What You Need to Know to Get and Stay Healthy

Hey Folks!

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted!  Apologies for that.  So I’ve been thinking about what sets Chiropractic apart from other professions, and why we’re crucial when we DO share so much of our scope and skills with many other professionals (physics, massage therapists, osteos, athletic therapists, etc.) and it ultimately comes down to our philosophy.

But I’ve spoken about that numerous times before.  So while I may hint at it throughout the rest of my life (and this post), I’ll attempt to tackle a different topic today.

Today I’d like to speak about how the truth isn’t sexy.  The true, and ultimate answers with regards to health (and fitness, really) isn’t particularly sexy.  I’ve mentioned that there are no shortcuts before, but that truth continues to shine through time after time throughout the years.

Chiro’s are different because we’re the only profession that is based on the idea that there’s nothing wrong with you.  Intrinsically, you likely have the genetic blueprint to live a long, healthy, happy life.  Some folks (a small percentage… though it seems to be growing) have gene-based alterations in their set point, but, luckily for us, the overarching treatment plan is largely the same.  Assuming you’re physiology is good, and providing the necessary ingredients to provide health to your body isn’t nearly as sexy as rushing you into an Operating Room to cut you open and pull out your ruptured appendix, preventing the immediate risk to your life.

Medical doctors do AMAZING things.  They literally SAVE peoples lives and prevent deaths that would be imminent without them.  We should be grateful for it (and in those situations, people typically are).  The problem, is that nowadays lifestyle illnesses are responsible for most deaths.  So while Emergency interventions with Medicine can save your life (in the right situation, unfortunately not everyone lives) in the event of a heart attack or stroke, the cause of those issues didn’t happen suddenly.

I’m totally borrowing this analogy from James Chestnut, but you can think of the Medical Community as the “fire department”.  In this analogy your body is your house.  When your house is on FIRE, you call the fire department.  Given good timing and adequate staffing, the fire department saves your house from burning to the ground, but there is likely damage that will need to be repaired to make it “new” again.  When that time comes, does it make sense to call the fire department to come fix your house up?  Would the fire department become frustrated with your calls to them to help fix your house?  Absolutely.

This is where we are right now.  The medical community is overwhelmed and frustrated with the number of people who are “pre-diabetic”, “at risk” for heart attack and stroke or cancer, but don’t actually HAVE those problems.  Makes sense, right?  You have the tool that helps when that situation arises, but it isn’t quite there yet, and you can tell that by the way the person is headed, that they’ll likely get there over time.  If only there was a way to help turn those people around.

Well there is.  The PROBLEM, is that it isn’t very sexy – so it doesn’t appear like it could be the answer.

And thennnnn…

You want to get fit.  You want to pack on some muscle, but you enjoy being able to go for a run, play volleyball on the beach and you don’t want to put on any fat while you get stronger.  Welcome to the goal of everyone.  Some people get past this issue and reorient their goals.  That’s what leads to elite performances in sport.  Strongmen, Throwers and Powerlifters don’t CARE how fast they can run 800m, unless it makes them better at their sport/tasks at hand, which it doesn’t.  Sprinters don’t care if their shoulders lack range of motion and that gymnastics would help make their shoulders stronger and healthier… because it doesn’t help them sprint faster.  One goal – be the best in the world at ONE thing.  For most of us, this isn’t the goal.  And to be honest, it isn’t particularly healthy – but when the stakes are olympic gold, or high salary contracts, I can understand when it’d be worth it.

To prepare for true fitness, you’ll get a million different opinions.  it is likely impossible to be the best at absolutely everything.  Who knows, maybe that will be proven wrong one day, but until then it seems like it’d be true.  So to improve your level of fitness, you need to lift heavy things, move your body in progressively more complex ways, sprint every so often and otherwise move about with a good amount of frequency.  You need to eat well, too, but we’ll cover that next.  There’s no “This ONE move you AREN’T doing and your trainer WON’T tell you about!”  It doesn’t exist.  There’s hard work at intelligent tasks and that’s it.  Work the short time domain and the long one.  Work the heavy stuff, the fast stuff AND the slow stuff.  Use gymnastics, kettlebells, medicine balls, barbells, rings,  and as many other implements as you can.  Give EVERYTHING you have sometimes.  Other times focus on quality and perfection in movement (though that should be the goal for ALL movement).  Work on moving hard and fast when you’re moving, and resting when you need to.  THAT, creates fitness.  No BS, no secrets.

And thennnn…

You want to know what to eat.  We were told fat was bad, and then that maybe it isn’t.  But what about vegetable oils, omega 3 oils, saturated fat and so on?  We are CONSTANTLY barraged with recommendations for supplements to take.  Whether it’s a commercial, a multi-level marketing friend/acquaintance, or Dr. Oz, we never know what to take seriously and what not to.  There is SO much information and contradictory claims out there with regard to nutrition that it has been the topic of hundreds of books.  And it will continue to be.

