Health… Expectations Vs. Reality

What is health? What is perfect health? Is it possible to achieve perfect health? If so, how long does it take? Are these all expectations that social media has set or is it the reality? These questions are often questions I ponder about as a well-being practitioner. Some people ask me that too, but it’s just such a long answer. I think people should read this instead of me answering it verbally.

Health according to the World Health Organisation, is “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This is completely true; many people think just because they do not have pain they are in good condition. The definition also includes ‘mental and social well-being’. I feel too many people in the world now only focuses on the thing that they can see or feel when exhibiting physical health. The expectation is because someone has rock hard 6 pack or has an amazing body they must be in perfect health. In reality, it does not necessarily reflect their state. The person with an amazing body may have reached peak physical health but that same person may always be conscious about their own body image that it causes mental disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). This neglects the aspect of mental health.

 

Cont.

 

So to answer the question is it possible to achieve perfect health; the short answer is yes but there is always a catch to it. In my opinion, being physically perfect is to be in a balanced state of ‘physical, mental, and social well-being’. Some may be already in that realm if you are I congratulate you. However, if you are there already, are you taking it for granted, or are you actively trying to improve or maintain it? This is where the wellness model comes in. To achieve even a higher state of health is to actively pursue maintenance. We can accomplish this through regular chiropractic care, a continuation of healthy habits (mentally, physically, and socially) and self-reflection. Unlike the allopathic model of health where we seek help or therapy after if a breakdown occurs. The reality of perfect health is for us to maintain the standard, this way, we can enhance our own body’s ability.

If you are not in ‘perfect health’ how long will it take you? You might expect it overnight just by suddenly going to the gym, quit smoking, or stop drinking excessively? Unfortunately, it does not work like that, otherwise, everyone would have perfect health in no time and there would not be a profession in health. The famous saying: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, is particularly applicable in scenarios like these. The reality is that good things take time, our body takes time to change. Research has shown that even working out consistently at the gym, results will not be seen until 3 -6 months later. Additionally, a healthy diet is just as important as working out! You must include all aspects to actually see results! Health is the same, consistent social, physical, and mental habits are the right way to go to develop perfect health. Be patient, trust in the process and everything will fall in its place.

 

Concl.

 

The expectation these days for health is focused on physical appearance. However, having a visually pleasing body doesn’t equate to being on top of things. Being healthy is achieving a balance between social, mental, and physical health. In this modern society, we are expected to do things in a flash and be successful right away. However, in reality, things take time. In the end slow and steady wins the race.

 

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Whole Foods

 

This era has unlimited food on the supermarket shelves. We’ve got plenty of meats, vegetables, grains, oats, dairy products etc. However, not everything on the shelves is safe to eat in the long run. But there will always be one part of the supermarket that’s always going to be reliable and delicious; that’s whole foods.

 

So what are whole foods? Whole foods are a group of foods that has not been processed or went through minimum processing before being put on the shelves. Previously fresh meat and oils were also considered in the category. However, now that some meat contain antibiotics and hormones while we now know that even some oils are heavily processed before distributed. So nowadays, whole food are mostly fruits and vegetables that have not been processed or refined. Oats, legumes, beans are some of them.

 

cont.

 

So why are whole foods recommended so much? Firstly, they are not processed. This means, there are no additives in there. This means that everything is natural. The human body is made for digesting natural foods. Due to these additives and extra processing, it causes gut inflammation. Since out gut is inflamed, it’ll slow down any other healing process and make it look like there is a belly. Secondly, it decreases the chance of cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and other health problems.

This comes back to it being unprocessed again. When processing food plenty of chemicals, MSGs, fats and oils are added to a product. This chemical mixture is like a time bomb that is going to explode in your body. A build-up of these may causes unhealthy reactions in your body leading to cancers. Finally, they overflow with healthy nutrients. These food were literally designed for the human race to keep us going! They are filled with everything we need. Don’t get me wrong, supplements are extremely useful when used correctly. But most of our daily nutrition is already lie in whole foods!

