Use Your Left Hand to Be in Your Right Mind

Recently I had surgery on my right hand, leaving me essentially left-handed for these past few weeks.  I have been taking it on as a challenge and I have been working on my dexterity and strength on my once weaker side.  Besides improving my strength and dexterity on my left side, I have also found that there are other benefits that you get from using your non- dominant hand and I thought I would share those with you.

Regardless of which hand you prefer, your preferred hand is hooked up to the opposite side of your brain. Your right hand is connected to your left brain, the side responsible for language, judgment and intellect. The left side is connected to your right brain, the source of creativity, perception and empathy.

Since our hands are connected to our brains, we can stimulate our brains by stimulating our hands. The process utilizes brain plasticity, our brain’s ability to change at any age for better or worse.

Here are the best reasons to routinely use your other hand:

  1. Increase Your Creativity

Because brain mapping shows that creativity is housed in the right hemisphere of our brains, experts say we can stimulate this right brain through working with our non-dominant hand. This also works for lefties, as studies indicate that one hemisphere is active when we use our dominant hand, but both hemispheres are activated when we use our non-dominant hand.

In this way, we can use the combination of our two hands to create new connections between our ears. “By its design, our right mind is spontaneous, carefree and imaginative. It allows our creative juices to flow free without inhibition,” according to Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., a neuroanatomist with the Indiana University School of Medicine. “If creativity is located in your non-dominant hemisphere, then using your non-dominant hand may stimulate those cells,” she says.

Another national expert, Lucia Capacchione, has done research which shows that, regardless of which hand we favor, writing and drawing with the non-dominant hand gives greater access to the right hemispheric functions like feeling, intuition, creativity, and inner wisdom and spirituality. “When a dialog occurs between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, both emotions and thoughts are more fully expressed and understood,” according to her website. Her book The Power of Your Other Hand gives a nine-step process for accessing our creative centers by using our other hand.

  1. The Brain Benefits

Beyond the jumpstart in creativity, using the other hand helps your brain to better integrate its two hemispheres, experts say. “There is research that musicians who use both hands have about a 9 percent increase in the size of their corpus callosum [the part of the brain that connects the two hemispheres], so certainly using both hands create more transfer,” says Hale, who works primarily with children with cognitive challenges, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia. “One could argue that this increase in exchange between the hemispheres could benefit intelligence or processing,” he says.

  1. Be More Open Minded

It seems that our dominant hand may have a hand in our life choices, too. Studies show that we often favor things that fall on our preferred side and discard those on our clumsy side. A recent Stanford University study by David Casasanto backs up this handy theory. Participants were asked to imagine they were hiring personnel for a new company and purchasing new items. They were asked to make hiring and purchasing decisions based on brief descriptions of candidates and items arranged in columns on the right and left side of a page. Results showed that right-handers were more than twice as likely as left-handers to choose candidates and items described on the right side of the page. Left-handers preferred candidates on the left.

  1. Balance out your body

Most of us have some imbalances in our physiques from left to right. These aren’t usually desirable, often resulting in postural problems and various other ailments that can be avoided with some balancing out. While it’s not necessarily true that something low-impact like brushing your teeth with the same hand every day is causing a muscular imbalance, more complex actions might well be. If you always use your mouse with your right hand, does that cause you to lean a certain way in your chair most of the time? Do you always sleep on the same shoulder? Shift your weight to the same foot?

Just like with higher-energy exercise like weight lifting, it’s worth paying attention to how balanced you are in your everyday movements. They may well be impacting you more than you realize now.

You do not need to injure your hand to get all of these benefits and achieve these same results, you just need to consciously start using your non-dominant hand.  I suggest start with brushing your teeth and then slowly add in other daily activities.  Your brain and body will thank you for becoming more “balanced”.

I am looking forward to getting back to work and helping my patients feel and function better and showing off my new skills with my left hand.  If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general you can contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

The Future of Sitting is Here in Natick!

“Sitting is the new smoking” is quoted day in day out in the media. Research continues to be published documenting all the detrimental effects of sitting on the job including increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. 

I’m constantly talking and demonstrating to my patients on how to sit correctly and how to use the features of their ergonomic desk chair correctly.  The problem is that sitting is static and even the most expensive ergonomic desk chairs keep you locked in one position.  No matter how you slice it or dice it sitting is detrimental to our health and until now there has not been much you can do about it.  Standing desks are popular, but standing in one place all day is not good for you either. Life is motion and the more you move, the healthier you will be.