BUT, this is where that Chirpractic view of HEALTH comes in.  This is where we develop our BS filter.

Most Chiropractors are of the opinion that we don’t need more people trying to put out fires on their own with a garden hose and store-bought fire extinguisher (still speaking in metaphor here… those are actually good things to have around in the event of a real fire).  We don’t want to be responsible for putting out uncomplicated low back pain fires.  We want to increase your health.

Improve movement, mobility and stability in the spine and extremities, and you get healthier people.  Fine tune peoples nutrition to help them provide their body with what it NEEDS, and you get healthier people.  Teach people about the value of friendship, family values, being grateful, and positive thinking and you get healthier people.  THAT is what chiropractors like myself specialize in.  Your back/neck/shoulder/hip/knee/whatever pain will “magically” go away when you cover all these bases most of the time.

Devote yourself to getting HEALTHY, not just avoiding disease.  Be the healthiest, happiest person you know.

Stay Healthy friends,

Dr. Adam Ball

Strategies to avoid being SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

It’s a cold day in Northern Ontario today (-1 degree Celsius this morning!) and as the warmth and summer weather retreats until the spring, the prolonged daylight goes with it.  Shorter, colder days mean much less time spent outside, as well as less time exposed to direct sunlight.  What does this mean for us?

It means we aren’t connecting with nature as often as we would in the summer (raking leaves just doesn’t have the same allure as laying on the dock by the lake, does it?), which can have a profound effect on our mood.  There’s just something that incites a peaceful feeling about spending time outside.

Not being outside also means we aren’t exposed to the suns rays as much (as well as the changed angle of the sun entering the earth), which means our bodies don’t synthesize as much Vitamin D in the fall and winter as they would in the spring and summer.  Vitamin D is STILL a “hot” vitamin/hormone being studied for numerous connections to both mood and health in general.

The colder weather and lack of sunshine can mean some simple but meaningful changes in our lives.  More time spent indoors.  More time spent looking at screens (TVs, Cell phones, computers, etc.).  Less motivation to get out and move (outside or at the gym).  Less time spent connecting with friends and family.  Like everything in life, these things add up.  The problem is, they add up in a bad way.

Seasonal Affective Disorder exists on a gradient (like most psychological/affect diagnoses), and can affect different people in different ways.  Most people simply report they don’t feel as great in the winter as they do in the summer.  Others succumb to outright depression.  The lack of motivation, fatigue and general malaise that plagues SAD sufferers can be improved upon and sometimes alleviated all together.  The desire to change must be there, which is often the hardest part, but it can be upended by starting small.

I’ll outline a number of ways to approach improving your mood and your life – I suggest you pick and choose which ones work best for you, then, when possible, add in another – until you’ve gone through the whole list.  I don’t suggest trying to do them all at once, unless you already do most of them.

1. Move away from digital screens and fluorescent lighting at night

  • The blue light present in these bulbs and screens send a signal to our bodies through our eyes and skin that it’s “daytime”.  When it isn’t daytime and we’re exposed to blue light our bodies don’t unwind properly and our quality of sleep is affected.  No, it doesn’t matter if you can fall asleep immediately – the quality of your sleep is still affected.
  • Read a (paper) book or spend sometime journaling about 30-60 minutes before bed to the light of some candles, or an incandescent bulb.  Or find some other activity to do in the dark before bed, we’re just looking to reduce your exposure to light here.
  • Turn your clock/phone around/away and get some good quality blinds/drapes
  • These will help to reduce the amount of light you’re being exposed to while sleeping, which will improve the quality of your sleep

2. Get to bed at a decent hour and get enough sleep

  • Getting more sleep in the colder months makes sense, as the sun isn’t up as long.  Ever been camping?  Didn’t you feel pooched earlier than you’d expect while sitting around the campfire?  It’s because you’ve only been exposed to natural light since sunset.  Aim for 8 to 10 hours each night.  I know it’s a lot for a busy person but play around with as much as you can get and gauge how you look, feel and perform

3. Wake up grateful

  • Wake up and try to start your day with gratitude.  Be thankful you’re waking up in a bed, in a room, in a house.  That it’s warm.  That you have at least some food available to you for breakfast.  Many aren’t nearly as lucky/wealthy and are simply thankful to wake up in the morning.

4. Eat breakfast

  • It doesn’t need to be a lot, but have something for breakfast.  Start with something fresh, like some fruit, or veggies in an omelet.  If you’ve got veggies already cut up from last nights dinner, throw them in the pan with some eggs and voila, omelet!
  • Have some grapefruit with your coffee to help the caffeine burn a little extra fat.

