Monday, December 29, 2008
I spent the beginning part of the year organizing a walk in Geneva to help support Cystic Fibrosis after finding out last year that my sister, Kate, has Cystic Fibrosis. The turn out and support for the walk was incredible as friends, family, and many, many others came together to celebrate life and raise over $55,000 for Cystic Fibrosis. However, a week before the walk, I lost my mentor and close friend, Dr. Gary Boyd, to prostate cancer. His funeral was the same day as the walk, so it was a very humbling day for me. Not only was I humbled by the amazing support of so many for the walk, but I was also humbled by the loss of life by such a great man at the early age of 54. It was truly a day to appreciate life!
In June, I lost another role model when my 95 year old grandfather passed away. The best lessons I learned from him was to always be myself and to enjoy life! Dawn and I have also spent the last year continuing to wait to start our family through adoption. Although we didn't think it would take this long, we are so grateful to have the support of our family and friends throughout the entire process.
The reason I am telling you all of this is because we all have our ups and downs during the course of a year. Looking back on the year, some of us may say it was a good year while others may say it was a bad year. I'm sure many of you would say it has been a stressful year with the economy, loss of a job, etc. But good or bad, it is how we choose to deal with those experiences and the life lessons we take away that matter. The healthier approach is to be thankful, grateful and appreciative of the different people, experiences, and opportunities we are fortunate enough to have in our lives.
I am so thankful, grateful, and appreciative for my wonderful wife, my family, my friends, my patients, the people who supported the walk for Cystic Fibrosis, the daily people I encounter, the countless lessons of Dr. Gary Boyd and my grandpa, my health, all of you reading this blog, future children, God, and life!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Have a happy, healthy, and safe New Year!!
Live Well. Laugh Often. Love Much.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Click HERE for the guide!
Have a great week!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Dawn and I flew out to Denver to spend time with my sisters and their families. While we were at the airport waiting for our flight, a title of a magazine at a stand caught my eye entitled, "The Sorry State of American Health." I read a lot about health and alternative health, so at my office I probably would have just put this in my "to be read" stack. However, when I realized it was a TIME magazine, I was caught off guard and immediately purchased it.
The reason I was surprised is because rarely do we see a main stream publication talking about the problems of our health care system. We read, hear, and see so much about the pharmaceutical industry with the newest drug on the market or the latest drug study and are lead to believe that we, as a nation, are healthy. We are inundated with drug ads on tv and in magazines. However, according to an article in this Time magazine, although the U.S. spends the most on health care out of any other nation in the world and has superior medical resources, we rank only 34th in the world in life expectancy and 29th in infant mortality rate. A couple more alarming statistics is 40% of Americans NEVER exercise, two-thirds of adults are over-weight with one-third being obese, and 17% of children are overweight! With all the money we spend and resources we have, I know I would expect these numbers to be much better.
I think what this shows is that we focus too much on sick care and not enough on preventative care. People tend to take their health for granted and rely on the latest medical advances once they do get sick instead of relying on themselves to keep from getting sick. They would rather continue to eat McDonald's and avoid exercise and just take medications for their worsening blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar while probably becoming overweight than to eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats and getting the right exercise to live a longer and healthier life. I am not talking about those of you who are on medications for high cholesterol, etc. because of hereditary reasons. My whole point is that we try to prevent problems with our cars by getting oil changes and we try to prevent cavities by getting dental cleanings and we try to prevent weeds on our lawn by using fertilizers, so why shouldn't we do everything we can to try to prevent disease, illness, and injury with ourselves?!!!
As you can probably tell, I am very passionate about the subject of preventative health care. I just hope that I can continue to effectively give you a few things that you can easily do to improve your health and to best PREVENT problems from happening in the future.
In my next post, I will be giving a list of healthy home tips for parents!
Monday, November 24, 2008
What to look for in a probiotic
1. Type: There are hundreds of different strains of bacteria in your gut, so supplementing with the right "good" bacteria is very important. The Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families of bacteria have been shown to be very beneficial especially Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Be sure that the probiotic contains these types of bacteria.
2. Amount: The normal flora in our gut contains trillions of bacteria, so you need to use a probiotic that has an adequate amount of bacteria (at least 3-4 billion). Using something with only millions of bacteria is ineffective.
