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Dec 14

The Health Triad

The Health Triad

 

Health is a state of well-being and happiness, both physically and mentally. The WHO (World Health Organisation) definition is: ”Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

Clearly then, there are more aspects to health than pain levels and immune system functioning. A good way to visualise this concept is as a triangle or ‘health triad’. The three sides of the triangle represent Physical, Emotional and Chemical factors. The key to good health is for these areas of life to be in balance.

Factor one is the easiest to understand, because if we are sick or in pain, we are clearly not at our optimum health. However when we turn our attention to factor two, how many of us fully accept the impact of high-stress jobs, not enough hours in the day and the emotional rollercoaster that life often is, as important factors affecting our health? Consider how tight your shoulders feel after a busy or stressful day. Imagine how they would feel if you were stressed, even at a low level, at lot of time. This can be a significant factor in your aches and pains.

Factor three, chemical, is the one that raises the most questions as I describe this triad to people. There are many things that fall under the chemical bracket. Firstly, the emotional side of the triangle directly affects the chemical in the form of stress hormones. These then affect the very fine chemical balance that the body tries to maintain. Equally, the food and fluids that we consume can have a huge affect on our health both in the nutrition they provide and the hormone release they trigger (e.g. eating chocolate triggers endorphin release).

When working towards good health, it is not possible to completely isolate any of these factors as they all impact on each other and ultimately us. Therefore, remember to consider lifestyle. Eat well, exercise regularly (also releases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ chemical), spend some time on yourself, and if possible have a regular chiropractic adjustment and/or massage to keep you well.

Allow me to describe one more image for you. Imagine your health like a bucket of water, with your level of health represented by the water level. There are holes in the bottom of the bucket that represent the stresses life brings. For example financial pressure, work, children, Christmas (!), more jobs than hours in the day, etc. then imagine what happens to the water level if it continues to leak out through these holes but is not replaced. So, you ask, what do I do to replace the water? The answer is the examples given above: exercise, good food, relaxation, fresh air, chiropractic care, massage, meditation, to name but a few ideas.

 

Here is to a good Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

Nov 20

How Much ‘Screen Time’ is OK?

From BBC news article on 9th October 2012

 

How Much Time Should We Spend in Front of a Screen?

 

The amount of time children spend in front of screens has increased dramatically in recent years.  It is estimated that a child born today will spend a full year glued to a screen by the time they are seven. The average ten year old has access to five screens at home and teenagers spend an average of six hours at a screen per day.

Psychologist Aric Sigman wrote an article for MailOnline in September 2010 on the affects screen time has on the body.  Here are some of his conclusions:

MELATONIN is essential for the regulation of sleep, immune system and the onset of puberty.  A study has shown that melatonin production is 30% higher in children who do not have screen time.

CORONARY HEART DISEASE and diabetes are more likely to develop in people who have a sedentary lifestyle.

WEIGHT GAIN: after 45 minutes of screen time, subjects consumed 230 calories more than those who had no screen time.  Women are also more likely to snack later on if they were watching TV whilst they ate their meal.

DOPAMINE is a hormone involved with learning and reward.  Screen time causes the release of dopamine, which can then desensitize the brain to normal levels of dopamine, which are released in response to other stimulants.

A study at the University of Bristol (from New Scientist) showed that children who watched 2+hours of TV a day were 61% more likely to suffer from social, emotional and concentration problems (figures were similar for computer games etc).  This study also tested whether being physically active counter-balanced the effects of screen time and it found that the figures were very similar.

 

So, what is the advice then? The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that children under the age of two do not have any screen time and those over two have less than two hours per day.

There are lots of activities that aid childhood development. These include peek-a-boo, pretend grocery store, following the leader, seasonal crafts, building dens, outdoor games, spelling and number games. There are many, many more. The internet (for parents!) is a great resource for researching age-appropriate games.

Oct 18

ARE YOU DRINKING ENOUGH WATER?

Are you drinking enough water?

It is recommended that we should all be drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day, but in reality the amount of fluid we need depends on many factors and is different for everyone. These factors include your lifestyle and activity levels, where you live and your general health, among many others. For the average, healthy, active male in a moderate climate the recommended intake is 3 litres and 2.2 litres for women.

There are times when more than this is required, for example, when exercising. It is important to drink before and after exercising to avoid dehydration, dizziness, fatigue and muscle cramps. At least 2 extra glasses are needed. If you are exercising for weight loss, this next tip may be of interest. A recent study has shown that people who drink 8 glasses of water a day have a higher metabolism that those who drink only 4 glasses. It is also good to drink cold water as the body uses calories bringing it up to body temperature.

It is also important to drink extra water if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Pregnant women should be drinking 2.3 litres and those who are breast-feeding should be drinking 3.1 litres a day.

Drinking water is not the only way we get fluid into our bodies. On average, 20% of our water intake comes from our food and other beverages such as tea or fruit juice. Equally, there are some things that should be consumed in moderation as they are diuretics and therefore dehydrate us. These include alcohol, sugar and caffeine.

Whilst it is possible to drink too much water, this is very rare and occurs mainly in long-distance athletes.

A good way to monitor whether your fluid intake is adequate for your body is to check your urine. It should be pale yellow in colour and you should produce approximately 1.5 litres a day (although this is a little tricky to measure!). You should be aiming to rarely feel thirsty. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Sep 09

Welcome to our first Vital Health blog!

Welcome to our first Vital Health blog! As most of you will probably be aware, Vital Health has decided to enter the 21st century and design a website. Whilst of course this will be useful for prospective new patients, we also hope it will be informative for our current patients.

Our aim is to write a regular blog packed full of useful health information, tips, advice and the latest Vital Health news. This plan is in its infancy at the moment, so we would be very grateful for any feedback you may have. Also feel free to email with any topics/ questions you would like covered and we will do our best to include those.

So here goes with the first article

In true Vital Health style, what better a topic to chose than shoes?

Flip-flops, jandals, thongs …whichever name you choose, are becoming increasingly popular as a footwear option. No longer are they reserved for the poolside only.

Fabulous fashion accessories without doubt, but what are they doing to your feet? Due to their shape, there is no built-in arch support. For some people this is not a problem, but for many of us this causes pain and can lead to plantarfasciitis. They are not designed for walking on anything other than flat surfaces and should not be worn when doing any kind of sporting activity. Injuries such as sprained ankles, cuts, bruises and even fractures can be the result. Another word of warning is for when you are driving, as flip-flops are prone to getting caught in the pedals and becoming a hazard.

Whilst walking along the poolside, flip-flops are brilliant to protect your feet from hot or uneven surfaces. However, when walking long distances your feet will need to grip quite hard to keep the flip-flop on and this becomes very tiring for the muscles of your legs and feet. A better option for your everyday summer shoe is therefore a sandal with some arch support and secure straps. Save the flip-flops for the occasional holiday use!