Can Sleep Affect Your Weight?

Can Sleep Affect Your Weight?

New Research Shows that Getting Less Sleep Leads to Increased Weight Gains

 

Sleep ProblemsIt’s a pretty well known and established fact that getting proper sleep helps in multiple aspects of life and health. Being sleep deprived can impair someone’s decision making, reduce cognitive/athletic performance, lead to depression/anxiety, and decrease immune function.

But if that doesn’t inspire you, then maybe this will. Researchers from Colorado have found that healthy people who get less sleep are much more likely to overeat and put on extra weight.

In the past few years of practice, I’ve had the privilege of taking care of numerous people with sleeping problems related to structural abnormalities in the upper cervical spine. Ranging from insomnia, sleep apnea, to unproductive sleep. One of the remarkable things about these folks, is that when they get well and start sleeping again, every aspect of their life and health improves.

Why does it happen? 

Sleep isn’t merely about waking up and having energy for your day. Your body is in it’s highest state of cellular repair and turnover. Your body’s most important period for healing are those invaluable 8 hours you spend in bed. It lowers your insulin levels, normalizes your hormonal system, and slows down telomere degeneration (AKA a big factor in aging).

When you lose sleep, the hormones in your body that regulate your weight and control your appetite are not expressed to their fullest capacity. That leads to you overeating and putting your body in a state of insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes). But that’s a topic we’ll tackle another time. 

How to improve your sleep

1. Get moving – Almost every study ever done on sleep shows that people who get exercise daily will report longer and higher quality of sleep than the days they are sleep deprived. IT doesn’t take much, just something as simple as walking has this effect.

2. Rule out Sleep Disorders – Many people have sleep disorders have no idea. If you’re not getting restful sleep, a sleep study can be useful in identifying potential disorders that are treatable. If have a feeling that your atlas is off and creating sleep related secondary conditions, then it’s important that you get checked by a chiropractor.

3. Get into a rhythm -Sleep loss is also cumulative. When you lose just 1 hour of sleep per day for a week, it will have the same effect on the body physiologically as an old fashioned college all-nighter.  Establishing a solid routine is critical for finding that zone when you sleep your best.

4. Monitor Your Caffeine – There was a brilliant piece of marketing I saw when I was in college. I was in a coffee shop drinking my usual green tea when I noticed the sleeve on the coffee cup. It was a advertisement for a sleeping pill. I wondered how many people at coffee shops have sleeping issues….it was apparently enough for an investment from a pharmaceutical company. Getting your caffeiene levels normalized and figuring out the right timing can make a vast difference in sleep quality.

I’ve Already Had Spinal Surgery, it’s too late for you to help me

“I’ve Already Had Spinal Surgery, it’s too late for you to help me”

spinesurgery

An interesting thing happened to me yesterday at lunch that led me to today’s topic. I was speaking to this woman in the check out line

at Whole Foods, when the topic of chiropractic came up (wow, how’d that happen???).Long story short, she told me about her years of excruciating back pain and how she decided to get surgery in hopes of fixing the problem. Two years later, she still has back pain and more than a few pieces of hardware attached to her spine.

I would love to say that meeting me allowed her to have a change of heart about chiropractic and decided to give it a try, but on this particular day, I wasn’t persuasive enough.
It brings me to an interesting point. Every year, hundreds of THOUSANDS of people will under go some form of spinal surgery. These surgeries range from spinal fusions, disckectomies, disc replacements, and more. The purpose of this article isn’t to debate the merits or problems with spinal surgery. There are plenty of articles on the web that you can research on that.

Today, I want to tackle a popular misconception. Many people think that if they’ve had surgery on their spine, then there’s no way that they can see a chiropractor. Now, based on what many people perceive of chiropractic, I can’t say that I blame them at all. If you’ve had rods, plates, and screws placed into your spine, then the thought of someone wrenching or twisting the spine, causing damage in the surgical attachments…it sounds downright terrifying. Here’s the big take home message:

Not All Chiropractic Techniques Are the Same

Infant Adjustment

Most people associate chiropractic with a move you’d see out of a martial arts movie. The truth is, there are many ways to bring about a correction of the spine, and some are very gentle and non-invasive. Some are so safe that they can be used on elderly folks with osteoporosis, new born babies, people with herniated discs, and even people who have had surgery. In my office, I’ve chosen to use only the most precise and gentle chiropractic approaches so that I can take care of people of any population.

