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Many people are seeking out alternatives to mainstream medical treatment nowadays. It is estimated that about 30 million people each year see a chiropractor, and over 50 million have been to a massage therapist. With both professions being around in some form for centuries, it is safe to say that they are each not only effective, but also generate a large amount of client satisfaction!
Both chiropractic and massage deal with the muskulo-skeletal system, the system of our bones and muscles, as well as the tendons, ligaments, and fascia that connect them all together. This system is the physical part of how and why we can move. As such, it is succeptable to various injuries from overuse, or faulty use.
So which one is more important? Many of my clients ask if they have a ‘muscle issue’, or a ‘structural issue.’ Well, truth is, you can’t have one without the other! A muscle is like a bunch of thick, half stretched rubber bands attaching one portion of a bone to part of another bone. When those little fibers all contract or shrink, they draw those two parts of the bones together. When they relax, the bones move back apart.
When a muscle is tight, or goes into spasm, or ‘knots up,’ it is literally pulling two bones, potentially out of alignment. Conversely when a muscle is weak, or atrophied, bones can move too far away from their proper location. Look at this example of anterior head and shoulder posture. How often do you see this when you are out in public?
These forward head/shoulder postures stretch out the muscles in the back and posterior shoulders, and they shrink the muscles in the front of the shoulders and the chest. (See link below for some helpful exercises)
So you see, our structure determines the tension on our muscles, and at the same time the tension applied by our muscles determines the structure. This is the beauty of using chiropractic and massage therapy in combination. They each support and improve the effectiveness of the other!
Massage helps to loosen tight muscles, break up scar tissue that can impede movement, improve circulation, which speeds up healing, as well as many other things. Chiropractic realigns joints that are out of alignment, and gets pressure off of the spinal nerves. This helps to increase range of motion in the joints, improves communication from brain-to-body and body-to-brain, improves balance and coordination, and a whole lot more. Using chiropractic and massage together is so much more effective than choosing just one.
As always, make sure you choose a chiropractor and a massage therapist who have good reviews, and who will really listen to you about what you want to get out of your care. Different practitioners also sometimes specialize in different conditions, or treatment methods. So be sure to ask about that when you call or email. For a list of who we recommend in the area, call us at 412-243-9355 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Nothing has the capacity to change our lives like raising a child and leaving a legacy. Nothing is more a rite of passage for many women as becoming pregnant and birthing a child. Pregnancy is an AMAZING process! There are so many factors that have to come together just right in order for an egg to even be fertilized. After that, it is estimated that about 50 percent, yes HALF, of all pregnancies are spontaneously aborted by the body before the mother even knows she is pregnant.
So it’s only natural for an expectant mother to do all she can to ensure the best pregnancy possible. One of the things that is being recommended more often these days is chiropractic. Each week in our office we receive multiple referrals from the local birthing center or the midwife group at a nearby hospital. Once you understand the benefits getting adjusted has on a soon-to-be mom, it’s a wonder it’s not advised more often.
Let’s take a look at all the ways chiropractic care can helps with pregnancy:
Pelvic/Back Pain: As the uterus expands during pregnancy, there is increased pressure on the pelvis, as well as the ligaments that anchor the uterus. As the uterus expands, a woman’s center of graviity moves forward. It is estimated that for each inch forward, there is an additional ten pounds of pressure on the low back. Getting adjusted regularly throughout pregnancy allows the spine and the body to adapt to the increased stress, and reduces pain. Even WebMD is catching on to how beneficial chiropractic can be for pregnancy related pain
Better Nervous System Function: Pregnancy and childbirth are pretty much entirely autonomic processes, meaning you don’t have to think about them for them to happen. The autonomic nervous system controls them entirely, except for the pushing part. If there is pressure on the nerves to the placenta, or uterus, or cervix (which has to dilate to 10 cm for the baby to come out) then they will not operate normally. Removing the interference, or subluxation, helps the entire process to work better.
Easier Labor: The pelvis has to expand and open up for the baby to come out. A hormone called relaxin actually helps the ligaments, which hold one bone to another, to soften and stretch out. If the pelvis is out of alignment and stuck it will not be able to expand as it’s supposed to. Certain structures can actually block a portion of the pelvic outlet, making delivery much more difficult, and painful!
Proper Fetal Positioning: One of the main reasons that birth centers and hospitals refer us patients is for a BREECH POSITIONED baby, that is, head up and feet down. This is a potentially life threatening condition to delivery a baby in, and almost every case winds up a c-section. Another position that can create problems is POSTERIOR POSITIONING, or the baby head down but facing the front instead of facing the rear as they should be. Posterior position births, also called ‘back labor’, produce intense pain for the mother. The more uncomfortable the mother is, the greater the chances of medical interventions, which can cause more complications, including fetal distress. Aligning the pelvis throughout pregnancy keeps pressure off of these ligaments, and the parts of the uterus that attach to the pelvis. This helps create more room inside for the baby to move around and get into proper position.
