Why Your Sleeping Position Matters

Sleeping

You spend roughly a third of your life in bed sleeping, or at least trying to sleep. Doing one activity for as long as 8 hours can impact your spinal structure so it is worth considering how to best go about setting up your sleep position.

Sleep is a vital time in which our brain and our body slows down enough to repair and recharge. If you have ever had periods of too little sleep you may have experienced that gross heavy feeling in your brain.

You know that feeling you get in your muscles after a hard workout or the feeling in your calves and legs after a long run? That is essentially waste products building up in the muscles from the high level of activity. Although the brain is not a muscle it is very active and requires a lot of your body’s resources to run during the day. When we sleep it is a chance for the brain to wind down and recharge so to speak, and until recently we didn’t know how the brain cleared waste products, they assumed that there was no lymphatic drainage.

Sleeping’s effects

Scientists have recently discovered what they call the glymphatic pathway, which is the drainage pathway of waste products from your brain and it is most active during sleep. Degenerative conditions of the brain like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia links with build up of waste products, which is why it is vital to get 7-9 hours sleep.

The other interesting discovery is that this pathway appears to be most active when sleeping on your side. Well, to be fair the study was done on rodents and not humans however the researches did speculate that this may also be true in humans considering that the natural resting and sleep position in most mammals is the side position.

Obviously when you are asleep it is rather difficult to monitor your sleep position since, well, you are asleep. But setting up right means you will spend at least some time in the optimal side sleeping posture. Make sure you have a pillow that supports your head and neck in the side position. Think Goldilocks, not too high a pillow, not too low a pillow, just right. I also like to sleep with a pillow between the knees to support to hips and lower back. Having a pillow behind your back may also provide extra support and stop you rolling onto your back while you sleep.

Hedok Lee, Lulu Xie, Mei Yu, Hongyi Kang, Tian Feng, Rashid Deane, Jean Logan, Maiken Nedergaard, and Helene Benveniste. The Effect of Body Posture on Brain Glymphatic TransportJournal of Neuroscience, July 2015 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1625-15.2015

 

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This blog is sponsored by Little Ninja & Priorityfitness

File:Sleeping Positions for Back Pain.png - Wikimedia Commons

Meal Prep 101

Life happens. And one of the best ways to make it through successfully is to make sure you’re prepared.

Meal prepping saves you time, energy and serves as your friend on the days when you get home late and every fibre of your being is against you making food. In turn, you end up spending less on eating out and having more energy by eating home-cooked, delicious meals.

Whether you’re keto, paleo, low-carb, or standard NZ diet, this simple guide will serve you well to have a fridge full of healthy meals for the week.

 

Prep steps:

 

  1. PLAN: Meal prepping starts on the weekend. Look at the week ahead of you and figure out the busy days for which you’ll need meal-prepped meals. Even if you don’t want to meal prep for the entire week, make sure that you schedule some time the day before to prepare a meal.
  2. THINK: Open notes or find a pad and pen to write some healthy meal ideas. Nothing fancy, keep it simple. For example, you could have some one-pot recipes on hand that can make huge batches like chilli, grilled chicken, roast veggies, and stir fry.
  3. SHOP: From that simple menu, create an ingredient list and go out to buy your meal prep ingredients. If you don’t have the memory of an elephant, be sure to bring a note pad with you or have your list on your phone notes to tick off as you go.
  4. COOK: Schedule one or however many days out of the week to cook. This could be every Sunday that you plug your headphones in with a good podcast and go hard at your meal prep for an hour and a half. Be sure to cook all the things that take lots of time to cook like your chicken, veggies, and potatoes. Prepping in bulk is best because it saves you heaps of time. Slicing a few carrots is as fast as slicing one, so make sure to prep everything you can in that set time.
  5. STORE: Finally, store your meal-prepped food in containers and make them accessible in the fridge. Be sure to also put the appropriate items in the freezer if you know you won’t be eating it before it goes bad.

And most IMPORTANTLY, don’t forget to make meal prepping fun and a regularly weekly ritual of yours. Throw on some music, watch a show or just chat if it’s a team effort.

Apply these meal prep principles and your future self will thank you immensely.

This blog is sponsored by Priorityfitness.

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Eat Slowly

Here you are in the midst of modern society. No time. Rushed. Distracted. And eating… really, really fast. It seems like half the time you’re not even chewing our food properly! It’s time to discover eating slowly and what it can do for your health and well-being.

Learning to eat slowly is one of the simplest yet most impactful things you can do to improve your health. But it’s not always easy, so let’s explore why it’s so beneficial and worthwhile.

 

Hunger satisfaction

 

Eating slowly gives your body time to realize that it’s full. It takes 20 minutes from the start of your meal before your brain sends signals that it’s satisfied with the amount of food and nutrients you consumed. Imagine the extra calories you’ve been eating simply because you haven’t given enough time for your body to realize it longer needs food!

