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Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution Seminar

This past weekend I attended the Paleo Solution seminar put on by Robb Wolf.  It was well organized, timed and executed.  I will preface this “review” with the fact that I really dig everything Robb is doing with regards to the paleo “movement”.  Much like myself, Robb just wants to help people achieve and experience health.  He isn’t trying to accomplish it by making a magical ratio that can be achieved by eating molecularly-baked goods, by selling very well made, and delicious (but expensive) protein powder or by withholding information that is only available for purchase.  If you’ve been listening to the podcast and reading what Robb puts out on his website, then you’ve probably heard almost everything that is in the seminar at one point or another.  The seminar puts it all together into one presentation, which is difficult to do (otherwise others would be doing it).  Thanks Robb (and Nikki).

The Pro’s:

  • Robb’s example (himself) of how a set of beliefs can drive you into disease was a great start point for the seminar – if we are not changing people’s belief systems about food, then we will not be changing what people want to eat and therefore what people are eating.
  • While the seminar was essentially 7 hours of straight lecture with an hour long lunch break, the flow was great, and the small “breaks” for questions were enough of a mental de-load before continuing with the material
  • I’m glad there weren’t “pee breaks” or food breaks (aside from lunch and question periods) as there is usually a lot of time lost to trying to reign folks back into the lecture room, which happens at just about every other seminar I’ve been to
  • The basic science review was in depth enough for the sciencey folks and I believe simple enough for those new to some of the concepts (the intestinal mucosa, immune cells and their response, etc.)
  • Robb presents a compelling argument as to why grains, legumes and pseudo-grains are sub-optimal foods and how they contribute to chronic disease
  • Explaining how we can use the study of paleolithic peoples and their diet and lifestyle to ask the right questions was well explained and great examples are presented

o   Going from anthropological observations to clinical observations to clinical testing to mechanistic theory to mechanistic validation help to explain how to ask the right questions and a great path to create progress

  • Digestion, Gut permeability, auto-immunity, metabolic derangement, lifestyle and implementation were all touched upon and well explained
  • Robb took the time to provide case studies/anecdotes about people who have benefitted from different approaches to improving ones diet, but didn’t rely on it for his explanations and theories.
  • References were provided and explored – ideas and theories had good scientific backing
  • It all makes sense – I wasn’t left with “yeah, but…”

 

The Con’s:

  • It was only one day – Seriously this could be two or more days if we really wanted to geek out with the science/biochemistry involved with everything

o   It would be sweet to see a Robb Wolf, Mat Lalonde and Dr. Cordain 3 day seminar at some point – maybe even aimed at health care providers/those involved with educating clients/patients versus those interested in the information personally?

  • A little more time could be spent on the acute sepsis/injury effect on insulin resistance mechanisms and their explanation – it may be a combination of these concepts being towards the end of the day (being a little mentally fried) and that I think Robb may have been a little speedier with getting through this area of the seminar
  • Further effects of Palmitic acid could be explored (a la the explanation by Mat Lalonde in the recent podcast re: fasting/eating very low carb versus eating so many carbs that palmitic acid is abundant)
  • It could be nice to stay together for a lunch designed by Robb at the venue of the seminar – although I know this would require more planning and probably a more expensive price-tag for the seminar

All together it was one of the better seminars I’ve been to in regard to content, flow and guiding principles.  It drives home the fact that the answers we find are largely determined by the questions we ask.  And if we ask questions without some sort of base, guiding principles, we end up with the jumbling of answers that is the current state of health and nutritional science.

Thanks again, Robb.  Cheers Everyone!

Robb was nice enough to pose for a photo with me after the seminar

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

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

When the pain isn’t because of the pain…

But it doesn’t make sense – How could the pain you’re feeling NOT be due to the pain?  Well… it’s because you can’t feel movement.

I’d always learned and read this in school, but sometimes a “refresher” is nice.  I recently read a journal article that did that for me (Changes in Aβ non-nociceptive primary sensory neurons in a rat model of osteoarthritis pain [Molecular Pain 2010, 6:37]).  Unfortunately, journal articles can be a pain to read.  You need to look through the authors opinions, crappy statistical analysis, misreporting, etc.  Anyway, that’s not what today’s post is about…

So what was the article about?

