Dr. Phil Shares: What You Need to Know About Going to a Chiropractor

What You Need to Know About Going to a Chiropractor

The chiropractor. A lot of people swear by chiropractic treatments as the only way they get relief from back pain, neck pain, headaches, and a host of joint problems. Others aren’t so sure about this holistic wellness discipline. Regardless of what camp you’re in, allow us to demystify this type of care for you.

Chiropractors Train as Long as MDs Do

That’s right, a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) studies for four years of undergraduate and four years of chiropractic school, using similar books that MDs use for study, says Scott Bautch, DC, president of the council on occupational health for the American Chiropractic Association. Chiropractors must also pass a licensure test and take continuing education courses to stay abreast of the latest trends in their field and maintain their credentials.

Chiropractors Can Help with Overall Wellness

People mostly see chiropractors for pain relief, but it’s becoming more popular to see a chiropractor for general wellness. “Chiropractors are increasingly becoming overall wellness advisors — advising patients about their eating , exercise, and sleeping habits,” Bautch says. Since chiropractors focus on the health of the nervous system, particularly the spinal cord, they are treating the entire body. Therefore, they are addressing both acute injuries (such as low back pain), as well as general, chronic issues (such as fatigue).

The First Appointment Will be Really Thorough

Chiropractors use comprehensive intake screenings to learn not just about what ails you, but also to get a complete picture of your overall health (hence the “holistic” descriptor). This will include health history questionnaires as well as functional and neurological assessments to see how your body moves, how well you can balance, etc. The doctor may also take x-rays. Finally, there will be a discussion about cost and course of treatment.

This thorough first appointment was experienced by New York City resident Karl Burns. In a tennis game, Burns swung his racket too forcefully and injured his low back. He was referred to chiropractor Cory Gold, DC. “At first, I thought, ‘I’ve never been injured before, I don’t need a voodoo doctor,’” says Burns. “But Dr. Gold and I immediately gelled. After many tests and questions, he told me, ‘Your treatment plan will be three times a week for a couple weeks, then two times a week for a couple weeks, then once a week — this is not a lifetime injury.’”

You’ll Likely Be a Regular, Initially

In most cases, people see chiropractors for acute injuries (like throwing your back out) or chronic conditions (like headaches), so it may take a few of weeks of multiple visits to stabilize the problem. After a few weeks of multiple treatments per week, treatment tapers gradually to once per week, then once per month for maintenance, until the spine is able to stay in alignment without the chiropractor’s adjustments. The course of treatment and length of time until stabilization vary from person to person.

That said, visits are often quite short — an average of 15 to 20 minutes — of hands-on manipulation. “Chiropractors aren’t trying to fight an internal battle against infection the way medical doctors are,” says Burns. “The treatment consists of much smaller movements and adjustments to your body and alignment of the spine.” Burns points out that he experienced pretty significant pain relief from the get-go. “Every time I walked out of there, I felt amazing,” he says. “The benefits are instant and can be perceived better [than with conventional doctors].”

You Won’t Be a Patient Forever

There’s a general belief that chiropractors want to make you reliant on them, but Bautch and Burns believe otherwise. “There are three phase of care,” Bautch says. “Acute — let’s get you functional; corrective — let’s adjust you so that it doesn’t happen again or as frequently; and then maintenance — maybe down to once a month.” Indeed, this is what Burns experienced — but he also learned the hard way the importance of self-maintenance. “Chiropractors take the approach of ‘let me teach you how to fish,’ not ‘let me just give you the fish,’” says Burns. He, like most patients, was given exercises to compliment and maintain his recovery — and he only ran into trouble again once he stopped doing them. “If I skip my exercises, sure enough, my lower back gets tight,” Burns says.

BY: Amy Roberts

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: Do This Daily For a Healthy Spine

Do This Daily For a Healthy Spine

If you’ve ever hurt your lower back, you know how much it can affect your life. Whether you’re getting up from a chair, carrying groceries or hoisting a barbell overhead, your lower back is involved in nearly every movement.

While lower back injuries should be treated with the help of a doctor or physical therapist, many cases of lower back pain can be avoided with simple exercises that strengthen the core muscles and teach proper movement of the spine. Stuart McGill, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo and the world’s premier authority on spinal health, designed exercises to build a healthy spine.

McGill’s research has been pivotal in helping people understand core training for a healthy spine should focus on stability exercises like planks. Movements that bend the spine like crunches and situps, could even contribute to lower back injuries if performed incorrectly or too often. McGill’s “big three” exercises can be combined into a daily routine that requires no equipment and can be done at home or in the gym.

If you’ve been injured and your doctor has cleared you to work out again, or if you’re perfectly healthy and want to give yourself the best chance to keep your spine pain-free, try these three simple exercises to start building a more resilient spine for all of life’s activities.

MCGILL CURLUPS

Back pain can often be traced to two simple culprits:

1. The lower back itself moves too much.
2. The joints around the lower back (e.g., hips and upper back) don’t move enough.

The McGill curlup teaches you to stabilize your lumbar spine (lower back) using your abs, while moving through the thoracic spine (upper back). The act of pushing the lower back into the floor is how you properly “brace” your abs, so remember how that feels because you should be using it for just about every other exercise you do.