Eating until satisfied is different from eating until you’re full. Satisfied can be around 80% full, which is what you should aim for. When you take the time to slow down and take in each bite mindfully, paying attention to the tastes and textures of the food, you end up feeling way better about what you eat… even if it’s just a sandwich.

 

Improved Digestion

 

Before you even put the food in your mouth, your body’s digestive processes are already at work. As soon as we see, smell or think about food we begin to produce saliva which contains enzymes to break down the food and moisten the mouth to aid in swallowing. Your stomach then starts to secrete more acid and your small intestines start to prepare for movement and food transport.

When we eat fast, we tend to take larger bites and chew less before swallowing. Food that isn’t properly broken down can lead to indigestion and other potential GI problems. Anyone who’s experienced either can tell you it’s not pleasant.

 

Smaller portions

 

A study served lunch in two different ways to 30 average weight women. The meal consisted of a huge plate of classic pasta and a glass of water. All women were instructed to eat to the point of comfortable fullness. During one visit they them to eat as quickly as possible. On the other visit, they were asked to eat slowly and down their utensils between each bite.

Here’s what they found when they compared the difference:

  • Fast eaters: 646 calories in 9 minutes
  • Slow eaters: 579 calories in 29 minutes

That’s 67 less calories in 20 more minutes… which may not seem like much until you add up the three meals a day… 7 days a week. Do some simple maths and you’ll quickly realize that that adds up to 1407 extra calories a week!

On top of that, they found that when the women ate quickly they reported more hunger an hour earlier than when they eat slowly. This means that slow eating leads to less food consumption and more long-lasting satisfaction – which is both good for the wallet and the waistline!

What’s interesting is that they took the same study and compared the amount of water that the participants drank to find that the fast eaters drank an average of 289 mL and the slow eaters drank 409 mL! So they conducted a similar study, only this time they controlled water levels, and found that ate the same amount of food, but an hour after the meal the slow eaters reported less hunger and desire to eat.

So they concluded that drinking more water helps reduce portion sizes, while eating slowly seems to decrease hunger levels for longer. On top of that you get the other incredible benefits of drinking more water such as balancing body fluids, energizing muscles, helping your kidneys and bowels work better and improve skin appearance!

At the end of the day, if you’re eating slowly and drinking more water, you’ll consume less food and feel more satisfied.

Of course, eating slowly is not the end all be all for weight loss and health, but it will definitely help you with portion control and hunger satisfaction.

Here are 5 pro tips to eating slowly:

  1. Put down your utensils between bites
  2. Set aside time to eat
  3. Eat high-fiber foods (fruits and veggies)
  4. Set a minimum number of chews per bite
  5. Eat from smaller plates or containers

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Could Cold Showers Be Good For you

It’s time to make friends with the cold. It may be hard to believe but there are quite a few benefits to having a cold shower. The idea of using cold water as a therapy has been around for thousands of years. Even after the Greeks developed running hot water for bathing they would still use cold bathing as a mental and physical therapy. Taking a dunk in an icy lake after a sauna is a common activity in Finland and the other Scandinavian countries and Rickson Gracie, a legend in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, would often sit in cold water as part of his training and recovery.

So what benefits might you gain from such a masochistic activity?

 

Physical benefits

 

The Thrombosis Research Institute of England put out a study with some evidence linking the increase in metabolism due to the body fighting the cold to a stimulation of the immune system, increasing white blood cell activity. The same study also indicates an increase in testosterone. A hormone essential for particularly for men in regard to libido, fertility, strength and energy, but also an essential hormone for similar reason in women.

Many athletes use various cold therapies to aid recovery and reduce inflammation caused by their training. Alternating between hot and cold in the shower can aid circulation. Because, cold water causes your body to restrict blood flow and send it to your organs and away from your extremities and hot water does the opposite.

Taking a cold shower daily can be a cheap (or should I say free) and less harmful (please read the warning at the end) than regularly taking anti-inflammatory pills if you suffer from chronic pain and inflammation.

 

Get started

 

I recommend you start by having a normal shower. Over the course of a week spend the final 15 seconds in a progressively cooler temperature until you are using the coldest possible water.

Then go from spending 15 seconds to 30, then 45, then 1 minute and so on. I have found that once you get used to the cold it is no longer a shock to your body. Then you can start to actually look forward to the cold!

An extra bonus is that you can save on your water bill as I guarantee you won’t be spending as long in the shower!

BE WARNED: if you suffer from heart disease or high blood pressure then this may not be for you. The shock of using cold water can put extra strain on the heart. Please take extra caution and try doing progressively cooler showers instead of going straight to cold.

 

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Celery Juice Health Benefits

Introduction

The juice of fresh raw celery is loaded with a variety of nutrients. It contains almost all essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and stocked up energy, which help in regulating the natural as well as optimal functions of our body collectively. Please keep in mind that I highly recommend using organic/spray free celery as regular celery can have high amounts of pesticides.

