The Power of Sunlight

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Mankato, MN

If you are like me, the realization that summer is almost over is devastating. It always goes by so fast! So if you haven’t been outside much enjoying the sun and nice weather, now is the time to do so. Especially when there are great benefits from getting sunlight for only 15-20 minutes each day.

  • Sun exposure promotes bone health. We already know that we get Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is important in calcium and phosphorous absorption in the bones, strengthening them and preventing fractures. It has also been shown  that Vitamin D has a positive effect on bone density, which we know decreases as we age. So as we age, it is important to continue to get sun exposure.
  • Sunlight promotes healing of skin disorders, such as psoriasis, acne, eczema and fungal infections of the skin.
  • Sun exposure improves brain function. Unfortunately as we age, our memories and brain function decreases. A study done at the University of Cambridge found that lower levels of Vitamin D in the blood correlated to lower cognitive function, when studied in 1,200 men and women 65 year of age and older. There have even been more studies performed that show that sunlight promotes nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, the part of the brain where memories are formed, organized and stored.
  • Sunlight lowers cholesterol. The sun converts high cholesterol in the blood into steroid hormones, along with the sex hormones needed for reproduction.
  • The sun’s rays lowers blood pressure. A study done at the University of Edinburgh found that nitric oxide, which is known to decrease blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, is released into the bloodstream as soon as sunlight hits the skin.
  • Sun exposure increases the oxygen in human blood. It also enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to the tissues; very similar to the effects of exercise. The sun has an impact on stamina, fitness and muscular development.
  • Sunlight builds the immune system. White blood cells in the body play a major role in supporting the immune system and defending against infections. Exposure to the sun increases the number of white blood cells.
  • Regular sunlight exposure boosts the growth and height of children, especially babies in the first few months of life.
  • Sunlight can help ease depression. A lack of sunlight can lead to a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression. It is more common in winter months, but also common in people who work long hours cooped up in office buildings. On sunny days, the brain produces more serotonin, which is a mood-lifting chemical in the brain.
  • Sunlight can improve sleep quality. Exposure to the sun during the day increases the natural production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep, at night. Low levels of melatonin production is linked to poor sleep quality.
  • Sun exposure may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Vitamin D deficiency may increase your risk of several cancers, including breast and colon cancers. Numerous studies have shown that sufficient Vitamin D levels have decreased the risk of cancer by 60%.

Now get outside and soak up these benefits!

 

Everyone Needs Omega-3s

Mankato, MN

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I’m sure everyone knows that omega-3-fatty acids are good for you since they are mentioned everywhere. But what most might not realize are all the benefits and why they are important for our bodies. Our bodies cannot make omega-3’s, which means they are an essential fatty acid and we need to get them from our diet. They are essential because they are needed for important body functions.

Benefits of Omega-3s:

