Choosing a balanced diet containing the right vitamins and minerals decreases our chances of developing deficiencies later on in life. The body’s structure relies on vitamins and minerals to ensure muscle tone (including the heart), healthy functioning of nerves; correct composition of body fluids; and the formation of healthy blood and bones.
A Healthy Diet Plan
For bone, muscle and joint health try and include Calcium in your diet, which is essential for optimal nerve and muscle function and blood clotting.
Dairy products are rich in calcium that is easy to absorb. Non – dairy sources with equally absorbable calcium are green leafy vegetables from the kale family. Spinach, rhubarb, sweet potatoes and dried beans are rich in calcium but from these foods it’s not easily absorbed
Required for efficient muscle contraction and conduction of nerve impulses. Low magnesium levels in the body can affect the body’s calcium levels, putting bone health at risk.
Green leafy vegetables, unrefined grains and nuts. Small amounts are present in meat and milk. Large quantities of fibre in the diet and low protein intake can reduce the amount of magnesium able to be absorbed by the body.
Essential for regulating the formation of bone and the absorption of calcium from the intestine. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that functions to help control the movement of calcium between bone and blood.
Primarily from the action of UVB light on the skin. Food sources such as cod liver oil, sardines, salmon, tuna, milk and milk products contain small amounts of Vitamin D.
The structure of bones, cartilage, muscles and blood vessels is provided in part and maintained by collagen. The formation of strong efficient collagen requires Vitamin C.
Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes, green leafy vegetable and peppers. Also important for producing strong collagen and therefore strong bone structure, is Folic acid. Folic acid is found in cereals, beans, green leafy vegetables, orange and orange juice
Vitamin C is also a strong antioxidant and is capable of regenerating other antioxidants like vitamin E. The role of antioxidants is to mop up free radicals (the by-products of normal metabolism). Excessive amounts of free radicals cause damage to joint surfaces and muscle cell regeneration. Antioxidants reduce the potential of these free radicals to cause joint damage.
Antioxidants are vitamins A, C, E and the mineral selenium and are present in fruits and vegetables, the highest quantities are found in the most deeply and brightly coloured. Cartilage that lines the articulating surfaces of all joints is critical to joint health. Cartilage is the shock absorber of joints and is continually rebuilt if a source of raw materials is available. Supplements such as glucosamine sulphate can be added to a healthy diet to assist joints that maybe showing signs of wear and tear.
Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) also reduce the degenerative changes in tissues and cells. EFA’s are unsaturated fatty acids such as Omega 3. They aid in decreasing the inflammatory response and help relieve pain and discomfort in joints and muscles.
EFA’s can be found in oily fish (sardines, fresh tuna, mackerel), flax seed and linseed.
Foods to avoid…
There are certain foods and substances that adversely effect the body’s use of minerals and vitamins. High saturated/animal fats, refined foods, white flour, white sugar, white rice, chocolate, carbonated drinks and fruit juices with high sugar concentration should be kept to a minimum if not weaned from the diet completely. Meat and dairy products should be kept within a recommended weekly amount. Dairy products as calcium sources should be varied with other non-dairy sources.
Summertime is here and with it, for many, comes the desire to don a pair of trainers and hit the road for a run.
If you are new to running why not try the NHS podcasts for couch to 5Km http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx or join a running club.
Here’s how not to make it a troublesome one for your joints and muscles…
The finer weather might be incentive to keep on running longer than usual and push your body that little bit more. While good for reaching your ultimate running goal, pushing your body too hard might result in unwanted injuries.
Listen to your body’s natural resistance and follow these tips for a safe and effective wind down after your run:
Don’t Stop Moving
Keep gently mobile right after your run. Try regular walking for 5-10 minutes; it might be the last thing you feel like after running a few miles but remaining static should be avoided at all costs to avoid injuries.
Applying ice to specific injuries such as problems with joints is highly recommended. This is most effective when the ice is applied immediately after a run but still works when applied a few days following.
Taking a hot bath after a long run is ideal for strained muscles. It also helps with overall rejuvenation and relaxation which is often needed after a strenuous or draining stretch.
Food For Thought
What we put in our bodies pre and post run is particularly important. Snack regularly, ideally on something that is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, which contains some protein. A tuna sandwich is ideal. Ensuring you drink lots of fluids is also another very important factor for runners to remember. Water is of course an excellent choice when it comes to keeping well hydrated but there are plenty of other options out there, too, such as sports drinks and gels. Remember: after finishing your run, always refrain from drinking alcohol until fully rehydrated.
Could your mattress be the cause for your back pain? It’s time for a change!
While buying a new mattress can be a costly investment, it is important to take note of the signs that it needs replacing to reduce back and neck pain which can be triggered by a bad mattress. This is usually down to people only changing their mattress once every ten years, despite recommendations to do so every seven years, as advised by venerable sources such as the Sleep Council.