The future sitting has finally arrived. It is a concept called active sitting. I saw an ad a few months ago in a chiropractic trade magazine for a revolutionary new chair. I thought it was an exciting concept but I did not want to take a chance of buying a chair online without first having the opportunity to sit on. After looking at the website, reading and watching a few videos I was hooked.  I noticed the chair was made in Burlington Vermont, where I used to live.  I knew I’d be back for a visit soon. Three weekends ago I went to Burlington. The night before I call the 800 number left a message and got an immediate call back from Tucker Osler, M.D. the inventor, founder and owner of the company. I asked if I could visit the showroom. He said they don’t have an official showroom yet but he’d be happy to show me their workspace and allow me to demo the chairs.

Dr. Osler and I met, hit it off and spent a long time discussing our mutual passion for ergonomics, body mechanics and health.  The company is called QOR360 and they have several models of chairs.  These chairs have a unique patented seat rocker that keeps you moving, engages your core and puts you in good posture with your head over your shoulders and a lumbar lordosis.  I was sold! I truly believe that this has the potential of being the future of sitting.  It’s tough to change human behavior and habits, but if you could put your butt in these chairs, and give it a chance it will sell itself, especially those of you who sit in front of a computer all day.

I came home with two chairs, choosing the Ariel which is model designed to be an office chair.  One I am sitting on right now in my home office and other is in the reception room at Performance Health Center so my patients can experience this unique chair. Monday morning I showed the chair to Linda, my receptionist, so she could explain to our patients about the chair and encourage them to try it.  Linda sat down and declared that the chair “is mine”. I have since gotten a third Ariel so that Linda can actively sit all day and have a chair for patients to try in the reception area. The response has been enthusiastic!

If you are sick and tired of sitting in an office chair that hurts your back, keeps you immobile and compromises your health, I encourage you try out the Ariel chair in our reception area.  Performance Health Center is the only location in greater Boston where you can experience the future of sitting!

What is it like?  If you have ever sat on an exercise ball it is a similar concept. The problem with using exercise balls as desk chairs is that they are large and bulky, it is easy to you fall off them, they puncture and in order to move your pelvis the whole ball moves moving you away from your computer.  With a QOR360 chair just the seat moves. It forces the activation of your core muscles and encourages  good posture with your head over your shoulder.  It is on a stable platform so there is no danger of your falling off and getting hurt.  It allows you to sit in front of your computer but your muscles stay active and engaged.

Sitting on the a  QOR360 chair takes a little getting used to. You can’t just sit down for five seconds and experience it.  It is recommended that you sit for at least minute or two and feel how your body reacts. It forces you sit on one your “sit bones”(or ischial tuberosities to be anatomically correct).  My “sit bones” were a little sore after my first prolonged sitting session. I give Dr. Osler this feedback and he responses saying that is typical, and it does take a little getting used to it because you’re not used to sitting on your sit bones. If the seat cushion was softer you would not be able to find your sit bones. He was true to his word and now I can set for extended periods with no soreness. Still you should always get up and take breaks when sitting even with active sitting, at least every 15-20 minutes, even if just for a 30 seconds of full body motion.

If you can’t get to Natick, MA, to sit on the QOR360 chair, know that it comes with a 30 day money-back guarantee.  The QOR360 chair can only be bought on-line, if you use the code PHC at check-out you will get a 5% discount.   Sorry if this blog sounds like a sales pitch, but after 34 years in practice helping people in pain caused by sitting all day this is the best solution I have found.  It really believe the QOR360 chair is the future of sitting. Like all paradigm shifts, it is going to take little time to gain traction.  If sitting on the Ariel chair in my reception room for a few minutes is not enough to convince you that this is the chair you should be sitting on at work, I’ll let you take one back to the office for up to a day so you can give it a good test drive.  Of course, your co-workers will be curious and hopefully you’ll share and let them try it as well.  Please call in advance at 508-655-9008 to make sure our loaner chair is available.

For more information please email me at drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com.  Of course check out the QOR360 website.  Please visit us at Performance Health Center  in Natick if you want to experience the future of sitting.  Lastly, if you are going to purchase remember to use the code PHC to get your 5% discount.

10 Reasons to Use a Humidifier

As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I see a lot of sick and injured people every day, and it is my job to help these patients get better.  Yes… Chiropractic can also help with colds and flu- studies show that getting regular chiropractic adjustments helps boost the immune system which in turn can help prevent getting the common cold or even the flu.  I wanted to write this month’s blog on how using a humidifier this winter can also help you prevent getting the cold or flu.

We are just now entering the coldest months of the year, and a time where people are more likely to get sick.  The old theory was that we spend more time in the winter indoors and more time inside in close proximity closer to other people, but more recent research has shown that it is the big drop in humidity that leaves us more susceptible to colds and the flu.  Winter air is dry air. Humidifiers put moisture back into the air, which can create a lot of benefits for you and your family.

