Homemade Disinfectant Put To The Test!

homemade disinfectant

In Part 1 of this article series I wrote about a powerful disinfectant called hypochlorous acid (HOCL). Something strong enough to kill viruses and bacteria on contact. Hypochlorous acid is a chemical free, safe, all-natural disinfectant which is safe for humans, plants, and animals. This part of the series will focus on how to make homemade disinfectant by producing HOCL with a few simple household items and a generator.

how to make at home sanitizer

How To Make Homemade Disinfectant Spray Using HOCL

To begin you will need 5 things:

  1. Water (preferably reverse osmosis water which is slightly acidic)
  2. Kosher Salt (you need salt that is non-iodized and fine, so it dissolves faster)
  3. Vinegar (regular vinegar will do without any additives)
  4. A mister or spray bottle
  5. A Hypochlorous Acid generator

The generator will be your greatest cost. They run anywhere from $50 to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the type of use. However, you will not need the very expensive industrial models. For regular households and office cleaning they are modestly priced between $60 – $350.

I purchased several units and found two particular machines were the best according to their claims. One was the Force of Nature device for home use. The other was a larger capacity unit (up to 1.5L) made by Ecoloxtech for both home and office use. However, there are pros and cons to consider with both of these units.

Force Of Nature Hypochlorous Acid Generator

Pros:

The Force of Nature is more economical of the two units with a clean design and easy to use. The starter package comes with a supply of pre-mixed solution containing vinegar and sodium which removes any guess work. All you have to do is:

  1. Plug the device in
  2. Pour in enough water to the fill line
  3. Open the capsule and empty its contents into the machine
  4. Press the power button

Et Voila! In 8 minutes, you have enough disinfectant to fill a spray bottle (that comes with the kit).

Cons:

There are two cons to this device.

  1. You are encouraged to only buy their “proprietary” capsules when you run out. If you live in Canada, this cost can add up considering the items are in US dollars and you have to add shipping and taxes to the final amount.
  2. It makes a relatively small amount of solution.  Therefore, it may fall short of your needs if you are a clean freak. I found that for home use my spray bottle lasts about 7-10 days. However, at my office I was using two capsules every 4 days.

DIY How To Make Your Own Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) - EcoloxTech Eco One

Ecoloxtech Hypochlorous Acid Generator

Ecoloxtech was the next unit I purchased which had a larger capacity (up to 1.5 L). It was also ordered from the US and the more expensive of the two sold for $259 (USD not including shipping, duties, and taxes).

Pros:

  • Simple lightweight design
  • Ease of use
  • Ability to produce up to 1.5 L of HOCL
  • Free and fast shipping
  • Measuring spoon included
  • Chlorine testing strips included
  • A bottle of potassium carbonate included (if instead of a disinfectant you wanted a powerful degreaser instead).

Like the Force of Nature, it is relatively simple and straightforward to use.

  1. Fill the device with the appropriate amount of tap water
  2. Add 2 grams of kosher salt (Optional: add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to lower pH)
  3. Close the lid and press the ON button to the desired setting

That’s it!

how to test DIY cleaner

How To Test Your Homemade Disinfectant

Now that you’re done making the disinfectant, how can you measure its concentration and pH?

If you’re a stickler for details and quality control, purchase some pH and chlorine test strips.

Measuring Concentration

In order to measure the concentration, use the chlorine test strips. After the initial 8 min cycle is complete, dip the test paper into the water and compare the colour to the scale. HOCL is a free chlorine molecule which is why it has very mild chlorine scent that is more fresh than irritating. It’s easy to test the concentration in measurements of 10, 50, 100, and 200 parts per million (ppm) using these simple chlorine strips.

Measuring pH

The pH is important because the amount of available HOCL depends on the acidity of the solution. According to the Ecoloxtech website: (1)

At pH 5, over 99% of the free chlorine molecules will be HOCl. With pH 6, over 90% of the free chlorine molecules will be HOCl. At pH 7, over 80% of the free chlorine molecules will be HOCl. And at pH 8, only 20% of the free chlorine molecules will be HOCl.

 Ideally, when checking the pH after a cycle, you want the finished product to be between pH 5-7. I use reverse osmosis (RO) water because it is “dead” water and slightly acidic. This ensures a higher amount of HOCL molecules are in your solution. You don’t necessarily have to use RO water as regular tap water will do the trick.

safest cleaning products

How Long Is The Disinfectant Active For?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors. After you are satisfied with the concentration you’ll want to transfer the contents to a sealed spray bottle. My spray bottles are covered on the outside. This prevents UV light to penetrate the solution causing it to degrade. I also store it at room temperature away from direct sunlight.

Even with all these precautionary measures, hypochlorous acid concentration decreases about 1% a day. In other words, if you generated 200 ppm, it would be at around 180 ppm in a couple weeks. Therefore, I recommend using it up within a couple weeks to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Other Uses For HOCL Besides Disinfection

There are numerous uses besides disinfection of hard surfaces. For those requiring more information and research, click here for the multiple uses of HOCL.

Can HOCL Be Used As Hand Sanitizer?

