Keeping Seasonal Allergies At Bay

Keeping Seasonal Allergies at Bay

As we enjoy this incredible spring weather in Chicagoland, I am noticing that many of you are affected by seasonal allergies. Read below for a few tips to manage your allergies:

1)  When you’re symptomatic, avoid all sugar, dairy, and carbs (i.e. pasta, bread, etc). These products assist the body in forming mucous, so avoid them at all costs!

2)  Drink plenty of water. To find out how many ounces of water you need to consume each day, see my previous post on the “Hydration Calculation.” Water also helps our body flush away toxins and excess waste, including mucous.

3)  Acupuncture is a great way to decrease your symptoms and actually treat the cause of a problem. This type of Chinese Medicine focuses on the balance between our energy pathways. Sinus congestion or allergy symptoms would indicate a stagnation of the flow of energy in one or more of the major pathways. During the change of a season, it is considered a “weak point” for our body in Traditional Chinese Medicine which means it’s also the best time to get in for a treatment.

4)  Many people report improvement of their symptoms with the use of a Neti Pot. This is a nasal irrigating device that flushes mucus and debris from the nose and is readily available at any health food store.

5)  Herbal Steam Bath for Sinus Congestion –  boil 8 cups distilled (i.e. chemical free) water in a large pot. Then, transfer to a large glass bowl, and add 8 drops of Eucalyptus Oil (readily available at any health food store). Sit in front of the bowl, with a towel over your head and your face a safe distance from the water. The steam will become trapped, and you will be able to breathe in the eucalyptus vapors. Every few minutes, take a break to blow your nose. Stop when the water has cooled, and repeat daily until symptoms resolve.

6)  Place a dot of Eucalyptus Oil just under your nose and breathe deeply. This oil has powerful anti inflammatory and decongesting properties! Repeat several times throughout the day.

7)  Stimulate the Acu-point that controls our entire face and head. It’s called “Large Intestine 4” and it’s located in that lump of skin between our thumb and first finger. Rub this point with moderate pressure for 30 seconds, break for 30 seconds, and repeat several times.

Spring time for me means putting my running shoes back on…. I hope you are all enjoying the fresh air as much as I am. Dr. Kristen

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Thoughts on a New Year…

As we ring in another New Year, I have a question for you – Who or what do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a confident, happy person who is capable of success?

I have been observing the fear that runs rampant during this time of year. We tend to put our focus on all of the things we “just have to get done” before Christmas, wanting to lose weight in the New Year, or any of the things that we don’t have, did not do or should have done this year.

Instead let’s shift that frame of thinking just a bit! “When fear disappears, abundance appears” – some great words of wisdom by Tony Robbins! Abundance is a great word, isn’t it? What does it bring to mind for you? More importantly, do you attract abundance?

If you don’t you may be wondering how to!  Well, I’d like to remind you that “thoughts are things” – meaning what we think about, we bring about. If we constantly put our mind’s focus on what we DON’T have, or DIDN’T do, that is what will continue to be our reality. When we have a slight shift of the mind towards positivity, abundance will result! Whatever you put your intention and focus onto is what you will attract to yourself. Think as if you already HAVE or ARE that thing you desire, and it will become your reality. As you celebrate the beginning of a new year, CHOOSE positivity, CHOOSE forward thinking, and you will see a shift of your energy to the vibration of abundance!

Is it normal ?

Instead of sharing health related information in this weeks blog, I’d like to open up with some details on what I actually do all day at work!  Simply put, I remove interference for others to allow the body to heal itself. For each unique patient’s presentation, this is different…. it may mean doing food sensitivity testing, a chiropractic adjustment, using the Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique, or Acupuncture care. But everything I do and am passionate about has the same goal in mind : remove the interference to allow our bodies to heal as they innately know how to do.

My techniques and methods are based upon the same basic principal. We as humans were designed to be healthy. We were not designed to be sick or have disease. If you do have malfunction, pain, symptom, or disease, you have had a long term interference in your body’s ability to self regulate and self heal. There is a big difference between a health condition being “common” (i.e. You know many people who have had this same or similar problem) versus it being acceptable and “normal.”
When we have a cut on our finger and it bleeds, we may put a band aid on it. I pose to you this question: is it the band aid that heals the cut ? No, our body heals the cut. The body is an amazing machine, that always knows just what to do.
Something I love about chiropractic is that we are taught not to view a person as a disease, an ICD9 code, or support their health condition defining them as a person. We treat and see our patients as a whole, unique person. There is no such thing as a curable disease…. but there are curable people.

A Better Night’s Sleep

It’s no fun going through the day sleepy. Each hour drags on and getting motivated or being productive is nearly impossible when we’d rather be dreaming. What’s worse, for many, actually falling asleep at night is a struggle.

