Dr. Bell's Blog

Intermittent Fasting: The Science Behind Why It Works

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Intermittent fasting is something that may be new to some of you, but has been growing in popularity in recent years. It is something that I have been doing for a couple years now, not for weight loss, but just for overall health and well-being. One of the major benefits day to day that I have seen is with my energy level. Today we will take a look at why this is the case, along with many other benefits that have now been proven through scientific research.

Throughout the years, we have all been led to believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. To some degree I don’t refute that, however it depends on what time you eat breakfast, and what time your last meal was the previous day. Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you cycle through periods of eating and fasting. The most common way to do this is known as the 16:8 method. Simply put, over the course of a 24 hour day, you fast for 16 hours, and condense your eating hours down to 8. You can do this in whatever manner works best with your schedule, but for me it means I only consume food between roughly 11 am and 7pm. During the remaining time you are fasting. No snacks during this time. You should drink water or unsweetened tea/coffee (no artificial sweeteners) still during this time, though. Of course, there are random days when intermittent fasting doesn’t happen, but as long as the majority of the time it does, you will see amazing results. Word of warning, it will not be an easy thing to start. You have likely trained your body by regularly giving it food during your waking hours. It will be a struggle, but after a week or two it will adapt, and you will not only be used to it, but love it!

How It Works, And What Are The Benefits?

As your body adapts to intermittent fasting, your blood levels of insulin will drop significantly, and your human growth hormone levels increase (research shows by as much as 5-fold). I don’t want to bore you with the specific scientific details as to why, but these two things combined will help you burn fat and lose weight. Two of the other important benefits revolve around cellular repair and gene expression. Essentially during intermittent fasting your cells initiate an important cellular repair process, and change which genes they express. In a nut shell this helps with cellular longevity (slows down aging) and protection against disease. All of this can help prevent/reverse diabetes, reduce inflammation, improve heart health, reduce your risk of cancer, and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In closing, even if you are not looking to lose weight, who doesn’t want to live the longest and healthiest life you can? Be sure during your 8 hours or less of eating each day, that it is filled with healthy nutritious foods. You can’t expect great results if you are still filling your body with garbage. Combine this with a regular cardio/strength training workout, a healthy amount of regular sleep, and of course regular chiropractic check-ups to keep your nervous system healthy, and you will be well on your way to living the long and healthy life you deserve. (As always, be sure and consult your primary care physician before beginning intermittent fasting to be sure it will not have a negative impact on any current health problems you have or medications you take.)

LIVE well. BE well.

5 Simple Ways To Make 2019 Healthier and Happier

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I think I can speak for most everyone by saying there are always things in our lives we can improve upon. Long time life coach and motivational speaker Tony Robbins coined an acronym for improvement as “CANI”, meaning Constant And Never Ending Improvement. This is a good phrase to live by. We can all benefit from improvement in our lives. None of us will ever be perfect, but striving to be a little better tomorrow than we were today is a healthy approach to making sure we are always trending in a healthy direction.

That being said, lets look at 5 ways we can ALL benefit from by making our lives healthier and happier in 2019…

  1. Move More, Sit Less: We have slowly developed into a society that sits an awful lot. So much so that research shows the average American sits roughly 13 hours per day, in addition to the 8 hours of sleep when we are laying down. That means we are only moving for an average of 3 hours per day. That is simply not enough. This has led ‘inactivity’ to become the 4th leading risk factor for mortality, and ultimately related to 3.2 million deaths per year. This is a health crisis with a VERY simple solution: move more. If you have a desk job, take regular breaks multiple times during the day, to walk around the office. Most people also keep sitting when they get home from work. Take time in the evening and go for a 30 minute walk.

  2. Cut Down On Screen Time: This one may be one of the more difficult ones. So much of what we do now is either on a phone, computer, or tablet. We read, we do work, and now we even socialize this way. The world is trending to more and more screen time. At minimum, take periodic times to go “off the grid” for a number of days. I regularly do this in the summer/fall with our trips up to the Adirondacks given that our location in the park has no cell service. You will be surprised how little you think of it when using your phone is not an option. Give it a try for a couple days and see if you are the same as I am.

  3. Get More Quality Sleep: I have touched on this subject in a recent blog post, but the importance of good quality sleep can not be understated. The negative effects of even one night of less than 7 hours of sleep has been well documented. I know sometimes it is inevitable, but don’t make it a habit. Commit to 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night. For tips on ways to improve your sleep, go back and read my previous blog post titled “Don’t Sleep On The Importance Of A Great Night’s Rest”.

  4. Be Selfish: I don’t mean this in a negative sense. What I’m talking about is simply putting yourself first. We all have people who depend on us, that we care deeply for, and don’t want to let them down. However, unless we are happy and healthy, we will be virtually helpless for them. In the long run you will be able to take better care of those you love if you make sure you are healthy first.

  5. Be Grateful and Humble: The reality is, if you are currently reading this on a computer, tablet, or phone, then you are blessed beyond belief compared to most people in the world. Sometimes we lose perspective because all we pay attention to is what is closest to us. We compare ourselves with others around us along with those in the media. Recently I read a book called Thirst. It was written by the founder of Charity: Water. In the book he notes that 663 million people worldwide (1 in 10 worldwide) live without access to clean water. For something that all of us take for granted everyday, that is staggering. I am not saying that we all shouldn’t strive for greater things, because I think that is healthy. But we also should take time to simply be grateful for all of the blessings we have.