The move: Lie on the floor, face up to the ceiling. Bend one knee until your heel is flat to the floor, a few inches away from your butt. Keep the other leg straight and dig the heel of that foot into the floor, pointing your toes to the ceiling. Place your hands under your lower back and actively push your lower back into your hands to engage your abdominal muscles. Bring your chin toward your chest but keep your head on the ground. Continue to push your lower back into the floor to gently lift your shoulders off the ground. Make sure not to curl your chin toward your chest or let your lower back leave the floor. Perform all your reps on one side, then repeat on the other side.

Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 5–10 reps per side, holding each rep for 3–10 seconds (hold each rep longer to make these more challenging)

BIRD DOGS

The McGill curlup teaches you how to brace your abs, now it’s time to put that stability to the test with bird dogs. This teaches you how to move your arms and legs around a solid core position without moving from your lower back.

The move: Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Flatten your back by bracing your abs much like you did with the curlup, but instead of pushing your lower back into the floor, tighten your abs as if someone is about to punch you in the stomach. Reach out with your opposite arm and leg until both limbs are parallel to the floor. Be careful not to arch your lower back — imagine keeping your leg long and low. Repeat with the other arm and leg, making sure to brace your abs on every rep.

If you feel like a fish out of water when doing bird dogs because you’re not quite coordinated enough yet, try them with just your legs first. Once you’re able to lift your leg parallel to the floor without arching your lower back, add in your arms, too.

Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 5–10 reps per side, holding each rep for 1–5 seconds (hold each rep longer to make these more challenging)

SHORT SIDE PLANK

Curlups and bird dogs mostly work your ab muscles on the front of your body: the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis. But we can’t forget the important oblique muscles, your “side abs.” The short side plank builds strength in your obliques to prevent unwanted twisting and side bending of the spine.

The short side plank resembles a traditional side plank but leaves your bottom knee on the floor for added stability. Think of it as a more user-friendly side plank so you can learn how to properly use your obliques to support your spine.

The move: Lay on your side with your bottom elbow and leg on the floor. Bend your knees until your upper and lower leg form a 90-degree angle. Tuck your bottom elbow tight to your side, squeezing your bottom fist. Lift your bottom hip off the ground while leaving your bottom knee and elbow on the floor. Pull your shoulders back and squeeze your glutes to keep a straight line from your head to your knees. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth for the duration of the exercise. Repeat on the opposite side.

Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 5–10 seconds per side. Even though 10 seconds may seem quick, exhaling forcefully (like you’re blowing up a balloon) can make even just 10 seconds seem challenging.

by Tony Bonvechio

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares:5 Science-Backed Solutions For a Healthy Lifestyle

 

5 Science-Backed Solutions For a Healthy Lifestyle

If you feel overwhelmed trying to build a healthier life for yourself, stop stressing. You can perform the simplest tasks and still create a more active, flourishing life. Plus, executing such small activities can put you on a path toward accomplishing your larger health and fitness goals.

If you struggle with any of these issues, try incorporating these easy actions into your daily life and you should begin noticing encouraging changes:

If you’re ever feeling unproductive, a power nap could help. In a study published by Sleep, researchers found a nap lasting as little as 10 minutes mitigated short-term performance impairment. “What’s surprising is how little sleep is necessary for better focus,” says Martin Rawls-Meehan, CEO of Reverie, an organization that creates sleep systems. Plus, he says a nap can reduce your body’s levels of cortisol — a stress hormone responsible “for a lot of the negative physiological effects.”

If you’re ever lacked the motivation to work out, spend a moment thinking of friends and family. In a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers asked 220 sedentary adults to complete one of two self-transcendence tasks: reflect on what matters most to them (such as friends and family) or make repeated positive wishes for both strangers and people they know. A control group reflected on what mattered least to them. Then, everyone viewed health messages encouraging physical activity. Results showed those who thought of others decreased their overall sedentary behavior versus those who did not think of others.

Researchers looked at data from almost 92,000 middle-aged people and found that those with disturbed sleep patterns were more likely to experience depression or bipolar disorder. Worse yet, one of the culprits of bad sleep was something completely within people’s control: scrolling the internet in the middle of the night on their cellphones, according to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry. To negate the negative effects of disrupted sleep, Rawls-Meehan suggests using an old-fashioned alarm clock and charging your phone overnight in the kitchen — completely out of reach.

Feeling sluggish and bloated? Dr. Brian Levine, the founding partner and practice director of CCRM New York, says to avoid foods like white rice and white sugar that cause inflammation. Although you might crave these foods, swapping them for a healthier alternative just one meal per week can help you begin a healthy diet transformation — you don’t need to make sweeping food changes right away.

For example, instead of chicken and rice, try chicken with cauliflower. You can pulse the vegetable in a food processor until it resembles the consistency of rice, say Jessica Jones, RD, and Wendy Lopez, RD, of Food Heaven Made Easy. Or, swap one cup of white sugar for a half a cup of honey. According to a review published in Pharmacognosy Research, “honey can act as a natural therapeutic agent for various medicinal purposes” such as diabetes and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

You don’t need meditation experience to begin a compassionate meditation practice. In fact, all participants in a study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience had no background in meditation. But in 20 minutes a day for two months, researchers found people who practiced compassionate meditation increased their social support, felt more purpose in life, decreased illness symptoms and enhanced their life satisfaction. To start such a practice, simply sit with your eyes closed, concentrate on your breathing and think of someone you love. As you get more comfortable, expand your thoughts to more people you know, then on to strangers and on to the world. Although you will still hear bad world news, you should start to achieve a healthier ability to digest negative information.

