SOCC
South Orange Chiropractic Center

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South Orange, NJ 07079

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60 1st St  |  South Orange, NJ 07079  |  973-761-0022

Articles in Category: Health & Wellness

Pain and Stress - The Dangerous Duo

Pain and Stress - The Dangerous Duo
Published Tuesday, 30 July 2019

What came first, the pain or the stress? Whether your stress is causing pain or your pain is causing stress, this dangerous duo can get tangled in a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to chronic dis-ease in the body.

Pain and stress are both adaptive behaviors. It’s your body’s unique way of recognizing and adapting to harmful stimuli. How else would you know when to remove your hand from a flame or hit the brakes to avoid a car accident? Adaptive behaviors have kept humans alive for millennia! 

However, when excessive pain and stress work in tandem, the combination can be truly toxic. 

The Stress-Pain Connection

What is stress?

Stress is your body’s reaction to threatening situations. Whether they’re real or perceived, everyone has varying degrees of coping with their stressors. Once triggered, the body has a ‘fight or flight’ stress response to the potential danger that enables you to protect yourself. 

What is pain?

Pain typically results from tissue damage. It is an unpleasant feeling and emotion that warns us to take action to prevent further tissue damage. People experience and describe pain differently, which makes it difficult to diagnose. 

  • Acute pain is generally intense and short-lived. Treating the underlying cause/injury typically heals the pain.
  • Chronic pain is longer lasting. Regardless of the severity or whether the pain is continuous or intermittent, it can be difficult to resolve.

How are they connected?

Both stress and pain are part of the body’s defense mechanism and have different ways of triggering the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. This response includes:

  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Slowed digestion
  • Blood flow reduced to the surface areas of the body
  • Blood flow increased to the muscles, brain, legs, and arms
  • Pupil dilation
  • Muscle tension

As you can imagine, experiencing the symptoms of this ‘fight or flight’ response for prolonged periods of time can have devastating effects on the body. Being in a constant state of ‘survival mode’ suppresses the immune system and slows or halts normal bodily functions.

According to Jennifer Schneider, MD, PhD, a chronic-pain specialist and author of the book Living With Chronic Pain: "Lots of studies support the conclusion that what happens in the brain — depression, anxiety, being stressed out — can increase pain. At the same time, if you have more pain, you may be more stressed. Each makes the other worse, so if you decrease pain, you'll likely also decrease stress and anxiety." 

Stress-Pain Management

Physical pain treatments range depending on the condition. They include:

  • Medication
  • Chiropractic
  • Acupuncture
  • Surgery
  • Heat and Cold therapies
  • Rest

Regardless of the underlying condition, managing stress leads to better coping and, in turn, makes pain more tolerable. But studies show that overcoming stress can also physically reduce pain. Part of getting the pain relief you seek is learning how to better manage stress.

Here are some stress-reducing techniques that you can try!

  • Get active. Make exercise a priority, whether it's a 30-minute walk or going to the gym. Consult with a doctor first if you're concerned about how exercise may impact your pain.
  • Get more restful sleep. Proper sleep can also help you cope with stress and healing.
  • Find your balance. Examine your daily routine and modify it for better stress control. Learn to manage your time more effectively and make time for hobbies, interests, and relaxation. 
  • Chill out. Learn and practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help you to relax and decrease stress levels. Once learned, these techniques and tools can be used throughout the day as needed.
  • Seek support. Spend time with those you enjoy for social support. Seek out an evaluation from a mental health professional, like a psychologist or social worker, who can help you manage your stress.

Stress and pain are a part of life, but it’s how you deal with them that can influence your overall health. Curious how the doctors at the South Orange Chiropractic Center can help you manage your pain and stress? Contact us today to set up an appointment!

Why We Recommend Drinking Water for Health & Wellness

Why We Recommend Drinking Water for Health & Wellness
Published Tuesday, 16 July 2019

When it comes to health and wellness, most of us spend a lot of time thinking about what to eat but the truth is we should spend just as much time thinking about what (and how much) we drink.

Proper hydration is fundamental to good health since our bodies “run” on water. From waste removal to joint lubrication to temperature regulation, our bodies cannot function for long without water.

But with so many “healthy” sports and energy drinks available--- purportedly backed by research and science -- it’s easy to make the wrong choice when it comes to keeping hydrated, which is why we advise our clients to keep it simple and reach for water if they want to achieve optimum health and wellness.   