5. Take your wellness essentials

  • Vitamin D, Fish oil and probiotics are necessary for everyone, everyday.  I wish this weren’t true, but it is.  We’ve affected both the environment, and our food chain to such a degree that it’s made these supplements necessary in everyday life.  You don’t need a lot, a few droplets of Vitamin D, a teaspoon of fish oil (or a few capsules), and a single small capsule of probiotics will set you up for success.
  • The vitamin D is like a shot of sunshine, the fish oil helps to balance out your mood, mental clarity and level of inflammation, and the probiotics will keep your gut populated with friendlies, reducing the chances of an infectious bacteria to set up shop.

6. Get some exercise

  • Get outside for a walk, do some squats and push-ups, some sit-ups and lunges.  Play sports you enjoy.  Come out to CrossFit and join a group of your peers trying their best to accomplish the same things.  Lie out or pack your gym/exercise clothes the night before.  Have everything you need ready – don’t give yourself the opportunity to make an excuse at the time of decision.
  • Movement through your joints and an elevated heart rate will help with your ability to cope with stress.

7. Have fun with friends

  • Get out to socialize, have a beverage, go skiing, whatever.  Just do something you enjoy, preferably with some people you like.  Vent about what’s bothering you, boast about your successes and laugh.  If there’s anyone you can be completely candid with, it’s friends and family.

8. Spend quiet time

  • Read, watch a movie, listen to music or an audiobook, go for a walk.  As a society we rarely take the time to do these things as it’s often viewed as “wasting time”.  If it helps you unwind and slow down your day a bit, then wasting time is something you need to make time to do, at least once a day.  It can be as little as 5 minutes, but is better off being in the 30-60 minute range.  Journaling and introspection I would put higher on the list than watching “The Avengers” for the 6th time.

9. Get Adjusted

  • Chiropractors and other manual therapists (Physio, massage, etc.) help to create, and maintain your full range of motion at the joints in your body.  The communication from your joints and surrounding tissues to your brain stimulates the movement-pleasure pathway, making you feel good.  More importantly, regular adjustments set you up with access to a full range of motion, so you can use it regularly on your own.  Using your full range of motion on a regular basis will help to maintain that range, and therefore keep you feeling great (and necessitate less frequent visits to your manual therapists – don’t worry we don’t mind so long as you’re being healthy!)

Use all, or some of the above suggestions and you should notice a difference with your mood, mental focus, physical health and even boost your immune system.  Our bodies are like an organic vehicle or house, and we want to maintain that vehicle with the best parts and ingredients as possible.  Take good care of your body; you only get one!

Stay healthy, Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

The 7 Super Secret Ways to Stay Healthy!

Hey Folks!

I have a special level of distaste for these sorts of headlines. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no 7 Secrets that is the answer to everyone’s problems. If only it were that easy!  What really makes people healthy doesn’t involve secrets.  At one point or another you’ve always known.  It’s DOING the 7 (or 10, or 20, or 1, whatever) things that makes you healthy.  But let’s use an example to drive home this point…

So if we had a person who was:

  • Eating a diet of meat, veggies, some fruit and occasional nuts/seeds
  • Supplementing with fish oil, probiotics and vitamin D to shore up the deficiencies created by our food manufacturing practices and lack of interaction with nature
  • Exercising in a way that challenged their strength, flexibility, speed and cardio respiratory endurance
  • Visiting musculoskeletal focused healthcare practitioners like chiropractors, physiotherapists and massage therapists to optimize and ensure quality movement and positioning in their life
  • Spending free time on hobbies, and with family/loved ones
  • Working on tasks that contribute and make a difference, feeling like an important part of the workplace and/or community
  • Getting enough, good quality rest/sleep – waking rested for the next day

Would this person be healthy or unhealthy? MORE importantly, would a person who was doing all these things, who stopped doing even just one of them get healthier or less healthy?

The answers to these questions seem obvious, but how many of us aren’t doing “all of the above”? Most, of the answers from the folks I help in the clinic and gym would probably be considered better than most, but far from complete. “Typical” answers from the general public hit on few, if any of these health producing necessities. It’s difficult asking someone to change such a significant part of their lives (sometimes ALL of it).

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So what is the solution? Achieve as many of these points as possible – EVERY DAY

1. Eat in a way that supports your goals, be they health-related or fitness-related.
2. See a variety of movement evaluating practitioners, Chiro, physio, massage. Get your tight spots evaluated and addressed properly – you aren’t special or perfect, we all have our tight spots.
3. Use your body! Exercise, play sports, move frequently. We can help 😉
4. Respect your body – your health team can provide suggestions as to what you need to mobilize on your own, but experimentation and practice will reveal what you need to work on regularly as well.
5. No TV, cell phones or other lit screens for 30-60 mins before bed. Use this time to stretch, read or “exercise”. Make sure it’s early enough to get 8-10 hours of sleep.
BONUS 6. Keep a journal. Write out your goals, your thoughts and feelings. See how your life compares in reality to how you’d like it to be. Awareness precedes choices, which precede results (thanks Robin Sharma).

