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!

Episode 22: 5 Ways You Can Have a HAPPY & HEALTHY Holiday Season!

There are lots of opportunities during the holiday season for indulgent foods, extra alcohol, social engagements and festive fun! However this season can also be physically and emotionally draining if you don’t keep a few important health habits in mind. You can indulge, celebrate and feel good during the holiday season and head into the new year ready to rock! These 5 tips will give you a good start.
 

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!

Ice Or Heat? What’s Best?

The best answer to this common question is “It depends on your injury”.  

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing response and is actually a positive reaction. With any injury, tissues are damaged, and your body adapts by sending more blood to the injury site. With this increased blood supply, inflammatory cells such as leukocytes and macrophages get to work releasing proteins which clean up and heal the injured site. The area is tender and sore, (which is a reminder for you to be gentle using it!) but your body is effectively trying to repair the damaged area. Keep in mind though, inflammation and pain is your body’s way of telling you to stop and take action. The purpose of inflammation needs to be respected because essentially it is a protective response from the body to prevent you from doing further damage to yourself.

When you apply ice to an injury, the blood vessels constrict, temporarily limiting the blood flow to the injured site. The cold temperature inhibits the pain response, so although ice can often provided some pain relief, it can also delay healing.

When you apply heat to an area, the blood flow increases which can help deliver more oxygen and nutrients to a more chronic problem and support healing. However, for this reason, too much heat can also contribute to further inflammation. Applying heat can help with muscle aches, pains and general stiffness but should never be applied to a new injury or an area that is painful or swollen

So what should you do?

Again, it depends on the injury. If you have a new injury such as a strain or sprain, and you feel you need some pain relief, applying an ice pack is a good option to provide temporary relief (certainly what I recommend more than taking a muscle relaxant or ibuprofen) and it will help the healing process.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose a chemical ice pack, bag of frozen vegetables, ziploc bag with ice cubes in it, and protect your skin by placing clothing or towel between you and the pack
  • 10min on/10min off cycles throughout the day (NOT consistently, your body needs breaks to effectively use the therapeutic benefits. When you apply ice to the injured area you will either feel relief or mild discomfort due to the cold. Often the sensations you feel with icing is pain-tingling-numbness. Once the ice is removed at the 10 minute mark, the area should be numb. The body will then react to re-warm the area with gentle blood flow to supply the tissues with oxygen and nutrients. This reaction will not occur if the ice is left on too long.
  • Ideally ice should be applied as soon as possible after injury, and in cycles for the first 72 hours of acute trauma.

Remember, the body knows best! As far as healing goes it’s best to let inflammation run its course.   This will take time, perhaps even longer than you would like, but ultimately you will be rewarded with improved and more complete recovery.

Cold Water Immersion & Your Health

When cold showers were first mentioned to me as a supportive health practice, my first reaction was “NO WAY”. Like you might be feeling reading this, the thought of being cold was not something that excited me, but at the time I was recovering from an acute muscle strain and I was open to whatever would help me heal the fastest. Now I’m converted.

In addition to supporting your cardiovascular health, regular cold water immersion give you these added benefits:

 

Improves Lymphatic Circulation – Your lymphatic system is an effective network of vessels that essentially cleans up the waste in your body. Unlike your cardiovascular system though, there is no ‘pump’ to keep lymphatic fluids moving well. Your body instead relies on the effective contractions of muscles to support this function (yes this is why you need to be moving your body everyday too).  Cold water immersion helps this process because it causes your lymph vessels to contract, forcing your lymphatic system to pump lymph fluids throughout your body, essentially flushing the waste out of the area. This then triggers the immune system’s white blood cells to attack and destroy any unwanted substance in the fluid. By supporting the lymphatic drainage you’re supporting your immune system, which supports your overall health.

Reduces Muscle Inflammation – When you exercise and push your body to gain additional strength, endurance and power, you’ll develop microscopic tears in your muscles in the process. When the body goes into repair mode you’ll gain new muscle, but the process often involves some soreness known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is normal, but not fun. Cold water immersion has been scientifically shown to help counteract this. Since I’ve been doing cold showers after intense training sessions, the amount of DOMS I experience during recovery has dramatically decreased. This is also something I recommend when people are dealing with an acute injury. Similar to using an ice pack to help control the amount of inflammation, cold water immersion lowers the temperature of the damaged tissue and constricts the blood vessels, which reduces swelling and inflammation. It also temporarily numbs the nerve endings so you’ll feel less pain, which is much better for your body than taking a muscle relaxant or anti-inflammatory medication. If you love physical training, or if you’re dealing with an acute injury, cold water immersion will facilitate faster recovery.

Boosts happiness – I will admit, what keeps me taking cold showers is how great I feel afterwards! Invigorated, energized, and completely refreshed anytime of day.  Cold water triggers a flood of mood-boosting neurotransmitters in your brain, which makes you feel happier. It’s even been shown to be an excellent supportive practice to help reduce symptoms of depression. The science explaining what happens in your body is fascinating, you can read more about it in this article here.

