Monday, January 30, 2017

Brew, Java, Joe… Our Beloved Coffee

Americans are hopelessly addicted to our morning java. Coffee sales in the United States have never been higher, and it’s definitely a staple of the American diet. When it comes to the question of how coffee affects our health, some advocate against coffee entirely, while others insist that their “pot-a-day” habit is completely harmless. To further muddle the waters, each justifies their position with seemingly credible science. Why is there so much conflicting “evidence”?

Well, let’s unpack a few of these ideas. When you get right down to it, coffee is a plant. So it is true that coffee contains antioxidants, potassium, manganese, niacin, and a whole host of other beneficial goodness. So it’s a case can be made for coffee being quite healthy.

On the flip side, coffee contains caffeine. Many Americans drink not just one cup - but several - and they rely on it to get themselves through the day. Dependency on coffee is a very real and socially accepted addiction, but an addiction nonetheless.

So the million dollar question is: Do the benefits of the plant outweigh the risks of caffeine?

It seems that the jury is out on this one.  On the one hand, caffeine is a stimulant, and therefore it has the ability to change our brain chemistry. Dependence on any substance - including caffeine - is never regarded as a sign of health.

Then again, others argue that moderation is key. They argue that if you have an occasional cup and you aren’t addicted, you are probably just fine, and you can enjoy the health benefits that coffee had to offer. So, those of us trying to answer the question regarding coffee and or health are left to our own devices once more.

In addition, there is very little discussion about the damaging effects of what we put INTO our coffee which is primarily milk and sugar, neither of which are healthy! Let’s say that the case is closed, and we find out that - hooray! - coffee is actually good for us. So we continue to drink our morning joe - complete with sweetened coffee creamer, aspartame, and sugar… because we know coffee is good for us, right?

That “healthy” habit? We blew it.

So, let’s be realistic. If you find yourself  becoming dependent on your morning java, and you rather trudge through the morning until you get charged up by it, there are likely parts of your body that are out of balance.

Coffee will not bring you back into balance. It’s a poor substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

On the other hand, if you enjoy a cup from time to time and caffeine does not strongly affect you, maybe you’re fine.

The risks and benefits of coffee drinking are documented, and we know for sure that what we usually put in our coffee is terrible for our health. So knowing that, you know yourself, your habits, your tendencies, and how you may be affected, so making an informed choice can come in an individual way.

Make your health decisions with individual information and intention - you'll never go wrong.

Whether you find yourself addicted or not, you can make better decisions in regards to the brand of coffee you buy.  If you would like to try a much healthier option talk to me at your next visit.

Monday, January 23, 2017

What is the Holistic Approach To Medicine?

Today, if you tell someone you’re going to the doctor, there is only one image that comes to mind. It’s that of a board certified MD donning a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck. That is all. It is the vision of a clinic, a nurse, a waiting room, blood tests, and shots. It’s, by and large, all we in the western world know in “health care.” This kind of medicine is known as Allopathic Medicine.

Allopathic medicine is defined by Wikipedia as: mainstream medical use of pharmacologically active agents or physical interventions to treat or suppress symptoms or pathophysiologic processes of diseases or conditions.”

Allopathic medicine is pharmaceutical medical care. It is about chemical alteration in order to bring balance and health to the body. It is ONE approach to health care, but it is not the ONLY approach to health.

Allopathic care definitely has it’s advantages. Tremendous medical advancements and research has been done in the name of allopathic care. Lifesaving antibiotics can now be given to children with serious bacterial illnesses. Acute care saves lives. Diagnostic testing is the best it’s ever been in the history of mankind.

There is another approach to health care as well, and it is not widely recognized or used in the western world. It is not based on the belief that pharmaceuticals are always the answer. Holistic medicine is defined by wikipedia as “The art and science of healing that addresses the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and alternative therapies to prevent and treat disease, and most importantly, to promote optimal health.”

Holistic care is the type of health care that is practiced by chiropractors, naturopaths, homeopaths, midwives, and nutritionists. It is based on the belief that the body has the capacity to heal itself, and that all parts of the body are connected. It sees a person as a whole, so when something is done to one part, the rest of the body will naturally be affected.

The holistic approach takes care of a body in it’s entirety when there is a presenting illness, rather than simply looking at a single issue and addressing solely that. Furthermore, holistic practitioners believe that the condition of a person’s mind and spirit affects their physical health as well.

