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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

Why I care about MORE than your spine, Part 1

Alternate title: I can’t let someone else worry about it, unless by someone else, you mean me.

Eating quality food is a pre-requisite for quality health

I recently attended a chiropractic seminar that was full of folks who are very concerned about your health.  But from what I can gather, they are only concerned with knowing you’re getting adjusted (by them, of course).  I like the general ideas they run with, in theory.  The idea being, that as chiropractors we understand the biomechanics of the spine and its’ effects on the nervous system, and therefore your health better than anyone else.  We learn (for years) how to adjust specifically to correct any motion restrictions/subluxations/misalignments that may be preventing you from expressing the health you’re meant to.  This is a very good thing and is hugely important to human health.  This is where their effort to make you healthy ends though.

Let dietitians worry about diet.  Let physiotherapists and personal trainers worry about the muscles and exercise.  Let therapists worry about mental health.  This is the idea running with the folks running this recent seminar I attended.  Well that’s a great idea… in theory.  It’s a great idea until 6 months into your chiropractic care with me you still aren’t getting the results we’d expected.  It’s great until I learn that your lack of health is because the dietitian that is taking care of your nutrition believes that you need to be eating 9-12 servings of grains a day and that eating too much meat will give you cancer.  Uh oh.  BIG uh oh.

Problem 1: Most people giving dietary advice don’t know what they’re talking about.  Without going into a lot of details and talking about all the exceptions, the human species has evolved (or been created) to eat a diet that is congruent with our genetics.  What this means, is that our genes are meant to express health, but they can only be “turned on” if the signal we send (via our lifestyle and nutrition) asks them to.  This means no grains, legumes, and in some cases no dairy.  Read more about what we SHOULD be eating here.

Problem 2: Most people giving exercise advice don’t know what they’re talking about.  You don’t need to spend hours in the gym.  You don’t need to exercise LONGER, and for many people, doing this will make things WORSE.  I’m not telling you not to exercise.  I’m telling you to be smart about it, but most people don’t have a good idea of what being smart about exercise means.  Exercise is a stressor in your life.  Fortunately it is a healthy, predictable, measured and planned stressor.  An intelligent exercise program will make you healthier, without stealing all your time.  Read more about how you SHOULD be exercising here.

Problem 3: If you’re doing these other things correctly/intelligently, then you will experience health a lot more quickly (due to decreased stress levels).  I can’t morally have you come to my office 3 times a week for 13 weeks knowing that if I was intelligent enough to address your diet and lifestyle, you’d need just a fraction of that amount of care.  It would make me a lot more money if I told you to eat according to the USDA food pyramid, exercise using isolation machines and stairmasters, and then come see me whenever you felt you weren’t making progress (indefinitely, in this situation).  I do care about making money (we all have to live), but I want to make my money from making you healthy, and having you tell your friends and loved ones.

My goal as a health care provider is to make you healthier every time I see you.  To influence you to make healthy decisions, and to give you the ability to make those decisions more easily.  I won’t compromise my morals and assume you’re eating and moving well.  Maybe it’s neurotic or obsessive of me, but I’ll sleep better knowing you’re out there making good choices.  Within that same vein you shouldn’t compromise your health by expecting your body to produce excellence while you feed it crap.  I can make your spine move more appropriately but I can’t make you eat well, exercise and de-stress.  If you care about yourself you’ll make a commitment to doing those things.  I’ll be providing you the information and ability (as well as referring you to sources I know and trust) to make good decisions as well.

Good work, team,

Dr. Adam Ball

Let me know what you think, if you disagree, or if you love grains!  Drop a comment! – Please share this on Facebook/Twitter too!

To book an appointment with me click here

To book an appointment to come check out the gym, click here.

Wild animals are healthy animals

 

Over/through a small stream, climbing up rocks, and I'm the tiny speck in the bottom right area. Milford Sound, New Zealand.

Humans are animals.  You know I’ve spoken about this before.  But I think we need to revisit this idea on a regular basis.