Yes! Hypochlorous acid is a chemical free, safe, all-natural disinfectant which is safe for humans, plants, and animals. In fact:

HOCl acid can also be used in place of hand sanitizer with no irritating side effects. Moreover, punch HOCL delivers to pathogens is more powerful than the one delivered by alcohol.

References:
  1. https://ecoloxtech.com/e1

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for informational use only. Do your own due diligence before investing in any of the products mentioned. It is possible to generate higher concentrations of solution by running multiple cycles of electrolysis which can significantly increase the potency of the end-product.

Sodium Hypochlorite, The Magic Chemical You Didn’t Know You Needed!

sodium hypochlorite for hand sanitizer

If you’re a business owner like me you’ve probably noticed your bill for sanitary products skyrocket. The obvious cause for this influx is the coronavirus and its potential infectibility on surfaces (although,  the jury is still out on this). In addition, you likely experienced frustration due to temporary shortages both online and in stores. Demand for hand sanitizers has risen exponentially. Furthermore, it looks like it’s not going to change any time soon! Therefore I want to introduce you to something called, sodium hypochlorite.

Sodium Hypochlorite is an alternative that is;

  • Safe
  • Cost-effective
  • Strong enough to kill viruses on contact
most effective hand sanitizer

Not All Sanitizers Are Created Equal

Now, it’s important to note that there are strict guidelines when it comes to hand sanitizers. For example, according to the Health Canada website, hand sanitizer must contain at least 60%-70% alcohol in order for it to be effective. (1)

But here’s the problem.

hand sanitizer for kids

High alcohol content can be fatal. For instance, if a child was to get their hands on it and ingest it. In fact, according to data from the Canadian Poison Control Centre;

“the number of reported incidents related to hand sanitizer has increased in 2020 compared to 2019. Up to 4.5-fold higher on a month-to-month basis.” (2)

In addition, alcohol based disinfectants can also be corrosive to both materials and human skin over time. I personally learned this after months of use on my clinical equipment, ugh!

So, what if there was an alternative? Something that didn’t require household toxic ingredients such bleach?

how to kill bacteria

The Power Of Hypochlorous Acid – HOCL

One day my dentist and I were speaking and he mentioned a disinfectant that I had never heard of before. It was called, Hypochlorous Acid or HOCL. What sparked my interest is how relatively easy and cheap it is to make. Yet, still strong enough for dental professionals to disinfect their equipment. In fact, HOCL is a powerful oxidant and is 100 times more efficient at killing bacteria than chlorine bleach or sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl).

Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) - Devices & Products for COVID 19 Protection

The Facts About HOCL

At first, I was skeptical. However, why would my dentist lie to me I thought to myself? As usual when I hear something that is too good to be true, I decided to look into this revelation further.

First off I needed to learn about the chemistry involved. Second, it’s safety and effectiveness. Then, lastly, whether public health agencies approved its use to kill bacteria and viruses. Especially it’s effectiveness on the coronavirus.

I was surprised at the amount of data and research involving hypochlorous acid. Not to mention all the research specifically focused on coronaviruses. (4)  HOCL had actually been used in the medical field since World War 1! Even the American Environmental Protection Agency as well as Health Canada recognize that;

hypochlorous acid may be applied to: Food-contact surfaces in public eating places, dairy-processing equipment, and food-processing equipment and utensils.(5)

OK, I’m Convinced, But How Do I Make It???

Make sure you read PART 2 of this article for how to make this powerful disinfectant.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for informational use only. Do your own due diligence before investing in any of the products mentioned. It is possible to generate higher concentrations of solution by running multiple cycles of electrolysis which can significantly increase the potency of the end-product.
References:
  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/cleaning-disinfecting.html
  2. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/disinfectants/covid-19/information-manufacturers/hand-sanitizers-containers-labelling-requirements.html
  3. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/disinfectants/covid-19.html
  4. http://ecoloxtech.info/research-search-display?search=ecoloxtech
  5. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2005-title40-vol23/xml/CFR-2005-title40-vol23-sec180-940.xml

Text Neck Syndrome

text neck

Chiropractors are reporting more cases of strain than ever before.  Commonly referred to as text neck, resulting from the overuse of today’s tech such as cell phones or tablets.  I often squirm when observing guests using their cell phones at my office.  They all tend to mimic this horrifying posture:

  • Flexed at the hip
  • Hunch-backed
  • Staring down at their mobile device (sometimes just inches from the screen)

I jokingly say that it’s just a matter of time before our bodies merge with technology and we transform into robo-humans.

Ideal Posture

First, allow me to clarify that I’m excluding individuals who suffer from specific spinal conditions.  Our spines are generally capable of handling certain loads and stresses without injury.  If not, we would all be suffering from some form of spinal damage each time we carried something heavy or engaged in activities requiring us to be in less than ideal postures.  However, this doesn’t mean that repetitive movements don’t have a detrimental effect on our spines long-term.  Rather that we are built to take on high amounts of physical stress.

Due to gravity, our bodies constantly endure downward stress on our spines.  This usually occurs without injury every day.  There is an argument to be made about what the “ideal” posture is to minimize the amount of stress on our spines.