Needless to say, safety isn’t the main issue when you’re armed with the correct chiropractic tools. The big question that remains is: Can chiropractic help me even if surgery didn’t?

I was taking care of a patient recently who had had surgery on her neck for neck pain and arm pain. Since the surgery, her pain persisted, and she actually began to develop headaches and fatigue. She was tired of trying to fix the problem and had basically given up on herself. She had an awful fear of having her neck cracked, and on top of that she had a team of doctors that told her that she should never be touched by a chiropractor. Very unlikely that she would ever walk into my office of her own will.

Her daughter actually decided to bring her into the office and give Structural Orthogonal Care a try. After a consultation and an explanation of my adjusting techniques, she felt safe enough to give it a go.

In a few short weeks, not only did her headaches go away, but many of the symptoms she had before the surgery started to go away too. Now here is a VERY VERY VERY important point:

The adjustments did NOT NOT NOT make her pain go away

Now this might sound crazy, but it’s not the adjustment that did the healing. Adjustments in of themselves have NO capacity to heal someone.

The problem was that her neck, specifically her atlas, had shifted so far out of place, that the nerves in her neck were being compressed and irritated. When you add the surgery on top of it, it had locked the neck in a shifted position even further.

The adjustments simply help me to restore the NORMAL alignment of the head and neck. When the spine goes back to normal, then the nerves can work again. It’s that simple.

This is not an unusual situation. In fact, because of my focus on structural correction and the gentle adjustment techniques, I have been referred dozens of patients after surgery in the past few years, and almost all of them respond great.

However, the last point I want to make is this. When you, or someone has surgery, there are very real limitations to how much the structure of the spine can be corrected. I can’t go in there and take hardware out of someone’s spine, nor would you want me to. As much as I love and enjoy helping patients post-surgery, the best thing anyone can do is to have their structure corrected BEFORE surgery becomes part of the picture. That way you can achieve a maximum correction, and have less dependency on chiropractic to stay well.

 

 

8-Hour Energy – Like 5-Hour Energy, but Better

8-Hour Energy – Like 5-Hour Energy, but Better

FatigueIn the past 10 years, one of the most common problems that people talk about is a lack of energy. In fact, if you’re reading this at work right now, you’re probably in the midst of a mid-afternoon crash, and looking for some stimulation to keep your energy and focus up. Don’t worry, keep reading and I’ll provide some  inexpensive tools to help make your work day easier on you for the long term.

The problem has become so rampant, that a tiny 5 ounce shot that promises a world of energy has become a billion dollar product. I don’t know if you’ve done the math lately, but you have to sell A LOT of $3 shots to add up to $1 billion dollars. When combined with energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster, the industry has become a massive $9 billion dollar industry!

So what gives? Why are we as a society running on fumes in terms of energy?

Are we not sleeping enough?

Is it my job?

Are we born with a caffeine deficiency?

I remember a time when I was in chiropractic college and early in my first year in practice when I suffered with the same type of experience. I never drank coffee, but I’d come to depend on a lunch time nap as well as a pick me up tea to get re-energized for the afternoon shifts.

It just didn’t make sense to me that people inherently needed a pick me up during the middle of the day, so I began doing some research. I knew that my structural alignment was sound and my scans showed healthy function of my nervous system already. The next place to start looking was my eating and sleeping patterns.

Without getting into too much detail, I found three very important things:

1. I was beginning my day on the wrong foot with my sleeping pattern

2. The food that I consumed was spiking acidity, inflammation, and  insulin in my body creating a biochemically LOW energetic state.

3. My lowest energy days followed 3 consecutive days without exercise.

Now here’s the thing. I’m not a believer in quick fixes. Actually, let me rephrase that, I believe that quick fixes exist, but it’s a thought process that’s unsustainable and makes failure inevitable. That’s on top of the detrimental effects that some of these energy drinks have been associated with.

