viral infection

Natural Shield Against Infection

A natural shield exists to keep the body healthy from infection. Therefore, it’s important to understand some basics of how the immune system works to kill viruses and bacteria.

Two Lines of Defense

The immune system has two lines of defense: the innate and adaptive immune system. In order to infect the body, a microscopic virus must get past the innate immune system, the first line of defense.

The innate immune system is comprised of the skin, cilia (e.g. microscopic hair), lining of the lungs and stomach, and mucus.These physical barriers are highly effective in shielding us from the daily threat of viruses.

The innate immune system also uses phagocytes, natural killer cells, and inflammation to kill pathogens. Phagocytes (e.g. neutrophils and macrophages) engulf and destruct the virus. They also signal the adaptive immune system, the second line of defense.

viral infection

You Better Recognize

Host cells have the ability to recognize a viral infection. Host cells infected by a virus destruct material used to “clone” itself to prevent spread. During the destruction of cloning material, the cell produces interferons to attract natural killer cells. Natural killer cells invoke self-destruction of the infected cell. During the destruction of the virus, interferons also signal the adaptive immune system.

Bringing The Heat

Lastly, inflammation occurs at the sight of infection. Inflammation is caused by our body bringing blood and proteins that create swelling, redness, and pain. Inflammation drives all the immune system troops and sentinels to the infection site. Also, the inflammatory process elicits a fever which increases the effectiveness of the immune army and destroys pathogens.

The Second Line Of Defense

Before we discuss the adaptive immune system, let’s briefly review the autonomic nervous system (ANS) from last week’s article. The ANS extends from the Central Nervous System (CNS), the brain, and the spinal cord. An alternate name for the ANS is the peripheral nervous system.

The ANS controls bodily functions that don’t involve consciousness such as your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, digestion, sweat, and much more. Also, the ANS controls the immune system defenses. The immune system has two lines of defense: the innate and adaptive. The innate defense attacks viruses within minutes and alerts the the adaptive immune system which takes 1 to 2 weeks to take full effect.

Lasting Protection From Infection

The adaptive immune system is highly specific and can provide long lasting effects against some viruses by using T and B cells. B cells secrete antibodies that attach to a virus to prevent reproduction of the virus and tag them for other defenses to destroy. These antibodies can provide a long lasting defense against the same virus. T cells directly break up viruses into pieces, and signal other cells to dispose of the infected pieces. Once is a virus is destroyed, memory B and T cells are produced. Memory B and T cells remain in the body in case the same virus reinfects the body. With memory B and T cells present, certain viruses may not cause reinfection. In most cases, it can create a natural immunity.

The above happens under optimal ANS control. There are instances when the immune response goes haywire. This is observed with autoimmune diseases – a self destruction of the body. Therefore, it’s extremely important to have constant communication between the ANS and the immune defensive army.

How does this relate to Structural Chiropractic?

The spinal cord (i.e. the main communicative highway) connects the brain and immune system response. We want to immune system response working at optimum levels. Therefore, it’s important to keep the spinal cord free of obstructions. Obstructions stem from spinal segment shifts that occur from daily challenges to the spine. Daily challenges to the spine can occur from the following: working out, poor postural habits, working on a computer, sitting for too long, and improper pillows – just to name a few. Our comprehensive care and specific adjustments, remove obstructions from the spinal cord.

More information about Structural Chiropractic in Birmingham, Alabama, click here.
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kid's sleep tips

Children’s Sleep Tips For A Restful Night

Children’s sleep plays a vital role in health outcomes for children. Unfortunately most school aged kids are getting less sleep as they progress though school. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following: 10-13 hours for ages 3-5, 9-12 hours for ages 6-12, 8-10 hours for ages 13-18.  While there are a number of strategies to help sleep, let’s go over a few things that may hinder sleep first. 

kid's sleep tips

What Should I Avoid? 

In 2006 adolescents reported having at least one electronic device in their bedroom. With the popularity of smart phones and tablets, it’s safe to say that number has increased. The problem with electronics is the emission of blue light. Blue light affects the secretion of melatonin which regulates your internal clock (24 hour cycle). Meletonin levels are highest at night and lowest during the morning. Blue light emitted from electronics at night will set back your internal clock delaying sleep and decreasing melatonin secretion when it’s most needed. 

TV shows, movies, and video games can increase emotional arousal which delays sleep and lowers sleepiness. In addition to emotional arousal, blue light screens will decrease melatonin levels. 

The last one is obvious, but try to limit caffeine after 12 PM (noon). This includes soft drinks, coffee, and energy drinks. 