For the purpose of this article, it’s important to note that the ideal curvatures of the spine are based on theoretical models that are published in reputable peer-reviewed journals. (1)

Click here for Exercises to Help Improve Your Posture.

natural neck posture
text neck posture

How To Evaluate Your Posture

There are two simple ways to visualize your posture at home; the side and front.  From the side, draw a line (often called a plumb line) connecting your ear to your shoulder joint (AC joint) to the hip, knee and ankle.  Observe how these landmarks fall in line.

Next, observe your posture from the front.  Note any deviations left or right that you notice if you were to draw a line splitting your image in two through the middle.  Anything falling outside of the line would be considered “out of alignment”.  A health professional would analyze the effect that your posture has on your musculoskeletal system.

For more information consult a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist to have your posture assessed for a more detailed analysis.

Physical Proof

Research has been published on the health consequences associated with poor spinal or postural alignment.  Thoracic kyphosis (hunch-back syndrome) for example, has been associated with the following health concerns (2):

  • Impaired physical function,
  • Pain and disability,
  • Impaired pulmonary function,
  • Increased mortality

As a practicing chiropractor, I have seen first-hand the clinical benefits of reducing excessive curvatures in my office.  Patients who had their mis-alignment addressed have reported less aches and pains, improved breathing, better sleep, and overall improved physical function.

What Texting Does To Your Neck

How ‘Text Neck’ Affects Your Spine

As your head leaves the plumb line it effectively weighs more.  The effective head weight in some individuals can result in it weighing as much as 60lbs more than their natural head weight!  Can you imagine the consequence over time of that posture on our bodies?!  This leads to an increased demand on the soft tissues of your neck and back to hold the head in a forward position for an extended amount of time.

Obviously, limiting the amount of forward and flexed head posture to shorter duration’s helps to minimize the stress on your body.  Since our spines are resilient, it is able to withstand these movements under normal circumstances as stated earlier.  Otherwise, we would all be suffering from neck and back pain every time we used our mobile devices.

Reality Of Technology

This is the point at which we may start feeling the effects on our bodies.  Strain on our muscles, joints, discs and eyes are entirely possible if we are using technology for most of the day.  It’s also possible that we will ultimately feel the strain after having our head forward and flexed for a long period of time.  In my opinion, this is a learned behaviour and as such can be unlearned.  Therefore, try to limit your exposure to mobile devices for short periods of time.

But the reality is that technology and the applications that we are accessing on our mobile devices are highly addictive.  This causes us to keep our heads glued to our phones or tablets for an extended period of time.  Many cell phone manufacturers now include a timer with the newest operating system update in order to detail the amount of time you spend on your phone.  I would argue that these companies knew all along just how addictive their products were, as it was built into the design.

Posture Test

Tips To Implement Change

  • Limit your use of cell phones to help protect from text neck.
  • Pay attention to the metrics of phone use and see where most of your time is spent.
  • If social media is the culprit, assign a specific time during the day that you will check your news feed.
  • Get out of the habit of feeling “FOMO” (fear of missing out) when checking social media.
  • Set the notifications on your device to OFF no matter how many times the app reminds you to do otherwise. This way the device doesn’t rule over you and you avoid constantly checking your phone each time you receive a Like, Share, or Comment on social media platforms.

If after trying all these tips you still find yourself in pain, consult with a health professional trained to address your concerns. See a Chiropractor!  The master system controlling all your body’s function and healing is your nervous system.  It controls all your muscles, cells, glands, organs, and tissues.  Removing interference to your nervous system and addressing the underlying cause of your problem is the only way to truly heal.

Click here to learn more about your Nervous System – What Conventional Medicine Doesn’t Want You To Know.

 

References:
1. https://idealspine.com/cbp-research/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26378354

Chronic Neck Pain Solutions

neck pain

Neck pain is a common symptom suffered by the worlds population.  Studies have shown that in general, women suffer chronic neck pain more than men. (1) Literally everyone I know has experienced neck pain in their life at one point or another.  Believe me, they make it known to me at social outings.

However,  this story is about me and a nagging case of pain in the lower left side of my neck of 2 months duration.  Just typing out that sentence brings me back to that uncomfortable feeling.  Every day I woke up with this feeling and it never really went away.  I tried everything from massage to exercises and even multiple chiropractors.  Of all three interventions, I found certain chiropractic adjustments to be the most successful in eliminating the pain.

chronic neck pain

Daily Routine, Daily Neck Pain

Just like the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray, I would go to sleep, wake up and go through the pain all over again.  What a nuisance!  It wasn’t debilitating as I could still function rather well.  Anyone, reading this right now who has been in my position knows precisely what I’m writing about.  I’m sure it resonates with many readers.

People assume that since health professionals deal with these musculoskeletal problems daily with their patients, we take heed of the advice we provide.  In this case, I missed a very important question I ask my patients or they ask me during their care.

What Position Do I Sleep In To Avoid Chronic Neck Pain?

Typically, most individuals sleep in one of three positions.  On their back, side, or on their stomach.  I’d prefer patients sleep either on their back or on their side as it may cause the least amount of stress on your back.  Stomach sleeping appears to put the most strain on your back and neck so it’s the least desirable of the three sleeping positions.

Proper sleeping positions - Dr. Nenos on Hamilton Life

What Kind Of Pillow Should I Use?

The pillow market is saturated with options.  There is a variety of pillows out there that I could write a whole paper on the topic.  However, I would rather tell you how to choose the right pillow for your sleeping position.