  • The authors had mice that were either “normal” (not surgically injured) and those who were given osteoarthritis (surgical removal of medial meniscus and partial removal of the ACL in the knee)
  • Time was passed and osteoarthritis developed in those rats with the surgical injuries (poor little guys)
  • The authors then tested the rats neural pathways for nociception (pain) and mechanoreception (proprioception – range of motion/body sense/knowing where you are in space)

So what did they find?  (all results are in comparison to the healthy, happy rats)

  • The injured rats were much more quick to react to stimuli that would not normally perceived as pain (they were very sensitive to stimuli that could eventually be painful – think poking the back of your hand lightly with a toothpick versus pushing it into your skin)
  • The resting potential of nerves responsible for the perception of pain were closer to depolarizing than control rats (this means less stimuli is required for these rats to experience pain)
  • Conversely, the mechanoreceptors were further from depolarizing in the injured rats (this means they weren’t just not moving as much, their movement wasn’t being recognized by the brain as much

Why does this matter to you?

Like I’ve said before, movement and pain are competitive inhibitors, meaning they cancel each other out.  This is often responsible for the good feeling you have after exercising (outside of the hormonal response) and chiropractic.  Chiropractic being the donor of full, accessible, pain-inhibiting range of motion signals to your brain.

But those mice have arthritis and I don’t!

Maybe.  Not to be a debbie downer, but most people have knee/elbow/shoulder/wrist/low back pain that isn’t really pain per se, but is inconvenient or annoying.  That’s the very early stages of osteoarthritis, unless the reason you’re having that recurring problem (posture, movement patterns, etc.) is remedied.  Besides, wouldn’t you want your brain and joints to benefit from a full range of motion?

So, as per usual my recommendations are:  See a chiropractor, exercise intelligently with regularity, eat real foods that were designed for you, and de-stress in a regular basis.

All the best folks!

Dr. Ball

p.s. If you’re in the Oakville or Mississauga areas, come in and see me!  I’m located at Element Crossfit and I’m there Monday through Friday.  Cheers!  Click here to book an appointment with me or give me a call at (647) 268-4703.

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

Why Chiropractic? Part 3, or, The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Ok, here we are with our final (maybe) input to the “I still don’t completely get it but I feel better when I go” Chiropractic Trilogy.  Today we’re going to talk about why having the effects of chronic stressors on your body is a bad thing, and how you can minimize/eliminate them.  Read on for some therapeutic wisdom, mobile friends!

Hiking to a waterfall - "Exercise" and stress relief in one!

So the stress response is bad.  But it’s also appropriate in the right situation.  It’s the chronic stress response that is bad, or more accurately the many lifestyle choices that lead to it.  Your body’s response to stress is NOT pathogenic (disease-causing), the environment causing the stress is.  There is neuroplasticity (your brain actually changes) to being chronically exposed to the stress response (like the pain sensitization I mentioned in an earlier post).  To restore your bodies (and its’ joints) ability to move and inhibit that stress response, you need chiropractic care (and a solid exercise program).  Being adjusted regularly is an integral part of maintaining a healthy spine and it will actually create neuroplasticity in the other direction (possibly why young Autistic, ADD, or ADHD patients report improvements in their conditions – less stress means less stress hormones means more concentration).  The ultimate goal for care in my office is to remove the stress of joint motion restriction on your body.  With your spine moving properly we can move on to addressing the other sources of stress in your life, like poor diet, physical inactivity, and mental/emotional stress.

When we look at the literature, it’s the removal of all these stressors that result in the largest range in disease resolution.  Chiropractors report patients not just getting better from neck and back pain, but improving their headaches, digestion (colic, IBS, indigestion), breathing (asthma, COPD, emphysema), allergies, sleep, sexual function, mental stress levels, etc.  The same goes when you research fish oil, stress relief techniques, the removal of gluten from the diet, and exercise.  This is because these interventions are good for EVERYONE.  If someone doesn’t exercise, and then they start exercising, do they get healthier?  How about making the choice to eat higher quality foods?  De-stress from work/whatever else stresses you out?  We get better from a wide range of illnesses with these interventions because they’re either providing a required “nutrient” to express health (like proper movement in the spine), or removing a “toxin” that is preventing health (like gluten).  If you had a sick moose (that didn’t want to trample you to death) in your care, would you feed it some “cutting edge” diet based on the “latest research” or would you just research what wild, healthy moose eat and feed it that?  Would you design an exercise program for the moose to isolate muscular inefficiencies, or would you encourage the moose to move and act like healthy, wild moose do?