 

So next time you pick up something from the supermarket, think bigger picture than is it yum? Whole food can be just as tasty if prepped right! So make sure you read the label carefully and choose what’s best for you body!

 

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Slow Twitch vs. Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers

Every living animal on this planet has muscle fibers. There are some animals who can move for long distances like birds migrating through different seasons and there are some animals that can be very fast and explosive like a lion. That’s the same with human beings, some human beings are very good at long distance sports while some are 100m speedsters. This is because there are two types of muscle fibers in our body; slow and fast twitch fibers. They serve very different purposes.

 

Slow twitch fibers, also known as Type I muscle fibers, are muscle fibers that contract slowly. Due to the slow contraction, they do not generate a lot of power. Slow twitch fibers are a lot more efficient at using energy and due to that, they are fatigue resistance. This is because these fibers tend to be a lot smaller and are surrounded by capillaries. Many capillaries surround them, so they support aerobic metabolism as there will be more oxygen supply. This results in muscles that can work for a longer period of time with less energy output. This type of muscle fiber is most ideal for people who do long distance or stamina based sports such as marathons and triathlons. They grow through similar types of training over a period of time.

cont.

There are two types of fast twitch muscle fibers; moderate (Type IIA) and intense (TypeIIB). Type IIB being the larger one. However, both these fibers are larger in comparison to the Type I slow twitch fibers. Due to the larger size, they are able to produce more force however they need more oxygen to sustain them. Unfortunately, these large twitch muscle fibers are not surrounded by as many capillaries as the slow twitch fiber which makes them easier to fatigue. These muscle fibers are more effective for people who often do more explosive movements such as sprinters, weight lifters and jumpers. These muscles grow through resistance training.

 

What’s very interesting is even though if the sport demands mostly slow twitch fibers, small amounts fast twitch fibers are also recruited. This is because in the action of each movement a small amount of explosive strength comes out. In sports that require plenty of fast twitch fiber, once the primary fiber fatigues, your body will naturally push the small twitch fiber to do carry on the job. This is why it is important to train both types of muscle fibers.

 

The amount of fast twitch and slow twitch fiber is predetermined by genetics and at a young age. However, it is not said that they cannot be changed. Many of this is determined by the amount and type of training done. That being said changing between the two types of fast twitch fiber and from fast twitch to slow twitch can be achieved with much more ease compared to altering from slow to fast twitch fiber. However, this does not mean it cannot be done. As long as hard work reigns supreme, and by being consistent with the type of training.

 

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Don’t Follow The Crowd

The other week I was giving some lifestyle and diet recommendations to a client who commented on how hard it is to avoid certain foods, especially when going out to socialise. Of course, he is absolutely correct. This conversation spawned a realisation of the truth that making healthy choices and taking care of your body requires a level of commitment that might make you stand out or narrow your choices. This doesn’t mean you can never go out for dinner or to social gatherings, in fact keeping our social lives active is very beneficial for our health and longevity.  It means you may have to alter your choices or be more prepared beforehand.

Making choices that are commonplace and popular will get you the same results that most people have. Look at the health statistics of the general population like the rates of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, not to mention things like fatigue, headaches, and mental fog so common amongst people and decide if you want those outcomes too, don’t follow the crowd.

Most of our health and the way our body performs comes down to the choices we make each day like the amount of alcohol we drink or choose not to drink, the type of foods we eat, how much water we drink and how active we choose to be.

Most people choose to be far too sedentary; choose not to be one of them.

Most people choose not to drink enough water; choose not to be one of them.

Most people choose to eat too much; choose not to be one of them.

Most people choose not to eat enough fruit or vegetables; choose not to be one of them.

We know that making healthy choices isn’t always easy but we are here to support your efforts to become a healthier and stronger person!

Don’t follow the crowd.