  • Fight Inflammation: The majority of the American diet consists of high sugar and processed foods, and most of us don’t get enough whole foods. Therefore, we are deficient in omega-3-fatty acids. Processed and high sugar foods are major causes of inflammation. Inflammation is the main cause of most diseases, so getting sufficient amounts of omega-3s help decrease this inflammation. (1, 2, 3)
  • Improves Heart Health:  Omega-3-fatty acids positively affect risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke. They regulate cholesterol levels. There is good and bad cholesterol – High Density Lipids (HDL) are “good” and Low Density Lipids (LDL) are “bad”. Omega-3s raise the HDL levels. Our HDL levels should be higher than LDL levels. Omega-3-fatty acids also lower triglycerides (major risk factor for heart disease), lowers high blood pressure, prevents plaque build-up (prevents blockage of arteries and prevents damage), and may prevent formation of blood clots. (4, 5, 6)
  • Helps Anxiety, Depression and ADHD: Studies have shown that people who consume Omega-3s regularly are less likely to be depressed. Research has also shown that those with depression and/or anxiety their symptoms improve with supplementing omega-3s. Several studies have found that kids with ADHD have lower omega-3 levels than their peers. Studies have also found that omega-3-fatty acids reduce the symptoms of ADHD, help children pay more attention and focus, decrease hyperactivity, impulsiveness, restlessness and aggression. (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
  • Fights Autoimmune Diseases: It seems more and more people are being diagnosed with autoimmune diseases like Type 1 Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Psoriasis and Multiple Sclerosis. Omega-3s can help fight autoimmune diseases. Studies have even shown that getting enough omega-3s in the first year of life can help reduce the risks of autoimmune diseases. (13, 14, 15, 16)
  • May Support Healthy Bones and Joints: Research has seen an increase in calcium absorption that improves the strength of bones and production of collagen, preventing osteoporosis, with consumption of essential fatty acids. Omega-3s decreased the inflammation, and bone and joint pain associated with arthritis. (17, 18)
  • Fights Age-Related Mental Decline and Alzheimer’s: Loss of memory and decreased brain function is unfortunately a consequence of aging, but studies have shown that higher omega-3-fatty acid levels are related to increased brain function and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. (19, 20, 21)
  • Important for Infant and Child Development: It’s extremely important for developing babies and children to get sufficient amounts of omega-3-fatty acids for proper brain and eye development. Getting enough omega-3s during pregnancy has been shown to increase mental processing, hand-eye coordination, psychomotor and audial processing. (22, 23, 24)
  • Supports Healthy Skin: Essential fatty acids benefit the skin from the inside out by regulating oil production, regulating hydration of the skin and can even slow the aging process. Omega-3s help and prevent acne, and fight related inflammation. (25, 26)
  • And many more!

Foods High in Omega-3-Fatty Acids

  • Atlantic Mackerel (highest)
  • Walnuts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Herring
  • Salmon (wild caught)
  • Flaxseeds (ground)
  • Albacore Tuna
  • White Fish
  • Sardines
  • Hemp Seeds

Omega-3 Supplements

There are hundreds of different brands of omega-3 supplements. Which ones are the best? If you recall from my previous blog about whole food vitamins vs synthetic vitamins, there are no regulations to supplements. Meaning companies can list any ingredients on their labels or not list certain ingredients, etc. They can even say they are “natural” when in reality only 10% of the product needs to come from a whole food source. Omega-3-fatty acids or fish oil are no different.

So how do you know if your omegas are 100% fish oil? Or if they contain more water or synthetic fillers? Or if they are mostly saturated fats than unsaturated fats (omega-3s)? You can freeze them! The majority of omega-3s come in a gel cap and are clear. So just throw one gel cap into the freezer overnight and in the morning give it a shake. If you see several tiny bubbles floating around and the gel cap is still clear, you know you have a good supplement and only contain Omega-3-Fatty Acids. Omega-3s have a very low freezing temperature. If your supplement is completely solid or opaque in color (like butter), it is not a good source of Omega-3s and it mostly contains saturated fats (which we already get too much of in our diets and they raise “bad” cholesterol). What is also important to note is if the fish oil is fresh or rancid, if it is contaminated with mercury, and if the label is accurate for the amount of omega-3-fatty acids present. These questions will be answered if the supplements have been tested and approved by a third party, which they should be. We all need adequate amounts of omega-3-fatty acids, but we also need high quality products to get all the benefits.

 

Natural Relief of Allergies

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Mankato, MN

Spring is here! Beautiful weather, green grass, the trees and flowers are blooming…which also means that allergy season has begun. For those of you who suffer from allergies, spring isn’t always a time to look forward to or be excited about.

Approximately one third of all Americans that experience symptoms of seasonal allergies during the spring and summer. Symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, headaches, fatigue, coughing and difficulty breathing. None of which are enjoyable, and very much affecting the lives and everyday activities of those who suffer from allergies. Many people don’t realize that seasonal allergies can actually exacerbate depression, digestive issues and joint pain.

Many people will turn to over-the-counter medications to help with allergy symptoms, leaving many feeling drowsy. Daily nose sprays can contain steroids that can damage the body’s natural defense mechanisms and healing abilities.

Allergies occur when the immune system encounters an irritant and mistakes it as harmful, leading the immune system into working overtime over normally harmful substances. The five most common allergens include: pollen, grass, dust mites, mold and weeds.

