Resolution Revolution

It’s that time of year where many people make resolutions for the new year. This may be joining a gym, eating better, losing weight, start meditating, doing yoga, or giving up smoking.


While New Years’ resolutions sound like an amazing idea, why is it that we find it so hard to stick to them? Is that they are too hard to achieve or is it that these resolutions don’t really align with our core values?


Humans are amazing creatures, we are constantly evolving and changing. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to let go of things that no longer serve us….’Marie Kondo’ your habits and choices – if they no longer bring you joy, then get rid of them. Sometimes I think we struggle with this concept because many of us define who we are by the habits we have.


Have you ever noticed that when we truly make up our mind to make a change nothing can stop us? Maybe we need to start the new year by identifying what our core values are, which will allow us to set goals and then break them down into achievable steps.

Things to consider when setting goals:

  • Does this align with my values?
  • Will this improve my life?
  • Is this achievable? For example: There is no point starting an eating plan with loads of legumes if you they make you sick or joining a gym challenge that requires a 5-hour commitment per week if you only have 3 hours available.
  • Will this bring me joy?
  • What will my life look like if I do this? What will my life look like if I don’t do this?
  • A contingency plan (guilt and shame free please!) if I start and don’t feel this is working in my best interest?

Considering these things allows us to make sustainable changes to our habits and lifestyle that fully align with our values. Remember there are loads of amazing resources out there to help you on your journey, after all, why reinvent the wheel?

Have a chat with your chiropractor or health practitioner if you need some help.


If you want a totally holistic (eat, move, think) reset, then consider the Wellness and Prevention 90 day lifestyle plan. If this seems too overwhelming then have a look at your Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment and start with something simple like drinking more water, eating more greens, or thinking of 3 things you are grateful for at the start and end of every day.


Whatever it is that you have resolved to do this year, be kind to yourself. Realise we are all on a journey toward health and self-discovery. Treat yourself with compassion and kindness, leave the guilt and shame at the door and watch for all the wonderful things that can happen.

Ice or heat? When and how to use them.

“Do I use ice or heat?”


This is one of the most common questions that I get asked in practice. I feel like there is a lot of confusion around what to use when. Below we discuss general rules on what to use when and how.

Please talk to your health provider before beginning any home treatments to make sure this is right for you and your circumstances.


Ice
Ice is typically used after an acute injury, for example, if we roll an ankle. Applying ice allows us to control the inflammation process by restricting blood flow and reducing pain signals which helps with pain and swelling.

Application
There are many types of ice packs on the market, however, a bag of peas will do fine if that’s all you’ve got. Make sure that whatever you use is wrapped in a tea towel or hand towel. DO NOT apply directly to the skin.

As a general rule apply ice for 10 minutes, then remove for 10 minutes, and then repeat the process 3 times.

In the initial stages of an injury (first 72hrs) you can apply ice every few hours.



Heat
Heat can be very helpful for muscle spasms and in ‘cold’ injuries like arthritis. Anyone who has arthritis I’m sure will be able to tell you how much they ache in the cold. Heat works by increasing circulation and blood flow which helps to relax muscles and potentially aid in healing.

There are lots of heat packs on the market. If you don’t have one, then a hot shower will often do the job. Again, make sure that whatever you use is not too hot as you do not want to burn the skin.

Application
Place heat pack or water stream onto the affected area for around 20mins. You can repeat as often as you feel is needed.


Heat and Ice Alternating

Sometimes your practitioner may suggest alternating heat and ice. This may be in the case of an injury or condition where there is also muscle spasm. Using heat and ice at the same time can be helpful for migraine headaches.

Application
Apply ice as above for 10 minutes then heat pack for 10 minutes. Repeat 3 times.

For migraines putting your feet in hot(not too hot) water with a heat pack on the back of the neck can be very effective for relieving some of the pain associated.

Chronic Stress: Is this the new normal?

Stress is something that we all talk about, however, I’m not sure we realise what a profound effect stress has on our health or hidden stress that we may not even consider.