How often you change a mattress depends on lots of factors, including your weight and how well you care for your mattress. As soon as your mattress stops supporting your back, know that it’s time to get a new one.
5 signs that it’s time to change your mattress:
- You wake up feeling stiff or aching.
- You had a better night’s sleep somewhere else.
- Your mattress is misshapen or sagging.
- Your mattress creaks when you move.
- You can feel individual springs.
4 factors to remember when choosing a new mattress:
- Choose a mattress that supports your weight; a heavier person will need a more supportive mattress than someone who is lighter in weight.
- Test your mattress before buying; your spine should be parallel to the mattress when lying on your side. Make sure your spine doesn’t sag, as this is a sign your mattress is too soft, or bow, as this is a sign that it’s too hard.
- When selecting a suitable pillow, make sure it allows your neck to become a continuation of the straight spine created by your well-suited mattress, making sure that your neck neither too high or too low.
- If you share a bed with your partner, make sure they are with you at the time of purchasing your mattress. Your ideal mattress tensions could be different. If this is the case, try buying from a range that allow two single mattresses to be zipped together so that you both get the support you need.
Why not pick up one of the leaflets in the clinic full of tips on choosing a new bed or go to the clinic website and watch our video: http://www.beestonchiropractic.co.uk/vid-new-bed/
Its with great sadness we report that the lovely Anne who worked on reception for us for several years (retiring back in 2009) passed away last month.
No doubt many of you have fond memories of such a wonderful lady who always had a smile for everyone and will join us in sending our deepest sympathies to her husband Dave and their family.
We were fortunate to spend time with Anne recently when we celebrated Lyn’s retirement, it was lovely to catch up with her and we will remember her fondly.
(Anne and Dave -Christmas 2008).
Chronic stress can have a negative effect on our physical health as well as our mental wellbeing. It can play a role in our susceptibility to illness and disease, but also in day-to-day functional problems such as pain and stiffness. There are many steps we can take to improve our ability to cope with stress; nutrition is one of them. Here’s a guide on what and how to eat to better manage stress…
Balancing your Blood Sugar
To cope well with stress we need our food to provide us with balanced, sustained energy. Foods that quickly break down into glucose and are quickly absorbed (such as sugary foods and fast-releasing carbohydrates) may give us a burst of energy, but can cause our blood sugar to peak and then dip. This can actually increase our body’s stress response and stress hormone levels, as well as making us feel irritated and out of control. Here are the fundamental steps to balancing your blood sugar:
– Eat primarily whole foods: vegetables, animal foods (eggs, fish, unprocessed meat, unsweetened dairy foods), nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, and some fruit. Avoid sugary snacks, refined carbohydrates and other processed foods such as breakfast cereals. Make sure every meal includes a good serving of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. The primary protein foods are the animal foods mentioned above, and nuts and seeds, and beans and lentils. Healthy fats are found in nuts and seeds, oily fish, avocados, and coconut. Complex carbs are found in vegetables, whole fruit (i.e. not fruit juices), whole grains, beans and lentils
– Eat regularly: Skipping meals or leaving too long between meals can cause your blood sugar level to drop too low, which can also trigger a stress response
– Getting enough food: As well as eating regularly, getting enough food is important when you’re dealing with stress. Going on a weight loss diet (whether it’s low-calorie, low-carb or low-fat) during a stressful time can be particularly bad for your stress levels. Instead, now is the time to focus on balancing your blood sugar as outlined above, by eating regular meals, getting enough protein, healthy fats and non-starchy vegetables and cutting the refined carbohydrates and junk foods. You should find it easier to manage your weight – or weightloss – by eating in this way anyway.
Although regular snacking is not the best thing for everyone, it can be helpful if you’re coping with stress, again by helping to keep your blood sugar on an even keel. Your snacks need to be based on whole foods, and contain some protein and complex carbohydrates. Examples include:
– Two or three oatcakes with one of the following: a tablespoon of hummus, guacamole, cottage cheese, half an avocado, a hard-boiled egg or a teaspoon or two of nut butter (e.g. almond butter).
– A pot of natural yoghurt (without added sugar) with some berries and/or a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds mixed in.
– A wedge of left-over home-made frittata/omelette.
However, you shouldn’t need to be snacking more than once between meals; constantly ‘grazing’ can have a negative effect on your weight and your digestion!
The mineral magnesium plays a vital role in our psychological health, including our mood and how well we cope with stress. It’s thought that both physical and emotional stress can increase the body’s need for magnesium, and that having a low magnesium to calcium ratio can actually increase the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline.* The best food sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables such as kale, chard and spinach; seeds and nuts; and whole grains – especially buckwheat and rye.