BY JENNIFER PURDIE JANUARY 5, 2019 NO COMMENTSSHARE IT:

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Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Rules For Better Planks and a Stronger Core

 

5 Rules For Better Planks and a Stronger Core

Planks are one of the hardest exercises to get right. Yet, most of us incorporate planks into our workouts, whether it’s running, lifting or doing bootcamp. What many of us don’t realize is we’re planking all wrong.

“Planking is the gold standard exercise for core strength and stability,” explains Shana Verstegen, fitness director at Supreme Health and Fitness in Wisconsin. Doing them properly has real benefits. “They will make you a better athlete, help prevent/reduce back pain and allow you to move better in life.”

Here, learn how to maximize the perks of this exercise staple.

Most exercises can benefit from a bit of glute engagement, and planks are no exception. “Squeezing your glutes causes a bit of a stretch in your hip flexors, which transfers more of the workload to the abdominal muscles,” explains Greg Pignataro, certified strength and conditioning coach at Grindset Fitness. And your abdominal muscles are what you’re trying to work, right? “Additionally, contracting the glutes will reduce strain on your lumbar spine by preventing your lower back from sagging,” Pignataro adds.

Seriously. “Dr. Stuart McGill, a professor from the university of Waterloo who has spent 30+ years researching the spine and back pain, touts groundbreaking research about core ‘stiffness,’” Verstegen notes. “Holding planks for 10 seconds at high tension followed by a brief rest period before the next rep creates a much stronger core with fewer injuries.

“Pavel Tsatsouline, most famous for popularizing kettlebell training, agrees. He designed the ‘RKC’ plank around this philosophy of full-body stiffness and also promotes shorter, stronger plank holds.” Try doing a set of 3–10-second holds with maximum contraction for the best core strength gains.

Just as every body is different, every perfect plank setup is different, too. “Due to individual differences in body size and limb length, the ideal position is probably slightly different for every single person,” notes Pignataro. “This is important, because planks should challenge your core musculature, not hurt your elbows or shoulders. Experiment by moving your elbows and feet a few inches inward, outward, backward or forward until you find your sweet spot!”

Some people struggle to feel their abs firing during planks. If that sounds familiar, try this: “Once in plank position, pretend you are looking over a fence by pulling your elbows down so you can get your head and neck to feel taller,” recommends Brian Nguyen, CEO of Elementally Strong. “This will pull your hips and shoulders into alignment and you should feel more where you want it … abs, baby!”

“To make your planks count, every muscle needed to stabilize your spine is firing at a maximal effort,” says Kari Woodall, owner of BLAZE.

Doing so can even even help with your preferred method of exercise. “If I want to crush my deadlifts, I need the requisite core strength to pick up something heavy. If my body doesn’t understand what a maximal contraction feels like, then I am not only limiting how much I can lift, but I’m increasing my risk of injury if I do pick up something heavy,” she explains.

Not feeling the burn? “Squeeze your armpits like you have million-dollar bills tucked underneath each one, and you get to keep the money if no one can rip them away from you,” Woodall adds.

BY JULIA MALACOFF FEBRUARY 4, 2019 4 COMMENTSSHARE IT:

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Concussion Management: What you need to know.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that causes a temporary disturbance in brain cells. A concussion is sustained when there is a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the brain inside the skull. The most common cause of a concussion is a direct impact to the head. A significant hit elsewhere in the body can transmit force to the head and neck and creates a whiplash effect. This type of impact can also result in a concussion.

Signs and Symptoms

• Nausea/Vomiting
• Headaches
• Dizziness
• Loss of Consciousness
• Sensitivity to light/noise
• Visual disturbance
• Neck pain
• Irritability/Mood changes
• And many more!

How are they treated?

When a concussion is suspected, the individual should be removed from play or activity. An immediate referral to a licensed health care professional with training in concussion management is crucial for early diagnosis and treatment. Once an assessment has been completed there are certain protocols that should be followed to ensure proper recovery. These concussion treatment guidelines may include:

• Relative cognitive and physical rest for first 24-48 hours
• Gradual return to normal daily activities
• Progressive exercise therapy
• Manual therapy of the neck
• Diet and nutritional recommendations
• Vestibular rehabilitation

Recovery

Roughly two weeks after a concussion is sustained, the brains energy levels return to normal. In this time span it is important to rest and prevent a second impact from occurring. This is especially important in younger athletes who may be eager to return to play. Signs and symptoms should continue to be monitored by a licensed health care practitioner.

 

For more information or questions about concussion management please contact drkyle@forwardhealth.ca.

 

Prevent and Treat Summer Sports Injuries with These Tips

Summer is the season when many competitive athletes and weekend warriors’ are most physically active. Hospitals get busier as well, seeing an increase in sports-related injuries. Many of these painful problems can be avoided with some basic pre- and post-workout practices that keep athletes ready to play and help them recover after.

“During the summer months we see an influx of patients with injuries associated with increased activity level; too much, too soon, too fast,” says Dr. Phil. “We also see an increase in injuries associated with environmental illnesses like heat illness and dehydration”.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

A traumatic injury occurs at one time, such as when someone sprains an ankle, tears a muscle, injures a knee or breaks a bone. A repetitive-stress injury occurs when an athlete repeats a movement, such as a baseball pitch or a tennis backhand. Over time, a muscle or ligament or tendon begins to wear down.

