Posts

Addressing Lifestyle & Making you “Healthy”

Hi Folks!

I have experienced a small handful of patients coming to see me who brought up in passing that “oh yeah, I’ve been feeling numbness over here” or, “oh yeah, and I hit my head really hard and have a wicked headache right now”… Both (and others) which were followed up with – “Can you help with that?”

Yes.  I can.

While my main concern is for the function and structure of your spine and its joints, I can address your extremities (feet, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands… anywhere you have a joint, really), I can address numbness and I can address headaches.  Pretty much any part of your health – I want to know about.  While I don’t want your symptoms to be your focus, knowing that they were present, and that now they are not is a nice metric of you getting healthier and your body finding its balance.  So please, let me know if there is something new, or something in particular that you’d like me to concentrate on.

I am concerned with improving your experience of how you look, how you feel and how you perform (thanks to Robb Wolf for articulating these concise metrics of health).  When you look, feel and perform well – you’re usually pretty darn healthy.  Healthy Folks don’t have numbness, headaches or debilitating back pain/IBS attacks.  Healthy Folks do eat an impeccable diet, exercise intelligently and regularly lower their stress levels.

You have the time.  You just need to schedule it in and be efficient.  Pencil in “20 minute workout”, or “prepare lunch and dinner for tomorrow” instead of “watch Greys”.  Set an alarm on your blackberry/iphone to remind you to work out, say “I love you” to someone or simply smile and take a deep breath.

Make living healthy a habit.  It isn’t difficult.  Living in a wheel chair is difficult.  Not playing with your children because you’re in too much pain is difficult.  The initial change might be uncomfortable at first, but once you’ve gotten used to making healthy decisions, you’ll notice it gets easier and easier.

If you have any questions, let me know – I am well studied in the areas of nutrition/diet, biomechanics, exercise, and most other areas that have an effect on health.

In health,

Dr. Adam Ball

The Shoulder Position or 10 minutes to a new you!

Hey Folks!

So it has taken me a little longer to get to this than I had planned, but here it is; What to do in the case of some poor shoulder positioning.  This is going to help you improve your function, meaning better pendlay rows, better overhead squats and better just about everything involving your arms, as I mentioned earlier.  It’s going to make your posture better, which is going to make you sexier and may even improve your confidence.  The world looks better when you’re standing upright with good posture.  For serious.

As a disclaimer:  I am only really speaking about the typical abducted and rolled forward shoulders that we see in the dreaded D-bag/Bridal shoulder position.  This is also known as “upper cross syndrome” but that makes it sound like you’re stuck with it.  We’re going to unstick you.  Keep in mind, there are plenty of other poor shoulder positions, but most of them just aren’t as common, especially among Crossfitters.  Now then… Let’s get started!

So first things first, have someone look at you (ideally shirtless, or with some tight clothes on) from behind and assess where your scapulae are hanging out while you stand comfortably.  If they look like the ones in this photo… then YOU are a victim of the D-bag/Bridal shoulder.  Oh the horror.  Here is what you need to do.

 

Notice the position of the “shoulder blades”

Do the following every time you’re in the gym (and if you aren’t in the gym regularly, you need to be doing this at LEAST 3x a week, and ideally 5x a week if you care about making progress):

Step 1 – roll your pecs out with a lacrosse ball (about a minute per side) – you can do this by leaning into a wall with the lacrosse ball placed just below your clavicle

Find some sore spots in your pecs with the Lacrosse ball

Step 2 – Stretch out your upper traps and suboccipitals for a minute per side – Sit on your hand and tilt your head away from the side of the hand your sitting on, search around by keeping your head tilted and looking down at your left shoulder, or trying to touch your ear to your shoulder (without cheating and shrugging your shoulder up to your ear).

Step 3 – Use either the two lacrosse balls taped together, or if you’re feeling ambitious, the foam roller – place them at the apex of your mid back (thoracic spine) curve (this is usually between the shoulder blades and with the Lacrosse balls, they’ll be straddling your spine) between you and the ground.  Place your hands on an empty barbell above your head in what would be your snatch or overhead squat position.  You can reposition the foam roller/lacrosse balls higher or lower depending on how you feel.  Spend a minute or two (depending on what you can tolerate) in this position.

Awesome.  So the goal of these stretches is to break up some adhesions and help create some “slack” in your pecs, and traps/suboccipitals.  This will also help open you up by adding thoracic extension and a stretch for your pecs.  The next step is going to involve strengthening the elements of these movements that are stretched and weakened.  Please remember… This is not Crossfit. This isn’t trying to move a large load a long distance quickly.  This is trying to hold a mild to moderate load still for a long time – so I guess it’s kind of the opposite?

