Ergonomic desks for improved lifestyle

Are you sitting at a computer more than 6-8 hours a day for work?

I have many clients who come once a week for bodywork in order to compensate for the effects that sitting at a desk is having on their bodies.  These aren’t inactive people either.  Most of them are exercising regularly when they aren’t sitting at a computer all day. Still, their bodies are suffering from the long term effects of sitting for such long stints of time each day.

It manifests as frozen shoulders, neck pain, chronic back pain, migraines, sciatica and major hip imbalances along with mental and emotional stress. I realized that unless people change the way they work, I can only help them temporarily.

So what is a more viable solution?

The idea of a standing desk is great, but standing all day is not that great for you either. It’s a drastic change from sitting and has it’s own implications.  It’s more ideal to be able to sit and stand interchangeably.  There are many automatic desks out there that allow you to sit and/or stand at the same desk with a remote control.

I started looking for a local company that provided such a solution and found Ergo Depot in Potrero Hill.

I took a client of mine who was a great candidate for a desk like this to Ergo Depot and they were incredibly helpful.  She purchased one of the mobile desks (and one of their ergonomic chairs) and has since had significant improvements to her back and hip problems.

Check out this video and start thinking progressively about investing in changing the way you work for a more healthy lifestyle.

I will have a sample desk from Ergo Depot in my studio for you to test drive starting next week.

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10% of the time… Eat for pleasure! My favorite French Chocolate Bark Recipe

Researchers have discovered that chocolate produced some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two, but can’t remember what they are. Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show, August 22

chocolate bark

French Chocolate Bark

An easy treat to whip-up and share for the holidays

My thoughts on moderation:  90% of the time, eat with the intention of improving your health. 10% eat for pleasure. Enjoy my favorite holiday recipe. My family is expecting this treat from me and always eat up every bit. I love to make it for them, because it’s made of simple wholesome ingredients and not loaded with added sugar.

What will you be making?

French Chocolate Bark
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
Prep Time: 15 minInactive  Prep Time: 2 hr 0 min  Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: 24 pieces

Ingredients
8 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces very good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions
Melt the 2 chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.

Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a 9 by 10-inch rectangle on the paper. Turn the paper facedown on the baking sheet.

Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, using the outline. Sprinkle the cashews, apricots and cranberries over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark in 1 by 3-inch pieces and serve at room temperature.

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Learn more about how we help people stop dieting, improve digestion, and sleep like babies!
Schedule a 30 minute complimentary initial consultation with me today (valued at $150)
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When was the last time you talked with a professional about your health and felt like they were really listening to you? Here at Happy Belly Health in San Francisco, our priority as certified health coaches is to care for you and help you take care of you. Through our nutrition consultations, gentle cleanses and programs, we provide a supportive environment to enable you to achieve all of your health goals and learn how to eat for nutrition and enjoyment.

Copyright © 2012 Happy Belly Health, All rights reserved.

How Pilates Can Help Improve Your Posture

At The Body Gallery one of our focuses is improving our clients posture.

When we have a client come in with postural issues we begin our first session with a full static postural assessment. We look at our clients’ posture from head to toe using the postural assessment based on the findings of Dr. Janda.

What we are looking for are any obvious signs of over/under worked muscles which can cause muscle imbalance or dysfunction. We take a look at the pelvis to see if there are any deviations such as an anterior/posterior/lateral pelvic tilt, a lateral shift or rotation. From there we take a look at the glutes,  hamstrings, adductors, calves and spinal extensors. We also take a look at the scapular region, abdominals and the front of the thighs. Lastly we look at the arm position, head alignment and chin/neck angle head position.

Once we have gathered all of this information we check certain muscle function patterns depending on the findings we have seen in the assessment.

Finally we discuss a specific goal we will focus on during our sessions.

This method has given our clients great results, helping them to improve their posture and alleviate chronic pain.

For more information contact Cassidy at The Body Gallery

pilates@thebodygallery.com

Which one of these posture images looks like you?

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Food Allergy, Intolerance or Sensitivity?

I was recently asked to participate on a panel of health-care providers discussing digestive health. It was a great event and one of the questions I was asked was the difference between food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities.

