Author Archives: Peter Braglia, D.C.

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What To Look For in a Pillow

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Nothing starts your day off better than getting a good night’s sleep. And sleeping with the right pillow is key.

But think about it – when you bought your mattress, you probably put a considerable amount of thought into the purchase. Things like size, material, comfort and cost were considered – and it most likely was not an easy decision. But when was the last time you gave your pillow the same thought?

While comfort plays a big role in how we choose the perfect pillow, there’s more to consider, especially when coming from someone like myself – namely support and alignment of your neck and spine. A lot of people think pillows are designed just for your head, but really a pillow needs to be designed to support your neck. Just like sleeping in the wrong position – if you’re on the wrong pillow, you can actually end up with an injury (like a pinched nerve).

The following four tips will help you get the right pillow and a  great night of sleep:

1. Thickness

You always want your neck to be in a neutral position when you are lying on your pillow. If it is not in a neutral position it can irritate the muscles and nerves in your neck causing you to wake up with a possibly sore neck, headaches, numbness and tingling, and worse. No matter what avoid buying a pillow that is too big or too small for you. So how do you do that?

First, when you lie down in your favorite sleeping position, you’ll want that pillow to fill the gap between your head and your shoulders. Then, you’ll want to take a look at your posture. If you’re lying on your back with your head on the pillow, your ear should be in line with your shoulder, not in front or behind it. If you’re lying on your side, your spine should be close to horizontal; your head shouldn’t dip down or be propped up too much. If you’re stomach sleeping (TIP: Don’t) – you really don’t need to use a pillow.

2. Material

Because comfort is highly subjective, the material of your pillow is largely up to you. The key here is the right material that works with you that keeps you comfortable but also in proper alignment. Whatever you choose be sure the pillow is firm enough to stay a consistent shape. With some materials you will often wake up with the side you generally sleep on becoming almost flat. With the pillow being consistent in shape it allows you to retain a proper sleeping and neck position all night long.

No matter the material,  a pillow is likely to begin losing it’s shape and support within about two years, when it’s a good idea to purchase a replacement. And considering the dirt, oil, dead skin cells and dust mites that can accumulate in your pillow, you might want to replace it even more regularly, anyway.

3. Shape

There are many different shapes of pillows, from your classic that looks fluffy, to the more complex and contoured. The truth again is that it really depends on your sleep position as to what shape you need your pillow to be. If you sleep on your back, you’ll need a thinner pillow, so your head and neck remain neutral and isn’t thrown too far forward. A cervical curve in the lower portion of the pillow would also be beneficial to promote the normal curve of your neck. If you sleep on your side you’ll need a firmer pillow to fill in the distance between the ear and outside shoulder – and a cervical curve would not be necessary.

Side Note: At True Health, we offer the Proper Pillow to our patients because it is the only pillow that I’ve found that allows you to sleep in proper alignment for both back and side sleepers.

4. Cost

Just because a pillow has a million features does not mean it is the right pillow for you. With that being said, when it comes to the price tag, anything $20 or under is probably cutting corners somewhere. A mid-range pillow is more than sufficient – and will probably run you $40 to $80, while anything over that mark is high-end luxury and you’re probably paying for marketing and packaging more than comfort.

 


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The Genetics Excuse

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A lot of people that I come into contact with truly believe that within their family history lies their fate. In other words, because in their family history there are instances of  heart disease, arthritis or cancer, there is nothing that they can do to prevent themselves from getting these diseases.

While it’s true that some of us carry genes that make us more susceptible to cancer, heart disease,and diabetes just to name a few, it is also true that for these genes to cause disease, they must be turned ON. In fact recent research has shown that genetics contributes only about 30% to disease susceptibility while an individual”s environment contributes upwards of 70%. So, as long as these genes are turned OFF, you are safe.

Now, you might be asking yourself, what is it that turns these switches “ON”?

The answer is several factors contribute:

  • STRESS
  • PHYSICAL TRAUMA
  • ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS
  • NUTRITION

At True Health, we address all of these factors with our patients from the initial visit. Through specific chiropractic adjustments, we correct and restore normal structure/function to your spine and nervous system resulting from years of repetitive stress, tension, and countless traumas. Through our purification program, we eliminate toxins stored in your body from the air that we breathe, the food that we eat, and the water that we drink. And finally, we offer easy to implement nutritional advice and high quality whole food supplements.

The truth is that our genes are being changed moment by moment by the environment of our thoughts and feelings as well as the environment of our families, homes, work, friends and where we live. We assign mental and emotional meaning to facts that are as important to gene activation as the facts themselves. Even the thoughts you are having about the coming week are wired into your brain and act as stimulus for genetic expression.

