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Eat Like a Horse

Our bodies have very specific needs to help it to function properly. They need certain and specific essential elements and nutrients, such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, essential amino acids, and essential fats.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to be feeding themselves calorie-rich, nutrient-poor processed foods, trans-fats, and simple carbohydrates which do not nourish the body but cause it to deteriorate and develop chronic diseases. Although food is a great source of pleasure, thought should still be taken as to how toxic the food that we consume is for our bodies’ health.

How do we stop ourselves, then, from inhaling all the highly appealing dishes set before us?

Easy: eat plants.

Before every meal, enjoy a plant-based, preferably raw, appetiser that will curb your appetite and may reduce the likelihood of overeating. Not only that, the appetiser will provide your body with the nutrients that are essential for it to function healthily and properly. Covering your plate with two-thirds plants and one-third lean meat is also an effective practice to nourish your body well.

You don’t have to limit yourself when it comes to eating plants, consume these nutritionally dense, fibre-rich foods to your heart’s content. A body that is nourished well works well, so eat like a horse.

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Coping with Stress

One of the largest causes of chronic or long-term stress to humans that lived 200 plus years ago was that of famine and starvation. Man adapted to these major stressors by developing an amazing ability to store fat for these times when food was scarce. Fortunately, in Western society famine is not something that the modern human must contest with.

Yet our bodies’ response to chronic and long-term stress is the same as that of humans who lived hundreds of years ago, that is, it is the same response our body would make if it was experiencing long-term starvation. As a result, chronic stress can cause high blood pressure and blood sugar, higher levels of fat storage, increased chance of obesity, and weakened immune system, due to its adverse effects on the body’s metabolism. The fat stored due to stress accumulates around the gut, which threatens the health and proper function of the kidney and the heart, greatly increasing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

The mechanism that once functioned to protect man against one of the major stressors of his time now threatens the lives of many modern humans.

To reduce the effects of chronic stress on your body, it is necessary to develop coping mechanisms to manage stress in your life. Journaling helps you to engage with and sort through your thoughts and emotions so that you can deal with them easier. It may also help you identify hidden areas of your life that are causing you stress and help you to discover new ways of managing these areas.

You may choose to use journaling exercises that provide you with questions to engage with, or you may choose to write whatever is on your mind freely. Planning where you delegate your time, energy, focus, and money is also a useful coping mechanism. This reduces the chance that you become overloaded, giving you goals to work towards and a greater sense of being in control of the situation. You may also find that exercise, talking with certain people, or going to a quiet place help you to manage stress.

Employing mechanisms such as these to cope with the stress in your life, help to promote the overall health of your body and give you a greater peace of mind.

 

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Water is Critical

Hydration is absolutely crucial for the human body to operate properly. Water is critical for healthy digestion, circulation, and healing, as well as almost all other bodily functions. Without it, you may experience constipation, dizziness, fatigue, and problems with your skin, hair and nails. We should rarely if ever experience thirst because this means our body has become depleted of water.

Rather, let’s make a habit of drinking water and drinking it often. For optimal health, we should aim to drink 2 to 2.5 litres of water per day. Of course, if you do a lot of physical activity or work in a hot environment, aim to drink more water to stay hydrated.

The quality of water that you drink is also important. Tap water contains many contaminants and impurities that adversely affect your health. We recommend that you invest in a water filtration system so that you do not consume harmful substances while hydrating your body. If you are interested in which filtration system used by the Posture Doctor, contact one of our team.

The easiest way to sufficiently hydrate your body is to always keep water on hand. Treat yourself to a good quality 1L to 2L water bottle that you really like and can take with you everywhere you go. You may choose to set alarms or hourly goals to remind yourself to have a drink or to refill your bottle or eat fruits and veggies with high water content. Whichever way you can, make drinking water work for you to ensure your body gets the water that it needs.

It’s not a big ask, but it’s got big rewards.

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Exercise is not a luxury

Exercise is not a luxury. Just like water or hydration is critical to the proper functioning of the human body, so too is exercise necessary to maintain the body’s health. We are descended from a human race which had to move in order to eat and survive. Our ancestors hunted, gathered, fished, farmed and defended themselves and their land from predators. This active lifestyle was crucial in order for early humans to survive.

Today, we do not have the need to hunt down our dinner, build our house every time we moved location, or fend off wild beasts. Exercise is no longer an inherent aspect of our existence; rather, sedentary activities are what make up our daily lives. The human body, which is designed for constant physical activity, is developing diseases and chronic illnesses because of this inactive lifestyle.

In order to help maintain the health of your body, it is important to make physical activity an integral part of your everyday life. This does not just involve scheduling regular exercise into your week, such as running, swimming, pilates, or strength training. Habits you can take on include:

  • Limiting the use of your car by parking it as far away from your destination as time allows, or aiming to ride or walk to your destinations more.
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Incorporating physical activity into your ‘downtime’. ‘Downtime’ does not have to mean doing nothing but should be something you enjoy and which helps relieve stress. You may find going to the beach, hiking, doing yoga, or going for long walks while watching the sunset are activities that you may really enjoy and which can serve as your ‘down time’.
  • Taking regular breaks from desk-bound work by getting up and going for a walk.