Children’s Sleep Routine 

Set a schedule or routine for bedtime. This is the most important tip for kids and adults too. It’s best to keep a visual schedule for the whole family to see. The steps you choose will get your children relaxed and prepared for sleep. Routines can start with infants. Studies show that infants who had a bedtime routine reduced sleep latency and number of times and duration of night wakening. Routines can include bathing, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, reading a story, using the bathroom, and listening to calming music. Routines should be short and should be no longer than 1 hour. 

Temperature Control

Decrease the room temperature to 65-70 degrees. This is the temperature range for optimal sleep. Heat exposure increases wakefulness and decreases the amount of time spent in the stages of sleep where dreaming and deep-sleep occur. 

Darkness Is Your Friend

Keep the bedroom as dark as possible. As you know, light in your room can affect your melatonin levels. If you use a night light, go with a red night light. Red lights have the least effect on your internal clock. 

Do not eat or drink anything at least an hour before bed. Your body has to process anything you ingest,so if you eat or drink something before bed, your body will have to digest it. Also eating or drinking will increase risk of having to use the bathroom late at night. 

What Happens When Sleep is Optimized? 

Studies show that declarative memory is enhanced in children when recommended amounts of sleep are met. Declarative memory is the ability to remember facts or events.

More information about Structural Chiropractic in Birmingham, Alabama, click here.
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Hunchback Or Anterior Head Syndrome?

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is a popular Disney movie. One of the characters has a large hump on his upper back. The technical term for this is hyper-kyphosis or Dowager’s Hump. Structural Chiropractors call this structural abnormality, Anterior Head Syndrome. A hunchback occurs when there is a shift of the head and neck forward to the center of the chest. Shoulders tend to slump as well. This abnormal hump can cause decreases in mood and confidence. Link here.

working on a laptop

What Causes A Hunchback Or Anterior Head Syndrome?

  • Anything that causes the head to tilt downward for long periods
  • Using a smartphone or tablet
  • Desk jobs
  • Reading documents or books
  • Craning the head forward to watch TV

How Do I know If I Have Anterior Head Syndrome?

  • An MRI or neck x-rays are the best for diagnoses and correction. Yes, it can be fixed
  • Take a picture. Use a smart phone to take a picture of the side view of the shoulders and head.

Unfortunately, AHS is common. It effects all age groups. Not everyone will look like the Disney movie character.  Rather, varying degrees or ranges exist. No different than normal body temperature or blood pressure, you have normal spinal alignment. The presence of AHS confirms a spinal segmental shift away from normal. AHS causes dysfunction. What types of dysfunction?

Normal vs abnormal spinal range

Nerve Impingement

As the heading suggests, nerves, the electric wiring of the body, can become obstructed by AHS. Nerve impingement will affect many areas of body because nerves control organs, blood vessels, and muscles.  Migraines and headaches occur when abnormal amounts of blood enter vessels surrounding the head and neck. Blood flow is not regulated properly because nerve impingement by AHS, a shift of the neck spinal segments and head. Without proper communication to blood vessels, blood will flow without control.

Muscle Spasm Or Tension

Muscle attach to your spine no different than shelves to the structural supports of a house. Thus, if the foundation of the body shifts, muscles will be in dysfunction. Hold a heavy object and move that object further away from the center of your body. Muscle increase in tension, right? This is what AHS is doing to all of your muscles.

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cooking oil

Cooking Oil Best Temperatures

Cooking oil is mostly fat from various sources. Oils like vegetable, nut, and olive oils are healthy, but they should be used for different applications.  The norm for most cooking has been olive or vegetable oils because of their familiarity, but olive and vegetable oils are NOT the best oils for cooking. Why?

Oils On High Heat

When cooking food on a medium-high to high heat, vegetable and olive oils will oxidize.  Oxidization means the oil spoils. When oxidation occurs, free radicals form. Free radical formation at a high rate is unhealthy. If free radicals are produced at levels higher than normal, then a myriad of negative reactions or illness can occur. 

cooking oil

Health Effects

When you heat vegetable and olive oils, they can create lipid oxidation products which can lead to atherosclerosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, conditions of digestive tract, and cancer.  Evidence has not been linked to humans, but animal studies have shown all the above when exposed to lipid oxidation products. 

Lipid oxidation product exposure hasn’t been extensively studied; thus, it’s hard to know how much lipid oxidation is harmful.  To optimize your health, choose cooking oils with high amounts of saturated fats and very low levels or trans or polyunsaturated fats. Let’s make it simple.

