The Skinny on Stool

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Toddler Boy Sitting On Potty

The quality of your stool says a lot about you: what you’re eating, what you’re not eating, and how well or badly your gut flora and gut wall are able to process your food.  Your food is your energy source, so it’s a critical factor in your vitality.  Moreover, a large part of your immune system lives in your gut!  When that doesn’t work well, your health is at risk.

8 signs of healthy stool

  • Color: light or medium brown
  • Consistency: smooth & soft
  • Size: 1-2 inches in diameter; 4 to 8 inches in length is common
  • Shape: should be one long tube, may have an S-shape
  • Behavior: should drop quietly into the bowl in one piece
  • Smell: not overly smelly, not foul or super stinky
  • Texture: smooth, uniform; no lumps or bumps
  • Frequency: 1-2 times daily
 title What it means / Concerns
 type-1 Indicates a lack of bacteria, and insufficient hydration. Higher risk of rectal bleeding.
 type-2 Type 1 stool, impacted together by fiber and bacteria.  Can cause anal canal laceration, hemorrhoidal prolapse, or diverticulosis, and possible small intestine involvement.
 type-3 Similar to Type 2 stool, but moves through the intestine more rapidly.  Higher risk for irritable bowel syndrome.
 type-4 Normal shape for a single daily bowel movement.
 type-5 Typical for people who defecate 2-3 times daily, most usually after large meals.
 type-6

May suggest a slightly hyperactive colon, excess potassium, sudden dehydration, or sudden increase of blood pressure related to stress.  Can also be indicative high stress, over-spiced foods, water with high mineral content, or use of osmotic laxatives.

 type-7 Commonly known as diarrhea, this can be due to multiple causes.  If it persists longer than 2 days, or contains blood or dark tarry stool, please consult your health care practitioner.

Bristol Stool Chart developed by Lewis and Heaton from the University of Bristol

posted in Healthy Living, Know Your Body

Beautiful Skin

Oh, the skin you’re in…

Simple ways to keep your outer layer happy

Water – Hydration is essential for many aspects of bodily health, one of which is the layers of your skin! It helps flush toxins, too, so you’ll be less prone to breakouts like pimples. 10 – 12 glasses is a good baseline.

Diet – You truly ARE what you eat. A daily diet of unprocessed raw whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for healthy skin.

Exercise – Sweat is actually good for your skin, because it moisturizes and facilitates waste removal.  Plus it increases arterial flow, so you have more energy and a more radiant complexion.

Sleep – A good night’s sleep is non-negotiable for your general health, and your skin is one of the very first places sleep deprivation will show up.

Sunshine – Your skin is an amazing organ in many ways! one of which is the ability to turn sunshine into Vitamin D, a necessary adjunct to your body’s absorption of calcium. Sunlight also helps heal rashes, eczema, psoriasis and acne. So give yourself a daily dose of 10 minutes of sunshine! The early morning or late afternoon are the best times.

Stay away from tanning beds! Unless you think old dried-up leather is a good look for you, there is just no reason to waste time or money on these.

Wash off the make-up – Skin needs to breathe; if it’s clogged with dirt or make-up, it can’t rest and refresh while you are sleeping.

Exfoliate – Using a natural fiber washcloth daily will keep your pores clear and remove the top layer of dead skin cells. You can also use a gentle scrub once a week.

Moisturize – Use a moisturizer that works for your skin type. If you want to experiment, make your own! Aloe vera gel, jojoba oil, or a glycerin/water mixture can be used for oily to normal skin, while a few drops of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil is wonderful for normal, dry or mature skin.

posted in Healthy Aging, Know Your Body

10 Steps for Successful Running

Running athlete man. Male runner sprinting during outdoors training for marathon run. Athletic fit young sport fitness model in his twenties in full body length on road outside in nature.

1 – Hydration is key to happiness!

2 – Make sure your shoe fits your foot.

3 – Pay attention to your surroundings: if you like running with music, try using just one earbud.

4 – Pay attention to your breath: try running without music.

5 – Be careful about altering your natural stride.

6 – Keep your body in an easy line; don’t let your head get ahead of your shoulders!