Quicker Recovery Time: Birth causes a lot of pressure and stretching to the pelvis and to the ligaments holding everything together. If the pelvis is misaligned before labor, there is a high chance that as it expands during labor ligaments can be damaged. Additionally, when the pelvis heals, if the different portions don’t come back together the right way it can cause considerable pain. Research has shown that regular chiropractic care during pregnancy reduces the occurrence of SPD (SYMPHYSIS PUBIS DISORDER) an extremely painful condition post-partum when the 2 pubic bones do not realign correctly.
Even though the RESEARCH shows chiropractic care is not only safe, but also effective, be sure to find a chiropractor who is certified to treat pregnant patients. Since the ligaments are already more stretchy and loose during pregnancy there is a greater chance of injury if the doctor is not properly trained.
For more information about chiropractic and pregnancy please visit the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association website http://www,icpa4kids.org
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Nothing can ruin your day like a headache. We all have had them, some more than others. Some mild, dull annoyances, others migraine quality, forcing us to hide in a dark room, maybe vomiting, often losing an entire day. Something I hear often in my practice is, “Well, I’ve just learned to live with it.” Or, “I’ve tried EVERYTHING!” The truth is headaches are not normal, and there are some very simple and effective solutions.
1) Drink more water! For more on the importance of water, check out this article from 2014 about WATER
Dehydration is a very common cause of headaches. The blood vessels, particularly venous drainage around the brain are very sensitive structures. Called the Dural Sinuses, they can cause a headache when blood volume decreases from dehydration. So many things can dehydrate us: poor food choices, not drinking enough or drinking too much non-hydrating beverages (even excess sports drinks can actually cause dehydration-like symptoms by increasing electrolyte levels too much), excessive sweating, certain medications… just remember, next time you get a headache drink two tall glasses of water ASAP.
2) Pressure Points: Rub any tender points along base of skull. While massage can be very effective at relaxing tight muscles that contribute to head and neck tension, there are more specific, and often more effective points to rub. Feel from the bump behind your ears all the way to the center point at the base of your skull. If you find any sensitive spots, apply medium to firm pressure for about 30 seconds. Repeat the process but a little higher up on the base of the skull each time. You’ll be amazed at how far up onto the skull you will find tender spots.
3) Essential Oils: Peppermint, Lavender, Eucalyptus and Rosemary are four of the best oils for headaches. Peppermint: rub a few drops of peppermint oil into the temples and/or back of neck for a tension headache. Also good for focus and concentration Lavender: can be applied just like Peppermint oil for tension headaches. In addition it can be added to a warm bath, or a few drops can be put into a spray bottle of water and misted on the face and neck. Eucalyptus: has similar effects to the last two. It is also a great expectorant and can be rubbed on the chest to relieve pressure. Rosemary: is also good for tension headaches, but is especially effective if the headache is related to low blood sugar. With all of these oils you should use a carrier oil. This is a regular food grade oil, like Coconut or grape seed oil. Place some in your hand or a small dish and then add the Essential Oil to it. This will prevent skin irritation, as some of the oils can be quite strong, and also helps your oils last longer. Remember, a little bit goes a long way.
4) Get Adjusted!: When spinal bones in the neck move out of alignment, from either stress or injury, headache is a very common result. Increased pressure on the sensitive nerve fibers that exit between every vertebrae can cause a wide array of symptoms, as well as changes in physiology that remain assymptomatic. Follow these links for references to research studies related to headache and getting adjusted.
You’ll find over 30 different studies on everything from the common headache, to migraines, to post-concussive, even pediatric headaches and how chiropractic care can alleviate them.
5) Chemical Origin: Many headaches are related to a build-up of toxins in the body or certain chemical toxins, often times a food additive. Many people have headaches following ingestion of MSG, Nitrates/Nitrites, Gluten (wheat), food preservatives/dyes, even plain old sugar. Keeping a food journal can help you identify the types of foods/additives that you react to. Cleansing can help if it is due to a build-up of toxins.
While medication has its place, over-medicating can often create worse effects than the original issue. Over 125,000 people a year die from NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Naproxen, etc). Opiod pain medication is creating an epidemic of addiction, with many of its victims resorting to a much cheaper form, heroin, to get their fix. The resulting addiction often forces them into crime to support their habit. There are much better choices out there to get to the root cause of the headache and not just mask the symptom. It is NOT normal to have regular headaches. Do something about it! 🙂
For more information about any of the topics listed above, please contact our office.