John Durant of Hunter-Gatherer.com, made a recent post with a news story about two gorillas living in a zoo in Cleveland.  According to the news story, the leading cause of death of gorillas living in zoos, is heart disease.  (Side Bar:  It would be interesting to see the cause of death of every species that lives in a zoo and is “fed” according to what we think they should eat).  Does this blast anyone else’s mind?  How many wild gorillas are dying of heart disease?  I’m willing to bet, that much like wild humans, the number of wild gorillas dying of heart disease is zero.  Why is this happening?

Even more surprising about the news story, is that someone was around to say, “Hey, why don’t we try feeding the gorillas the types of food they’d actually eat?”  Looks like the world hasn’t gone completely mad yet.  Thank goodness.  So, what did they find when the gorillas transitioned to eating genetically congruent foods?  The apes got healthier.  Their markers for heart disease decreased.  But that’s not all!  What else happened?  They stopped acting weird.  The behaviors that are typical of captive gorillas (vomiting foods back up and eating them again, pulling out their hair and eating it) started to disappear (wild gorillas apparently do not do this stuff… could this be gorilla indigestion?) and they started acting like wild gorillas again.  Amazing.

So to sum things up, when gorillas eat a diet they’re supposed to eat, they not only get healthier in regards to their heart health, but mental health improves, they achieve a healthier body composition and, I assume, they’re much happier.

Can we please step back and see ourselves as the animals that we are right now?  Take a look at a phylogenetic tree.  Homo sapiens are not too far away from chimpanzees, orangutangs, and even gorillas.  So why are we NOT asking the same questions about human health?  Humans are dying all day everyday for the exact same reason (heart disease, among many other chronic diseases).  We’re eating foods we are not designed to eat, we’re moving in ways we are not supposed to move, and our social interactions are moving further and further away from normal (remember life before the internet?).

Erwan Le Corre of Movnat.com  is building a legacy.  I hope that in the future, he wins the Nobel Prize.  If we can learn from him, build on the principles of MovNat and shape our communities and societies around those principles, we will regain the health we’re designed for.  We can return to being the species that deserves to be at the top of the food chain.  Right now, we are the sickest species on the planet.  We need to figure out how normal humans live, and we need to get back to that as much as we can.  We need to emulate it.  I’m not asking you to stop using a toilet, or to throw away your computer and all your cherished belongings.  There are advantages to having permanent dwellings, electricity and many other benefits of modern living.  What I AM asking you to do is think about how you eat, move and think.

Eat a human diet:

  • What would you eat if you were thrown out into the wild?
  • Would you avoid killing and eating even the small creatures you could find, because it’s immoral and “bad for you”?
  • Would you try to find the fields of wild grains, so that you can pick hundreds of thousands of tiny seeds, find some stones to grind them one, and some water to hold the powder together and then create a fire so that you can somehoe fry the mush that is created from all your efforts?
  • Would you look for fruits and veggies that look, smell and taste edible?
  • Would you kill and eat every possibly edible part of an animal, or would you throw away the organs because they’re “gross” and go hungry?

Move like humans are meant to move:

  • I’m not going to write a lot here, but MovNat would be ideal
  • Crossfit is a close second, when done properly – This is a good example of using modern tools to achieve/supplement natural movement patterns

Think like humans are meant to think:

  • Isn’t it weird that instead of speaking with each other there is more online communication than ever before?  IMs, texts, emails, blogs (yes, I realize I’m criticizing myself), etc.
  • We have more depression, ADD, ADHD, autism, anxiety and just about every other mental disorder there is than any other time in history.
  • There are a lot of venues where negative is funny.  This I have a particular peeve with.
  • Feeling love, trust and respect is dying it seems – let’s not let that happen.

I feel like we’re making changes slowly.  MovNat is becoming more popular, as well as many other similar pursuits from other like-minded people.  People are becoming fed up with conventional wisdoms’ ideas about health and what the next new superfood/exercise program will save us from ourselves.  There is nothing new we need learn to take action.  We just need to look at healthy people and see what they’re doing.  I’ll end this post with a quote you’ve probably seen before, “Nothing in Biology makes sense except in light of evolution.” – Theodosius Dobzhansky

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

Why the USDA hasn’t told you the answer… yet.

USDA food pyramid - puuuure evil

Hey Folks!

