All posts in Health & Lifestyle

Improving your Life with Proper Ergonomics

Many people do not realize that the pain they may be experiencing each day could be alleviated by making some basic changes to the ergonomics of their lives. Ergonomics is the science of efficiencies in the work place. More specifically it is finding the most efficient way to work and included in this study is also the proper way to work to avoid injury. Applying ergonomics to your everyday life will help you avoid repetitive stress injury as well as injuries from lifting and moving improperly.

Your Commute

The average person travels just under an hour to and from work. A few basic adjustments to how you travel will help you avoid back pain, the second most common reason for people missing work:

  • Public Transit: When using public transit you can be faced with a lot of walking, waiting and standing. It is important to have the proper shoes. Cue the scene from the movie Working Girl where career women en masse walk the streets of New York dressed in top quality business suits with comfortable runners and white socks on their way to the office. That is the right way to travel. Men can consider inserts for added support to dress shoes. Make sure you are always holding on to handrails up and down stairs leading to and from subways and bus platforms as well as when standing on buses, subways and streetcars. Proper balance helps avoid back strain and accidents.
  • Highway Commute: Drivers should try to maintain proper posture while driving which means firmly placing your back against your car seat. The base of your spine should be touching the back of the seat and you can place a rolled towel at the base of your spine for added support. If you have a head rest adjust it so you can rest your head against it for added support and comfort.

Your Desk

If you have a desk job use the following techniques to experience less stress to your body:

  • Sit with your feet positioned flat on the floor
  • Have your monitor positioned at a 15 degree angle at eye level and one arm’s length away for less strain on your neck
  • Keep your lower back supported
  • Keep hands and forearms out straight towards your keyboard

Standing at Work

If you work in a warehouse, retail or other jobs that require standing, you should always stand in the “neutral position”. The key is to be relaxed as follows:

  • Neck aligned with spine
  • Shoulders relaxed not forward or back
  • Elbows close to torso at a slight angle
  • Forearms held with thumbs up
  • S shaped spine
  • Wrists aligned with forearms
  • Fingers together and curved
  • Slight bending at hips and knees

Lifting

When lifting follow these standard rules:

  • Bend at the knees
  • Centre the load
  • Arms and elbows tucked in
  • Lift with your legs
  • Keep the item close to your body
  • Don’t twist from the waist, instead start with your feet

Sticking to the basic rules of ergonomics will lessen strain on your body and help avoid injury.

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10 Unusual Ingredients to give your Morning Smoothie a Kick

10 Unusual Ingredients to give your Morning Smoothie a Kick
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If you are tired of the same old ingredients in your smoothies each morning, here are 10 unusual ingredients offering many health benefits as well as interesting flavours:

  1. Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper adds a real kick to your smoothie and works best in water or coconut water based recipes. You can also use it with green juices and cucumber smoothies. Cayenne actually has many health benefits including a boost to your circulation and metabolism as well as aiding in digestion.
  2. Goji Berries: Goji berries hit the news as the new antioxidant to add to your diet. They provide amino acids as well as a lot of flavour. They go well with berry smoothies but can be added to just about any recipe.
  3. Ginger: Ginger is delicious but also aids in calming tummies as well as boosting your immune system. You can add a nice chunk of fresh ginger to just about any smoothie and freeze it or keep it in the fridge for when you need it. Ginger has also been known to be an effective anti-inflammatory and can assist with headaches and migraines as well as nausea.
  4. Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3, vitamins and minerals, but more importantly they help keep you hydrated. They have to be soaked overnight and when added to juice smoothies they add a lovely silky texture.
  5. Bee Pollen: Bee pollen has many health benefits especially for healthy skin. It can aid in fighting acne, age spots and even allergies. If you are an exercise fanatic bee pollen can also aid in building muscles as well as increasing oxygen rich blood cells. Some people may not be too keen on the chalkiness as well as the price.
  6. Magnesium Powder: If you want to add a little invigoration to your smoothies magnesium powder will do the trick. Magnesium powder adds a little fizzy fun to any smoothie and also comes in a number of flavours. It also provides a vital nutrient that you are probably sadly lacking.
  7. Pomegranate Juice: Pomegranate will add a nice tang while providing antioxidants and fighting bad cholesterol.
  8. Kombucha: This is actually a fermented tea and can also add a fizziness to smoothies. Kombucha comes in a number of flavours and is packed with antioxidants and tummy friendly probiotics.
  9. Silken Tofu: Tofu is practically tasteless yet adds a nice velvety smoothness to your smoothies. You also can benefit from the fact that it keeps you feeling full longer and has tons of calcium.
  10. Flaxseed: You may already be using flaxseed as it is well-known for its omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed must be ground to reap its benefits making it easy to add to smoothies.