A food allergy reaction is the result of the immune system identifying a food a foreign entity and then launching a response against it. The body will immune cells called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and histamine. Common food allergies include peanuts, tree nuts, seafood (fish or shellfish), milk/dairy, soy, eggs, corn and sugar. The symptoms may be immediate or rapid onset (IgE) or delayed with onset in hours to days later (IgG) which makes it difficult to identify their source. Common symptoms include the following:

Rashes
Hives
Pruritis (itchy skin)
Angioedema (swelling around the lips or eyes)
Shortness of breath
Abdominal pain
Chest pain
Anaphylaxis

A food intolerance reaction is a result of being unable to adequately digest a food. It causes chronic inflammation and irritation in the gut. A very common example is lactose intolerance. This is not an immune response but may be a result of enzyme deficiencies or other physiological factors.  Such symptoms may include:

Headaches
Indigestion/Heartburn
Gas, bloating, abdominal pain
Brain fog, anxiety or depression
Irritability
Inflammatory symptoms (eg. joint pain)
Difficulty losing weight (Check out my post on Food Allergies and Weight Gain)
Fatigue

It is important to be aware of how your body responds to foods. A good way to develop this awareness is to keep a diet log or diary which documents foods you eat and your physical and mental responses to them. This is often all you need to do to identify offending foods. Once identified, you may choose to begin an Elimination or Allergy Avoidance Diet where the suspected foods are removed for a period of time to see if your symptoms resolve. The foods may then be slowly re-introduced to confirm your suspicions.

If your diet diary is not definitive, you may want to pursue food allergy testing that will measure the levels of immune cells in your blood to various foods. You may also test for other inflammatory markers in specialized intolerance/sensitivity tests. This helps you understand your body’s reactivity and equips you with the information you need to take the next steps in your diet and lifestyle to optimize your health and well-being. What could be better that that?? I offer these tests in my practice and, when indicated,  find them incredibly helpful in resolving the chronic health issues listed above.

I recommend speaking with your primary care doctor regarding any changes in your diet and for supervision and guidance when investigating food allergies or intolerances.

For more information, check out this great article on the Allergy Avoidance Diet.

Here’s to your health,
Dr. Mead

http://www.dradeolamead.com

Photo credit: http://foodallergygal.blogspot.com/

How Pilates Can Help With Pre and Post Natal

How Pilates Can Help With Pre and Post Natal

Pilates training is one of the most safe and effective fitness workouts for pregnant women to do before and after childbirth. We encourage all pregnant women to continue with exercise but it is important to maintain a safe workout routine while the body continues to change month to month. All pregnant/postpartum women should get the ok from their doctor before beginning any exercise routine.

Our prenatal/postpartum Pilates workouts are designed specifically for the changing pregnant body and the recovery from childbirth. We focus on the most important muscles to prepare for birth and recover from it. Every woman has a different experience, every routine we design is geared towards the needs of each individual. There is no one magical workout that works for every pregnant/postpartum woman. We believe an individualized program is the safest way to prevent injury during and after pregnancy. We focus on the core/pelvic floor, pelvis and arms because pregnant women need strength in their trunk and pelvis to support the growing baby without much pain or discomfort and, of course, for labor and delivery. After the baby is born, women need arm strength as well to hold their beautiful/handsome newborn.

What are the most important muscles to focus on during and after pregnancy?

  • Pelvic Floor Muscles: This muscle group helps with the birth and prevent incontinence.
  • Transverse Abdominals: The deepest abdominal muscle in the body and stabilizer of the pelvis and back.
  • Multifidus: The deep stabilizing muscle of the lower back.
  • Psoas: This is the deepest and largest hip flexor muscle. It tends to get over active and tight, causing lower back pain.
  • Glutes: The glute max is the largest bum muscle and hip extensor. It’s important to keep strong for your daily activities such as walking, going up the stairs, sitting and squatting.
  • Mid and Lower Traps: When the mid and lower traps are strong, the upper traps get to relax a bit and this help release tension in the neck and shoulders.
  • Arms: Keeping up with arm strength is crucial for all the heavy lifting.
  • Deep Neck Flexors: Keeping these strong helps with head posture and releasing the back neck muscles, shoulders and upper back.

 

If you have any questions please email pilates@thebodygallery.com  We’re happy to help!

 

The BodyGallery:The Art of Personalized Pilates
47 Kearny Suite 601
415.776.6641

 

Estrogen dominance

Do you suffer from the following symptoms?

Difficulty losing weight
Menstrual irregularities including:
PMS: fibrocystic (swollen, painful, lumpy) breasts, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, fibroids, heavy menstrual bleeding, intense abdominal cramping, mood swings
Low libido
Migraines
Fatigue
Stress intolerance

You might be experiencing a hormonal imbalance known as estrogen dominance. Estrogen and progesterone are the major female reproductive hormones. They counter and balance each other. An estrogen dominance may mean that your estrogen level is higher than the normal range OR it is within normal range but progesterone levels are low, causing a relative excess in estrogen and the symptoms associated with it.