So, I believe the USDA has come up with new recommendations sometime recently, which others have already covered, but that I’m not exactly sure when they came out, because I rarely watch/read the news.  Oh well.  Having studied nutrition, and nutritional advice from many many people over the last few years, I’ve come up with a hypothesis about what the big guys (USDA, Health Canada, etc.) are doing.

Ok.  So way back in the day, Ancel Keys fooled everyone with his irresponsible science, and convinced those in charge that saturated fat was the devil because it raised cholesterol.  I’ll save WHY this advice is completely wrong for another time, for now, just trust me that he was wrong but that it was too late and the powers that be decided to run with the “fat is the devil” paradigm.

With influences from all the wrong places, the USDA decided to create their food pyramid and tell the general public what to eat if they wanted to avoid disease and be healthy.  Tonnes of grains, lots of low fat dairy, beans, monounsaturated vegetable oils, and try your best to eat lots of vegetables and fruits.  Eat some meat, but don’t go crazy, and only have chicken and fish.

Well over the many years since that advice the general public has gotten fatter, and less healthy (600% more obesity since the 1960’s).  Oops.  So, if you put yourself in the USDA’s shoes for a moment let’s think about what you (or I) would do, or be advised to do.  You just made everyone fat and unhealthy with your recommendations, and you have a pretty good idea what you did wrong.  You more or less told everyone what they SHOULDN’T do, and told them NOT to do, what they should.  At this point, you know you SHOULD have told them the opposite (more or less), and everyone is sick and dying because of what you said.  Would you be able to just come out and say “Hey guys?  Yeeeeeeah, so… my bad, can you guys eat the fats your supposed to eat, forget about the whole grains, dairy (for some) and legumes thing, and also never have vegetable oils, and more or less go back to the way you were eating before we figured out how to tell you how to eat?  Thanks!” and NOT be tarred and feathered by the 50%+ of the population whose lives you’ve ruined?  I didn’t think so.

So what ARE they doing.  I think that they’re taking baby steps.  They have to backpedal lightly.  So now instead of telling you to eat 9-12 servings of grains, they say “have some whole grains”.  They’re REALLY trying to push fruits and veggies.  They are still very fat-phobic, except for omega 3 fats.  My point being that it appears as though they are trying to correct their mistakes, without admitting guilt, and redirect our energy in a better direction.  It’ll be really interesting to see where it goes in another couple decades.  In the meantime, I’ll be eating the diet humans evolved to eat, and I’ll be enjoying it too.

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

Barbells, Donations & New Hours!

Hi Everyone,

Today’s post is a mish-mash of happenings as of late.  First and foremost…

I was able to donate $100.00 to Upopolis & Kids Health Links due to your desire for health!  Thanks so much everyone that came in to see me, I’m glad I could get your spine moving and it gave me the opportunity to make a small donation to such a great cause.  Let’s shoot for $1000 next year!

No, not Santa, Dr. Adam Ball

If you’re a member at Element Crossfit, you can expect to see more of THIS guy at the gym.  I’ll be available full time at the gym to move spines, fix hurt muscles and generally make you healthier.  Let me know if you’d like to book an appointment, or if you have any questions about health, chiropractic or nutrition.

My hours will be:

Mornings            Monday-Thursday:  6:30am – 11:30am

Evenings             Tuesday-Thursday:  3:00pm – 8:00pm

And                        Friday: 2:00pm – 7:00pm

That’s sort of an awkward way to list my hours, but just assume that if you go to the gym, I’ll be there (except for Monday night, when I’m at Crossfit Mississauga).  I love the atmosphere at both the gyms (ECF and CFM) and want to make a  difference by making people healthier at these two locations.  If you know anyone who could benefit from greater health, I would be honoured if you would refer them to me.

In other news, I’m pseudo-famous!  You may or may not be familiar with Robb Wolf and his website/podcast.  Robb Wolf is a coach/owner of Norcal Strength & Conditioning as well as the author of the New York Times Best seller, “The Paleo Solution” (this book is awesome by the way, and I definitely recommend purchasing).   Robb’s website recently started a forum, and since I was frequently providing help in the comments of his podcasts, I volunteered to help with moderating the forum.

Scroll down a bit and there I am!

