Monthly Archives: February 2015
The Unsuspected Underlying Culprits of Stomach Pain: Finally Finding a Happy Place of Gut Health
When you are dealing with chronic stomach problems, diarrhea, gas or constipation, you want to find an explanation for it. Like most people, you want to make sure you cover all bases so you can finally overcome your tummy troubles.
Our energy, sense of well-being, and overall health is affected by our gut.
Our gut is the summation of our entire digestive tract that runs as a tube from your mouth to anus.
It’s easy to think about your gut as a simple organ, but it really is very sophisticated. For many reasons, your gut is the keystone of your health. Not the least of which is to ensure you get nutrition from your food for strong bones, muscles, and a clear thinking brain. It also helps your immune system act quickly against invading organisms like sickness-causing bacteria, viruses, and other things.
Masking the Root Cause of Gut Problems
The biggest problem I see is people trying to mask gut problems with digestion medications that don’t address the root of the problem. These may include a variety of symptomatic relief medications like antacids and constipation control aides.
It’s normal to believe that you need these medications for stomach problems because that’s what you see on television, in medical offices, and it’s what you hear from many of those around you.
Just because you see it advertised as a cure for your symptom does not mean it’s the answer to your main problem.
The unhealthy side to these “normal” medications is that they can mask the real problems. As a result your body may not digest food correctly or it might be working with a mismanagedacid-base balance or it may not be able to handle microscopic invaders effectively.
Understanding the relationship between your gut and all that’s operating in and around it can help you understand where you might be getting the chronic tummy troubles you have.
Your Body and the Bacteria that Live In It
Our body is complex and understanding its rhythms and movement are important for helping many internal health issues. As chiropractors, we often see patients with stomach problems and digestive troubles who also have spinal subluxations (joint fixations of the spine) in areas linked to the gut such as the level of the back just between a person’s shoulder blades. It is a common tight area where tension likes to settle in and hold, and it happens to be a key area of connection between the nervous system and the gut. A healthy nervous system ensures your gut is moving and reacting the best way it can. We’ve found that subluxation relief in this area may help.
Whether you like the idea or not, the inside of your body is filled with microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses- some help us while some diminish our health and energy. These microbes make up what is called our “microbiome” or the complete collection of microbes that live in our body.
Michael Snyder, PhD, Director of Stanford University’s Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine says, “There’s a good chance your microbiome is associated with every disease you can think of.”
Besides normal gut troubles that most people know about like stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, or gas, several unsuspected diseases and disorders have been linked to gut bacteria. Interestingly, gut bacteria may be connected with cognitive and psychological disorders such as depression, ADD, anxiety, autism, OCD, substance abuse, and Alzheimer’s disease. This connection may be due to the gut microbes’ ability to create molecules that irritate and impact brain function.
What is a Happy Gut?
A happy gut is in place when several positive intestinal processes are happening all at once: our microbiome is balanced and harmonious, our food choices enhance mobility of the gut and nutrition uptake, and there is a certain level of body and mind calmness in place.
Relieving tension and body restrictions such as that in between our shoulder blades has been shown to improve body calmness in some and thereby improve health problems with the gut. Managing, to the extent we can, what’s living in your body is just as important as managing the health of the surrounding structures of your gut.
How Can We Improve Our Gut to Achieve Better Health?
Rigorous research into the human microbiome is still in its infancy. However, there is evidence that we may be able to influence the mix of microbes in our gut through our food choices.
This is not to say that changing any one particular aspect of your diet—substituting one sort of food for another, for instance—will result in a cure for any particular disease. However, we know enough about a healthy overall diet and its impact on our body’s function and well-being to be able to recommend lowering sugar intake (sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes) and increasing fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, etc.). These changes contribute to a healthier nutritional profile, which clearly leads to better overall health and weight maintenance.
Some nutritional experts also recommend eating fermented foods containing live active cultures (such as yogurt, kimchee, kefir, miso, kombucha, and sauerkraut) or taking probiotic supplements to support the colonies of “good” bacteria that live inside your gut.
If you choose to take probiotic supplements, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- The probiotic supplement you choose must contain the right strains of bacteria to promote good health.
- The probiotic supplement must be of a good quality so that the bacteria strains they contain are active when you take them.
- Your digestive system is a very hostile environment. For probiotic supplements to do any good, enough of the good bacteria in them must be able to reach your intestines alive.
If you are experiencing stiffness and pain in your spine and in between your shoulders or problems with your overall movement, chiropractic treatments can help reduce the pain, improve your movement and has in some cases have been linked with improving internal health of your gut.
For personalized attention, I invite you to a complimentary “What’s Sapping my Energy and Causing Pain?” consultation. Please go to the contact form here, for more information.
The 25 Minute Program for Stress-Free and Pain-Free Work/Life Balance
“If I wasn’t so busy!” is the moto of our time. I often hear people talk about doing healthy activities they know they should like exercising, relaxing, getting more sleep or eating right, but think they can’t because of all the stresses in their life.
I know how it is to feel overwhelmed and like you are just getting by in life.
There is another possibility. Instead of waiting for stress to end, you can end it now by making the decision to take control of your days.
