Back To School Chiropractic with Elevate

Back to School!

Well that came quick! What a wonderful summer. Alas, September is here and that means school for the kiddos. What better time than now to consider some important points regarding your children and your own health and NeuroStructural well-being.

S L E E P. It’s time to get on schedule. Over the next week, slowly try to get the kids to bed a little earlier each day and get them up a little earlier progressively so that they aren’t shocked that first week back to school. Studies show it’s better on our cortisol and therefore stress levels.

F O O D. Consider less grains and more fruit and vegetables for breakfast. Jettison the cereals and consider eggs (any style, I like hard-boiled because they are easy), oatmeal and fruit as alternatives. This will keep away the brain drain of late morning. Pack vegetables and hummus, fruit and tree-nuts (almonds, cashews etc.) for an energetic lunch rather than empty calorie junk food. This can make homework time easier after school instead of lethargic zombie-children emerging from the bus each afternoon!

B A C K P A C K. Test fit the backpacks on the kids. Teach them to put the heaviest books closer to the back and keep the straps snug so that the shoulders aren’t pulled back. Also encourage them to only carry what they need to have with them to minimize weight.

E Y E S I G H T. This is something to consider since this will be the first classroom work in a few months. Ask them if they are seeing the teacher and the lessons clearly. Eye and neck strain and hence structural issues could ensue if it is not appropriately managed. You can ask us about it too at your next visit. 

T E X T I N G. This is a big one. Encourage kids to hold the device vertically; minimizing the flexion of the neck. Long term, this position can traction the spinal cord reducing neurological efficiency and likely setting the groundwork for bigger issues down the road.

So there you have it. A few points to consider. Since routines are being re-established, this is also a good time to re-assess yours and your children’s spine and nervous system. Early detection of issues can allow for the opportunity to properly restore and protect the NeuroStructural systems of the body.

See you all soon and happy back to school!

Photo by Peter Hershey via Unsplash

Wear Your Helmet

Bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, Vespas- the wheels of summer. One of the biggest things you can do to stay safe is to wear the appropriate headgear for the sport. Now you may be saying: “When I was a kid, we never wore helmets and we were fine.” Indeed you may be fine but in all likelihood, you were just lucky.

Let’s talk about the brain. The most important system in your body is your nervous system- the brain is the commander in chief. Very soft and even small forces can have a demonstrable effect on your squishy grey matter up there. While protected by the skull, sudden shocks from hitting non-deformable objects like say, the ground not only create a fracture risk, they also introduce a huge damaging force to the brain with zero buffer. Ouch!

The helmet is designed to absorb and help to decelerate the forces minimizing the shock to the brain. This is important for the first hit and even more importantly any subsequent hits.

Of important note, traumatic brain injury doesn’t have to rear its ugly head immediately either. Functional issues can surface months and even years later in the form of depression, memory loss and cognitive difficulties. Helmets have been shown to decrease the permanent injuries associated with head trauma.

If you do happen to fall and hit the helmet, it is best to replace the helmet immediately. Most are designed for one major impact only due to the type of shock absorbing foam used. It is cheap insurance to protect the most valuable part of you. Please wear a helmet!

Metabolism and Weight Management: A NeuroStructural Perspective

Patients often report issues with weight management, and as we know, most strategies deal with the dietary aspects of food selection, quantity and quality. Last week we answered patient questions about how much you may want to consume throughout the day to maintain ideal metabolism. While this is significant, it is important to consider something more fundamental, the control of metabolism via the nervous system.

For normal resting function of the body, two things must happen. First, there needs to be balance and maneuverability in the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is comprised of two sub-components, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Consider these the gas and brake pedals of the body respectively. When stressors are applied from the environment in the form of physical, chemical and emotional stress, the nervous system must react and adapt. Under optimal conditions, the body can react to these stressors going into sympathetic dominance and quickly move back to parasympathetic control. This is critical since the parasympathetic component directs cognitive, immune and digestive function.

The second is what is known as proper tone of the Vagus nerve, which is roughly translated as the wandering nerve. The Vagus nerve exits from under either side of the skull above the first cervical vertebrae, courses along the neck and connects to every visceral organ in the body and more. Consider it as another set of brakes. Appropriate “Vagal Tone” is essential to keep the body’s systems in check for proper function- this includes metabolic processes.

When there are structural shifts of the spine that affect the tension or tone of the spinal cord and the branching nerves, a reduction in neurological efficiency is created. This in turn obstructs the ability of the body to quickly rebound from stressors as well as maintain proper Vagal Tone. Further, a reduction in the parasympathetic response that controls cognitive thought, immune function and digestion will ensue creating secondary conditions as foggy thinking, reduced immune response, fatigue and sluggish metabolism. Clearly the last point can directly affect weight management- we can all relate to this.