Stress arises when environmental demands are perceived as taxing or potentially exceeding one’s own capacity or resources to adapt to them, and there is threat to well-being if coping responses do not satisfy such demands.1


Chronic stress has almost become a ‘normal’ part of life. I have noticed in the last 5 years that when I ask people how they are, they often reply with ‘I’ve been so busy!’

Have our lives become more complicated and busier or are we feeling like we need to fill our days more and more? Australians have had a lot of stress over the last 2 years. First, we had the devastating Black Summer bushfires, and then just a short time after COVID 19 hit our shores.

I know that personally when COVID 19 hit and we went into lockdown it really made me slow down and to be honest I haven’t returned to many of the activities I was previously doing. I am one of those people who pushes themselves and always overcommits and lockdown really made me look at what I was doing and change my behaviour which has allowed me to feel a lot more balanced in body and mind.


The problem with chronic stress is that something has to give eventually. For each person this is different and chronic stress symptoms can present in many different ways, including2:

  • irritability, which can be extreme
  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • difficulty concentrating, or an inability to do so
  • rapid, disorganized thoughts
  • difficulty sleeping
  • digestive problems
  • changes in appetite
  • feeling helpless
  • a perceived loss of control
  • low self-esteem
  • loss of sexual desire
  • nervousness
  • frequent infections or illnesses

There are 3 main types of stress:

Physical – past traumas and injuries, poor posture, repetitive movements, sitting or standing for too long

Chemical – what we eat, breathe, drink and put on our bodies

Emotional – resentment, anger, grief, fear, frustrations, information overload, worry, anxiety.


Some things we know that can help to reduce stress on the body3 are as simple as:

If you are suffering from any or many of the above symptoms then it might be time to have a look at the stressors in your life and employ strategies to mitigate these.


If you aren’t sure where to start, have a chat with your health practitioner. There is also an amazing and comprehensive questionnaire called a Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment (LHRA) that can give you a great starting point by helping to identify the area you may need to address.

Contact us for more information.


References:

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128009512000169

[2] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323324#signs-and-symptoms

[3] Wellnessandprevention.com

Sleep Smart : Sleep posture matters!

Have you ever woken up from a great night’s sleep, and your body has felt stiff and awful?


It could have something to do with your posture while you sleep!

Unlike during the day, we don’t have active control of our posture during our sleep, so it is important to use a variety of tips and tricks to help maintain a neutral spine when sleeping.


What does a neutral spine look like when sleeping?

Very similar to standing upright.
3 smooth curves front to back, from base of head to top of buttocks; no side to side curves.

A neutral spine when laying on your back
A neutral spine when side laying

Should I sleep on my side or my back?

It doesn’t really matter providing you do it right!

When sleeping on your back:
2 pillows

A pillow under the head and neck (not under the shoulders).
It should be fat enough to support your head and neck, but thin enough not to bend your neck forward.

A pillow under the knees helps to support decrease the tension in the spine.

Arms comfortably by your sides, or resting on your tummy.


What about sleeping on my side?

When sleeping on your side:
3-4 pillows

A pillow under the head and neck (not under the shoulders).
It should be fat enough to support your head and neck, but thin enough so your neck doesn’t bend to the side.

A pillow between the knees.
It should be fat enough to keep your knees and feet hip width apart. This helps to decrease tension and twisting through the hips, pelvis and lumbar spine.

A pillow to stop you rolling over.
Hug a fat pillow – it helps to prevent twisting and tension through the shoulders, upper back and neck.
Prop a fat pillow behind your back, and rest onto it – it helps stop you rolling onto your back, and can help prevent tension in the mid-upper back and neck.


But I’m a tummy sleeper!

Tummy sleeping – it’s not ideal, but if it’s the only way you can sleep at the moment it will have to do!

Try sleeping with a pillow lengthwise under your chest, or horizontally under your tummy to help maintain a more neutral spine.

NO pillow under your head/face!!