By making physical activity an essential and intrinsic part of your daily life, you will increase the health of the body and enable it to function optimally in the manner it was designed for.

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Is Chronic Pain Causing your Depression?

We all know what it’s like to be caught unaware by slamming a toe savagely into the pavement or the edge of a stair. We’ve smacked our funny bone against the door frame and growled ‘that wasn’t funny’ or we’ve placed a finger onto the hot part of the saucepan and then pressure hosed it under the tap for an insufficient amount of time. When these things happen, it hurts. But, fortunately, the pain usually only remains from a few seconds to a couple of days; it is not long lasting.

Chronic pain, however, does not have a short expiry date. Rather, chronic pain can last anywhere from three months to several years.¹ Pain receptors and the associated neurones that carry the pain signal to the brain, instead of being stimulated for a short period of time following an injury, are stimulated continuously for months or years on end.² Not only does it involve long-term pain, but a number of neurological functions may be affected as part of the deal. Chronic pain sufferers may notice symptoms of decreased concentration, faulty memory, and mood disorders.³ In fact, 32 to 82% (with an average of 62%) of chronic pain patients show some type of depression or depressive problem, with the rate of clinical depression increasing linearly with pain severity.⁴

Why does this trend appear in people suffering from chronic pain? Is chronic pain causing the depression that up to half of its sufferers display? Pain psychiatrist Dr Xavier Jimenez explains that the two conditions overlap, with chronic pain having the potential to cause depression and depression having the potential to cause pain. This can generate a cycle that amplifies the severity of both conditions.¹

But how does chronic pain cause such a disruption in someone’s mood to develop? A number of reasons have been suggested to explain this relationship, all of which have the potential to contribute to the development of depression in chronic pain patients, especially when the factors occur simultaneously.

  • Sport and Spine Rehab CEO Dr Jay Greenstein and psychiatrist Dr Bruce Kehr suggest that chronic physical pain causes “Learned Helplessness”, which involves someone experiencing an emotionally distressing situation which is repeated and that they can’t control or stop. These feelings of helplessness and worthlessness may just be because of the perceived inability to get better from the pain or may be related to their struggle to perform daily tasks, support their family, or attend work. If the person is unable to attend work, the financial difficulties that arise may also contribute to the stress and worthlessness the person feels.⁵
  • Isolation and lack of sleep may also contribute to the development of depression. Chronic pain can also cause sufferers to isolate themselves from others as they have difficulty with movement and getting out and about due to their pain. They then become confined to the home and have little to take their mind off their pain and their situation. Moreover, people suffering from chronic pain often struggle with sleep, so will experience fatigue during the day, which increases irritability and negative emotions, which don’t assist the sufferers when they are alone with their thoughts.⁴
  • In response to chronic pain, large amounts of pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication can cause gastrointestinal distress, which increases discomfort, and a general feeling of mental dullness.⁴ Pain medication can also depress mood and cause isolating behaviour. Unfortunately, what many chronic pain sufferers do not realise is that strong pain medications such as opioids and benzodiazepines, if taken over an extended period of several years, can make the pain significantly worse. The medications work by blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain so that the person does not actually the pain, or feels it to a lesser degree. If this transmission is blocked for an extended period of time, the nerves begin to send the signals more strongly so that the message will reach the brain properly. The medication dosage is, therefore ‘upped’, and the cycle continues until the pain receptors begin to perceive most stimuli, which would normally be encountered as part of everyday life, as painful.⁶

While all of these factors do assist depression to develop in chronic pain patients, the most significant cause of depression as a result of chronic pain is neurological. A Northwestern University research study found that back pain persisting for six months or longer coincided with abnormal brain chemistry in the area of the brain associated with emotional assessments, decision-making and social behaviour. The team commenced a subsequent study, in which they found that chronic back pain caused the human brain to shrink by as much as 11%, with a rate of loss of brain density of 1.3 cubic centimetres per year of chronic pain being calculated. This loss of brain density was found to particularly occur in the hippocampuses of the people suffering from back pain compared to the healthy people.²

Retrieved from https://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/image-gallery/brain-anatomy-images?page=1

The hippocampus is a region of the brain that is largely associated with memory but also functions for learning and emotional processing. It is part of the limbic system, which is the emotional centre of the brain and the hippocampus is also one of the few places that humans can grow new neurones.³ Lead researcher of the Northwestern study, A. Vania Apkarian, concludes that, as chronic pain is characterised by constant stimulation of the neurones that transmit and perceive pain signals, these neurones become overused and either die or are left damaged, which causes brain density to decrease.² As a result of this wasting away of neurones in an area with a significant role in mediating mood and processing emotions, chronic pain sufferers’ ability to perform these functions effectively is decreased, so they can experience major depression.