Thanks for all the support so far and I look forward to spending more time with you all and getting to know you even better.  Maybe we’ll even lift some of these together:

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

Small Changes and Big Differences

Hey Folks!

I apologize for not posting sooner, between switching to the more complicated version of WordPress and hoping to get my last post a bit more exposure, I ended up putting this off too long.  Today’s post is going to (hopefully) be short and sweet.  It’s also dedicated to those that want to make smaller, incremental changes versus big, and sometimes difficult changes.

I want to mention some things that should be easy to implement, and can make a big difference in your health.  These suggestions are going to follow a pattern in that one is designed to help you eat better, one is designed to help you move better, and one is designed to help you think better (reduce stress).

Change can be stressful, and along with work/home/everything, stress can add up and have a profound effect on your health.  We work too much (too many hours), think too much and are just generally stimulated sympathetically (the fight/flight mechanism) all day every day.  Take a couple minutes, a few times a day and practice this exercise.  Breathe in through your nose as deep as you possibly can, hold it for 4 or 5 seconds (you shouldn’t be overly uncomfortable) and then breathe it out slowly and as completely as possible.  Repeat 3-4 times.  I like to sit tall and think positively during this exercise.  I tend to do it during my commute to and from work (could there be a better time for stress relief?)

Concentrating on a serene landscape helps with relaxation.

The amount of air you’ll be able to breathe in and out will increase with time if you can implement this practice with some consistency.  That volume of air you can breathe can be limited by systemic inflammation in your body.  Systemic inflammation is generally only present during sepsis, or when you introduce something into your body that isn’t meant to be there.  This “something” can be lead (from paint, or food contamination), mercury (in tooth fillings, vaccines, contaminated food) and many other heavy metals.  Avoiding food contamination is like trying to avoid wind, you can stay locked indoors, but if you want to live you’ve got to get outside!  A increasingly present toxin that isn’t a heavy metal, that we’re being told to ingest in outrageous quantities is gluten.  Gluten causes an immune reaction in our body that causes it to attack essentially all of our tissues.  This is why those who eliminate gluten from their diet often see improvements in joint pain, headaches, digestion, osteoporosis, the list goes on.  A sure-fire way to reduce inflammation and increase your health, is to eliminate gluten from your diet.  This can be difficult to do for many people due to habit and addiction; So how about we just change breakfast?  Instead of having the typical lactose and gluten for breakfast (milk and cereal), let’s try eggs and bacon, or some cold cuts and a bowl of cut up fruit/berries.  If we stay away from bread and cereals we’re good to go in just about any direction we want.  Today for me was a large cup of coffee with some heavy cream, a couple swigs of orange juice, an apple and a handful of nitrate-free turkey cold cuts. Yes, you can have all of these nutritious juices -all natural, where you can read it at read this excellent review article of bestblenderusa. It doesn’t have to be complicated just concentrate on fruit/veggies and meat. And this diet helps to cure drug and alcohol addiction also. I had friend who was able to end hes addiction to drugs after changing hes diet but it depends how addicted you are. If you are really deep in your drug addiction then you need IOP treatment.

There is a time and place for inflammation though, and it’s called exercise.  The local (limited to skeletal muscle) inflammation caused by exercise is responsible for the adaptation that causes us to improve.  Unfortunately exercising for the sake of exercising doesn’t often work out in the long term.  To combat this problem I want you to create a goal.  Pick something you can do whenever you like, wherever you like.  Wanting to be better at gymnastics movements is a much better goal than wanting a six-pack, and conveniently, being better at gymnastics movements will get you closer to having a six-pack.  A simple exercise you can practice is called the hollow rock.  Here is a good video explaining the hollow rock:

Hollow rock with Jeff Tucker

To hold the hollow position you’re contracting your quads, everything in your core (abs, obliques, etc.), your toes are pointed and your hands are above your head.  What this does is flattens your low back against the ground as opposed to it curving away from the ground.  Then you’ll just rock back and forth by shifting your weight.  The hollow rock won’t work if you can’t stay hollow though, so stay tight!  This doesn’t appear to be difficult, but it is.  Try and accumulate a few minutes each day doing this exercise.  The time doesn’t have to be all in a row and there is no “set point” you need to reach (although 3 minutes straight is a really good metric).  It takes a little time to get used to the position, but once you’re there, have some fun with it.  You’ll continue doing it if you enjoy it.