3. Form: Yes, there are probiotics in yogurt. Unfortunately, the probiotics in yogurt don't usually meet the first 2 requirements in this list. Look for a probiotic in a capsule, tablet, or powder form. Because it is live bacteria, you will often find a good probiotic in the refrigerator of the health food store. If not, be sure to store it in the refrigerator after opening to help maintain the potency. Both heat and freezing temperatures will kill the bacteria. Bacteria that is no longer living will not hurt you, but will also do nothing good for you!
If you find a probiotic that meets all 3 guidelines listed above, it is probably very good. Supplement a probiotic into your diet everyday, especially if you experience any of the symptoms I listed in the last post. If you do this consistently with a good probiotic, you will probably start to notice a change in your symptoms in 2-4 weeks. If you have tried using a probiotic in the past and you don't feel that it helped, be sure to try again with a high quality probiotic.
I wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving! Don't forget your probiotics!!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I often tell my patients that your gut is like your car battery. If your car battery starts to lose some power, the rest of the car starts to malfunction. So, if you have an imbalance in your normal gut flora (too much bad bacteria or too little good bacteria) then your immune system and the rest of your systems start to get run down. You might start to notice bloating, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel, upset stomach, fatigue, headaches, and others. Unfortunately, more and more people are having imbalances in the gut flora. I believe this is due to 2 main reasons. Bad diets and the over-prescribing of antibiotics.
1. Bad bacteria love sugar and white flour! So the more sugar and white flour we have in our diets, the more bad bacteria we will have in our gut and the weaker our immune system will be.
2. Antibiotics are no doubt beneficial for BACTERIAL infections. However, too many antibiotics are being prescribed for viral and fungal infections that are not caused by bacteria. So, not only does this not help fight the infection, it creates an imbalance in your body's normal, healthy gut flora. Antibiotics not only attack the bad bacteria, but they also attack the good, healthy bacteria, so again decreases our healthy immune system.
So, if you think you have a sinus, ear, or other infection, be sure to find out first from your doctor if it is caused by bacteria before automatically going on an antibiotic. If it is bacterial, then be sure to stay away from sugar and white flour especially until the infection is gone. If you have chronic bacterial infections, you should consider completely taking sugar and white flour out of your diet.
Finally, along with a good diet, a great way to help impove the healthy gut flora is with probiotics, especially if you have been on a lot of antibiotics. Probiotics are made up of the good bacteria that are in your normal flora. I will talk next time about how you can get these probiotics into your diet!
Many of you have asked that I send an e-mail out when I update the blog. So, if you send your e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I will include you in the update e-mail. Don't worry, I'll only sell your e-mail to a couple mass marketers! Just kidding, your e-mail will only be used for the update purposes!!
One final note to my patients... We have started our 5th annual toy drive for the Walter Payton Foundation for abused and neglected kids. Last year with your help we were able to collect over 100 toys! We will be collecting toys until Friday, December 5th. Please see our website at www.acucarechiropractic.com for more information about this year's toy drive. Thanks!!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
With so many vitamins and supplements available, I get a lot of questions about what they are good for and which ones are most important. First, having a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats (chicken and fish) while avoiding white sugar and white flour is the absolute best thing you can do for yourself (see previous posts). However, because not everyone has the perfect diet, there are some things that you can benefit from by supplementing to your diet.
One of the best things I tell people they can supplement to their diet is Essential Fatty Acids better known as Omega Fats especially Omega-3. The reason they are called Essential Fatty Acids is because our body can not make these on its own. Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats are the Essential Fatty Acids. Omega-9 Fats (found in olive oil) are also important, but not considered an essential fatty acid since our body can produce them on its own.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are probably the most important of the three because of the ability to decrease inflammation. Inflammation can lead to degeneration and disease. Omega 6 tends to increase inflammation. Unfortunately, most of us get too much Omega-6 in our diet through cooking oils like soybean, sunflower, canola, and corn oils (found in most packaged foods). Yet, we don't get enough of the anti-inflammatory Omega-3 found in fatty fish (wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies), walnuts, flax seed, and dark green leafy vegetables.
The point of all this is that you need more Omega-3 Fatty Acids in your diet. Unless you are eating fatty fish 3-4 times per week, a fish oil supplement is a great way to add this anti-inflammatory protection to your body.
Next time, I will talk more about the benefits of fish oil and how you can find good quality fish oil. Not all fish oil is the same!!