For instance, let’s say someone has gallbladder issues. The only solution that allopathic medicine offers for gallbladder problems is removal of the gallbladder. Since the gallbladder is seen as the issue, simply removing it is said to solve the problem.

A holistic care provider, however, will approach the problem differently. They will examine diet, lifestyle and stress levels. They may talk about preventing the problem in the first place, or prevent it from worsening if the problem isn’t too advanced. A holistic provider may also address emotional traumas. A holistic provider sees the gallbladder as a part of the whole, and without it a person is not able to be fully functional.

Holistic care and allopathic care work best when they can work together. Holistic providers are experts at supporting wellness in all areas, while allopathic medicine is perfect for acute care. It’s certainly important to have a doctor that you go to regularly. But in addition, see a nutritionist or naturopath, get adjusted regularly by your chiropractor, and try acupuncture. Your health is your most precious asset - support it in every way possible.

There Are No Wrong Choices In Birth

I love working with women in pregnancy. Supporting a woman’s pregnancy with chiropractic care offers tremendous benefits, both for mom’s overall health and comfort, but also for the health of the baby. It’s a pleasure to serve their quickly changing needs through the unpredictable 9 months. But taking care of their physical health is not the best part of working closely with women during their childbearing years.

The best part is that I get to hear and be a part of each woman’s story. What is the story about this pregnancy? Was it planned or a surprise? Did they struggle for years and now they’re ecstatic to be overcoming infertility? What has her pregnancy brought her - both good and not so good? Where is she birthing? What led her to that decision? What does she want for her birth? What are her fears, her expectations, her joys about this pregnancy?

Those who work with women during pregnancy and during the postpartum period love to hear these stories because no two stories are the same. No two births happen the same. Each family, woman, and baby is unique. Their stories are unique. Their births are unique. Their personalities are unique.

Which is why there is no one “type” of birth that is right for every woman and baby. Some women want to birth via cesarean. Some prefer to be home in a pool set up in their living rooms. Some fall in between those in terms of their medical preferences.

And that is ok.

The last several years has seen a growth in the number of home births here in the US. There are many who live and practice in a holistic way who tend to demonize hospital births and OB’s because they practice medicine on a natural process that doesn’t usually need to be interfered with. They seem to think home birth is what every woman should choose, on the basis that “medicine is bad.”

I think home birth is great, but not because I think every woman should have a home birth. I think it’s great because it gives a woman one more option, and one more safe approach to consider as she prepares for birth. I agree that home birth offers many advantages and is safe for the majority of birthing women when they are attended by a midwife. Home birth can be wonderful.

But I believe that home birth is not for everybody. Then again, neither is hospital birth. What IS for everyone is options, choices, and the ability to choose what fits a woman and her pregnancy the best. What a woman chooses for her birth is acceptable, period. If it matters to her, it matters.

There are no wrong choices in birth. There are only uniformed ones. Know all of your options and choose what is best for you because your birthing situation is totally unique to you. Happy birthing!

Why Should I Go To The Chiropractor?

If you were to ask the average person today why someone would see a chiropractor, you’d likely hear something about going after a car accident or when trying to alleviate back pain. Rarely would you hear about chiropractic care for joint health, immune support, digestive system regulation or pregnancy care. Have you ever heard of someone going to the chiropractor to have their ear adjusted for an earache? What about “I’m going in for a shoulder adjustment”? Most don’t realize it, but chiropractic care encompases far more than simply back pain and car accidents.

How can a chiropractor claim to help someone with their digestion or arthritis when they primarily work on the spine? Everything is connected, and what most don’t realize is that the spine is the key for absolutely everything in the body. Everything.

The brain is the body’s master computer. It communicates miraculously to every part of the body within fractions of a second. The ability to communicate messages to the body is essential. Without proper communication within the body, systems cannot be managed and they begin to cease to operate. So the goal of chiropractic care is to increase the body’s communication with itself.

To illustrate this, say you were talking on the phone and you had an important message to communicate to the person on the other end of the line. But something is wrong with the signal. The person on the other side of the line only hears static, silence, or bits and pieces of the message you are trying to convey. Is the other person on the end of the line receiving the message in full? Of course not.

The same thing happens within the body.

Breaks in communication within the body are called subluxation. A chiropractor is specially trained to relieve subluxation through skeletal manipulation to restore effective communication.

Once communication lines are open, the body’s ability to facilitate its own healing increases. Certainly it is not the only factor in healing a human body, but it is an essential part of the process.