So, if you are not achieving the level of success you’d like – evaluate your choices for areas you can improve and realize that how you eat, move and think affect your life in every aspect!

Ask me if you’re interested in Chiropractic & Wellness Lifestyle care, as well as if you’d like any suggestions for other Healthcare practitioners!

You can reach me by my contact form (located at the right of this text) OR phone (705) 521-4790.  You can also check my availability and book your own appointments through this link.

Stay healthy Friends!
Dr. Adam Ball

RED Project – Nov 9th, 2012 – Our world is but our looking glass…

Hey Folks!

Ok, so we’re onto day 2 of the RED project. I changed the name. ROD sounds like a dude… RED sounds like a colour I have a hard time seeing (I’m colour blind). It stands for Research Every Day. Let’s see if it sticks – RED project does sound cooler than ROD project anyway. I’m excited about it!

Todays article…

Acute stress influences neural circuits of reward processing

What they did:

  • Put people in MRI machines and took functional MRIs (to see which areas of the brain were being activated at different times)
  • They showed them playing cards and had them guess if the next card would be higher or lower
  • If they got it right, they were rewarded with money (reward) if they got it wrong it cost them money (punishment) to varying degrees
  • Half of the people had their hand/wrist covered in an icy cold glove to make them uncomfortable before the card guessing – They did this to simulate being stressed out (The nerves for pain and temperature are REALLY just nerves carry the signal for stress, so they cause a similar effect on the brain… beside they can’t ACTUALLY cause the people real pain or the study wouldn’t be approved for funding)

What they found:

  • TOTAL cortisol (a stress hormone) was elevated in the cold hand AKA stressed group versus the control group but NOT immediate levels of cortisol
  • The control group responded with reward areas of the brain lighting up when they were rewarded and not as much when they were “punished”
  • The Stressed group didn’t respond significantly to the reward unless it was high in magnitude but DID respond more to punishment

What does it mean?

  • Stress affects your physiology in a way that is too long winded to explain here however, from what this study is saying, those who were stressed showed different decision making abilities than those who were NOT stressed
  • Stressed Folks were more likely to respond to negative stimulus, meaning when you’re stressed out, it’s easy to focus on the downside of things. Have you ever been upset and had someone “trying to cheer you up” and it didn’t work at all? I have. The positive stimulus doesn’t have as much of an effect as if you were happy
  • Think of this scenario. You’re not feeling fantastic when you wake up, maybe a cold is coming on, you think. Luckily the coffee is already made, since it was set on a timer last night, but as you roll over in bed you realize you’re 10 minutes later than you expected to be. This is aggravating and causes you to pick up your pace a bit, then WHAM! you stub your toe and it’s the worst pain you’ve ever felt. The pain is amplified so much more by the stress. You grab your things in a hurry and leave with a grunt in response to your spouse’s, “I love you! Have a great day!”
  • Now a contrasting scenario: It’s Wednesday evening and you’re just relaxing with a friend. You remember a “hilarious” youtube video you saw over the weekend and realize this person HAS to see it. You watch it together and it’s funny, but for some reason you and your friend aren’t rolling on the ground crying because you’re laughing so hard. You also haven’t been catching up and laughing before the video was shown, and you aren’t as excited about what else you’re going to do that friday/saturday night. All those positive emotions amplified how funny the video was – as well as feeding off each others laughter on the weekend, but not now.
  • The stress response to the cold wasn’t transient – like it would be if a bear wandered into the MRI room with the people… it was longer lived and I would suggest that it is more realistic to the stress we deal with in every day life… Low level and “annoying”… but we can “deal” with it.
  • THEN, the stressed people needed a greater magnitude of stimulus to respond. This sound like anything? Kids seeking “thrills”, people doing extreme things versus being able to appreciate the small things in life, or things being “The WORST thing in the world” versus “oh…. darn… oh well.”
  • These stressed out people seek greater stimulus…. Sounds like society today (playing Call of Duty) versus what people would consider “the good old days” (playing Tag, hide and seek or cards?)

It’s interesting to me, because it shows the state of physiology you’re in directly and dynamically affects the way you respond to information. The SAME information could then make you either happier or less happy, all depending on your mood.

It reminds me of my all time favourite book/quote by James Allen

Blasting your mind… There is no spoon!

In search of providing the body with exactly what it needs – it isn’t hard to confuse yourself with all the recommendations IF we base our thought processes on the wrong paradigm.

