, the developer of Network Spinal Analysis, describes how NSA "upgrades the central processing unit that is our Nervous System". Instead of operating an outdated "Commodore Computer" using floppy discs, we can train our nervous system to function like a "high speed" state of the art computer, maximizing the potential of the human condition.
Make sure you get assessed with Network Spinal Analysis regularly. It will help reduce stress in the body and improve the efficiency of your nervous system and immune function.