For the most part many of us know what we’re doing wrong.  We know the intense stress levels of work aren’t healthy for us.  We know eating 5 Tim Hortons chocolate chip cookies (or 5 fries) is a bad idea.  We know avoiding exercise and living with poor posture/movement patterns is a bad thing.  We do need to be reminded to make these changes though.  To write it out in numbered fashion, so that you can jot it down and put it on your fridge:

  1. Eat foods that we were designed to eat:  Meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds (and a variety of spices/seasonings) – Mix it up and find meals you love.
  2. Follow an intelligent exercise program.  I recommend Element Crossfit but there are a good number of other programs and gyms that provide excellent coaching as well.
  3. Sleep well (a cool/cold, pitch black room for 8-9 hours per night) and reduce stress levels (at work and at home – simplify your life)
  4. See a Chiropractor and other movement specialists (physiotherapy, athletic therapy, acupuncturists, massage therapy, etc.) and get adjusted/worked on with some regularity (for most this will be between once a week and once a month)

If you’re a patient of mine at the gym, then Alex and Rachael already have you on the right track as far as exercising (and probably eating) properly goes.  Keep up the good work, get adjusted, work out hard/smart, eat well and you’ll achieve greater levels of health every day.

Dr. Adam Ball

p.s. Please share my website with friends and family and connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.  If you’re in the Mississauga/Oakville/Surrounding areas, come check out the gym and let’s get you healthier!

Why Chiropractic? – Part 2, or I’m Freaking out Man!

Hey Folks!  We’re back with Part Deux of the “How Chiropractic will change your life” Saga.  The last post ended with quite the cliffhanger – What are the far reaching effects of stress and how is Chiro involved with it?

Relaxing on the water

A good defence for the stress response - relaxing at the cottage

You may remember in a previous post I mentioned that movement and pain are competitive inhibitors, meaning one cancels the other out.  The slightly more complicated version of this idea is that painful things (repetitive motions/poor posture) are always sent to the brain, but only some are ultimately perceived as pain (like face-planting off a BMX).  What DOES happen before the realization of pain is the stress response, which you may know as the fight/flight response.  So while sitting in a chair writing a blog post will fire up some nociception (pain) from my spine, the “pain” isn’t a conscious event.  Without chiropractic adjustments, subluxations continue to reduce the movement signal being sent to the brain and increase the painful/stress signal being sent.  This wouldn’t be a problem, except that all these stressors and the chronic stress response they set up in your body is a cumulative thing.  So eventually you end up feeling pain from trivial stimuli that normally wouldn’t be perceived as painful (some researchers/scientists believe this may be involved in the development of fibromyalgia).

The stress response affects the nervous input to your brain and the effect is the brain then doesn’t know how to optimally respond to its’ environment.  This results in changes in your bodies many balancing acts (blood pressure/cardiac output, hormone production, everything, etc.), emotions (ever feel more relaxed or more energized after an adjustment?), visceral function (better breathing, digestion, etc.) as well as the more obvious changes in movement, muscle tone and posture (notice good posture is less work after an adjustment?).

You may have heard the stress response being explained with this analogy:

You’re out in the wild, and you’ve been there 100 times before and you’re going down to the stream to get some water, you check out your surroundings and everything is great.  You dip your hands into the water but hear something and quickly turn around and there is a tiger about 15 feet away from you in full sprint/attack mode.  You don’t take the time to consider whether or not it’s actually planning on running past you because it’s just REALLY thirsty.  Your body reacts and you either try to fight it (and get mauled to death) or you run for your life (and probably, you get mauled to death – tigers are fast).  But what happens inside of you during all of this?  The stress response.

If you’re like me in 2nd year Biology, that’s just about all you remember about it.  So now let’s talk about what actually happens during the stress response.  Every process that will increase the available energy to your muscles (catabolic processes) happens (blood flow to your organs slows [vasoconstriction], blood flow to your muscles increases [vasodilation], heart rate increases) and everything your body does that you don’t necessarily NEED at this very moment (anabolic processes) is decreased (Sex glands, sex drive, digestion, growth/repair, immunity).  This is intelligent as we probably aren’t worried about our sex performance when being mauled to death is imminent.  The other thing that happens is that our awareness is increased (so we can see where to run away to, any possible weapons nearby, etc.) at the expense of concentration (sounds like ADHD, doesn’t it? – maybe these kids are stressed out!).  We don’t need to learn the stress response while fleeing, so we don’t.

So, as you can imagine, people who are chronically stressed (be it from subluxation, poor diet or mental stress) may be the same people suffering from:  High blood pressure, decreased fertility, decreased libido, IBS, indigestion, colds/flu/chronic bronchitis, poor recovery from sickness OR workouts, poor concentration.  Your body creates the stress response so that you can change your environment.  As modern humans our problem is that many of us expose ourselves to this environment EVERYDAY.

Now then, you now have a pretty good idea (probably better than many healthcare professionals) about why the stress response is bad.  You’ve got a good idea about its’ far reaching effects (no sex drive?  No thank you!) and later this week, you’ll get a good idea about how to reduce it/resolve these problems (although you’ve probably got a good idea what I’m going to hint at!)

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

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

Why do I train?