Athletes should pay attention to nagging soreness in joints and be careful about pain relievers that can hide a serious problem. A visit to a qualified sports medicine physician can help pinpoint an overuse issue that’s causing pain. Treatment often includes adding strength-training exercises that target the specific area. Athletes can then meet with his or her coach and work on improving the throw or swing that’s causing the problem.

The Stretching Myth

Athletes might be surprised to learn that stretching a muscle and holding that stretch before activity not only doesn’t reduce the risk of injury, it actually impairs sports performance and can increase a person’s risk for an injury. Holding a stretch, known as static stretching, desensitizes muscles and decreases vertical leap and power for approximately 15 minutes. It’s OK to do this type of stretching roughly 30 minutes before activity or immediately following, but not right before a jog or volleyball match.  Examples of dynamic stretches are: skipping, jumping jacks, quick lunges, arm circles and light jogging. After every workout, practice, game or match, athletes should static stretch to increase flexibility and improve future performance.

Static stretching is helpful after a workout or game. “Cooling down and stretching after activity shows benefits for injury prevention, particularly after consecutive intense workout days in a row,” says Dr. Phil.

RICE Might not be Nice

For decades, athletes have used ice to immediately treat sprains and other injuries. The most common method of treating sports injuries today is the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation). According to current sport researchers (including Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who coined “RICE” and that treatment in 1978), icing is actually the wrong way to go. Inflammation after an injury is a sign the body is working to heal the problem. When athletes ice an injury, they slow the healing process. The same happens when taking anti-inflammatory medications, such as cortisone shots or ibuprofen.

It’s OK to use ice to manage severe pain, but only for 10 minutes, followed by a 20-minute break, followed by another 10 minutes of ice and so on. Athletes should stop icing after six hours and visit a doctor if the pain persists. If pain lasts for more 48 hours, it might be a sign professional medical attention is needed.

Hydrate Properly

During the summer, people participating in hard physical activity should begin all exercise sessions well hydrated, recommends Dr. Smith. “If a person becomes thirsty during activity, he is at least one liter depleted of fluid and this is means he needs to hydrate.” An athlete should pre-hydrate with 17 to 20 ounces of fluid, two to three hours before exercise, and another 7 to 10 ounces of fluid 20 to 30 minutes before exercise, says Dr. Smith. If the activity last less than 45 minutes, water should be adequate for hydration. If the exercise lasts longer than 45 minutes, athletes should consume some post-exercise carbohydrates, either in a sports drink, energy bar, snack or meal.

Beware of Heat Exposure

Many people who get heat prostration don’t realize it and keep playing, eventually ending up in the hospital. On hot days, athletes should check themselves, their partners and teammates for signs of heat stress, such as bright red skin, a lack of sweating and cold, clammy skin. Wear light-colored clothes and hats that wick water away from skin (avoid cotton) and let skin breathe.

Safe Workout and Exercise Tips

Dr. Phil recommends the following tips to build a safe, enjoyable exercise program:

  1. Build Frequency – How often you perform an activity. Start 2-3 times a week and build from there.
  2. Increase Duration – How long you do an activity. Start with 20 minutes and build from there.
  3. Increase Intensity – How difficult your activity is. The recommended rate to increase the intensity of your program is no more than 10% per week.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: Kick Up Your Heels!

Not only can those brand new high-heeled shoes cause pain in your feet, they can cause low back pain as well. In fact, poor footwear can cause difficulties in the feet, knees, hips, low back and all the way up the spine. Generally, the best shoes for your body are relatively flat and provide adequate support.

Try these tips to reduce the pain on those high-heels days.

Shopping for shoes

Shop in the afternoon or evening, as your feet tend to accumulate fluid and swell throughout the day.

Choosing a shoe

  1. Choose a heel height that you can walk in gracefully. The effect of a high heel is easily negated by a clumsy walk.
  2. Try to choose a shoe with a heel height of no more than 2 inches. It’s a good compromise height that will still create the arched posture associated with high heels without sending you tipping out of them.
  3. Avoid buying shoes with a recessed heel, as it is one of the most unstable heel styles.
  4. Avoid shoes with many thin straps; these can dig into your skin causing pain and swelling.
  5. Ensure that the shoes have good support for the arches of your feet.

Give your feet a fighting chance

  1. Place a cushioning pad into the front of the shoe to pad the balls of your feet. This will also help keep your toes from getting wedged into the front of the shoe.
  2. Take a break from your heels now and then. Slip off your shoes discretely and stretch some of the tensed muscles. Wiggle your toes and make circles with your ankles to help increase circulation.
  3. Finally, after a long day or evening on your feet, give them a break. Wear a low, comfortable shoe the next day to rest your muscles. Soak your feet in warm water or give them a nice massage.

Thanks To the OCA for Sharing

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

10 Steps to Changing Your Life for the Better in 2016

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Happy New Year! This year, what do you say we all skip the New Year’s resolution? About half of North Americans make them, and most start out strong but come February or March, many have already thrown in the towel.

Overall, it’s estimated that 92 percent of Americans fail to achieve the goals they commit to on New Year’s Day.1 And so, I’m proposing this instead: in place of a New Year’s resolution, make a commitment to simply live better this year.

This is an ongoing process, a lifestyle change, not an impulsive resolution that you blurted out at midnight and have all but forgotten by morning. It’s also not something you can achieve overnight. Rather, this is a plan you can live by.

