6 Ways to Support Your Immune System

Many people in my practice comment that they seem to get sick less often, and that when they do succumb to cold, flu or infection of some kind, they recover faster.  Chiropractic care is not a treatment for your immune system, it’s simply one of the things you can be doing to keep your body healthy and support your resilience.

Some other tips to support your immune system include:

1) Wash your hands with soap throughout the day. Avoid antibacterial products.

2) Reduce/Minimize/Avoid sugar and processed foods. Load up on antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables.

3) Hydrate! Increase your water intake to continuously flush your system of toxins.

4) Move your body every day with some form of physical activity.

5) Use salt water rinses to flush your nostrils and gargle with it once a day. Salt water will help the proliferation of bacteria.

6) Get plenty of good quality sleep! Sleep is when your body heals and regulates many functions.

Give your body what it needs to function properly, and you’ll be surprised at how well your immune system will perform!

Child with a fever.

Everything You Need To Know About Fevers

As both a Chiropractor and a mother, I have personally seen the benefits of a more natural approach to children’s health, and seen hundreds of children thrive without reliance on pharmaceuticals for everything that ails them. My sons are 13 and 17 years old, and I can  count the number of times I have taken their temperature.

They rarely get sick, but when they do fall ill, I understand the importance of monitoring them, giving them love, fluids and nourishment, and letting their body deal with the bacteria or virus on their own. They have never taken any medication (and yes, that is a fact I am proud of!) and I have certainly never given them any medication to treat a fever. Here’s why:

What is a Fever?

A fever is a raise in the body’s core temperature above:

37.8    If taken orally
37.2    If taken under the arm

Fevers Are Part of a Healthy Immune Response

Fevers are actually one of the body’s first lines of defence against bacteria and viruses.  By raising the temperature inside the body bacteria cannot survive!  The number of circulating white blood cells increases (important immune system fighters), the amount of iron in the blood (which bacteria need to survive) is moved into the liver where it is stored, and many toxins are released through perspiration.

Fevers Are a Good Thing!

They are the sign of a healthy, functioning immune system.  A fever on its own is not a reason for concern.  It’s important to monitor your child for other signs of possible illness (runny nose, tugging at ears, coughing, etc.) before assuming they are sick.  Other factors can also be responsible for an increase in body temperature (i.e.over-dressing, physical activity, heat exposure). When in doubt, seek advice from a health professional.

If Your Child Has a Fever

Watch them for other signs of a possible illness. Ensure they eat nutritious food (unprocessed, low-sugar, unrefined, whole foods), get adequate rest, and increased fluid intake (broth, diluted juice, H2O). If they are breastfeeding increase the frequency of feedings. Give them extra love, comfort, and reassurance their body is strong and working well to help them heal.

Can Chiropractic Care Help?

Yes. Spinal adjustments can provide beneficial support of the immune system, and subsequently, can help reduce a fever since the body is more easily able to process the bacteria or virus within. Fever is no longer needed because the infection subsides.

Can a Fever be Dangerous?

Untreated fevers caused by viral or bacterial infections do not rise inexorably, and will generally not exceed 105 degrees because the body actually has a built-in mechanism to prevent an infection induced fever from reaching 106.  Temperatures that climb to these levels are part of the cycle that normally occurs when the body is trying to fight the infection.  Although 95% of childhood fevers never reach 105, those that do often peak and then start to descend as the body heals.  Only in the cases of externally caused fevers (heatstroke, poisonings, etc) does the body’s inborn mechanism fail, and it is in these cases where fevers can exceed 106 and warrant immediate attention.

When to Visit the Emergency Room

Head to the emergency room if your child has a fever that persists for more than 3 days, develops other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, vomiting repeatedly, muscle twitching or other strange movements; is an infant younger than 2 months of age; cries inconsolably, has a high-pitched or weak cry; is difficult to waken, excessively drowsy, confused or delirious; has been exposed to an environmental toxin or ingested something poisonous; has had a seizure, a stiff neck or has purple spots on their skin; has difficulty breathing and does not feel better once nose is cleared; is acting very sick; or has underlying risk factors for serious infection.

If none of these are present, TRUST the body’s wisdom to use a fever as an adaptive response to restore health. Look to support your child’s health overall with a variety of preventative measures rather than symptom management. The long-term benefits are proven and your child will thank you!

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for fevers in children.

Don’t Stress! Your Heart Will Thank You

As a Family Chiropractor I am lucky to see people everyday who choose to invest in their health and are actively making choices to feel and function their best. Something that comes up consistently in conversation with people is stress, and it’s often connected to the changes I observe in their body and the injuries I see.

According to The Heart & Stroke Foundation, “Although stress happens first in the mind, it has strong effects on the body. People who have high levels of stress or prolonged stress have higher cholesterol or blood pressure. They may be more prone to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), a stroke risk factor.”

Emotional and mental stress create tension in your body and affect all body systems, including your muscles and joints! It’s important to regularly check in with yourself, assess your emotional health, and make changes if needed.

