Friday, January 4, 2019

Autoregulation

by Darryl Gomes, Certified Athletic Therapist, Osteopathic Thesis Writer

Happy 2019 to everyone! I hope that the new year brings about changes that promote a healthier and active lifestyle for you!

In my series of osteopathic blogs, I would like to introduce you to the osteopathic tenet of "Autoregulation". To remind you of the osteopathic tenets, they are:
  • Structure Governs Function
  • The Rule of the Artery is Absolute
  • Autoregulation
  • The Body as a Functional Unit

What is Autoregulation?

Autoregulation is a concept that refers to how the body balances all of the internal chemical and physical processes in order to work at an optimal level. 

What are Examples of Autoregulation?

Let's say you have a stressful day at work, where you have important reports that need to be completed by the end of the day. Mentally, you are feeling the stress of the situation. Your body responds to the stress by releasing the hormone adrenaline which will get your body to raise your heart rate, blood pressure and release glucose (stored energy in your body) so your body has energy. Once the stressful situation has ended, your body will go back to a more relaxed state. 

Another example would be how your body fights off colds during the winter months. When you get infected, your body's immune system will trigger the release of white blood cells and antibodies necessary to fight off the foreign invaders in order for you to return back to a healthy state.

How Does the Body Achieve Autoregulation?

Your body is constantly trying to maintain balance in order for you to function optimally, so it needs to be treated properly:
  • Eating a balanced meal that includes more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods gives your body the fuel that it needs to run efficiently.
  • Making sure to drink lots of water (not just coffee or tea). Anywhere between 2-3L/day is ideal, as your body constantly needs to flush waste by-products.
  • Exercise to strengthen your cardiovascular and muscular systems, so that your body is strong enough to handle physical and emotional stress. You need at least 20 minutes a day of some form of moderate exercise.
Meditation and rest in order to help your mind achieve a sense of stillness and well being.

How Can Osteopathy Help with Autoregulation?

If you are already doing the above mentioned tips, then you are well on your way to achieving a healthier "you". 

However, if your body has been stressed for a long period of time and you have noticed that you experience body aches, headaches, lack of focus, and digestive issues, your body may need osteopathic treatment. Osteopathy can help to:
  • Reduce tensions on any areas of the digestive system, so that the body can properly process food into energy.
  • Help with postural alignment, as spinal misalignments can put pressure & undue stress on the visceral contents through poor weight distribution. Additionally, the nerves that travel from the misaligned spinal segments can prevent signals from travelling to various organs & body parts, creating inefficiency.
  • Cranio-sacral work can help the brain to express itself better if cranial nerves are free of restrictions allowing for better cognitive functions.
If you have any questions about this tenet, or osteopathy in general, feel free to email me at:

darryl@naturopathicfoundations.ca

Thank you for reading my blog. The next blog will be covering the last osteopathic tenet "The Body as a Functional Unit".

Stay active!

Water Element: is Yours in Balance?

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

When you think of water, what comes to mind? It may be a river or an ocean, or a glass of water. You may not immediately think of the 60-70% of water that makes up your body. According to Ayurveda, there are 5 elements that exist in nature and manifest in the plants, animals around us, and within our body: ether (space), air, fire, water and earth.

In the winter and early spring when the climate is cool, damp and wet, kapha dosha (which is composed of the earth and water element) is dominant in the environment. Your surroundings impact your body, mind and emotions, so an imbalance in kapha can contribute to common concerns such as weight gain, fatigue, dullness or having trouble getting out of bed in the morning.

Water element reflects the fluidity of movement and manifests as nourishment, growth and lubrication. Some examples of water element in your body are digestive fluids, mucous membrane secretions, plasma and lymphatic system. Water element cools, smoothens, moistens and softens tissues in the body.

When your water element is in balance, weight is consistent, skin and mucous membranes are soft and moist, joints are well lubricated, emotions are stable and you feel connected to the people around you. When the water element is either too high or too low, this can lead to health issues. Read more to find out signs of excess or deficient water element.


Signs of Excess Water Element

When water element accumulates in your body you may gain weight or experience swelling around your ankles or other joints. Your hands may feel clammy, your skin may feel damp and sticky and you may experience increased urination. Excess water tends to put out your digestive fire so you may experience weak appetite, heaviness after meals, thick coating on your tongue and excess mucous. If you struggle with candida or yeast infections, it's likely that your water element is out of balance. Water element in excess can often indicate that there is an electrolyte imbalance, as electrolytes are responsible for the movement of water throughout the body. Emotions can also affect water levels. Water related to imbalanced water are attachment, fear of letting go, being guarded or excessively emotional, feeling lack of nurturing and relationships that are not flowing.

Signs of Deficient Water Element

What happens if you lack sufficient water? You can relate to this on a day that you don't drink enough water, for example, and feel thirsty, have a dry mouth, dry skin and eyes etc. In Ayurveda, this relates to 'rasa dhatu kshaya' or plasma deficiency. When plasma is well hydrated, your blood and lymph flows smoothly and all the tissues are well lubricated. Deficient water can also lead to health concerns such as dry joints, arthritis, lack of sweating, constipation and overall lack of nourishment in body, mind and emotions. Speak to your ND if you have some of these health concerns to help identify and treat the imbalance.