I’m a HUGE believer in strategic solutions that make doing the right things in my life easier. Thankfully, with a combination of some will power and the help of some inexpensive services and phone apps, these strategies can help create a higher energetic state for the long term.

8-hour Energy Strategy

1. Start the Morning Fresh – There’s a lot of debate about how much sleep the average adult needs. The truth is, everyone operates well with varying amounts. The most important factors are consistency of sleeping times, and the timing of your wake cycle.

A friend of mine told me about the Sleep Cycle App for my iPhone onesleep cycle day. It allows you to place the phone under your sheets and it senses for how much you move in your sleep. You set an alarm with a 30 minute window to wake you up. Using this criteria, the application will sound the alarm during your lightest period of sleep.

The end result is waking up at a time when you will feel refreshed….EVEN if it means waking up a little earlier than your set alarm time. Once I began using this App, it made 5AM seem MUCH more bearable. Best of all….It’s FREE.

2. Get the Right Fuel – I’m not going to go into too much depth here today, but I decided to go eliminate gluten from my diet, and heavily reduce the amount of grains and sugar I eat on a day to day basis. I switched to a more Paleo type of an eating plan.

Now for a guy that ate white rice almost everyday of his life, this was no simple task. However, by changing my biochemistry, I noticed an immediate improvement in my energy levels. The lunch time nap became a thing of the past, and my 3pm crash was basically gone.

I got the help of an App called ShopWell. You can scan the barcode of a food product and it will let you know if you should eat it based on your customized preferences. Really neat tool.

Deliver LeanAnother great tool is the use of the new food delivery systems like Deliver Lean. It takes the guess work out of what to eat, and it really makes it affordable for most people. When you take a look at the amount of money you spend eating out, Deliver Lean is really a huge bargain.

Healthy snacking is right around the corner now, so be on the lookout for a new site called Graze.com.

 

3. Get Moving – It doesn’t have to be extreme, but our bodies are built to move. It doesn’t have to be a full workout or running miles at a time, but movement will help keep your brain oxygenated and alert.

Sometimes it just took that extra 15 minutes right after I wake up to do 50 push ups before I hit my morning shower. Sometimes it meant doing a 10 minute workout at the gym at lunch time. Or, if you’re a pretty fast runner, why not knock out a quick mile?

Now is this a different way of doing things?

Absolutely, but here is how I see it. If you have to stare at a clock and fight back that miserable feeling of fatigue every……single……day, then wouldn’t it make sense to take on a few changes to make your life better? Take it or leave it, the choice is yours.

4 Suprising Ways to Protect Your Heart

Broken Hearts – More Than a Valentine’s Day Problem

heart healthIn honor of Valentine’s Day and Heart Health Month, today’s blog is dedicated to that spectacular little engine inside your chest.

Although I’m no cardiovascular expert, with more and more people each year seeking out structural orthogonal care for secondary conditions like high blood pressure and arrythmia, I’ve started to become more familiar with problems of the heart.

 

 

Most everyone knows about common lifestyle changes and solutions for heart health, so we’ll just gloss over them for a refresher. These include:

  • High quality Omega-3 Supplementation
  • Quit Smoking
  • Increase Cardiovascular Exercise
  • Decrease Dietary Sodium

After doing some serious research, I found some surprising facts about heart that may help out. Be warned though, some of these may contrast with what you have thought to be true. For my research/science based readers, the sources are linked.

  1. Switch up your cooking oils – Vegetable oils from sources like sunflower, corn, and soybean oil are huge sources of Omega 6 fats. While there is nothing inherently wrong with Omega 6, Americans as a whole get WAY TOO MUCH, and it’s causing more damage than saturated fats (1, 2)Vegetable oils also have a low smoke point which make them more susceptible to leaving rancid oil residue on your food.

    Make the switch to: Coconut oil, organnic grass fed butter, palm oil.
    WHOA, all of those are loaded in saturated fats. Very true. However, saturated fats are actually great for cooking. They have a high smoke point, and in the case with coconut oil, are loaded in medium chain fatty acids, which are burned off by your body very quickly. Plus, research is starting to show that saturated fats (from the right sources) are not bad for you, and are necessary to a healthy body.

