Thinking About True Health

What is health?

Many people think that health is simply “feeling good and looking good.” But true health is more than just the absence of disease. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, health is “the condition of being sound in body, mind and spirit.” The World Health Organization states that health is a “state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing,” not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. True health is the full expression of life! This is the chiropractic perspective.

Your body is built to experience true health. Your body is smart. It has an intelligence inside of it that has helped it to grow from two cells into the amazing, complex, dynamic being that you are today! These two cells have created a body complete with a very sophisticated nerve system that stretches for miles, and stores over 100 trillion bits of information. Your nervous system contains100 billion neurons that can send impulses at lightning speed to every cell, tissue, organ and system in your body.

Why, then, does our body sometimes not work the way we want it to? Why do we experience aches and pains, digestive problems, high blood pressure, depression, or other health challenges? Something is interfering with the body’s natural ability to function, self regulate and mend. This interference is usually caused by stresses and strains that accumulate on our spine on a daily basis, and over time. Examples of these stressors are:

Physical: sitting, bad sleep position, weak muscles, falls, injuries, repetitive strain.
Chemical : medications, environmental, and food chemicals
Mental/Emotional: daily tension that affects our physiology by triggering chemical reactions and creating changes in our physiology.

To be alive is to be under stress. It is impossible to avoid stress. It is not the stress, but how our bodies respond to stress that matters most in our overall health. Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and practicing deep breathing are all ways to help your body adapt to stress. However, your spine, through which your nervous system controls your body’s ability to function and heal, is vital in your ability to adapt. Maintaining a healthy spine – or correcting a less-than-healthy spine — will help you adapt more quickly and be less susceptible to life’s stresses.

Adding regular chiropractic adjustments to your healthy lifestyle will take the pressure off your spine, allow your nervous system to function more effectively, and help you to experience the meaning of true health.

Backpack Safety: Fill it Light, Fill it Right, Wear it Right!

For the past month, we’ve been spreading the backpack safety message far and wide. The first day of school in our town is tomorrow, and I already know that unfortunately, in the months ahead, I will see kids in my office for back pain and postural issues that might have been avoided had they learned the right way to pack and wear a backpack.

It seems our kids are carrying more and more weight in their packs, as they set off for the school day with books, gym clothes, and gear for sports and extracurricular activities. Did you know that your backpack should weigh no more than 15% of your body weight? For a 60 lb elementary school student, that is a mere 9 lbs.

I recommend asking your chiropractor for a backpack screening. We offer free screenings every year for our patients and the general public. A screening involves weighing a backpack (filled as you would fill it for a typical school day), checking the pack for safety (Are the shoulder straps wide enough? Is the pack too big?) and teaching your child how to pack it so weight is distributed properly.

We are offering free screenings on Thursday, September 8 between 2 and 6 pm at our office at 300 Main Street, Groton, MA. Please call us at 978.448.9355 for the opportunity to prevent spinal problems before they start!

Watch Dr. Steve on Around Town, talking backpack safety!

Super Foods

My grandmother, who is 100 years old as of this writing, raised me to believe that the only superfood in the world is PASTA. I have learned over the years that one of the keys to her longevity was not that she ate pasta all day but rather that she COOKED pasta, bread, pizza and cookies all day. She was always cooking and serving, as were several of my other successfully elder aunts. She ate very little and sat very little.

I only realized this in my forties when I started spending one on one time with her. She nibbles and grazes but LOVES to share with others. I have often thought that our obsession with health food seemed off kilter with the fact that some many people in the world have NO food never mind “bad” food.

Food, in our culture, as in my grandmother’s world, is often associated with pleasure and comfort. But it is important to not always let our taste buds lead the way as food is fuel. And often when we make food choices, we are actually ROBBING our body of fuel rather than adding to it.

Because our soils are depleted and factories are processing our foods more often than the earth, we may be depleted in the nutrients our bodies crave. If you feel that you would like your body to heal more quickly, or function at a higher level, consider adding one or more of the following foods in this link.

http://www.oprah.com/health/Dr-Perricones-10-Superfoods

Some great reading on this topic is:

http://www.amazon.com/Omnivores-Dilemma-Natural-History-Meals/dp/1594200823

http://www.amazon.com/Animal-Vegetable-Miracle-Year-Food/dp/0060852550/ref=pd_sim_b_8

http://www.amazon.com/Nourishing-Traditions-Challenges-Politically-Dictocrats/dp/0967089735/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1306248417&sr=1-2-spell

Nourish yourself and give your body what it needs to function optimally and heal faster!

Is Your Laptop Making You Lean?

Often when we do spinal exams on new patients, we find that their heads are leaning forward in front of their bodies. Your head weighs about 11 lbs, similar to the weight of a bowling ball. Imagine trying to walk around all day carrying a bowling ball about six inches in front of you. This would take a lot more effort than carrying the bowling ball right next to your body.

Forward Head Syndrome was commonly seen in older people. However, with the widespread use of laptop computers, extended sitting, handheld video games and smart phones, we are seeing more and more patients who are beginning to show symptoms at much younger ages. Forward Head Syndrome effects much more than just posture. Dr Rene Caillet, a Medical doctor at The University of Southern California, wrote about the following effects of Forward Head Syndrome in his book, “Rejuvenation Strategy.” You might be surprised to learn how many bodily functions are affected:

1. Incorrect head positioning leads to improper spinal function.

2. The head in forward posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine.

3. Forward head posture results in loss of vital lung capacity. In fact, lung capacity is depleted by as much as 30 percent. Loss of lung capacity leads to heart and blood vascular problems.