10 Steps to Changing Your Life for the Better in 2016

It’s the start of a new year — what better time to start fresh with some positive changes? The 10 that follow are the crème de la crème of lifestyle tricks you can use to live better and be happier — and isn’t that really what virtually all of us are after?

Below follows a brief introduction to the 10 points I suggest you commit to this year. In the coming months, stay tuned for an updated comprehensive nutrition plan, which is scheduled for release in 2016.

It will include these points in detail along with a plethora of additional recommendations, tips, and strategies to help you live the best life possible.

And, starting next week, look for forthcoming articles in the newsletter, which will cover each of these topics in depth. Are you ready to start fresh in 2016? Then keep on reading.

1. Give Up Soda

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver damage, osteoporosis, and acid reflux are just some of the health conditions linked to soda consumption. No wonder nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say they actively try to avoid soda in their diet.2

If you’re not yet among them, commit to swapping your soda for healthier beverages like water, sparkling water, and, occasionally, tea and/or organic black coffee.

When you consume soda your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain — a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.

This explains why so many people find it difficult to give up their daily soda “fix.” But, it can be done and you’ll feel better for it.

2. Eat Two Meals a Day, Within an Eight-Hour Window

Your body probably only needs two meals a day, and eating this way allows you to restrict your eating to a window of six to eight consecutive hours each day, while avoiding food for at least three hours before bedtime.

As long as you restrict your eating to a six- to eight-hour window, and avoid eating for at least three hours before bed, you can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.

Which two meals you prefer are up to you; let your body, and your lifestyle, be your guide.

This type of intermittent fasting has numerous benefits for your health, including weight loss, disease prevention, resolving insulin resistance, optimizing your mitochondrial function, and preventing cellular damage from occurring.

3. Get Eight Hours of Sleep Each Night

I used to think I was immune to needing adequate sleep. I would routinely get less than six hours a night and thought I could function this way. But, I’ve since realized that most adults really need about eight hours of sleep every night.

What makes sleep deprivation so detrimental is that it doesn’t just impact one aspect of your health; it impacts many.

Sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness,3 which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases.

Sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye per night double their chances of dying from heart disease.4

Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep.

This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). Lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin, while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin.

The resulting increase in hunger and appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. Not to mention, poor or insufficient sleep is actually the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50.5

Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep and, thereby, better health.

If you’re not sure how much sleep you’re getting, a fitness tracker can be beneficial for helping you keep track of the actual time you’re asleep (as opposed to the time spent in bed).

If you need more sleep, I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for details on proper sleep hygiene

4. Eat More Healthy Fats and Fiber

Public health guidelines condemn healthy fats from foods like butter and full-fat dairy, and recommend whole grains and cereals — the opposite of what most people need to stay healthy.

The latest science suggests healthy fats (saturated and unsaturated fats from whole food, animal, and plant sources) should comprise anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of your overall energy intake. Healthy fat sources include coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, nuts, and animal fats.

That’s right; butter need not be shunned and, in fact, is a beneficial source of healthy saturated fats, especially when it’s raw, organic, and grass-fed. In addition to eating more healthy fats, most Americans need to eat more fiber. A high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of some of the most common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

When it comes to boosting your fiber intake, be sure to focus on eating more vegetables, nuts and seeds (not grains). Organic whole husk psyllium is a great fiber source, as are sunflower sprouts and fermented vegetables, the latter of which are essentially fiber preloaded with beneficial bacteria. Flax, hemp, and chia seeds are also excellent fiber sources.

5. Eat Fermented Vegetables

Fermented foods are potent chelators (detoxifiers) and contain much higher levels of beneficial bacteria than probiotic supplements, making them ideal for optimizing your gut flora.

In addition to helping break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from your body, beneficial gut bacteria perform a number of surprising functions, including helping with mineral absorption and producing nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K2. They may also play a role in:

  • Preventing obesity and diabetes, and regulating dietary fat absorption
  • Lowering your risk for cancer
  • Improving your mood and mental health
  • Preventing acne

In the US, imbalances in gut flora are widespread due to diets high in sugar and processed foods as well as exposure to antibiotics, both in medicine and via CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) meats in your diet.

The solution is simple — in addition to cutting back on sugar and antibiotics, consuming fermented foods will give your gut health a complete overhaul, helping to clear out pathogenic varieties and promoting the spread of healing, nourishing microorganisms instead.

Just one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health. You can even start a new tradition by getting together with friends and family to make big batches of fermented vegetables together.

6. Sit Less and Walk More, Work on Your Flexibility

On average, a U.S. adult spends nine to 10 hours each day sitting,6 which is so much inactivity that even a 30- or 60-minute workout can’t counteract its effects.7

While it might seem natural to sit this long since you’ve probably grown used to it (physically and mentally), it’s actually quite contrary to nature. Studies looking at life in agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day.

Your body is made to move around and be active the majority of the day, and significant negative changes occur when you spend the majority of the day sedentary instead.

Setting a goal of taking 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five miles, or 6 to 9 kilometers) can go a long way toward getting more movement and less sitting into your life. This should be over and above any exercise regimen you may have.

In addition, stand up at work if you can, rather than sitting at your desk. Meanwhile, make it a point to gain flexibility, which will help keep you functional well into old age. Pilates, yoga, and whole body vibration training are options to help increase your flexibility.

7. Have Your Vitamin D Level Tested

It’s incredibly easy to boost your vitamin D levels, so there’s no reason to put your health at risk from low status. Yet, researchers such as Dr. Michael Holick estimate that 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. If you’re among them, your risk of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and other chronic disorders may be significantly increased.