Environmental changes that make it easier for people to overeat, and harder for people to get enough physical activity, have played a key role in triggering the recent surge of preventable disease. So, if we become more aware that our environment – the physical, social, political, and economic surroundings – greatly influences how much we eat and how active we are. We can continue living our life the same way, or we can make a change now to ensure good health for years to come.

The Bottom Line

What science tells us is that healthy environments and lifestyles can counteract any gene-related risks.

What you can do:  maintain normal structural alignment coupled with a healthy lifestyle so that your body is the best it can be to throw off potential illness.


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Studies Prove Your Child Needs Vitamin D

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From 2000 to 2014 there was an increase in the rate of vitamin D deficiency diagnosis among children, according to a study published online Feb. 3 in Pediatrics.

The researchers found that from 2008 to 2014 there was a 15 fold increase in rate of vitamin D deficiency diagnosis. Diagnosis rates were higher in boys versus girls aged <5 years, while rates were higher in girls aged ≥10 years. “There has been a marked increase in diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency in children over the past decade,” the authors write.

Now, the next question should be: Why is this important? The reason is that Vitamin D is an essential genetic requirement for human wellness and prevention. It aids in proper function of the immune system, cardiovascular health, bone growth and repair and for overall wellness.

While it’s true that there are dietary sources of Vitamin D, they are NOT sufficient. We were designed to get our Vitamin D from sun exposure. This poses another problem as studies have also shown that children are spending less time outdoors than ever before.

This is why we recommend children (and adults) supplement with Vitamin D3 – the same form of Vitamin D that is produced by sun exposure. Ask us about the Vitamin D drops we carry on your next visit to our office.

 


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How to Create a Natural Medicine Cabinet

It seems that each and every day I get similar questions from patients at True Health on what they can do to ensure their health and optimize their chiropractic care. I’ve posted before on what to do when you’re sick – however – I haven’t touched on what to always have on hand at home. So, if you’re inclined to take a more natural approach to your family’s health, the following are a number of great items to keep on hand.

Remember these added health essentials are important, but the most important aspect of your health is an optimally functioning nervous system so your body can adapt and thrive through stressful life situations.

Aloe

Fresh Aloe Vera gel is the perfect first responder for burns, small cuts, blisters, and insect bites. It’s instantly cooling and soothing, and helps reduce inflammation and ward off bruising. You can also harvest aloe gel and freeze it in small amounts (in an ice cube tray, for instance) to use later on sunburns. Used topically, aloe gel can also heal psoriasis, soothe eczema, shrink warts, and prevent scarring.

Oregano Oil

This is probably the go to supplement (after an adjustment, of course) in our house if someone is starting feel like they may be getting sick. A few drops under the tongue several times a day does the trick. Oregano oil has wide-reaching health benefits, but is most associated with respiratory and immune system health. This herbal oil also has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Just remember it’s incredibly strong (so dilute with children). 

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Elderberry

Elderberry is the winter season immune booster in our house, especially with our children as it tastes great. Elderberry supports immune function with an affinity for the respiratory tract and is rich with Vitamin C and packed with flavonoids.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential nutrient that is used during almost every chemical process of the body. It is also one of the most common deficiencies in the United States. Magnesium is great for constipation, cramping, asthma, headaches, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, and GERD. Be careful to not take too much in the beginning because it can cause gastrointestinal upset. I recommend and carry Natural Calm in the office.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar has an arrange of things it can help with stopping the build up of the lactic acid during exercise, promote GI comfort, and a facial toner.  Upset stomachs, fungal infections, acne, dandruff, and sore throats can all be treated with apple cider vinegar. Whether ingested or used topically, apple cider vinegar is safe for kids of all ages (if diluted) as well as pets. 

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Arnica

It’s the first thing we grab for every bump, scrape, tussle, and wipeout our little ones encounter. Arnica, available in pellets, gel or cream form, is an herb in the sunflower family that reduces bruising and topically treats pain immediately.

Coconut Oil

Mostly everyone has heard of this one, and while coconut oil is an ideal food for fostering health and beauty from the inside out, it also has a staggering number of other uses (too many to list here), from topical beauty applications to first aid treatments, to general household cleaning

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Tea Tree Oil

Also known as melaleuca, tea tree is another staple in almost every natural medicine cabinet. It is a strong antibacterial and  it’s a tough opponent of fungal infections of the skin like ring worm and athlete’s foot. A few drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle of filtered water makes a great all-purpose antibacterial cleaner for surfaces in your home.