The Cooking Oil Guide

Below are the oils you need to be using for different types of cooking or cold methods. 

  • Searing (400 degrees Fahrenheit and above) 
    • Palm Oil 
    • Refined Coconut Oil 
  • Sauteing (approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit)  
    • Natural Butter (grass fed) 
    • Coconut Oil 
    • Lard 
  •  Cold Applications Only  
    • Olive oil (great for dressings and finishing oil) 
    • Vegetable oil 

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Stress management

Stress Management: Easy Everyday Tips

Stress management is important for your health. Unfortunately, stress is a part of life, but our response to stress is important. When stress takes its toll, it’s important to understand that you are in control. Let’s discuss ways that you can combat stress. 

Stress management is key when working

Breathing Out The Stress

A way to combat stress immediately is slow diaphragmatic breathing. This is an essential part of stress management. Proper breathing technique is extremely important.  If you are breathing with more chest and shoulder involvement, then you are not taking in the optimal amount of oxygen. 

To determine if you are breathing inadequately, look in the mirror, and breathe normally.  If your chest and shoulder move more than your belly, then practice diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is best because you are able to fill your lungs fully. The Cleveland Clinic has a great explanation on this technique. Link here.  Additionally, more shoulder and chest breathing means tight traps and shoulders.

Stress Management With This Tasty Herb and Tea

Both matcha tea and cilantro exhibit improvements in stress and anxiety. Matcha is popular as you’ll see it on most coffee shop menus. Cilantro is a diverse herb that can be used in a variety of dishes.

stress management

Adding greenery to your space can lower stress.

Clear The Clutter And Stress

A less stressful work environment or home is important for productivity. Less stress equals more productivity. Studies show that air quality, light wattage, work station ergonomics, and office layout impact work productivity.

Clutter is controllable.  The more clutter in your environment the more opportunity for objects to divert your attention.  The best way to remove clutter, is ask yourself, “Do I use this often?” If the answer is no, trash it or store it out of site. Do this with supplements, cosmetics, documents, clothes, or anything that can distract you. 

stress management

Lighten Your Load Of Stress

With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and News Years,  reducing social obligations during the fall/winter months can be helpful too. Instead of planning that long road trip, try spending the weekend at home. A weekend at home with family and friends can go a long way to help you recharge for the busy holiday season. 

May your fall and winter be as stress free as possible! Take a deep breath and relax. My next post quick post- quick and easy exercises to get your blood flowing and large muscle groups activated. 

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Winter health foods

4 Amazing Foods For Optimal Health

Winter health is dicey. These 4 amazing foods can help keep you from getting sick. Many people get sick when the temperatures drop. Add large amounts of stress and errands during the holidays.  It’s reasonable to imagine the possibility of more doctor visits. Instead of waiting for a cold or flu to develop. Let’s try to prevent them. 

winter health food

Health can improve with optimal diet, rest, stress management, and exercise. We examine foods and beverages high in antioxidants; a must in everyday life. 

Amazing Foods Stuffed With Antioxidants

Antioxidants are important because they inhibit free radicals from damaging healthy cells. The result is prevention of further damage to DNA or cell membranes. 

Imagine: antioxidants plugging a leak in the dam protecting the village. If the leak isn’t fixed, the result could be disastrous. The leak will get bigger and water will flood the village. Choosing these beverages and foods are a great way to plug that leak. 

Dark Chocolate

Cocoa is the main ingredient in the making of chocolate, but don’t start scarfing Hershey Kisses. Cocoa is a rich source of flavanols and procyanidins both antioxidants. Eat dark chocolate that is at least 75-90% cocoa dark chocolate. Avoid brands that are “processed with alkali.” 

Blueberries

Blueberries have a different array of antioxidants such as: beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C selenium, and polyphenol.  Mix your berry intake with blackberries and raspberries. Since berries are more plentiful in the summer, freeze them. 

Green Tea

Catechinis the main antioxidant in green tea. Green tea has been linked to reduction of bad fats (LDL) and has positive effects on obesity. Green tea also has antibacterial, antiviral, and anticancer properties. Curl up with a hot cup of tea with a teaspoon spoon of honey and a lemon wedge to soothe a sore throat or as an alternate to coffee. 

Garlic

Allicin is the major player in garlic along with other healthy compounds. Garlic has shown to be antiviral and antibacterial. Additionally, studies have shown the potential benefits of garlic with cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure.  Cook with it!