In a study of more than 100 people, those with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, regardless of their weight.8

Dementia is also directly linked to vitamin D. Seniors who have low vitamin D levels may double their risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.9 As noted by the authors, “This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of vitamin D in nonskeletal conditions.” Incidence of several types of cancer could also be slashed in half if more people increased their vitamin D levels.

One of Dr. Holick’s studies showed that healthy volunteers taking 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day for a few months upregulated 291 different genes that control up to 80 different metabolic processes.

This included improving DNA repair to having effect on autoxidation (oxidation that occurs in the presence of oxygen and /or UV radiation, which has implications for aging and cancer, for example), boosting your immune system, and many other biological processes.

If you don’t know what your vitamin D level is, get tested. The vitamin D test you’re looking for is called 25(OH)D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D. This is the officially recognized marker of overall D status and is most strongly associated with overall health.

The other vitamin D test available, called 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25[OH]D), is not very useful for determining vitamin D sufficiency. While sunlight is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D, winter and working indoors prevent more than 90 percent of those reading this article from achieving ideal levels.

A high-quality tanning bed is your next best option, but if your circumstances don’t allow you to access the sun or a high-quality tanning bed, then you really only have one option if you want to raise your vitamin D, and that is to take a vitamin D3 supplement.

Regular testing is crucial in this case to keep your level within the optimal range. If you live in the U.S., January and February are ideal months to find out if you’re vitamin D levels are low.

vitamin d levels
Sources

8. Eat Nutrient-Dense Protein (Quality not Quantity)

Protein is essential for your health as it’s a structural component of enzymes, cellular receptors, signaling molecules, and a main building block for your muscles and bones. But, eating excessive amounts of protein could actually be worse than eating too many carbs. Excessive protein can stimulate two biochemical pathways that accelerate aging and cancer growth.

For optimal health, I believe most adults need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass (not total body weight), or 0.5 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. In this formula, you must first determine your lean body mass. To do that, subtract your percent body fat from 100. For example, if you have 30 percent body fat, then you have 70 percent lean body mass.

Then multiply that percentage (in this case 0.7) by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos. As an example, if you weigh 170 pounds; 0.7 multiplied by 170 equals 119 pounds of lean body mass. Using the “0.5 gram of protein” rule, you would need just under 60 grams of protein per day. Substantial amounts of protein can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts.

The quality of the meat you eat is just as important as the quantity. As a general rule, the only meat I recommend eating is pastured, grass-fed, and grass-finished, ideally organically raised meats (and of course, the same goes for dairy and eggs). Wild-caught Alaskan salmon and sardines are also excellent protein sources.

You can also get plenty of protein from plant foods. Consider hemp seeds (hemp hearts), chia seeds, spirulina, sprouts, and bee pollen, for instance.

9. Meditate for 5 to 10 Minutes a Day

Stress-related problems, including back pain, insomnia, acid reflux, and exacerbations to irritable bowel syndrome may account for up to 70 percent of the average US physician’s caseload.10 Such health-care expenditures are the third highest in the US, after only heart disease and cancer. New research suggests, however, that such costs could be cut drastically simply by becoming more relaxed.11

Both meditation and mindfulness are excellent for stress relief and relaxation, as are prayer, keeping a gratitude journal, and the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).   One simple way to incorporate such relaxation techniques into your life is to meditate first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed, to take advantage of your mind being in a quiet zone.

10. Help Others and Be Active in Your Community

Volunteering is a simple way to help others, but it’s also a powerful way to help yourself. Beyond the good feelings you’ll get from donating your time, and the potential to develop new, meaningful relationships with people in your community, volunteering has a significant impact on your physical health, including a boost to your heart health.

In one study, people who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who did not.12 People who volunteer for altruistic reasons, i.e. to help others rather than themselves, may even live longer than those who volunteer for more self-centered reasons.13

The benefits of being active in your community are particularly pronounced among older adults, a population that tends to slow down once retirement hits. There’s a definite social aspect, as if you’re socially isolated you may experience poorer health and a shorter lifespan.

Volunteering also gives you a sense of purpose and can even lead to a so-called “helper’s high,” which may occur because doing good releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol.

Giving back is about so much more than even that, though, as it will help you to connect with your community and contribute your time and/or talents to promoting the greater good.

Remember, most New Year’s resolutions do fail for one reason or another. So this year, try making a simple commitment to live healthier from here on out. Start slow and small as little changes can make a huge overall difference in your health. And, when you commit to a lifestyle, it’s no longer about meeting a particular goal, like losing 10 pounds. It’s about living a little bit differently, a little bit better, so that ultimately you’re happier and healthier for it.

By Dr. Mercola @  http://www.mercola.com

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

9 Tips for Fighting the Winter Blahs as the Days Grow Shorter

Picture of person biking in the evening time

We’ve rapidly approached the shortest days of the year. In some places, it’s getting dark as early as 4:30 right now. I often hear people comment about how depressing it is when they drive to work in the dark and return home in the dark.

Or if they have an office job, and leave at the end of the day and it is already dark. But from a yoga perspective, the winter solstice is the true new year, where you let go and bring closure to the past year.

Out of the dark comes the seeds of new growth, and the emergence of light and new beginnings. It is a time to contemplate all that doesn’t serve you anymore and let go, as you allow for more space to let the new in.

