Stress And The Common Cold

Stress, colds, chiropractors

Stress And the Common Cold

Stress has a major influence on the function of your immune system. For instance, have you noticed you’re more likely to catch a cold when under a lot of stress? This is true both for acute stress, such as preparing a big project for work, and chronic stress, such as relationship troubles or grief. Both can deteriorate immune systems and leave us less able to fight off infection.

Researchers have now revealed that the hormone ‘cortisol’ may play an intricate role in stress and sickness. Concluding that high levels of stress can have such a detrimental impact on our immune systems.

The Perfect “Recipe” for Avoiding Colds

Chronic stress and vitamin D deficiency can be described as the perfect ‘storm’ for developing colds. If you’re facing these two scenarios and are exposed to a cold virus, then you guessed it! There’s a good chance you’re going to get sick.

Cold viruses can live almost anywhere. On pens, computer keyboards, coffee mugs, handbags.. so it’s easy to come into contact with such viruses in daily life. The important key to remember is that just by being exposed to a cold virus doesn’t have to mean that we catch a cold. If our immune system is operating at it’s peak, it should be quite easy for you to fend off the virus without ever getting sick.

If you want to join the ranks of people who rarely get sick, start with strategies listed below. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does give you a general idea of how to live healthy and avoid getting frequent colds and other infections. Other factors, like getting high-quality sleep and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins, are important too. Here are a few simple starters to boost your immunity straight away:

  • Reduce and Eliminate Stress in Your Life.
  • Optimise Your Vitamin D Levels.
  • Optimise Your Insulin and Leptin Levels by Avoiding Sugar, Fructose.

Eating sugar, fructose and grains will increase your insulin levels. This is one of the fastest ways to get sick and experience premature ageing. Leptin is another key hormone associated with disease and the ageing process. Similar to insulin levels, leptin levels can also become consistently elevated. If they do, our bodies can develop resistance to this hormone, which may wreak havoc in your body.

Exercise

If you are exercising regularly, the likelihood of acquiring a cold or other viral illness is significantly reduced. In one study, staying active cut the risk of contracting a cold by 50%, and cut the severity of symptoms by 31% among those who did catch a cold. The researchers noted that each round of exercise lead to a boost in circulating immune system cells that could help ward off a virus.

Did you know that exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood? The job of these cells is to neutralise pathogens throughout your body. The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at locating and defending against viruses and other pathogens that may opportunistically overrun the body.

Eat Plenty of Raw Food

One of the most important aspects of a healthy diet that is frequently overlooked is the issue of eating uncooked, natural raw food.

Unfortunately, over 90% of the food purchased by most New Zealanders is processed. When we consume these kinds of denatured and chemically altered foods, it’s no surprise we have an epidemic of chronic and degenerative diseases. Not to mention way too many cases of colds and flu. Ideally you’ll want to eat as many foods as possible in their unprocessed state. Typically organic, biodynamic foods that have been grown locally, and are in season. Even when you choose the best foods available we can destroy much of the nutrition if you cook them. Try to eat RAW as much as possible!

When to visit your Chiropractor?

A common question that chiropractors often hear: Should I get adjusted when I’m sick? My answer is almost always YES! The body’s ability to heal quickly and efficiently, are made up of many moments of positive choices. Healthy alignment of the spine is an extremely important factor to strengthening immunity.

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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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Breathe Deep

In a given day how often do you breathe deeply? In a stressed out world you can unconsciously end up breathing short and shallow breaths, this can reduce oxygen intake and further drive the stress response.

Breathing is an interesting function of the body and arguably the only one that is both unconscious and consciously controlled. Think about it, until you start dreading this you were breathing without paying attention to it. It happens automatically. But you can also slow down or speed up your breathing pattern at your own will.

Rapid, shallow breathing is a natural response to a stressful situation. Deeper, slower breathing is a natural response when you are relaxed. Taking conscious control of your breathing during the day, especially when you are stressed, can help calm your nervous system so it can focus on healing, digesting and creativity.

Try this simple breathing exercise each day to calm you mind and body.

4-7-8 Breathing

This technique was developed by Dr Andrew Weil as a great technique to calm your body when lying in bed at night to assist you falling asleep or to calm your mind and body during the day.