These are the 5 tips I suggest often, and ones I implement in my own life:

Let Go

You always have a choice in how you handle any situation and how you let it affect you. Holding negative feelings toward someone doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you! Who are you holding anger towards? What do you need to let go of?

Focus on the Good

What you dwell upon expands. If you focus on what you don’t have, that’s all you will see. Focusing your thoughts on victories instead of defeats will help you develop an attitude of gratitude and a greater sense of self-worth. When you change the way you look at things, often the things you are looking at change.

Be Thankful

The secret to happiness is not found by seeking more, but in developing an appreciation for what we have. A powerful exercise is the use of gratitude journal to reflect on day-to-day success, or simply take a few minutes to think of 5 things you are grateful for in your life. You will be pleasantly surprised how it will shift your mental state.

What’s Your Purpose?

A big question I know, but one that you need to make the time to think about. Are you living your life with purpose, plans and passion? If you could do anything you wanted to, what would it be? It’s never too late to re-design your life and pursue any dream you have. What steps can you take to start moving in that direction? Baby steps still take you forward!

Laugh!

Laughter is “the most inexpensive and most effective wonder drug”. It suppresses the secretion of stress hormones, boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation. Let’s face it – there is nothing like the feeling of a deep belly laugh! Are you laughing enough? Connect with others and share some fun.

Episode 24: Live Life Fit with Bruce Young

On today’s show we’re talking to Bruce Young, a local resident living a great life. He and his wife run Live, Life, Fit in Thornbury, and he’s also been involved in CrossFit and Adventure Racing. Now he is committed to a healthy lifestyle for himself and others.

Maintaining balance in his approach is what keeps him motivated and moving in the right direction. For people who are new to fitness he recommends shopping around the edge of the supermarket, avoiding processed foods, and starting where you are when it comes to fitness.

Tune in for a lot of great tips.

For more information check out this blog post about food choices.

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of the Rock Your Health Podcast episodes! If you’re more of a reader than a listener, you may prefer checking out some blog posts! If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!

Sleep Considerations For A Happy Spine!

Sleep is the time during which your body can focus on the activities of growth and repair. My hope is that you are sleeping 7-8 hours, and that during this time your body is in fact healing and recharging, but the position you sleep in, the type of mattress and pillows that you use can do more harm than a good night’s rest! Let’s review some of the considerations for each of these. 

Mattress

Without proper support of your spine while you are sleeping you can create strain on the muscles and ligaments, and cause the spinal joints to become irritated. If you wake up in the morning uncomfortable or with low back pain, but can stretch and get rid of it, likely the mattress is not right for you. In general, other types of back pain will stay consistent throughout the day, and will be affected by different types of movement and activity. 

When shopping for a new mattress determine your budget and needs, then do your homework before you go to the store. There are different types of mattresses, such as inner spring, latex, or memory foam, and it can be helpful to understand the benefits of each before you start testing them out. There are concerns about the fibres or composition of some mattresses, environmental and toxicity concerns with some of them, so be sure to learn as much as you can so that you can make a choice you are comfortable with. Most stores have a good return policy, be sure to take it vantage of it if you’re not comfortable on it after a series of nights. 

Pillows

The type and number of pillows you use will either support your neck and all the spinal joints, ligaments and muscles, or cause damage! Your head should always be in a neutral position if you are sleeping on your side or back. Problems arise when people either use too many or too few pillows: With too many pillows the neck can be too elevated, hyper-flexed and tilted upwards, with too little support (a really flat pillow) the neck can be tilted back too far. One pillow is usually sufficient – it should have enough fluffiness to give you comfort, but not stretch your neck too far up her too far down, right in the middle at neutral is best. Memory foam pillows are great because they will contour to your shape. A good pillow can be expensive but it’s worth the investment to find a pillow that’s best for you. 

Which Position Is Best To Sleep In?

An easy answer for me here: Side, or back. Never on your stomach! When you sleep on your stomach you need to rotate your head one direction, and when you stay in this position for 7-8 hours you will strain and stretch the muscles in your neck. When people tell me they wake up in the morning with muscle spasms, extreme tension, and lack of mobility it’s often because their head was twisted to one side all night log. Another concern with sleeping is the position of arms. When you sleep with your arm up over head, you’ll develop shoulder injuries due to the lack of circulation, and interestingly this position also causes the lumbar spine to become compressed. Both are problems for the spine! 

Sleeping on your side or back is always preferable. If you feel this is uncomfortable or causes any strain (see your Chiropractor to correct the problem!) but you can also place a pillow between your legs, or under your knees to see if that helps. 

Dr. Melissa 

Episode 23: Forget Resolutions! My Annual Ritual For Kicking Off A New Year of Goals

We’re a couple of weeks into the new year, and in my experience, that’s when those iron-clad resolutions start losing a bit of their strength. New year’s resolutions are hard to keep, and that’s why I refuse to make them.