A 2013 study, for example, showed that increasing humidity levels to 43% or above significantly reduced the ability of airborne viruses to cause flu infections. In fact, in a low humidity environment, 70-77 % of viruses could transmit the disease through coughs, but when humidity was increased to 43% or more, that number dropped to only 14%.

An earlier 2009 study showed similar results, with humidity limiting the transmission of the influenza virus.

Using a humidifier may help you avoid getting sick this winter, and it can offer other benefits for you, and your family and it may even benefit your house.

10 Benefits of Using a Humidifier

  1. Reduce risk of infections. Viruses and bacteria can’t travel as well in moist air. A humidifier could mean the difference between getting the flu this winter and remaining healthy.
  2. Softer, more vibrant skin. Cold, dry air saps moisture from your skin, which causes all kinds of problems, including dryness, dullness, flaking, and accelerated aging. A humidifier can help prevent all these damaging effects, and help you maintain that glowing, vibrant look for all your holiday parties and get-togethers.
  3. Comfortable sinuses. You know that dry, tight feeling you get in your nose in the winter? Even if you don’t have a cold (it’s worse when you do), winter air can dry out your sinuses, lowering your resistance to bacteria and viruses. Sleep with a humidifier and wake up with a more comfortable nose—and throat!
  4. Faster healing times. Say you do end up with a cold, a sinus infection, or the flu. A humidifier will shorten your suffering. Keeping your nasal passages and your throat moist will help you heal faster, and will reduce symptoms like coughing and sneezing.
  5. Healthier houseplants. Plants help pull toxins out of the air. But they can suffer in dry, winter air. Have you noticed that the soil is dryer than usual? Are the leaves looking droopy and sick? A humidifier can help keep your houseplants healthy—which helps keep you healthy, too!
  6. Protected wood furnishings. Dry air can damage wood furniture, as well as moldings and doors, causing them to split and crack. A humidifier can help preserve the integrity of the wood, maintaining your pieces for years to come.
  7. No growling morning voice. Do you often sound like a bear in the mornings? That’s dry air getting to your vocal cords. Sound more like your normal self when you sleep overnight with a humidifier in your bedroom!
  8. Reduced heating bill. Did you know that moist air feels warmer than dry air? It’s true. If you add some moisture to the air, it will feel warmer, which can help you save on your heating bills this winter.
  9. Fewer electric shocks. No one likes a static electricity shock—especially not the cat! But you may have noticed that in the winter, it’s harder to avoid it. That’s the dry air again. Use a humidifier and leave the lightning outside.
  10. Improved sleep. If you or a partner snores, a humidifier may help. We tend to snore more if our sinuses and throats are dry. A moist environment also tends to feel warmer and more comfortable, which can encourage a good night’s sleep.

Some Precautions

While humidifiers are great for you for a number of reasons, they do need to be cleaned regularly. Otherwise, they can become a source of bacteria and mold, which you don’t want floating around your home.

Here are some tips to help:

  • Use distilled or demineralized water. This can save you a lot of work. Regular tap water has minerals that create buildup in your machine and promote bacterial growth. Distilled and demineralized water contain fewer minerals and will save you from having to clean as often.
  • Clean once a week. If you make this a regular part of your routine, you’ll be able to get it done quickly and will keep your home healthy. Put if off and you’ll face a harder job and risk bacteria and mold buildup.
  • Change filters regularly. If your humidifier has a filter, follow the manufacturer’s directions for changing it.
  • Too much humidity can be just as problematic as not enough. Use a “hygrometer” (you can find one at home improvement and electronic stores) to measure the humidity in your home. Ideal, as shown by the study, is about 40-50 percent.

We are here to help you feel and function better so you can do all the things you like to do.  If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Stages of Injury and Recovery

As a Doctor of Chiropractic it is my job to help patients move and function better, and to help them recover from injuries they may be dealing with. There is more than just the physical healing that occurs with an injury. These injuries do not have to be life threatening, maybe just enough to prevent you for doing the things you love to do or maybe even prevent you from doing your normal activities of daily living. One thing that you might also want to consider when you have suffered an injury, is whether or not you might be able to get compensation for it (particularly if it wasn’t your fault). If this is something that you are interested in looking into further, the you could check out someone like this indiana personal injury lawyer. Don’t forget though, that although getting the compensation that you deserve for your injury is a good idea, the most important thing to think about is recovering yourself. There is also the psychological aspect of getting injured- which is what I wanted to focus on in this Blog. When we lose someone we love or even a family pet, we usually go through the 5 stages of grief, well that also happens (to a lesser degree) when we lose our ability to do the things we love to do. I wanted to highlight those 5 stages here in respect to getting injured to help lead you towards recovery. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional athlete or just someone who likes to work in their garden, when what we love to do is taken away from us, we often go through these 5 stages of injury and recovery.