Irritants can either be inhaled, eaten or touched. The body then responds by producing specific antibodies, which activate the release of histamines. Histamines begin damaging the body, causing an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response is what causes those miserable and annoying symptoms of allergies.

This may or may not come as a shock to some of you, but stress plays a significant role on our immune system. The nervous system and the immune system are very closely related. So much so that there is a specific study of science, called psychoneuroimmunology, that investigates the relationship between perceived stress and the corresponding immune system changes the body undergoes.

It has been found that stress and allergies elicit similar inflammatory responses, and that stress aggravates the immune system’s already heightened response to allergens. Chronic stress also causes high levels of cortisol (your main stress hormone) to be produced. Cortisol in balanced levels is actually an anti-inflammatory hormone and is good short-term, but chronic stress and elevated levels of cortisol causes the immune system to become suppressed. It is a natural response of the immune system to undergo specific inflammatory pathways when threatened, but cortisol and chronic stress prevent this from happening, making us more susceptible to illnesses and in this case, allergies.

Chiropractic and Allergies

Chiropractic and allergies are very much connected, more so than people realize. The nervous system and the immune system are closely related, due to the fact that the nervous system controls everything in the body, including the immune system. Chiropractic care treats the nervous system by treating the spine, correcting the subluxations or misalignments in the spine that are putting pressure or stress on the nervous system. Not only do these subluxations cause a stress response and increase levels or cortisol, they also prevent the brain and the body from communicating properly, therefore the body will not functioning properly.

Here is another way of looking at it to better understand: the nervous system is the powerlines and the brain is the power plant – the powerlines connect to the power plant. If something is wrong with the connection to the power plant it can take more power than needed to do certain things or there may be issues further down the line. The same can be said for misalignments in the spine preventing the proper messages/signals being sent to/from the brain and the body via the nervous system. By improving the communication between the brain and body by treating the nervous system, chiropractic care can help regulate and manage the body’s reaction to allergens. So instead of treating allergies or the immune system, chiropractic adjustments remove the interference to the nervous system allowing the body to function and fight like it was designed to do.

Acupuncture and Allergies

According to Chinese medical theory, the signs and symptoms of allergies are due to the imbalances of the meridians and organ systems in the body. Stress, poor diet, constitutional weakness, pollutants and/or environmental toxins may cause these imbalances in the body. An accumulation of these imbalances will affect the function of the organ systems, and in this case, the immune system. Making us more vulnerable to allergens or irritants, and compromising our health.

The majority of the immune system is located in the GI tract, spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow and the bloodstream. Coincidentally, acupuncture focuses on the Stomach, Large Intestine and Spleen meridians for allergy treatment, resulting in reduced or eliminated symptoms. Acupuncture helps support and strengthen the systems of the body that are involved in immune health, enhancing immune system function.

Acupuncture can relieve and prevent seasonal allergies without negative side effects, as well and improving sleep and reducing stress. On average, a course of 4-6 acupuncture treatments should be received, as acupuncture has an accumulative effect on the body.

If you are looking for a natural alternative to relieve your allergy symptoms, give us a call today or schedule now!

Do Your Vitamins Pass the Test?

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Mankato, MN

I really encourage my patients to get the majority of their vitamins and essential nutrients from whole foods, but let's face it it's hard for most of us to get several servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Another challenge that prevents us from getting all the necessary nutrients from our food is green harvesting. Green harvesting is when our fruits and vegetables are picked before ripening. Since it seems about half of our year is winter, we have to get our produce from other places. Considering they need to travel to us, they can't be picked hen ripe and still be good by the time they reach us. Because of these reasons, I do recommend patients supplement with vitamins - not take them in replacement of fruits and veggies (because I know there are those of you out there that do!), but in addition to fruits and vegetables. Our bodies need these nutrients in order to function properly. After all, health begins from the inside.

What we put into our bodies matter, including the quality of the vitamins we take. How do you choose your vitamins? Do you choose based on the price? On the brand? Maybe you see several commercials for a specific brand and think that they must be great since you see the commercial so often. Or do you choose the ones with the best source of vitamins and minerals?

