The Unsuspected Underlying Culprits of Stomach Pain: Finally Finding a Happy Place of Gut Health

stomach pain remedy Chiropractor Bethlehem PAWhen 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

Stress Neck Pain Chiropractor Bethlehem PA“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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

The Doctor’s Best Advice for Injury-Free, Winter Exercise

Chiropractor Bethlehem PA cold weather runningFor many people, colder temperatures outside can mean big changes in exercise routines. Some will move their workouts indoors or hibernate during the winter months. Others, who are very committed, though, will decide to work with the seasons and find ways to be active outside. If you’re one of those people, this article is for you.

I work with many runners who’ve found their runner’s Zen spot before the winter. They came from zero running experience to running their first ½ marathon. Embracing a new direction in life and a new habit is what has set them apart as extraordinary. People who take smart care of themselves, just like the professional athlete’s do, are able to stick with their goals. This is where many seek me out, as a trained and experienced runner and Chiropractor.

In my experience, it’s important to be smart about how you exercise outdoors. While you should be applauded for getting out and staying active in the cold for a bit of exercise, it’s still important to know a few things. Without some necessary advice you may find yourself injured or soon ready to call it quits.

To help you protect yourself from frostbite, hypothermia, and injuries that can come with freezing temperatures, I’ve put together a short checklist that you can use to exercise outdoors safely this winter.

How to exercise outdoors safely in the winter

  1. Remember that Cold Weather is Often Dry Weather. Winter weather is often associated with precipitation. However, as the temperatures drop to dangerous lows—close to freezing and below—the opposite is often true regarding humidity. The air will get drier, and even if you don’t sweat as much, you can still lose valuable moisture. When exercising in the cold weather, remember to drink plenty of water, even if you don’t really feel thirsty or sweaty.
  2. Understand the Real Temperature Where You Plan to Exercise. Look up the weather on a website or app before you head out into the cold, but understand the numbers you are looking at. The general weather conditions can differ greatly from place to place locally, even in the same region. Pay especially close attention to wind chill numbers, since the combination of wind and your own movement may lead you to experience lower temperatures. The thermometer may say its 35 degrees out, but the wind chill may mean it feels closer to 20 degrees in certain areas.
  3. Dress Appropriately. It may be tempting to bundle up when going out in the cold to work out, but this comes at a cost. Thick, warm clothes will make you sweat more easily, and that sweat can leach heat from your body and allow your temperature to drop to unhealthy levels. The key, as cold weather experts know well, is to dress in layers, starting with a thin synthetic layer of wicking material, then a fleece and finally a thinner waterproof coat. The added benefit to this clothing strategy is that it’s flexible. You can always take off layers if you get too hot.
  4. Warm Up your Extremities First. When exercising in the cold weather, pay particular attention to your extremities, which are more vulnerable to frostbite. It’s especially important to cover your fingers and head. If the air is very frigid, cover up your nose and mouth, too: That cold air can damage your lungs and freeze your nose.
  5. Fuel Up. A source of energy is vital to keeping up your metabolism and keeping you warm when out in the cold. Eat a healthy amount of complex carbs and proteins before you go out, and if you’re going to be out for a few hours, then bring a snack along, too. Stay away from sugars and other less dependable sources of energy, if possible.
  6. Start Slow. Stretching and warming up will both make injury less likely and help your metabolism pick up until you are ready for more strenuous work. Always warm up before going out into the winter weather, particularly if you are planning on an intense session with lots of running or heavy exertion. Otherwise, joint and muscle injuries could result.
  7. Know the Danger Signs. Hypothermia and frostbite can creep up on you if you’re not careful. You can defend against the cold better if you recognize the signs. Frostbite occurs on exposed skin like your cheeks, nose, ears, and hands, especially below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia occurs when shivering cannot keep up your core body temperature and your heart and brain begin to shut down. Watch for intense shivering, sudden weariness, slurred words, and trouble with coordination.

If your joints are feeling stiff or achy, we help you get what feels like “lubrication” back into the moving parts. If you’re injured, we help you get up and moving quickly. Dr. Nicole Muschett is the “Best in Town” Chiropractor in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The Secrets about the Superfoods that Trim Your Waistline and Add Years to Your Life

Chiropractor Pennsylvania natural weight lossWe’ve been told for years that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and can improve your life. Well, it turns out that the nutritionists and health care workers that have worked to spread this news weren’t telling us the whole story.