The year is coming to an end, and I know it is cliché, but they seem to go by faster and faster.

As you reflect on 2018 and look forward to 2019, commit to creating a year filled with health, and happiness for you and your family. You deserve to…

LIVE well. BE well.

What Lies Below The Surface...

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It is said that 90% of the total mass of an iceberg lies below the surface (it’s amazing they float, right? But let’s not bore each other with the physics of it). When it comes to our health this comparison holds true for many of us. We may appear healthy to most on the outside. However, what lies beneath may tell a whole different story.

Almost all of us know someone that was seemingly healthy one day and dropped dead of a heart attack the next. It is extremely unfortunate, but an all too common situation. Were they healthy the day, week, month, or year before this happened? Likely not. We have all been raised to judge the majority of our health on the presence or absence of outward symptoms, and this can unfortunately be the deadly outcome to that belief. The health of our body is far more complicated than the “warning system” known as symptoms that we all experience from time to time.

When it comes to our spine, the presence or absence of symptoms can be one of the most misleading gauges on how healthy it is. The main reason is that 90% of the make-up of a spinal nerve is either motor or autonomic. In plain terms, it’s purpose is to transmit nerve impulses to control the function of something. This can be things such as your heart rate, stomach function, or ability to digest food. That leaves roughly 10% of the nerve for sensory fibers. Pressure or damage to this portion of the nerve fiber will produce pain. Therefore, virtually 90% of the time pressure or damage to a nerve will NOT produce pain. This is disastrous when pain is our gauge as to whether or not there is a problem.

It is always an unfortunate situation to bring up to a new patient, when they present with an acute pain situation that arose mere days ago, that they have 20+ years of irreversible damage in their spine. This is not the part of my job I enjoy. We can, in most cases, still help this person. But there are limitations. We are much better at preventing this situation from arising in the first place.

Spinal subluxations (misalignments) can occur at any age (including newborns), and often present with no symptoms whatsoever. The causes of a subluxation come from what we call “The Three T’s”: Thoughts (a.k.a stress), Toxins, and Trauma. We all have these in our lives on a daily basis, so it is inevitable we will get spinal subluxations. This is why regular chiropractic check-ups for people of all ages is so vitally important. You don’t need to be in pain (and hopefully are not) to see a chiropractor. I have been under regular chiropractic care since I was a very young child and can’t count on one hand how many times I have had any significant back pain (all from a number of sports injuries).

Maintaining a healthy spine and nervous system is not just important for the structural integrity of your spine, but also for the health of your entire body. This is why we also say that regular chiropractic care will help you too…

LIVE well. BE well.

How Yoga Can Help Your Spine....And Which Poses Are Best

The practice of yoga was first developed in India 5,000 years ago. It has long been believed that the regular practice of yoga can have tremendous benefits for mind and body alike. Among other things, yoga can physically help with flexibility, muscle strength, respiration, and circulation. Of all the benefits, none is closer to my heart than the benefits it can have on your spine. The great thing about the practice of yoga is that it can be done by nearly everyone, regardless of age or physical ability. Yoga comes in many different forms and levels of difficulty, ranging from an hour and a half hot yoga session done in over 100 degree heat, to chair yoga that is regularly performed with the elderly and those physically impaired. And if you are someone that thinks Yoga is not a workout, spend an hour and a half performing 26 poses in 100 degree heat and I promise you will think differently.

7 Great Poses For Spinal Health

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Downward-Facing Dog: Back pain, particularly that of your lower back, is closely tied in with your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings will lead to a tight lower back. This particular pose is great at lengthening the hamstrings and back extensors. Hold posture 5-10 breaths, and repeat 5 times.

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Upward-Facing Dog: This is a classic yoga pose, yet very effective. It helps to strengthen the muscles of the arms and shoulders, as well as opening up your chest and stretching your thoracic spine. Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat 5 times.

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Child’s Pose: This is one of my favorite yoga poses, and is also a great way to relax your mind and body in the middle of a stressful day, or at night after a long day. This pose will once again help elongate your spinal muscles, relieving tension from them. Hold for 5-10 breaths, and repeat as many times as needed.

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Seated Spine Twist: This pose can have benefits not only for your spinal health, but also that of your overall health. It has been shown to also improve digestion, and improve menstrual discomfort. Hold for 5-10 breaths, repeat on each side 2-3 times.

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Cat and Cow Pose: This gentle and easy posture is a great way to loosen up back muscles and improve lower back mobility. This is a great beginner posture to start with as you begin your practice of yoga. Repeat 10 times in sequence.

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Locust Pose: This pose begins to increase in difficulty, but has a relatively low risk of injury. However, as always, you can make modifications to every pose to suit your ability. This posture will help strengthen back muscles, improve posture, and relieve stress.

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Camel Pose: This is a great posture to help those of you with chronic tension in your hips. It can also help improve flexibility of your thoracic spine and lengthen the flexion muscles in your neck. This is a great pose for the health of your entire spine.

One common thread you may notice throughout most of the 7 poses I referenced above is extension of your spine. The vast majority of activities we all do every day are flexion activities. That includes such things as sitting (hip flexion), bending (hip/lower back flexion), and looking down (neck flexion). Doing yoga poses on a regular basis that perform the exact opposite of those activities helps to combat the stress they cause on our body. People often ask me, “Doc, how can I get my adjustments to stay better?” Well, here is one of those things that can go a long way towards helping your spine stay in alignment a little better and a little longer. This is yet another step that can help you….

LIVE well. BE well.