Supports Weight Loss – While nothing replaces healthy clean eating and consistent exercise, consistent cold water immersion boosts your metabolism because your body needs to work harder to keep you warm, burning calories in the process.

If there is ever a season to give this a try, it’s summer!

It’s a great way to beat the heat and quickly cool your body temperature, with so many other added benefits to support your overall health.

Forget Resolutions, Why Not Set a WORD instead?

Anytime is a great time for making changes in your life, but there is something special about the start of a new year. 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. I’ve never found resolutions work, and I stopped setting them years ago. Instead, I love this concept and have been implementing consistently. 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.

Set an intention for what you want 2017 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

ERM 005 Dr. Ali Miller: Being a Role Model for Girls, Peak Performance Strategies & Thriving in Chaos

aliDr. Ali Miller is a fifteen year chiropractic professional with a strong affinity for women’s and children’s health and family wellness. Dr. Ali leads a balanced chiropractic lifestyle incorporating exercise, clean eating and meditation. It is her mission to raise the level of health in her community and she thrives on sharing information and inspiring change. Dr. Ali and her rockstar husband Adam live in Bolton with their three well-adjusted daughters Riley, Bailey and Zoe. They are her everything.

On this episode we talked about how she balances her practice and the lives of her 3 girls, how she has kept her 22 year relationship with her husband strong, and the importance of taking care of herself and how workouts, connecting with friends,  are keys to making it all work.  She also shares some of her experience in dealing with her own fears as a woman, facing challenges within her family, and how she dealt with them and got through them stronger. I particularly loved how she grounds herself consistently in thinking about what kind of example she wants to set for her daughters, the kinds of experiences she wants to give them to know that they are capable as women and deserving of a great life.

What Is Holistic Care?

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Spinal misalignments called vertebral subluxations cause muscle imbalances, joint irritation, inflammation, and early degeneration. Spinal subluxations alter the healthy mechanical and neurological functions in the body. Subluxations weaken all organ systems, leading to sickness, pain,  and a lesser quality of life. As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I correct spinal subluxations to restore proper motion and function within the body. What causes spinal subluxations?  STRESS! – physical, chemical and mental/emotional.

Adjusting the spine removes the effects of the stress in your body, but I’ve always believed it’s important to look at what is creating it. If we only address the spinal subluxations with adjustments, we might not be addressing the real cause of the problems with your health. 

The lifestyle choices you make (exercise, nutrition, sleep, good relationships, positive thinking, hydration etc.) have a huge impact of the results you will obtain with chiropractic.

The goal of your care in this practice is to help you THRIVE in all aspects of your health, and life.

In addition to clinical care, there is an extensive lending library, workshops, an interactive web community, and weekly articles to take with you.  I produce a television show with Rogers TV, Good Living, Good Health that covers a wide range of topics that pertain to healthy living (watch it on channel 53 or ask to borrow a copy). I also have  an extensive network of other health professionals and resources within our community with whom I can connect you with to make other changes in your health.  

In my experience, when lifestyle changes are combined with chiropractic care, the transformations are profound.  

Entering my 14th year of practice, I continued to be inspired by the healing that I witness, and the increased quality of people’s lives as a result.

Consider learning more, and making other changes to your health to support your chiropractic care.

Ask me when you’re ready, and I’ll help you get started.

Keep Your Heart Healthy

Cardiovascular health is important throughout our lives.

Your heart pumps blood to all parts of your body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to every single cell through the arteries. Once the cells have received the oxygen, the blood is returned to the heart through the veins. The systematic, rhythmic relationship between your lungs and your heart is what refuels the blood with oxygen so that this cycle can continue endlessly. With every beat of your heart, blood is moving through the chambers of your heart and then being pumped through your body. Its truly an amazing system!

Heart disease results when the heart has to beat faster than the normal healthy rate to perform its job. When the arteries are clogged blood needs to be pumped through them at a faster rate with greater force (“high blood pressure”). The sad news is that far too many times the first symptom of heart disease is a serious heart attack! We can’t see the heart gradually losing it’s ability to function properly, which is why waiting for symptoms to start isn’t the wisest approach.

Most people can quickly think of all the known risk factors for heart disease smoking, high cholesterol, alcoholism, obesity, lack of physical activity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a poor diet. It’s estimated 9/10 Canadians have at least one of these risk factors, and 4/10 have 3 or more.

There is another risk factor: Did you know spinal misalignments can contribute to heart health too? When the vertebrae in the spine are not moving properly they impinge both the nerves and the arteries. Once corrected with spinal adjustments, proper nerve and circulatory flow returns. Research has shown that chiropractic spinal adjustments can lower both blood pressure and heart rate, allowing your cardiovascular system to function the way it was designed to.

Although heart disease remains one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide, the great news is that the majority of risk factors are lifestyle choices! Change your habits and you change your risk.

Make choices to keep your heart working properly by considering the following:

Stress Less: High stress levels cause blood pressure to rise, heart rate to increase, and disturbances in heart rhythm. Evaluate the stressors in your life and make changes! Learn how to cope with stress effectively, and find professional support as needed.