Research shows that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables can actually extend your life, and add years to it.

Researchers from the University College London used data from the Health Survey for England to outline what habits are best for lengthening life. These habits are the same needed to trim your waistline and boost your daily energy.

The recently released study on eating habits is the first to compare the consumption of fruits and vegetables with rates of cancer, heart disease, and all-cause deaths in a nationally-representative population. It is also the first to link health benefits to per-portion quantities of fruits and vegetables, and the first to identify the types of fruits and vegetables with the most benefit.

These figures are compelling and consistent and were published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. What was found after collecting data from the eating habits of over 65,000 people between the years 2001 and 2013 was that the more fresh fruits and vegetables these people ate – at any age – the less likely they were to die.

It turns out good habits pay off. The problem is healthy, new habits are often difficult to begin. But I’ve found that the easiest way to start a healthy new habit is simply to make the decision to receive good body treatment overall. That is, get attention from a trained wellness professional who knows more about how you are doing physically than you do. Chiropractic care is the best way to get the attention you need.

Here are the research findings:

  1. Eating 1-3 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day decreases your risk of death in the three categories (cancer, heart disease, and all causes) by 11%, 9%, and 14%, respectively, compared with eating none.
  2. Eating 3-5 servings per day decreases the risks of death due to cancer, heart disease and all causes by 19%, 18%, and 29%, respectively.
  3. Eating 7 or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day decreases your risk of dying from these causes by a whopping 25%, 31%, and 42%, respectively.
  4. The researchers also found that fresh vegetables have a more significant effect on longevity and lowered mortality risk than fruits, with each daily vegetable portion added to the diet lowering mortality risk by 16%. Eating salad lowered mortality risk by 13% for each portion added daily, and fruit lowered mortality risk by 4% for each added portion.
  5. Interestingly, the researchers found no benefits to longevity from fruit juice, as opposed to fresh, whole fruit.
  6. Furthermore, canned or frozen fruit appeared to actually increase risk of death by 17% per portion. The researchers attributed this to the fact that most canned and frozen fruits contain high sugar levels, and that the negative health impacts of the sugar may outweigh any benefits.

What is a serving size of vegetables?

According to the American Heart Association, a serving of vegetables is 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables (about the size of a small fist), or 1/2 cup of other vegetables or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice. For fruits, a serving is 1 medium fruit (medium is defined as the size of a baseball), or 1/2 cup chopped fruit, cooked or canned, or 1/2 cup fruit juice (best if there is no added sweeteners).

Which delivery of fruits and vegetables are good (canned, dried, or frozen)?

Out of 65,226 participants (mostly 35 and older) the data shows that some types of fruits and vegetable packaging and delivery are better than others. Here’s what we found:

Worst (actually harmful): The mortality risk in individuals was worse than the control group when people consumed frozen and canned fruit rather than other varieties. This is likely due to the added sugars and additional processing in the canned fruits. Frozen fruits are generally considered safe and very healthy; however, it is important to make sure you look at the packaging of fruit products to ensure that no additional sugars are added.

Best:   These varieties of foods demonstrated the lowest mortality risks of all foods. All were very beneficial to lifespan longevity, but in going in order from number one to eight, #1 came out with the best statistics.

1)    Vegetables
2)    Salad
3)    Dried fruit
4)    Vegetables in composites – meaning dishes that are made mainly from vegetables
5)    Fruit in composites- these are dishes made mainly from fruits
6)    Pulses- legumes- dry beans like pinto beans, kidney beans and navy beans; dry peas; lentils
7)    Fresh fruit
8)    Fruit juice/smoothies

Lead author of the study Dr. Oyinlola Oyebode says of the findings, “We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering. The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference. If you’re happy to snack on carrots or other vegetables, then that is a great choice but if you fancy something sweeter, a banana or any fruit will also do you good.”

Start a new habit to improve your life and longevity. A happy, healthy life includes a healthy diet, decreased pain-levels, and better movement overall. These factors improve your energy levels as well as your motivation to carry out daily, healthy and inspiring actions. Healthy eating is one piece of the puzzle, if you want to live long and feel great, whole body care is another.  We have experience in helping you move better. Give us a call to see how Chiropractic care can be a pain-free and pampering new step for you this year.