7 – Aim for lightness as you contact the ground.

8 – Walk before you run.

9 – Stretch after you run.

10 – Don’t let your running plan override what your body is telling you!

 

posted in Know Your Body, Posture & Ergonomics

Getting back in the swing…

 

Woman walking cross country and trail in spring forest

Being cooped up for so many weeks of winter weather tends to tighten up our bodies more than we realize.  Tight muscles and tight fascia (which coats every muscle in the body, allowing them to glide freely) can be a factor in our ability to get back into the swing of things after a long, hard winter.

In the spring, simply taking a walk is a great pleasure.  It’s also an excellent way to start getting loosened up.  That may not sound very exciting or important, but it’s a fine first step in getting ready for more demanding sports and gardening activities.

Runners certainly know the value of warming up with a walk.  Regardless of what sport we like, there are often-overlooked ways of preparing ourselves for a higher level of physical play. Why is that important?  Read on!

planting a tomatoes seedlingInterestingly, many of the sports and gardening work we like to do at this time of year share one under-appreciated characteristic.  They are primarily one-sided.  Think about golf, tennis, lacrosse, baseball: they all involve rotating the body from one side to another, usually at speed and with some force.  Gardening typically uses less force, but often involves a lot of repetitive motions from an awkward position.

 

Regardless of the type of activity, we will always favor our dominant side.  This creates an imbalanced load across the body.  So we end up with a major problem: an over-developed dominant pattern coupled with a corresponding pattern of under-used, weak, flaccid muscles.

This matters because the small muscles surrounding and supporting the joints of our spinal column are almost always in that second under-used category – and they are they ones that protect us from disk injury.  This really is an accident waiting to happen.

Golf Swing In Riva Dei Tessali Golf Course, Italy

That’s why I advocate integrating a gentle series of spinal twists into my patients’ daily routines. Based on the kind of twists you may be familiar with from yoga class, a simple daily routine will keep those small but vital muscles healthy, happy, and on the job.  

I like to start people out with seated twists to keep the pelvis anchored and balanced.  Breaking the twist down into increments keeps you aware of moving at the spinal level – rather than recruiting the big muscles of the back.  These can “over-ride” the spinal motion, and short-change the small muscles we are actually targeting.  I also like keeping the chin and hands lined up with the sternum – another great way to keep from cheating ourselves by turning too far, too fast.  There are many twists I like, but this one is a great place to start.

Tennis

A simple trick that will help you counter your dominant side’s tendency towards “running the show” is to try mimicking the motion on the opposite side.  Here’s an example: if you always serve from your right side, try the ball toss with your right hand and the serve from your left hand.  This may actually help you identify aspects of your serve that need work.  And it will bring your awareness into the other side of your body.  Do you want to do this every time you practice?  Maybe.  It will certainly show you where the imbalances are centered.

Whatever sport or outside activity you do, it’s a great idea to work your range of motion every day.  Here’s a nice shower routine: gently flex and then extend your neck; turn your head slowly to either side; finally, tilt your head towards each shoulder.  As you do this over a period of time, you’ll find your range of motion will increase.

Once you’re out of the shower, do a side bend with your fingers pointing down the side of your leg (that keeps you in a straight line).  Can’t touch your toes?  Work on it every day – and pay attention to where you feel restriction; that is valuable information that can help your chiropractor and massage therapist help you change it for the better.

Unless you have balance issues, you absolutely can do these.  Easy? yes!  Important? you bet!  Enjoy the spring!

posted in Know Your Body, Posture & Ergonomics

Loving your liver (and kidneys!)

 

For most of us, it takes a lot of stamina to get through the day.  This often leads to over-reliance on sugar and caffeine (Starbucks, anyone?), and usually to chronic dehydration as well.  The demands of a busy schedule mean we’re just too pre-occupied to focus on the routine good habits of diet and exercise that we all know are best for us.

Your liver and kidneys play a pivotal role in maintaining your body in a healthy state.  That’s why they are always a primary focus in any seasonal cleanse.  There isn’t a single one of us who isn’t occasionally guilty of dietary excesses and omissions, especially during the holidays – both summer and winter!