Denial

When you first experience the shock of an injury, you immediately begin an internal dialogue in which you try to convince yourself that it’s not that bad. You probably try to run, lift or garden just like you normally do, a typical form of denial that often makes matters worse. Another common thought is that the injury will ease off in a couple of days. If you continue to do your activity of choice you may aggravate the injury. In extreme cases, some people pretend there is no injury.

Anger

Often fueled by thoughts like “Why me?” or “Why now?” you direct anger at yourself for a mistake that caused the injury, or at someone else you think is responsible. Perhaps you got hurt cleaning your gutters, or working in your garden, or an athlete gets hurt during a critical part of the season. It’s natural to feel angry. You might even direct it at family and friends, because they might not understand the sense of loss you have when you can’t do your favorite activities.

Bargaining

In a sense, this is an extension of denial. You accept the injury and endure the pain, but you try to ignore it or overcome it by adapting your activities to avoid the injured area. This usually leads to your body getting out of balance by overcompensating for the injury. Bargaining with your body by overcompensating may actually make the injury worse.

Depression

Grieving over your enforced time off from your favorite activities can lead to a form of depression, at least certainly a distinct sadness. You might feel like the entire season is lost, or that rehab will never get you back to 100%, or, worst case, that you will never finish that project in the yard or never completely recover.

Acceptance

For rehabilitation to be effective, this is the stage you need to get to. The preceding stages are completely natural and understandable. Recognize them for what they are. Just saying that you have to “pull yourself together” is a form of denial. Work through that and other stages by talking to friends, therapists and family. They can help get you to the point of acceptance. If you achieve acceptance early, you can start working on your rehab right away, even while you are going through the other stages.

Getting to a Positive Attitude

Taking positive action will get you to acceptance sooner. No matter how difficult it is, a positive attitude is your best strategy on the road to recovery. Understanding the natural stages you are going through is the first step. No one escapes unscathed from at least some of the stages; they cannot be avoided. Getting back on track takes a dedicated attitude and a commitment to excellence.

If you are dealing with any kind of injury that is keeping you from your favorite activities, please come in for an appointment here at Performance Health Center and we will do our best to get you back to doing the things you love to do. Your body and your mind will thank you for it.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general you can reach me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

An Interesting Take on “R.A.”, aka- Rheumatoid Arthritis!

I was just visiting at home over this past Thanksgiving break, helping out, and doing Active Release Techniques®  (ART) on the hands of my highly active grandmother of 85 years young, and chatting about her issues with Rheumatoid Arthritis, commonly called, “R.A.”.  For those of you who are not aware, R.A. is an autoimmune condition.  Unfortunately the immune system goes after and attacks its own tissues, and in regards to this condition, the joints.  The immune system recognizes the cells and tissue as an invader, and is constantly attacking certain joints of the body more then others.  In the long run this ends of triggering chronic inflammation in the body, which equals pain surrounding the joints usually.

The most common form of “standard medical treatment”, our nemesis, is prednisone, BOO…  In the short run this drug can definitely reduce pain, but acts more like a bandage.  There are also many bad side affects in regards to using prednisone for the long run as well.  Many of those side affects have been made very well aware of to the general public over the past few years, including weakening the immune system.

What if we were to think outside of the box for a little bit?  Just bare with me here… Don’t you think it would be a good idea to understand where this autoimmune condition is coming from?  Can you even guess?  What are the more advanced and validated medical researchers these days saying where many, if not most conditions are coming from?  The gut, obviously!  With all of the research out there now on R.A., it is showing a huge connection between the two.

Many of you may be familiar with “Leaky Gut Syndrome”, and if you are not, it is a condition in the digestive tract where these tiny holes are created.  Factors such as poor diet and poor environmental conditions cause these little holes where the intestines are supposed to be so tightly bound together.  Bad bacteria then can freely travel and enter into the bloodstream, not good!   There are paragraphs in much greater detail about “Leaky Gut”, but this part isn’t to bore you, or more realistically, overwhelm you.  Bottom line, these factors weaken the immune system, and this is what can also lead to a multitude of food sensitivities that everyone is now talking about, and everyone now seems to have.

In regards to the use of prednisone to treat R.A., this drug also weakens the immune system as stated above.  This drug may help control the level of pain, but doesn’t it really now seem counter intuitive to use?

I was discussing with my grandmother about eating a “whole foods” diet, and trying to stay away from processed food, which she does for the most part.  How do you think she has made it this far and remained in such amazing shape?  I was also talking to her about common food sensitivities that many people seem to have; gluten, dairy, and refined sugar!  Trying to remove these things from your diet is a huge key factor in regards to any inflammatory condition, autoimmune or not.