  • Exhale forcefully through the mouth
  • Close your mouth and silently breathe in through the nose as you mentally count to 4
  • Hold the breath for a count of 7
  • Exhale forcefully through the mouth for a count of 8

Do this a total of four times and repeat twice daily to maximise the benefits of the technique. The ratio of the inhalation to exhalation is more important than the overall length of time. At first you may not be able to hold your breath very long so count faster but as your body becomes more efficient over time you will find that you can really slow the process down.

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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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The Busy Person’s Workout

 

If you’ve had no time during the week and you’re looking to fit in a quick, solid sweat, here’s your go-to do anywhere workout. It’s a great way to maintain muscle mass, keep your metabolism going and more!

Full-body movement everyday is important whether it be cycling, running, climbing, walking or this awesomely time-efficient workout. Here it is:

  • 5 reps of each of the following 5 movements = 1 circuit.
  • Repeat for a total of 3 circuits (add or subtract 1 based on your conditioning level and available time).
  • 1-2 minutes rest between circuits.

Squat

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms out in front of you.
  • Keep your core engaged and your tailbone tucked in.
  • Lower yourself by pushing your hips back and keeping your feet pointing straight.
  • Push weight through your heels and midfoot when pushing yourself back upright.
  • Increase difficulty
    • Add more reps.
    • Hold something decently heavy like a dumbbell or a bag full of things.

 

 

Push-Up

  • Start on the floor with your arms extended in front of you, your hands directly under your shoulders and your fingers pointing forward.
  • Maintain a straight line form your head to your heels.
  • Keep your elbows in and externally rotate your hands so that your elbow creases are pointing forward (imagine twisting the ground outward) and lower yourself.
  • Increase difficulty
    • Add more reps.

 

 

 

Good Mornings

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms behind your head.
  • Keep your core tight, back straight, knees slightly bent and weight on your heels.
  • Bend at the waist by pushing your hips back until you feel a little stretch in your hamstrings (behind your thighs).
  • Increase difficulty
  • Extend your arms up overhead.
  • Loop a resistance band behind your neck with the other end under your feet.

 

 

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

  • Find a chair and get into a split stance with your right foot forward (knee bent) and left foot straight and back. Place your right hand on the chair and hold the weight in your left hand.
  • Keep your core tight, tailbone tucked and weight on your front foot (right) heel.
  • Pull weight to your lower ribs and lock your shoulder blade down.
  • Complete 5 reps on each side.
  • Increase difficulty:
    • Add more reps.
    • Add more weight.

 

 

Bear Crawl

  • Start on all fours.
  • Push with toes to bring your knees off the floor.
  • Keep pelvis stable and centred.
  • Crawl with your right arm and left leg moving up together.
  • Do the same on the other side.
  • That’s one rep.
  • Increase difficulty:
    • Add more reps.

 

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What You Need To Know About Sugar

Is sugar bad?

 

Should you avoid it? This is possibly one of the most controversial topics in diet and health, but today, we’re going to tackle it with hard-core science and unveil the facts you need to know.

First, let’s define exactly what we mean by sugar. Is it the white stuff you scoop into your coffee? Well it can be, but that’s only one type of sugar, called sucrose. Sugar is actually a group of molecules that share a similar structure, so it’s actually more appropriate if we refer to them as sugars. Sugars are a type of carbohydrate known as “simple carbohydrates”, which means they digest more quickly.

You have taste receptors on your tongue for sugars that tell you “this is delicious” because naturally, sweet foods like fruits are full of vitamins, minerals and energy. Nowadays, there are some not-so-nutritious foods that are packed with sugar. The tricky part about this is that everyone reacts to sugar differently. Genetically, some of us want it more, some of us like it in small doses and some of us like it so much that the more we eat, the more we want.

 

What does the data say about sugar’s link to weight gain?

 

Well no single thing – including sugar – causes weight gain. A study was conducted comparing the low-carb diet to the low-fat diet when the calories were kept the same and the researchers concluded that there was no advantage to either diet over the long term.

One thing that definitely contributes to weight gain is an increased caloric intake. So if you’re one of those people that loves sugar so much that it always leaves you wanting more; then it’s a good idea to restrict yourself from sugar because eating it will most likely make you eat more of it and that will increase your overall caloric intake, which can lead to weight gain. It’s all about experimenting with your body and finding what works.

 

What does the data say about sugar’s link to diabetes?

 

 The short answer for this one is that managing sugar intake is just one piece of the diabetes-prevention puzzle. The biggest change you can make to prevent or reverse diabetes is to limit your fat intake that comes from all the animal products you eat such as red meat, pork, cheese, dairy milk and eggs. Research has shown that these types of fats are actually the biggest culprit driving diabetes. For more info watch the documentary ‘What The Health’ on Netflix.