Unfortunately, there aren't many regulations on supplements. Meaning they could be made from synthetic forms of the vitamins that our bodies need, ingredients in them that aren't even listed on the label, or some ingredients listed may not even be in the supplement. This is why it is extremely important for people to do their research about what they are putting into their bodies, or ask their health care practitioner. Most health care practitioners offer better quality supplements in their office and do their own research on the products they carry.

You want a vitamin that is sourced from whole foods. The synthetic nutrients in some supplements make it harder for your body to process, breakdown and absorb the vitamins. Synthetic nutrients are made in a lab and don't come from natural sources. They are made to mimic the way natural vitamins are used by our bodies, but our bodies can't use or recognize them the same way as vitamins from whole foods. These synthetics forms of vitamins are not meant for human consumption and don't occur in nature. Unfortunately, most of the vitamins labeled as "natural" are actually not. In fact, only about 10% of the product must come from natural food sources in order for it be considered "natural". ("New Vitamin Bible" by  Earl Mindell)

So how can you tell if your vitamins are of the best quality or synthetic? The bake test!

I tested some of the most common vitamins sold in stores, and also vitamins from supplement companies. I tested multivitamins and prenatal vitamins, but you can do the bake test for pretty much any vitamin (except liquid forms and liquid capsules). They were baked at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. With the bake test we can tell the difference between a plant-sourced/natural vitamin and a synthetic form. 

A vitamin passes the bake test if:

  • The tablet/powder turns darker after baking - with no black "stuff"oozing out
  • The gummy melts, but does not turn dark brown/black

A vitamin fails the bake test if:

  • The tablet/powder turns all black, oozes black "stuff" or melts
  • The gummy does not melt - or if it does it turns black

What is this black "stuff" I'm referring to? It is actually the harsh binders and fillers in the vitamins that are being cooked out! It looks like a black tar'like substance.

Prenatal Vitamins

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  1. Orthomolecular Prenatal
  2. One A Day Prenatal
  3. VitaFusion Prenatal
  4. Nature Made Prenatal
  5. Innate Response Baby & Me Prenatal
  6. Smarty Pants Prenatal
  7. Rainbow Light Prenatal One
  8. Thorne Prenatal
  9. Alive! Prenatal
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And this is after baking... Just from quickly looking at this, #3 and #9 are fails. Number 3 turned completely black when melted and #9 didn't change in shape (which it's supposed to melt). 

Let's take a closer look at a few of them...

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1. Those black spots? This is a fail

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2. This one didn't change much. However it did start oozing that black stuff, but it's hard to see from this angle. I am showing this one because you can tell from just looking at it that it isn't made from whole foods. What food is naturally this color?

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4. Fail - you can clearly see that black sludge.

5. This one passed! It turned a darker brown, but did not have that black sludge oozing out. This one is derived from plant and whole foods.

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Multivitamins

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  1. Alive! Multi
  2. One A Day Multi
  3. Smarty Pants Multi
  4. VitaFusion
  5. Centrum Multi
  6. Mannatech Manna Bears
  7. Innate Response Multi

Numbers 6 and 7 passed this bake test, unfortunately the others did not.

I want to mention that the vitamin tablets that look artificially colored (i.e. pink, yellow) should be your first clue that they aren't derived from natural sources. Gummy vitamins should be naturally colored from the food sources they are made up of.

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6. Just to give you an idea what a gummy should look like after the bake test. Like I mentioned, they should melt and turned slightly darker, if not slightly brown.

I hope this post at least makes you think twice about what you are putting into your body and about how it can impact your health. It is so important to give your body the proper nutrients to support every cell, tissue, organ/organ system and function of the body. We only have one body and we need to take care of it!

Fertility and Chiropractic

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Mankato, MN

More and more couples are having trouble conceiving, approximately 10% of the population. That number doesn’t seem high, but to those in that ten percent it feels extremely high.

Many people seek chiropractic care for neck pain or low back pain, and it’s a great alternative to naturally relieving those symptoms. Chiropractic is also great at improving overall health. But could chiropractic really help fertility?

Let’s go back to basic anatomy. The central nervous system consists of the brain and the spinal cord. The nervous system controls everything in your body and without these two things, nothing works. The brain and spinal cord are protected by the skull and the spine. So it makes sense that if the spine isn’t functioning properly the nervous system won’t be either.