In regards to taking supplements, there are a few natural products that could be of great help as well.  Taking a high strain good quality probiotic (everyone and their mom should be taking this) to help increase good bacteria levels in the gut, and taking ~5,000mg of L-glutamine daily to help with healing your gut lining.  Taking in more good quality fats, like a fish oil, to help decrease inflammation through out the entire body.  Some other supplements worth mentioning and taking if contending with R.A. would be high potency curcumin, MSM, and glucosamine sulphate.

I know this a lot of information, and unfortunately there is no “quick and easy fix” when dealing with an autoimmune condition such as R.A.  That is why people are so quick to turn to prednisone for pain relief.  Unfortunately, much of the population is not well educated in regards to what an autoimmune disease is, and what terrible side affects drugs such as prednisone can have on the body.  I feel it is my job as a chiropractor to help educate my patients to the best of my ability so we can all lead a healthier and happier life.

In closing and as a side note, if you are dealing with R.A., chiropractic treatment and ART® have proven to help provide a lot of relief when dealing with chronic inflammation and pain surrounding the joints.  The goal is also to remain active.  Joints are meant to move, so KEEP MOVING!  Should you have any questions, always feel free to email me at drv@performancehealthcenter.com .  Happiest and healthiest of holidays to you all, cheers!

Combat Cold and Flu Season with Echinacea!

Believe it or not, many people are unaware of what Echinacea is, and all the benefits of this powerful little herb.  Echinacea is native to various areas east of the Rocky Mountain Range, but is also grown in more western parts of the United States, Canada, and Europe.  There are several types of Echinacea grown.  The leaves, flowers, and roots of this herb were first used by the Great Plains Indian Tribes for medicine and to make herbal remedies.  Settlers later on began using this herb for medicinal purposes as well.  And, for a little trivia that I didn’t even know about…from 1916-1950, Echinacea was listed in the US National Formulary, and fell out of favor in the US when antibiotics were discovered. Boo!!!

Good news though…more people are becoming re-engaged in the use and benefits of Echinacea, because more and more antibiotics are becoming more resistant to certain strains of bacteria.   It seems that Echinacea contains some types of chemicals that can directly flight yeast and certain kinds of fungi.  Echinacea activates chemicals in the body to help reduce inflammation, and laboratory research also shows that it can stimulate the body’s immune system. Echinacea is largely used to combat infections, including the common cold, flu, and many upper respiratory infections.  There are various ways people use Echinacea to combat these infections.  Some people will take Echinacea at the first signs of a cold, and some people will use the herbal remedy after their symptoms have started to help minimize the severity of the infection.

Echinacea can be used to fight many other infections such as tonsillitis, strep throat, ear infections, swine flu, malaria, typhoid, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, indigestion, anxiety and rheumatoid arthritis.  If not taking this herb orally, Echinacea can be applied to the skin to treat boils, gum disease, skin wounds, ulcers, burns, bee stings, hemorrhoids, herpes simplex, and the list goes on. And, believe it or not, Echinacea can be injected to treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections as well.  WOW! I had no idea until researching this little herb, that Echinacea could be used to treat so many things.

Echinacea comes in many forms nowadays.  Tablets, juice and tea seem to be among the more popular choices in the US.  However, in the US particularly, there are more concerns about the quality of some of the Echinacea products being sold commercially.  It seems as though some types of Echinacea products are being mislabeled, and don’t actually even contain Echinacea in them! Really?  Just because the label reads “standardized”, it doesn’t always mean much. Some of the Echinacea products are even contaminated with lead, arsenic, and selenium.  YUM!

With that being said, it is very important that you make sure you are purchasing all supplements, herbal or not, from a reputable source.  If you are unsure of which brand to purchase, be sure to ask your health care professional which brand they would recommend.  During the cold and flu season I take one capsule/pill in the morning and one at night.  If you are feeling well, you can just take one a day with your other vitamins, and at the first signs or symptoms of getting sick or coming down with something, you can take 2-3 capsulses 2-3 times a day as needed.  At our office, we carry the brand, Metagenics, as many of you know.  Many doctor’s offices carry this brand as it is one of the most reputable, and what is listed on the label is actually what is in the bottle!  Should any of you have any questions about Echinacea, or any of the other supplements we carry at PHC, feel free to ask me when you are in the office for a visit, or email me at: drv@performancehealthcenter.com.