So there we have it, spend some time doing the hollow rock before relaxing to do the breathing technique followed by a meal of meat and vegetables.  Try one of the things, or all of them but do it with a positive mindset.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Dr. Ball

Get out the Gout!

Spiked rods of uric acid crystals photographed...

Image via Wikipedia

So this post was brought on by a question from a friend who has the pleasure of being afflicted with Gout.  Must be terrible, thank my lifestyle choices for not exposing me to that sort of pain.  In case you know someone with this problem as well (and you very well might as Gout cases are increasing every year), we’re going to discuss why gout occurs and what you can do about it.

So first things first, What is Gout?  Gout is hyperuricemia.  Which means your body has too much uric acid in it.  How does this happen?  Well you’re either making/consuming too much uric acid (via the liver and from your diet) or you aren’t excreting enough (through the kidneys).  This can lead to uric acid exceeding its solubility in the body and materializing in places it shouldn’t be, most commonly in the joint where the big toe meets the foot.  Unfortunately it doesn’t materialize into nice spongy soft happiness, it materializes into sharp, crystal-needle shaped, pain-inducing sadness.  But why is this happening?

I’m going to let my chiropractic/logical side shine through here and ask you a question.  Do you think your body was designed to get gout, and that after X amount of time you were meant to get it ?  Or do you think that what you eat and how you live might matter?  Ok then.  Coming from the stance that we aren’t meant to get gout, and that we’re meant to experience radiant health, what are we doing wrong that is causing this problem then?

Without knowing what the patients current diet is like, I’m led to assume that the typical gout patient has heard, “don’t eat protein, because it has high levels of purines and therefore will lead to high levels of uric acid.” from the people currently managing their health.  It’s logical thinking, but ultimately it doesn’t work (otherwise you’d hear about people resolving their gout with this approach, right?).

The problem with not eating any meat out of fear of the purines, is that eating dense protein sources stimulates your kidneys to reduce the concentration of uric acid in your body.  The other problem with eliminating meats/dense sources of protein is that you’re then left with fat and carbs as your two sources of calories.  The gout guidelines of what is safe to eat also think that eating sweets, and other great sources of sugar is a good idea and “OK” for gout.  It isn’t.  Gout is often seen as an additional player in Metabolic Syndrome (AKA Syndrome X).  This comes to fruition by following the “Fat is the devil, eat more ‘complex carbs’ mentality”.  This is unfortunately one of the main reasons why there are more obese, overweight people and a greater incidence of autoimmune disorders in the world than ever before.  But that’s for another day.

Insulin resistance is a huge player as insulin is a potent inhibitor of uric acid excretion by the kidneys.  Most important in this resistance (especially in the case of fructose) is our ridiculous consumption of sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Despite the commercials by the corn growers saying “it’s just as healthy as sugar!” (anyone else find that sounds odd?) HFCS is not healthy.  Full stop.  Fructose stimulates purine synthesis by lowering the inorganic phosphate levels which normally regulate uric acid production in the liver, which leads to higher uric acid synthesis.  And since fructose is selectively metabolized by the liver, eating a diet high in fructose sets the liver up for insulin resistance.  This resistance leads to more free-flowing insulin, and now we have fructose causing an increase in uric acid production, as well as a decrease in uric acid excretion.  Fructose’s metabolism in the liver also leads to lactic acid production, which eventually reaches the kidneys and competitively inhibits the excretion of uric acid.  Yay!  Fructose is quite the effective multitasker!

Finally the part that really might make you dislike having gout, is that alcohol is also implicated in inhibiting uric acid excretion via the production of  lactic acid.  Alcohol is also great at using up those inorganic phosphates in the liver that like to regulate the production of uric acid.  So alcohol isn’t quite the Deion Sanders of gout that Fructose is, but it hits you with a double whammy.

So, now what?

