health

Keep Up

Keep up and you will be kept up - Yogi Bhajan

When I was first going through yoga training I never fully understood this quote. It seemed so arbitrary to me - keep up with what? who will keep me up?

It wasn't until I was fully immersed in my career as a chiropractor and nutritionist that I finally had a light bulb moment: maintenance now = prevention later.*

When we're young, we tend to think we're invincible and can do whatever we want to our bodies and they will continue to move and breathe and feel ok. Unfortunately this is not the case.  When we're feeling good we tend to take movement and breath for granted. We forget about maintaining our health and our joints. That is why maintenance is so incredibly important. Take care of yourself now and you prevent serious health issues down the road. (Plus, you get the added benefit of actually feeling good now. )

It can be a difficult concept to grasp, but keeping your nervous system healthy through a proper diet, regular chiropractic adjustments, and daily movement is worth so much more than the initial cost or effort that you perceive it to be now. Yes, things like getting adjusted, getting dental checkups, spending a little more for quality foods, or paying for that studio/gym/personal trainer may seem like big expenses now, but in the end the savings are innumerable. Plus - I'll say it again - YOU GET TO FEEL GOOD. How awesome is that??

*I know there are more spiritual interpretations of this famous quote. 

 

anti-nutrients: what you need to know about phytic acid

You may have heard the recent news about nuts - that they're actually lower in calories than originally thought! In a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, almonds were found to contain 129 calories per 28 gram serving as opposed to the current calorie value of 170. Now that healthy nuts like almonds are lower in calories, some of my patients have been asking if they can incorporate more into their diet. As a recovering peanut butter addict, I wish I could in good conscience tell them yes, but I cannot. I found I've been explaining frequently to patients that while nuts (and some grains and legumes) are healthy in moderation, they contain a compound called phytic acid that causes issues when consumed in excess. Allow me to tell you about this sneaky little antinutrient. 

Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorous that plants use to grow once they sprout. It is found in the hull of grains, nuts, and seeds. While ruminant animals (cows, sheep, goats) can digest phytic acid, humans cannot. This is significant for two reasons:

once the seed sprouts, phytic acid is degraded to phosphorous which the plant uses to grow.

once the seed sprouts, phytic acid is degraded to phosphorous which the plant uses to grow.

1) because it is not digested, phytic acid binds to minerals (especially iron, zinc, and calcium) and prevents us from absorbing them. Over time this can lead to deficiencies in these minerals, causing serious health conditions. 

2) It interferes with enzymes that help us digest our food including pepsin and trypsin (required to breakdown protein in the stomach and small intestine, respectively) and amylase (required to break down starch). When your food does not get digested properly, it backs up into your intestines and causes all sorts of havoc on your organs and lymphatic system.

Now that I've caused you to be thoroughly terrified of phytic acid, let me tell you that the average human can tolerate low levels of phytic acid (400-800mg a day), and that by sprouting your grains and legumes you can reduce the phytic acid level by up to 50 percent. Soaking and roasting nuts will also significantly reduce the amount of phytic acid. 

I do really like phytic acid's chemical structure though. so pretty. 

I do really like phytic acid's chemical structure though. so pretty. 

Bottom line: even though nuts may have fewer calories that previously thought, it is a good idea to stick to one to two 1 oz servings a day due to the phytic acid content (as well as high levels of omega 6 fatty acids... we'll save that for another discussion). It is especially important for people with iron deficiency anemia, vegans, and vegetarians to watch their levels of phytic acid intake and consider sprouting or soaking beans, grains, and legumes prior to consumption.

Chriopractic and Yoga - A combination for better results

Both yoga and chiropractic center many of their principles on the idea of balance. In yoga, balance exists between a pose and counterpose, effort and rest, and prana (the breath that enters the body) and apana (the breath that exits the body). In chiropractic, balance exists in the assessment and treatment of  restricted and hyper mobile joints, taut and lax ligaments, and strong and weak muscles. Both yoga and chiropractic aim to balance the body to improve posture, range of motion, and strength in order to obtain optimal health.

 

Most people come to me as a chiropractic patient because they are in pain. If I've had the opportunity to teach them in a yoga class, I already have a fair assessment of what spine and joint dysfunctions they are experiencing. When I get them in the office, I do a few more functional screenings to confirm the issues that are causing them pain or reducing their ability to reach their full potential in yoga and other activities. Our goal through chiropractic is to treat the cause of the symptom - not just the symptom itself.

 

On the other side, I generally encourage people who are regular chiropractic patients to begin a yoga practice. During their chiropractic treatment, proprioception (awareness of the position of one's body) is heightened, making patients more aware of their posture. While I am correcting imbalances with adjustments, adding yoga helps patients recover and heal even faster while helping prevent future injuries. Additionally, patients who add yoga to their routine will develop the skills to keep themselves healthy and balanced so they can go longer between chiropractic visits. They ultimately become in tune with their bodies and become self aware of when something is off and when they need to come in for an adjustment instead of waiting until they experience pain - which is typically a longer recovery process.

If more of my patients practiced yoga, I wouldn’t have to see them nearly as frequently. Alternatively, if more of my yoga students received adjustments, their practice would improve and they would prevent injuries. While I do, in fact love, seeing every one of my patients, my goal is to get them feeling and moving better so they can come see me to maintain health, not just recover from an injury or get out of pain.

You don't have to keep coming back for adjustments once you start (which I've found to be a belief that some people have) although you may want to. Just like in your yoga practice, you can have a great class and feel amazing for a day or two after, but ideally you want to maintain that so you can continue to stay healthy and move uninhibitedly as you progress in life. A healthy individual who practices yoga, exercises, and eats a healthy diet may just need to come in every few months for an adjustment to maintain health and prevent injury.

Bottom Line:

Along with breathing and meditation, the physical practice of yoga promotes balance, strength and flexibility, making chiropractic care and manipulation easier and more effective. Having a yoga practice in conjunction with chiropractic care empowers patients to understand their own misalignments and imbalances, allowing them to have more control over the correction of their spine in their yoga practice and in other daily activities. When combined, yoga and chiropractic care work together to make you stronger, more flexible and happier.