Tips to Harmonize Water Element

When imbalances are identified, it is easier to treat the root cause. Keeping your water element in balance, along with all other elements is the key to living a life that is harmonized and flowing. Here are some tips to try at home :

  • Exercise: helps unblock channels in the body. It allows the body to sweat, eliminate toxins and regulate water. Sun salutations in yoga are an excellent way to help harmonize the elements in your system and regulate excess water.
  • Hydration: often overlooked but be sure to not miss the obvious. Drink at least 8 glasses of pure water a day. In addition, hydrating herbal teas, coconut water and electrolytes can replenish deficient water element.
  • Diet: foods rich in water such as melons and squashes help you hydrate, while drying foods such as vegetable chips, dry fruit, black pepper and dry ginger powder help regulate excess water. Salty and sweet foods also tend to increase water element and can lead to concerns such as water retention. Each individual has a unique constitution so speak with your ND on which foods and herbs are best for you.
  • Lifestyle: if water element is deficient for you, keeping a water fountain or pictures of the ocean can bring this element back into your life. Swimming is another easy way to connect with water element. If water element is in excess, work with incorporating movement in your day, and finding healthy ways to express your emotions.

According to Ayurveda, health is a balance between body, mind, spirit and environment. When you understand how nature influences your health, you can make subtle but powerful changes to harmonize the 5 elements within you and restore balance. Speak with Dr. Leena Athparia, ND if you would like an assessment to help you find out if your water element is in balance.


Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in joint health and chronic disease. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Athparia.  


Improve Your Health With Water

by Dr. Denis Marier, ND, MA

Are you feeling tired and listless? Do your joints hurt? Maybe hunger has you snacking more? Maybe you've been feelings this way so long, that it just feels "normal," and you've tried supplements and medications, but nothing seems to be helping much.

Perhaps the only supplement or medication you need is water. 

Human beings need three things to sustain life on Earth - oxygen, sunshine, and water. The body can live without food for weeks, or longer, but only minutes without oxygen, and only a few days without water. In fact, 60 to 70% of our body is composed of water. The brain and heart are 73% water, and the lungs are about 83%. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are about 79%, and even the bones contain about 31% water.


Water serves a number of essential functions in the body

  • It is a vital nutrient to the life of every cell
  • It regulates internal body temperature by sweating and respiration
  • Carbohydrates and proteins are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream
  • It assists in flushing waste mainly through urination and sweating
  • Acts as a shock absorber for the brain, spinal cord, and fetus
  • It the primary component in saliva, lymph fluid and blood
  • Lubricates joints

Be Careful of Dehydrating Food and Drink

  • Be careful of caffeinated beverages and foods that are dehydrating, especially those high in sodium such as movie theatre popcorn (1500mg without any toppings!), and soy sauce (try the low sodium variety). 
  • Alcohol is dehydrating. It can be helpful to drink an extra glass of water for each alcohol-containing beverage.
  • Interestingly, there is one vegetable that is dehydrating - white asparagus. The aspartic acid in white asparagus stimulates the kidneys which encourages dehydration. 
  • There are some common herbal teas that have diuretic properties as well and are encouraged for urinary tract infections and kidney stones, but it's important to drink an extra glass of water for every cup of tea. When the body is in diuretic mode, the water has to come from somewhere and will start leaching from your tissues, including your brain and joints. 
  • Feeling hungry? Try drinking a glass of water instead to ease those hunger pains, as sometimes thirst manifests as hunger. 

Humidity is Important

Finding the correct humidity balance in your home is also important. High humidity can encourage the growth of mold, bacteria, and dust mites. Signs of low humidity include dry, cracked skin, bloody noses, chapped lips, and dry sinuses to name a few. Also, low humidity can aggravate pre-existing conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. 

How much is enough?

The answer to this question is generally 1 1/2 to 2 litres per day to prevent dehydration. But if you're compensating for an active lifestyle, a lifestyle high in caffeine or other dehydrating foods / drink or if you are trying to improve brain function, reduce fatigue, reduce joint pain, and lose weight, then you may need closer to 2 to 3 litres a day, depending on your health status. And while there is such a thing as drinking too much water (water intoxication), it is an extreme situation and drinking an extra 2-4 glasses of water per day generally won't be a problem. 

As a Wilderness Therapy Guide, I have participated in many vision questing programs, several in Death Valley, CA. I am always a little worried during these programs, having a history of herniated discs and kidney stones. So I drink A LOT of water during those programs. And I am always surprised to realize that after a few days of drinking extra water, my back doesn't hurt, my mind is clearer, and I have a lot more energy than I usually have because of my increased intake of water. And I silently remind myself, again and again, to drink more water in my everyday life back home. Even naturopaths need to remind themselves to drink more water!

Dr. Denis Marier, ND, MA is a naturopathic doctor and ecopsychologist at Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic. To book an appointment with Dr. Marier please call the clinic at (905) 940-2727.