Avoid an Energy Crisis

One of the most common problems that people talk about is lack of energy.  If you’re reading this right now, you may be in the midst of a mid-afternoon crash, and looking fofatiguer some stimulation to keep your energy and focus up.

The “energy crisis” problem has become so widespread that energy drinks such as 5 Hour Energy®, Red Bull®, Monster®, and the like, have become a massive 9 billion dollar industry!

So, what’s the deal?  Why are so many people running on fumes in terms of energy?

Are we not sleeping enough?

Are we working too hard?

Do we all have a caffeine deficiency?

If you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense that people inherently need a pick-me-up during the middle of the day.  Quick fixes like energy drinks and heaps of coffee exist, but you may be looking for a long term strategy that can help create a higher energetic state without the detrimental effects.

4 Steps to Sustainable Energy

1. Start the Morning Fresh

There’s a lot of debate about how much sleep the average adult needs.  The truth is, everyone operates well with varying amounts.  The most important factors are consistency of sleeping times and the timing of your wake cycle.

There are a variety of sleep tracking apps and wearable devices on the market.  An app that you may find useful is Sleep Cycle.  It allows you to place your phone under your sheets and it senses how much you move during the night.  You set an alarm with a 30 minute window to wake you up.  Using these criteria, the application will sound the alarm during your lightest period of sleep.

The end result is waking up at a time when you will feel refreshed, even if it means waking up a little earlier than your set alarm time.  Using an inexpensive application like this can make early mornings seem MUCH more bearable.

2. Get the Right Fuel

We won’t go into too much depth today on fueling your body.  Keep an eye out for our December Keystone Update in your inbox that will discuss this more in depth.  In terms of fueling your body with food for lasting energy, keep in a mind a few things:

A. Avoid Processed Carbohydrates and Refined Sugar

Processed grains, which lack fiber and nutrients, and refined sugar both get digested and absorbed quickly, which can wreak havoc with your blood sugar and energy levels.  Ditch sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea, and lemonade and stick with carbohydrates from whole foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats.

B. Avoid Carbohydrate-Only Meals

Carbs are the most efficient source of fuel for every cell in your body, which is probably why they’re so abundant in nature, and why they get digested and absorbed pretty quickly.  But if you’re looking for sustained energy over a longer period of time, combine carbs like fruit and grains with lean protein and good fats.  That means steady rise in blood sugar and better insulin control, so your cells will receive even, time-released fuel (read: energy) over a longer period of time.

C. Eat the Rainbow

…And NO, we’re not talking about Skittles®.

Eating a wider variety of foods exposes your body to a broader spectrum of antioxidants and nutrients, which means better overall nourishment and energy.  Expand your variety by aiming for five different colored fruits and veggies every day (blue, green, orange, red, white) and use a variety of antioxidant rich herbs and spices to season your food (basil, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, etc.).  Ensuring your body is getting both the macro nutrients (fat, carbs, protein) and micro nutrients (vitamins & minerals) it needs helps optimize energy through food.

3. Get Moving

It doesn’t have to be extreme, especially if you currently do little to no exercise.  Our bodies are built to move.  It doesn’t have to be a full hour workout or running miles at a time, but movement will help keep your brain oxygenated and alert.

A good recommendation is to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.  Can’t fit 30 consecutive minutes in?  Break it up into manageable increments throughout the day for a quick energy boost.  It may be 15 minutes of yoga before you get in the shower or squeezing in a 10 minute walk at lunch time.  Or, if you’re a pretty fast runner, why not knock out a quick mile?

4. Ensure Your Nervous System is Unobstructed

You may be asking, what does that have to do with energy?  While there are many causes of low energy, a common one you may not have heard of is abnormal nervous system function.  Energy and messages flow between your brain and the rest of you body through your nerves.  Structural imbalances in the spine can obstruct the flow of these messages, which can lead to secondary problems like fatigue.

If you haven’t had your spine checked for structural abnormalities, it may be time, as this could be a contributing factor to your “energy crisis.”

Here’s the deal, if you have to stare at a clock and fight that miserable feeling of fatigue every…single…day, does it make sense to make a few changes to improve your life?  The choice is yours.

 

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Do You Spend More Time Shopping for a Car…Than You Do for Your Doctor?

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 NeuroStructural Chiropractic works.