Back Sleep Position

If you are sleeping on your back, you require a very thin pillow or no pillow at all. The reason behind this recommendation is that your spine needs to be in “neutral position.” Using a large pillow or several smaller pillows for example, would move your spine away from neutral into a flexed position and thus may cause strain.

A neutral spine is the natural position of the spine when its three curves (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar) are in proper alignment.  This is a very stable position for the spine to be in.  When it deviates away from neutral it can apply pressures to parts of the spine that may result in pain and discomfort.

Side Sleep Position

If your desired sleeping position is on your side, which happens to be my preferred sleeping position, a proper pillow keeping your neck in neutral position with another pillow in between the knees is ideal.  Here is a video demonstrating this side sleeping position with proper pillow support.

Stomach Sleep Position

Stomach sleeping places the most stress on the spine. However, a number of patients have expressed to me that it is the only position they are able to fall asleep in. Having uninterrupted sleep is important and vital for proper body functioning. I talk about the number of hours you need to achieve that in this TV segment.

Sleep deprivation is a serious problem affecting many people.  If sleeping on your stomach is the only position that allows you to fall and stay asleep, then I recommend placing a pillow under your stomach to minimize the pressure placed on your back.  If you want more tips,  click here to read Bedtime Woe’s? – 5 Simple Tips For Blissful Zzzz’s.

How To Find The Right Pillow - The Pillow Test

The Solution For Chronic Neck Pain

As chiropractors, we are tasked with finding the cause of a complaint and not necessarily treating the symptom itself.  In my case, I made the mistake of searching for symptom relief thus forgetting the fundamental principle of locating the cause of the problem that you are treating.  Chiropractors as well as manual therapists can help people address problems like this.  If you’ve tried to alleviate the pain on your own with little to no success, seek out help as we may be able to discover the cause of the irritation.

My clinic sells water-based pillows that allows the pillow to adapt to shifting sleeping positions.  Personally, I find this very beneficial for people that move around in their sleep.  Have you ever fallen asleep in one position and woken up in an entirely different position or part of the bed?  This type of pillow may be of help.

Water-based pillows are associated with reduced morning pain intensity, increased pain relief, and improved quality of sleep according to a study. (2) For more information you can visit my website and contact my office.  To watch a video on how to pick the perfect pillow, click here!

What Was The Solution To My Problem?

My pillow was too high for my neck position.  How could I forget! I  had placed too much water in the pillow which had shifted my neck position from neutral to a side-flexed position.  Add 6-8 hours of sleep in an awkward position and of course you will wake up with chronic neck pain every day!  Since correcting for that error and continuing to see my chiropractor regularly the change was almost instantaneous.

I hope you learn from this common and simple solution to waking up with neck pain.  For more information, click here for my  Top Ten Tricks To Get The Best Sleep EVER!

Reference:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489448/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9041902

Chiropractic Care Study Reveals Surprising Results

chiropractic care

Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common and costly problems in the world today [1]. While it is not the sole reason people choose to seek Chiropractic care, it is the most common [2, 3]. Most Chiropractors recommend maintenance care (MC) after the resolution of a patient’s primary complaint [4] and is generally offered as a secondary or tertiary prevention strategy.

Until recently, empirical evidence investigating the effectiveness of MC was scarce. The alternative to MC is to discontinue care and instruct the patient to schedule a new visit when they experience a new episode of pain or when the patient perceives a need (symptom- guided treatment). In other words: one is controlled by the doctor (maintenance care), the other is controlled by the patient (symptom-guided treatment). So, which is more appropriate? Let’s look at the evidence!

This article examines the outcomes of a pragmatic randomized controlled trial that investigated the effectiveness of MC for patients with recurrent or persistent low back pain. The study compared MC to symptom-guided treatment with regard to the total number of days with bothersome LBP over 52 weeks, the prevalence of days with pain per week over time, and the total number of treatments.

Are Chiropractors Doctors?

Chiropractic Care Study Results

Treatments mainly consisted of spinal adjustments followed by information and/or advice. The total number of days with bothersome LBP over 52 weeks was significantly less in the maintenance care group. Patients who received MC had approximately 13 fewer days of bothersome LBP over 12 months compared to patients who only sought care when a new episode of pain occurs. The MC group also had a FASTER reduction in days with bothersome LBP and reached a lower steady state earlier.

While maintenance care resulted in only a slightly higher number of visits to the Chiropractor, it was MORE effective than symptom-guided treatment in reducing the total number of days in a year with bothersome low back pain.

Although these results may be surprising to you, they don’t surprise clinicians that offer maintenance care. It’s a valuable step towards validating the prevention strategy used by many Chiropractors around the world for the benefit of their patients who suffer from persistent or recurrent low back pain.

Click here to find a chiropractor near you!

chiropractic benefits

Further Reading

People who enjoyed this article also viewed:

References

1. Hoy D, March L, Brooks P, Blyth F, Woolf A, Bain C, et al. The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014; 73(6):968–74. https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204428 PMID: 24665116

2. Leboeuf-Yde C, Hennius B, Rudberg E, Leufvenmark P, Thunman M. Chiropractic in Sweden: a short descriptionof patients and treatment. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1997; 20(8):507–10. PMID:9345678

3. Sorensen LP, Stochkendahl MJ, Hartvigsen J, Nilsson NG. Chiropractic Patients in Denmark 2002: An Expanded Description and Comparison With 1999 Survey. J Manip Physiol Ther. 2006; 29(6):419–24.