What we look for are called subluxations, or misalignments of the spine, or even more simply put the joints or bones in the spine are “stuck” in the wrong position. When subluxations happen, they put stress or pressure on the nervous system leading to nervous system dysfunction causing muscle spasms, inflammation, pain or organ/organ system dysfunction. The stress on the nervous system due to subluxations of the spine is similar to stepping on a hose. You still have the information coming in and out, but it isn’t as good as it should be. Because the nerves come out between each bone of the spine, they go everywhere in the body, and are how the brain and the body communicate. For example, the nerves in the low back go to all organs and organ systems in the abdomen, which includes the reproductive system. As a chiropractor, I detect these subluxations causing stress on the body and correct them to allow the body to function properly. If you are interested in more research behind chiropractic and fertility, here is a great article.

But how do these subluxations happen? Subluxations are due to stress. I know what you’re thinking, who doesn’t have stress?! And you’re correct, everyone does. But the kind of stress your thinking and the kind that I’m referring to are different. When I say stress in relation to our health I am talking about physical (walking, sitting, falls/accidents etc.), chemical (diet, medications, not drinking enough water) and emotional. Conceiving a baby is considered a stress on the body and if that body is already under a state of distress or system overload, it will not take on additional stress in order to protect itself.

Along with chiropractic, we have an approach based on the fundamental essentials that are needed so your body can function at its most optimal level. We believe in giving your body the best chance for a successful pregnancy by focusing on your health first. And if you are healthier, your child will be healthier. It's a win-win! You can read more about our approach here.

Your Nervous System

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I’m sure many of you know chiropractic care has to do with the spine, but what many of you might not be aware of is that chiropractic actually focuses on the nervous system. I was the same way. I started seeing the chiropractor in high school for Bell’s Palsy and neck pain. Then in college I had severe low back pain and chiropractic care helped tremendously. Every time I went to one it was for a reason – being in pain with the only goal of getting out of that discomfort. I had no idea that my health and body could benefit so much from chiropractic care, until I started researching more about it and decided to go to chiropractic school. I was also not educated about chiropractic and its amazing benefits from the chiropractor I was seeing (but as a teenager I doubt I would have listened anyway!) but this is why I love to educate my patients about how wonderful chiropractic care is. More often than not, the reason to begin seeing a chiropractor is for pain relief or some other complaint, but a lot of people will notice other differences/improvements in their bodies. That is the result of treating the nervous system by treating the spine allows the body to function better, and for the brain and the body to communicate more efficiently.

The nervous system is the major controlling system of the body. Every single feeling, thought, and action is processed by the nervous system. The nervous system allows the body to constantly react to changes in its internal and external environments, therefore regulating the body for optimal health. The nervous system is divided into two parts: the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord. The PNS consists of nerve fibers, cell bodies and synapses that connect the peripheral structures in the body to the CNS, allowing the brain and body to communicate.

The PNS includes 12 cranial nerves and 31 pairs of spinal nerves that provide communication from the CNS to the rest of the body and regulate the functions of the body. These nerves branch out from the spinal cord traveling through the spine to the body then back to the spinal cord and brain. One of the most important divisions of the PNS is called the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS controls the functions of the body that are automatic, meaning they are performed without you even thinking about it. Some of these functions include blood pressure, breathing and digestion along with several other organ functions. The ANS also has two divisions: the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System – both of which are extremely important.

The Sympathetic Nervous System is in charge of the “Fight or Flight Response” that occurs in stressful situations, which you may or may not have heard of. I like to describe this response by imagining if you are camping out in the woods and a bear shows up. What do you do – fight or flight? (I hope you know to run. I mean, you can stick around and fight the bear… But I wouldn’t recommend it!) How do you know instinctively that you need to run and how does your body prepare for that? It’s the sympathetic nervous system! It increases your breathing, your heart rate, your blood pressure, increases blood flow to muscles to make them stronger, etc. It also slows the body processes that are not needed in stressful/emergency situations, like digestion. The sympathetic nervous system is great for short-term, but if it is stimulated and activated for long-term, meaning our bodies are in a constant state of stress, that is when we start having dysfunctions of the body.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System conserves and restores. It slows down your heart rate and blood pressure, it stimulates digestion, conserves energy, and uses the energy to restore and build tissues. Our parasympathetic nervous system should actually be dominant over the sympathetic nervous system, but like I mentioned above a lot of us tend to have a dominant sympathetic nervous system.