Relieving Back Pain: Learn about the #1 Most Effective Method that Surpasses Medical Treatment in Studies

palpation-images-200-300Back pain is a common complaint for many people of all ages. It can really hold you back from making the most out of your day, your workouts- or even out of your life.

That means that getting the right diagnosis for your back pain is crucial. Of course, we’ve all experienced difficulty in getting the exact correct diagnosis and treatment from general medical practitioners. Unlike a swollen ankle, finding visible signs of pain and an overall cause of back pain can be difficult, if not impossible to pinpoint. And often the reason for your pain may or may not be present on an x-ray film or even in an MRI image.

Because of these difficulties in diagnosis, many medical practitioners will simply assess your symptoms and prescribe medication. As a result, you may find yourself frustrated and without the right advice and treatment to help your ongoing pain.

Did you know you can get a more effective assessment, diagnosis and treatment for your pain with a more fine-tuned method? This method is through the use of skilled, experienced hands – through the power of touch. As a matter of fact, a trained sense of touch and an acute knowledge of the spine is exactly what have proven through several studies to provide the #1 method of relieving mechanical low back pain.

“Patients with chronic low-back pain treated by chiropractors showed greater improvement and satisfaction at one month than patients treated by family physicians…56 percent vs. 13 percent reported that their low-back pain was better or much better, whereas nearly one-third of medical patients reported their low-back pain was worse or much worse.”

– Nyiendo et al (2000), Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics

The skill of touch assessment and treatment begins with a professional chiropractor feeling for the small degrees of joint swelling and lack of, or increased, motion which signifies problems. The small joints in between your spine can hold the same type of swelling you see with a sprained ankle but on a much smaller level.  This swelling will cause pain that you experience as stiffness, soreness or weakness. Often you have difficulty getting comfortable throughout the day or sleeping well because of it. Although you have a huge amount of discomfort, the exact problem area is not as obvious to you or other professionals as a sprained ankle would be. You don’t see the telltale expansive swelling like you would see with an injured ankle.

The Power of Touch: Understanding Your Body

This is why the power of touch in your back pain diagnosis and treatment can make such a difference. Many medical practitioners are not aware of the way your skin, body and muscles work together and holistically affect common pains. Chiropractors, on the other hand, use the power of touch to get a better understanding of your back pain and its causes.

Truly Understanding How to Heal Your Pain with Palpation (Try it yourself!)

Chiropractors use a technique called palpation to better understand your body pain. Palpation is a method of determining where a sufferer may have either structural or functional problems in the body.  Chiropractors will assess your pain by using their hands, which is completely non-invasive for patients.

The best way for you to start to identify the areas in your body that might be injured or “locking up” and ready to cause pain is to develop your observation skills. You can observe through the power of your own touch. Start with comparing either side of your body. You can palpate the motion of your wrist by trying to push the tiny little bones in your wrist back and forth. You can also do this in your spine. Run your fingers down either side of the back of your neck, on either side of your spine. See if you feel more swelling and tenderness on one side versus the other. Now take it a step further and bend your neck around. See if one side bends and flexes better than the other. Often just this little motion can make things feel better.

How Does Palpation Work to Diagnose Your Pain?

In palpation, chiropractors apply their detailed, accurate knowledge of the body’s anatomy to effectively understand what is happening in the spine, as well as its supporting structures. This can include, for example, the muscles, the tendons and the ligaments.

Just like a symphony, your body is trying to work well with all of its moving parts in the most rhythmic way it can so you don’t feel pain. When something is out of key, just like listening to a symphony as a bystander, you may not hear a problem. It’s only a trained musician who can accurately identify it.

In such a way, your chiropractor has the skill that a trained musician has to recognize what’s out of sync in your body with one of her main tools being through the use of palpation.

Finding the Best Treatment for Your Pain

Often after initial palpation, your chiropractor will use other diagnostic tools to complete a fully detailed and accurate exam to identify the best treatment. This can include visual assessments, x-rays, other body scans, and an evaluation of your medical history. Based on all these diagnostic tools, your chiropractor can better determine the type and frequency of treatment necessary to resolve your condition in a way that is quick, holistic, drug-free and non-invasive.

Your Complimentary Palpation Back Consultation

Dr. Nicole Muschett, Chiropractor of Bethlehem PA is offering a complimentary back pain consultation to any readers suffering from back pain in the Bethlehem PA area.

Please contact us via email or call us to discuss your pain and how we can help.