About Kerrin Kuntzman

Kerrin Kuntzman

Kerrin is the office manager at Texas Spine & Wellness. She often blogs about alternative medical care and nutrition. She is an ardent supporter of chiropractic medicine and uses chiropractic treatment not only for herself, but for her pets as well!

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Your Mind/Body Connection – How Emotions Affect your Health

Have you ever noticed a physical reaction in your body when you experience intense emotions? Maybe you’re happy about seeing an old friend, or you passed an important test, or you discovered a five-dollar bill on the dresser that you thought you’d lost—whatever the reason, such experiences generate an elation that expresses as an actual sensation in your body. That’s why we refer to a rush of excitement, a flutter of joy.

The same thing happens when you’re sad, but the sensations aren’t as pleasant. You might feel tired and apathetic, and in the case of an extreme sadness—such as grief due to a loss or a natural disaster—you might even experience tightness in your chest or develop a stomach ache.

illustration of the mind/body connection

illustration human body with energy rays

These physical reactions are real. It’s well known that certain emotions generate specific chemical reactions, and your body responds to the way you think, feel, and act. It’s a veritable “mind/body connection.”

Our Garland Chiropractic Clinic is invested in helping you find the mind/body balance you need to achieve good health. Let’s take a look at the issue.

First, an interesting history

More than a millennia ago, ancient Greeks, Romans, and East Indian physicians intuitively recognized that there was a link between illness and emotion. They embraced the theory that an imbalance in the four ‘humors’ (secretions) of blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm caused diseases, and that the imbalance was caused by emotions.

This connection is so important we even derived some of our words from it. Melancholy comes from melan, the Latin word for “black,” and choler, the Latin word for “bitter bile.” A gloomy or embittered person is melancholic. And a phlegmatic person is considered languid and lethargic. We even developed the term “feeling sick” as a collective description that includes our sensory symptoms, such as nausea, fever, and exhaustion with how we feel psychologically, such as sad or apathetic.

The Mind/Body Connection and How it works

The effects your mind has on your physical body are profound. A different chemical is released each time we experience an emotion, whether it’s happiness or sadness, joy or depression. Each chemical literally creates a different environment inside our bodies. Considering our wide array of emotions, it’s no wonder our bodies suffer such a range of reactions!

Let’s think about negative reactions. Cortisol and adrenaline levels increase in your bloodstream when you’re stressed. They’re actually called stress hormones. These hormones work to redirect the blood supply from your deep organs into areas where it’s needed to allow your instinctive “flight-or-flight response,” preparing you to run as fast as you can. Your body believes that’s your best chance to escape whatever is causing the stress. It doesn’t matter if you’re stressed because you’re in real physical danger—like being stalked by a hungry tiger!—or if it’s caused by grief, sadness, or depression. Nature developed a very efficient and cool arrangement for us, utilizing our human emotions to initiate our survival instinct.

On the other end of the spectrum, when you feel happy, the body releases dopamine, oxytocin, or serotonin. Those hormones make you feel good.

  • Dopamine is a motivator, encouraging the action and persistence you need to meet your needs and goals.
  • Oxytocin is often referred as a “cuddle neurochemical” because it’s released by skin-to-skin contact.
  • Serotonin is the “confidence molecule,” coming into play when you feel important or significant. Low levels of serotonin can result in loneliness and depression.

It’s quite fascinating how the interplay of these hormones manifests in your physical responses. It’s been noted that love and happiness are “felt strongly all over our bodies, while depression causes us to lose sensation in every limb.” Pride creates a huge increase in the body’s internal activity, but it focuses in the upper body. Shame only burns your cheeks, while fear is felt in your chest and disgust—like phlegm—fills your throat.

Physical health impacts of the Mind/Body Connection

What happens if you think negatively all the time?

  • Long term stress can cause an ulcer.
  • Anxiety can increase the heartrate and blood pressure, cause shortness of breath, and could result in chest pains.
  • Depression causes tiredness and fatigue.
  • The immune system can be weakened.
  • Physical health is impacted when stress, anxiety, and depression interfere with a person taking care of themselves.