How Much Water is Enough?

The standard advice is to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Remember, though, this is a general recommendation and different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated.

Some people are at a higher risk for dehydration if, for example, they participate in high-intensity exercise, or exercise outside during hot weather, and should adjust their water consumption accordingly.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women are more susceptible to dehydration, as are older persons since our brains can become less efficient at sensing and sending thirst signals as we age.

Other factors affecting how much water we should drink include illnesses that cause diarrhea, vomiting or fever, and kidney stones and bladder infections that can cause dehydration.

Can Fruit Juices and Other Drinks Keep Me Hydrated?

Fluids like herbal teas and milk all contain water, and most fruits and vegetables contain moderate to significant amounts of water as do the juices made from them.

Sports drinks are a popular choice for athletes exercising at high intensity for more than an hour because they replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes, and can even help the body absorb water.

And some people like the extra kick they get from an energy drink, which may also contain moderate amounts of water.

But all of this comes with a big caveat:

None of these drinks should replace the water in your diet. Water, straight up, is always your best choice.

Why is Water Always The Best Choice?

The Juice on Juice

Fruit juice lacks the fiber contained in its whole fruit form, and so is essentially concentrated sugar water, adding a lot of empty calories to your diet without hydrating you nearly as effectively as a simple glass of water.

The Truth About Sports Drinks

Unless you’re planning a high-intensity workout, your best bet is to opt for water over sugary sports drinks. (Pro tip: check the nutrition label on your sports drink— most bottles contain several servings.)

Skip the Energy Drinks

Energy drinks may provide that extra kick you need to push through a late afternoon slump, but it’s usually because they contain heavy amounts of caffeine and are high in added sugar. Some even contain substances like guarana or taurine that can overstimulate your system and cause you to feel jittery.

Remember too, sleepiness or fatigue is a common symptom of dehydration so drinking a big glass of water in the afternoon may be all you need to feel awake and energized throughout your day.

What Are Some Other Signs of Dehydration?

People tend to notice some of the more obvious symptoms of dehydration such as thirst and little or no urine output, but miss other symptoms that are frequently linked to hydration issues like:

  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness or Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Urine that is darker than usual

If you notice any of these symptoms, take action and drink water immediately. Better still? Be proactive and keep a bottle of water nearby and drink from it often. If plain water doesn’t appeal, try infusing it with fresh fruit or with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Or if you keep forgetting to drink water regularly, set a timer on your phone, or create a habit of drinking water around certain times of the day (e.g. on awakening, at mid-morning, during lunch and with dinner).

Also, thirst is often confused with hunger, which is why dieters are advised to drink water before grabbing a snack. Some research even suggests drinking water can actually help you feel full.  

Remember, water makes up over 50% of our body weight, and we lose water when we exercise, breathe or use the restroom. So to remain properly hydrated and feel your best, aim to drink those 48 to 64 ounces of water a day.

What can we do for you? The doctors at South Orange Chiropractic Center are experts at helping clients achieve optimal health and wellness--- we’d love to talk with you today!

The Powerful Practice of Mindfulness and Its Unexpected Benefits

The Powerful Practice of Mindfulness and Its Unexpected Benefits
Published Wednesday, 15 May 2019

We’re all so busy. From the minute we wake up until we finally collapse into bed (perhaps only a few hours before needing to get up again), our days are often rigidly scheduled. With work, family, and personal priorities, it can be nearly impossible to find quiet time to just sit, breathe, and pay attention to ourselves.

You’ve probably heard people talk about mindfulness. Perhaps you wonder whether it might be a useful antidote to being perpetually “on the go” and feeling rushed most of the time. Maybe you’ve heard the term in discussions about meditation or seen social media posts about it. You haven’t followed up to see what, exactly, mindfulness is--after all, you’re scheduled for two meetings in the next 15 minutes and then have to run to a dentist appointment. 

We want to take at least one thing off your plate today. We’re going to tell you what mindfulness is, share with you some of its benefits, and a few ways that you can practice it. We know you’re busy, but this will only take a few minutes of your time--we promise! And, one of the great things about mindfulness is that doesn’t have to be a time-sensitive activity, either.

What is mindfulness?