“Fall Back” with Vitamin D3

It is Time to “Fall Back” this Saturday November 3, 2018… that is we set our clocks back 1 hour for “Daylight Savings Time”, but the actual amount of daylight is actually shrinking daily every day from now through to the shortest day of the year which happens to be Friday December 21st this year.  That means we are all getting less and less sunshine each day starting now and for the next few months.  This decrease in sunshine can affect us both mentally and physically.  This blog will focus on the physical effects of our bodies absorbing less and less sunshine. Chances are you are not getting enough vitamin D. It is estimated that over one billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency.

Recent statistics show that most people aren’t getting enough vitamin D to stay healthy. This is called vitamin D deficiency. You may not get enough vitamin D if:

  • You don’t get enough sunlight. Your body is usually able to get all the vitamin D it needs if you regularly expose enough bare skin to the sun. However, many people don’t get enough sunlight because they spend a lot of time inside and/or because they use sunscreen. It’s also difficult for some people to get enough vitamin D from the sun during the winter.
  • You don’t take supplements. It’s very difficult to get enough vitamin D from the foods you eat alone.
  • Your body needs more vitamin D than usual, for example if you’re obese or pregnant.

WHO IS AT RISK FOR VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY?

  • People with darker skin. The darker your skin the more sun you need to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person. For this reason, if you have dark skin, you’re much more likely to have vitamin D deficiency that someone who is fair skinned.
  • People who spend a lot of time indoors during the day.
  • People who cover their skin all of the time. For example, if you wear sunscreen or if your skin is covered with clothes.
  • People that live in the North of the United States or Canada. This is because there are fewer hours of overhead sunlight the further away you are from the equator.
  • Older people have thinner skin than younger people and this may mean that they can’t produce as much vitamin D.
  • Infants that are breastfed and aren’t given a vitamin D supplement. If you’re feeding your baby on breast milk alone, and you don’t give your baby a vitamin D supplement or take a supplement yourself, your baby is more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People who are very over weight (obese).

Regardless of cause, deficiency of vitamin D has significant medical and psychological consequences. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function.

Vitamin D is also the only vitamin that is a hormone. After it is consumed in the diet or absorbed (synthesized) in the skin, vitamin D is then transported to the liver and kidneys where it is converted to its active hormone form. Vitamin D as a hormone assists with the absorption of calcium, helping to build strong bones, teeth and muscles.

In addition to its well-known role in calcium absorption, vitamin D activates genes that regulate the immune system and release neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, serotonin) that affect brain function and development. Researchers have found vitamin D receptors on a handful of cells located in regions in the brain-the same regions that are linked with depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder featuring depressive symptoms, occurs during the dark times of the year when there is relatively little sunshine, coinciding with the sudden drop in vitamin D levels in the body. Several studies have suggested that the symptoms of SAD may be due to changing levels of vitamin D3, which may affect serotonin levels in the brain.

Mental health is one of many types of ailments connected to vitamin D deficiency. For more information on vitamin D and its links to mental and physical health please visit the organization Vitamin D Council at www.vitamindcouncil.org founded by Executive Director John J. Cannell, M.D. Cannell, a trained psychiatrist, founded the Vitamin D Council in 2003 with a keen interest in clinical nutrition and a strong conviction that vitamin D deficiency, a highly preventable yet prevalent condition, contributes to many physical and psychological conditions affecting scores of people.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY?

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are sometimes vague and can include tiredness and general aches and pains. Some people may not have any symptoms at all.

If you have a severe vitamin D deficiency you may have pain in your bones and weakness, which may mean you have difficulty getting around. You may also have frequent infections. However, not everyone gets these symptoms.

If you think you may have vitamin D deficiency, you should see your physician, or have a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE DEFICIENT?

The way doctor’s measure if you’re deficient in vitamin D is by testing your 25(OH) D level, but most doctors just call this a vitamin D blood test. Getting this blood test is the only accurate way to know if you’re deficient or not, so ask your PCP this test.

HOW CAN YOU GET MORE VITAMIN D?

There are two ways to get more vitamin D: by exposing your bare skin to the sun or by taking vitamin D supplements.

This time of year there is much less sunlight, so it a good time to take supplements.

WHAT DO WE NEED VITAMIN D FOR?

What are the best supplements?

We offer Metagenics Vitamin D3 which is the best form of Vitamin D to take:

This is the version your body prefers, one Ultra concentrated Metagenics Vitamin D3 soft gel that is easy to swallow has 5000 IU in a single dose.  You can get yours here at Performance Health Center.

We have also made it easy for you to enjoy the convenience of ordering nutritional supplements online and save!

Visit and order directly from our Metagenics site:  https://performancehealth.metagenics.com/

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general please feel free to contact me at:  drtomball@performancehealthcenter.comm

 

 

 

It’s Apple Picking Time!

October is my favorite time of year for Apple Picking!