It is for this reason that specific NeuroStructural assessment of the neurological and structural systems is necessary to determine their current state. Restoring the balance of the autonomic nervous system is critical in restoring metabolism to proper levels which will promote proper digestion and absorption!

How does your digestion respond optimally after a chiropractic adjustment?

Photo thanks to Brooke Cagel at Unsplash

Patient Questions Answered: How Many Times Per Day Should I Eat?

Our friend & colleague, Christine Dionese, integrative health and food therapy specialist is here to answer a patient’s question on functional nutrition today.

Patient question: My sister eats six times a day and my boyfriend eats twice. Is there any science to how often we should be eating? Should I eat a certain number of meals per day? And, how important is it to eat breakfast?

Christine: How many times a day should you eat? Great question. Yes, there’s a lot of science behind how often we should eat, but the answer to your question is- it depends on your personal lifestyle. So, let’s take a look at your typical day. What type of exercise do you engage in, is your job sedentary or active, are you taking in enough food for your size, do you eat meat or are you vegetarian, vegan or pescetarian? These are all essential considerations to determine how many times you may want to eat each day. The amount of calories you ingest should be proportionate to your lifestyle and activity level, yet to avoid overeating, studies suggest eating at regular intervals.

I definitely do N O T suggest that you start counting calories. Counting calories stresses anyone and everyone out- who has time to count calories anyway?! You’ll know you’re getting enough or too much based on how you feel. Let’s face it, when we over- or under-eat, we feel tired or cranky and just not ourselves.

Breakfast is not any more important than other meals in your day per se, but without it, cortisol and insulin levels un-necessarily fluctuate. This fluctuation creates internal stress that can throw the entire rest of your day off; adversely affecting your natural ability to regulate the amount of calories you need. Your brain and metabolism are “sparked” in the morning by calories and without them, your body calls on reserves- this signals the cortisol/insulin response and it stresses your body out if it isn’t necessary. The same can happen if you skip any other meal, but what makes breakfast so important is that it sets the tone for the day ahead. If you want your body to naturally regulate the amount of calories it needs, eat breakfast everyday.

The research says eat at regular intervals to avoid overeating 

Research published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrine & Metabolism suggests that taking in meals at regularly scheduled times positively affects metabolism by reducing the amout of insulin that may be converted to adipose tissue. While weight management may not be your concern, this research suggests that the reduction in insulin can be considered pro-epigenetic information. Less insulin shifting equals less inflammation and less inflammation equals less stress. This means that eating at regular intervals not only helps you regulate weight, but also allows you to absorb the optimal amount of nutrients possible as you eat.

If you’re a go-with-the-flow type of person you might forget to eat. If you’re a regimented person, you may simply need to set a number of times to eat per day to make yourself feel relaxed. When deciding, keep a journal, see how you feel. Note whether your energy increases, fatigue reduces, you are maintaining your weight management goals and that you feel well. Consider the other variables I mentioned above and you’ll figure it out.

Choose nutrient dense foods to get the ultimate answer

What you feed yourself is the final part of this equation. Essential fats {more omega 3 than 6} + complex carbohydrates + easy to digest proteins will fuel your daily nutrient requirements and naturally satiate.

Buon Appetito!

Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Correen

Epigenetic Adaptation & Your Environment: The Flow of Control

“If you think you’re going to get cancer or your hair will turn gray at 40 or you’re going to develop an ulcer all because these events affected your parent’s health, guess again, you just might not. Why? All because of epigenetics,” says integrative health specialist Christine Dionese.

Your epigenetic landscape largely guides how your genes will behave, how they’ll adapt to ever-changing environmental conditions, how they’ll protect you, work for you, or, work against you.

You have so, so much control over your genes, their expression… your epigenetic landscape.

The quality of the food you eat, how much pollution you’re exposed to, the physical and mental stress you may encounter- these are the are variables that shape your everyday epigenetic wellness. All things you can control to a very large extent.

How you think, how you eat, how you decide to live your life… H O W you behave is what shapes your epigenetic landscape.

-Christine Dionese, integrative health specialist, friend and colleague to our practice.

There will always be variables coming at you from the environment that you are less apt to be able to control. Dr. Charlie will continue the conversation from here…

S T R E S S O R S will always exist in our lives- some favorable, others not. Your nervous system is the critical component that enables you to accurately assess and adapt to your environment. Any reduction in its efficiency leads to a subsequent change in how you are able to deal with the variables surrounding you.