Additional issues may include: poor appetite, dry mouth, back pain, constipation or diarrhea, insomnia, sweating, stiff neck, headaches, weight loss or gain, and just general aches and pains.

Controlling your own health

If negative thoughts can hurt you, positive thoughts can help you.

Optimism alone seems to reduce cortisol levels and inflammation that’s caused by stress. It might well decrease a person’s potential to be impacted by diseases because it suppresses activity of the sympathetic nervous system while stimulating the “rest-and-digest” response of the parasympathetic nervous system. Positive people can lower their cardiovascular responses to stress.

Good emotional health means being aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and reactions. There are always stress and problems in life and you have to learn to deal with them in a manner that helps you stay healthy.

Here are some helpful tips for taking charge of your mind/body connection:

  • Don’t keep your feelings inside if it makes you feel worse. Express yourself, and do it in a positive way. Tell people how you feel. Turn to a doctor, counselor or pastor if you need emotional support.
  • Keep your life balanced. Try not to obsess about the things in your daily life that bother you. You have to deal with them, but bring in positive feelings and activities to lessen that burden. Focus on a positive outlook.
  • Learn resilience so you can cope. Find social support, accept change, and keep the issues in perspective.
  • Work to calm yourself mentally and physically. Try yoga, meditation, music, a good book or a movie you love. If an intimate group of friends helps, invite them over for a talk fest!
  • It’s important to take care of yourself. If you’re emotionally healthy, work on body health. If your body is healthy, work on your emotional strength. Eat right, sleep enough, and exercise to throw off tension. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Contact Texas Spine & Wellness and let our trained professionals set up a program that will help you reach an optimal level of physical health.

Remember, the power to take on and overcome what life throws at you lies within yourself. Remember, too, these words said by Hippocrates:

“If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.”

Sleep Deprivation and Heart Health – A Serious Link

Our busy lifestyles often leave us little time for rest, which has resulted in a major change in sleep patterns. Now people sleep an hour to two hours less than they did just 50 years ago. While some people might consider this great for productivity, it’s not a good situation for our health. Recent research indicates there’s a link between those shorter hours of sleep and an increased potential to develop heart disease.

Man with sleep deprivationIn the United States, heart disease is reported to be the leading cause of death and disability, with strokes being the number 4 cause. A major threat factor in both cases is high blood pressure.

The lack of sleep—or prolonged sleep—isn’t necessarily the cause of heart disease, but it definitely affects the heart disease risk factors in terms of arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure.

These are the kinds of statistics that research has revealed about sleep deprivation:

  • A 48% increase in the risk of getting or dying from coronary heart disease (CHD);
  • A 15% risk increase in developing or dying from stroke;
  • Interestingly, there is also a 38% risk increase of CHD in people who sleep too much, such as nine or more hours a night!

Just like the rest of your body, your heart needs rest. It never stops beating, so resting that reduces the heart rate and blood pressure is essential to its health.

Sleep Regulates Your Health!

While you sleep, your body regulates insulin levels, hormone levels,including stress hormones, and blood pressure. When you don’t get enough sleep it throws all of those things out of sync.

It’s those hormone levels, in particular, which affect your appetite and energy. When those decrease because you’re tired, you have a greater chance for weight gain, the development of insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of physiological and biochemical abnormalities associated with initiating cardiovascular disease. This is because it triggers inflammation, and studies have shown that inflammation causes high blood pressure. This explains why the risk of stroke or heart attack shoots up when you don’t get enough sleep.

If you already have a heart problem, even short-term sleep deficit is shown to be harmful. The effect of daylight saving time, which strips away that extra hour of additional sleep in spring, is known to increase the risk for heart attacks by a surprising 4%!

The depth of your sleep is also important. Along with shorter sleep, shallow sleep can result in hypertension. Without long periods of deep rest, the important chemicals needed to keep the heart rate and blood pressure lowered, aren’t activated. So, the longer you sleep deeply, the better rested you are and the better your heart feels.

Sleep Apnea

Not everyone suffers from sleep apnea, but the manner in which the condition affects heart health is one of the reasons the “sleep and hearth health” link has been identified.