While all these statements are true, if we fall into a, ‘eat this for that!’, or ‘you need THIS treatment for THAT complaint!’ pattern, we set ourselves up to be questioned and can eventually end up questioning our own intentions.

Once again, all true statements. So NOW who do you believe/which set of advice do you take???

We need to give up the, “it’s good because it has ______!”, and the “It’s bad because it has _______!” paradigm or all we’re going to do is confuse and frustrate ourselves. Being in health care, I’m not one to criticize something unless I have a better alternative. We need to base our recommendations (and more importantly, our choices) on the following question:

What is required to create and maintain a healthy human being?

Asking whether or not a particular treatment, or herb, or diet, can help with a particular injury, symptom or illness can create good research findings, but is inefficiency at its’ best (think about the number of studies this would require! Ok… fish helps with heart disease.; Does it help with stroke? does it help with cancer? Do we study its’ association with EVERY other state of physiology?).

So then, how do we approach finding out what is needed to create and maintain a healthy human being. Well, we’re going to have to ask a series of questions to find that out.

  • How do we define health?
  • What is a healthy human being?
  • Are there any healthy human beings to model off?
  • What does a human need to provide what is needed to create health?
  • How do we avoid what may prevent health?

These are the driving questions behind how we should approach our health. There may be sub-sections that we want to dive more deeply into, but for now, we’ll build a solid starting point.

So, let’s define “Health”:

  • A state of optimal and appropriate cell function
    • Your cells are 100% capable of responding to the requests being made of them

For example – if you were to live at elevation, your physiology would need to make changes, right? There is less oxygen in the air the higher above sea level you go. Your tissues still need the same amount of oxygen to function optimally. Your red blood cells deliver the oxygen you take in via your lungs to the other cells/tissues in your body. So there are two options, get the red blood cells to carry more oxygen (not possible), or make more blood cells. Your body creates erythropoietin and you make more red blood cells (there is also an effect where your red blood cells become more likely to give up their oxygen). Problem solved. When you return to sea level, your body lowers its’ need for red blood cells, and you make less, maintaining the optimal amount.

So when your cells can respond to the demands placed upon them, you remain in good health.

“What is a Healthy Human Being?”

A healthy human being is one who experiences a normal rate of cell division, creating and maintaining health as they age. The maximum potential life span for a human is approximately 120 years. Stress, whether it comes from poor food choices, poor sleeping habits, poor physical condition or from mental origins, accelerates the rate at which your cells divide – meaning your life will become shorter than the 120 potential years. This means resources need to be devoted to creation, maintenance AND repair for the bodies’ cells. As we know with multi-tasking, it makes you able to do more things less effectively. It also means a shorter, less enjoyable life.

“Are there any healthy human beings to model off?”

Yes. Our ancestors, and existing hunter-gatherer tribes live a life where 80% of their population ISN’T dying of lifestyle illnesses. What DO they die of? Injury, infection (usually associated with injury), and starvation. With our luxury of abundant food and climate controlled, weather-proof shelter, we tend to avoid these causes of death. So, as with all things, let’s take what works (NOT having heart disease), and leave what doesn’t (getting mauled by a tiger), for our benefit.

So then, what is required to be sufficient and pure? Providing all those ingredients in the right amounts to create optimal wellness in a human being. To some degree it will depend on your goals, but will be based off:

If it were as easy as being sufficient and pure, health would be more abundant (which would be nice). Unfortunately we very frequently find ourselves encountering many stressors that cause us to express less than healthy physiology. These stressors include (but are not limited to):

  • Low confidence & poor self image
  • Abusive relationships (mentally as well as physically)
  • Subluxations (movement restrictions & their sequelae) in the spine and extremities
  • Lack of exercise OR too much exercise
  • A diet with a lack of nutrition, too many calories and foods unfit for human consumption
  • Poor sleep and other habits limiting recovery

So, WHY would you go through the trouble of doing all these things? Because, as of now, 80% of us (those living in western nations) will die of lifestyle illnesses. Because for the first time in decades, children have a SHORTER expected life span than those born before them. We are on more medications, receiving more surgeries, spending more money on nutraceuticals and miracle cure promises than any time in history and we are less healthy, less happy and sicker than ever before, I only trust the medication from https://www.ukmeds.co.uk/ to be honest. We are the sickest species on the planet and there are NO shortcuts, NO secrets and NO magic fixes that will make us healthy other than eating, moving and thinking in ways that will support our health.

Before I finish this post, I need to thank Dr. James Chestnut. I’ve used some of his analogies and verbiage as I don’t believe in the need to “reinvent the wheel”. He has worked hard to make the wellness lifestyle paradigm easy to understand and explain. Much love and respect goes out to his continued work to help people live happier, healthier lives.