When someone tells us to “be mindful” of something or someone, they are telling us to be careful, and to pay attention to ourselves, others, and our surroundings. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you practice mindfulness, you pay attention to what you are sensing or feeling, without interpretation or judgment. You become aware of, and acknowledge your current state of being, your thoughts, and your feelings without allowing yourself to get distracted by them.

When you practice mindfulness, you focus on being in the present moment rather than thinking about what you had for breakfast this morning, an argument you had yesterday, or what you are going to do after dinner or the meeting you have next week. Spending time worrying about the past, trying to plan for the future, continually problem-solving, daydreaming, or getting bogged down in random thoughts can be draining. 

Those behaviors can also make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Engaging in mindfulness can help you shift your thinking away from these potential pitfalls and, instead, allow you to engage with your immediate surroundings.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

There are many possible benefits of mindfulness, including:

  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Less negative thinking and distraction
  • Improved mood
  • Improved overall health
  • Better ability to cope with rejection and social isolation
  • Offers a healthy way to identify and manage hidden emotions that may be causing problems in our relationships

Sounds great! How can I effectively practice it?

Glad you asked! There are numerous ways that you can practice mindfulness. Here are three:

Idea #1: Engage your senses

Use all of your senses (or as many as possible) to engage with the world around you. For example, where are you sitting as you read this? Are there other noises in the room where you are? Is a delicious-smelling meal cooking? It might seem silly at first, but by paying attention to what your senses are telling you, you are focusing on yourself in the present, and not on the future or the past.

Idea #2: Focus on your breathing

Read this over, and then close your laptop or put your phone down: 

Sit in a quiet place with your back straight, but relaxed. Feel your breath move in and out of your body. Let your awareness of everything else fall away. Pay attention to your nostrils as air passes in and out. Notice the way your abdomen expands and collapses with each breath. When your mind wanders, gently redirect your attention to your breath. Don't judge yourself for getting distracted. You're not trying to achieve something specific, only be aware of what's happening around you.

Idea #3: Pay attention to others

At work, you’re likely to interact with lots of people throughout the day. The next time you talk with someone, pay attention to their words--what they mean, and what the person’s intention is. Focus on listening to understand what another person is telling you, rather than on being ready to respond quickly, possibly with judgement or criticism. 

You should aim to practice mindfulness every day. Start with one week, then try two, then try a month, and so on. Over time, you may discover that it becomes easier to do. Remember, don’t judge yourself if you forget a day or two (or ten), or if you find yourself easily distracted. 

The amount of time that you spend practicing it depends, of course, on your schedule and what activity you are going to do. You may have only a few minutes in the morning to actively focus on your breathing before getting ready to go to work, but discover that you enjoy it and are able to make more time at night. If you want to focus on paying attention to others, that will depend, of course, on the length and content of your conversations, as well as how many people you are able to speak to during the day. But a good starting point may be for 15 to 20 minutes, four to eight times a day.


How can the doctors at South Orange Chiropractic Center help you? Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Food As Medicine?

Preventing Chronic Disease With Simple Nutrition Changes

Food As Medicine?
Published Wednesday, 24 April 2019

We all want to be our healthiest selves and, if possible, prevent chronic diseases from developing at some point in our lives. The prospect of living healthier is attractive, of course, but it can be overwhelming because we aren’t quite sure where to start and how to alter our routines.

There are simple nutrition changes that you can make today that can help you prevent chronic diseases. All they require is a quick trip to the grocery store, your local farm stand, or even your own garden.

Chronic Diseases: What are they?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain that chronic diseases are “defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both.”

Some of the most common are heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. 6 in 10 adults live with a chronic disease; 4 in 10 live with two or more. They are the leading causes of developing disabilities or dying.

How can food help prevent chronic disease?

Make sure that you are eating a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption are also helpful behaviors in the prevention of chronic disease.

We’re going to give you 6 tips for what you should avoid and what you should eat more of to help you prevent chronic disease.

Tip #1: Reduce red meat and processed meat

We know that lots of people love a cold-cut sandwich for lunch and a great burger or steak for dinner. However, reducing or eliminating red meat as well as processed meats is one way to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD).

According to research presented by Dr. Michelle McMacken during 2018’s American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting, if you eat no meat, you’ll have a 24% to 29% decreased risk of mortality and a 32% decreased risk of cardiovascular disease incident cases.