But still…on an every day basis, the dark days of winter can be a bit of a downer.

For some people, the lack of sunshine leads a condition even more severe than the winter blues – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Causes of SAD may arise from a change in serotonin levels due to lack of sunshine, as well as possible hormonal imbalances.

Even if you don’t meet the clinical requirements for a diagnosis of SAD, the winter blues are understandable. Lack of sunshine, bad weather and stress from the holidays can all leave you feeling more than a little frazzled.

For many people, stress can also trigger poor dietary and sleep habits. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Harness this potent time for new beginnings and growth.

Here are my recommendations for a little pick-me-up during the winter months.

1. Get outside  Sure the weather is poor in many parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay holed up in your house. Try to spend a little bit of time outside during daylight hours every day.

According to an article in Issues in Mental Health Nursing, insufficient vitamin D levels are associated with depression. Since your best source of vitamin D is sunlight, it’s understandable that during the winter months these levels drop.

To counteract this, head outside for 20 minutes whenever possible. Try taking a brisk walk during your lunch hour or stepping outside for a few minutes during your breaks at work.

The sunlight and fresh air will give you a mental boost that can make you feel better! Just bundle up with a hat and gloves, if needed, and you’ll be happy you got out.

2. Exercise You have to move that body to avoid feeling lethargic and heavy! According to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, exercise is an excellent way to fight the winter blues.

Picture of sneakers walking

One study showed that getting some form of aerobic exercise three times per week effectively improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

Another study showed the regular practice of yoga could lessen anxiety in women. Don’t you love modern studies that back up ancient practices that have been used for centuries prior? :)

3. Take vitamin D supplements While your best source of vitamin D is sunlight, getting enough sunshine during the winter months isn’t always possible in certain climates.

In an article for Psychology Today, James M. Greenblatt, MD recommends D3 supplementation as one factor in improving mood for cases of SAD.

4. Include whole grains and raw seeds in your diet  Whole grains such as quinoa  contain high levels of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that regulates the levels of serotonin in the brain.

Picture of a pumpkin seeds

Studies have shown that tryptophan is better than placebo at alleviating depression. Other foods high in tryptophan include raw sesame and pumpkin seeds.

5. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids The typical Western diet creates an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This imbalance can lead to a host of health issues, including depression.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include flax, hemp, chia, and pumpkin seeds, as well as vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and purslane.

6. Avoid caffeine, refined sugar, and alcohol The winter blues can leave you feeling a little blah. When this happens, many people feel it’s natural to self-medicate by turning to substances that pick you up and/or calm you down.

Using these substances, however, can wreak havoc on your energy, lifting you up and then causing you to crash.

To keep your mood steadier (and your body healthier), stick to a non-processed diet ofwhole foods and skip these unbalancing entities, like fish oil capsules.

7. Relax It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends during the winter. Relaxation is an important part of fighting anxiety and depression, however.

Picture of candles lit

It’s important during these winter months you take regular time for yourself. Sit with your feet up, gaze out a sunny window (another great way to get sunlight without going outside on the coldest of days, by the way), meditate, or engage in hobbies you enjoy.

Stopping and taking time for yourself is essential for recharging and renewing during the busy winter months. Reflect on what you are letting go of, and what you want to create as the light comes forth again.

8. Laugh Whether you spend time with funny friends, go to a comedy club, or take in the latest funny movie (Wedding Crashers, Zoolander and Forgetting Sarah Marshall are some of my personal classic funny faves!), laughter is a great way to fight the winter blahs.

 

Picture of woman laughing

Multiple studies have shown just how effective laughter is at staving off anxiety and depression, so make sure you take time regularly to get your funny on, and you’ll feel better this winter.

9. Start each day with a Glowing Green Smoothie   Winter causes many people to eat heavier, heartier foods in an attempt to warm themselves from the inside. Lightening up what you eat, however, may just help lighten your mood.

Picture of the Glowing Green Smoothie

That’s because when you eat heavy foods, your body diverts a great deal of energy to digestion.

Lighter fare allows you to use that digestive energy for – well – energy! Packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber, the Glowing Green Smoothie (GGS) is energy in a glass.

And since it won’t weigh you down, the GGS gets every day off to the perfect start, helping you feel light and energized all day long.

Say goodbye to those winter blues!

Thanks to http://kimberlysnyder.com

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

9 Totally Manageable Fitness Resolutions From The Pros

FITNESS EXPERTS NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

In practice, many ambitious fitness goals made on Jan 1. dissolve into self-defeating thinking and disappointment. But that doesn’t mean that all New Year’s resolution (or, really, resolving to make changes at point in time throughout the year) need to end in frustration and failure. The trick is making the right one.

Before you can even get that far, says Jessica Matthews, senior health and fitness expert for the American Council on Exercise and assistant professor of health and exercise science at Miramar College in San Diego, Calif., you need to take a long, hard look at where you currently stand on the fitness spectrum.

“Honestly acknowledge where you are currently in terms of your health and fitness level,” she tells HuffPost in an email. “While that spirit behind setting a New Year’s resolution is to make positive change to one’s health and fitness, so often people establish goals without being realistic about where they are starting from. Even if perhaps your current level of fitness is not where you want it to be, being honest with yourself about where you are presently and using that information as a baseline from which to work will help you to establish realistic, attainable goals for the new year.”