Estrogen dominance can be caused by environmental factors, poor diet and lifestyle choices or stress. The most commons causes include:

1. Consumption of commercially raised meat, poultry, fruits and veggies
– These contain estrogen-like hormones, antibiotics and pesticides which are all hormone disruptors

2. Exposure to industrial solvents and xenoestogens
– Synthetic materials with chemical structure that is similar to estrogen. These maybe absorbed through the skin or otherwise ingested

3. Stress
– Stress shifts adrenal hormone production favoring estrogen production

4. Liver disease
– Excess alcohol production or liver congestion/toxicity due to poor diet

5. Obesity/lack of exercise
– Excess fat stores trap and produce estrogen; lack of exercise reduces fat metabolism

6. Low-fiber, high sugar processed foods
– These cause increased fat gain and storage and decreased processing

If any of these sound familiar, fear not! There are ways to reduce estrogen levels naturally!

a) Choose organic, lean meats and poultry. Minimize red meat.
b) Choose organic whole grains, fruits and vegetables (See the Dirty Dozen for more info on which foods to beware of pesticide reside)
c) Exercise regularly
d) Drink plenty of pure filtered water.
e) Eat foods that support liver function: greens, beets, carrots, radishes, onions, garlic, artichokes, cabbages, broccoli etc.
f) Adopt a nutritional supplement and herb regiment to provide adequate B vitamins, minerals and liver supportive amino acids

(Be sure to speak to your primary health care provider before implementing any new supplements or dietary changes.)

Here’s to your health,
Dr. Mead

http://www.dradeolamead.com

Photo credits:

Women Health Zone

Natural Fertility Prescription

What is Pilates Fitness Training? And why It’s Important to Strengthen Our Core/Pelvic Floor!

 

What is Pilates fitness training?

Pilates is a comprehensive workout, developed by Joseph Pilates, focused on core strength, pelvis and spine stability, whole body mobility and balanced muscle development. It’s a challenging program that requires you to work deeply and methodically, helping you to connect your mind and body and develop deep body awareness skills. The mind body connection is about body awareness. It’s being able to connect and feel in our body what it is we are doing. It’s about bringing our focus into our body and paying attention to how it functions through our everyday challenges.

Why It’s Important To Strengthen Our Core!

Our cores are the center of gravity and balance, it’s where our movement comes from. It’s important for people of all ages and activity levels to maintain a strong core. Our core is where all movement, stability and balance comes from. Whether it’s during our daily activities such as sitting up straight, standing up straight and climbing stairs or our active lifestyle such as sports and aerobics, we need our cores to be strong! Weak core muscles leave us susceptible to poor posture, injury and chronic pain. Our core muscles support and stabilize our bodies. It allows us to move our spine in different directions without damaging our ligaments, joints and discs of our spine. If our core muscles are weak our bodies will compensate to take up the slack and over time cause injury or chronic pains. We will loose our sense of posture, balance and stability if we do not continue to work on our core strength. When our core muscles are strong and functioning correctly we gain pelvis stability, reducing our pain and discomfort. Better yet! Preventing pain and discomfort before it begins!

What Muscles Make Up “The Core”?

The Pilates core is much more than just doing abdominal exercises. The core represents the muscles included to stabilize the spine and pelvis. So when The Body Gallery says we will work on your core we mean the following:

  • inner thighs
  • pelvic floor
  • psoas
  • glutes
  • transverse abdominals
  • multifidus
  • internal and external obliques
  • diaphragm
  • rectus abdominals

Why It’s Important To Strengthen Our Pelvic Floor Muscles!

Our pelvic floor muscles have 3 jobs to do! Hold our organs in, prevent incontinence and last but not least it’s our orgasm muscles! Both men and women have pelvic floor muscles, it’s not just the women’s curse. Our pelvic floor muscles, like all other muscles will loose strength over time and must be strengthened. It’s true that pregnancy and childbirth are the most obvious causes of weakness to the pelvic floor muscles but being overweight, having chronic constipation, persistent heavy lifting, changes in hormone levels and aging are all contributing factors for both men and women. To prevent incontinence, and prolapse (lack of organ support) and maintain our dynamic orgasms we must keep our pelvic floor muscles capable and strong!

 Quadruped
For more information contact Cassidy at The Body Gallery
415-776-6641

Tell me more about diabetes…

The wonderful, Shanti Pappas of Happy Belly Health and I recently hosted a talk on diabetes. Here are answers to some of the great questions asked during the session:

Q: What is Diabetes and how did I get this?

A: Diabetes, simply put, is excessively high blood sugar. We all need sugar as a source of energy for the cells in our bodies and diabetes is a condition where sugar is too high in the bloodstream. This means that there is less sugar entering cells to be used for energy and the symptoms of diabetes stem from there.

In type 1 diabetics, the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are damaged through an autoimmune process in those with a genetic predisposition. Insulin is the hormone that helps transport sugar from the blood into our cells. So without it, sugar remains in the cells and causes the symptoms above.

In type two diabetes, the pancreas in not damaged but it may produce less insulin or the cells of the body are less responsive (resistant) to insulin so it is more difficult to transport sugar to use for energy. This is often related to genetic factors, obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet high in fats and processed sugars.