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Has this ever happened to you? You wake up on a seemingly normal morning. Maybe you slept poorly. Maybe you overexerted yourself the previous day. Maybe you are just really stressed about something… You go to stand up, and then it hits you. The PAIN! The cramping, tightening, debilitating pain. For some of us it’s the lower back, causing us to double over. For others it’s our neck or upper back, preventing us from turning our head, or worse yet, having our head stuck to one side or the other.
What should you do? Heat, ice, stretch, drugs, essential oils, wine… so many choices, but which is best?
I was reminded of this all too common scenario today when a patient came in unable to move her neck. She was in pain so intense there were tears in her eyes! If you’ve ever had a similar experience you know how awful it can be.
First thing, DO NOT USE HEAT! Most of us think heat will give us some immediate relief, but you’ll wind up worse in the long run. Any injury produces inflammation. Extra blood, fluids, cells, etc rush to the area to clean up damage and start rebuilding. But when you apply heat you’re causing an already irritated, inflamed area to inflame even more. The pain may feel slightly better at first due to the increased circulation, but it will come back with a vengeance!
Cold will take the edge off by decreasing excess inflammation. It will produce a numbing effect on the area. Cold does not feel quite as comfortable at first, but trust me, in the long run it is the best choice. If you do not have a cold pack, a bag of frozen veggies will work just as well.
There are also topical cooling gels that get great results and can last for hours. BioFreeze is one of leading brands on the market, however most use the same active ingredient and will have a similar effect. They are also quite portable and can be carried with you, or even placed in a first aid kit.
Another topical that my first aid kit will never be without is Arnica Gel. Arnica Montana is a homeopathic which speeds up healing and tissue repair, and helps with pain relief, inflammation, and bruising. With most injuries the first steps are apply Arnica and apply cold. (Note: Arnica gel should not be used on open wounds. If open wound you first need to clean or debride the wound, stop the bleeding with a styptic. For more tips on open wound care comment at the bottom with your email)
Once the initial inflammation has improved it will be much easier to assess just how bad the situation is. While you will want to rest (time is really the most important component to healing) some light movement and stretching can be quite helpful. For low back pain, stretching your hamstrings and going for a walk can help. For neck pain, lying with a neck roll, side-to-side stretching, or resistance stretching can help. Movement is good, but don’t overdo it. the purpose of the movement is to get the blood and lymph fluids moving and preventing the area from stiffening up. Use your judgement. If it’s making it worse STOP!
Pressure applied in the right way can also be very beneficial. If there is a muscle that is cramping or very tight, place steady pressure in the center of the tightness and gently move the muscle. If it is more of a joint sprain/strain injury, compress the area with an ACE bandage or medical tape.
If the injury is to a joint such as the ankle or knee, elevation can also help. Sit with the affected leg propped up. The elevation will help the excess inflammation drain out.
The acronym RICE can help you to remember what do.
Rest- Time is the most important factor
Ice- COOL the inflamed area
Compression- Pressure prevents excess inflammation, and can loosen tight muscles
Elevation- Prevents inflammation from pooling in certain parts of the body
If the injury is muscular, some light movement and trigger point work can help. If it is joint damage focus more on resting and immobilizing the joint for a few days.
So be safe. Be smart. And if you do get hurt, don’t do anything to make it worse!
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I get this question a lot. And it is a valid one. Who would want to mess up that great adjustment that they just paid for? People often leave trying not to turn their head, keeping perfectly still, afraid to do any activity afterwards. Understandable: but wrong!
You see, you can’t mess up an adjustment. It is not a tangible thing to be messed up. Let’s look at this another way:
To start, we have various stressors, physical, chemical mental/emotional, that can cause our spine to shift out of proper alignment. This results in pressure to the nerves that pass ever so close to the spine, which changes the message passing through the nerves. That is what we call subluxation.
When we remove these subluxations, our nervous system works better. Our body responds much more appropriately and effectively to the stress it experiences. We are in a more adaptable state. Because of this, this is actually the time that you should be doing more activity, not laying around staying still.
Along the same lines, I hear people say that they’ll come get adjusted after they have some kind of physical stress. A patient of mine recently said they were waiting to come get adjusted until after they finished a remodeling project. However, the best time to remove those subluxations is before embarking on such a strenuous project. With the subluxations removed, the body responds much better, and much more appropriately to the stress it experiences.
So remember, go out and move around after an adjustment. Go work out, take a walk, have fun!