Highlighted-Liver

Here are a few highlights of what your liver does:

  • Helps absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins
  • Metabolizes and stores nutrients for energy
  • Builds proteins to help filter your blood
  • Supplies nutrients for healthy brain function
  • Breaks down harmful chemicals and toxins

Your kidneys are equally hard-working:

  • Like the liver, they remove waste from the bloodstreamKidneys
  • Regulate the body’s level of salt, potassium and other chemicals
  • Stimulate red blood cell production
  • Help keep bones strong via calcitrol (a form of Vitamin D)
  • Generate renin, a hormone which helps control blood pressure

Signs you might need to consider a cleanse:

• Headaches
• Dark urine
• Loss of appetite
• Diarrhea, and light colored stools
• Enlarged blood vessels, easy bruising
• Anxiety and depression
• Mental confusion
• PMS
• Exhaustion and fatigue
• Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin
• Impaired libido (sex drive)
• Food allergies and chemical sensitivities

What degree and extent of cleanse you need depends on your history and lifestyle!  It’s always easier to embark on a cleanse with your healthcare practitioner – and that way you get an individualized assessment of your potential need for supplementation (versus “one cleanse fits all”!).

This is something I love doing with my patients; it’s a privilege to witness the changes that can occur in people’s physical health and, even more importantly, in their outlook on the world!

Healthy-Food-Heart

posted in Know Your Body, Seasonal Tips

The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is a hidden powerhouse in the body’s self-regulating activity. It has multiple roles, but its primary job is as the body’s sanitation engineer.

Arterial blood leaves the heart loaded with oxygen.  Once that oxygen is delivered to the cells, 90% of that fluid returns to the circulation as venous blood.  The venous system returns blood to the heart where it’s re-charged with oxygen.

The remaining 10% is a clear, pale yellow-ish fluid known as lymph.

One of the lymphatic fluid’s jobs is to absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins from your digestive system!  It carries these nutrients to the cells where they can be used as energy reserves and in tasks like cell wall repair.

lymphatic-system

Lymphatic fluid removes waste products that have accumulated in the spaces between cells, like debris from dead cells.  Lymph nodes are packed with white blood cells that attack toxins and pathogens; they act as filters or traps for these foreign particles.

So the lymphatic system is a vital part of your immune system.  Swollen lymph nodes are most typically an indication that the body is fighting off an infection. These are often found in the neck, but can also occur in the armpits and groin.  You may need some short term support for your immune system as a whole; I’ve had good success with supplementation* for my patients.   If swollen lymph nodes persist, you should see your healthcare practitioner.

Loofah Help promote healthy lymphatic drainage by brushing your skin!  You can do this in the shower, using a washcloth or a soft bristled brush.  Start at the fingertips, and brush towards the heart.  Use a gentle, firm stroke.  Brush down from the head and neck on both the front and back of your body.  Then from your toes up the legs, over the belly and buttocks, again towards the heart.

It feels great, it’s good for your skin, and it helps your body do its job!

*See the Resources section on the website for more information about supplementation choices.  http://greatriverchiro.com/resources/products/

posted in Know Your Body

Fun Female Facts

Vive la difference!

Here are some fun facts about the girls among us…

  • Women have a better sense of smell than men.
  • Sex releases collagen and estrogen – so it makes us look younger! and it burns about 360 calories per hour.
  • The female egg is the largest cell in the body; the male sperm is the smallest (and swims about 8 inches per hour).
  • Much of the genetic information on the male Y chromosome is inactive – so women really are more complex than men!
  • Women tend to get fewer hiccups than men.
  • Women’s hearts beat faster than men’s.
  • 90% of breast-fed babies have higher IQ ratings.
  • Women spend, on average, 2 years of their lives looking in the mirror. Men? 6 months.
  • A woman says about 7000 words per day. Men? 2000.
  • It’s not that men aren’t listening! They actually have a hard time hearing us: women’s voices contain more frequencies which means they are harder for the brain to analyze!
  • Researchers at Iowa State found marriages are happier when men let their wives be the boss on household matters.
posted in Know Your Body