4. The entire gastrointestinal system is affected, particularly the large intestine. Loss of good bowel peristaltic function and evacuation is a common condition that comes with forward head posture and loss of spinal lordotic curves.

5. Forward head posture causes an increase in discomfort and pain. Freedom of motion in the first four cervical vertebrae is a major source of stimuli that causes production of endorphins in production many otherwise non-painful sensations are experienced as pain.

6. Forward head posture causes loss of healthy spine-body motion. The entire body becomes rigid as the range of motion lessens. Soon, one becomes hunched.
Forward Head Syndrome can be prevented and corrected by using technology properly and in moderation, getting regular chiropractic adjustments, and doing a simple exercise to help maintain your natural cervical (neck) curve.

Use a desktop computer at a proper height as much as possible. Laptops should be reserved for occasional offsite use if possible. If you use a laptop as your primary computer, shop around for a good laptop base that props it up on a table, so the screen is closer to eye height and your head and neck can remain upright. Do not use a laptop on your lap. No matter what kind of computer you use, get up and stretch at least once every hour.

Limit the amount of time spent playing with handheld video games. This is especially important for young children whose spines are still developing! Also be conscious of the time spent using your smart phone to browse the web or text. Think about how often you are looking down while engaging in these activities.

Try this simple exercise to help restore the natural curve of your neck:
Lay on your back and put a rolled up towel beneath your neck. In the beginning of doing this exercise, use a hand towel rolled up to the size of a lemon. Rest your head back over the towel and allow it to rest there for up to five minutes. Over time you can increase the thickness of the towel and the length of time you hold the position. This exercise is most effective when done consistently over a period of a year.

If you or one of your loved ones clearly has a forward leaning head, get adjusted soon. Adjustments and a simple accompanying exercise can create a tremendous change in your spine and overall health and wellbeing!

Your Body is smaaaaaaaahhht

When I was pregnant with my oldest son, Jackson, I went to the Martin Luther King memorial where they had a statue of a man holding his baby up to the sky with an inscription below that read: “behold the only thing greater than you.” This seemed like an amazing message to give to a child, reminding them that they are powerful and great just the way they are. I thought about the baby inside me and hoped to be able to instill a visceral sense of this in him. In the years that followed, I saw the children that he was surrounded by who stood in line in preschool to receive their medications. I knew deeply that NOONE would look at a baby and think to make it healthier by adding prescription strength chemicals. And yet, i was surrounded by a culture that seemed to deem this a good idea. (Know that I understand that in very rare cases, these prescription chemicals save lives but it is very rare that it is NECESSARY).

In our country we are acting as if health comes in a pill , or a surgery. We are always trying to buy more time to abuse and neglect ourselves. We overlook the POWER that lies within and in JUST seeing it, we can enhance it. A teacher who sees the Potential in their student amplifies that potential just through their vision. I am encouraging you to read through these following facts with respect and appreciation for your body REGARDLESS of how you may currently be annoyed by its appearance or seeming lack of performance. By truly seeing the incredible potential of your body, you will change your own physiological performance.

Two cells came together to form you.
They divided only 50 times and created 100 trillion cells. That is more than the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.
You came complete with 100 Billion Brain Neurons that can send impulses at lightening speed to every cell, tissue, organ and system in your body.
You came complete with a very sophisticated nerve system that stretches for miles and stores over 100 Trillion bits of information.
Your body Produces 8 Million new red blood cells every second.
100,000 genes with more than 50% designated to the structure and function of your nervous system!
You are made up of 60 trillion cells.
You have 600 muscles & 206 bones.
Red Blood Cell’s live approximately 120 days and make 300,000 trips through the blood stream; that’s almost 2 trips per minute!
If all of your blood vessels were placed end to end, they would stretch around the world 12 times!
The heart weighs less than one pound and yet beats approximately 40 million times per year.
The heart pumps 2.5 gallons per minute or 1,314,000 gallons per year.
The energy output of the heartbeat in a 24 hour period alone is enough to raise three fully-loaded Greyhound buses off the ground.
The lungs use about 90 gallons of pure oxygen per day.
Because of the alveoli (tiny projections in the lungs), the surface area of the lungs is approximately 40-60 miles.
We take approximately 9 million breaths per year
Our lungs pump approximately 2 gallons of air per minute while at rest and approximately 26 gallons of air per minute while exercising.
Stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) is so strong, that one drop of it on the skin will leave a painful blister, but the stomach is left unharmed.
The stomach produces 2.5 quarts of acid per day
Over the course of a 70 year life span, the stomach will have produced 60,000 quarts of acid to help digest 40 tons of food
Nerves transmit their signals at 300 m.p.h.
There are 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) in your body. If you were going to count all 100 billion cells at the rate of 1 per second, it would take 3,171 year.
Light pressure on a spinal nerve root can lessen your nerve transmission as much as 40%. This can negatively affect any part of your health.

Your amazing body will have the chance to be more ALIVE, more fully functioning if you keep your nerve system healthy!