Leave a question/comment on our socials; or at your next appointment, chat to your healthcare provider at Caring Hands Chiropractic. Wouldn’t you like to help your body feel more comfortable when sleeping by improving and finetuning your sleep posture, so you can wake up feeling good in the morning?

For more information on healthy sleep habits: https://www.metagenicsinstitute.com.au/blog-post/2020/improve-your-sleep-hygiene-for-a-great-sleep


References:

Cary D, Briffa K, McKenna L “Identifying relationships between sleep posture and non-specific spinal symptoms in adults: A scoping review” BMJ Open 2019;9:e027633 doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027633

“Chapter 28: Digital human modelling and ergonomic design of sleeping systems” R. Sironi, C.E. Standoli, P. Perego, and G. Andreoni; “DHM and Psoturography” Ed: S. Scataglini, P. Gunther; Elsevier, 2019, ISBN: 978-0-12-816713-7

Images courtesy of PhysioMed LTD, sourced and adapted from: PhysioMed LTD., 2021. [online] Physiomed.co.uk. Available at: https://www.physiomed.co.uk/uploads/guide/file/16/Physiomed_Sleeping_Posture_Digital.pdf

Thyroid Health : How does it go wrong?

Last week we talked about optimal levels of the various thyroid hormones; but how does it go wrong, and what are the consequences?


The Thyroid – who, what, where?

  • A small gland at the front of the neck
  • Produces and releases Thyroid hormones including T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine)
  • Responsible for metabolism and energy production

Hypothyroidism – low hormone levels

  • Signs/symptoms of a “slow metabolism”
    • Constantly feeling tired
    • Forgetfulness, ‘brain fog’
    • Easy to gain weight, trouble losing it
    • Frequent, heavy periods
    • Hair becomes dry, coarse, potential hair thinning
    • Doesn’t tolerate cold weather

Hyperthyroidism – high hormone levels

  • Signs/symptoms of a “fast metabolism”
    • Fast heart beat
    • Irritability, nervousness, anxiety
    • Muscle weakness, tremors
    • Irregular periods
    • Struggle to gain/maintain weight
    • Doesn’t tolerate hot weather

How do these conditions occur?

There is a strong correlation between thyroid conditions and pre-existing conditions, particularly those of an autoimmune nature1  (including Diabetes, Lupus (SLE), Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, primary adrenal insufficiency).


Causes of Hypothyroidism

  • Thyroid inflammation (Thyroiditis)+
  • Iodine deficiency*
  • Hashimoto’s disease; an autoimmune condition which attacks the thyroid
  • Birth defects affecting the thyroid growth/development

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

  • Grave’s disease (a generally overactive thyroid gland)
  • Thyroid nodules (small areas of over active thyroid cells)
  • Thyroid inflammation (Thyroiditis)+
  • Too much Iodine*

+ special note on Thyroiditis +

Thyroiditis can cause both high and low thyroid hormone levels. Acute inflammation initially causes a ‘leak’ of hormones into the body’s circulation, causing symptoms of Hyperthyroidism. Over time the body attempts to compensate and decrease the levels of thyroid hormones in circulation, and the body downregulates thyroid hormone production/release. If the thyroiditis/inflammation persists this downregulation can progress to a chronically underactive thyroid and symptoms of Hypothyroidism.


How can I help myself?

Ensure you have a good balance of the essential nutrients required for thyroid function

  • Iodine –  iodised table salt, Seaweed, Cod, yoghurt, cottage cheese
    • * The WHO recommends2,3:
      • <7 yo = 90 micrograms/day
      • 7-12 yo = 120 micrograms/day
      • 12+ yo (inc adults) = 150micrograms/day
      • Pregnant/lactating women = 250 micrograms/day
  • Selenium – Brazil nuts, tuna, oysters, salmon, ham, fortified whole grain foods
  • Vitamin A – cod liver oil, eggs, fortified foods, orange/yellow veggies, dark green leafy veggies
  • Vitamin E – vegetable oils, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, green leafy veggies
  • Vitamin D – sunlight, salmon, sardines, mackerel, liver, egg yolks, fortified foods
  • Omega-3 – fish oil, cod liver oil, salmon, sea weed, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts

Research also suggests that increased levels of inflammation and oxidative stress are also intimately involved in thyroid dysfunction5,6. Addressing drivers of inflammation processes (including gut dysbiosis, psychological stress, or environmental toxin exposure) may help to limit the risks of developing a thyroid condition.


Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “But My Bloods Are Normal.”
Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “Detox Your Home”
You may also like our July Healthy Living Blog posts featuring the topic “Gut Health”


Not feeling your optimal self? Please raise your health concerns with your health practitioner at your next appointment.

References:

[1] Cleveland Clinic. 2021. Thyroid Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Testing & Treatment. [online] Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8541-thyroid-disease
[2] Thyroidfoundation.org.au. 2021. The Australian Thyroid Foundation – Iodine Deficiency. [online] Available at: https://thyroidfoundation.org.au/Iodine-Deficiency
[3] Lee, S., Ananthakrishnan, S, and Pearce, E., 2021. Iodine Deficiency Guidelines: Guidelines Summary, Iodine Deficiency Prevention During Pregnancy. [online] Emedicine.medscape.com. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/122714-guidelines
[4] Brady, B., 2021. Thyroid Gland: Overview. [online] EndocrineWeb. Available at: https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid-nodules/thyroid-gland-controls-bodys-metabolism-how-it-works-symptoms-hyperthyroid
[5] Metagenicsinstitute.com.au. 2021. Your Learning Hub | Metagenics Institute. [online] Available at: https://www.metagenicsinstitute.com.au/protocols/hypothyroidism
[6] Metagenicsinstitute.com.au. 2021. Your Learning Hub | Metagenics Institute. [online] Available at: https://www.metagenicsinstitute.com.au/protocols/hyperthyroidism

But my bloods are normal!!

Should we be aiming for normal or optimal?


I’m sure we have all been to our GP before because we haven’t felt well, had some blood tests and been told ‘everything is normal, there is nothing wrong with you.’ This can be very frustrating and upsetting as the reason you went is because you know you just don’t feel right.

I had chronic fatigue syndrome that was set off by glandular fever in my late teens. I struggled with symptoms like severe fatigue, joint pain, random recurrent vomiting, recurrent infections, liver and spleen enlargement, platelet problems, chronically low iron, hair loss, weight gain……you name it, I probably had it. The worst bit of the whole thing was that a few times that I actually went to the Dr was because I honestly thought ‘I can’t feel this terrible and not be dying.’ I was told that nothing was wrong, ‘you just need to stop being lazy and do some exercise’, ‘you just need to sleep more’, ‘you are obviously lying about what you eat because calories in/calories out’ and ‘you’re in your late 20s and own your own business, you are going to be tired’…….I mean seriously.

The one thing that I found really interesting and frustrating throughout my journey is the ranges in blood tests. This month we are talking all things thyroid health so I’ll go into a bit more detail in a moment.


Blood test normal ranges are actually calculated from an average of everyone who has had a blood test in that particular pathology lab. WHAT??!! Noone has done a study on healthy people to figure out what a normal range is!! I was equally horrified, especially when most people only get bloods done when they are feeling unwell and this is who they are calculating the average off.

It can even be different for different countries – for example a normal B12/Folate range in Australia is >177 however in America it is 200-500 and Japan it is 500-13001. Are Australians really that different to Americans or Japanese people? Or are our ‘normal’ B12 levels too low?

When we look at thyroid labs the normal ranges and optimal ranges are as follows:

TestNormal Ranges (pmol)
(Southern IML pathology)
Optimal Ranges
(converted to pmol) 2
TSH0.4-3.51.0-2.0
Free T411.0-24.0>16.8
Free T33.1 – 6.8>4.9
Microsomal Ab0-35<9
Thyroglobulin Ab0-115<17
Reverse T3<250 pg/mL10:1 ratio RT3:FT3

My main point in this article is to really look into what your blood tests mean or find someone who can. After all, we want to be functioning at our optimal not just ‘within the normal ranges.’ Ask questions and don’t stop looking until you find an answer to why you feel the way you do.