For you to have control over your gene expression and ultimately your health, there must be a clear connection between the brain and the body. When stressors from your environment are present, you engage automatic adaptive responses to manage their effects.

The “tone” of the nervous system adaptively shifts; leading to physiological changes specifically recruited to deal directly with the stressors. However, this also leads to a shift away from the normal, restorative processes of the body including critical thinking, digestion and immune function.

Structural changes in the spine are associated with the tonal changes present- these associations can reduce your adaptive ability and to lead to a reduction in connectivity between the brain, the body and the environment. As time progresses, there is increased energy expenditure and a systematic loss of neurological coordination, capacity and reserves.

How do we restore and optimize from this loss?

To restore and optimize your adaptive ability and proper gene expression, you must have optimal, unobstructed neurological and structural systems. Before this can happen, you need to know your current status.

Our primary focus is NeuroStructural Optimization. We carefully assess your current neurological and structural state using objective means and upon identifying the external stressors and the internal obstructive situation, we enact a unique and complete process to restore, optimize and protect your ability to manage the stressors. The more appropriately you are able to manage your self, the better you can manage your environment.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Joshua Earle

The Sound of Health

I am often asked what is necessary to be healthy.  Some of the obvious things are diet, sleep and exercise. However, the most overlooked, and in my opinion, the most important, is a properly functioning nervous system. So a great question is: “what is the status of your nervous system?” More specifically, what is the “tone”? 

A good way to consider this is to imagine the finest cellist in the world playing the finest cello. Any piece played will be considered perfection.

What if the tension on each of the strings of the cello was changed? Upon playing, instead of the most beautiful sound, there would be sound but likely not music.

Consider that you are the cellist and your spine and nervous system is the cello. The nervous system is suspended like strings on the cello from the brain to the pelvis. If there are changes in position and movement of the spine- we refer to these as NeuroStructural Shifts, then, there are forces placed on the cord and nerves that branch out to the body; changing their tension or “tone.” This abnormal tension reduces the ability of the body to transfer information through and over the nerves.  The reason? The nerves are very sensitive to forces. The weight of a dime will literally reduce nerve efficiency by 15.4% to 78% though normal motion (1). 

Remember, these nerves control EVERYTHING including movement, and all body function, regulation, control and coordination.  In fact, without nerve impulses, you couldn’t live a split second! With this change in TONE of the nervous system, you are no longer making music, just noise.

So now what must be done? You tune the cello! However, before this can be done, you need to know the status of your nervous system. Specific and comprehensive NeuroStructural Examination and NeuroFunctional Assessment will determine the current state of tone. Then and only then, through NeuroStuctural Optimization, can there be correction of the NeuroStructural Shifts to restore proper nervous system tone, allowing you to make beautiful music.

(1) R. Scott Alderson, D.C., George J. Muhs, D.C., DABCN, CCN “The Effects of Mild Compression on Spinal Nerve Roots with Implications for Models of Vertebral Subluxation and the Clinical Effects of Chiropractic Adjustment.” J. Vertebral Subluxation Res., 4(2), 2001;37-49

What Does it Mean to be Healthy?

What does it mean to be healthy? Is it a place I can get to? First, we must agree that health is not a destination but a continual pursuit. It is a pursuit of increased capacity to adapt to everything around you, your environment and your stressors.

Agreed? Okay, so what defines your stress?

Stress in its three forms; physical, chemical and emotional are a constant barrage on the body. It causes changes in the body structurally that reduce your neurological efficiency. The status of your nervous system directly affects your ability to maneuver in your world. There are two ways to increase the gap between them, which is the difference between the affect of your stressors on you and your ability to deal with them.

Either you reduce the stressors or you increase your efficiency.

Looking at this closely, you can only reduce your stress so much. Life happens. Hence, you need a way to increase your ability to deal with those stressors. This is what NeuroStructural chiropractic looks at. As the effect of stressors in your body are reduced through specific care, there is a subsequent increase in the nervous system’s ability to function and deal with your environment; your stressors.

The difficult part in this whole situation is that you may not know you have a problem since the primary cause itself is painless. This is why a comprehensive NeuroStructural and NeuroFunctional evaluation is crucial to understand what your current health status is.

Today is the beginning of the rest of your life; a journey in the pursuit of health. Before you can embark on any endeavor, you need to know where you are now to set the course. Learn more.

Photo courtesy of Davide Ragusa via Unsplash