You can experiment with any of these ingredients until you find the right taste and texture and add a whole new line of smoothies to your morning menu.

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The Healing Art of Touch

The hands on approach to healing uses touch to assist in the relief of pain as well as to alleviate the symptoms and causes of many conditions and illnesses. This age old approach to healing has been used for centuries and encompasses many different disciplines and techniques. Although some have changed in scope and technique, modern science has discovered that touch does in fact provide a medically viable treatment for many conditions.

Reiki

A Reiki Practitioner is trained in sensing changes to body heat throughout your body. By positioning their hands in different areas of your body they can detect changes in heat and identify areas in need of attention. Reiki helps to clear blocks in your body’s energy field and is a very relaxing process performed on a massage table. Reiki can actually be performed in a hands off approach as well but the healing powers of touch improve the outcome of Reiki. Reiki can alleviate emotional stress as well as old wounds and trauma by opening up the flow of energy and encouraging your body to follow its natural impulses to heal itself. We all could use a little healing now and then and Reiki “tune-ups” are perfect to keep your body balanced.

Chiropractic

Chiropractic treatments focus on your nervous system to identify issues. Your chiropractor looks for subluxations in the spine by examining surrounding tissue, muscle and ligaments. Subluxations will cause improper communication throughout the nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments help to realign the spine and clear your body of subluxations allowing for proper communication between your nervous system and other parts of your body. A series of tests will allow your Chiropractor to discover what treatments will work best to improve range of motion, alleviate back pain and improve mobility. It is often used for sports injuries, rehabilitation from motor vehicle or work related injuries as well as to alleviate pressure and discomfort during pregnancy. Lower and upper back pain are common complaints addressed by your Chiropractor which means you can find relief for your aching back. Treatment plans usually require several appointments to achieve success and improvements can often be seen following your first appointment.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy applies pressure and manipulation to soft tissue, muscles, ligaments and joints to alleviate pain and improve physical function. It can be used for rehabilitative purposes following injury as well as to relieve stress or pain resulting from continuous use of certain muscles. There are many different techniques of massage therapy including:

  • Hydrotherapy
  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Myofascial Therapy (connective tissue)
  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Rhythmic Mobilizations
  • Remedial Exercise
  • Stress relief, anxiety and depression

The healing art of touch can be combined to provide a more complete treatment plan. Often your chiropractor will recommend their treatment be combined with massage therapy and vice versa. Reiki can complement any health care regime and add to the success of many health care treatments.

 

 

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Top 5 Reasons to Visit The Farmer’s Market

  1. Feed your family the freshest food. Farmer’s markets offer the freshest food around—usually only hours from the field—so you get top quality, perfectly ripe flavor.
  2. Learn about food. Kids and adults alike enjoy exploring firsthand how foods are grown, harvested, and eaten by browsing market stalls and talking to farmers.
  3. Preserve farmland and support local farmers. With population growth and pressures to erect more buildings, farms are being increasingly driven away from our cities, which is a problem for transportation and its environmental impact and feeding many more hungry mouths.
  4. Awaken Your Taste Buds. Local food simply tastes better. When everything is ripened on the vine, the flavour profiles of fresh local strawberries, for example, are out of this world.
  5. Support the hard work of local farmers and keep your dollar in the community.
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The Value of Cooking and Baking from Scratch

When it comes to baking and cooking, a lot of people prefer to buy pre-made foods thinking that it’s cheaper and not that bad for your health. What those same people don’t realize, is that making everything from scratch can actually save you money, and give you the security and satisfaction of knowing what goes into your food. The only extra cost is your time, but is it worth that extra half an hour in your day to eat unnatural chemicals and preservatives?