 

Celery juice

 

Here is a list of health benefits of celery juice:

 

1. Prevents Cancer:

Keep cancer at bay by drinking celery juice every day. There are 8 types of anti-cancer substances present in the juice that can heal cancer in a number of ways. The acetylenic content of the juice prevents the tumor cells from growing, the phonolic acid content makes the hormone-like prostaglandins (accelerates the growth of cancerous cells) inactive, the phyto nutrient content stops free radicals from destroying the DNA of our cells, and so on.

 

2. Lowers Cholesterol:

Celery juice is an excellent natural remedy for lowering the cholesterol levels in our body. It contains a chemical compound named 3-n-butylphthalide that has positive effects on reducing the bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) in our bloodstream. It also boosts the secretion of bile or steroid acids which is helpful in lowering cholesterol too. The juice extracted only from 2 stalks of celery can decrease our cholesterol levels up to 7 points.

 

3. Controls Blood Pressure:

If you drink 1 glass of celery juice each day, you will be able to keep your blood pressure levels under control. It is again the effects of 3-n-butylphthalide, which diminishes the secretion of stress hormones and relaxes the muscles present around our blood vessels so that they get dilated and blood can flow through them smoothly without causing much pressure onto their inner walls.

 

4. Prevents Digestive Disorders:

Celery juice has great potential to cure various digestive disorders. It contains lots of fibers which turn the plant into a laxative one. Fibers discharge certain nutrients during the preparation of juice and prevent constipation by making the bowel movement smoother.

 

5. Prevents Calcification:

Fresh celery juice is also useful in averting calcification inside our gall bladder, urinary bladder and kidneys. As it can remove waste as well as toxic materials from these organs, the stones present within these get broken down and eliminated easily.

 

6. Maintains Acid-Base Balance:

Studies have shown that very few foods are as powerful as celery juice in maintaining the acid-base balance in our body. It reduces the acidity and makes our body alkaline to some extent so that the pH levels remain good.

 

7. Anti- Inflammatory Action:

Celery juice is highly anti-inflammatory. It holds an organic compound named polyacetylene, which inhibits acute inflammation in bone diseases like osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. and respiratory disorders like bronchitis, asthma, etc.

 

8. Diuretic:

Being a good diuretic, celery juice facilitates the production of urine and helps us stay healthy. Basically, the two essential minerals – sodium and potassium – present in the juice act as the regulators of our body fluid, thereby promoting urination.

 

9. Aids In Weight Loss:

Shedding extra weight also becomes easy and hassle-free with the regular intake of celery juice. It is extremely low in calories and very filling at the same time. Therefore, it keeps our appetite under check and helps us lose weight successfully.

 

10. Treats Insomnia:

Sleep disorder or insomnia can also be treated effectively with celery juice. The magnesium as well as essential oil content of the juice imposes a soothing effect on our nerves and. As a result, we can relax and enjoy a sound sleep.

 

Benefits of Celery Juice for Skin:

Celery juice can contribute to our skin to a great extent. It works as a wonderful alternative to synthetic beauty products available in the market. Explore the skin benefits of celery juice below:

 

11. Hydrates Skin:

The juice extracted from celery is high in water as 95% of the weight of the plant is water. Hence, drinking celery juice in a regular manner can fulfil our daily requirements of water and keeps our skin cells hydrated. As a result, we get soft and supple skin.

 

12. Prevents Skin Damage And Other Disorders:

Water and antioxidant content of the juice is also good for purifying our body and making our skin clearer. Antioxidants are basically ‘free radical scavengers’, which make our body free from toxins and prevent our skin cells from getting damaged. On the other hand, water facilitates the elimination of those toxins as well as other waste materials from our body. Consequently, we can stay away from a number of skin disorders.

 

13. Keeps Skin Young:

Celery juice is loaded with vitamin A, B, C, K, niacin and folate, which are essential for repairing skin damages as well as keeping up the health of our skin. These vitamins also help in producing collagen and nourishing our skin. Therefore, we get smooth, young and wrinkle-free skin.

 

14. Ensures Glowing Skin:

There are numerous minerals present in celery juice. These include calcium, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and so on. Regular intake of these minerals can result into bright and glowing skin.

 

Benefits of Celery Juice for Hair:

Not only health or skin, but celery juice is rewarding for our hair also. Several ways through which this juice can benefit your tresses are given below:

 

15. Over-all Hair Care:

It has been already mentioned that celery juice comprises high amount of water and vitamin A. Both are great for our hair. Water keeps our scalp hydrated and cures dandruff, while vitamin A provides nourishment to the roots of hair strands and makes them healthy. Celery juice is also known to stimulate the growth of our hair and improve its texture. Hence, if you want lush and beautiful hair, consider daily intake of celery juice.

 

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