Instead, I think of my life a series of EVOLUTIONS. It was recommended to me by a friend who’s also a psychologist, and trust me, it’s a game changer. Tune in to today’s episode to find out how to implement this perspective in YOUR life.

For more ideas on how to EVOLVE in 2020 check out this blog post.

 

Evolution Instead of Resolution in 2020

I’ve never found resolutions work, and I stopped setting them years ago.  Really, anytime is a great time to make changes in your life! This year instead of resolving to do something different, why not think about EVOLVING a little bit.

Here’s the thing, when you set a resolution and succeed with it, it’s great, but typically at some point you will slip into an old habit, or get discouraged, or you might even lose your resolve for the day/week/month. However, if you think about evolving with your choices it’s easier to give yourself some grace and keep moving forward. Any step forward with the intention to live a healthier life is going to be a positive one, so focus on taking consistent steps forward, even if they are small steps! Even if you take a few steps forward then one step back, you’re still gaining because those steps forward count!

An idea I do love though is the idea of setting an intention and choosing a word to set the tone for your year. I’ve been suggesting it within my practice and love hearing the words that people come up with and what they mean to them.  Maybe this year you might want to give it a try!

Think about your aspirations – what do you want for the year ahead? Is there an overriding theme that comes to mind for you? Can you sum up your intentions in a single word? I bet you can.

A great word can set the tone for your actions and keep you focused.  A word can also serve as a reminder of what’s important when everyday  ‘life stuff’ frustrates us. For example, when my sons were young and I wasn’t in practice, my word was “Nurture”.  It reminded me of my focus on raising my sons and looking after myself.  It allowed me to accept that my career aspirations would be fulfilled at a later date, and that the little boys in my kitchen were simply more important for the time being. In other years the words “Grow”, “Balance” and “Focus” have worked well for me.

A great word sets your intention and will help manifest the people, places,  opportunities (and challenges!) to help you achieve your goals.  A good friend recently shared her story of using theme words during the past few years. “Abundance” was her focus at one time and she grew her business substantially. “Love” was her focus another year, and she met the man she married.  Metaphysics aside, what you focus on tends to happen!  The simple act of awareness can powerfully  keep you oriented towards actions that support your goals, and make you more likely to attract success.

Your ‘word’ might come to mind easily.  You may already have one that has been running through your thoughts repetitively, especially if you have set resolutions or goals for yourself. If not, carve out some time in your week to think about it. Sit quietly and reflect.   Journal if it helps you sort out your thoughts, or, on a blank sheet of paper simply write down words that depict your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Something will pop out at you, or you may notice a pattern in the words you write down. Don’t over-think it!

Friends, colleagues, and people in my practice have shared their words with me for added support and accountability. Here’s some of their theme words to get you started:  Relate, Believe, Focus, Simplify, Build, Mindful, Refresh, Rejuvenate, and Fun.

Once you have your ‘word’ write it down where you can see it regularly. Use it as a password so you have to consciously think about it many times a day. Place post-it notes all over your home if you need to. Get creative and do what works for you – and share your ideas! I’ll tell you my word!

One word is easy to remember. Pick one for yourself and let it shape the months to come. Whether you feel you need to make some drastic changes, take a few small steps in a new direction, or simply get back into an established routine, commit to doing something  this month to live a better life. 

Set an intention for what you want 2020 to mean to you, choose a word to define it, make deliberate choices and take action! I’m here to help if you get stuck ?

~ Dr Melissa

Give Gifts of Experience This Year!

There are many ways to show affection and pamper the ones you love without purchasing ‘things’. I’ve noticed many people choosing ‘experience gifts’ instead of tangible items. Consider giving someone you love the gift of time together or the experience of doing something they love. I’ve done this with my sons for the past 6 years and we’ve had many memorable times together such as going to Great Wolf Lodge, a trip to New York City, or catching Raptors games. We’ve also gone skating on the Rideau Canal (after a hockey game) and seen Coldplay perform live.

Now when they make their Christmas wish lists they often include ‘things to do’ as some of their items! For the people in your life, what about vouchers for ski passes, yoga passes, gift certificates for restaurants and cafes? Cooking classes, music or art lessons? Spa services are always a popular choice, and tickets to the movies, theatre, concerts, sporting events are always fun.

GIVE THE GIFT OF HEALTH

Another option is to look around your community for services you use, ones that have made an impact on your quality of life, and consider giving your loved ones a certificate to try out those services. Gifts of health are always well received! I’ve had many people purchase an initial session with me or a series of adjustments for people they care about, and there is a tremendous amount of gratitude expressed to me by the recipients.

SHOP LOCAL

If you choose to give gifts during the holiday season, consider ones that are from local stores. Shop within your community if possible and you’ll save on gas, meet new people and support a small business.

But remember, time together is more valuable with the ones we love than any object, and you’ll get the benefit too! Take the stress away from shopping and get creative giving gifts of the heart in other ways this holiday season.