DON'T FORGET TO VOTE TODAY!!!!!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Whenever someone comes into the office with an injury or pain, I ask if they have already been using any ice or heat on the area. The most common response is "I haven't used anything because I didn't know which was better." The simple answer to this is that if you are in doubt, always use cold. Most injuries will have some type of swelling and cold therapy is the best to help decrease the inflammation. Yes, heat does feel better. However, heat over a specific area brings blood to the area, so although it can help to relax the muscles, it can actually create more swelling. On the other hand, using general heat with a hot shower, bath or hot tub is great because it heats and relaxes the whole body and doesn't just bring attention to a specific area.
You might have heard that cold is good for acute (within the first 72 hours) injuries and heat is good for chronic (after 72 hours) injuries. Although this can be helpful, I still believe and have seen the best results are by using cold on the area regardless of how long it has been since the injury. The only time I really ever recommend heat is with arthritic conditions or really long-term, chronic conditions.
The best way to use cold therapy is to put cold on the injured area for 15-20 minutes and then take it off for 15-20 minutes and then repeat. Especially with a new injury, this should be done several times throughout the day and most importantly a few times before going to bed. In general, swelling in our body gets worse throughout the day, so you want to make sure you calm it down before you go to sleep with it. By alternating the cold and no cold, you are taking the swelling away with the cold and bringing new blood to the area when taking the cold away. Some people alternate cold and heat, which is fine, but is just more work and gets similar results as just alternating the cold with no cold. The cold could be a baggie with a few ice cubes and some cold tap water, a reusable ice pack, or even a bag of frozen vegetables (you can make some good vegetable soup after using it ;). All should be wrapped in a paper towel. The goal isn't to FREEZE the area, just to cool it down and numb it a little.
So, hopefully you don't get hurt, but if something does happen to you or someone else, remember that if you are in doubt, use cold!
Please leave a comment if you have any questions.
Monday, October 20, 2008
You can buy these at any drugstore (Walgreen's, Osco, etc.) or online. They usually come with a saline solution, but you can use any type of non-iodized salt.
Here's how to do it:
1. Fill the pot with with lukewarm water and add a 1/4 teaspoon of the saline solution or salt until it is dissolved.
2. Over a sink, tilt your head to the left, positioning the side of your head approximately parallel to the floor. Put the spout of the Neti Pot into your right nostril. Seal the opening of the nostril by gently pressing the spout of the Neti Pot against the nostril opening and pour the water into the nostril. The water will start to come out of your left nostril after flushing through the sinuses.
3. Breathe through your mouth during the flushing process. Pour the entire contents of the Nedi Pot into the right nostril.
4. You may want to blow your nose after cleansing the first nostril. Now, refill the Neti Pot and tilt your head to the right side, and repeat the process with the left nostril.
I know this sounds like a crazy process, but it really is not as bad as it seems. It takes a couple times to get used to, but is actually really easy. It's a great, natural way to clean out your sinuses. If you are someone who has chronic allergies or sinus infections, I would recommend doing this daily and I think you will be very happy with the results. Otherwise, use it during times of sinus congestion to help you breathe better.
Feel free to post your personal story about using the Neti Pot or if you have any other questions about using it.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Unfortunately and unbelievably, the 5 gallon water cooler jugs that many people use at home and at work and some children's toys are made of number 7 plastic! Dawn and I had been using a water cooler at home for years until about a year ago when I learned of BPA. We have since gotten rid of the water cooler and installed a reverse osmosis filter under our kitchen sink for drinking water. We installed it ourselves and it cost about $200 compared to the $25 a month we were paying for the water cooler and water delivery. Another easy way to avoid the water cooler is to put a water filter directly on your faucet. As far as the toys go, try your best to avoid toys that your child puts into their mouth that are made with the number 7 plastics.
Here's a few other helpful tips to avoid plastics...
1. Use glass storage containers for food instead of plastic
2. Use glass baby bottles instead of plastic (http://www.newbornfree.com/)
3. Avoid reusable plastic water bottles. Instead use stainless steel bottles (http://www.kleankanteen.com/)
4. Avoid using plastic containers or plastic wrap in the microwave
5. Use reusable or paper grocery bags instead of plastic
Yes, glass is more expensive than plastic, but you get what you pay for, so just do what you can!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Stress plays a role in all of our lives. However, how the stress affects us mentally and physically depends directly on what we do to deal with the stress mentally and physically. I could write much more than any of you would like to read on the topic of stress, so I am just going to give you a few easy ideas to help de-stress yourself.