This blog is sponsored by Little Ninja & Priorityfitness.

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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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Vitamin D

With a beautiful summer coming to an end the temperature is already dropping and the days are getting shorter. Sadly this means you will be getting less outdoor activity and time in the sun which means less opportunity for your body to make vitamin D.

Good levels of vitamin D are important for heart, brain, lungs and muscles function. Vitamin D is also important in regulating calcium levels so has an impact on bone health too. Low levels are linked with depression, low immunity and even cancer!

While most of the vitamins we need come from our food, it also is unique in that your own body can make it from sunlight. Which is why we need to pay closer attention to it in as winter approaches.

Although you can get vitamin D from foods, especially cod liver oil, raising your levels of vitamin D through food alone is not adequate according to the vitamin D council (find a link to their website below to get more information on vitamin D). Sun exposure and supplementation are the most effective ways to bring your levels up and maintain good health.

Tips for vitamin D this winter

1) Try and get as much sun exposure as you can while still being sun smart.

AND

2) Supplementation.

Most people can supplement vitamin D without any problem but if you have high blood calcium levels it may not be a good idea to take high doses. If you are taking certain medications it may also affect your ability to take high doses, whereas other medications may require you to take a higher dose than normal. This being the case it is best to consult your doctor to have some simple tests done to find out what dosage is right for you.

Reference:

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 87, Issue 3, March 2008, Page 794,

https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/

 

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Should I Quit Drinking?

The debate of whether a certain amount of alcohol is good or bad for you has been a long-standing one. Some of us enjoy the glass of wine with dinner. Others have a few beers on the weekend.  But do you need to quit it altogether to change your body or your health?

If you’re thinking that alcoholic beverages tend to show up a lot in life you’re not alone. Alcohol has become a huge part of the culture in New Zealand and in other countries around the world. Whether it’s a nice cold beer at the end of a workday or a bubbly champagne on New Year’s, it tends to add up. But how does that affect your health goals? Well, it’s kind of complicated.

You may have heard that drinking can be good for you as research has shown that moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lower risk of diabetes, gallstones and coronary heart disease. There have even been studies indicating that drinkers live longer than people who don’t drink.

However, it’s important to know that experts recommend that if you don’t already drink, don’t start. Why? Because no one actually knows if ANY amount of alcohol is good for you.

I’m not going to tell you not to drink. But it’s important to know that most of the research on the potential benefits of drinking alcohol doesn’t actually prove anything due to how the studies are designed. The research tends to be large, long-term population-based studies that can’t say that it CAUSES anything, but rather that it CORRELATES with something.

So what is a “moderate alcohol intake”?

  • Women: 7 drinks/week, no more than 3 in a single day
  • Men: 14 drinks/week, no more than 4 in a single day

In my opinion, this type of moderation will land you in a host of health problems. Let’s take it down to 1-2 times per week with only 1 drink per setting. That’s better 🙂

A single drink can be a 330 ml can of 4% alcohol beer or a 100 ml glass of 12.5% alcohol wine.

Chances are, if you’re a human, you’re most likely underestimating your alcohol consumption. The occasional happy hour or birthday dinner can quickly take you from moderate to heavy drinker without you even realizing. The health risks for heavy drinking are much higher for major health problems, such as liver cancer, alcoholism, osteoporosis and a host of other diseases.

So how do you find a nice balance? What amount of alcohol gives you enjoyment while giving your body a chance to respond and recover from processing it? MY moderate alcohol intake guideline is a good start along with the following tips:

  • Keep track of your drinking habits. Do this for a week or two and ask yourself:
    • Am I drinking more than I thought? (Did you forget to count those couple of beers you like to have on Sunday afternoons?)
    • Are there patterns in my drinking? (Does your stressful job trigger your end-of-week binge drink?)
    • Is it helping me enjoy life or stressing me out? (Are you not sleeping well or feeling worried about drinking?)
  • Tune in to your body’s signals:
    • Do I feel good?
    • Am I recovering?
    • How do I feel afterwards?
  • Switch it up and experiment to break your routine:
    • Delay your next drink for 10 minutes and see if you still want it after.
    • Savour your drink. Look, sniff, and taste it.
    • Quality over quantity. Drink less, but have the good stuff.