Well, now you eat the diet that you are meant to eat.  Being humans we seem to be the only species that eats what we shouldn’t be eating, without noticing the health effects.  So, if you want to be healthy, you’d eat what a healthy person eats right?  If you found a platypus in your backyard and needed to take care of it, you’d look up what healthy, wild platypus’ eat and feed it that, right?  Well, you’re my found platypus and I’m telling you to eat what the other, healthy platypus’ are eating.  Keep in mind if you have certain things that light you up and make you feel awful, well, avoid those things!  While we are all extremely similar genotypically, there is still some play phenotypically (which makes life fun!) that leads us to need to tinker and play with what we’re eating until we find what works for us.

What you should eat:

  • Meat.  Wild game, poultry, red meats, something that used to live a great life.  Preferably wild caught, organic, free range, etc.  Take it easy at first and work into it.  Don’t try the 72oz. steak challenge, our diet still provides 1/3 of our bodies uric acid, but we need the dense protein to stimulate the kidneys to excrete more uric acid.
  • Vegetables.  Eat them.  If you think “dang, I’m eating a LOT of veggies here”, you probably still aren’t eating enough.  Find which ones you like, try new ones.  Avoid corn and peas, as they aren’t veggies, they’re a grain and legume, respectively.  Don’t go TOO nuts with potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash, they’re just a little higher in starch, and we’re trying to create some insulin sensitivity.
  • Fruit.  Don’t go overboard,  fruits main sugar is fructose.   But fruit are great for satisfying a sweet tooth, and avoiding crushing a Coke, or other crappy food that is super high in HFCS or sucrose.  Try to incorporate more avocado and coconut products in your diet.  They’re high in healthy fats and they’re delicious and filling.
  • Nuts & Seeds.  They’ve got lots of fat in them so can be a little calorie heavy as people can generally put away a lot of nuts and seeds.  They also tend to skew the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in an unfavourable direction.  But as a garnish, the fats are satisfying and they taste pretty good.

Drink:

  • Water.  Tea.  That’s about it.

DO NOT CONSUME:

  • CRAP – i.e. candy, soda/pop, fruit juices, straight sugar
  • Alcohol – Just stay away from it for a while.  Try to eliminate it for 30 days at least, and then go light (if you must).  Avoid beer and drink something clear (tequila, vodka, rum).
  • Grains – they’re poison (lectins, phytates) tainted, nutrient-sparse and carb HEAVY.  They’re like fructose in that they’re great at multitasking; they destroy your digestive system while robbing you of minerals AND they spike your insulin.  The only things the grains are better than is the stuff in the “crap” category.
  • Legumes – they’re full of phytic acid and they’re a crappy source of incomplete protein.  If you absolutely MUST eat them, soak them overnight and then slow cook them.
  • Rice & Pasta – they’re also nutrient poor and carbohydrate dense.  Pasta and rice have their own lectins, and will wreak havoc on your digestive system, you want things that will improve digestion not destroy it.

In addition to the dietary recommendations, get some regular activity (walks, light hike, whatever you like to do that involves moving) and workout intensely once or twice a week.  Try to stay warm (to avoid uric acid crystal formation), and get some good sleep (8-9 hours in a BLACKED OUT room).  And I want to mention one last time, ease into this, find what works for you and what doesn’t (within the allowed parameters) and give it some time.  Like anything in life worth having, this will take time and effort.

All the best,

Dr. Ball

p.s. I have to give credit to Dr. Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, Tim Ferris and Gary Taubes for providing a lot of this information through blog posts, podcasts, newsletters and books!  All four of them have great books and I highly recommend them for everyone!

How Do YOU Stimulate Yourself?

DNA, RNA, transcription, translation,

Image via Wikipedia

Hey Folks,

In a previous post I mentioned how animals in captivity have shortened lifespans and a whole slew of other problems.  Today we’re going to delve into the guiding principles of health, and why the oneswe’re currently using don’t work.

The human body is designed to respond and adapt to the stimuli with which you provide it.  That stimulus can be either genetically congruent, or it can be genetically incongruent.  Whether you believe in evolution, creation or any mix of the two, this guiding principle applies to you.