Buying individual ingredients in bulk from the store can actually save you plenty of money, as the only things you will find that you run out often are fruits, vegetables, meats and other perishables. You will have to buy these things either way, but going this route you don’t need to buy everything else (breads, snacks, etc). If you are proactive and make a habit of freezing most perishables, you may actually find that (minus the big shopping to replace all your raw ingredients) you are only grocery shopping every 2 to 3 weeks to replace these perishables.

The biggest value though it that you know what is going into the food you eat, and you know there are no unnatural chemicals and preservatives designed simply to keep things on the shelf for longer. As people get into this lifestyle, many discover that eating the preserved food from stores is far less appetizing than homemade anyways. It just may take some practise to develop your skills in the kitchen (if you don’t have them already).

In order to get started, check out our nutritionist Aviva Allen’s website for recipes (http://www.avivaallen.com/General/snackstreats.html). She has a list of some great whole food and low sugar, natural grain snack recipes that will taste great and be incredibly healthy for you.

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Why Holistic Healing Treats the Cause not the Symptoms

Have you ever noticed that more often than not when you are suffering from an illness many doctors will treat the symptoms? For example, if you have chronic sinus infections you are just given antibiotics. When you visit a Naturopath, they will not ONLY treat your symptoms. Instead they will get to the root of what is causing the symptoms, eliminating the cause and WORKING TO STOP the symptoms once and for all.

In-depth Analysis and Discovery

The holistic approach to healing treats the whole person addressing every aspect of your health: Physical, mental and spiritual. You will be given a thorough examination considering all contributing factors that could be affecting your health such as diet, stress and lack of exercise. Each individual requires a very personal analysis to address what treatment will work best for you.

The Many Aspects of your Health

In order to achieve perfect health you may require many disciplines to begin your path to recovery. Your treatment will use a multi-disciplined approach from many areas such as:

  • Environmental health
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutritional counselling
  • Massage
  • Homeopathy
  • Meditation
  • Dietary changes
  • Food allergies
  • Vitamin supplementation
  • Exercise
  • Oxygen or hydrotherapies
  • Organic living

Heal Thy Self

Your body is designed to handle illness and naturopaths believe health conditions are often brought on by imbalance. The naturopath will work with you to help realign your body and return balance in order to allow your body to follow its natural course of self healing. Together, you will come up with an agreed upon strategy that will work for you. Your lifestyle will play a huge role in your healing process and compliance is required for your treatment to be MOST effective. That is why it is important for you to work together with your naturopath to find a course of action that will suit you AND YOUR LIFESTYLE.

Mental Health and Coping

You may not realize what ill effects your mental health can have on your body. Changes to your life such as marital problems, job related stress, family CHANGES or the death of a loved one can all contribute to your sense of well-being. Sometimes holistic healing involves psychotherapy to provide you with the coping skills you require to maintain a well-balance mind. Stressful and traumatic events from you past may also still be affecting your ability to function properly in the present and these issues can be addressed.

As you can see the holistic approach to healing works towards complete treatment that will result in overall health for life long relief of all of your symptoms

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Cleaning Up Your Household Cleaners

cleaning productWe love this list of 8 toxic household products found in common cleaners- and ways to replace them. We highly recommend you check out the full article, but in the meantime, here are some highlighted toxic ingredients you may want to avoid:

1. Phthalates: These can be found in fragrances, so take stock of your scented products- from dish soap to cleaners to air fresheners. As the article points out, phthalates are often not printed on labels, so look for artificial fragrance as a red flag.
Why to avoid them: Research suggests that they can be disruptive to the endocrine system and be potentially carcinogenic.
How to replace them: Choose products that are naturally scented or free of fragrance. Skip the aerosols and opt for essential oils, fresh air, or natural potpourri.

2. Triclosan: This chemical is found in antibacterial detergents and soaps.
Why to avoid it: The verdict is still out as to whether antimicrobial products actually make us significantly healthier. We need to be careful to avoid overuse. Triclosan, while killing certain bacteria, is also thought to promote the growth of others that are resistant to standard drugs. Using it in our homes also means that triclosan finds its way into our ecosystems; it’s been found as a killer of algae in rivers and streams.
How to replace it: Use natural soaps and detergents, and opt for alcohol based santitizers. Check your labels!