4. Axen I, Jensen IB, Eklund A, Halasz L, Jorgensen K, Lange F, et al. The Nordic Maintenance Care Pro- gram: when do chiropractors recommend secondary and tertiary preventive care for low back pain? Chiropr Osteopat. 2009; 17:1. https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-1340-17-1 PMID: 19161611

Stroke And Heart Attack Linked To Drinking This!

stroke and heart attack

The power of the brain and nervous system amazes me.  A system that controls literally every process and function in the body.  Therefore, I’m always interested in good research affecting the health and function of the nervous system.  Recently, I received an e-mail from a friend of mine in the US who is a practicing neurosurgeon.  The subject of the e-mail floored me. 

“Drinking two or more diet sodas a day linked to high risk of stroke and heart attack.” (1)

I needed to learn more.  So, I clicked on the link and pulled up the research studies they were referring to.  Why?  Because the media is NOTORIOUS for misrepresenting research and misleading the public just to increase viewership.  

stroke and heart attack

Are We Surprised?

Let me state that for many health professionals, the findings of this study aren’t a surprise.  I would even argue that the majority of us with an interest in nutrition are well aware of the dangers of consuming artificially sweetened beverages on a regular basis.  We know that previous research has already shown soft drinks (both diet and regular) to be associated with a number of health risks.  Stroke and dementia (2), diabetes (3), obesity (4), and metabolic syndrome (5) which is a precursor to heart disease are just a few. 

Click here to read more about how drinking diet soda increases your risk of stroke 3-fold.

What Did The Data Reveal?

Drinking two or more of any kind of soft drink increased the risk of stroke and heart attacks.  Early death in women over 50 years of age was also reported.  The study sample included over 81,000 people.  However, Only 5% of them actually consumed two or more diet soda beverages.  What is interesting about this study is that these findings were reported after they accounted for age, ethnicity, Body Mass Index, and blood pressure.  These women didn’t have a history of stroke, heart disease, or diabetes.  All confounding variables that lead to heart attacks and strokes. 

Also, they found that physical activity and diet were the same between people who drank two or more diet soft drinks and those who didn’t.  After controlling for all these factors, the study found the following;

  • Women who consumed 2+ diet drinks a day were 31% more likely to have a clot-based stroke
  • 29% more likely to have heart disease
  • 16% more likely to die from any cause than the women who either drank less or none at all

Whose Risks Were The Highest?

  1. Women aged 50-79.
  2. If you were African-American.
  3. If you had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30+.

Stroke and Dementia Risk, Linked to Artificial Sweeteners

What Do The Results Tell Us?

For one, switching to diet sodas and juices with artificial sweeteners is not necessarily a “healthier” option.  They are both bad.  These studies don’t tell us outright that consuming soft drinks causes strokes.  However, it is safe to say the results of these long-term studies definitely raise some alarms.  

Also, it tells us that in people with no previous diseases that predispose us to heart attacks and strokes, result the exact same.  It would be interesting to look at a study that shows how long people would need to drink diet sodas before their risks start to increase.

But what is it about artificial sweeteners that increases our risk?  I am unaware if a scientific consensus exists that demonstrates causality.  Likely more research needs to be conducted before we can establish a direct causal relationship.  One explanation for the increased risk associated with artificial sweeteners may be that they alter the bacteria in the gut.  It could disrupts the body’s ability to control glucose.  If the body can’t control glucose than this can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke. (6)

Click here for my TV segment discussing the important role our gut plays in the regulation of our immune system.  Also, for helpful ways to avoid sugar, click here to read Sugar – Are you singing the sugar blues?

I’m an advocate for people breaking lifestyle habits that are unlikely to contribute to their well-being.  We are learning by way of repeated studies demonstrating similar results.  Consuming high amounts of sugar or diet sodas is ultimately going to lead to poorer health.  So next time you’re faced with a choice for a drink, maybe opt for water with lemon instead.

References:

1. CNN – Drinking two or more diet sodas a day linked to high risk of stroke heart attacks

2. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

3. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

4. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health – nutrition

5. 4. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health – nutrients

6. TIME – Diet Sodas and Juices Are Linked to Higher Stroke Risk, Study Says

Ten Tricks To Get The Best Sleep EVER!

sleeping

Poor sleep quality is a very common complaint I hear from patients in my clinic.  It’s also a multi-faceted problem that doesn’t have one solution.  Often, I find myself offering various solutions for sleeping to try to create the ideal environment for a peaceful sleep. rest.

To understand just how much of a problem sleep is we can look at the results of a StatsCan study that found, “43% of men and 55% of women aged 18 to 64 reported trouble going to sleep or staying asleep “sometimes/most of the time/all of the time.”

Why Quality Of Sleep Matters

The Canadian Health Measures Survey showed that “Short sleeping duration’s and poor sleep quality are prevalent among Canadian adults.  About one-third sleep fewer hours per night than recommended for optimal physical and mental health.  This group also experiences poor sleep quality more frequently than do those who sleep the recommended number of hours.(1)

According to these statistics it is evident that there is a high percentage of people reporting sleeping problems.