Processed meat can increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 37%. Consuming 100 grams of red meat per day increases a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer by 17%. 50 grams of processed meat per day increases the risk by 18%,

What can you eat instead? Try:

  • fish
  • chicken and turkey
  • nuts
  • beans
  • low-fat dairy products
  • whole grains

Tip #2: Eat less sugar and salt

We know that sugar and salt are incredibly hard to avoid and they make foods taste delicious, but try to be mindful of how much you are consuming every day. Sugar is empty calories, and contributes to risks for developing diabetes, coronary artery disease (CAD), and weight gain that can lead to obesity. Limiting salt (sodium) will lessen your risk of developing high blood pressure which is a risk factor for stroke and coronary disease.

Tip #3: Don’t consume more calories than you need

Many of us eat because we enjoy it (beyond being hungry), and because there are some foods that we love. One way to limit unnecessary consumption of food (and, so, calories) is to add more fiber to your meals.

Adding only 14 more grams of fiber to your daily meals will help you reduce your caloric intake by 10%–18%, according to Dr. McMacken. Rather than focusing on what you might have to actively choose to not eat, by consuming more fiber, you will reduce your hunger naturally, and it will be easier to avoid eating when you aren’t actually hungry.

Tip #4: Eat more fruits and vegetables

Some people love fruits and veggies, while others aren’t as excited to eat them, we know. If you can get them fresh from your garden or local farm, they will be more likely to be more flavorful than fruits and veggies that have been picked, packaged, stored, and shipped to your grocery store. The more you can eat, the better.

Dr. McMacken points out that two-and-a-half servings of fruits and vegetables a day lowers your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by 8%, having a stroke by 16%, and dying of anything by 10%. If you love fruits and veggies, you’re really in luck, because seven-and-a-half daily servings are associated with a significant 14% reduction in total cancer risk. Eating fruit daily can also decrease your risk of developing diabetes. If you currently have diabetes, eating fruit daily can lower your risk of complications or mortality.

Tip #5: Eat whole grains

The fiber from whole grains has been associated with lower risks of coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes. Whole grains also reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer and whole cancer mortality by 17%, according to Dr. McMaken’s research.

Again, because fiber makes you feel fuller quicker, you are less likely to continue eating when you aren’t hungry. That is a great way to help you maintain or lose weight, preventing obesity, which is a contributing factor to many chronic diseases.

Tip #6: Eat more unsaturated fats and omega-3 fats

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature can improve cholesterol, lessen inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms and reduce the risk of developing coronary artery disease. They are found in various plant sources.

There are two types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Great sources of monounsaturated fats are:

  • Olive, peanut, and canola oils
  • Avocados
  • Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans
  • Seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds

Great sources of polyunsaturated fats are:

  • Sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils
  • Walnuts
  • Flax seeds
  • Fish
  • Canola oil (again!)

Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat that the body cannot make. Fish, flax seeds, walnuts, and canola and soybean oil are great sources of omega-3 fats.


ChooseMyPlate.gov is a website created by the USDA that offers resources, meal suggestions, and tips to help you create nutritious meals to help you maintain your health. If you have questions about your wellness journey, we’re here to help! Contact us today.

How Do You Know if You Have Scoliosis

How Do You Know if You Have Scoliosis
Published Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Many people assume that scoliosis begins at a young age, but the onset can happen at any age.  Local lore about what causes scoliosis should be disregarded. Childhood sports injuries cannot cause scoliosis, nor can carrying heavy backpacks or bad posture. Unfortunately, it is unclear what causes scoliosis.

Mild scoliosis may have few or no symptoms and can go undetected for years particularly in adults.  School screenings are often unable to spot the initial warning signs of scoliosis in children.

What is Scoliosis?

The spine has a natural curve that helps you bend and move.  When you have scoliosis, your spine curves more than it should.  It forms a C or S-shape. The angle of the curve may be small, large, or somewhere in between.  But anything that measures more than 10-degrees is considered scoliosis.

Usually, the curve is mild and doesn't affect your appearance or health. Yet it can get worse over time.  Typically scoliosis affects the mid-back area and lower back (lumbar) portions of the spine.

What are the Risk Factors?

Although relatively little is known about the risk factors that can cause abnormal spine curvature to develop, there are a few risk factors associated with a less common type of scoliosis, called structural scoliosis.  In structural scoliosis, the curve of the spine is rigid and cannot be reversed.

These causes include:

Also, scoliosis appears to involve hereditary factors, because the disorder tends to run in families.  

