Monday, December 12, 2016

A Theory About Flu Season

We’re well immersed in winter now, so that means we are in the thick of “flu season” here in North America. Pharmacies and doctor offices are pushing patients and customers to make sure they get a flu shot so as to be protected, and they have been encouraging this for a couple months. The flu season runs from fall through winter and begins to dissipate at the beginning of spring. Every year. And I have a theory as to why that is the case. It goes like this:

New Years
Valentine’s Day

Yes. The holidays. They are a big part of it.

What do all of these things have in common? Treats, candy, holiday sweets, and lots and lots and lots of sugar. Cookie exchanges, pumpkin pies, chocolate covered cherries, oh my! The holidays all involve a great deal of sugar consumption in some form.

The problem is, our bodies don’t take a break from their regularly scheduled operations for the holidays just because we want sweets. Sugar, as we know, wreaks havoc on the immune system. (Sugar is even known now to cause cancer. Not just feed it - it causes it.) For four to six hours after you consume sugar, your immune system is operating at only 25%. Sugar takes a serious toll on our bodies in every system. A compromised immune system is much more prone to viruses and infections than one that is adequately supported and functioning properly.

In addition, it is no coincidence that in North America our flu season is during the fall and winter because we have now discovered that the best defense against the flu is Vitamin D. Vitamin D is otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin. This makes perfect sense because during the winter, our vitamin D stores are quite low since we are not exposing our skin to the sun.

According to the World Health Organization, at the equator, there are no reported seasonal peaks in flu activity. In areas just north and south of the equator, the flu incidence rises a bit during the rainy season, again suggesting that vitamin D plays a key role. In areas that have access to warm sunshine year round, there is no reported flu season. Populations in this area have regular access to vitamin D, so their immune systems have the proper support.

Between the body’s prodigious sugar consumption and lack of adequate vitamin D, it’s no wonder that we are extra susceptible to disease and viruses in the wintertime. While the flu shot is rife with risks, dangerous chemicals, and effectiveness inconsistencies, many people opt every year not to get vaccinated against the flu. And that’s ok - because the best defense against the flu is not the shot.

So, here’s this chiropractor’s the best advice for avoiding the flu.
  1. Get adjusted. Without access to the sun, your body needs all the immune support it can get. A single chiropractic adjustment increases the immune response by 200%. Weekly adjustments can do a world of good for your preventative health.
  2. Cut back on the sugar. I know the holidays are full of sweets. But that doesn’t mean your house needs to be full of them for months and months. An occasional treat is acceptable, provided you are eating well in between those times.
  3. Supplement your vitamin D. Now, it’s important to note that vitamin D supplementation is not near as effective as the real deal. But it can go a long way towards keeping your immune system supported during these frigid winter months when the only part of your body that sees sunlight is the tip of your nose.

Stay healthy, stay warm, and enjoy the holidays!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Read Food Labels

Eating healthy is a real trick today. One person’s definition of “healthy” oftentimes doesn’t match another’s, even though their biology is the same. Furthermore, what one “expert” defines as healthy can vary greatly from the next “expert.” So who is right? So what do you need to eat in order to be healthy?

First, let’s define healthy. Check out my blog post about what defines health. Health isn’t merely the absence of disease. Health occurs when all body systems are functioning at optimum capacity. It makes sense that each of these systems need the proper fuel, right? Of course - and that fuel is your food.

The body needs micro nutrients, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other essentials to have a balanced and supported system. Whole foods - as close to their natural state as possible - are going to give you the biggest nutritional bang for your buck. At the grocery store, however, finding these foods may not seem as easy as you think. Labels like “all-natural,” “cage-free,” “organic,” “non-GMO,” “gluten free,” and others can make the savviest shopper’s head spin. So how can you know what is actually healthy and what is not? Here are a few general guidelines to take with you along to the grocery store:

  1. Read labels. I don’t mean reading the front of the packaging, and I don’t mean the nutrition facts. I mean pick up the box and read the ingredients list. Can you read those ingredients? Are they even food? If yes, you’re on the right track.
  2. While reading those labels, avoid several ingredients. Sugar is a big one, and it comes in many forms. Sugar is in everything from sushi to bread to ketchup, so be sure to read those labels with a skeptical eye. Furthermore, sugar is listed in several names.  For instance, “cane sugar” is the same thing as sugar. High Fructose corn Syrup is another big no no - it’s not at all natural and it causes insulin spikes.
  3. Don’t buy sugar free. While you should be avoiding sugar, choosing “sugar free” doesn’t fix the problem - it creates a new one. Anything labeled as “sugar free” that is also marketed as sweet will be full of artificial sweeteners which we know cause a whole host of diseases within the body, including cancer and neurological diseases. If given no choice other than artificial sugar or regular sugar, go for the regular sugar every time.
  4. Don’t buy fat free. If you’re purchasing a food that has fat in it, buy the full fat version. Fat free products have added sugar to enhance flavor, so if you’re buying them hoping to slim your waistline, you’ll be sorely disappointed with the results. Sugar causes insulin spikes, and insulin is the fat producing hormone. So the fat free trend is essentially a hoax that should be avoided.
  5. Stick to the produce section. There is little wonder what is in those foods! Of course organic is best, but even if you can’t do organic you can at least buy whole foods.
  6. Buy your meat locally. The commercial meat industry is rife with problems. The conditions in which the animals are raised, the cleanliness of the meat, and even the quality of the meat are all severely compromised. When you purchase cheap meat, you’re taking a serious gamble with your health. Generally speaking, if it’s in the regular meat section of the grocery store, it’s not going to be good for you.
As your chiropractor, I care about all aspects of your health - not just how well adjusted you are. Of course getting adjusted is important, but I would be doing you a disservice if all I did was give you an adjustment, knowing that other aspects of your health may be compromised. Please do your best with your diet - it’s worth it.