It is NEVER too late to start and your start can be as comprehensive or as gradual as you want to make it. If you would like, I am available as a resource to help your spine move better, to make great use of that movement, and to fuel your body to optimally support your athletic and fitness endeavours. Click this link, if you’d like to book an appointment with me, or to sign up for a class at CrossFit Sudbury!

In health,

Adam Ball DC MScACN BHSc NMC CF-L1

Health, not anti-Disease

Hey Folks!

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So, at what point have we started eating, living and thinking in ways that are designed to avoid disease? I was just thinking the other day – there are so many “diet” books, and books on lifestyle interventions like exercise, stretching, meditation, etc. that are designed around preventing or treating a particular illness.

“The anti-cancer diet”

“The diabetes exercise solution”

“Meditate your fibromyalgia away!”

And so on and so forth…

What’s the Problem?

The problem is that we need to pursue health, not avoid disease. There are too many diseases to avoid any one in particular. What happens if you get cancer while eating the heart disease diet? Then you just happened to choose the wrong diet to adhere to?

We love doing things, or taking things for a particular reason. When I recommend to patients that they take fish oil, vitamin D or probiotics, the most common follow up question I receive is, “ok, but what is it for?”

It’s for making you healthy. That may seem like a facetious answer, and to some degree it is, but the truth is that I may recommend vitamin D to someone with MS, someone with rheumatoid arthritis, someone with IBS symptoms, and someone with chronic colds. So then, how do I answer that question?

I’m asking you to take vitamin D because living in northern latitudes we simply cannot absorb any from the sun between the months of October and March. We need to supplement it during those months because vitamin D is an essential nutrient involved with too many reactions in your body than this post can justify OR that science has even elucidated. Fish oil and probiotics can be added to that list – as can exercise, good quality sleep, loving relationships, and a whole slew of other healthy activities.

What’s the solution?

We need to realize that we aren’t eating good food, exercising, and loving each other because some scientist somewhere has “discovered” that it is associated with a reduction in your chances for colon cancer. We do all these things because they’re all associated with being healthy, and healthy people have a far lesser chance of getting sick from all illnesses.

The solution is Wellness and Prevention; it’s using and adjusting our lifestyle to match what our DNA requires from us to build a healthy human being.

So while you might take fish oil “for your arthritis”, you’re also taking it for the health of your nervous system, your cardiovascular health and to improve your insulin sensitivity. You exercise because it makes your knee feel better, but also because it helps keep plaques out of your arteries, and improves your ability to learn. You spend time relaxing because it relieves your headache, but also because it lowers cortisol in your blood, improves sexual function, and improves your recovery from exercise. You avoid grains because it makes you feel less bloated, but also because it lowers inflammation, improves the quality of your gut lining and improves the amount of serotonin and dopamine available to your brain.

How to implement all these activities and behaviors in your life will be saved for another post. If you’ve read my previous posts you probably have a good idea where to start though. Thanks for reading everyone!

In Health,
Dr. Adam Ball

Your DNA doesn’t care about who you are…

As a wellness and prevention practitioner, I face the occasional challenge in regards to patient compliance to a genetically congruent lifestyle far more frequently than I face those patients who have been provided with bad information.  My experiences with patients have taught me something that I’ve heard before, but which really resonated with me today.

Your DNA does not care one bit about WHO you are, how important you may be, or how much money you make.  Not even a little.  THAT is powerful information, and it can be an important reminder to be meticulous with how you spend your time, and what you allow to enter your body (in terms of food, thoughts and movement).

100 times out of 100 your DNA and its’ genes will respond to the stimulus they are provided.  You will only express genes and their corresponding proteins in response to the environmental demand you place on them.  This can mean the expression of vibrant health, or the expression of unfavourable physiological states (often referred to as pathology).

So, this is where the truth comes in, and in some cases where it can sting a little.  If you’re working your butt off, putting in 80 hour weeks, forgetting meals (which doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, depending on what foods you’re eating), neglecting friends and family (your positive social relationships with actual people), and reducing the amount of time you spend sleeping (or avoid it all together) – And all this makes you a billion dollars… well, I hope you have children to pass the money on to, because you aren’t going to be around long enough to enjoy it.

If you don’t make your health a priority now – you will have to at some point (if you’re lucky enough to live).  I know what this is like.  I had 40+ hours a week of classes, supplemented with 40+ hours a week of studying – all leading to something that was going to be my future career, i.e. if I didn’t pass those classes, then I just invested a tonne of cash in an education I wouldn’t be able to use.  That’s a fair amount of pressure and it’s a fair amount of stress – and my body responded with crappy sleep, lots of food cravings and a less than desirable body composition.  When I started out in my first year I would avoid going to the gym, going out with friends and a lot of other stuff I loved doing because I felt like I needed that time to study.  What I found out later on (when I knew I could get good grades without killing myself with the books for hours), was that when I spent that time in the gym or with my friends, that I was more focused when it came to study and I was far more efficient with my time.  My grades improved with less studying.  I retained the knowledge better.  I was healthier and in better shape.  And I grew my relationships with my friends.