Breathing is obviously vital to life. However, how we breathe is also very important. I'm guessing that if you stop and pay attention to your breathing right now that you will notice your chest and shoulders moving as you breathe. Well, unfortunately this means you are breathing wrong. For those of you who noticed your stomach move as you breathe, congrats! You are most likely breathing correctly!
Abdominal breathing is the key to proper breathing. It is always good to do, but it is especially good during times of stress or anxiety. Here's a basic breathing exercise...
1. Sit down and place one hand on your abdomen, so you can feel how you should be breathing.
2. Take a slow breath in for 3-4 seconds using your abdomen. You should feel your hand move as your abdomen moves out.
3. Breathe out for 3-4 seconds.
4. Repeat at least 10 times.
It sounds easy, but it might take practice to get used to breathing the right way. Proper breathing not only calms the mind, but it also helps relax your muscles.
For other ways to de-stress, go to this link...
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Live Well. Laugh Often. Love Much.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
We all are guilty of being "weekend warriors" every now and again, trying to get everything done on the weekend that we couldn't do during the week or just having too much fun! However, there is a safer approach in doing so. Especially with raking season approaching and unfortunately snow shoveling not too far behind, I want to give you some simple stretches and exercises to help you best avoid these injuries. These stretches are great to do in the morning on a daily basis, but should definitely be done before and after any acitivities that you don't do everyday. I know it sounds strange to stretch before and after raking leaves, but it really does help you to prevent injury and you'll be much happier not waking up as sore the next day! If you do have any aches or pains after activities, put cold on the area for 20 minutes at a time to help get swelling out of the area. Also, getting plenty of water is a must everyday, but you should be drinking even more water and staying properly hydrated on days that you do more activities!
Here is the link that describes and shows you the various stretches and easy exercises...
On a side note, being a life-long Cubs fan, I was really hoping that I would wake up this morning and find out that it was all just a really bad nightmare...it wasn't. I guess there's always next year.
I wish you all a happy, healthy week!!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I'm thinking about starting a gluten free diet. Can you suggest some foods or a sample menu as to what to eat?
September 16, 2008 8:29 PM
Dr. Nate McGowan said...
Yeah, gluten is a tough subject. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. Celiac disease is a digestive problem in which a person has an intolerance to gluten. However, more and more studies are coming out with problems related to gluten sensitivity. A gluten-free diet is hard for most people because you have to eliminate foods that are usually a big part of the diet (breads, pasta, bagels, pizza, beer). As for what you can eat...fruits and veggies, eggs, lean meats (chicken and fish), brown rice, brown rice pasta, wine, and stay away from anything else that has wheat listed as an ingredient even wheat flour. Since gluten is another hot topic these days, many food products will state if it is gluten-free. In fact, I think Trader Joes will give you a list of products at the store that are gluten-free. A good site for more info. on this topic is www.deflame.com. Good luck and I hope this helps!
September 18, 2008 7:37 PM
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Welcome to a chiropractic manipulation. You may also have heard it called a chiropractic adjustment or "crack". After finding the "subluxations" in your spine, a chiropractor then uses a gentle hands-on approach to help reposition the vertebrae and take pressure off of the surrounding nerves and soft tissue. Yes, it does make a "cracking" noise, but that is just gas bubbles being released from the normal fluid that allows your joints to move. Someone with arthritis in the spine usually doesn't get that "cracking" sound because the fluid and mobility in the joint has been lost. Keeping the joints healthy and mobile is very important to keeping your entire spine and you healthy!
BTW, feel free to continue to use the cracking the knuckles story with your kids, but just as cracking your knuckles is safe, so is chiropractic care for you and your kids!!
Here is a good link to let you get a good visual of the anatomy and function of the spine...http://images.chiromatrixbase.com/3d_spine_simulator/nerve_chart/index.htm.
As always, I love to read comments, so please feel free to leave a comment, question, topic for another discussion, chiropractic experience, or just to say hello!
Monday, September 22, 2008
Have a great week!!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Chiropractic medicine is based on the principle of allowing the body to heal itself. Whether it's a headache, low back pain, neck pain, stomach aches, fatigue, numbness or tingling, or any other symptoms, we all experience discomfort from time to time. Sure we can take something for the pain and it might make us feel better, but what usually happens? The symptoms come back and we take something more for the pain! But what exactly is causing these symptoms? As much as we don't like having discomfort, these symptoms are our body's alarm system telling us that something is just not right. I am by no means downplaying the role and effectiveness of medications in fighting chronic disease, but I do feel that we, as a society, tend to turn to the quick fix without first considering all our options. That's where chiropractic medicine might be able to help you.