Why would I want you to train these muscles differently than your glutes?  The main function of these muscles is to stabilize the scapulae, not to forcefully retract them – so we want to improve your muscular endurance, not your contractile power.  Once you’ve achieved better positioning, it WILL make developing more contractile power easier though.

You are going to ADD these exercises to your pec and trap stretches and you are essentially going to be doing them indefinitely.  Or at least until you have achieved better shoulder positioning, and the overhead squat is your new favourite lift.

Step 1 – Lie on a bench/chiro table/bed on your stomach with your head hanging off the edge.  Lift your head up as high as possible while also keeping your face parallel to the rest of your body.  You are still looking at the floor – NOT at the wall in front of you.  Hold this for 30 seconds to a minute and then relax.  Repeat once or twice more, depending on your tolerance.

Step 2 – If you’re really ambitious, you can combine this with step 1.  While you’re lying there on your stomach, point your thumbs towards the floor with your arms out at your sides and lift them up off the bed/table/bench.  You should feel the contraction between your shoulder blades.  Hold this for 30 seconds to a minute and then relax.  Repeat once or twice more, depending on your tolerance.

Chin tucked, head back, scapulae squeezed together. Hold.

Dig it!  There is all sorts of cool stuff you can do in addition to these stretches/exercises, but for now I would stick to this program.  It’s simple, it’s relatively easy and it only takes about 10 minutes.  You can spare 10 minutes to save your shoulders.  Future you will appreciate it.  Future you will also be crushing bodyweight snatches and smiling while she does it.

Cheers Folks!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

What’s the deal with fish oil?

Hey Folks!  I miss you all.  Sorry I haven’t been keeping in touch, HOWEVER, you’ll be happy to know that Rachael (many of you will know who I’m talking about, some may not, that’s ok… for now), and I have been working on a bit of a “program” or informational source, or answer… to all your questions about how to best help you achieve health via food, exercise and chiro (of course).  So while I should have been working on the info for this program a lot more, it has still managed to make a good excuse not to write blog posts.  Sorry for that.  I have about an hour before I start work at Crossfit Mississauga (come in for a workout & some chiro!), so I’m hoping to answer many common questions about fish oil today.

“WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH “OMEGA” OILS?”

Ok.  There are omega 3 (n3) and omega 6 (n6) fatty acids (there are also omega 9, but we’ll pretend I didn’t just write that for the remainder of this post as they just aren’t very sexy).  They are BOTH essential fats and we need them both.  These fats are polyunsaturated (meaning there are “kinks” in the molecule, while saturated fats have no kinks [extra sidebar:  I guess in this way you could say that saturated fat is not very “kinky”… ha…ha…ha…], and monounsaturated fats have one kink) which means they have slightly different properties than saturated fats.  For one, they’re liquid at room temperature.  This is a somewhat interesting part of them which some folks will say means they add more fluidity to the cell membrane.  Whether or not this is true is moot.  You can *test* how unsaturated your fish oil is by putting it in the freezer.  If it solidifies… well your “fish oil” is most likely mostly olive oil.  Ooops!

“AND?”

The standard north American diet is greatly skewed in the direction of n6 oils.  Generally the ratio considered “healthy” is 1.5:1 (n6:n3).  The typical diet around here with its’ processed foods chocked full of soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, and other silly oils (as well as the silly oil make up in conventional meats – think about what they’re being fed!) puts us at an unhappy 10-25:1 ratio of n6 to n3 fats.

“SO WHY IS THAT BAD?”

It’s bad because n6 fats are the precursors to many inflammatory cytokines that help us to propagate our inflammatory lifestyles.  Omega 3 fats also lead to cytokines, but they are a bit more appropriate.  We want that nice 1.5:1 ratio because it is the best indication that your body has the necessary ingredients to make you healthy.  Imagine in the other situation (the bad one) you are making some mashed potatoes and you need butter, but your friend keeps handing you container after container of margarine (ew).  At some point you’re just going to give up looking for the butter and use the dumb margarine.

“SO WHAT ABOUT FISH OIL?”

Fish oil is (was) the new panacea of the year (fish oil is SO 2001, pfff).  We live in a constant unhappy ratio with way too much n6 fats helping us to make way too much inflammation.  The logical next step is, “so let’s fix the ratio!  Everyone shotgun some fish oil!”, which isn’t a great approach, but it’s definitely better than doing nothing.

“KIRKLAND BRAND IS CHEAP!!!  WHY SHOULD I USE THE STUFF YOU SELL?”