What’s the moral of the story?  Your DNA wants you to succeed.  When you provide it what it needs, you will do better in every aspect of your life.  How concentrated are you at work during those 80 hours if you have back pain, blood sugar swings and some mild depression?  Does it make sense to you that you might feel better and concentrate more knowing you are experiencing the best health of your life?

It does to me.  And I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to help it make sense to you too.

 

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

Sudbury… ROCKS!!!

Hey Folks!

So I probably should have written a blog post about a month ago, but life got busy.  Sorry.

For those of you that don’t know, I (Dr. Ball) moved up to Sudbury to take over an awesome chiropractic practice and to bring the message of wellness to the masses up in Northern Ontario.  For those of you that may be new to my site, Wellness is the ability of your body to express and maintain ever increasing levels of health – you just need to provide the right input stimulus.  But what is the right stimulus?

The right stimulus means having access to an appropriate range of motion (having your spine checked out by a good quality Chiropractor, Physio, Massage therapist and whoever else you feel you should consult with), moving your body in intelligent ways (intelligently programmed CrossFit, MovNat, and the occasional other well programmed Strength and Conditioning facility).  Why does this matter?  Because movement charges your brains battery.  I like this great example I heard from Dr. James Chestnut; If you spend your day sitting around eating food and watching TV – are you energized?  Or are you tired?  Conversely, if you get up off the couch and go for a walk outside or do a little exercise, expending energy, do you feel more tired?  Or do you feel energized?  How does that make sense?  It makes sense because the movement of your body activates nerves, moves blood and as many great Chiropractors like to say, “turns the lights on”.  Movement isn’t the whole story though…

Another very important ingredient to the environment you provide your body is your diet.  You need to provide your body with highly nutritious foods (meats, vegetables, fruits, and good quality fats), and avoid those foods that are setting you back.  I’m sorry to say it, but there are foods that are less good for you, and foods that are more good for you, it’s as simple as that.  And unfortunately the USDA and most nutrition and diet “experts” don’t know this yet either, which makes me sad AND makes for conflicting nutrition advice that makes a reader like yourself want to say, “oh shut up, none of you know what you’re talking about – everything in moderation”.  I’ll resort to another great quote to counter the “moderation” dogma, “everything in moderation works so long as you only want a moderate level of health”.  And finally, the MOST important input to your success as a student of health (which we all are)…

Your mental health is the most important part of your internal environment.  De-stressing or finding practices that help you relieve your stress levels (breathing techniques, yoga, tai chi, etc.) are great ways to manage your internal environment.  If you don’t believe in yourself, it will help if someone else does, but ultimately YOU will decide your outcome.  Finding happiness and contentment is a daily practice and everyone has good days and bad.  Setting goals, spending time doing things you love, moving your body and eating well (those sound familiar) will all support a positive internal environment.

So for those of you that don’t know me – that’s what I’m about.  For those of you that do, it’s a nice reminder.  Set goals, set the micro-goals that lead to those goals.  How important are those goals to you?  If they’re important they’ll dictate how strictly you adhere to the guidelines that you know will lead to the achievement of your goal.  Slow progress is sometimes “easier” than quick progress.  Set the path and follow it closely.

Cheers Folks!  And to my Element and CFM friends, Miss you guys!

Dr. Adam Ball

n=1… ALL DAY

Hey Folks!

n=1 (actually it was 2). 100% of the subjects in this study enjoyed riding a bike off a ramp into the lake. Statistical significance reached.

So I’m working on a more technical post about HOW everything breaks down with disordered eating involving insulin resistance, depression, IBS, infertility and so on.  Here’s hoping it becomes a “thing”.  But for now, I want to concentrate on some testimonials from other websites I frequent.

Some say that case studies and anecdotes are crap, and that they offer no value to the scientific world.  To some degree this is true – as you’ve probably heard at one point or another a strong testimonial for healthy whole grains, the soy diet, the raw vegan diet and a whole host of other diets destined for sadness and failure (and in many cases, outright disease).  I’m not saying these diets CAN’T work, just that they are not the optimal diet for humans to thrive on.  I’m not interested in what types of diets we can survive on, I’m interested in developing a diet that you and I will THRIVE on.