Eat Well: Choose a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Avoid packaged and processed foods which contain extra fats, sugars, preservatives, and sodium. Avoid high consumption of fried, fatty foods.

Quit Smoking! Just do it. There is nothing health promoting about this habit whatsoever!

Get Moving: Move your body everyday for at least 10 minutes. Exercise helps relieve stress, and supports every system in your body including your cardiovascular system.

Get Adjusted! To support nerve function, heart function, and for a healthier body overall!

Have questions or need more direction? Let me know how I can help.

Balanced?

Recently I was sitting at my local café, reading, planning my day. When it was time to get started on the responsibilities I had, I joked with an acquaintance how reluctant I was to leave, that it was so lovely sitting there, his comment was brilliant: 

“Give yourself a break. Enjoy the day. Whatever you have to do will all work out in the end, and if it hasn’t worked out yet – it’s not the end!”

I encourage you to balance time in your life for movement, healthy eating, nurturing relationships, getting enough rest, and playing.  You need all of these things in your life because you are a whole person, and because being healthy requires attention to all these areas.

Are the different facets of your life balanced?

Sure, there are times when some of our responsibilities dominate, when we must focus specifically on doing the best we can to manage everything.

Some days, weeks, months are more balanced than others. I think it’s important to look at the larger picture of our lives when reflecting on this topic.  When raising young children, juggling work or changes in career, helping aging parents, moving or renovating a property, life can become a little overwhelming, and sometimes very unbalanced. I can say this from personal experience, and from working with people for so many years.

Even during these stressful times we can always become aware, and try to make small changes if that’s all we can make. Do the best you can – a little will always be better than none at all.

Take a minute to consider the different parts of your life: social life, physical health, relationships, personal time, work/career happiness… and assess yourself. How much time are you giving to all these areas? 

If things are unbalanced, is it temporary given the stage of life you are in, or a constant challenge?

What can you do differently?

Do you need to shift your priorities?

How can you make a change, and what do you need to get started?

Where can you create more time in your life to support these other wishes you have?

We all have work responsibilities, family obligations and personal objectives. The key to healthy living is in balancing all of them every week, sometimes every day, and giving ourselves permission to do so. 

Indulge…and Still Feel Good In January

ID-10065594So many families in the practice talk about how ‘insane’ this time of year gets. Yes, the schedules can get more full, there can be more late nights, more consumption of indulgent foods and beverages, and less sleep…none of which are good for your health. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are choices involved with all those behaviours!  You don’t have to succumb to the “overs” this holiday season…being overstimulated, overspending, overindulging, and being overwhelmed! Take a few minutes to consider the following points and make good choices for yourself this holiday season:

Socialize Wisely – We all need social connections but during the holiday season many people are ‘overstimulated’, ‘over-committed’, and ‘overwhelmed’ with too many events. Be choosy about how you spend your social time. Be assertive and learn to say no to situations that will upset you. Decline invitations (if you can do so without grossly offending the invitee) that create unnecessary emotional stress, or will simply burden your schedule and shortchange you of sleep.

Reach Out – At the other end of the social spectrum is loneliness. With changing family dynamics, different living arrangements, and simple geography for some people, many are left alone during the holidays. If you feel lonely or isolated consider getting involved in different activities, volunteering your time at seniors homes, food banks or other organizations geared towards helping others. The rewards will be far greater than just the social stimulation.

Exercise – Quite simply, physical activity makes every system in your body work better. Instead of taking a break from your exercise routine, keep it up! Or consider getting started! It doesn’t have to wait until January and your resolution of getting in shape or losing weight. The fact is, exercise is simply something most people have to build into their lives, work into their schedules. You will always find something better to do with your time! Exercise helps relieve stress and prevents weight gain. Moving your body will always give you a boost, even just a some stretching or a brisk walk will rejuvenate your body and mind.

Eat Regularly & Prepare for Outings – If you are going to a party or dinner, don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation. Doing so will slow your metabolism, leave you ravenous and more likely to overeat later in the evening. Instead, eat small meals or snacks throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to over-indulge when you are out. If you are planning on consuming alcohol be sure to increase your intake of water to compensate for the dehydrating effects.

Take a Breather – It IS the season for family, friends, and being on ‘holiday’ so don’t forget to take the time to relax and indulge in activities you enjoy! Make time for yourself too, often time alone is what is easily neglected with busy social schedules or family commitments. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you and change your perspective if you are having a frantic day. Do something that clears your mind, slows your breathing and restores inner calm. Journal, listen to music, take a brisk walk and look at the lights, read a book, whatever interests YOU and gets you in a quiet place for a small bit of time.

Rethink Gifting – There are many ways to show affection and pamper the ones you love without purchasing ‘things’. Consider giving gifts of ‘experiences’ – trips to the spa, movies, sporting or cultural events, gift certificates to restaurants etc. 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.

The holidays don’t mean you should take a holiday from taking care of yourself. Make good choices for you and your family and you will enjoy the holiday season and start the new year in good health. You CAN indulge, celebrate, and still feel good in January!