Choose the Provider NOT the Treatment

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.

quality-500963_1920The 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.

What to look for…

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.”

  1. Are they willing to LISTEN to you and your health concerns?
  2. Are they UPFRONT about what they do?
  3. Are they TRANSPARENT about cost, length of treatment, and requirements – all before an examination occurs?
  4. Do the TELL you as a perspective patient that you might not be a candidate for their care (and assure you that you’ll be directed to the right provider)?
  5. Do they provide you with OPTIONS that are outside of they care they offer?
  6. Will they be there as a health RESOURCE even if you don’t become their patient?

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.

 

 

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Combating Chronic Inflammation

As people age, they are not only looking to live longer, but better as well, and that includes avoiding the effects of chronic inflammation.  Inflammation treatment is a big industry because of that.  There is a long list of medications, supplements, and salves aimed at managing chronic inflammation, and the number of advertisements for anti-inflammatory products is even greater.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to things such as injury, infection, exposure to toxins, and biomechanical dysfunction.  It involves a cascade of events, coordinated by the nervous system, which includes increased blood flow to the site of injury, local temperature increase, redness and swelling.  The additional fluids can also increase the pressure on nerve endings in the area, resulting in pain.

b2ap3_thumbnail_inflammatoryShort term or acute inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process and, in most cases, should not be reduced.  It is NORMAL.

Long term or chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can lead to serious health problems.  As the picture to the left illustrates, it can contribute to Type II diabetes, joint degeneration, heart disease, and even cancer, among other things.  Often times, it is the result of life style choices, and other environmental influences.

There are some easy steps you can take to reduce and prevent chronic inflammation.

  • Getting the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fats.  Most Americans consume too much omega-6.  Reduce the amount of cooking oils you consume, especially those that contain corn.  Eat grass-fed met over grain fed and choose cold-water fish such as Wild caught Alaskan Salmon.  Adults should aim for a omega-6:omega-3 ratio of about 2:1.
  • Avoid trans-fats.  It’s as simple as that.  But, be careful to read the ingredients.  The nutritional label may read 0 grams of trans fat, but make sure to look for “partially hydrogenated” oils.
  • Limit refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, high fructose corn syrup and refined sugars
  • Maintain a healthy weight.  The more fat you carry, the more inflammatory chemicals you produce.
  • Increase you intake of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, D, and E.
  • Have your spine checked for structural shifts.  Chronic inflammation may be a secondary condition of a structural shift of your spine.  The structural shift blocks your nerves from functioning correctly and from properly controlling the inflammation process.  Neuro-Structural Chiropractic restores your spine to its normal position reducing the obstruction to your nervous system, which allows inflammation be more appropriately coordinated.

 

 

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If It’s Happening in Pro Sports, It’s Happening in Your Child’s School, Too.

Fall is here and the fall sports season is well underway around the Des Moines metro.  Unfortunately, along the spectrum from young to professional atheletes, comes the risk of concussion.  Each year, nearly 2 million traumatic brain injuries occur, 75% of which are concussions.  Approximately 300,000 of those are sports related, in large part, due to football.

But, let’s not blame football for all of them.  A spike to the head in volleyball, or perhaps a fall from the monkey bars, injuring the neck and/or head can certainly be responsible for a concussion

Now, concussions in professional sports are always in the news.  So, it’s safe to say that if it’s happening in professional sports, it’s happening in  your child’s school, too.  The good thing about being a pro-athlete, such as an NFL player, is the access to some of the greatest concussion care available.  The NFL and other leagues are highly invested in the safety of their players because:

  1. They want to avoid lawsuits down the road, and
  2. They want to make sure the athletes have the best care for a safe and quick return to play.

Even in the NFL, though, there is no helmet standard.  Regardless, NO helmet is capable of preventing the brain from shifting around within the skull during a collision.  It is the movement that can cause damage to the brain and central nervous system, leading to concussion.

Your child may not have immediate access to such great care.  If you have a child is sports, or who is injured on the playground, you should be aware of these symptoms associated with concussion:

  • Brief loss ofkids-56952_1280 consciousness
  • Memory problems and confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Headaches (with or without vomiting)
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Problems with balance
  • Slow reaction time
  • Fatigue

If you know your child took some hard hits during the game, or begins to show any of the above signs as the season wears on, it would be prudent to have him or her evaluated by a qualified professional as soon as possible.