The more expensive fish oils contain more EPA and DHA (the longest and most beneficially healthy oils) per gram of “omega 3”.  This is a good thing.  A lot of the other “omega 3” oil in the cheaper supplements is oleic acid – a short chain n3 fat that is the main fat in olive oil (it’s also abundant in many other places – grass-fed beef, for one).  Unless you want to take 15-25 Costco brand fish oils every day, buy the more expensive stuff and just take less.  Onward!

“OK.  I HEAR SOME FOLKS SAYING FISH OIL IS BAD THOUGH!”

This is where stuff gets complicated.  The less good part of just crushing fish oil to “fix” your ratio is that you’re still crushing n6 oils.  This means you’re consuming a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids all together.  While our body likes some polyunsaturated fatty acids, more isn’t better.  These long, kinked fatty acids are very reactive with many things in our body (the intense heat, oxidative substances, etc.)  and oxidized fatty acids are not our favourite.  You know how if you leave the olive oil bottle open and out in the sun on a summer day?  That nasty smell (rancid oil) is what happens in your body (it’s kinda hot in there).

“WHAT ABOUT KRILL OIL?!?! IT HAS CAROTENOIDS!”

I’m sure it does.  Krill is generally at the bottom of the food chain in the ocean and a lot of other species rely on it.  Let’s not overwhelm those poor tiny little shrimps and mess with things too bad.  Also, you can’t punch a krill in the face – most fish are punch-sized. Fish oil can also help you cure masturbating issues, but when you need help, learn more from masturbationaddiction.com.

“BUT I’M VEGAN AND EATING (and punching) ANIMALS IS WRONG!!!”

If you can’t not be a vegan, then acquire some omega 3 oil from algal sources.  It’s out there and it isn’t too expensive, and algae doesn’t have a cute face or complain when you kill it.

“NO IT’S OK I’VE GOT IT UNDER CONTROL – I EAT A CUP OF FLAX WITH EVERY MEAL!  HAHA!”

Good lord, I don’t want to know what your bowel movements are like.  Stop eating so much flax and get the algae version of your n3 supplement.  Flax is abundant in n3 fats – but they’re the short chain n3 fats that don’t have a great conversion to the longer chain n3 fats… And flax isn’t very tasty.

“NOW WHAT?”

Go out and get yourself a quality fish oil supplement.  Take somewhere between a gram and a half and 3 grams a day of EPA + DHA (not just n3).  Eat happy, grass-fed versions of all your favourite animals.  Most importantly, avoid n6 vegetable oils like it’s your job.  They aren’t very tasty (taste test a spoon of corn oil versus a spoon of coconut oil, or butter, or ghee, or bacon fat, or tallow – you get the point).  You’re omega 3 situation will be much better with this set up.  There are blood tests you can get to see where you’re at, but I prefer to just judge it by how you look feel and perform.  If you’ve been crushing fish oil for a long time at high doses and you’re noticing you bruise really easy, dial it back a bit.

 

 

I think that just about covers it!  Let me know if I missed anything or if you have any other questions!

 

Cheers!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

Musings: Vegan babies, the “Evil Trifecta” & How your genes affect your jeans

Hi Folks!

Spring is getting closer!

So I fully intended on having a well written, long and informative article to post this week but I just haven’t managed to get around to it.  So today will be a smattering of link posts and thoughts about the happenings as of late.

As I previously posted about, the Robb Wolf seminar was a great refresher about paleo nutrition and the optimal approach to the dietary management of chronic disease.  Since then I have had the chance of speaking with some friends and family about the seminar and about diet in general and some questions/comments arose, as they usually do.

  • Vegan babies are occasionally not well taken care of and they die, usually due to malnutrition – As far as I’m concerned this is unacceptable, and these parents are knowingly starving their babies to death.  This is tragic and unnecessary.  The parents should know better, but if they’re mistaken enough to think that humans can thrive on a vegan diet, they are more than likely mistaken about most things related to human physiology.  I think it would be interesting to find out if the parents who were responsible for these babies had to rethink their logic and understanding of nutrition, seeing that this type of diet not only does not create optimal health, but doesn’t even create an environment where a human baby can survive.

o   Links here (1 old, 1 new):  http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.35c2caa5efa0e183b7b38a2d0e2b7f40.71&show_article=1

o   http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/21/opinion/21planck.html?_r=1

  • Far less intense is the “evil trifecta” proposed by Robb Wolf (and also explained at length by Dr. Kurt Harris, Dr. Emily Deans, and I’m sure many others) of gluten, linoleic acid (the polyunsaturated, n-6 fatty acid found in many vegetable oils), and fructose.  After having mentioned this to people I get a mixture of responses.