It is October and the warm sun and cool dry fall air are calling you outside.  If you are looking for a fun, healthy activity to do with your family, I would suggest Apple Picking!

Every fall my wife Clair, daughter Emily and I make the trip out to Honey Pot Hill Orchards for our annual Apple Picking extravaganza.  Just being outside and picking these amazingly fresh and delicious apples makes you appreciative of nature.  We like to go to Honey Pot Orchards in Stowe, MA.  They have hayrides, a petting zoo, and 2 large mazes to navigate your way through.  They also have a country store full of all their apple varieties: MacIntosh, Macoun, Cortlands, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious, and more, and don’t forget their famous cider donuts.

There are many different orchards in the MetroWest and here is their information:

Honey Pot Hill Orchards – Open daily from 9:30 am – 6 pm. Has more than a dozen different varieties of apples to pick. While you’re there, visit their friendly farm animals and get lost in their hedge maze. Hayrides are also available on weekends during the fall picking season. 16 Boon Road, Stowe.

Connors Farm – Pick your own apples at Connors Farm in Danvers daily from 9 am – 6 pm through October 31. While you’re there, check out their corn maze and so many other fun things including hayrides and whole lot more. 30 Valley Road (Rte. 35), Danvers.

Applecrest Farm Orchards –in Hampton Falls, NH is worth the trip. Pick your own apples seven days a week from 8 am to 6 pm in their 220 sprawling acres of orchards with more than 40 distinct varieties. Each weekend they also host Fall Festivals with free music, pie eating contests, make your own scarecrow, petting zoo, face painting and more. 133 Exeter Road (Rte. 88), Hampton Falls, NH

Carlson Orchards – Located in Harvard, boasts 140 acres and produces 60,000 bushels of apples annually. Pick your own from 14 different varieties seven days a week from 9 am to 4 pm 115 Oak Hill Road, Harvard.

Shelburne Farm – Just 20 miles from Boston, in Stowe grows more than 80 different varieties of apples. The farm is open weekdays 9 am to 5 pm and weekends 9 am to 6 pm 106 W. Acton Road, Stowe.

Parlee Farms – their apple orchards cover more than 15 acres and are open until Oct. 28 offering more than 20 varieties of apples for the picking. On weekend and fall holidays, your purchase of an apple bag includes a hayride to their apple orchard. While you’re there check out Annie’s Animal Barns, Farmer Mark’s Tractor Training Course and the hay play area. 95 Farwell Road, Tyngsboro.

Belkin Family Lookout Farm –is in full swing right now. While you’re there also enjoy farm animals, live children’s entertainment and face painting, along with pony, camel and hayrides. To see what’s currently available check out the What’s Picking page on their website or call their U-Pick hotline at 508-653-0653. 89 Pleasant St., Natick.

Brooksby Farm – Apple picking runs until Oct. 14 from 9 am to 6 pm in Peabody. Check the farm’s website for other fun, fall activities for the kiddos, and be sure to take a trip to their pumpkin yard to find your perfect pumpkin. 54 Felton St., Peabody.

Smolak Farms – is open and welcoming you for its fall picking season. Open each weekend through October for the Fall Children’s Festivals where children can enjoy wee wagons, cow trains, duck races, hay maze, face painting, bouncy house, super slide and spin art. While you’re there, don’t forget to stop by their pumpkin patch, too. 315 S. Bradford St., North Andover.

OK– now my favorite thing to make with all these amazingly fresh apples:

Apple Crisp

Cut peel and core 12 fresh apples, place in a large serving bowl

Cover with 2 TBSP lemon juice which acts as an anti-oxidant and prevents oxidation (browning of apple)

Next mix in 4 cups rolled oats; 1 cup raisins; one cup chopped almonds and sprinkle on 1 TBSP cinnamon

Mix well – set in large baking dish- bake at 350 degrees until crisp.  Enjoy!

The only problem I ever have is that it is soooo good I always eat so much I feel ill for about an hour then I am good for some more!

If you have any questions about this blog, or about your health in general, you can contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Multitasking Is Hazardous to Your Health

I have recently been reading a lot about multitasking and how it can be bad for your health.  We all know that you cannot really do a good job of multiple things at the same time (think the ultimate no-no: texting while driving!) Many people believe in our too fast paced world that they need to try to multitask whenever possible in hopes that they can actually get more done than is humanly possible.  Turns out not only is it a bad idea, but it can be bad for you and others around you as well.

We all know texting while driving is not only dangerous to you but everyone else on the road with you!  Did you also know that multitasking is actually bad for your brain?