There you have it. Add these foods, sleep, and regular hand washing. No magic bullets exist for perfect health. Moreover, no such thing exists. Try your best, and reap the benefits.

More information about Structural Chiropractic in Birmingham, Alabama, click here.
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4 supplement pills

Omega-3 Is Important For Low Levels Of Inflammation

Omega-3 fats are a necessary part of good health and low inflammation. You can obtain them from fatty fish. Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, trout, and herring all contain Omega-3 fats. Sorry, Goldfish don’t count. They are essential in the maintenance of brain tissue in adults and the development of the fetal brain. Learn more about fetal brain development here. Do I have your attention? I hope so.

Omega-3 Fats To Reduce Inflammation

The omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, should be etched onto your brain. EPA and DHA help balance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Western diets contain high levels of omega-6 fats found in nuts and cooking oils. Unfortunately, high levels of inflammation are associated with high omega-6 fat levels.

4 omega-3 supplement pills for inflammation

What Does Fish Oil Prevent?

Also, there is strong evidence omega-3 fats aid in the prevention of the following conditions: coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, and secondary cardiovascular disease prevention. High inflammation is the root cause of many cardiovascular diseases.

Additionally, studies show improvement in abnormal heart rhythm, cognition, allergies, anxiety, asthma, cancer prevention, and age-related macular degeneration.

There Is A Daily Recommended Amount Of Fish

The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings (3.5 ounces) of fish per week. People with cardiovascular disease need more servings or supplementation.

What Type Of Fish Should You Buy?

Small fish in cold-waters like sardines, herring, and mackerel are best. They will eat small plankton thus less likely to have contaminants like heavy metals and plastic. The larger, predatory fish eat smaller fish which increase levels of unwanted contaminants.  

Is Supplementation Right For You?

What if you don’t like to eat fish? What you can do is supplement with fish oil capsules. Beware not all fish oil capsules are of the same quality, so research your supplements at The International Fish Oil Standards Program. Link here. Finally, potency is important as well. Shoot for at least a 1,000 mg of fish oil per capsule. Therefore, high potency or pharmaceutical grade fish oil mean less capsules to swallow.

More information about Structural Chiropractic in Birmingham, Alabama, click here.
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best sleep in bed

The Best Sleep Tips For A Great Night Of Rest

Sleep is tough to come by. These sleep tips should be at the foundation to your routine. Yes, a sleep routine is a great idea. Here are some great tips to help.

Your Best Sleep Starts Early

What you do approximately 60-90 minutes before you retire for the night matters. Preparation is key. Thus, a schedule or steps to prepare for sleep is good. The key is to follow an order. As the first step is complete, naturally the body will ready itself for sleep mode.

Additionally, following the easy tips below will help jump start a restful sleep. 

best sleep in bed

Choosing Your Morning Alarm

The majority of people wake up to an alarm every morning. However, not all alarms are made equal. The tone of your alarm can make a big difference to the start of your day. Loud beeps or horns are common alarm sounds, but these may not be the best for you. Researchers at a Melbourne university suggest a more melodic or pleasant morning alarm.  

best sleep tips

When the alarm is melodic, levels of alertness improve. Whereas, a harsh alarm sound can increase levels of grogginess and sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is increased sensory or motor impairment in the morning. Sleep inertia can last up to 4 hours and negatively impact your morning.  

Stay away from harsh alarms and go for the more melodic and pleasant sounds. Research shows you’ll feel better in the morning if you do.  

Don’t Do These Things

Below are a few things that one should not do 30-60 minutes before bedtime.

Do not eat or drink preferably 2 hours before bedtime. Eating or drinking increases the likelihood of a person disrupting sleep and using the bath room. Your brain senses when the bladder is nearing fullness thus triggering you to wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.

best sleep tips

Blue light from TVs negatively affect sleep.

Do not watch TV or look at your cell phone. Or avoid blue lights. You can block blue lights by using these glasses. Watching TV can keep you from sleeping by provoking a variety of emotions, like excitation or sadness.

The light from your TV or electronics also stimulates or tricks the brain into thinking it’s day time.  Studies show melatonin, a sleep hormone, levels drop significantly in the presence of any kind of light. 

Habits are hard to break. I you try to refrain from or reduce these habits, you might be well on your way to a wonderful and productive morning.  

Sleeping Aids

Ever woke up from a car horn or a floors creaking? Sleep machines with white noise can help, but pink noise may be best.  Studies show pink noise improves deep sleep and memory. As we age, especially during our 50s and 60s, deep sleep declines. Researchers believe reductions in deep sleep can contribute to dementia.