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Most of us know at least a little something about stress. It seems like we hear about it so much anymore, it’s become cliche. So let’s look at what stress really is and what parts of the body are responsible for the ‘stress response.’
Stress begins in our mind. We either perceive a threat, get startled, or sometimes think ourselves into a stress response by excessive worrying or anticipation. Once our brain is convinced there is some kind of problem, a small gland above our kidneys takes over.
Our adrenal glands are tiny glands that sit atop our kidneys, very close to the abdominal aorta and inferior vena cava, two of the largest arterial and venous blood vessels in the body. The hypothalamus, a very important gland in the brain, stimulates the adrenal glands, which in turn release stress hormones into our bloodstream. Think about how quickly after you get startled that you feel your heart pounding. In that instant, your senses had to detect the threat, your brain had to process it, determine whether or not it is a potential threat, stimulate the hypothalamus to stimulate the adrenal glands, secrete the stress hormone and have it travel through your bloodstreeam. Amazing how fast that happens!
This time of year we begin the ever so steady and stressful entry into the holiday season. It starts with halloween, where the massive sugar consumption can decrease our immunity to a point of inneffectiveness, rendering many of our children and ourselves sick. Then there’s thanksgiving, and right around the corner is Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. The indulgence in junk food, alcohol, and toleration of, um… less than desirable relatives creates stress that is unrivaled at any time of year!
In our last blog post we discussed how you can increase your immunity NOW to avoid getting sick this winter. I’d like to focus more on the Adrenal glands for this post. There are three main ways to nourish these little glands:
1) Avoid or Adapt
There are definite ways to avoid stress and stressful situations. However sometimes we can’t. It is ineveitable that we will all experience stress in some form throughout the day. So we need to focus on adapting. In the last blog post we talked briefly about how exercise can help you adapt to the stress you experience.
2) Mind over Matter
With regular practice we can overide some of the mental activity that stimulates the stress response. Meditation, prayer as well as activities like yoga can decrease the stress response and establish better thought patterns to help in the future.
Most of our diets are lacking in the proper vitamins and minerals that nourish our glands. There are also many synthesized substances that interfere with our hormone production (called endocrine disruptors). These factors combined with the fact that most of us are wearing out our adrenal glands makes it absolutely ESSENTIAL that we nourish these glands regularly. We carry products known as ‘glandulars’ which directly feed the part of the endocrine system they are desinged for. We also have the highest quality whole food type supplements to nourish and build up the particular gland they are designed for. We also use the highest quality naturally sourced herbs, as herbs have been shown to cause a quicker physiological change in the tissues they effect. More information can be found HERE.
The endocrine system is a massive, tangled web, whereby one part effects multiple other parts, which effect multiple other parts, etc, etc. Adrenal exhaustion directly effects the thyroid gland, leading to many false diagnoses of thyroid problems that are actually just adrenal fatigue. It can also effect the sex hormones, the pancreas, Para-thyroid, liver, immune system, digestive system, and well, most every other body system directly or indirectly. For more information about the thyroid/adrenla connection take a look at www.stopthethyroidmadness.com
Come in today and let us figure out which adrenal supplement is right for you!
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As the cold weather begins to creep in we can be sure of a few things. Not only are the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer, but soon you will notice an increase in the number of sniffly noses, achy heads, and of sick days. Here are a few quick tips to keep your immune system in top gear this cold and flu season.
Step One: Eat right!
Nothing can replace eating well. Yet so many of us will begin packing on the pre-winter calories in the usual fashion. Halloween is coming up, followed by Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. Increased sugar intake can reduce your immune response DRASTICALLY! Ever notice how many kids get sick the week after Halloween? Replace that sugary Halloween candy with something a little more wholesome. Make sure to eat fresh fruits/veggies daily. The best meals are made up of things that actually grow! Not things that have to be processed or things that can last on your shelf for months at a time. Getting enough water is also part of eating right. Half of your weight (in pounds) = Ounces of water to drink daily.
Step Two: Exercise
Exercise is our body’s natural way of adapting to stress. Our stress hormones give us energy for a fight-or-flight response. So what should you do when you are stressed? USE THAT ENERGY! And stop telling yourself you don’t have time. Sometimes our best workouts are the ones we almost skip because we don’t have enough time. Just get out and do something. 5 minutes, 10 minutes… a little bit is better than nothing at all, 25-30 minutes is ideal. Strive for increasing your intensity each time you workout.
Step Three: Supplement, Supplement, Supplement!
Let’s face it: None of us eat perfect all the time. Additionally, in the winter we don’t have bare skin exposed to the sun, so we don’t make enough vitamin D. If you REALLY want your immune system in prime condition for this winter start now. Vitamin C, D, and other anti-oxidants, Probiotics, Echinacea, Astragalus, Silver Hydrosol… It can be overwhelming with all the products on the market. Consult with an expert, like the ones at our office, to find out what is right for you!