Evaluate how drinking fits in with your goals. If you want six-pack abs, then that might mean skipping out on a few drinks at the bar. Taking part in Friday night “Happy Hour” means pushing back your Saturday morning workout. If you’re aiming for a more moderate alcohol intake then you’ll have to find a way to say “no” to certain stress/social triggers that make you want to drink more.

 

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2 Simple Tips For Reading Food Labels

If you are like most people you pick up a packet of food in the supermarket and turn it over to read the ingredients to see if it is good for you, all the while having no idea what you are reading. Eating healthy can seem complicated at first so let’s try and make it simple.

Putting the right fuel in your body is essential for your day-to-day wellbeing and performance as well as longevity. Poor diet is linked with many chronic health conditions. We encourage our patients to clean up their diet when undergoing structural chiropractic care to maximise their body’s ability to heal, recover, and re-structure. Think of it this way, if a builder uses cheap materials to build your home it probably won’t last long. Each day your body produces millions of new cells PER SECOND, so make sure you get the appropriate raw materials for your body to make the best cells it can.

Tips

  1. My first recommendation when it comes to reading a food label, is NOT to. Why? Because the food you eat shouldn’t need labeling since it has only one ingredient in it. Most of your diet should be made up of plants, lots of vegetables, fruit, legumes, and grains. If you buy carrots, there are only carrots in the pack. If you buy potatoes, same deal. As a rule of thumb, the more processing steps involved in getting a product from its source to your plate, the less good it probably does for you and the more potential harm it has.
  2. Okay so every now and then you will need products that do have a label on them. The simplest way to approach this is if you can’t read, pronounce or understand the ingredients list, it’s probably not good for you (this is a general rule, and with rules, there are always exceptions).

These two tips can be very helpful if you are new to eating better and you are trying to clean up your act. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the information out there, start simple and keep educating yourself!

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File:Food label from the Co-operative Food Sausages.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Cold Showers & Mental Health

In the first part of this series I talked about some physical benefits of cold showers; better immunity, increased testosterone and reducing inflammation. Well the list doesn’t stop there. You can check out that blog by clicking here. 

 

Mental benefits

 

 There may also be some mental benefits to the cold shower too. Depression can be very restrictive on a person’s life and if you have struggled with, or are battling depression you are probably trying to find ways to mitigate the severity of it. A study at The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine indicated that cold showers may positively affect your body’s production of noradrenaline, a chemical that can help with depression, by firing up the ‘blue spot’ in the brain. Obviously depression is more complex than a cold shower being the solution. But, implementing as many strategies as possible is only going to help.

Poor sleep can make depressive symptoms worse, and depression can affect your sleep quality, which can be a vicious cycle leading to lower energy and lower mood. A cold shower in the morning can give you a boost of energy to get kick started, but a cold shower about an hour before bed can actually do the opposite and help you sleep! That’s because your body needs a cooler temperature to fall asleep, which is why sleep in the summer can be much more restless.

I find that conquering the cold first thing in the morning it is a great mental exercise. It assists in overcoming the feeling of discomfort that the water bestows. Although seemingly insignificant it somehow empowers you to face the day ahead

You will almost certainly find it hard to breathe in the colder water so focus on deep controlled breaths. This controls your heart rate and take your mind off of the discomfort. Life is full of difficulty and uncomfortable situations. Something as simple as starting your day with a cold shower can help fortify your mind and body to take life head on.

 

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Cold shower | Björn Söderqvist | Flickr

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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164-365 (Year 6) Cold shower :( | My shower runs cold, a plu… | Flickr