Chronic sleep problems can have detrimental health consequences as well.  Poor sleep quality and duration is “…associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, injuries, death from all causes, depression, irritability and reduced well-being…” (2)

How Many Hours Of  A Peaceful Sleep Do You Need?

For adults aged 18 to 64 are recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.  While seniors aged 65 or older should get 7 to 8 hours. (3)

Dr. Nenos talks about how many hours of sleep you actually need on Hamilton Life

What Are The Best Sleeping Positions?

Most people fall into three general positions for sleeping, back, side, and stomach.  While there are numerous arguments to be made on which is best, it comes down to what allows your spine to maintain a neutral position that is as straight as possible with little to no tilts and bends. Ensuring you have the right pillow is also essential for a painfree and peaceful sleep. Click here to take the pillow test then watch this video on how to find the right pillow.

Proper sleeping positions - Dr. Nenos on Hamilton Life

In order to address the issue, it’s important to understand the cause.  This differs for many people, however, rather than diving into the complexity of the problem, I’d like to offer the reader the following possible solutions for a peaceful sleep based on my experience.

1. Limit Your Exposure To Artificial Light At Night

Light alerts the body that it is daytime so dimming or as I do in my house, shutting off all the lights in the house a few hours before bedtime, allows me to get sleepy and fall asleep faster.  Keeping your bedroom dark may also help, just make sure the area around your bed is safe from obstacles in case you do wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom.  This is especially important for seniors who are at risk of falls.

2. Create A Regular Sleeping Schedule

Stick to a regular schedule that has you going to bed at the same time every night as well as waking up at the same time in the morning (even on weekends).  A routine for sleeping may be the momentum you need to achieving good night’s rest.

3. Turn The TV Off A Few Hours Before Bedtime

Our brains are not programmed to process motion picture for extended periods of time. Quiet your brain by reducing TV exposure before heading to bed.

4. Limit Caffeine Intake

Caffeine is a stimulant and avoiding may decrease the likelihood of being alert while lying in bed.

5. No Naps Close To Bed Time

After travelling around Europe one summer I noticed some Europeans enjoy a nice “siesta” which is an afternoon rest or nap, especially one taken during the hottest hours of the day in a hot climate. However, these naps are taken early in the afternoon which allows you have ample time to fall asleep later in the evening. Be sure to avoid taking a nap late in the afternoon as it may cause you to either fall asleep much later than anticipated or worse, not sleep at all.

6. Keep The Bedroom Cooler Than Usual

Turn down the thermostat a few degrees at night to allow your body to fall into a state of hibernation. It works for bears so it’s worth a try.

7. Draw Up A Warm Bath

A warm bath or shower helps to soothe and relax the body and prepare it for bed.

Note: a cold shower has the complete opposite effect in case you feel drowsy and sleepy during the day.

8. Avoid Using Technology In Bed

There are several reasons for this. One being that the blue light emitted from our mobile devices strains our eyes and could cause sleep disturbances. Some tech companies have even incorporated a “night shift” mode to allow your eyes to adapt to warmer colours.

9. Keep Mobile Phones And Computers Away From Your Bed

Although the jury is still out on this factor, your cell phone and computer transmit signals even when you’re not using them. Avoid the problem of radio frequencies altogether by leaving your electronic devices in the living room, far away from where you sleep.

10. See A Chiropractor!

One of the most common responses I get from patients after starting Chiropractic care is that they report better sleep.  This may due to patients having sleep disturbances as a result of spinal related problems.  Since many find relief while addressing their back problems, it may explain why a significant number of those patients report better sleep as an unintended, but much appreciated, side benefit of being under Chiropractic care.

Be sure to check with your health practitioner first before attempting any of these suggestions.

Also, do you find that it’s a struggle to get the kids asleep or better yet stay asleep?Click here to read, Why Do We Make Young Children Sleep Alone?

Sweet dreams!

References:

1. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2017009/article/54857-eng.htm
2. Institute of Medicine Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research. Colten HR, Altevogt BM, eds. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2006.
3. Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM, et al. National Sleep Foundation’s updated sleep duration recommendations: Final report. Sleep Health 2015; 1: 233-43.

Become A BBQ Guru And Prepare A Tastier, Healthier BBQ In Just 10 minutes!

bbq guru

It’s officially summer!  The most wonderful time of the year. Especially if you’re a BBQ guru or connoisseur!  There’s something raw and desirable about cooking your food over a hot burning fire.  Everything about it gives me joy.  The stimulation of the senses, the grill marks, and unique flavours all add to the cooking experience of BBQ food.

However, back in the day I didn’t know any better and didn’t think about all the toxicity associated with your typical BBQ.  In fact, I can remember pouring a number of charcoal lumps, dousing them with toxic and dangerous lighting fluid and when they were hot enough, cooking some grub over the fire.

But wait!  The fire suddenly went out due to the elements!  That’s ok, throw some MORE fluid on the fire.  Ah the “good ole’ days.

