STRESS

At Mpact, we understand the effects stress can have on healing and pain. We believe one of our jobs is to help reduce the affects stress can have on your body as you go through rehabilitation. This is why we designed our clinic to provide a healthy, positive and relaxing atmosphere for therapy sessions. This is also why we allow time at the end of every session for private, isolated relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing to help lower heart rate, slow physical systems, reduce inflammatory indicators and relieve pain.

 

Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. In immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious scenarios. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.

 

Yet if your stress response doesn’t stop firing, and these stress levels stay elevated longer than is necessary, it can take a serious toll on your health. Studies show chronic stress can have wide-ranging negative effects on our emotions, moods, behaviors, physical systems, organs and tissues. The following are some of the ways our physiological systems react to stress:

Nervous System

When stressed, physically or psychologically, the body suddenly shifts its energy resources to fighting off the perceived threat. This is known as the “fight or flight” response. During fight or flight, the nervous system signals the adrenal glands to quickly release adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make the heart beat faster, raise blood pressure, change the digestive process and boost glucose levels in the bloodstream. Once the crisis passes, body systems return to normal.

Musculoskeletal System

Under stress, muscles tense up. The contraction of muscles for extended periods of time can trigger tension headaches, migraines and various other painful musculoskeletal conditions. The increase in cortisol levels can also cause chronic inflammation throughout the body that results in increased systemic pain.

Respiratory System

Stress can make you breathe harder and cause rapid breathing. This type of hyperventilation is known to cause panic attacks in some people.

Cardiovascular System

Acute stress or stress that is momentary, such as being stuck in traffic, causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle. Blood vessels that direct blood to the large muscles and to the heart dilate, increasing the amount of blood pumped to these parts of the body. Repeated episodes of acute stress, or long periods of chronic stress, can cause inflammation in the coronary arteries, which is thought to lead to heart attack.

Endocrine System

Adrenal glands – When the body is stressed, the brain sends signals from the hypothalamus, causing the adrenal cortex to produce cortisol and the adrenal medulla to produce epinephrine, often called “stress hormones.”

Liver – When cortisol and epinephrine are released, the liver produces more glucose, a blood sugar that would give you the energy for “fight or flight” in an emergency.

Gastrointestinal System

Esophagus – Stress may cause you to eat much more or less than you usually do. If you eat more, or if stress causes you to increase your use of alcohol or tobacco, you may experience heartburn or acid reflux.

Stomach – Your stomach can react to “butterflies” or even nausea or pain. You may vomit if the stress is severe enough.

Bowels – Stress can affect digestion and the types of nutrients your intestines absorb. It can also affect how quickly food moves through your body. People under stress often have either diarrhea or constipation.

Reproductive System

In men, stress produces excess amounts of cortisol, which can affect the normal functioning of the male reproductive system. Chronic stress can impair testosterone and sperm production as well as cause varying degrees of impotence. In women, stress can cause absent or irregular menstrual cycles or more painful periods. It can also reduce sexual desire.

SLEEP

We offer patients a variety of annual assessments and customized programs to help reduce risk of injury, increase physical activity and improve overall health. Our team tracks progress and provides customized exercise plans, nutritional plans and other tools to help maximize performance and improvement over time. These wellness programs are optional extensions of our traditional physical therapy practice and demonstrate our commitment to patient satisfaction, long-term positive outcomes and a future of lifetime wellness.

Sleep like an elite athlete.

According to a recent University of California study, professional elite athletes need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night. If they can get more, even better. Now you may not be putting your body through the same demands as a pro athlete, but when you are going through rehab, your body needs similar time to recover and heal. According to a 2015 recommendation by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, “the average person needs to get at least 7 hours of rest every night. There are individual differences in daily sleep needs, however, so you may need eight hours or nine-plus hours to feel rested and alert throughout the day.”

Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time.

Our bodies like regularity and will anticipate sleep with a regular sleep schedule. As a reminder, set a daily alarm on your phone to go off 30 minutes before you want to start your wind-down routine.

Implement a wind-down routine.

A 20- to 30-minute wind-down helps you transition to sleep. Reading is great – a real book, not an iPad or phone that emits blue frequencies of light, which can negatively impact sleep. For athletes, I recommend stretching or yoga. Many individuals don’t have a routine and they’ll jump into bed and have a racing mind – and difficulty falling asleep as a result.

Evaluate your sleep environment.

To maximize your sleep time and to achieve the deepest sleep cycles possible, make your room like a cave. It needs to be very dark, quiet and cool as well as comfortable. For darkness, try blackout curtains. Some people prefer eye masks. For quiet, use earbuds or earplugs. For cool, set your temperature at 60 to 67 degrees.

Reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine.

Drinking alcohol or caffeine at nighttime can negatively impact sleep. Alcohol fragments sleep, particularly in the early morning hours. Caffeine has a half-life of about six hours, so it’s best to cut out caffeine in the late afternoon and evening.

Take power naps.

Power naps are great but keep them short. We recommend naptimes of 20 minutes. Any longer and you will you to go into deeper stages of sleep. When you wake up, you may experience sleep inertia, where you feel more sluggish and worn down. For athletes, we recommend pre-game naps. Naps can give you a temporary improvement in alertness and performance for a few hours. Naps are not a replacement for consolidated and healthy sleep at nighttime. Obviously, if you’re having difficulty with your sleep, you should eliminate naps.

SUPPLEMENTATION

Although supplements cannot match the variety of nutrients you get from real foods, to perform at your very best, nutritional experts agree that you need a basic set of vitamin and mineral supplements to support your overall health.