Reducing stress is a worthy goal that can improve your life by transforming your daily outlook, relationships, health, and pain levels.
Many people believe that overworking creates stress. It can. Overworking creates stress that causes high blood pressure, poor diet choices during stressful times, and reduced healing from decreased sleep. The stress is also extremely damaging and aging to your body. I see many people push too hard by staying awake too long or jumping into physical activities they don’t normally do like shoveling snow. A fast paced lifestyle and jumping into seemingly urgent stresses sets people’s bodies up for injuries.
It’s ironic how these injuries often first present themselves. A person can get a screaming wake up call about an injury from the smallest action. One day you may be spending hours typing and putting together an important report, and in one moment, you reach down and feel a painful pull in your neck. I have had people share with me how the seizing pain in their back came directly after picking up a small item like a piece of paper or a pencil.
I know it wasn’t the action of picking up the pencil that caused the pain. Often the accumulation of stress in the body from a fast-paced, overly committed lifestyle is what initiates the sequence of pain. The stress and actions essentially cause the weakness, and injury then comes afterward.
You need to realize that there’s absolutely no reason to overdo it, even if you have bills to pay or a pressing goal ahead of you. In fact, the harder you push yourself, the closer you get to more injuries, body deterioration that looks like fast aging and prolonged debilitating pain.
It’s important to learn how to balance all the aspects of your life without focusing just on work and doing what others want at the moment. Sure, work is extremely important. It keeps your brain active, and it provides the income necessary for you and your family to survive. However, it can also wear you down, especially if you go non-stop. And yes, you have to shovel your sidewalks after it snows, but it can be better planned, prepared for and executed. Don’t jump into the task like you’ve been doing this type of work for a living because you risk overdoing it and causing injury.
The trick to balancing work with the rest of your life lies in performing this 25-minute exercise each day:
- Five minutes for meditation and clear thought. This exercise is crucial for beginning each day. Meditating can mean the difference between attacking your day with ferocity or approaching it with an aura of calmness and preparedness.
- Meditation centers your mind and calms your spirit. It also helps relieve any tension and problems with quick action rather than a calm, focused but persistent energy you may otherwise bring into your day.
- Meditation can help you focus on your inner power, limitations, and resources and remind you of what’s important to you and those who love you.
- Five minutes for energizing your body- While you meditate or just before, take time to stretch your body to ready yourself physically for the day. This preparation will help your body handle endurance, strength, and posture demands you don’t usually consider like sitting long periods in front of a computer or standing on your feet longer than usual for a presentation or event.
- Focus on stretching the areas of your body that are bothering you the most during your day
- Stretch slowly and deliberately, not to the point of pain but to the point of slight tension. This should feel comfortable enough that you want to breathe deeply and hold the stretch for a bit.
- Try your best to stretch at the beginning, middle, and end of the day, even if the grand total of each time amounts to under 5 minutes.
- Stretching does wonders for your body but doesn’t always clear the jammed or stuck spots in your body. Chiropractic treatments clear joint misalignment and restrictions to release pain and give your back, neck, shoulders, and hips better range of motion.
- Five minutes for planning. After you’ve meditated, you should be in the frame of mind to plan your day or create your to-do list. Planning allows you to organize your tasks so you can be productive without abusing yourself.
- Prioritize your tasks based on their importance.
- Try your best to stick to the plan for the day. Having a clear plan for what you want to accomplish helps to keep you focused and stress-free.
- Five minutes for checking in. Whether all at once or in one-minute intervals, check up on yourself. Assess how well you’ve been able to stick to your plan. Have you accomplished your important tasks? Have you been able to manage your day without losing your cool?
- There may be times when you’ll have to readjust your list of tasks. There are bound to be unforeseen circumstances. What’s important is that you take them in stride.
- Avoid letting unexpected events throw your plan out completely. Take a moment to change your approach. Learn how to go with the flow.
- Five minutes for winding down. Now that you’ve come to the end of the day, it’s time to wind down. Maybe you’ve never allowed yourself the opportunity to do this before. Taking time to wind down is the best way to relieve the stress of the day.
- Engage in some relaxing activities. Do you like yoga or would you prefer to sit quietly and listen to jazz music? Let go of what happened today and get ready for tomorrow.
- Winding down also opens you up to spending quality time with loved ones. You’ll probably agree that at the end of a busy day, you may be too tired to interact with anyone. That will change when you allow yourself to wind down each day.
Once you try it, you’ll realize that this approach works. Designating these 25 minutes each day can help you maintain a balance between your professional and personal lives as well as manage all other aspects of your life with relative ease.
Be sure you get your back, neck, shoulders and hips checked by a chiropractor. Even the best of us need to press “reset” on our bodies after a while. Just like a car needs its wheels rotated, your body joints and muscles need to be gently adjusted to reduce the amount of stiffness and tension you feel.
Getting your spine and muscles checked by a professional can also help with sleep. We’ve had great success in helping alleviate sleep discomfort that comes from body tension due to stress. Contact us for a personalized evaluation to see what might help you get on track to enjoy calmer weeks.