This doesn’t give you permission to have fizzy drinks with your meals (bad idea). What it does is give you more insight on what you SHOULD focus on when looking to prevent diabetes, which is weight and body fat management. This is backed up by a LOT of research.

 

So… How much should I eat?

 

The point of this article is not to remove your guilt of eating sugar.  It’s not a health food and it doesn’t even add a whole lot of nutrient value like protein or omega-3 fatty acid does. But you can’t blame one thing for all your health problems. Being aware of your sugar intake is probably a good idea. As a guideline, limit sugar to 10% of your intake. But ensuring that you’re eating real whole foods for proper nutrients and finding a way to move and exercise more often has far greater benefits. Focus on the big rocks before the pebbles, and you’ll find navigating health a whole lot easier.

 

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Office Worker Toolkit: Tips for those who sit at a desk all day

Here’s one thing you probably already know: the human body was not designed to sit at a desk all day. Our bodies require constant movement, so any job or activity that keeps you in one position for a long time (ie. office work and video games) can have negative effects on your body. The most important thing to remember above all else is to move more and move often. If you’re struggling with movement or there’s something limiting you, then consult with your structural chiropractor on how to approach your challenges and they’ll provide you with individualized and specific exercises that will get you back on track.

There are certain areas of the body that are of primary concern when sitting for long hours:

 

1. Neck

Why? Poor ergonomics and computer set up can lead to your head hanging forward for long periods of time. This even happens when we’re on our phone for too long. This position increases straining in your neck and the muscles around the neck become tight and reactive. This can even lead to tension headaches.

What to do: • Sit tall and think of stacking your neck bones one on top of the other directly above your back. Then tuck your chin and gently push your head back. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times every two hours. • Remember to also move your head often throughout the day by looking left, looking right, and making big circles with your neck (if pain free)

 

2. Shoulders

Why? When typing and reading a computer screen, our shoulder tend to slump forward and stay there for long periods of time. When the positioning of your shoulder girdle is not optimal, it can lead to imbalances in the muscle system, which will lead to your muscles not functioning as well.

What to do: • Sit tall and pinch your shoulder blades together gently. Hold this positioning for 5 seconds and slowly release. Repeat this 10 times every 2 hours. • Make big round circles with our shoulder blades. Focus on the part of the circle where your opening your chest and pulling your shoulders back. Perform 10 circles going forwards and 10 going backwards every 2 hours. • Stretch your chest muscles by putting your elbow and forearm on the side of a doorframe with your elbow at 90 degrees and stepping into it until your feel a stretch in your pecs. You can feel it more by breathing into the sides and front of your rib cage. Hold for 30 seconds on each side every 2 hours.

 

3. Low back

Why? Being at the desk for such long periods of time, we tend to get lazy and slouch or round through our low back. This can put a lot of stress on the joints and discs in the low back area, which can potentially lead ot disc injuries, muscle strains, joint stiffness and weakening of your core muscles which can make you more susceptible to further injury and pain.

What to do: • Sit directly on top of your sit bones and try to keep the weight even on both sit bones. This will create a small arch in your low back which is its optimal position. • Be sure to stand up and walk around every hour or so to take the pressure off your low back. • Try some gentle yoga when you’re not at work. • Perform the cat-camel pose which helps bring movement throughout the entire spine. Click here to link to one of our YouTube videos on how to do it.

 

4. Hips

Why? When sitting on our bottoms all day, it means that we’re squishing our buttock muscles which can lead to weakness in this important muscle group. The sitting position also leads to tight hip flexors since our hips are stuck in a 90 degree angle for so long. Imbalances in the hip can lead to injuries affecting all parts of the body, especially the low back and knees.

What to do: • Stand and walk throughout the day. • Stagger your legs, similar to a lunge position and transfer your weight forward. This will give you a nice stretch in the hip flexor muscle. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on both sides every 2 hours. • Perform the glute bridge outside of work. Click here to link to one of our YouTube videos on how to do it. Remember that every BODY is different. If these general exercise suggestions aren’t working for you, then be sure to visit your structural chiropractor to get individualized recommendations to get your back on track.

Your Trusted Auckland Chiropractor

Contact Revolution Chiropractic – Leading  Chiropractor Auckland

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