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Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a mild astringent that works to soothe skin irritation, itching, and burns. It also contains tannins which help to repair broken skin, so it’s not only safe to use on cuts and scrapes, but it will help them heal faster. An alcohol-free formula is preferable if you’re planning to use it on a baby’s sensitive skin.

 

Himalayan Sea Salt

Gargling a ½ teaspoon in a warm 8 oz. glass of water helps relieve sore throats. Bacteria is only made to survive and certain climates within the body. Specifically high salt content helps eliminate the bacteria. The salt also helps with pain relief and aids with soothing your throat. 

*Please take note that these are not a cure for any condition, but have been known to aid in the healing process. 


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7 Ways to Stay Well This Winter

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The key to staying well in the winter is treating your body well and feeding it what it needs to fight off invaders and not let them get a toehold. Remember, your body is an incredible complex of systems, and your behaviors and choices will determine the health and vitality of those systems, especially the immune system. Here’s a roundup of my favorite, easy-to-incorporate wellness tips to help keep your defenses strong all winter long:

1. Eat (or Drink) Your Greens

The more dark, leafy greens you can work into your diet, the better. All that good green stuff is filled with fiber, which is exactly what your good gut bacteria love to feast on. And, when our good bacteria are well-fed, they’re armed and fortified to help keep your immunity high. Greens also supply you with nutrient-dense antioxidants and phytonutrients so you can power through the day without a caffeine or sugar drip. Add fresh leafy greens to breakfast, lunch and dinner, drink smoothies and keep a supply of high-quality greens powder in your fridge or at the office so you can stir up a glass of immunity-supporting greens anytime.

2. Be Well Adjusted

Chiropractic care helps us to stay well by impacting our immune system. In our bodies there are numerous modes of communication between the nervous system and the immune system. The nervous system has a direct effect on the immune system due to the nerve supply to the important immune system organs. As chiropractors, we have a direct influence over the nervous system. We now know through research that chiropractic care has beneficial effects on immunoglobulins, B-lymphocytes (white blood cells), pulmonary function and other immune system processes.

3. Stay Hydrated

This is an easy one to follow in the summer, but come winter, you may not feel as parched. However, staying hydrated is still crucial to keeping your body running at its best. Keeping yourself well-watered throughout this season is equally important. Staying well-hydrated helps thin the mucus in your lungs and sinuses, making it easier for your body to clear the sludgy stuff out of your system — so in addition to lots of water cozy up to soothing herbal teas, hot water with lemon and hot, healthy beverages until the warmer weather returns.

4. Listen To Your Mom

Frequent hand-washing, using soap and hot water and rubbing vigorously for about half a minute, is crucial. Virtually any shared item – such as printers, copy machines, the office fridge handles, restroom door knobs, pens and touch screens at the grocery store, elevator buttons and so on – are excellent places to pick up whatever ills may be going around, so wash hands frequently  – not with the antibacterial stuff – and keep your paws away from your nose and mouth until you’re able to wash up.

Keep surfaces clean, wiping them down frequently with non-toxic green cleaners. That goes double if you’ve got school-aged kids bringing home tons of germs every day. Also make sure the kids get into the hand-washing groove as soon as they cross the threshold.

5. Fill in the Gaps

When it comes to fighting off seasonal ills, I believe in stacking the immunity deck and giving your body a helping hand. My go-to winter wellness arsenal includes: A daily, high-quality probiotic: Packed with billions of organisms to keep your gut — which houses most of your immune system — in top form. Vitamin D3: Vitamin D plays a vital role in our immune system and its ability to fight off pathogens. Here in New England- from October to April we recommend supplementing Vitamin D-3 from a whole food source. It is important to use a bioavailable whole food form of vitamin D, complete with the amino acids and sterols, because this will help catalyze mineral utilization and absorption. Elderberry extract: Elderberry is the winter season go-to for all ages, especially children as it tastes great. It’s an antiviral herb that supports immune function with an affinity for the respiratory tract and is rich with Vitamin C and packed with flavonoids.

6. Get Outside

Granted, you’ll need to bundle up, but take a few minutes every day when the sun is visibly shining to have a brief wintertime sunbath. Doing so will help regulate your circadian rhythms (a.k.a. your sleep/wake cycle) — which impacts everything from your body temperature to your hormones to your weight — and help lift your spirits (improved mood helps boost immunity). You’ll also boost your Vitamin D levels.

7. Keep Moving in the Cold

You don’t have to go outside to move more throughout the day. Try fashioning a DIY standing desk or workstation or simply do a few laps around the office when you can as the weather cools. Try a workout at home, have a dance party, play with your kids, anything to get your body moving in the winter.


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