So how can you treat chronic pain and any associated depression? First, find a doctor that will help you to address the pain as soon as possible and will help you to accomplish the best outcome by assisting you in determining the combination of treatment options that works best for you. Exercise and physical activity are important treatment options as they improve mobility, keep the body healthy in order to maximise its healing ability, and do help to reduce pain. Be mindful of your body during exercise and physical activity so as to not cause excessive pain or injury. The American College of Physicians recommends spinal adjustments, physical therapy, yoga, Thai Chi, and acupuncture for those suffering from spine-related pain.⁵

As the chronic pain is treated, the depression that arose as a result of the pain will begin to subside and hopefully cease completely. While the treatment of the chronic pain is still in process, however, it is still important to take measures to manage depression while it remains. Possible options include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy, which helps patients manage their pain by developing coping skills. It involves teaching patients how to identify dysfunctional thoughts and to healthily and effectively manage and respond to them.⁷
  • Exercise and physical activity, as well as assisting in the health and healing of the body, help to boost mood.
  • Self-help groups provide psychological support for chronic pain sufferers while they endure through the daily challenges of their condition.¹
  • If confined to the home, make an effort to organise for visitors to keep the person company, to provide them with support, and to help them in maintaining a healthy mindset.
  • Most importantly, Sport & Spine Rehab says “remain hopeful”⁵. Keep in mind that there is treatment available for your condition, and that healing is possible.

As has been stated, chronic pain does not just involve ongoing pain and discomfort. It can cause mood disorders, particularly depression, that make it that much harder for the people suffering from an already difficult condition. It is vital to begin treatment for chronic pain as soon as possible to reduce the amount of time that the pain is experienced and to prevent neurological damage from overstimulation of pain neurones. Numerous techniques are available to help manage any depression that develops as a result of the condition, and it is important to find a combination of these options that will help the sufferer best. And, most importantly, “remain hopeful”.

Bibliography

  1. Why Chronic Pain Brings You Down — and How to Feel Better. (2017). Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved 3 March 2018, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-chronic-pain-brings-you-down-how-to-feel-better/
  2. Chronic Pain Shrinks the ‘Thinking Parts’ of the Brain. (2004). Northwestern. Retrieved from http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2004/11/chronic.html
  3. Sutherland, S. (2012). How Chronic Pain Affects Memory and Mood. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-chronic-pain-affects-memory-mood/
  4. Deardorff, W. (2004). Depression and Chronic Back PainSpine-health. Retrieved 3 March 2018, from https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/depression/depression-and-chronic-back-pain
  5. Greenstein, D. (2017). Chronic Pain And Chronic Depression: A Connection Not To Miss. Sport & Spine Rehab. Retrieved from https://ssrehab.com/chronic-pain-chronic-depression/
  6. Benner, R. (2015). Chronic pain not only hurts, it also causes isolation and depression. But there’s hope. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/chronic-pain-not-only-hurts-it-also-causes-isolation-and-depression-but-theres-hope/2015/01/12/db576178-7fe7-11e4-81fd-8c4814dfa9d7_story.html?utm_term=.7bfd83b2f490
  7. Brain and Spine Team. (2017). How Can You Relieve Chronic Pain — Without Drugs?. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-can-you-relieve-chronic-pain-without-drugs/

 

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Chiropractic Adjustments Reduce the Risk Spinal Degeneration

For the many millions of people that receive Regular Chiropractic check-ups and adjustments, reducing the risks and in some cases, reversal of the effects of joint and disc degeneration in the spine is a major benefit. Medical studies dating back to the early 1980’s help prove the importance of spinal adjustments to reduce the risk of arthritis, decay, and degeneration of the spine. Unfortunately there are so many people that do not yet understand the valuable relationship between Chiropractic care and the potential to reduce the risk of spinal

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What is normal posture?

Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting, or lying down. The position of your spinal column is reflected in your posture.

Proper posture keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly. Proper posture is also more energy efficient and can lead to better overall performance.

To demonstrate what proper posture looks like

If viewing from behind. The ears, shoulders and hips should be level. The feet should be pointing forward.

If viewing from the side. The ear, middle shoulders middle of the hips and the ankle bone should be aligned

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When the Spine Does Not Move It DEGENERATES

Speaking to 22 people last night was an absolute privilege. Helping them understand the cause of Low Back Pain I could see light bulbs going on and hope being restored.

Research clearly states that degeneration occurs within a misaligned spine or a spine not moving appropriately. A study published in 2004 evaluated the spine of mice when researchers placed metal rods on their spinal vertebrae preventing specific vertebral movement. Immobility in the spine almost immediately began producing significant decay and degeneration. Surfaces of the bone and discs showed degeneration after just one to four weeks of decreased movement in a spinal vertebra. Bone spurs began to form at the edges of the immobile vertebrae after four to eight weeks of reduced spinal vertebral mobility. The most important finding of this research showed that irreversible degeneration resulted if movement was not restored within the first one to four week time frame.

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Who do YOU see for Low Back Pain?

In my 16 years of private practice I have seen thousands of patients suffering from Low Back Pain ranging from simple acute mechanical low back pain to severe and chronic disc prolapses.

There are many cases of complex low back pain associated with disc damage that have been helped without the need of surgery by chiropractors.

One case that sticks in my mind and I remember it like it was yesterday. I could see through the glass window in my office, a 40 yr old gentleman bent over like a question mark limping on one leg towards my office. My first though was wow, this looks bad.

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