Or, if you were more inclined to use a gas BBQ, you would continually burn propane to keep the fire going until you cooked your food.  For me, the idea of lighting a gas BBQ was terrifying!  All thanks to one sunny afternoon at my grandparent’s house when I scorched the hair off my arms.

As I got older and graduated from Chiropractic school, preparing healthier food became more important to me. That’s when I decided I’d had enough! I needed a better, safer, and healthier option when it came to barbecuing.

So, I Googled it.  This led me on an online search adventure that eventually landed me on a YouTube video about how to burn wood without lighting fluid in less than 10 minutes.

Here is what I learned from my journey.

best way to bbq

How To Become A BBQ Guru!

First, you will need to purchase 4–5 items from your local BBQ store.

1. A charcoal BBQ if you don’t have one (I use a Spiedini Grill)
2. Natural Fire Starter (non-toxic lighting cubes or compressed wood starter)
3. Charcoal Chimney Starter
4. Source of Fire (a match or lighter)
5. Hardwood (charred for fast lighting)

Playing With Wood Fire in Your Backyard

Step 1:

Find a non-flammable surface to start the process of burning the hardwood.  Be smart. Don’t place it on surfaces that will burn like wood or grass.  Make sure that you are doing this in an open area that is far away from your house or flammable objects.  Ask your local fire department if you are unsure but really some common sense goes a long way.

Step 2:

Take your chimney starter, which is a metallic cylinder with a heat-safe handle and dump enough hardwood into it that it reaches the top.  You don’t need to overfill the chimney as it may be a fire hazard.  If your BBQ is large, consider purchasing a couple of chimneys (I have 3 even though I’ve never used more than 2 at the same time).

Step 3:

Place 1–2 natural fire starters on a fire-proof surface or right on your grill.  Again, ensure it is in a well-ventilated area away from your house and anything flammable.  Then light the cubes or wood fire-starter using a match or lighter.

Step 4:

Place the chimney on top of the lighting cubes and wait approximately 10 minutes or until the wood is red hot.  The cubes will burn out but the chimney will keep the fire going in a blazing inferno.  Make sure you don’t leave it unattended for too long.

Step 5:

When your wood is red hot and ready, pick the chimney up safely with the handle wearing fire-resistant gloves and pour the wood into your BBQ.  Place the grill on top and let it get really hot before placing your food items on top.  To save time marinate, cut, season and prepare your grilling food items ahead of time.  Then place them on the BBQ and watch them sizzle.

Click here to read, What meat do you eat?

When the food is cooked to your liking, remove them and get ready to enjoy a succulent meal that would make any BBQ guru proud.  Above all, no more toxic lighter fluid.  No more briquettes (that may contain chemical additives for quicker lighting).  Just a little bit of nature and a couple of items from the hardware store.

For some great grilling recipes, click here to read, Victoria Day BBQ Recipes.

are naturopaths real doctors

Did You Know?

Grilled vegetables retain more of their vitamins and minerals. Also, meat cooked over an open flame actually preserves more riboflavin and thiamine. All these important vitamins and nutrients play a vital role in a healthy diet.

Does a Multi Vitamin Really Make Us Healthier?

multi vitamin

When I first started my practice, I followed suit with what a number of others were doing. I offered my patients a multi vitamin along with other supplements because it was the thing to do. My catalog of products from companies lists HUNDREDS of supplements as there was literally a “pill for every ill” (deficiency)

It wasn’t until years later that I began questioning whether they were doing what they claimed to do. Mind you, the patients who took supplements regularly were more proactive and generally embraced healthier lifestyle practices. But, do we need them? Is it just clever marketing? Or a way for business practice to increase revenue? Where is the evidence that they’re clinically effective or even safe?

best multi vitamin

Quest For Answers

My journey searching for answers began by contacting supplement suppliers. Requesting meetings with district reps and asking for research that supported their claims made on the labels.

I was ruthlessly meticulous in this undertaking. If I wasn’t satisfied with the answers I received, I immediately pulled the product from my shelves. I went from offering over 10 products to 5 and then finally down to 3.

I broke ties with consultants that suggested supplements were necessary in building a practice and fired the majority of my suppliers. Now I had to have the honest conversation with my patients that not all supplements were essential for healthier living. In some cases, they can even be unsafe.

More Is Not Always Better

I recall as an intern meeting a patient who had permanent liver damage because she overdosed on iron supplements. Her family physician had ordered blood work that indicated she had low Iron levels and suggested supplementation. 

Unfortunately, more is not always better. After taking the recommended dose and seeing no increase in her levels, she continued to take more until one day she had caused irreversible liver damage. This was a supplement that anyone could easily purchase from a drug or natural food store.

Click here to read, “The Role of Iron in Your Diet”.

Proof Is NOT In The Pudding

Most supplements have no sufficient clinical data to support their continued use. Also, I realized people who were supplementing for years showed little to any improvement in their conditions.

A supplement is intended to address a temporary deficiency where without such supplementation, would lead to less than optimal bodily function. I felt as if I was enabling poor behavior that lead to ultimate failure in clinical outcomes.  Especially for those patients who where using a multi vitamin or supplements and not changing their lifestyle to address their deficiency. 

In fact, If you read the stats, you will learn that the vitamin industry rakes in billions but were consumers getting any healthier? My feeling was that they weren’t. 