Many times patients will come to a chiropractor as a last resort, saying that their regular doctor’s methods are not helping, and in many cases they seem to be only causing more problems. Most doctors rather dismiss any sort of holistic care. Patients often times find that they don’t want to be taking a dozen medications, especially when none of them seem to be helping anything. They come to a chiropractor looking for a solution - any solution - to many of the health problems they are facing. Most of the time, they are pleasantly surprised, and relieved, by the results they experience.

The body can manage itself. It can heal itself. But it must be given the proper tools to do so. In addition, it must be able to communicate effectively within itself to its various systems.

That is why, as a part of holistic wellness, everyone that seeks to be healthy should be adjusted regularly by a chiropractor.

Make Habit Changes, Not New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the new year, and as usual our culture is all abuzz discussing “New Year’s Resolutions.” Year after year, our resolutions never seem to change. We always need to make the same “resolutions” every year because we didn’t fulfill our resolutions the previous year. We always vow to take better care of ourselves, lose weight, budget better, and spend more time with loved ones, etc. It seems as though we think that a small handful of new year’s resolutions will somehow bring balance to our crazy lives with nothing more than single statement of intention to “do better.”

History repeats itself, and happens to be a wonderful teacher. The truth is, if you want to bring about change in your life, relying a single new year’s resolution seems a sure fire way to feel overwhelmed.

Remember that metaphorical question: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Trying to plan a full 365 days of life change in a single go is like trying to eat the whole elephant in one bite. The end goal is too big, too vague, and it lacks a plan. So year after year, what happens? We return to the same unaccomplished New Year’s resolutions.

On the one hand, it’s good that we all recognize that we have areas of potential growth. However, if true personal growth were as straightforward as a handful of resolutions to change, the world’s problems would be solved. In real life, change comes about slower than that.

However, though change comes about slowly, it doesn’t take as long as you may think.

Instead of making a “New Year’s resolution,” identify a few things that you want to change. Then, make a commitment to change your habits. Changing habits is a much smaller, more attainable goal that comes with a formula for success. Want to know it? Here it is:

21 days. That’s it.

It takes 21 days to create a habit. That’s all. You don’t need a full year.

The things in your life that you want to change are usually the result of learned habits. In order to change those things, you simply need to create new habits to replace the old ones.  

For instance, if you want to spend more time with family, try this. Write down days 1-21. Write down at the top of the page: 5 minutes with family. That’s it. Every day, be intentional about spending that extra 5 minutes with your family. After you did it, check it off the day list. After that 21 days is over, you will have created a new habit. At that point, your subconscious will take over. You’ll begin to notice that what started as 5 minutes will begin to expand and the habit of deliberately planned family time will become the new normal for you.

Let’s do another one. Do you want to lose weight? Here’s what NOT to do: start a workout regimen at the same time that you are learning clean eating, while you’re trying to do a sugar detox. Are all those things good for you? Sure! If you’re able to pull it off simultaneously will you lose weight? Absolutely! But for most people in real life, they will succeed when they tackle one thing at a time. For instance, spend the first 21 days doing a sugar detox. Write out days 1-21. Check off each day!

Then for the next 21 days, add in a workout regimen. This can start small as well - you don’t need to start on day 1 with two hours at the gym. Write out days 1-21. Do a small workout in your living room if you need to. Jog around the block. Go to the gym if you’d like, but remember that during this time you’re training your subconscious to form a habit. So you don’t need to do anything over the top. Results will come from a habit change, not just the intensity of a few workouts.

Then, for the NEXT 21 days, focus on diet. Find and experiment with new recipes, be extra deliberate about your grocery purchases, and modify your favorite meals.

There! You created 3 new habits that will produce the results you want. But if you look back, you’ll notice that forming those habits took you a full 63 days. That’s a little more than 2 months! But that foundation of forming healthy habits will carry you over through the rest of the year and help you produce the results you want.

So that’s 63 days of forming habits vs a single new year’s resolution. Which one do you think will produce results? Personal growth takes time - it doesn’t happen overnight. But once habits are formed, they become more automatic and our desired results become less difficult to achieve.

Here’s the other good news. If in your attempts to change habits fall short, you didn’t fail at the entire year’s goal! You can start your 21 day habit change at any point. If you get to day 8 and realize you missed the mark simply start the 21 days over! You didn’t fail at the entire year because you missed a few days of changing habits. You just need to reset the 21 days!

If you want to be better at this thing called life, good for you! Make it happen! But if you want to be successful, do it in a way that will actually help you achieve the results you want.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017!