I was recently asked during a workout (I work out in my driveway on a semi-busy street) by a passerby, “why are you doing that?”

As you can imagine, this particular passerby was a young, curious child with walking somewhere with one of their parents.  I didn’t have a lot of time to answer, as they were continuing their walk by, and while dripping sweat on the ground, chest heaving, I dropped my weight and said, “because it’s fun!”

Maybe the kid thought I was lying, and I’m fairly certain that the parent did, as they smiled and walked away.  After I finished my workout I got to thinking, why DO I train?  This blog post will look to answer this question.

I want to remain extremely functional as I grow old. I think if I can work hard to max out with a 500 pound deadlift now (or hopefully within the next couple years), than lifting my grocery bags off the ground when I’m 90 years young will be a breeze.  While I can appreciate the reduced work capacity associated with aging, it just gives me more reason to work hard now.  Studies have shown exercises can increase functionality in the elderly, the young, and those with disease (1, 2, 3).

I want to avoid disease and give my MD no reason to doubt my health. As we all know, obesity rates are through the roof, heart disease is killing about half of all North Americans, and diabetes rates are increasing at an alarming rate (I’ve seen they’re changing the name from “adult onset” to “age onset”, I assume this is because too many young people are suffering from this condition).  My genetics aren’t exactly stellar in the cholesterol department, the heart disease department, and to a small degree the diabetes department.  If I can optimize my blood markers and provide my body with a calm, balanced environment, I’m going to do what it takes to create that environment.  Many sources have found that insulin sensitivity is increased with exercise.  Body weight, body mass index, body fat, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and hsCRP (an inflammation marker) all respond favourably to regular exercise (1, 2, 4, 5).

I want to stay sane. Exercise is known to help reduce the occurrence of depression and lead to better well-being (6).  I know that when I exercise I feel better for that day and in the long run.  I don’t usually feel fantastic DURING the workout (sometimes I do), but shortly afterward I feel great.  I think it is due, psychologically, to a sense of accomplishment, as well as the endorphin release and further cascade of hormones released by the body in response to the stimulus of the exercise.  In my, n=1 case, I know it makes me more productive, happier, and more relaxed, consistently.

I want to look good naked. Don’t we all?  I don’t think I need to argue the fact that exercise is an important factor in body composition.  Diet is also hugely implicated, but we’ll talk about that in another post.  Exercise provides the stimulus your body requires to release hormones that will increase your insulin sensitivity, and cause you to synthesize protein to fix the damage you did to your muscles while exercising.  This protein synthesis is a metabolically expensive process, and you do it while at rest.  This means you’re burning mostly fat for the fuel used to assemble the amino acids provided by the protein in your diet (you’re eating high quality protein, right?) to restore your muscle tissue.  There is a lot more involved but that’s part of what is going on.

I like the challenge. Originally with exercise, I never stayed with my program which was usually because I didn’t HAVE a program.  I just figured going to the gym and doing some stuff was enough.  Occasionally I would follow the mens health monthly workout poster thingy.  I employ Crossfit for my training, which constantly challenges me to get better at everything as well as trying new movements or weights on a frequent basis.  It keeps me interested, and I ALWAYS feel like I have a lot of room to improve.  As long as you don’t let it get you down, it’s a great motivator to keep at it to get better.

Anyway, that’s what I can think at the moment as to why I train.  Why do YOU train?

References:

  1. Martins, R., Verissimo, M., Coehlho e Silva, M., Cumming, S. & Teixeira, A. (2010)  Effects of aerobic and strength-based training on metabolic health indicators in older adults.  Lipids in Health and Disease. 9:76.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from: http://www.lipidworld.com/content/9/1/76
  2. Ansari, W., Ashker, S. & Moseley, L. (2010)  Associations between Physical Activity and Health Parameters in Adolescent Pupils in Egypt.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  7: 1649-1669.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2872361/?tool=pubmed
  3. Subin, Vaishali Rao, V. Prem & Sahoo (2010)  Effect of upper limb, lower limb and combined training on health-related quality of life in COPD.  Lung India. 27(1): 4-7.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2878713/?tool=pubmed
  4. Bradley, R., Jeon, J., Liu, F. & Maratos-Flier, E. (2007)  Voluntary exercise improves sensitivity and adipose tissue inflammation in diet-induced obese mice. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism. (295) E586-E594
  5. Kirwan, J., Soloman, T., Wojta, D., Staten, M. & Holloszy, J. (2009)  Effects of 7 days of exercise training on insulin sensitivity and responsiveness in type 2 diabetes mellitus.  American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism.  (297) E151-E156
  6. Babyak et al (2000)  Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months.  Psychosomatic Medicine. (62) 633-638