We asked a handful of fitness experts to share some ideas for realistic resolutions that will make a difference without feeling like a total overhaul. Here are a few of our favorite responses.

  • 1
    Hold A Plank
    “Alina Vincent Photography, LLC” via Getty Images
    “A very manageable fitness resolution that most people can stick to is holding a plank every morning, first thing out of bed. If you can spend one minute brushing your teeth, you can definitely find one minute to hold a plank. Planks are truly one of the best exercises I know of: They work your core and your entire body. Start with 30 seconds and build up to one minute. By doing this first thing in the a.m., you remind yourself to stay active all day.”
    Kristin McGee, celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor

 

  • 2
    Make It SMART
    Thomas Barwick via Getty Images
    “Set a SMART goal — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. For instance, ‘I would like to take three CrossFit classes a week for 60 days.’ If at the end of that 60 days, you achieved your goal, reward yourself with something worthwhile, such as a vacation or massage. Just as you set your resolution in the beginning of the year, also plan your reward. That way, when you’re on week five and you want to throw in the towel, you can remember that sweet reward that is oh-so-close!”
    –Collette Stohler, fitness expert, author of The Intuitive Athlete and HuffPost blogger

 

  • 3
    Find The Middle Ground
    Julia Nichols via Getty Images
    “Shift [your] mindset from the very common ‘all or nothing’ mentality. For many people, the start of the new year entails going from zero to 60, so to speak, almost overnight … If you are currently not exercising or are exercising very sporadically, it’s not very realistic to expect that you’ll overnight commit to exercising for one or two hours per day, six days per week. Often when individuals establish these ‘all or nothing’ [goals], if they are not able to stick with the unrealistic expectations, they end up doing nothing at all.”
    –Matthews

 

  • 4
    Touch Your Toes
    PhotoTalk via Getty Images
    “Setting a performance goal may help you stay more motivated compared to a weight-loss goal. For example, a goal of 10 pull-ups, or touching your toes, can create a healthy shift from focusing purely on aesthetics to performance. Keep in mind that in order for your body to move fluidly and efficiently, your joints need sufficient range of motion, which is why flexibility is so important. As the body performs better, the aesthetics typically follow. Think of a performance goal that really motivates you, and a goal that you can enjoy the process as you strive for it.”
    –Marc Perry, CSCS, ACE-CPT, CEO of BuiltLean

 

  • 5
    Keep A Journal
    hey! My name is Fucchon~ I love photography so much. via Getty Images

    “I’m actually a big fan of journaling. I wake up every morning, roll over in bed and open the journal I use. I read one inspiring quote for the day, then give three answers to the question, ‘What would make today great?’ Finally, I write my daily affirmation, which for me right now is ‘I am inspiring, a joy to be around and a patient teacher.’ Later, in the evening, I re-open the journal and answer the questions ‘What three amazing things happened today?’ and “How could you have made today better?’

    It may sound silly, but this morning practice has kept me laser-focused on my goals and on what I want to accomplish each day. My only regret is not beginning a daily journaling practice earlier in life!”
    Ben Greenfield, fitness and triathlon expert, Get-Fit Guy podcast host

 

  • 6
    Find A Buddy
    Thomas Barwick via Getty Images
    “Working out with a friend allows for a little friendly competition and increased accountability. Choose goals together and get to work! It’s always a little easier when you know someone is rooting for up and waiting for you at the gym.”
    Rebecca Mahoney, certified personal trainer and HuffPost blogger

 

  • 7
    Pick A Precise Number
    Terry Vine via Getty Images

    “[One of] the most common New Year’s resolutions is weight loss or fat or body weight composition changes. It helps if people determine a very specific amount of weight that they want to lose. Weight is easy to measure, as it requires a scale. The weight loss goal should be realistic. Too often people have unrealistic expectations for how much weight it is that they want to lose. Finally, you need to give yourself a very specific time table in which you want to accomplish this goal.

    From a physiology standpoint, there are a lot of factors that go into actually changing your body weight. We are not as simple as cars with a gas in/miles out function. People can get hung up on reducing calories by a very specific amount and not get the predicted weight-loss outcomes that they want. I encourage people to create goals that they can definitely accomplish, like: ‘Today I will go to the gym and I’ll try hard to do exercises appropriately and with effort’ or ‘The next meal I eat will be made up from healthy food choices and the portions will be appropriate.’ [Those are steps] toward reaching a goal of losing 5 pounds in 30 days. We have to be very clear about factors that we can control and factors that we can’t control.”
    –Pat Davidson, Ph.D., former exercise science professor, director of training methodology at Peak Performance in New York City

 

  • 8
    Don’t Stress About It
    Noe Montes via Getty Images
    “Move how it feels good for you to move every day. Don’t stress about it being an hour workout, but keep consistent. Five to 10 minutes of morning practice can set you up for feeling great so you make great choices all day long that [help you] continue cultivating a radiant you.”
    Tara Stiles, founder and owner of Strala Yoga

 

  • 9
    Find The Fun
    Pete Starman via Getty Images
    “Many people can get easily discouraged and give up when there’s too much emphasis on weight loss. Focus on the joys of exercise and movement instead. Take pride in your body getting stronger. Think about the boost in energy you get after a workout. Do set goals, but make them about making fitness fun: Commit to joining a class three days a week or to signing up for a race. Just find something you consider fun!”
    Chris Freytag, fitness expert, author of Get Started with Weight Loss andHuffPost blogger

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Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph