Check out these simple changes you can make at work to prevent further breakdown of your health.
The average American sleeps about 7 hours per night according to estimates. That is a long time to be in a relatively still position. Is it bad to sleep in a position that compromises your spine all night? Evidence suggests that poor sleeping habits may affect your health. One way to counter this is with pillow that supports proper spinal structure.
What is proper spinal structure you may ask? If you’re a back sleeper, your pillow should tuck into the base of the neck while reinforcing the normal C-shaped curve. If you’re a side sleeper, your pillow should support your head and neck so it remains in line with the rest of your spine. Stomach sleeping does not support normal spinal structure, so we do not recommend it.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words:
Think about it like a car. If the car’s alignment is off, what will happen? Will the tires wear more on one side than the other? Will the brakes gradually give out on the side with abnormal stress? Eventually, it could affect the whole car. Your body is no different. When your spine shifts from normal alignment, it puts added stress on the ligaments, bones, muscles, blood vessels and even the electric wiring (spinal cord) of your body. This can wear you down and cause secondary issues like muscle spasm, neck pain, headaches and more.
This is why at Keystone Chiropractic we evaluate and investigate what type of pillow our patients use to make sure it complements the correction phase of care. We measure your shoulders and make sure the pillow is the correct size. Your results are as important to us as they are for you. Our goal is to address as many factors that contribute to structural shifts of the spine as we can. After all, structure determines function.
There is no such thing as a silver bullet when it comes to health. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes. However, your body DOES have an amazing ability to heal and recover, sometimes far quicker than you might expect.
Plants for example, require sunlight, water, and nutrient-rich soil. If you have a plant with yellow leaves, the most obvious solution would be to simply meet the requirement that is lacking (i.e. more sunlight), and not just paint the leaves green.
In a similar manner, every human being has certain vital requirements that are essential for optimal health to occur. We need movement, nutrient dense foods, structural integrity and a healthy functioning nervous system, to name a few.
Meeting the nutritional requirements of the body can be hard. There is contradicting information and it’s hard to know what advice to follow.
When it comes to nutrition, it can be boiled down to a simple fact; you need to supply your body’s nutrient requirements in the most efficient way with the least amount of toxicity.
A great first step to ensure you’re getting your body’s nutrient requirements is to increase the amount of foods that are nutrient dense. This includes foods that have protein, fat, vitamins and minerals the body needs. These foods are usually found in nature, NOT in a package. Vegetables, fruits, healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, etc), lean meats (turkey, grass fed beef, chicken, wild salmon and fish), and fermented foods (kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut) are all great choices to meet your body’s requirements.
However, over the past 200 years there has been disruptions in the food supply and its nutrient profile.
Changes that have occurred:
As mentioned we recommend to turn to real food whenever possible to meet your body’s nutrient requirements.
There are two key 2 Essential Supplements we recommend to make sure your body is getting everything it needs. The best available evidence says most Americans are deficient in the following:
People used to get essential fatty acids from many sources like wild game, seafood, grubs, and insects. All fatty acids are essential, but it is optimal to have them within a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio (Omega 3 : Omega 6). Most western cultures are expected to have a ratio of 1:10 and even up to 1:50. The higher the ratio, the more likely inflammation is present in the body which creates an environment ripe for disease.
Supplementing with a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil has been proven to be the best way to re-balance this ratio. It also is helpful to decrease sources of Omega 6 you consume (whole grain bread, vegetable oils, cereal, nuts, etc).
How much do you need?
This largely depends on the supplements you’re taking, but typically 2-4 grams of EPA/DHA per day. Please consult your preferred health provider before beginning supplementation.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a critical nutrient that is essential in immune function. Vitamin D deficiency can happen for different reasons:
In Des Moines, Iowa to get your daily dose of Vitamin D, it takes about 15 minutes of sitting in the sun with as much skin exposed as possible (swimsuit, or shorts and tank top). This is possible to achieve from May through September.
It is hard to obtain enough Vitamin D during October through April, so we recommend Vitamin D supplementation especially during the winter months.
At Keystone Chiropractic we do NOT recommend every supplement under the sun and only carry the highest quality supplements including Omega 3 and Vitamin D. A bonus is that both of these nutrients are vital in supporting an optimal functioning nervous system.
It is important to keep in mind at all times of the year, but as the mercury rises, it’s more important than ever to focus on how much fluids your body receives each day. Water is one of the most essential components of the human body; it makes up over half of it! It regulates body temperature, cushions and protects vital organs & joints, aids in digestion, and waste elimination.
It is important to drink water even before signs of thirst appear. Thirst is a signal that your body is already on the way to dehydration. It is important to drink more than thirst demands and to continue to drink throughout the day.
In one hour of exercise the body can lose more than a quart of water, depending on the workout intensity and air temperature. If there is not enough water for the body to cool itself through sweating, the body enters a state of dehydration. The efficiency of Oxygen delivery to muscle tissue and waste removal is decreased which allows fatigue to set in sooner. In other words, exercise performance suffers.
During exercise, water is the best fluid replenisher for most people, although electrolyte drinks help replace lost store through high-intensity exercise exceeding 45 to 60 minutes. Individuals who sweat profusely during exercise and whose sweat contains high amounts of sodium (you may notice salt rings on your clothes or “gritty” feel to your skin) you may benefit from an electrolyte drink.
A general recommendation is to drink half of your body weight in ounces (Example: a 150 lb person should drink 75 ounces per day).
If you exercise, you’ll need more.
Carry a water bottle with hash marks so you can keep track throughout the day. Set reminders to help you stay accountable. Track your progress in a journal or using a smart phone app like this one.
Sample hydration schedule for an average 150 lb person:
Drinking water both before and after meals help aid digestion and can help curb appetite, which may be helpful for weight loss.
If you find it hard to choke down plain water all day to get enough, try infusing it with flavorful fruits like lemon and raspberries. There are many fresh recipes for fruit infused water here.
What about coffee?
You may have heard to avoid coffee if you want to stay hydrated. A recent study debunks the myth that it also causes dehydration. A daily cup can contribute to your water needs, coffee can also give you a sharper memory and boost athletic endurance and performance.
Eating foods high in water content (fruits and vegetables) also provide an added bonus of fiber, electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals.
Foods with 90% or more water content include watermelon, cucumbers, celery, strawberries, bell pepper, cantaloupe, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, pineapple, carrots, grapefruit, broccoli, and tomatoes.
Many people are conscious about the types of foods they include and exclude from their diet to optimize their health. Make sure you don’t overlook one of the most important nutrients you body needs to properly function each and every day – WATER!
Have you ever wondered how you are able to walk through your house in the middle of the night, and still with a reasonable amount of confidence, not run into walls?
It is pretty obvious that being in your own house you have seen it numerous times during the day that you are able to recall from memory, to a relatively accurate degree, where dangers would be when navigating the hallways and stairs at night.
This might seem like a simple concept, but it is a very important part of having optimal balance and coordination. Try this for a moment:
Stand up from your chair, have your hands at your sides, and now try and touch the tip of your nose with the tip of your left index finger.
How did you go? Chances are you were successful, but why? How does this work?
Your brain is always in constant communication with your body and your body is in constant communication with your brain, this information going from your body to your brain is called PROPRIOCEPTION. Proprioception is what allows your brain to have an internal map of where your body is in space, as well as where your body is relative to other objects, even with your eyes closed.
How does this relate to balance?
If for some reason your brain does not have a clear internal map of where your body is relative to its environment, then your balance and coordination would be compromised. Think about it like this; if you are walking through a dark house, but instead of your own house it is one you have never seen before. How do you think you would do? I would imagine a few yells in the dark as you stub your toe or bump your head. In a similar way, if there is a breakdown in the communication between your brain and your body, your brain won’t have an accurate internal map of your body relative to its environment and your balance and coordination will suffer.
Structural Shifts in the spine obstruct the communication between your brain and body, affecting the brains internal map of your body relative to its environment. When your brain does not have an accurate internal map of the body relative to its environment your balance and coordination will suffer.
Now you might be saying: “My Balance is Fine”
Your balance may be fine compared to a clumsy sibling, but is it good as it can be? If you have a Structural Shift in your spine obstructing the communication between your brain and your body, then your balance may not be as good as it can be.
Altered Proprioception is not just an issue that affects your balance; it might mean you get injured more often (not just injuring your back or neck, but your shoulder, ankle etc.). It affects your workouts or ability to play sports; think about how important coordination is to golf, tennis, cross-fit etc.).
Whether you have poor balance, want to perform at your best in sports or just get injured less often, it is important to have a clear communication between your brain and your body (Proprioception). Structural Chiropractic focuses on correcting structural shifts in the spine, clearing up the communication between your brain and body, leading to better function, less accidents & falls, and a healthier you. Allowing your brain to have a clear internal map of your body and how it relates to its environment, just like when you were walking through your house in the dark.
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Wishing you a healthy 2016! A new year is a time many reflect on the past year and look ahead to what’s to come. What are you looking forward to? Are there areas of your life you wish to improve? Some of the most common goals at the start or at other times of the year have to do with improving one’s body both inside and out.
Our body, for one reason or another always seems to get put on the back burner. Media, fashion, advertisements, and personal success all pull us one direction while our couch, convenience foods, sugar, and cigarettes will pull us in another. What suffers most is the body.
Health and wellness is one of the best gifts you can give yourself or a loved one. The one question our office can help with is, “Can I be healthier then I am now?”.
Keystone Chiropractic can help provide you with an answer by looking at your spine carefully for Structural Shifts.
Abnormal shifts in the spine can result in secondary conditions such as muscle tension, knee pain, migraines, low back pain. In addition, shifts in the spine can also obstruct the nerves that allow the body to manage and moderate its numerous functions.
The human body itself is extremely adaptable and resilient. This is why it can take years or of small repetitive trauma to eventually manifest as noticeable secondary problems mentioned above. Once your nervous system and body is overburdened due to abnormal shifts in its underlying foundation, it will function less than optimally and can take quite a bit of work to undo the damage.
Correcting abnormal shifts in the spine has far reaching effects structurally throughout the body, but also functionally to all the different systems that automatically regulate your body.
When following through on your goal to live healthier and happier, sometimes figuring out where to begin is the toughest part. Make this 2016 the healthiest yet and find out if NeuroStructural Chiropractic is the right fit for you. You’ll be glad you did!
The holiday season is underway with many parties and other festivities around the Des Moines area. Perhaps you’ve already attended holiday parties with friends, family, or coworkers and have more to look forward to. These gatherings often have a focus around FOOD!
You may have seen headlines or read articles on ways to cut carbs or make healthy alternatives for the holidays. I could certainly focus this article around that, but don’t believe it to be very practical. For many, the holidays are a time to indulge a little, and that’s OKAY just as long as you don’t get trapped on the cycle of indulgence (ceasing your workouts, eating lots of sugar, partaking in endless leftovers, etc).
We certainly aren’t nutritionists, but in today’s post we’ll expand on a simple philosophy that will allow you to think differently on how you approach the abundance of food you may find yourself around in the coming weeks and in the year to come. This philosophy is Hell Yes or No. It can be applied to many areas of life, but today we’ll apply it to eating.
If you’re looking to indulge in something that makes you say, “Yeah! I REALLY want that because I’ve been looking forward to enjoying it” – then it’s a YES! Anything that’s less than that is a NO. It sounds ridiculously simple because it is. If you’re more analytical, you could give it a rating on a scale of 1-10. If it’s anything lower than a 9 or 10, then it’s a NO.
For example, there’s a dessert spread at a holiday gathering with my mom’s homemade pumpkin pie, store-bought cupcakes, brownies, apple pie, and chocolate chip cookies. I love my mom’s pumpkin pie and she only makes it once a year. For me, the pumpkin pie is what I know I’d really enjoy; it’s a yes. The rest of it, I could certainly eat, but wouldn’t be too upset if I passed on it.
The thing to keep in mind during the holidays and all year is that changing your diet for a meal or even ONE day will not kill your eating habits. In fact, it can reinforce your good eating habits. How? Well, you may feel like garbage after gorging on sweets, alcohol, or a heavy meal.
When you eat right most of the time, your body signals you so you know when you’re doing things wrong. The problem is that this plan doesn’t work if you choose to let the entire holiday season derail your health goals.
Try out the Hell Yes or No philosophy over the coming weeks and into 2016 and see if it makes a difference for you.
Often times, when describing Neuro-Structural Correction to a patient, we’ll liken it to the alignment of a car. If there is a shift within the frame of the car, or a structural issue, secondary problems are likely to occur. Similarly, when there are structural shifts of the spine, secondary conditions are likely to arise. And, just like your car, your body also requires the proper fluid levels to operate efficiently.
Did you know that your body is mostly water; over 60 percent, in fact. Even the lightest of activities throughout the day can begin to deplete that percentage, leading to dehydration. This lack of fluids could ultimately lead to a lack of proper function of your body.
Indicators of dehydration include:
One would also think that thirst would be a sign of dehydration, but it is a bad indicator. Most likely, fluid levels have been depleted for some time before someone becomes thirsty. The best way to fight dehydration is to drink water before you’re thirsty.
Since our bodies are mostly water, maintaining proper hydration is essential to optimal health. Decreased water intake could potentially lead to a variety of health problems that could affect every organ system, from your heart and lungs, to your skin, and even your brain and nervous system.
Some specific effects of chronic dehydration may include:
Keeping hydrated allows your heart to pump blood with less force through blood vessels and to the body so everything can work efficiently. It allows your lungs to expand and contract appropriately when you take a breath in and out. Maintaining proper fluid levels allows you to seat when you exercise, cooling your body when it’s needed. And, most importantly it can help your brain and nervous system function correctly by helping ensure the proper concentration of neurotransmitters, which the brain and nerve cells use to communicate.
Many people believe that if you’re putting fluid into your body, you are helping to maintain proper hydration. While intensive exercise may require you to use a sports drink (which is best used diluted; 50% sports drink, 50% water), regular hydration is best achieved by drinking WATER. In fact, a goal to aim for is to drink half of you body weight, in ounces.
For example, if someone weighs 160 pounds, they should try to drink approximately 80 ounces of water each day.
Some beverages can actually lead to dehydration. These include alcohol and caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, soda). Beverages, such as these, are actually diuretics (they make you urinate) and therefore deplete the fluid levels of your body.
As you may know, many foods contain high amounts of H2O. If you find it hard to guzzle water during the day, many fruits and vegetables can help fulfill your fluid requirements in addition to providing key nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Fruits: watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, cantaloupe all have over 90% water content per volume.
Vegetables: cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, radish, celery, tomatoes, green cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, red cabbage, peppers, spinach, and broccoli are all over 90% water by volume.
Drink early, drink often, and drink after!
Drink early – if you are planning to work out, make sure you are drinking water well in advance of your activity (1-2 hours). And, remember you should drink water before you become thirsty.
Drink often – your body will function better if you take small drinks or sips of water rather than chugging a large amount all at once.
Drink after – no matter how hard you try to maintain fluid levels during a workout, or throughout the day, it is important to drink water after you finish an activity, or at the end of the day to ensure you are hydrated properly.
Proper hydration is essential to a properly functioning body. Follow these simple steps to help ensure optimal health.
We are asked a variety of questions by patients, family, and friends. Common ones include, “What treatment works? Does acupuncture work? How about massage therapy? What about physical therapy? Would conventional chiropractic help? Maybe surgery is the best thing?” Of course, the number one inquiry of Keystone Chiropractic is if Neuro-Structural Chiropractic works.
Not all forms of treatment or care will work for everyone 100% of the time. Whether you favor one therapy or another, a more important consideration is the quality of the practitioner. The intelligence and ethical responsibility of the healthcare professionals is paramount in delivering quality care. Are they honest? Do they care about your needs? How are they at honing their skills?
Through our experiences not only as patients, but also as professionals, we’ve encountered brilliant medical doctors, highly skilled nurses, and exceptional physical therapists. Some do great work, while others just seemed like they didn’t care, and it reflected in the work that they did. There are good and bad apples in every profession, including chiropractic.
The quality of the healthcare provider is not the only thing that matters – it’s just the MOST important! Unfortunately, finding the right fit of someone that delivers their best, with a good heart and brain, can be a challenging task. As a prospective patient looking for help, word-of-mouth or a referral from another credible provider, family member, or friend could be a starting point.
If you are still getting caught up in deciding whether one treatment or type of care would suit you better than another, you should probably stop there. Instead seek out a quality provider, because that person will direct you down the road you need to be on (even if it’s not with them). That’s one of the huge differences between mediocre and great doctors.
As uncomfortable as it is, YOU need to empower yourself to inform the healthcare provider that you are just “checking them out.” Many offices offer a complimentary consultation for this purpose. Similar to buying a home or a car, it’s important to do your due diligence when selecting a healthcare professional. Here is what we recommend you “check out.”
As healthcare providers, we urge you to find professionals that are compassionate, knowledgeable, and honest. It might not be easy, but it certainly is worth it to have a team of quality practitioners on your side.
You may have noticed that brain health makes its way into the news now and again, especially as it relates to things like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and overall cognitive function. Why is it a big deal? In short, your brain is your most valuable health asset. The brain and nervous system work together to control and coordinate every function in your body.
At Keystone Chiropractic, we take brain and nervous system function very seriously. There are a number of things you can do to optimize your brain health, but today’s post will address foods you can add to your grocery list to help your brain and nervous system work the best they can. Are there more than 5 foods that help brain health? You bet. Today we’ll outline the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.
First, we must mention that the best place to start is to eat more unprocessed whole foods. Real foods are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and countless other phytochemicals that nourish your brain cells (and even grow new ones).
When choosing your foods, remember that it’s not only a matter of how many calories they contain and whether or not they might make you “fat”- it’s a matter of choosing those that contain the nutrients to support optimal health, including that of your brain.
You may have read that Omega 3 fatty acids, which are found in Wild Alaskan Salmon, are great for cardiovascular health. Omega 3’s are great for your brain, too. As you age, or due to diseases like Alzheimer’s, your brain volume decreases. Recent research published in Neurology suggests that Omega 3’s may slow this process.
The study, which included over 1,000 women, measured the levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. The results showed that those with higher levels of EPA and DHA in their blood had larger total brain volumes according to an MRI scan.
Those with higher Omega 3’s also had a nearly 3 percent larger hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory. Even before symptoms appear, in diseases like Alzheimer’s, the hippocampus has most likely begun to shrink in volume.
Higher levels of EPA and DHA can be achieved through both diet and supplementation. The best sources of these Omega 3 fatty acids are fatty fish such as Wild Alaskan Salmon. Supplements are also an option, and while getting Omega-3’s through diet is preferred, many Americans are deficient, so a high quality supplement may be needed.
Eggs, more specifically the yolks, are a leading source of choline. Choline is a precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in helping you remember things like where you left the car keys. Eating protein rich foods like eggs for breakfast can improve overall cognitive performance, according to Swiss researchers.
Flavonoids are found in foods like blueberries, apples, citrus fruits, green tea, and in cocoa. Flavonoids take part in multiple cellular processes, depending on the type of flavonoid. They can also be responsible for may aspects of brain function. They do this by influencing how neurons “talk” to each other and by increasing the levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce damage to cells in the brain. There is also some evidence that flavanoids can stave off not only cognitive decline, but also brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
One nutrient that you may not be so familiar with is the spice, curcumin. Even if you have never heard of it, it is likely that you have tasted it. Curcumin is from the root of the tumeric plant; it gives curry its yellow color.
Animal studies have shown that it actually clears away Alzheimer’s-causing proteins in the brain called amyloid plaques.
You can add some curcumin – tumeric – to your own cooking to get a dose of this powerful polyphenol. It seems that some of the most interesting foods and flavors contain some of the most potent brain-boosting molecules.
You may not be fond of eating your greens, but there’s a reason why you hear over and over that they’re one of the best things to add to your diet. Harvard Medical School researchers found that women who ate the most vegetables – especially leafy green vegetables (spinach and romaine lettuce) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) – experienced a slower rate of cognitive decline than women who ate the least vegetables.
This one shouldn’t be a big surprise. Every cell in your body needs what to thrive, and your brain cells are not exception. Approximately three-quarters of your brain is water. A small Ohio University study found that people whose bodies were well hydrated scored significantly better on tests of brain power, compared with those who weren’t drinking enough. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces ever day. For example, if someone weighs 150 lbs, they should get 75 ounces of water.
Many people have concerns about visiting a chiropractic office and the potential exposure to ionizing radiation through spinal x-rays. People are concerned with the cumulative effects of the radiation, particularly after the media and TV icons discuss it.
The use of x-ray, even in chiropractic, is mixed. Some use it to rule out conditions, like fractures, arthritis, and cancer, while others do not use it at all. We’re not here to argue the pros and cons of x-ray use. That is not our purpose here to day.
When it comes to Neuro-Structural Chiropractic and examining the mechanics of the spine, we at Keystone Chiropractic use precise Digital Structural Radiography. These allows us to capture specific images which help identify the specific structural shifts that may exist in your spine. These structural shifts can create significant problems, even with very small shifts; down to 1mm. A small displacement of the spine can affect the brain stem, spinal cord, and the nerves that branch from there. It obstructs the nervous system from properly communicating with, and controlling the body. The longer a structural shift persists, the greater the chance that secondary conditions begin to appear.
As Neuro-Structural Chiropractors who focus on restoring your spine toward its normal position, performing an adjustment without the use of x-rays is the same as guessing. The difference between relief from debilitating migraine headaches for the first time in months, or continuing to battle daily migraines can come down to very small shifts in structure.
What many people don’t understand is that Digital Structural Radiographs will expose you to LESS radiation that dental x-rays and CT scans. You are even exposed to more ionizing radiation if you fly across the country, from California to New York.
We would all agree that having a sound foundation of your house is important. And, it is important that the foundation of your body, your SPINE, is sound as well. Would you want someone working on your house without first taking precise measurements? While Neuro-Structural Correction certainly isn’t for everyone, the unique radiographs used in the office help us provide the highest quality of care we can, so YOU can protect your health.
You’ve likely heard that not getting enough quality sleep can be detrimental to your health. As a matter of fact, there is quite the price to pay. Being sleep deprived can impair memory, decrease performance and alertness, lead to depression/anxiety, and decrease immune function, leaving you more susceptible to disease.
If that doesn’t motivate you, maybe the following will. Research has found that people who get less sleep are much more likely to OVEREAT and put on EXTRA WEIGHT.
While practicing, we’ve taken care of several people that have struggled with sleep issues related to structural abnormalities within the spine. These issues include sleep apnea, disrupted sleep, and insomnia. When these people began sleeping well again, their lives and health began to improve in many ways they didn’t expect.
Sleep isn’t just about having enough energy to get through the day. When you are sleeping, your body is hard at work repairing and creating new cells. Your body’s biggest window for healing is the invaluable 8 hours you spend horizontal. A good night’s sleep lowers your insulin levels, normalizes hormone balance, and slows processes of aging.
When you are sleep deprived, the hormones in your body that regulate your weight and appetite are not functioning the way they should. When appetite isn’t regulated, you’re more likely to overeat and your body falls into a state of insulin resistance, which puts you on the path toward Type II Diabetes
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West Des Moines, IA 50266