Chiropractors treat the nervous system, stimulating and decreasing the activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to allow proper balance, communication and functions of the body. Chiropractic adjustments also decrease the stress on the body that causes spinal misalignments. What I mean by stress is any physical, chemical and emotional stress. They all affect our nervous systems. This is exactly why chiropractic is great for everyone – no matter what our age we all have stress! 

Contact Vitality Chiropractic & Acupuncture in Mankato, MN today to have your spine and nervous system checked!

Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System

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Mankato, MN

Cold and flu season is upon us! I don’t know about you, but I like learning of natural ways to protect my immune system so I can prevent falling victim to the cold or flu. Or if I’ve already caught the bug, knowing what to take to make me feel better the fastest (and I don’t mean taking copious amounts of Dayquil and Nyquil to help me get through the day and night!).

There are many natural ways to jumpstart your immune system, but these are a few we recommend to our patients:

  • Chiropractic care:  Chiropractic care regulates or treats the nervous system. The nervous system controls everything in your body, including the immune system. Chiropractic care boosts the immune system by 200-400% - and that is for everyone!
  • Vitamin D:  The sun is a natural source of vitamin D, but with daylight hours decreasing and the weather getting colder, it’s harder to get enough vitamin D from the sun. Supplement vitamin D3 to prevent cold/flu and to jumpstart the immune system.
  • Probiotics:  Probiotics are “good” bacteria that inhabit the gut and support the immune system. Over 70% of the immune system is controlled by what happens in the gut. If you are on antibiotics it’s so important to take probiotics after to help replenish the good bacteria.
  • Omega-3-Fatty Acids:  Not only are Omega-3 fatty acids good for the cardiovascular system, reducing inflammation and enhancing brain function they also boost the immune system.
  • Diet: Making sure your diet is full of fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to fight off that pesky cold/flu is so important. If you find it hard to fit in several servings each day consider throwing veggies and fruit into a smoothie (preferably one without yogurt or milk) or juicing them into a delicious juice. Both of these are my favorite way of getting more fruits and vegetables daily. And what is even better is that many fruits and vegetables are prebiotics, which are a form of non-digestible fiber called oligosaccharides that help support and essentially feed the probiotics.
  • Exercise:  Regular exercise is important for healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases.  Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.
  • Echinacea:  Helps prevent colds and flu, but if taken when you are sick it also helps shorten the duration and decreases severity. NOTE: Echinacea is in the ragweed family, so if you are allergic to ragweed you may be allergic to Echinacea as well.
  • Garlic:  Garlic is a potent herb with a variety of active compounds that reduce inflammation, fight infection and regulate the cardiovascular system. Garlic is full of antioxidants and even helps you fight the cold/flu faster.

Now you know of natural ways to kick that cold or flu to the curb!

Tips for Backpack Safety

Pediatric Chiropractor discusses tips for backpack safety to prevent low back pain and neck pain in children.

Mankato, MN

It’s that time of year already when all the kids go back to school. Some excited, some not so much, I’m sure! I was always one that was ready to go back to school no matter what age I was. I got to see my friends, sports practices started and just maybe because I enjoyed learning, (especially the older I got – obviously!). I still remember the overloaded backpacks and knowing what I know now, remember what they do to your posture. So I thought I would write about some tips for the proper way to wear and pack a backpack.

Backpacks are actually one of the leading causes of shoulder and back pain in children. Think about how their posture changes when carrying one – they tend to bend forward, their shoulders rolled and their heads come way too far forward (ideally, our ears should be in alignment with our shoulders). This posture causes stress on their spine and muscles that over time could lead to pain, which could either be due to the wrong sized backpack, one not properly adjusted or one that is too heavy.

So I want you to ask yourself these questions to make sure your child has the correct backpack and to follow these recommendations by the American Chiropractic Association.