Adult Scoliosis vs. Juvenile Scoliosis

Symptoms differ in kids and adults.  Because scoliosis can occur in kids and adults, it is important to know what to look for.

Adults

Older adults who develop scoliosis typically have adult degenerative scoliosis.  In this form, degeneration, or aging of the discs and joints in the spine occurs asymmetrically, causing tilting and even slipping between the vertebrae. As this degeneration descends from one level to the next, a curve of the spine can develop. This form of scoliosis primarily affects the lumbar spine.  As you get older, wear and tear damages the bones and joints in your spine. The discs that sit between them begin to break down. As this happens, the disks lose height and start to tilt. This causes the spine to curve.

Scoliosis causes these symptoms in adults:

  • Uneven shoulders and/or hips
  • Bump in the lower back
  • Numbness, weakness, or pain in the legs
  • Trouble walking
  • Trouble standing up straight
  • Tired feeling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of height
  • Bone spurs: bony bumps in the joints of the spine from bone and joint damage
  • Feeling full quickly while you eat. This is because your spine is putting pressure on your belly.

Juveniles

Early prevention depends mainly on parents. A home scoliosis test should be performed if you believe your child is at risk of developing the condition.  Scoliosis is most likely to afflict:

  • Kids ages 8 to 14 (during growth spurts).
  • Girls, who are eight times more likely to get scoliosis than boys.
  • Those with thin or lean body shape.
  • A child whose parent or sibling has scoliosis.

Every child with scoliosis is different.  Some don’t have any symptoms. Others have very obvious ones, including:

  • Their shoulders are two different heights.
  • Their head doesn't look centered with the rest of the body.
  • One hip is higher than the other or sticks out.
  • Ribs are pushed out.
  • When standing straight, the child’s arms don't hang down straight next to the body.
  • When bending forward, the two sides of the back are different heights.

The symptoms might worsen as the child grows, so it’s important to consult a doctor right away.

Treatment

Early detection is key. If the curve has already progressed to near 30-degrees, that’s far too late for early intervention. Surgery is necessary when the magnitude of the curve exceeds 45-degrees and when no other treatment has worked to prevent the progression of curving of the spine.

Chiropractors can address symptoms or issues a patient may be experiencing associated with scoliosis, preventing further degradation of the spine. Although traditional chiropractic procedures do not correct, cure, or reverse scoliosis— unfortunately, there is no cure for it— a chiropractor specializing in scoliosis understands the complexities of a sclerotic spine and will be able to help treat mild scoliosis.

Want to find out how to maintain a healthy spine? Contact us to find out which therapy is right for you.  With a team of skilled chiropractors focused on the total health of your spine, South Orange Chiropractic Center is committed to finding the right solution to alleviate your back pain.

How to Lift Things Without Ending Up in the Emergency Room

How to Lift Things Without Ending Up in the Emergency Room
Published Wednesday, 27 March 2019

This scenario is one you’ve probably experienced before.

You go to pick up something bulky to move it--maybe a small end table, perhaps a box of garbage to bring out to the curb, or maybe your collection of summer lawn decorations. Just as you’re about to pick up the table, box, or plastic flamingo collection, someone else says emphatically, “Be careful!” Or, “Don’t forget to bend your knees!” Or, “Watch your back!”

You roll your eyes, sigh, say, “I know!” Or, “I’ve got it!” But, you make sure to bend your knees, to be as careful as possible, and to pay attention to any protesting from your back. Later on, you might notice that a slight twinge, but you think, “Hey, I didn’t break it, so I’m fine.”

While we agree that not breaking your back is definitely a win, we’d like to share with you the proper lifting technique.

How to Properly Lift an Object in 7 Steps

Step #1: Plan your route


This is probably common sense, but we’ll say it anyway. Before you begin to lift anything, plan the path that you’re going to use to move it. Make sure there’s nothing in the way that you’ll need to step over (or could trip over).

If you think that you might need help, try to enlist aid before you pick up the object so that you all can work together.


Step #2: Get as close as possible to the object


You’ll want to position yourself as close as possible to the object that you are lifting. It requires more force to hold an object that is further away from your center of gravity. That end table does not get heavier if you hold it at arms’-length from you rather than closer to your chest. But, it requires more force to hold it up, which will require more work from your lower back.


Step #3: Get into a half-kneel


You’ll want to get into a half-kneel behind the object, resting one knee on the floor, the other bent in front of you. Don’t lift starting from a standing position with your waist bent or your knees locked.