  2. Get Strong – Many folks get their fitness on track most often by increasing their aerobic exercise. This is a great way to start, and it certainly has a profound impact on cardiovascular health. However, many studies are pointing to lean muscle mass as a huge factor in cardiovascular health. What does that mean? It means we have to do resistance training.(3, 4)

    Push UpsMake the switch to: Weight lifting. Now it doesn’t mean that you have to go out and start throwing huge weights over your head. Something as simple a regimen of  push ups and band exercises help build lean muscle tissue.

  3. Throw Out the Simple Carbs- Any substance that spikes your blood sugar has a detrimental effect on the body. Sugar toxicity is quickly becoming the scapegoat for many chronic disease processes. Ultimately, it has had a much larger impact on cholesterol and blood pressure than many of us had ever imagined.

    The biggest problem is, we had no idea how much bread and pasta could cause so much sugar toxicity, leading to insulin resistance and overeating. For your heart and your blood chemistry, low carbohydrate focus is the direction science is leaning (5, 6, 7)

  4. Make the switch to: Low carbohydrate foods. This does not mean sugar-free. Sugar free is just a term to mean artificial sweeteners, which are a non food. Eat real food that are rich in colors like vegetables and lean meats.
  5. Check the Brain – The nervous system is the master control system for the entire body. Nothing happens in the body without permission from the brain. Therefore ensuring optimal brain health will play a crucial role in heart health.There are numerous tools to help improve brain function. Biofeedback is a growing field Blood Pressurethat helps people use psychological tools to manage their brain function. Things like meditation and hypnosis also have shown promising roles in blood pressure control

    However, one of the biggest keys is the vascular flow between your brain and the body.
    Structural abnormalities in the upper cervical spine can alter the blood flow in and out of the brain. When this happens, signals to the brain are misinterpreted and heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure can be thrown off. Particularly, the area of the Atlas has shown to be a sensitive area that can have a huge impact on blood pressure (8,9)

    Make the switch: How does one see if their structure is causing secondary conditions in the heart? Visit a structural orthogonal chiropractor for a consult. But that’s enough shameless promotion from me for the day 🙂

Just like there’s no one solution for any disease, there’s not just one solution to help make the heart stronger. It takes a multifaceted approach, and most importantly a commitment from you to embrace a stronger and healthier lifestyle.

 

Is This Silent Problem Killing Your Workout?

Killing Your Workout

Structural Abnormalities and Lifting Efficiency

Anyone that knows me or has been following my work knows that I’m pretty passionate about exercise and fitness. Today’s blog is not about the benefits of exercise; at this point, I think we all have a good grasp of that concept. Today is about identifying road blocks that may be making your workouts less efficient, and more prone to injury.

But first, let’s take a look at a couple of pictures:

A Squat with a tilted pelvis will cause the weight overhead to be tilted as well. The body will absorb the compressive stress of gravity unequally.

A Squat with a tilted pelvis will cause the weight overhead to be tilted as well. The body will absorb the compressive stress of gravity unequally.

Level weight, level pelvis, gravity acts on the structure of the spine equally.

Level weight, level pelvis, gravity acts on the structure of the spine equally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now looking at each of these pictures, let’s ask a few questions:

Which lifter is going to be more efficient?
Which lifter will be able to support more weight in the squat position?
Which lifter is likely to reduce their chance of injury?

My money is on the lifter on the left. It just makes sense. A level foundation is a critical element to power lifting. It’s not optional.

Now this is a problem that can be fixed by many approaches. It can be addressed by fixing some issues involving technique. It may be a flexibility/muscular issue. It can be a wide variety of things. My job is not to become your new strength coach, physical therapist, or trainer. If you are having issues in those departments, then seek your appropriate professional.

However, in many cases that I see in my practice, the problem is a Structural Abnormality. While most people will look at someone’s lifting posture on the surface, I’m actually assessing what they look like on the inside. If they look like this image on the right, then no amount of training or therapy is going to help protect this man’s lifting ability.