So what type of stimuli am I speaking of, that are causing you to adapt?  The stimuli I’m speaking of includes everything from where you are, to what you do and think.  To avoid chaos and bad science we need a guiding principle, to direct the stimuli you experience and to help us make intelligent choices with regard to those experiences.  How about evolution for a guiding principle?  If we use consider the things we do in life, are they consistent with the actions we have evolved to go?  Genetics appears to be the new culprit for poor health, but do you think that over the millions of years of our evolution that poor genes that made us sick were more successful at being passed onto the next generation than healthy genes?  Would it make any sense that your body was directed through tens of thousands of generations to sabotage you when you least expect it?  This is what we’re being taught and exposed to all day everyday.  Many drug companies claim that they are only indicated when other forms of treatment have not worked.  Lately it appears that step has been skipped over, and we’ve all assumed it won’t work.  Adusting your lifestyle is the ONLY thing that will make you healthier.  Taking medications will change your symptoms or lab values and you and your MD can celebrate those values, but you aren’t any healthier, that’s for certain.

For just a moment, let’s pretend that you are the proud owner of the perfect genes.  If you were consuming a diet high in processed carbohydrates, vegetable oils, and grain fed meats.  You didn’t have any physical activity for the day, and you sleep poorly.  Do you think that your perfect genetics are making a mistake when they decide to upregulate the genes that lead to increased LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides and a down regulation of the proteins responsible for producing the insulin receptors on cells?  Or is your DNA just responding to the stimulus that you’re providing it?

If you believe it isn’t a mistake, and that it happened for a reason – would it make any sense to you to take a drug that prevents your body from being able to react to the stimuli you provide it?

I’m willing to bet you said “no” to that question.  But that’s what we’re doing with our current health and wellness model.  High cholesterol?  Who cares WHY it’s happening, continue to eat crap and take statins.  Little to no midline stability?  Forget correcting posture and how you move, do crunches until your face goes numb.  Depressed? Don’t worry about changing your lifestyle, it has nothing to do with you, it’s serotonins fault!

We are stuck in the one cure for one ill model, and we’re slowly being convinced that any inadequacies in our lives have nothing to do with us!  I’m sorry to tell you this, but you aren’t as unique as you think you are.  As homo sapiens we have the same genes as our ancestors from 40,000 year ago.  They’re all in there.  What we do with our lives is what affects how they’re expressed.  The diversity of people on the planet is a good example of the many different ways our genes can be expressed.  Can you think of anyone that exercise is BAD for?  That eating high quality, organic, free range food would be bad for some people and good for others?  That getting adequate sleep would be bad for some people?  That smiling and laughing is bad?

How can there be things that are good for EVERYONE?  Because we’re all designed to be healthy, happy, successful humans.  Full stop.  Your body can’t help but express crap if you feed it with crap.  It also can’t help but express excellence if you provide it with excellence.  Too much sitting is just as toxic as too much gluten.  Proper diet is just as important as getting exercise and sleeping well.  We need to give up the “I have this problem that requires that solution”, and embrace the, “am I living in a way that will best allow my DNA to express health?”.

What are you providing your body?  Are you feeding in crap and expecting excellence?   Take stock in what you’re doing well for yourself and celebrate it.  Acknowledge what you aren’t and plan a way to address it.  There is always a better you out there, waiting to be experienced.  Don’t get lost among the shiny promises of the one problem-one solution people!

Dr. Adam Ball

Organic doesn’t equal healthy

Carrot cake

Image via Wikipedia

Hey Folks!

First off, I’d like to give a shout out to my friend Danielle, who is running the scotiabank marathon in Toronto today while I sit in a starbucks sipping a coffee with some heavy whipping cream and cinnamon.  Strong work Dee, you’re awesome. Danielle, always Buy Tea and Coffee Online, and then recommends it to us.

Now onto todays topic, organic foods.  I checked out the Whole Foods in Oakville yesterday.   It’s a pretty awesome spot, but like most “health” related situations it sparked my curious side.  As an aside they’ve got some seriously awesome stuff at this place and if you’re mindful of what you buy, you can get some really quality food without breaking the bank.  The problem I have with places like Whole Foods is that I think they trick people into making the same dietary mistakes, but with organic or exotic ingredients.