Step #4: Tighten your core and maintain the natural curve in your lower back


Tighten your core muscles--the muscles in your abdomen, back, and pelvis. Lift the object between your legs, maintaining the curve of your lower back. Keep breathing normally— don’t hold your breath. Keep holding the object close to you and rest it on your bent knee as you get ready to stand up.

You can also squat to lift the object rather than kneel. In this case, you’ll still want to stand as close to the object as possible to start. Move it between your knees as you squat. You can keep your feet parallel to each other or put one slightly in front of the other.


Step #5: Use your leg muscles to lift the object


As you stand, whether you were kneeling or squatting, make sure to keep your core muscles tight and to maintain the natural curve in your lower back. Use your leg muscles to lift the object.

Please note: Do not twist your body as you are lifting the object. Step to the side if you need to turn.


Step #6: Use your feet to change direction and lead with your hips


Once you have lifted the object, make sure to keep it close to your body. Use your feet to change direction, and take small steps. Lead with your hips, keeping your shoulders in line with them as you move.


Step #7: Squat as you put down the object


Slowly and carefully squat with your knees and hips only as you set down the object. Try not to drop it on your feet!

Next time someone tells you to watch your back while you’re lifting and moving something, you can say, “I know,” with confidence! Now you will be sure that you do, in fact, know what you’re doing.

Are you experiencing back pain after improperly lifting something? We want to help! Contact the doctors at the South Orange Chiropractic Center today to set up an appointment.

What are the Blue Zones, and what does it mean for our longevity?

What are the Blue Zones, and what does it mean for our longevity?
Published Wednesday, 13 March 2019

The National Geographic Society has recently published some shocking findings: they’ve located regions in the world where the “World’s Healthiest People” live long into their nineties, and many into their hundreds. These areas have been coined “Blue Zones,” where clusters of people live, disease free, happy, active, and fulfilled.

In an increasingly busy world focused on technology, these Blue Zones seem like an anomaly. We are immersed in our phones, we eat lunch at our desk, and we are always busy, but we also know more about our bodies than we ever have. So what do the people who live in these Blue Zones know that we don’t?

Exactly what is a Blue Zone?

There are five zones throughout the world that are considered Blue Zones. In these zones the average number of centenarians is much higher than anywhere else in the world. The life expectancy is higher, but why? And where are they?

Blue Zones can be found in parts of Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the United States. They include the following “official” Blue Zone locations:

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica

These are not the only locations, however. Other Blue Zones have been pinpointed in Pakistan, Ecuador, the country of Georgia, and elsewhere. What do these regions have in common? The residents of these locations live quantifiably longer, healthier lives, frequently past the age of 100. For example, in most regions of the world, people have a 1 in 100,000 chance of living to turn 100 years old. In Okinawa, however, 1 in 2,000 live to see more than one century.

Older people who live in these areas are healthier, more active, more youthful, and more energetic, and as a whole, the populations of these Blue Zones incur less diseases like diabetes, cancer, and other ailments that most in the western world associate with aging.

The Secret of the Blue Zones

The longevity seen in these Blue Zones is not a geographic phenomenon. In fact, just 15 kilometers from Ikaria, where they claim that sometimes they just “forget to die,” Greeks living in Samos have a very different life. High-rise buildings, resorts, and million-euro homes pack the island, which is filled with hustle and bustle, and purportedly, a higher focus on material possessions and celebrations. Ikarians refer to the neighboring island as a “me”-focused place, not an “us” place.

What exactly leads to longer, healthier lives in these Blue Zones? A Blue Zone life is filled with simple joys, simple foods, community, and an active, driven life. They work to keep their bodies strong and their minds sharp. Those living in Blue Zones have a deep reverence for each part of their life: from the food they put in their bodies, to how they spend their time, and what they value.

Can We Create Our Own Blue Zones?

So if you aren’t lucky to live in one of these “blue zones,” then what can you do to improve your individual longevity? How can we take the knowledge of these Blue Zones into our own lives?