  • Is the backpack the correct size for your child? The backpack should not be bigger (wider or longer) than the size of your child’s torso. It also should not hang more than 4 inches below their waistline because when it hangs lower than that it increases the weight on the shoulders and causes your child to lean forward when walking.
  • Does the backpack have two wide and padded shoulder straps? These types of straps help protect the neck and shoulder muscles by preventing unnecessary pressure being placed on them and they are more comfortable, unlike non-padded straps.
  • Are the shoulder straps adjustable? The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. The straps should be pulled tight to minimize the space between the backpack and the child’s back. The backpack should also be evenly centered in the middle of your child’s back.
  • Does your child use both straps? Carrying the backpack using both shoulder straps helps to distribute the weight of the backpack evenly. Lugging a heavy backpack by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, low-back pain, and poor posture.
  • Does the backpack have a padded back? A padded back not only provides more comfort, but also protects your child from being poked by sharp edges on school supplies (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack.
  • Does the backpack have several compartments? A backpack with individualized compartments helps position the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child’s back, and try to place the heaviest items closet to the body.
  • How heavy is the backpack? It is recommended that a child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10 percent of his/her bodyweight. For example, a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t carry a backpack heavier than 10 pounds, and a 50-pound child shouldn’t carry more than 5 pounds.

Dr. Jessica specializes in chiropractic care for children. If your child reports pain or you notice changes in his/her posture, please give us a call or ask us about your child’s spine when you are in for your regular adjustment.

A Healthier, Happier Life

What is chiropractic? Mankato Chiropractor explains chiropractic and how it affects a healthy life.

Welcome to Vitality! This is my first blog post for my very own practice and I am SO excited to tell you more about chiropractic and ways to live a healthier, happier life.

Maybe you’ve heard the word Vitality before and you may or may not know the meaning. There are several definitions of the word Vitality - the power giving continuance of life, the capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence, and the power to live or grow. I seriously love all of these definitions, but to me Vitality simply means Life. And that is why I named my practice Vitality. I want to help others live the life they deserve by helping their bodies heal and function properly. It is possible for everyone because vitality is present in each and every one of us.

But where does chiropractic come into play in living happier and healthier lives? Well let me tell you! For those of you that have not been to a chiropractor previously or those who sought chiropractic care for a specific condition, there is so much more to chiropractic care than treating low back pain or neck pain, etc. In order to fully explain chiropractic, we need to freshen up on our physiology.

I want you to think of the different systems in our bodies and answer these questions.

1.     What system is responsible for healing when you cut yourself?

2.     What system controls your blood pressure and pulse?

3.     What system is accountable for your breathing?

If you answered the following questions with the immune system, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory system you would actually be incorrect. Yes, they do do these things but the nervous system is actually the system that controls the immune, cardiovascular, respiratory systems and all the other systems. Your nervous system controls everything in your body – every cell, organ, muscle and tissue.

I will actually go into more detail about the nervous system in an upcoming blog, but I’m going to give a short rundown of it for the purpose of today’s blog. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. The spinal cord is protected by the spine and there are nerves that travel from the spinal cord to everywhere in your body (as mentioned above every cell, muscle, organ and tissue). As chiropractors, we look for areas of misalignment in the spine. These areas are called subluxations, which they are lacking proper joint motion and are “stuck” in the wrong position, so to speak. Subluxations put pressure on the nerves that come from the side of the spine and connect to specific areas of the body, resulting in dysfunction of that organ, muscle, etc. and ultimately causing the body to not function at its most optimal level. As a result of our bodies not functioning properly, we may notice certain symptoms such as pain, muscle spasms, constipation, headaches or others. If you are experiencing such symptoms, are you really living a happy, healthy life? Have you ever noticed that when you are in pain or not feeling your best, it can actually affect your mood and the amount of negative versus positive thoughts you have? Just think about how it can affect you and your life.

Chiropractors correct the areas of subluxation to not only help you feel better but also to allow proper communication of your brain and body, allow your body to function the way it should and help you take the step towards a better life.

Vitality Chiropractic & Acupuncture offers care to those in and surrounding areas to Mankato, MN.