3. Ammonia: This is a common household cleaning ingredient found in glass cleaner and polishes.
Why to avoid it: It evaporates quickly and effectively (so as not to leave streaks on your furniture and windows). Unfortunately it’s a strong irritant when inhaled- particularly to those with asthma or other respiratory illnesses. It is suggested that people who regularly inhale ammonia as part of their job are more likely to develop respiratory disease.
How to replace it: Experience Life recommends vodka for metal and mirrored surfaces and toothpaste for polishing silver!

Check out the full list of household toxins to avoid and discover easy, natural ways to keep them out of your home. Tell us: what natural and eco-friendly cleaning products do you use?

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Posture, Mood, Mind


The connection between how you carry yourself and how you feel

We’re always advocating for good posture –whether sitting, standing, and sleeping. Posture is so important for a variety of health reasons that we’ve mentioned here on the blog before. You’ll likely recall that bad posture can result in chronic pain, poor circulation, headaches, and damage to your spine.

But what about your mood? Many studies suggest that everything from our body language, to our carriage, to our posture can have a direct impact on how we feel –not just physically but emotionally. Here are some of the ways in which the positioning and use of your body can affect your mood or mind.

Feel more energized: When we optimize our posture, it helps us to feel more alert and awake. When you slouch, slump or recline, your body may relax but also understand it’s time to rest or shut down. When you consciously sit up straighter and hold your head up, you’re sending a signal within yourself that it’s time to be alert and productive. Certain postures also allow for freer, faster movement which can get more of your muscles working, elevate your heart rate and help you feel a sustained energy. Think of slumping down a hall with your head down, versus striding with a straight back and eyes forward. The second posture allows for much more efficient and energized movement- and much happier muscles and spines!

happy jumpFeel happier: Studies also show that people may feel less depressed when their body language conveys traits like enthusiasm, joy, and energy.  In addition to the psychological connection that may exist between how we present our bodies and how we feel, there are obvious physical reasons why good posture may keep your mood elevated. Optimized movements and positioning can reduce stress to your body like muscle pain, strain in your joints, or headaches. Eliminating those physical symptoms can help to prevent irritability and roadblocks to productivity that result from discomfort. Just think about how difficult it is to concentrate and sit still when you have a sore back. In this way practicing good posture can help keep you feeling comfortable, capable and calm.

Feel more confident: Another study had subjects place bets while sitting in two different postures. Those in a more open, expansive posture took more risks, while those who kept their limbs tight and body closed off were more conservative. As these studies remind us, we instinctively position our bodies to reflect our mood and mindset. Amy Cuddy’s incredible TED talk discusses the connection between our body language and behaviour in detail, suggesting that we can manipulate our body language to reflect (and help achieve) our desired mental state. We highly recommend you check out her compelling talk.

When we consider argument’s like Cuddy’s, we start to see that slumping, slouching, and closing our bodies off is doing twofold damage- not just to our chiropractic health and wellbeing, but also to our confidence, happiness, and success.

Now if that isn’t a reason to stand a little straighter and walk a little taller, I don’t know what is!

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Bad Reputation Foods

Let’s face it: there’s a lot of health and nutrition information out there. We live in a super-saturated society of digital advice, urging us to adopt certain lifestyle and diet habits while writing off others as severely damaging. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you start to feel like your available nutritious dietary options have been halved!
That’s why we really enjoyed this Eating Well article that offers some important health analyses for a few of the foods we’re told to avoid. It’s important to balance your perspective, and to bring a realistic, sustainable approach to your healthy eating. So take a look at our list, and celebrate the tasty foods that can be enjoyed in moderation, and as part of a nutritious diet.

http://thedesigninspiration.com/articles/40-creative-and-funny-egg-paintings/Eggs
We hear lots of mixed things about eggs, but many people are scared off by the high cholesterol count.  Cholesterol definitely needs to be moderated, but as Eating Well reminds us, the cholesterol that we consume in foods doesn’t typically raise our blood cholesterol significantly. Rather, the bigger heart-disease dangers are saturated and trans fats. Enjoy eggs in moderation and pay attention to your cholesterol intake on a daily basis. For a healthier breakfast, skip the yolk and double up on egg whites –you’ll still get the protein and consistency you love without as much cholesterol and fat.