  • Focus on whole foods and a diet that is mainly plant-based, with antioxidants and anti-aging herbs (this includes foods that are great for spine health!)
  • Daily benefits of physical activity and exercise for the entirety of one’s life
  • Priority on family and a strong inner circle
  • Regular consumption of small amounts of alcohol like red wine
  • A smoke-free lifestyle
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Healthy ways to cope with stress, and reduced stress levels overall, like meditation
  • An overall positive attitude about aging
  • Emphasis on fulfillment and not material success
  • A strong sense of community and spirituality
  • A sense of purpose, including work, for all of one’s life

What else can help you to create your own personal Blue Zone? A focus on holistic health. On restoring the body to its ideal state, not only through diet and exercise, but on how you treat your body’s ailments as well.

Working with healthcare professionals like a chiropractor, massage therapist, and acupuncturist realigns your body in a non-invasive way that honors your body, with that same reverence for your body and mind that is seen in whole foods, physical activity, and relieving stress.

If you are looking to create your own personal Blue Zone, start by ensuring your body is in its very best state. Contact our office to start your path to longevity, peace, and balance today.

Preventing Osteoporosis With A Simple Exercise Routine

Preventing Osteoporosis With A Simple Exercise Routine
Published Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Fact: Over half of Americans over the age of 50 have osteoporosis or lowered bone density. Low bone density can lead to life-altering, and sometimes even life-threatening injuries as our bodies change as we age.

However, bone is a living, ever-changing tissue. It’s fairly common knowledge that increased intake of calcium and vitamin D can prevent or combat osteoporosis, but when it comes to fighting against osteoporosis, what is just as important as what we put in our bodies? How we exercise our bodies.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are two main types of exercise you should incorporate into your regular workout routine to help prevent osteoporosis: weight-bearing exercises, and muscle-strengthening exercises. Here’s what you need to know about both of these kinds of exercise, so you can strengthen your body and protect your bones all at the same time.

Why Exercise Can Help

Sure, it’s hard to make time to get to the gym, even though we all know we need to do it to keep tabs on our waistline, decrease stress, and improve our mood. But how can exercise help prevent osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related injuries? Regular exercise can actually increase bone density, fighting against the onset of osteoporosis.

Most injuries related to osteoporosis are the result of a fall. Regular physical activity has been proven to strengthen muscles and improving balance, which dramatically lower the risk of falling. Also? Strengthening the muscles in your back lessens your chance of vertebral fractures, and can lead to increased bone density in postmenopausal women.

Need more of a reason to hit the gym? Exercise can also do the following:

  • Reduce your risk of kyphotic posture (a rounded upper back) and overall improved spine health
  • Increase reaction time, mobility, balance, and coordination, all of which helps to prevent falls and resulting injuries
  • Improve blood circulation. Since bone is a living, changing tissue,  improved circulation is a great way to continue to bring nutrients to bone tissue
  • Give you more flexible joints, which lowers the risk of injury and keeps the body active

A balanced, regular regimen of weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening is the best way to not only prevent osteoporosis, but also to prevent the injuries that are often associated with low bone density as well.

Weight-Bearing Exercises

What are weight-bearing exercises? Any exercise in which you move against gravity while staying upright. These include activities dancing and tai-chi (which also improve flexibility and agility), but would not include things like swimming and cycling, since you are not supporting your own body weight.  Weight-bearing exercises are also broken down into two categories:

High-Impact Exercises:

  • Dancing
  • High-Impact aerobics
  • Hiking
  • Jogging
  • Jump Rope
  • Stair Climbing
  • Tennis

Low-Impact Exercises (These also help keep bones strong, but are safer alternatives if you are at risk of breaking a bone):

Muscle-Strengthening Exercises

It’s just as important to incorporate exercises that increase muscle strength as it is to find plenty of weight-bearing exercises. So what can you do to increase muscle strength? Here are a few different exercises to try:

  • Lifting weights, focusing on all major muscle groups, including your spine
  • Using elastic exercise bands for resistance
  • Using weight machines (again, focusing on the whole body)
  • Using your own body weight for resistance, which exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, and planks

A note about muscle-strengthening exercises like yoga and pilates: Yoga and pilates are both great ways to increase strength, as well as flexibility, especially in your core and your spine. However, some of the poses and positions for yoga and pilates could be unsafe for those with osteoporosis or those at a higher-risk of broken bones. Always consult with your chiropractor about what is safe and healthy for you.

Looking for more guidance on how to exercise to increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis? Get in touch with our doctors at South Orange Chiropractic Center. Who better to help support your bone health than an expert physician who specializes in how your bones work together? Make an appointment today and take your first step towards improved bone health!

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