What may surprise you is that head injuries and structural abnormalities of the neck are closely linked.  The potential damage to the brain is often the sole focus, and the potential injury to the cervical spine (neck) is often overlooked.  Stay tuned for a future blog post that illustrates how concussions can lead to injury and structural issues in the cervical spine.

 

 

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Is it Necessary to Have X-rays of My Spine?

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 GW425H600use 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 NeuroStructural 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 exposefoundationd 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.

 

 

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Sleeping Your Way to Better 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.

So, how does getting more sleep lead to weight loss?sleeping-time-650684_1280

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

Ways to Improve Your Sleep
  1. Make Movement a Priority – Almost every study ever done on sleep shows that people who exercise daily are able to fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep.  It doesn’t take much, going for a 20-30 minute walk has this effect.
  2. Monitor your Eating and Drinking – Don’t go to bed hungry, or too full; discomfort might keep you awake.  Caffeine has a stimulating effect which can keep you awake, and alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, but can cause disrupted sleep later in the night.
  3. Create a Room Ideal for Sleeping – This often means cool, dark, and quiet.  Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
  4.  Develop a Nightly Routine – Do the same things each night to tell your body that it’s time to wind down.  This might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music with the lights dimmed.  Limit screen (TV and electronic devices) at least 30 minutes before sleep, as some research suggests that the light emitted from these devices interferes with sleep.
  5. Rule Out Sleep Disorders – Many people that have a sleep disorder don’t know they have it.  If you’re struggling with sleeping problems, a sleep study can be useful in identifying potential disorders that can be treated.  If there are structural abnormalities in you spine leading to sleep-related secondary conditions, it’s critically important that you get checked by  chiropractor focusing on NeuroStructural Correction.

 

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“I’m Just Getting Old”

Achy joints, a twinge in the knee, or even a sharp pain from the shoulder to the elbow?  That’s all part of normal aging, right?

These are complaints that we commonly hear.  You may be surprised to learn that most often this is heard from people in their 40’s and 50’s.  This type of pain is a serious problem for these people because it can affect their livelihood and interaction with family and friends.

All too often, people assume joint pain is a normal part of aging; that we just have to learn to live with it.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s delve deeper for a minute.  When most people talk about pain associated with “getting old,” they’re usually referring to a variety of problems that can be thrown under the umbrella of Arthritis.  This type of arthritis is known as osteoarthritis, and doesn’t refer to inflammatory or Rheumatoid arthritis.  Osteoarthritis can be associated with things like: degenerative joint disease, bone spurs, degenerative disc disease, and spinal canal stenosis, to name a few.

Below is a side view x-ray of the neck.

Notice at the arrows, there is decreased space between the bones, and the shape of the bones themselves have changed.

Notice at the arrows, there is decreased space between the bones, and the shape of the bones themselves has changed.

This person is one of those we just talked about, and has had neck pain for the past month.  The red arrows are pointing to areas that have degenerative disc disease and are the result of many years of breakdown.  When seeing this damaged disc on their x-ray, they said, “That’s just because I’m getting old.”

Now, as someone approaches the middle of their life, there’s no question that there will be wear and tear of their spine.  That’s not the issue.  Rather, the extensive amount of damage to their lower neck, is.

Here’s an interesting question, how old are the healthy discs at the top of the neck?

It’s a trick question, because all of the discs are the same age.  So, if this problem was only due to aging, wouldn’t you expect every disc to have similar degeneration?


In the picture above, there are problems with the structure of the person’s spine.  When a structural problem occurs in the neck, a few things can happen.

  • The structure of the spine becomes distorted and speeds the wear and tear of the joints.  What happens to your car when the frame of it has shifted?  Would you expect the steering wheel to pull to one side or one of the tires to wear faster than the others?  This same concept happens to the joints in the spine!
  • The shift in the structure of the spine will hinder signals traveling to and from the brain.  This decrease in information from the brain to the rest of the body can cause dysfunction in the nervous system and will ultimately lead to secondary problems.

So, this person has had this problem in their spine for many years, but did not show any signs of neck pain until last month.  How is that possible?

Structural issues in the spine are often left undiagnosed for several years.  Research shows that many of us have herniated discs in the spine, but 60% will feel no pain or symptoms.  So, a problem that should be of great concern, may be decreasing the function of your body without you knowing it.