As chiropractic physicians, with a thorough consultation and examination, we try to determine the cause of the discomfort and then work with you to help fix the problem. I always tell new patients that I will do everything I can to help them get out of pain, but the ultimate goal is to keep the pain from coming back! A good analogy to this is having a leaky roof. You can put a bucket (medicine) under the leak (symptoms) and your floor isn't going to get wet (you feel better), but what about the big hole in your roof (cause of the symptoms)?!!
To be continued with discussion about chiropractic treatment, chiropractic myths vs. reality, and more fun stuff!
As always, please feel free to leave a comment and/or question and I will be sure to get back to you.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
1. Milk (Hormone and antibiotic free)
2. Eggs (Hormone and antibiotic free)
3. Cheese (Hormone and antibiotic free)
4. Chicken (Hormone and antibiotic free)
5. Fish (Wild, not Farmed)
6. Vegetables (Organic, Local, and/or pesticide and chemical free)
7. Fruits (Organic, Local, and/or pesticide and chemical free)
8. Sea Salt instead of regular table salt
9. Olive Oil instead of vegetable or canola oil
10. Stevia instead of sugar or artificial sweetners
I realize this is still a long list, so just choose a few things off of it that you use the most. I hope this helps.
For those of you who have never been to a chiropractor, in my next blog, I will talk a little bit about chiropractic and how it can help.
As always, feel free to post a comment and I will do my best to reply. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com or visit our website at http://www.acucarechiropractic.com/.
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
We planted lettuce, tomatoes, beans, carrots, broccoli, and cucumbers. We went to a farmer's market in Madison, WI at the beginning of the year and got 4 types of small starter organic lettuce plants and 4 types of small starter organic tomato plants and a starter organic broccoli plant. We used organic seeds for the other vegetables. We didn't use any pesticides and we probably didn't get over to the plot as much as we should, but the garden still did pretty well. I think the plots around us probably thought we were just growing weeds because they sure do grow fast, but it was nice not using chemicals. Our lettuce, tomatoes, and beans all grew great and we were able to eat a lot of them. The broccoli and cucumbers didn't grow and our carrots are still growing. So, although we had a shady plot, hardly weeded, didn't water as much as we should have, and didn't use pesticides or chemicals, we were still able to eat a lot of great veggies. The point of the story is that a vegetable garden is a great way to have your own fresh, inexpensive vegetables and you can put in as little or as much time and effort as you would like. If you don't have the space or availability to grow a vegetable garden, you can grow herbs in a pot or visit your local farmer's market!
Monday, September 8, 2008
The two easiest things that you can do is to start buying hormone-free and antibiotic-free milk and eggs. There are non-organic options that are hormone and antibiotic free, which are also good. Just read the label and it will specifically state this. The problem with the hormones that are used in the production of regular eggs and milk is that it mimics our own hormones especially estrogen in women. This creates a false increase in estrogen in the body. Some problems that have been shown to develop from an increase in estrogen in women are irregular periods, endometriosis, infertility, ovarian cysts, and others. I am not saying that just by eating eggs and milk that are not hormone-free, you will develop these problems. However, eggs and milk are probably 2 of the most common things that most of us eat, so just changing these is a great start!
Some other things that can be found at Trader Joe's:
Organic fruits and vegetables
Organic frozen strawberries and strawberries (used in our smoothies)
Hormone and antibiotic free chicken
Organic flax seed oil (great source of omega 3 fatty acids)
Organic aloe vera juice (helps aid with digestion)
Organic apple cider vinegar (good for digestion)
Friday, September 5, 2008
You may have noticed the "September Special" on our website for the detoxification program. Patients ask me all the time about different detox programs and/or diets. Anything from fasting to the lemonade diet to the watermelon diet or whatever the newest fad diet. All of those things may help you in the short term to lose weight, but they are not realistic approaches to healthy long-term eating. The thing that I really like about the detox program that we offer is that it gets back to the basics of how we should be eating. It focuses on fruits, vegetables, and lean meats (chicken and fish) and over the course of 21 days shows you that you don't need all the other "junk." Our society is so fast paced now, so we are always looking for the quick options. Unfortunately, those options are usually not healthy. They are usually made with partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and/or sugars and corn syrups. I'll talk more later why these are not good for us and more about healthy eating options.
Thursday, September 4, 2008