Organic, gluten free carrot cake tastes amazing, but it’s STILL cake. People seem to forget that.

There is a huge benefit to buying local, buying grass-fed/pastured and buying organic.  But buying organic pasta to put organic spaghetti sauce and organic parmasan cheese on top of it is just gives you an expensive plate of sugar.  It isn’t the lack of organic ingredients that is making you fat/inflammed/in pain, it’s the types of ingredients you’re eating in the first place.

Goji berries, while having a cool name, and packing some nutrients, are no better than blueberries. And we don’t have to go to Nepal to get wild, locally grown blueberries (that seems redundant doesn’t it?). If you’re shopping at health food stores to help the environment, purchasing exotic foods from across the world is not helping.  Things like goji berries, acai berries or the like, involve someone picking them lots of miles away, and shipping them around the world so that you can feel cool eating a “superfood”.  Don’t be that guy.  Eat the berries, fruits and vegetables local to our area, that are picked fresh, and allowed to ripen properly.  Concentrate on locally grown fruits and veggies. Kohlrabi, apples, figs, plums, peaches, beets, turnips, kale, brussel sprouts, the list goes on, are all good, locally grown, nutrient dense foods. Try to lean towards veggies, but fruit will satisfy a sweet tooth.

Organic cookies are still off limits people. Whole grain is not “ok”. Anything that resembles or seems like a grain is not ok. Get off the grains. these foods are still mostly sugar with some lectins, phytates and other wonderful ingredients mixed in. If you’re buying organic foods to be more “healthy”, you’re undermining yourself by eating these foods.

If you’re shopping at a health foods store to be cool, well, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, and those of us who are doing it properly hope you enjoy your zumba/insanity/ab rocket workout and hope that it works out well.

Aside from the above recommendations, here are some more:

  • Try to find a CSA (community sustained agriculture) in your area and support it, it’s worth it.  You receive a good number of fruit and veggies.  Get ready to eat some mystery vegetables.
  • Look into contacting a farm for pastured meat.   Many times you can request your cow be grass finished (I.e. It never gets fattened up with grain).   You’ll pay more, but it’s worth it.  Also, ask for the fat rendered from the beef, most people don’t, but you’re paying for it and it’s great for cooking.  And, since you chose the grass finished beef, the fat profile is amazingly good FOR you.
  • Go to a farmers market in your area.   It’s the market of local stuff (fruit, veggies, meat, etc.).   Prices will be a bit higher than the previous two options, but you’re paying for the convenience.

That’s all for now! If you have any ideas or suggestions I missed, post ’em to comments!

Gluten-free pizza…

Meatza Party!

Image by joshbousel via Flickr

Hey Everyone,

I recently enjoyed a gluten free pizza from a popular repetitious pizza store and thought I’d talk about something that crossed my mind while eating it.

“Does gluten really add THAT much to pizza?”

Apparently, yes. Gluten is the part of the equation in making bread that causes it to rise. It rises into pretty, bubbly, airy pockets in a thick crust pizza. So yeah, texture matters.  But what about the flavour?  For some reason I can’t imagine gluten itself tastes like much of anything (aside from sadness). This causes me to wonder why my “healthy” gluten free pizza tasted unimpressive in comparison to pizzas I’ve had in the past.

Then I began to think about pizza in general, especially the crust. Why is the crust so crucial? I think it’s because it holds all the good stuff. It falls into the category with the rest of the starchy carbs (in my opinion) that are solely a vessel for the parts of the meal that actually make it taste good.  Add in the lack of flavour to the fact that gluten is known to destroy people’s digestive tracts and you’ve got a pretty heft RISK portion of the risk:benefit ratio.  So what do I propose to solve this problem?

MEATZA.  It’s like a pizza, except the crust is made out of…. you guessed it, meat.  Delicious, nutritious, hunger satiating meat.  Thank god (or who/whatever you believe in) that animals are made out of meat, because if they were made out of rice cakes…. well then I’d have to be a vegetarian.  And I’d probably cry a lot more.  Not that those two things are related at all.

Anyway, if it entices you, and you think you’ll enjoy it, AND you promise to eat a gigantic salad at some point too, then I say dig in and enjoy some meat flavoured meat.