That being said, there have been plenty of folks who have reversed serious disease, lost lots of weight, and become much happier eating a paleo/primal/anti-inflammatory/ideal diet.  Here are some of those people:

 

http://robbwolf.com/2011/03/28/real-life-testimonials-jodis-paleo-diary/

http://robbwolf.com/2011/02/14/real-life-testimonial-controlling-type-1-diabetes-with-the-paleo-diet/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-rise-of-lazarus/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/i-decided-to-do-something-about-it/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/never-in-a-million-years-did-i-think/

 

And I’ll stop there but you get the idea that there are many people who have benefited from eating a paleo/primal diet.

 

“But n=1 is silly and means nothing!”

 

The only beef (mmmmm, beef) I have with this argument is that n=1 is you.  It’s you trying something out.  It’s you learning to play cricket for the first time.  It’s you trying brussel sprouts again after 10 years thinking you “hate” brussel sprouts (maybe you still do).  It’s you trying to lift heavy things instead of running long distances.  And it’s you seeing how you look, feel and perform (that sounds snappy – thanks Robb Wolf) doing all these things.

So be your own n=1 experiment.  Waiting to find out what the next randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind  study to prove that being active, being happy and eating well is good for you, is just plain silly.

Let’s all ruin science and get healthy at the same time!  Have a great weekend folks, and if you’re doing it, good luck on Crossfit Open Sectionals WOD#3!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

Why I care about more than your spine, Part 2

Alternate Title: Poor posture is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

 

Back from part 1, here we go again.

With all that having been said – being neurotic about who gives you advice on your health, and what you end up doing doesn’t make me any more money than I do seeing you as a chiropractic patient.  So how am I going to make any money?  Well, getting regular chiropractic care is important.  Your spine needs to be able to move in a full, happy and unimpeded range of motion for your body to express its’ optimal level of health.  If you’re eating well, exercising intelligently and de-stressing, the results we see are going to be much better – which means that hopefully you’ll want your friends and family to go to someone that cares about them as much as I care about you. It’s a lot more work, but it allows me to make a living while still being able to sleep at night.

Working at a Crossfit gym, the folks I see generally have a great grasp of the fitness/exercise side of things and a good idea of what they’re supposed to eat.  What I do see a lot of, is shoulder pain, elbow pain, low back pain and mid back stiffness (usually the mid back isn’t painful unless mobilized gently).  These are all an effect of postural adaptations that are no bueno.  These postural adaptations lead to motion restrictions (limited range of motion), muscular imbalances, injuries and more work for you.  You don’t need or want this type of thing affecting your life and performance.

As an example, consider what’s required to take care of a car.  If you run out of oil, you can’t just fill up your gas tank with premium gas and hope for the best, you need to have oil, and brake fluid, good tires, etc. for the car to operate at its’ best.  In regards to range of motion (afforded to you via chiropractic), your Ferrari can only go fast if you can push the gas pedal down all the way.  If there were a brick underneath that gas pedal, it’s going to affect how fast that car can go.  You can eat a perfect diet, exercise well and live a low stress lifestyle, but you still aren’t as healthy as you COULD be if you were doing all those things AND seeing a chiropractor.

Range of motion, optimal positioning and good posture all are interconnected endeavours.  You can muscle through crap posture to achieve full range of motion, but it won’t get you to the level of fitness you want, and you’re wasting WAY too much energy doing it.  If you follow the elite crossfit athletes (or even if you just know who they are/what they look like) you might notice something they all have in common – great posture, efficiency of movement and effortless full range of motion.

Forcing your way through impeded range of motion (folding in half with a crap shoulder position makes overhead squats hard eh?) is not the intelligent way to do things.  Stretching the appropriate areas, seeing a great athletic therapist, and getting adjusted regularly will help you achieve better positioning – making the movements more efficient, less work, and less likely to cause injury.  You’ve already made the choice to exercise intelligently and (hopefully) to eat well.  Make these choices as well.

Making good choices is the bedrock of great health and is the ultimate sign that you’ve made sustainable change.  What you CAN’T do, however, is cover up bad choices with good ones.  The late Mitch Hedberg once said,

 

“That would be cool if you could eat a good food with a bad food and the good food would cover for the bad food when it got to your stomach. Like you could eat a carrot with an onion ring and they would travel down to your stomach, then they would get there, and the carrot would say, “It’s cool, he’s with me.””

 

It would be nice if things worked that way, but they don’t.  You can’t workout really hard for a month and a half, and then spend the rest of the year sitting on your butt.  You can’t workout at the gym, but eat crappy food and be stressed out all the time and not sleep and expect to see results.  You can’t see a chiropractor, but never move your body and expect results.  We (chiropractors, athletic therapists, and other manual therapy options) give you access to a full range of motion, but we don’t provide the movement to those joints.  You do.  Address your posture, get adjusted regularly and stretch your business.  Make good choices – your body will thank you.

Cheers,

Dr. Adam Ball