A structural x-ray assessment of a near normal pelvis and spine.

A structural x-ray assessment of a near normal pelvis and spine.

A structural x-ray assessment shows that the pelvis and spine are clearly tilted to the left. Can this affect a lift?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with dozens of ball players,  triathlon athletes, runners, power lifters, and Crossfit athletes. With the sheer amount of training and work that they put their bodies through, structural abnormalities can be almost inevitable.

The worst part is that many times, shifts like these can occur without pain or secondary conditions. Athletes are typically looking for a performance edge. To run a little bit faster. To lift a little heavier. To throw a little farther. All of which requires a normally functioning spine and nervous system.

Think about it, if your body was like a house  would you ever allow the foundation to be built unlevel? Of course not. The house would come apart. Then once that starts affecting vital structures like the plumbing and electrical system, then you REALLY have a problem on your hands.

If you’re serious about achieving new strength/fitness goals, and if you’re serious about the long term sustainability of your body, then a structural assessment will be a critical part to your growth as an athlete.

Can Running Hurt my Structure?

Can running hurt my structure?

Running is #1 exercise of choice for people seeking to increase their fitness. Programs like Couch to 5k have spurned millions of Americans to strap on some running shoes and hit the streets toward better health.

However, running is the most common source of sports related injury in the country. Injuries to the foot/ankle, knee, hip, and low back can often side line a runner for weeks, while knocking the wheels off their fitness goals. I see this far too often when taking care of runners with chronic injuries.

Running like this over time will cause structural shifts, and pain. What's wrong in this picture?

Running like this over time will cause structural shifts, and pain. What’s wrong in this picture?

Many times, the problem isn’t the sport itself, but the way the sport is performed. Improper running form from poor running posture or repetitive heel striking are the most common culprits. Over the course of dozens of miles, heel striking can jar all of the joints of the lower extremity causing the spine to shift out of place. Of course, once the spine shifts out of place, then secondary conditions will inevitably result.

So how can you make running safe?

  1. Change your form. Go to your local running store like “The Runner’s Depot” which usually give great classes on Natural Running, POSE, or Chi Running.
  2. Evaluate your footwear. If you’re wearing the wrong shoes, then you will continue to get injured. Most local running stores have experts ready to fit you for the right shoe for your specific foot.
  3. Get checked for any underlying structural shifts that may be causing weak running posture and reduce your body’s ability to heal and repair.

Don’t let injury knock you off track from your weight loss and fitness goals. Run long, and run safe.

Ladies. I know you're just admiring my form....my running form

Ladies. I know you’re just admiring my form….my running form

ALSO. There’s a FREE intro to Chi Running at the Runner’s Depot Store in Davie on Saturday February 9th.

Chi Running Class
11:00AM – 12Noon
Runner’s Depot – Davie
Learn proper running form that will keep you performing your best and running injury-free. Certified Chi Running Instructor, Dr. Alan Miller will explain and demonstrate the proper technique for good running form and run you through some quick drills that you can use in everyday practice to keep you running healthy and happy!
FREE Class – Open to Everyone – Limited Space
Call now to reserve your spot – (954) 474-4074

Icebergs – symptoms versus causes

 

Most people are familiar with the image on the top. An image of a lowly iceberg. It looks so simple to simply steer around and bypass it on the way to smoother seas.

But if our past was a good teacher, then we know that by only paying attention to the surface, we can miss a dangerous obstacle in the depths.

 

The Complete Picture

Our bodies are equipped with an incredible array of signals to let us know that something is wrong. Sometimes it comes in the form of a pain in the back, draining fatigue, or chest pain. The purpose of these signals is to tell us that something is wrong, but it’s up to us to look within to identify the cause.

As long as we continue to exist in a healthcare system that only seeks to reduce symptoms, then we will continue to get the same results as those who only saw the tip of the iceberg.

Unless we look towards the body’s Innate healing capacity, and why it’s not operating at 100% full function, then we are missing the boat on the health challenges of millions of people. And there’s no amount of drugs, natural medicine, surgery, or insurance money that can save that ship from sinking.