Replace The Multi Vitamin With A Good Diet!

The reality is that people must get most of their nutrients and minerals naturally through food. Good food is what most people need to introduce into their diets to help them achieve;

The only argument in favour of supplementation is when the product is ESSENTIAL for optimal living. Here are my top 3 essentials.

vitamin d

1. Vitamin D

Technically, Vitamin D is not necessary during summer months for most healthy people. Just go outside and look up during the day. See that bright structure in the sky? It’s called the sun and it’s responsible for activating the Vitamin D3 through your skin by way of certain ultraviolet rays it emits. Here’s the best part. It’s FREE. But what about Winter months in Northern climates like Canada? This is where it’s needed in greater amounts because a healthy-er dose is not absorbed for OPTIMAL function.

The Sunshine Vitamin!

You certainly may not die if you don’t get enough.  However, certain populations are particularly at risk.  For example, the elderly as they may spend increased time indoors and do not (or can not) partake in the type of physical activity needed to build stronger bones.

Significant deficiency can also lead to diseases like Rickets. In these circumstances Vitamin D is strongly encouraged. This is why in Canada (particularly Ontario), the public health insurance program pays for Vitamin D testing for people at risk of osteoporosis as well as other conditions. 

omega 3

2. Omega-3

The second essential product that is necessary are Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Truth be told, we could get these from eating varieties of wild caught fish. However, ask yourself this, “how much fish did you consume in the last 30 days?” For most of us the answer will clearly be “not enough.” Which is why it is essential for the promotion of health and prevention of disease.

Click here if you’re interested in learning more about the role of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (mainly DHA and EPA). 

probiotics

3. Probiotics

The third and last supplement I encourage and recommend to patients are probiotics. Probiotics are species of bacteria with health promoting properties that we need for proper digestion of food and immune defense. However, most of us think of bacteria as bad. While we are quick to take antibiotics which attack illness promoting bacteria, not all bacteria are the same.

Good bacteria are needed in our gastrointestinal tract because they help maintain a healthy environment in our guts. They were personally a life-saver for me after taking antibiotics for many years in my youth to constantly battle throat infections.

Click here to read, “What’s The Big Deal About Probiotics?”

Final Thoughts

I know a number of researchers will back the opinions I’ve outlined in this article. However, eating healthy natural whole foods will significantly improve;

Taking a multi vitamin or supplements should NOT take the place of a balanced and healthy diet. Keep it simple folks. Answers are right in front of you and have sustained our species since we began walking this Earth. It’s time we started looking within as the answer is not always in a pill bottle.

Are You A Ticking Time Bomb? Try This Simple Exercise To Find Out Your Risk Of Heart Disease

cardiovascular disease

A friend (a practicing neurosurgeon) sent me an email the other day about cardiovascular health that really caught my attention. The subject line read;

“Association Between Push-up Exercise Capacity and Future Cardiovascular Events Among Active Adult Men.” (1)

I quickly went to check the validity of such a statement.  I mean, could it be?  A simple, no-cost, exercise that can be used as a tool to predict future cardiovascular events?

The study looked at whether a clinician could determine an association between a person’s fitness level and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.  All while using an office-based assessment tool.

Physical inactivity, lifestyle and increased CVD risk have all been well documented. (25)  The importance of researching this topic is obvious.  Heart disease remains one of the leading causes of mortality in the world.  In fact, The World Health Organization has posted that;

  • CVD is the number 1 cause of death globally – more people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause.  An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVD in 2016, representing 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% are due to heart attack and stroke.
  • Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented – by addressing behavioral risk factors.  These include;
  • Tobacco use
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Harmful use of alcohol using population-wide strategies. (6)

Click here to read, “Sitting Too Much is the New Smoking”.

firemen

A Retrospective Longitudinal Cohort Study

This study followed over 1100 occupationally active men.  Firefighters, 18 years of age and older, for over 10 years, stratified into 5 groups based on two factors;

  • Fitness level
  • The number of push-ups they could complete.

Baseline and follow-up physical examinations were completed within a 7-year window.  It included exercise tolerance in addition to push-up ability.  The outcomes were adjusted for age and body mass index among other variables (BMI).

The Findings

When the statistical analysis was completed in 2018 researchers found;

A significant negative association between baseline push-up capacity and increased CVD risk.  This was across 10 years of follow-up.

So how many push-ups were associated with decreased CVD risk?  Participants able to complete more than 40 push-ups had a significant reduction with risk of CVD.  This was compared with those completing fewer than 10 push-ups.

cardiovascular exercise

The findings of this study suggest that;

Performing 40 or more push-ups significantly decreases the incidence of heart disease events among active, adult men.

As a clinician, it is worthwhile to assess the functional capacity of our patients.  Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program.  Especially if you are taking medication.  Alternatively, it would be interesting to see studies observing females as well as different age-groups to see if the results could be replicated.

Click here to read, “Stroke And Heart Attack Linked To Drinking This!”

Now drop and give me 40!

 

References:
  1. JAMA Network Home
  2. The American Heart Association. Circulation.
  3. A policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 
  4. Steps to move the science forward. 
  5. The PURE study. Lancet. 
  6. The World Health Fact Sheet on cardiovascular diseases.