More than one-third of adults in the United States experience occasional sleep problems and one of every ten suffer from chronic insomnia. Many treat their insomnia with medications but this can be dangerous. A study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry found that taking medications for insomnia or anxiety at least once a month increases your risk of death by 36%. This was a 12-year study that included over 14,000 people. Alarming!

These addictive drugs affect your reaction time, alertness and increase falls, inhibiting your central nervous system, thus affecting judgment and even increasing the risk of suicide. Not only that, this study found that insomnia medications aggravate breathing problems during sleep. But don’t panic, there’s rest for the weary that comes in the form of natural alternatives and implementing safe, healthy habits. Sleep disorders are common and serious…but their treatable!

Here are some simple ways to get to sleep easier and improve the quality of your sleep, so that you’re rested and ready to take on the day:

  1. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, herbal sleep remedies don’t have side-effects. Try a glass of chamomile tea (or a Sleepy Time blend) 15 minutes before bedtime. These teas contain natural sleep aids like valerian, lemon balm and passionflower.
  2. Try simple breathing exercises. Simple things like deep breathing, visualization and muscle relaxation can lower stress hormones and anxiety. You can download audible, guided instructions for these online.
  3. Get your exercise. Studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as prescription drugs for promoting restful sleep. Consistent exercise is essential for controlling stress, depression and healthy sleeping habits. If you exercise outdoors, you’ll be benefiting from the sun light, which regulates melatonin production needed for better sleep.
  4. Make your bedroom tranquil, like a spa. Clear away the clutter and make this room exclusively for sleep. Decorate with calming colors and fabrics and ban television and computers.
  5. Avoid food and caffeine. Plan not to eat at least three hours prior to bedtime. If you need an after dinner snack, have a small handful of almonds or a fresh fruit. Limit caffeine intake to the morning hours, and to two cups a day.
  6. Acupuncture and yoga have also been shown to improve the quality of sleep. Ask me more about this!

Did you know that reduced or not enough sleep has been associated with weight gain and obesity in both children and adults? Wow! So, not only is getting a good night’s sleep essential to functioning properly and performance, but it effects they way we look. O.K., time for bed!

*Always consult and health care professional before beginning or discontinuing any supplements or medications.

Sweet Deceit: High-Fructose Corn Syrup

This country consumes more sweetener made from corn than from sugarcane or beets, gulping it down in soft drinks and juice, as well as in packaged foods and baked goods. Popular items like bread, spaghetti sauce, breakfast cereal, ketchup, pickles and barbecue sauce are laced with high-fructose corn syrup, the most common added sweetener today.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we consumed almost 63 pounds per person, per year of high-fructose corn syrup in 2001, and today that number has shockingly risen to 129 pounds per year.

It’s made by milling corn to produce corn starch, then processing the starch to yield corn syrup, which is almost entirely glucose. Enzymes are then added that convert some of the glucose to fructose. Almost all nutritionists identify high-fructose corn syrup consumption as a major culprit in the nation’s obesity crisis. So why are we using so much of it?

It’s incredibly cheap! Sugar is twice as expensive as high-fructose corn syrup. The inexpensive sweetener flooded the American food supply in the early 1980s, just about the time the nation’s obesity rate started its unprecedented climb. What a coincidence!

Given how ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup has become, and the misleading television commercials funded by its producers that may have fooled some of us, some people are becoming aware and concerned about possible adverse health effects.

Researchers at Princeton University found that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain. A study demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say this work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States. The steady increase of high-fructose corn syrup into our diets has effected our perception of flavor and is contributing to our overall intake of empty calories, and sugar addiction.

Other health concerns lie in the quality of the corn being used to produce the finished product. Usually high-fructose corn syrup is made from genetically modified corn that has been exposed to pesticides, which come with their own well-documented side-effects and health concerns. Yuck!

Recently, I made it my personal goal to avoid eating foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup. This plan proved much harder than I thought. Reading labels was enlightening. I found that nearly everything on the shelves of the grocery store contains some form of hfcfs, including some items labeled as “natural foods.” You’ll find it on the labels of everything from salad dressings to protein bars, even most fat-free coffee creamers have it! Eating less processed foods is an easy way to avoid it. I buy the product with the least number of ingredients and eat as much fresh, unprocessed meals as possible. Pick up the book The Whole Truth Eating and Recipe Guide by Top Chef and nutritionist Andrea Beaman.

I am challenging you to try this for a week. If you don’t decide to boycott high-fructose corn syrup completely, at least become aware of how prevalent it is and how much better off you could look and feel without it. This is one more step towards living well!