Sleep apnea causes snoring and gasping for breath while a person sleeps. That condition results in the heart rate increasing, a rise in blood pressure, and frequently disrupted sleep. All of the bodily functions that normally slow down at night are forced to continue operating at a higher rate of activity. Over time, the higher blood pressure carries over into the day. Some researchers believe at least one-third of identified cases of high blood pressure among adults are due to sleep apnea. As mentioned above, high blood pressure during the day increases the chance for cardiovascular issues.

Sleep Deprivation Catches Up with You

No one intentionally decides they just aren’t going to get enough sleep. Even night owls require down time to rejuvenate, and people who thrive on activity and long hours are forced to sleep whether they want to or not. But in many cases it’s simply difficult to fall asleep, or to stay asleep when you finally manage to drift off. That can be due to external factors, such as work, children, emergencies, a middle-of-the-night phone call, a restless partner or pet, an uncomfortable bed, or to internal factors such as worry, anxiety, bad dreams, depression, excitement, or sundry other mental intrusions.

A lack of sleep causes “sleep debt,” which isn’t unlike being overdrawn at your bank. It catches up with your body, and your body won’t let you go without repaying the debt. People don’t adapt to getting less sleep. Eventually all of your functions are impaired and you have to react.

Here are a few tips to help with sleep issues:

  • Get a little exercise during the day
  • Keep regular bedtime hours
  • Refrain from late night snacks; especially caffeine and alcohol
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet
  • Limit your use electronics such as a tablet or a cell phone

If you need extra help, a cup of soothing herbal tea, accompanied by a a small dose (1 to 3 mg.) of melatonin may help you fall asleep.

There is an Irish proverb that says “A good laugh and good sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” An excellent perspective to embrace in order to keep your heart healthy!

The Causes of Osteoporosis and Natural Prevention Tips

More than 54 million people suffer low bone mass and osteoporosis in the United States. To some extent it’s a preventable condition, but if someone is affected and the condition is allowed to progress, it can lead to a bent posture, which means a loss of height, sometimes a humpback, and often acute pain.

What is osteoporosis?

image of osteoporosisIf you aren’t familiar with osteoporosis, let’s define it. It’s a disease that results in the loss of bone strength to the extent that broken bones become a real risk! Although anyone can be susceptible, for the elderly, osteoporosis has become the main cause for broken bones. Weight-bearing bones in the hip, back, and forearm are most susceptible. Breaks in these important bones wreak havoc on a person’s mobility.

Unfortunately, symptoms often don’t appear until a bone actually breaks. A bone can become so weak, it may snap with very minor stress, or even spontaneously. Obviously, when that occurs, the person who has such a break experiences prolonged pain and difficulty performing their daily activities.

Causes of osteoporosis

Here are some of the conditions that create weakened bones:

  • Inactivity
  • Aging
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Long-term use of certain medications
  • Steroid use
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Emotional stress
  • Nutritional deficiencies

There are additional risk factors, including but not limited to:

  • Gender – More women are at risk of contraction osteoporosis than men
  • Age – Older people are more susceptible than younger people
  • Body size – Smaller and thinner people are at greater risk
  • Ethnicity and family history – If relatives historically had a low bone mass, a person has an increased potential for developing osteoporosis.
  • Lifestyle and food choices – Lifestyle can affect bone mass. Bad habits such as smoking, an immoderate intake of caffeine or alcohol, and too little exercise can also affect bone strength.
  • Medical conditions – Some medical conditions contribute to bone loss, including Cushing’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism, and hyperparathyroidism.

Foods for Osteoporosis

woman receiving treatment for osteoporosisEating right plays a big part in avoiding bone loss. If certain important minerals and vitamins are missing from your diet, that could result in osteoporosis. Important nutrients that keep bones strong and healthy include calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper, manganese, and vitamins D, C, and K.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of nutrients that are essential to fighting osteoporosis and the foods that contain them. Adding these minerals to your diet will help to strengthen your bones.