These problems are almost always preventable.  There are things you can do to reduce the amount of wear and tear on the spine and maintain full function of the body’s control and coordinating system, the nervous system:

  • Lose weight: if you are overweight, the first step is to shed the excess pounds
  • Exercise: walking, biking, weight lifting, jogging, or any activity that improves strength, endurance, and range of motion
  • If you smoke, QUIT: research has shown that smoking has an effect on bone health

You likely have your blood pressure, cholesterol, eyes, and of course your teeth checked to maintain optimal health.    Structural abnormalities which lead to breakdown of the joints in your spine can only be detected and corrected by a doctor who focuses on NeuroStructural Correction.  Routine checks of your spine for structural abnormalities are critical to reducing your risk of arthritis and a variety of secondary problems.

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Damaged Nerves and Backpacks

Can you believe it? School is right around the corner.  Each year millions of children walk to, from, and around school carrying backpacks filled with books and other materials.

Parents, are you aware that your child’s heavy backpack could be damaging their nerves, muscles, and skeleton?

The direct pressure of a heavy backpack alone, can lead to nerve irritation and impingement. It may also cause muscular and ligament injury, and shifts in skeletal structure.

Using a backpack allows a child to carry a number of schoolbooks and items in a practical way, distributing the heavy load across the back and shoulders.  The risk over time is overload, which can lead to structural shifts of the spine that can ultimately cause secondary problems.  Common secondary conditions that may develop are: postural distortions, muscle spasm, headaches, low back pain, neck and arm pain, and shoulder pain.

You can use the following recommendations to reduce the chance of your child suffering from these secondary problems:

  • Look for a bag with two padded (2-inch wide) adjustable shoulder straps that also has a padded back
  • There should be a hip strap or waist belt to redistribute the weight of the bag from the shoulders and back to the pelvis
  • Wheels are a handy accessory, allowing a backpack to be pulled instead of carried
  • Always use both shoulder straps and wear the backpack on the back rather than over one shoulder
  • Pack the heaviest objects in the bag first, so they are carried lower and closest to the bodybackpack
  • Adjust the straps to fit the backpack snug to the child’s body, holding the bottom of the backpack two inches above the waist and keeping the top just below the base of the skull; do not carry the bag low near the buttocks
  • Limit the weight of the backpack to between 10-15% of your child’s body weight
  • Coach your child to carry only the items needed in their bag, leaving unnecessary items at home or making a few trips to their locker during the day

While following the above recommendations may lead to a decreased risk of secondary issues, the use of a backpack, even properly, could still cause structural abnormalities in your child’s spine. It remains critically important to have your child’s spine examined for structural shifts.  Only a doctor who focuses on NeuroStructural Correction can assess and correct these shifts, allowing the body to function optimally.

 

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Why Keystone Chiropractic?

One of the most common questions we get is, “Why did you choose the name Keystone Chiropractic?”

Our focus is on an area of Chiropractic called NeuroStructural Correction, and we view the body as an amazing feat of engineering.  Every part has a specific function and proper place.  When everything is in the right place at the right time, the body performs optimally.  When there is an abnormality within the structure of the body, secondary problems are likely to occur.

At Keystone Chiropractic, it is our primary job to correct and maintain the structural foundation of the entire body; the spine.

Keystone
An arch is one of the strongest and most stable structures in architecture.  Each stone supports the load while evenly transferring it to the foundation.  As you can see in the image above, the two sides coming together rely on the keystone (in red) to connect and maintain proper structure.  What would you expect if the keystone were shifted slightly to the left or right?  Would there be an increased load on on side?  Could that lead to increased wear, instability, or perhaps cracked stones?

If your health were an arch, the stones would be things such as proper diet, exercise, and rest.  The keystone holding everything together would be proper structural alignment of your spine and an optimally functioning nervous system.

While eating right, getting proper sleep, and exercising are certainly necessary, as are all of the stones of an arch, normal spinal structure and a properly functioning nervous system are the keystone which keep everything locked in place.  Without normal structure, you can expect secondary problems to occur.

At Keystone Chiropractic we focus on Neuro-Structural Correction; locating structural shifts within your spine, restoring them to normal using specific adjustments, allowing your nervous system and body to function at their best.

 

 

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