Everyone has tried melatonin, but make sure you are taking it an hour or so before sleep. The body will produce melatonin naturally with less light exposure and outside temperature drops. Melatonin is great for your skin too. 

best sleep tips

Phone apps have sleep aids with pink noise.

Rejuvenation With Great Sleep

While you sleep, important events happen in regards to function of your body both mentally and physically. During sleep, your brain forms short and long term memories through the strengthening of a synapse (think of improving the electrical wiring in your house.)

With proper sleep, you are more likely to recall memories the next day more easily. Physically, nutrient absorption takes place in the spinal discs for proper support for the vertebra.

Other proposed functions of sleep include, detoxification of the brain from free radicals and glycogen replacement. In addition to the above improvements, aging is closes related to sleep. 

 

headaches

5 Quick Tips To Boost Productivity

Is your productivity down at work? Does your day seem long and cumbersome? Does it affect work tasks and relationships? Simple steps can be taken to increase production and reduce stress.

The Traditional Productivity Boosters

Everyone knows caffeine, standing desks, and activity trackers will help keep productivity high. Mental and physical acuity is key. Without it, productivity drops.

So besides buying all of the aforementioned products, these tips will help productivity throughout the onslaught of carpool lines, emails, and meetings.

productivity from computer work at a cafe by bruce mars

Stay Alert with Protein Over Carbohydrates

Protein is the building block for muscle and many other bodily functions. A good portion of protein for breakfast will keep you satiated through the morning. Now that you’ve made it to lunch, stay away from a large portion of carbohydrates. French fries, pasta, and bread are delicious, but a high carbohydrate lunch can drive you straight to sleep. 

Less Stress & Matcha Tea

Matcha has become very popular recently. Its origin and popularity stem from the Eastern hemisphere. Now, large coffee shop chains and chefs use it in drinks and food. In addition to its great taste, researchers have found it can help reduce stress. Learn more here

A Stand-Up Desk Is Good But Balance Board Is Great

What’s a balance board you say? Use a balance board to stand on during work or on break. A balance board works your core and legs. The most important benefit of a balance board is proprioception improvements. Good proprioception will improve balance and stimulate your brain. Use a balance board to stave off writers block, fatigue, and weight gain. Lots of sitting equals lots of fat. Boards can be found on on-line for a small fee.

Eye Fatigue Is Real

Just like muscle fatigue your eyes can succumb to fatigue too. Eye fatigue is common among people who work indoors. We get the majority of blue light from the sun, but indoor exposure can be from LED lights, computers, and phones. Large amounts of blue light exposure can cause sleep disturbances, headaches, and eye irritation. Headaches and eye irritation stem from the fact that blue light penetrates to the delicate back part of eye. In order to reduce eye fatigue, buy blue blocking glasses.

Great sleep helps with productivity too. The do’s and don’ts of a great night of sleep here

No Money Needed For These Simple Productivity Booster

Take these action steps to prevent a granny hump and discomfort of the neck, shoulders, arms, and wrists. Raise the bottom 1/3 of the computer screen or phone to eye level. Move computer screens closer to the edge of desk. Additionally, move the keyboard to the edge of the desk. The aforementioned steps will reduce strain of the disc, muscles, and nerves by keeping optimal spinal structure or position. Does it seem you have a granny hump? Or are your shoulders and neck constantly uncomfortable? See a Structural Chiropractor to fully address the problems.

a glass cup of green tea

Matcha May Reduce Stressful Behavior

Matcha has become very popular recently. Its origin and popularity stem from the Eastern hemisphere. Now, large coffee shop chains and chefs use it in drinks and food. In addition to its great taste, researchers have found it can help reduce stress. The amino acid, L-theanine, is a natural compound found to reduce stress.

a glass cup of green tea matcha

Mice On Matcha

One particular study shows improvement in stressful behavior in mice. In the study, mice went through a maze with varying platform widths. The mice with stressful behaviors used a larger width platform. Obviously, it’s the safest path. On the other hand, the mice given matcha chose a narrow path. Matcha activates dopamine and serotonin receptors to reduce anxiety. Both are neurotransmitters involved with reward and motivation.

Read The Tea Leaves

Matcha tea unique because the leaves are ground to make a powder. Most teas steep dry leaves in hot water to draw out the flavor. The match powder is then added to food and drinks.

When consuming matcha, you are ingesting the actual leaves, potentially making the drink more potent. There are limits to this study, and more research is needed. But it’s easy to find a high quality product and try it out. Link here.

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