B Vitamin-rich Foods
B vitamins also play a vital role in our energy as well as our psychological function. The various B vitamins are found in different foods, but the best all-round sources include eggs, oily fish, organ meats (especially liver), seeds and nuts, and beans and pulses. Luckily these are also foods that are great for our blood sugar balance!
Avoid Overdoing Stimulants
Many of us turn to stimulants such as tea and coffee when we’re feeling stressed. But stimulants of any kind also trigger the body’s stress response. Try to keep your coffee consumption in particular to a minimum. Tea can have a gentler stimulating effect so can be better tolerated, but keeping it to one cup a day can still be advisable. Try to introduce calming herbal teas such as chamomile and spearmint – especially later in the day. Note that alcohol can also act as a stimulant as well as a relaxant. It also disrupts your blood sugar balance. Keep alcohol to a rare treat and stick to one drink only.
* Seelig MS. Consequences of magnesium deficiency on the enhancement of stress reactions; preventive and therapeutic implications (a review). J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Oct;13(5):429-46.
Anyone who is a frequent flier will be quick to tell you that long-haul flights don’t do anything to help aches and pains. Cramped leg room, uncomfortable seating and being confined to a small space are all the aspects of long-haul flights which people dread, even more so when you already suffer from back pain. Did you know that according to a survey by Spine Universe, an overwhelming 88% of people report experiencing increased back or neck pain after a flight. But those flights don’t have to be a complete pain in the back! Our advice below should help prepare you for those long-hauls!
How to reduce the risk of back and neck pain before your flight
– Keep up a regular exercise and stretching regime, particularly in the week before, so your muscles are as relaxed as possible prior to your flight.
– Pack lightly so you don’t have the added strain of carrying or lifting your luggage
– Make sure you have ibuprofen or another form of pain medication in your carry on bag, ready to use if your back or neck pain becomes really uncomfortable
How to alleviate back pain during your flight
– Support your back and neck with small pillows or blanket throughout your flight
– Keep your knees and hips levels, as to reduce the stress on the lower back while you’re seated
– Walk up and down the aisles, and use the spaces at the ends to stretch out your neck, back and legs
– Stay hydrated! Keep drinking water throughout your flight to avoid dehydration, which in turn can cause joint stiffness and can make your journey more uncomfortable
Remember if you are on a long-haul flight, it’s important to keep moving around to prevent muscles and joints from stiffening up.
Learn To Breathe To Reduce Stress
Our modern ways of living mean that our everyday lifestyle puts us in an almost constant state of excitement, whether we have something to be genuinely thrilled about or not! This can cause emotional problems including irritability, anger, and depression along with physical symptoms like headaches and stomach aches. Luckily, simply learning to breathe using certain techniques can help you to alleviate these issues. Many people that chiropractors see are suffering from stress in some way or another, whether this is muscular tension or poor sleep, both of which can impact heavily on day to day life. Practicing focused breathing exercises can help you relax and relieve the tension you’ve built up during the day and, done before you go to sleep, can help you slip off more quickly into a better quality sleep.
First, it is important to find a comfortable position for these breathing exercises. The most popular position for this is lying comfortably on your back, with a small pillow or book propping up your head, without straining your neck. If lying or sitting in an alternative position is more comfortable, this is fine too. The next step is to breathe using proper techniques. Ordinarily, throughout the day, you may tend to take small and shallow breaths. In contrast, breathing exercises involve taking deeper, fuller, longer breaths. A deep, relaxing breath should start in your stomach. If lying on your back, it can be helpful to place your hands on your stomach to feel it rise and fall with your breath. With deep breathing, your stomach, chest and collar bones may rise and expand, but your shoulders should remain still, without rising towards your ears. While doing this, it is important to focus on your breath. The point of breathing techniques such as this are to alleviate stress, not to give your mind the opportunity to dwell on stressful thoughts. Sometimes it can help to count each breath in and out, counting up to ten before beginning again. Alternatively, you might like to count each breath itself to ensure that you are breathing deeply. It is normal to count around 5-6 seconds in, hold for a few seconds, and exhale steadily. This is a great technique to practise in the evening and before bed.
During stressful incidents, you may tend to breathe shallow and quickly. This is effectively what happens in the fight or flight response and in times of stress can lead to hyperventilating. Therefore, when experiencing a stressful situation, at work, in traffic or with another person, it can help you dramatically to take a few deep breaths from your stomach to help calm down. Many people spend most of the day sedentary, sat at desks, and breathing shallow breaths. Taking just a few minutes a day to focus on breathing will help both body and mind.
Many people will easily link smoking to the symptoms of coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, but how many people who complain of aches and pains in the lower back will think it could be related to lighting up a cigarette?
Smoking can have a range of negative effects on the body, but it is the interruption of the body’s transport system and the supply of fresh blood and nutrients to certain areas that can ultimately cause pains in the lower back region. If you do smoke, it’s important to be aware of the risks you may be putting your body through; it’s not just the lungs that suffer when you inhale cigarette smoke, but the general health of the whole body.