o   For those familiar with paleo nutrition, the next question is usually from the person shooting for perfection, “so should I stop eating fruit?” or the person who is already annoyed with having given up grains, “so you’re telling me I can’t have fruit anymore either?”

o   The answer is no, you don’t have to give up fruit.  They’re fruit.  Reminds me of a post by the folks at Whole9 (http://www.urbangetsdiesel.com/2009/06/carrot-train-to-crazytown.html).  While the main sugar in fruit IS fructose, there really isn’t THAT much that you need to worry about fatty liver disease or insulin resistance.  That is unless you’re crushing a LOT of fruit.  This tends to be the tendency to those new to paleo/primal eating.  They’re still sweet, and they generally taste better than vegetables.  But if you’re replacing all your vegetables with fruit, it might eventually become a sticking point for weight-loss and well-being.  Just saying.

o   The other answer is, “but I love grains!  WHOLE grains must be good right?  I don’t eat white wonder bread, I eat the stuff with lots of fibre!”  Sorry folks, but no bread is the best kind of bread.  If you want to lose weight, manage your auto-immune disease or just feel better in every way, you need to give up grains.  Am I telling you that you can NEVER have grains again?  No.  Try giving them up for 30 days, and then have some occasionally.  The bloated, gassy, headachy, hangover-y feeling you get (and to which degree you get it) will determine if enjoying it is worth it.  I’ll be honest, for me, sometimes it is.

o   Links worth checking out:

§  http://crossfitflood.typepad.com/nutrition/2009/03/damn-dirty-grains.html

§  http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/09/19/paleo-diet-solution/

o   Interesting to note is that no one really complains about the vegetable oil.  That could be because it all tastes terrible and that all our favourites that we gave up are SO much more delicious (butter, ghee, coconut oil, pork fat, beef fat, etc.)

  • Finally, I just want to speak about genetics.  Your genetics is your bodies’ recipe for health.  When myself and other speak about us “all having the same genes”, what we AREN’T saying (although I should only speak for myself here) is that we all have identical genes (as in identical twins, although even then there are some differences).  What I am saying, is that we all have the gene to create the cornea in our eye, the gene to up-regulate insulin receptors on our cells, the genes to induce the many steps to apoptosis to prevent cancer.  We all have these.  But what do we have that affects these genes?  Everything we eat, every way we move and everything we think.  These inputs are the reason our body activates and expresses genes and inhibits others.
  • In health care, we’re all around this paradigm without ever (almost) delving into it.  Bruce Lipton, James Chestnut and many others have figured this out.  It gives us a solid foundation to create questions and theories from.  It gives us a leg to stand on when we ask, “Why?”  My question to the general public and to the many areas of healthcare is, “why have we stopped asking why?”  It’s killing us!
  • This new report is about the differences we have between us.  Our epigenetics are responsible for the many differences in disease states and susceptibility to disease states and general adaptations to lifestyle inputs.  This person can eat whatever they want and not put on a lot of fat, this person cannot.  If studies from the agouti mouse tell us anything, it’s that the lifestyle of past generations DOES matter.  But what we don’t seem to make the connection to, is that it doesn’t mean that living in healthy ways still matters, and that it’s reversible!

o   Let’s say your grandma had type-2 diabetes, and your mom has type-2 diabetes, are you silly to think you might be “predisposed” to type-2 diabetes?  Not at all!  But can you make the connection that if you are diligent and live healthy and do not get type-2 diabetes, and your daughter does the same and also doesn’t get it, that that would “predispose” her daughter to NOT acquire type-2 diabetes?  Ahhhh, perfect.  Healthy living is healthy living.  There are degrees of health within your genetics ability to express it (whether you have predispositions or not).

o   Here is the link to the news article:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110323104737.htm

o   The other idea is that the input you create matters and affects the genes that are expressed.  This is easily demonstrated by putting someone suffering from glioma (a type of brain cancer) on a ketogenic diet.  Gene expression changes.  Interesting right?  It’s just proof that the way we eat, move and think matters.

o   Here’s the link to the journal article:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2949862/?tool=pubmed

So that’s all I have to say right now.  I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend, and if you’re competing in the Crossfit games open sectional, good luck & have fun!

Cheers!

Dr. Adam Ball

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!

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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

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?). Emotion is also a factor, if you love what you have right now. That will be a good factor for your status. For example, your a guy that loves your own beard and you want to shave or trim it. Well, I have a tip for you. Use razors such as edwin jagger safety razor, one of the best beard razors in the market.

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