Elevate Chiropractic

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