 

Studies show the typical American adult is prone to many nutritional deficiencies, generally due to poor quality of diet, and therefore does not receive an adequate amount of nutrients to fight a variety of diseases. These range from chronic inflammation, gastrointestinal disorders, arthritis, memory disorders and depression/anxiety.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., director of Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, “we no longer eat foods that contain the nutrient levels required for optimal health for many reasons. Crops are raised in soil where nutrients have been depleted. Plants are treated with pesticides and other chemicals, so they no longer have to fight to live, which further diminishes their nutrient levels and phytonutrient content. Animals are raised in pens or giant feedlots eating food they weren’t designed to eat instead of roaming free, eating the nutrient-rich wild grains and grasses they once consumed.” Combine these factors with our current environment of high stress, lack of sleep and inconsistent exercise, and the result is a society of overly taxed bodily systems in serious need of assistance. The warning signs are there, but we are often too busy to notice that our health is failing until a system is already in crisis.

 

The biggest question we get asked is, “Are all supplements the same”? The quick answer is no. Almost all supplements claim they are high-quality, based on science and clinically tested. This may be true, but if you research carefully, you will find very few supplements that undergo regular, multiple, third-party testing and grading by independent consumer laboratories such as NSF.

 

Most consumers do not realize that the FDA regulates and approves the formulation of nutritional supplements only, NOT the production or authenticity of the actual final supplements themselves. In other words, they approve the recipes, not the finished product. This means a company can get an FDA approval on a formulation, then produce it with cheaper or inferior ingredients from countries like India or China. What is listed on the label is not guaranteed to be in the product. Low-quality supplements that are not “pharmaceutical grade” are often contaminated with fillers, preservatives and chemicals that can compromise your health.

 

Needless to say, when it comes to supplements, true quality matters. We recommend you use only supplements that have been tested and verified by independent third-party analysis, and have an identifying label or seal guaranteeing 100% potency.

 

Mpact offers several lines of ultra-high-quality supplements to our patients. Every product we carry has earned NSF International Certification Seal and contain no unsafe or undeclared ingredients. If you would like more information on supplements or have other nutritional questions, we can arrange a personal in-depth consultation with leading nutritional experts at your convenience.

EXERCISE

One of the key foundational elements to living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is balance. And one of the easiest and most effect things we can do to create balance in our lives is exercise.

Kenneth Cooper, founder of the internationally famous Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas, has provided years of research that supports the need for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week. As little as 150 minutes per week can effectively improve heart health, prevent diabetes, lessen the chance for cancer and other diseases, and improve both mental and overall health.

 

To be effective, exercise needs to include three basic types:

Strengthening exercise

Flexibility exercise

Aerobic exercise

What this looks like for each individual is different. Each person must understand what forms of these exercises work best for their unique situations. For example, someone with a desk job may need to break their cardio exercises into shorter segments three times a day to help them keep moving. Someone with severe osteoarthritis may need to perform weight bearing exercises in a pool verses walking on a treadmill. Yoga can be an optimal way to gain flexibility, and lower stress and improve core strength. However, someone with joint arthritis may not tolerate this form of class and will need a customized modification.

We can help you find a balanced exercise program that is perfect for you. We offer all of our patients a complimentary annual wellness exam to check progress and discuss evolving overall health goals.

NUTRITION

At Mpact, we embrace a simple nutrition philosophy: If nature made it, eat it; if man made it, leave it.

 

Eating high quality, whole, and natural foods—the way we find them in nature, or as close to that as possible—is the key to living a life of abundant health. This idea was originated by leading nutritionist Mark Hyman, MD. In his new book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? he synthesizes the best aspects of leading nutritional philosophies and integrates them with the anti-inflammatory and detoxification principles of Functional Medicine to create a balanced, inclusive dietary plan that is changing lives.

 

Here are a few important dietary principles we should all be following to live a healthier, more active and more productive life:

Eat mostly plants

Consume lots of colorful, low glycemic vegetables and fruits. This should be 75 percent of your diet and your plate. Try to eat a rainbow of colors every day and pick one new vegetable or fruit to try each time you visit the grocery store.

Focus on the glycemic load of your diet

Eat foods that are low in sugar and high in fiber and combine complex carbohydrates with some protein and healthy fats. For example, berries are a better choice than bananas due to their glycemic load. And eating a sweet potato with coconut oil helps slow the absorption of its carbs.

Eat the right fats

Stay away from most vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, corn, and especially soybean oil which now comprises about 10 percent of our calories and lead to inflammation and disease. Focus instead on omega-3 fats from wild-caught fish, nuts, coconut, olive oil, avocados, and yes, even saturated fat from grass-fed or sustainably raised animals. These will support your brain, which is made up mostly of fat, and they’re necessary for absorbing many types of vitamins.

Focus on nuts and seeds

Eat almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, flax, chia, hemp, sesame, pumpkin, and others. They are full of protein, minerals, and good fats and they lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Avoid dairy

Goat or sheep products are acceptable, but only as a treat and always organic.

Avoid gluten and most grains

They raise blood sugar, can trigger autoimmunity, and there is no beneficial component of grains that you can’t find in better, higher quality foods like a rainbow of non-starchy vegetables

Eat beans sparingly

Lentils are best and contain the most protein. Stay away from large, starchy beans.

Eat meat or animal products as a condiment, not a main course

Vegetables should take center stage and meat should be a side dish. There is no compromise for quality regarding meat: grass-fed/pasture-raised protein or wild-caught fish only.

Think of sugar/sweeteners as an occasional treat

This goes for sugars in all their various forms. Always use sparingly, but stick with: molasses, organic palm sugar, date sugar, monk fruit, pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, honey, stevia and erythritol.

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