  • Calcium is the body’s most plentiful mineral, with the greatest percentage of it it going to our bones. Ingesting enough calcium aids in reducing bone loss between 30% to 50%. Calcium-rich foods include: broccoli, kelp, kale, turnips, collard greens, sardines, almonds, soy beans, sesame seeds, chia seeds, beans, oranges, milk, Greek yogurt, cheese, Bok Choy, oatmeal, Cheerios, tofu, and eggs.
  • Magnesium helps increase bone density. Magnesium has been mostly removed from processed foods, so if you eat many processed foods you aren’t getting enough magnesium. Interestingly, since magnesium works with calcium, it’s necessary to eat an appropriate ratio of the two minerals. A 2:1 ratio of calcium-to-magnesium is a good approach. Magnesium-rich foods include: brown rice, corn, buckwheat, dark green vegetables, Dandelion greens, legumes, nuts (cashew, Brazil, almonds), rye, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ/bran, and whole grain cereals.
  • Zinc deficiency can cause bone loss, and copper is involved in the skeletal systems growth and development. These minerals need to be balanced in your diet. The recommendation is that 30mg of zinc should be balanced with 2mg of copper. Zinc-rich foods include: peanuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, oats, pumpkin seeds, rye, split peas, and oysters. Copper-rich foods include: crab, liver, buckwheat, peanut butter, mushrooms, split peas, seeds and nuts, and vegetable oils (olive and sunflower).
  •  Manganese benefits healthy bone structure, and one symptom of a deficiency is bone malformation. It’s found naturally in the body, and is concentrated in the liver, pancreas, kidneys, and bones. Manganese-rich foods include: almonds, bananas, beetroot, blackberries, brown rice, carrots, cloves, coconuts, cucumbers, figs, garlic, green beans, green vegetables, grapes, hazelnuts, kiwis, leeks, lettuce, molasses, mustard greens, nuts, oats, peppermint, pineapples, raspberries, rice, spinach, strawberries, tofu, tropical fruits, turmeric, watercress, and whole wheat. The five bolded foods are extra good because they maximize manganese absorption.
  • Vitamin D is required to draw calcium into the bones. The body synthesizes vitamin D from sunlight, but not everyone gets enough sunlight to generate the amount of vitamin D needed. Vitamin D deficiency can result in bone deformities. Vitamin D-rich foods include: tuna, mackerel, herring, catfish, salmon, mushrooms, some orange juices, milk, egg yolk, cod liver oil, pork, tofu, caviar, fortified cereals, beef liver, and ricotta cheese.
  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps increase bone density because it promotes higher calcium absorption. Vitamin C-rich foods include: oranges, limes, grapefruit, lemons, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cantaloupe, kiwis, strawberries, pineapple, red chili peppers, Guavas, red cabbage, raspberries, apples, pears, chard, leafy greens (turnips, collard, mustard, and beet), tomatoes, spinach, asparagus, green beans, peas, watermelon, summer squash, sweet potato, carrots, and more.
  • Vitamin K binds calcium and other minerals to bones, promoting bone strength. A daily dosage of 150 mcg is recommended; too high a dose can result in sweating. Also, avoid vitamin K if you take warfarin as a blood thinner. Vitamin K-rich foods include: eggs, kale, chick peas, broccoli, seeds, Brussels sprouts, dairy products, cauliflower, and vegetable oils (canola and olive).

Supplements for osteoporosis

How important are supplements for folks who don’t like many of the nutrient-rich foods identified, or—even for those who do like them—don’t always have enough time to eat a good meal? High-risk groups, including the elderly, should definitely take supplements to be certain they’re getting the needed nutrients for healthy bones. Anyone else, who knows they’re not sticking to a good diet, should consider supplements to take up the nutritional slack. You can add extra minerals to your diet with this supplement, or pick up the necessary nutrients in one fell swoop with a good multivitamin .

At our Garland Chiropractic Clinic, we have the expertise and desire to help our patients, old and new, achieve optimal fitness. And, because we’re a chiropractic clinic, we have an investment in—and a special fondness for—bone and skeletal health. Allow us to aid you in achieving that skeletal health by creating a regimen of nutrition and exercise that will enable you to develop and maintain strong bones free of osteoporosis. You can contact us at (972) 840-2520.