Bread, Pasta and Other Mega-Carbs
Mmmmm….if you love your carbs, you’re not alone. Carbohydrates are comforting, relatively filling and just plain tasty. But many of us know to tread with caution- When you load up on refined foods and simple carbs, you’re definitely making a poor dietary choice and increasing your risk of weight gain, obesity, and diabetes. But there’s plenty of great carbs out there too, that have an important place in your diet. These include whole grains and beans which can help provide some filling substance to a meal while also offering nutrients and protein.

http://greatbodyskin.com/why-are-gluten-bad/Gluten
We took note of this one, because it seems that going GF or gluten-free is a dieting fad these days. With so many products being marketed sans gluten, Eating Well points out that “it’s easy to think their benefits might stretch beyond the audience for whom they’re intended: people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.” Well put! If you don’t have a medical condition that prevents you from eating gluten, there is no reason to cut it from your diet, as this won’t offer you any health benefits.

Without an intolerance causing you symptoms in the first place you won’t experience the surge in health or energy associated with a gluten free regimen. So don’t self-diagnose! There are a number of reasons why we experience digestive distresses that are easily mistaken for a gluten intolerance. A thorough consultation can help you sort out what’s making your insides unhappy.

Check out all 13 of Eating Well’s Food and Nutrition myths here!

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Heat Health For Infants

After a chilly spring it seems summer finally made its presence known through the end of June with high temperatures, humidity and heat warnings. While we’re thrilled to welcome summertime, we’ve been reminding our followers of the importance of playing smart in the sun this season. As adults, we know to apply sunscreen with a high SPF, limit direct sun exposure, and be vigilant about signs of heat exhaustion. But it can be more difficult knowing how to protect an infant in the heat. Since babies are so temperature sensitive, some new parents are unsure about how to keep their infant at a comfortable, safe temperature.

Here are some basic guidelines for your baby during the hotter days of summer:

Baby_sunIn the sun:
Babies have thin, sensitive skin, so sun exposure should be limited. Cover your baby’s arms and legs in light, cool clothing, and if necessary, use a natural sunscreen that’s formulated for infants and toddlers. Shade your baby with a hat and by draping a light sheet over your stroller if the sun is strong in a clear sky. Watch for clues that your baby is overheating or dehydrated. A red face and hot skin are the first signs that your infant is too warm. Symptoms and markers of dehydration include a sunken “soft spot” on your baby’s head, sleepiness, irritability, and a decrease in wet diapers. Babies don’t have a large fluid reserve and if they have diarrhea it’s easy for them to become dehydrated. Be extra careful in the hot weather!

In the air conditioning:
Remember that AC will affect your baby to a more extreme degree–just like the heat. It’s easy to overlook how chilly air conditioning can be on muggy hot days. While it’s often essential for comfort, air quality and sleep, just be mindful of how cold your home is when dressing your baby. Consider where the AC vent is in your nursery in relation to your crib, and cover babies in light layers for sleep.

Beach babyStaying hydrated:
Some breastfed infants may need to nurse more frequently in hot weather, but you may notice no change with your baby. Babies don’t have many adjusted dietary needs in the heat, and they get enough water in your milk supply. Make sure your toddler is replenishing fluids by keeping a sippy cup on hand at all times. At intervals in play, make sure to encourage a few sips of water. If your toddler doesn’t like to drink water, try adding frozen fruit in place of ice cubes to add some natural flavour.

Heat rash:
Infants release sweat to cool their bodies down, but because their pores are so tiny, they’re susceptible to getting clogged.  The result is heat rash, which appears as prickly little red dots, bumps or blisters on the skin. While heat rash is common and not serious, it’s a sure indicator that your baby is overheating. Heat rash isn’t typically painful but your baby may feel uncomfortable, tender or itchy. Try removing clothing in the house and letting your baby play in a diaper. A tepid bath can help to cool your baby’s skin. At bedtime a light fan is an easy way to provide a soothing breeze- just avoid aiming it directly at an infant. Heat rash should clear up fairly quickly.

Babies react to temperature changes differently, but it’s always important to remember that a small infant is much more sensitive to the heat (and cold) than an older child or toddler. Protect your baby and watch for signs that he or she is uncomfortable. Let’s make sure it’s a cool and healthy summer!

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