For those that decide to stop smoking, there are various ways in which you can help the body adjust to a healthier way of life, here are a few tips:
– Drink plenty of water, as it helps to flush nicotine from the body
– Cut down on caffeine by drinking less tea and coffee as caffeine can act as a stimulant and induce nervousness
– Walk briskly for half an hour a day – you’ll be more positive, burn up stress and calories and develop more energy and endurance
– Think positively about what you are doing. Instead of thinking that you are depriving yourself of a cigarette, think of all the good you are doing for your body
If you want to stop smoking, or need some help and advice, visit the NHS Stop Smoking website for more details.
Teenagers can be at risk from suffering back or neck pain due to sedentary lifestyles and the excessive use of technology. Findings from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) show that 40% of 11 to 16 year olds in the UK have experienced back or neck pain. More than one in seven (15%) parents said their son’s or daughter’s pain is a result of using a laptop, tablet or computer. The research revealed that almost three quarters (68%) of 11 to 16 year olds spend between one and four hours a day on a laptop, tablet or computer and 73% spend between one and six hours on the devices. More than a third (38%) of parents said their child spends between one and six hours a day on their mobile phone. Chiropractors are now noticing a rise in the number of young people presenting with neck and back problems due to their lifestyle choices.
Today, the BCA is encouraging parents to limit the time their children spend using technology and instead encourage more active pastimes over the holidays. Based on a two hour period, young people spend more time on games consoles (33%) than doing an activity like riding a bicycle (12%). When asked how much time their teenager spends on their bicycle, one in five (21%) parents admitted that they don’t have one. Nearly half (46%) of parents questioned, acknowledged that their children don’t spend enough time exercising, despite NHS guidelines stating that children and young people between 5 and 18 years old need to do at least one hour of physical activity every day.
More people under the age of sixteen are being seen with back and neck pain, and technology is so often the cause. Young people are becoming increasingly sedentary which is damaging their posture. There is the tendency to sit in a hunched position when working on computers and laptops, putting a lot of strain on the neck. Learning how to sit properly and keeping active will help to keep young people healthy and pain free. It’s important that parents seek help for their children from an expert as soon as any pain starts – if conditions are left untreated it could lead to chronic back and neck problems in later life.
The BCA offers the following top tips for parents to help their teenagers reduce the risks of back and neck pain:
– Get your kids moving: The fitter children are, the more their backs can withstand periods of sitting still. To increase fitness levels, your child should be more active which can be achieved by doing activities including walking to school, riding a bike or going for a run.
– Teach them how to sit: It’s important that children learn the correct way to sit when they’re using a computer. Teach them to keep their arms relaxed and close to their body and place arms on the desk when typing. Make sure the top of the screen is level with the eyebrows and the chair is titled slightly forward, allowing for the knees to be lower than the hips and the feet to be flat on the floor. Using a laptop or tablet away from a desk will encourage poor posture, so limit time spent in this way.
– Don’t sit still for too long: Make sure children take a break from the position they’re sitting in on a regular basis and stretch their arms, shrug their shoulders and move their fingers around – this helps to keep the muscles more relaxed.
– Lead by example: Maintaining good posture and promoting good back health is something that everyone should be doing, adults and children alike. If you make it a priority, it’s easier for your children to see the relevance.
– Seek medical advice: Seek professional advice if your child is experiencing pain which has lasted for more than a few days. If your child wants to be more active, check that there are no medical reasons why they should not exercise, particularly if they are not normally physically active.
Did you know it is estimated that a sixth of the UK population suffers from back pain at any one time. And according to the National Office of Statistics, a staggering 31 million days of work were lost last year  due to back, neck and muscles problems. These huge numbers of back and neck related complaints have been linked to our modern lifestyles and a lack of steps taken by many of us to prevent the problems before they become too serious.
Sitting in an office – what’s the problem? Sitting for long periods of time lessens blood flow to the discs that cushion your spine and thus places more pressure on it than walking or standing. What can you do? It is crucial that you have a good posture while sitting at your desk. Make sure your head is straight and not tilted down when you are reading or typing. Avoid slouching and if it is possible, tilt your chair back slightly to help alleviate any excess pressure on your spine and make sure your feet are placed firmly hip width apart on the floor. Take regular breaks to stand up, stretch and walk around.
Increasing your exercise – what’s the problem? It is advised that we take 10,000 steps a day; most of us normally only manage to get between 3,000 and 4,000! What can you do? If possible, park further away from your destination or get off the tube a few stops before you normally would and walk the rest of the way. Why is walking so good for us? As walking is a good, low impact exercise, it can not only help to relieve back pain but also prevent it without putting too much strain on your body. Even walking for just 30 minutes a day 3 – 5 times a week can have real benefits for you back health and your overall wellbeing!