I recently read an excellent article by Dr. Travis Bradberry (the Coauthor of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0 & President at Talent Smart) His article is titled:

Why Successful People Don’t Multitask.  I will share the best parts of that article here:

You may have heard that multitasking is bad for you, but new studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Every time you multitask you aren’t just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that’s critical to your future success at work.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

A Special Skill?

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers—those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.

Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

Multitasking Lowers IQ

Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.

Brain Damage From Multitasking?

It was long believed that cognitive impairment from multitasking was temporary, but new research suggests otherwise. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK compared the amount of time people spend on multiple devices (such as texting while watching TV) to MRI scans of their brains. They found that high multitaskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.

While more research is needed to determine if multitasking is physically damaging the brain (versus existing brain damage that predisposes people to multitask), it’s clear that multitasking has negative effects.

The EQ Connection

Nothing turns people off quite like fiddling with your phone or tablet during a conversation. Multitasking in meetings and other social settings indicates low Self- and Social Awareness, two emotional intelligence (EQ) skills that are critical to success at work. TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that 90% of top performers have high EQs. If multitasking does indeed damage the anterior cingulate cortex (a key brain region for EQ) as current research suggests, doing so will lower your EQ while it alienates your coworkers.

Bringing It All Together

If you’re prone to multitasking, this is not a habit you’ll want to indulge—it clearly slows you down and decreases the quality of your work. Even if it doesn’t cause brain damage, allowing yourself to multitask will fuel any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organization, and attention to detail.

So, if you really want to do something well, focus on the task at hand and try not to let your mind wander.  I know that when I am racing and in the middle of the swim and I start thinking of the upcoming bike course my swim stroke mechanics deteriorate and I slow way down.  Change your mind set; focusing on one thing at a time is actually more efficient, give it a try.

Your brain is also part of your central nervous system which includes the spinal cord and all your spinal nerves- so remember to take care of your whole central nervous system with regular chiropractic adjustments.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

 

It’s Not Just About Vitamin C Anymore…Try Zinc this Fall!

With school back in session, so are all the GERMS that come with this time of year.  Fun times!  Generally speaking, most people reach for the bottle of Vitamin C if they feel a cold coming on this time of year, or to prepare in the event of a possible cold.  I am not saying that Vitamin C isn’t effective (as I do take it daily), but more and more studies are showing that Zinc has some very beneficial qualities when it comes to dealing with the common cold, also known as the rhinovirus.

Without going into great detail, and pulling multiple research studies at this time, some studies are showing that Vitamin C does not actually do much to prevent the common cold.  Sorry Airborne L.  Zinc, being the mineral that it is, seems to somehow interfere with the replication of the rhinovirus. Zinc influences the immune system in a few different ways.  Zinc helps the immune system recruit white blood cells for proper and better immune system function, helps reduce systematic inflammation in the body, and is also an antioxidant – not too shabby Mr. Zinc J.  Some studies that have also been done in the past few years have shown that people who started taking zinc after recently getting sick, had less severe symptoms from the cold, and the duration of the cold was not as long either.

Zinc is what they call a “trace element”.  The cells of our immune system rely on Zinc to function. If one is getting enough zinc into their diet, the T-cells and other immune cells in our bodies can be greatly affected.  Based on what Harvard Medical Researchers say, the suggested daily amount of Zinc is 15-25mg.  Taking in an excessive amount of this supplement can actually cause a reverse reaction on the body, and is usually best to follow the recommended daily amount, or the amount prescribed by your physician.

If you are a person interested in getting more Zinc into your diet naturally, chickpeas, kidney beans, mushrooms, crab and chicken, are all good sources of food where Zinc can be found.  Lozenges like Cold-Ez or syrups containing Zinc, can also help aid in support when you are not feeling well.  If you are a person who would prefer to supplement, or your doctor has told you to do so, Metagenics ( www.metagenics.com ) has a supplement called, Zinc A.G.

Zinc A.G. is a special formula with enhanced absorption to help better address zinc repletion in the body. I use the Metagenics brand for Zinc, and that is what we carry or you can order at or through our office.  I do not necessarily take Zinc all year around, but I do use it through out certain parts of the year to help fight off pesky germs, and when I may be training at a higher intensity or for a race and take as needed.  I do not find that Zinc really has any bad side effects either, other than it doesn’t smell the greatest.  Sometimes people can complain of nausea, but if I take most of my vitamins or supplements on an empty stomach, I do become nauseous regardless.  If you have any questions regarding Zinc or other supplements we carry in our office, or in general, please feel free to ask me when in the office, or email me anytime at: drv@performancehealthcenter.com.  Happy Back to School everyone, and so not ready for the summer to come to an end.

If you want to orderZinc A.G, or any of Metagenics products on-line you can do so with this link: Order Metagenics NOW!