If you have thyroid issues or suspect you do then have a read of Dr Amy Meyers book – The Thyroid Connection: Why You Feel Tired, Brain-Fogged, and Overweight — and How to Get Your Life Back


I have since found a wonderful GP who listens and actually takes me seriously. I have also had a couple of awesome naturopaths and chiropractors throughout the years that literally saved me. I’d still be sick and in bed if it wasn’t for them. I haven’t had a CFS flare for over 10 years and would say that I’m in complete recovery.

If you are in a similar situation to what I was, please don’t give up and if you’d like a referral let me know.

References:

[1] https://advances.augusta.edu/1014#:~:text=Interestingly%2C%20in%20Japan%20the%20reference,methylmalonate%20levels%20are%20not%20checked.

[2] The Thyroid Connection: Why You Feel Tired, Brain-Fogged, and Overweight — and How to Get Your Life Back. Dr Amy Meyers

Prebiotics

Did you know we are made up of a combination of human cells and micro-organisms?


This is known as your microbiome.

Just focusing on the bacterial side of our microbiome of which most are beneficial to our health and wellbeing and a small number (if allowed to heavily populate) can cause disease. However having the right gut balance of bacteria can be linked to numerous health benefits including; weight loss, improved digestion and enhanced immune function.

If our gut microbiome gets out of balance through a variety of different means, sickness and antibiotics are some examples, probiotics are recommended. You can either get your probiotics through supplementation (which we stock here and the chiropractor can recommend whichever one suits your specific needs), or through some foods. The probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh and kimchi.


Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “Prebiotics, probiotics and immunity.”


If you would like more information just ask at your next appointment.

Feature Image credit: Flo Leung

The Gut & Mental Health : Is the gut a second brain?

Did you know that some researchers consider the gut to be our second brain?


While it can’t help you compose a Grammy award winning song, or do your tax return, our gut has a large role in nearly every aspect of our health – from physical health to mental health!

Maybe you’ve felt “butterflies” in your stomach, or felt your mouth water before a tasty meal? That’s the link between your gut and your brain!


The physical health relationship may be the more obvious of the two. Our bodies require a wide variety of nutrients and energy to function healthily, and they’re supplied by the foods we eat each day, which are broken down and absorbed by the gut before entering the bloodstream and travelling to the rest of our body.


The connection between the brain and the gut is known as the Brain-Gut Axis, or the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The ENS consists of two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells which line your gastrointestinal tract from oesophagus to rectum1.

This superhighway of nerve cells allows constant neural, chemical, and hormonal messages to be sent between the gut and the brain providing feedback about hunger and nutrient status, hormone levels, pathogen and disease states and allows control and regulation of vital gastrointestinal functions such as digestion, immunity and inflammation1,2.

The ENS consists of over 500 million neurons. That’s 1/200 of the number of neurons in the brain and five times as many neurons as in the spinal cord1.

Photo by sankalpmaya/iStock / Getty Images

A second relationship also exists between the gut and mental health, one that involves neurotransmitters (NTs) specifically serotonin (our happy chemical), and dopamine (our reward chemical). Unlike conventional thought, recent research has shown that more than 90% of our serotonin, and 50% of our dopamine lie within the gut, and NOT the brain!

This is a huge revelation! If our gut is unhappy (from illness, stress, poor nutrition for example) it enters a state of inflammation, and releases biochemical signals which effectively ‘spread’ inflammatory markers throughout the whole body, including the brain. This creates a state of oxidative stress, and can ultimately lead to mood changes and dysfunction, and physical and mental ill health3.


Ways you can improve your gut health yourself.