Q: If I lose weight will it cure me?

A: It can help. Excess body fat contributes to insulin resistance so losing weight can help you better control blood sugar and manage symptoms. Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires consistent management but it is possible to be symptom-free.

Q: What’s a good start? Exercise? Diet?

A: The best place to start is to have your blood sugar checked and regularly monitored to be sure that the appropriate interventions are used in your care. Talk to your doctor about what your options are. Often changes in diet and exercise are sufficient but medications and supplements may be necessary to get the best control of blood sugar.

Exercise is a great place to start. The recommended activity level is 150 minutes/week of moderate intensity exercise. This can be as simple as walking briskly or you can try jogging, hiking, swimming and cycling with some strength training like push-ups, sit-ups and planks.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus (Photo credit: anaxolotl)

The best diet is a balanced one – whole grain, healthy fats, vegetables and proteins.

Avoid processed, refined carbohydrates (sweets, candies, desserts)  and focus on whole grains like brown rice, whole oats and quinoa which include fiber that helps balance blood sugar. Fruits and vegetables are also great sources of fiber so get your fill of these each day. Err on the side of vegetables especially when juicing because fruit juices increase your blood sugar at warp speed!

Healthy fats can help reduce risk of type 2 diabetes. Try avocados, raw nuts and seeds, nut butters, olive oil and coconut oil.

Nuts and seeds are also great sources of protein. Protein is the secret weapon to blood sugar balancing. It can also be found in beans, fish poultry and red meat too. Keep red meat minimal in your diet as it can be high in harmful fats. Opt for grass-fed beef or organic poultry.

Q: What about my heart health? Should I be worried?

A: Diabetes increase heart disease risk. High blood sugar in the blood stream damages blood vessel walls and contribute to inflammation, plaque formation and high blood pressure. Luckily, exercise and a balanced diet will help reduce heart disease risk too. Also watch out for salt intake. Too much salt will increase blood pressure and increase risk of heart attacks and stroke. Reduce your risks now starting here with a Heart Healthy Shopping list.

Q: What about stress? Is that a factor too?

A: Yes, actually. High stress means you produce more stress managing hormones like cortisol. High cortisol causes blood sugar to increase because it signals your liver to break down emergency sugar stores. Also, skipping meals puts the body in a “stressed” state because blood sugar drops to a level where your body enters survival mode, producing cortisol to get blood sugar back to normal so you’ll have enough energy to keep functioning.

Keep your stress managed with exercise, balanced meals/snacks and, of course, having fun!

If you have more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below or contact me for a complimentary 15-min consultation.

Here’s to your health,

Dr Mead

http://www.dradeolamead.com

Resources:

Photo credit: The Discovery Health Journal

Photo credit: Eli Lilly and Co.

Resveratrol and Heart Health

English: Wine grapes. Español: Uvas de vino ro...

English: Wine grapes. Español: Uvas de vino rojo. Русский: Грозди винограда. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Resveratrol belongs to a group of plant compounds called polyphenols which have powerful antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, oxidative stress and the resulting inflammation. They therefore target one of the major underlying causes of cardiovascular disease as well and many other chronic diseases.

A recent animal study showed that resveratrol (at high doses) reduced inflammation, improved blood vessel function, reduced blood pressure and prevented the thickening of heart muscle. Research also suggests that it can protect against abnormal weight gain and diabetes, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

The most popular source of resveratrol is red wine and moderate red wine consumption has promising heart-healthy benefits. Moderate consumption is defined as two 5-ounce servings for men and one serving for women daily of red wine. This would equate to 1-2mg of resveratrol depending on the type grapes used to make the wine.

Some researchers believe that resveratrol content in the relatively high amounts of red wine consumed by the French may explain the “French Paradox”. This is the term used to describe the low rates of cardiovascular disease in French people despite their high dietary content of saturated fats and cholesterol. Before you stock your cellar with the finest wines (for your heart’s sake, of course), here are some other great sources of dietary resveratrol:

  • Red grapes and grape juice: Be sure to buy these organic to avoid high pesticide residues and leave the skins on since they contain the highest levels of resveratrol.
  • Peanuts: 1 cup of boiled peanuts has comparable amounts of resveratrol as 1 cup red grapes (1.25-1.28mg). Raw peanuts and peanut butter include less resveratrol. Watch out for allergies!
  • Dark berries – Blueberries, Bilberries and Cranberries: Exact resveratrol doses have not yet been established these berries are generally high in helpful antioxidants.


Read more here to learn about oxidation, free radicals and other major antioxidant nutrients and their dietary sources.

Here’s to your health,

Dr Adeola Mead, ND

http://www.dradeolamead.com

Resources:
Linus Pauling Institute
Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Healthlob.com