  • Chat to the team at Caring Hands Chiropractic about the different types of stress in your life. This could be emotional, physical or chemical, to nutritional or environmental.
  • Have a read of the resources listed at the end of this article.
  • Check in with your mental health regularly. Try daily gratitude activities, create a de-stress routine for after work, rekindle an old hobby or perhaps take time to smell the roses!
  • Check in with your nutrition regularly. Do you eat enough of the right foods each day? Do you have underlying intolerances you didn’t recognise? Is your diet anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory? Do you drink enough water (approx. 1L per 25kg body weight!)

Resources

Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “Prebiotics, Probiotics and Immune Health.” A look into improving your gut microbiome health.

Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “Allergy or intolerance?” A further look into the role the gut can plan on various aspects on your health.

For a more detailed look at the role gut health, inflammation can play on mental health have a read of “Inflammation, the hidden cause of depression” Press HERE

The spinal research foundation has a 2 part series on the gut-brain axis, which can be found HERE

The Stress Series, part 5: Stress, Chiropractic and the Gut Brain can be found HERE

References:

[1] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection
[2] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/articles/researchers-discover-death-and-rebirth-of-the-gut-brain
[3] https://www.metagenicsinstitute.com.au/blog-post/2018/the-mind-gut-connection-is-real

Feature Image credit: Coolgraphic/Shutterstock

Improving Gut Health At Home

This month is all about gut health. I’m sure we have all experienced issues with our gut at one time or another.


Many people now suffer from food intolerances and chronic gut issues. I truly believe this is due to our high stress lifestyle and poor diet – and the research agrees3.

There are many ways we can help to begin to heal our gut. If you have gut issues, I would always recommend you see a health practitioner (GP, chiro, naturopath, nutritionist) who has training in this area.


There are however some things we can do at home to help improve our gut health:

Varied whole food diet
This helps us to have a diverse gut microbiome. This has been shown to be important in the reducing the incidence of issues such as allergies and autoimmune conditions1. There is testing that you can get done that can look at the bacterial diversity of your gut. I had one done a few years ago, and interestingly I had very low numbers of a bacteria that (if you don’t have enough) has been linked to allergies. I suffer from seasonal, environmental and food allergies which were set off by some antibiotics I required in my early 20s. If your interested in this kind of testing please ask us for a referral.

Meditation
Reducing stress allows our body to get out of the sympathetic part of our nervous system (fight or flight) and into our parasympathetic part (rest and digest). If we are stressed the body shunts blood away from internal organs to the arms and legs so you are ready to fight or run from the ‘tiger’. Unfortunately, the tiger is now more likely to be a full email inbox or traffic2. There are loads of great apps and guided meditations out there and you don’t have to be meditating for hours, even 10 mins per day will make a difference to your health.

Chew your food
Next time you eat take notice of how many times you chew your food before your swallow it. As Dr Libby says: Your oesophagus doesn’t have teeth. Swallowing huge bits of food puts stress on your stomach to try to break it down.

Including bone broth, gelatine and collagen in our diet
Many gut issues come from having ‘leaky gut’. Leaky gut means that tiny particles of foods can penetrate the gut wall and make it into the bloodstream. As they are not supposed to be there the body can treat them as an invader and then we can become sensitive to this food. Collagen and gelatine appear to help to ‘reseal’ and nourish the gut lining to promote a nice healthy thick mucous layer to stop particle crossing into the blood. The research on this is still emerging. I use loads of bone broth and collagen daily. I have collagen protein in my morning smoothie and bone broth in the majority of my cooking. I have noticed a significant improvement to my allergies since I’ve started this.

There are loads of great recipes out there for bone broth. I hate the smell of it cooking so I use the Nutra Organics dehydrated one. Also have a look at gelatine gummies if you or your kids like lollies.  Make sure you source your collagen, gelatine and bone broth from organic, grass fed sources where possible.

Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “Allergy or intolerance?”


References:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5385025/

[2] Meaney, Michael PhD Stress and Disease: Who Gets Sick: Who Stays Well Cortext Educational Seminars Fall, 2001.

[3] https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/1/17 and https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2021.667066/full