Step Four: Get Enough Sleep.
Your body cannot heal or fight off invaders if you are not well rested. Most people need 6-8 hours per night of UNINTERUPTED sleep. Make sure you are getting to bed at a consistent time and turn off any distractions, like the TV. Ensuring your room is dark helps the body’s internal system get you to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Step Five: Get Adjusted!
Removing stress and interference from the nervous system is an immediate immune regulator. A good adjustment can boost a lagging immune system or relax a hyper/autoimmune system. One of the first things we do in our family whenever anyone feels sick is to get adjusted. But like all the other items listed above, chiropractic works best as a preventative!
Feel free to add your favoirite tips in the comments section!
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WOW! What a great month it has been! So much has changed. Many hours were put into breaking down everything in our old office and moving it piece-by-piece to our new space. Renovations were done. Carpets were torn out, yanked and ripped bit-by-bit from the floor they were once glued to so that the new carpet could be installed. Walls were scraped, sanded and spackled so that the proper paint could be applied. Four-hundred pound tables were heaved, pushed, pulled and thrusted in any way possible in order to get them to the proper position within the rooms. Network cables were ran, re-ran, and ran again until they were right. So many little things had to be done so that we could open and begin to care for you, our incredible clients, in this new office space.
And then… the pain set in.
Each movement sent shooting, cramping pains throughout my limbs. The dull ache in my back reminded me day after day of the immense work that I had done, and still was doing. It was as if it was saying, “STOP! You are doing too much! You’re just one man!” And guess what… it was right! My body was working perfectly. My pain was there as a sign, a reminder not only that I had pushed myself pretty hard, but also as an early warning system to prevent me from hurting myself by continuing.
You see, almost all growth requires us to push ourselves, to reach beyond our comfort zone, get a little uncomfortable. This is how we grow. Bones strengthen only when stressed. Muscles grow in size only after they strain from so much effort that they use up all the oxygen around them. Our mind learns only after we force the use of a specific pathway over and over again until the brain “glues” it into place. Nothing comes without effort.
After a hard workout, you should feel a little sore. After doing a new workout, you should feel a little sore. But there is a difference between feeling a little sore because of pushing yourself and hurting because you have damaged your body.
Pain is our friend. No, that is not a typo. Yes, I meant to say that. In fact, look at what happens when someone can’t feel pain.
There are neurological conditions out there where people lose the ability to feel pain. They bump their toes into things, they bleed, get infected, in some cases gangrenous, and need to be amputated. Others will burn themselves and not know about it. They risk serious infection, loss of body parts, the risk of bleeding to death, and many other complications because their body cannot tell them there is danger.
Pain is GOOD! It often brings clients into our office. They realize it is not natural to have headaches or low back pain, shoulder pain, etc as much as they do. They listen to their body and want to know why this pain recurs. They eventually understand the relationship between their pain and their nervous system, and learn how to prevent recurrences in the future through Wellness-based chiropractic care, not symptom-based care.
Pain is an early warning system designed to stave off danger. Fail to pay attention, and you risk damaging the very body that tried to warn you. Listen to those subtle clues, and you will have a long and wonderful relationship with the “’human suit” you are wearing.
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Often I hear the question, “What is the most important thing I can do for myself? Should I take vitamins? Exercise? What should I do?”
With so many products, services, new technologies, emerging superfoods, and alternative healing methods, I can understand how one might desire a simpler answer. And while there is no “one thing’” that will give you the perfectly healthy life you so desire, I find that most all of us fall short on one very important need: water.
The earth is made up of approximately 70 percent water. Is it any coincidence that our bodies consist of roughly the same percentage of this miraculous molecule? Did you know that water is one of the ONLY substances that actually gets LESS dense as it converts from a liquid to a solid state? Most every other substance becomes MORE dense as it freezes, because the molecules are more tightly packed. In a gas state, they are less dense, and take up a much larger space as they expand. What would happen in our oceans and lakes if ice was more dense than water and sank? How would our plants and animals fare if they were under the weight of thousands of pounds of ice? Not only would we be eating less shrimp cocktails and sushi maki, but the effects on the ecosystem and the earth as a whole would be catastrophic! Coincidence, or the loving-kindness of our Divine Creator?
I see it as no coincidence that this wonder molecule is so important. Water is the medium for most chemical reactions in the body. It cleanses, flushes out many harmful, destructive toxins as we excrete it from our body. It is important for healing, for digesting our food, for our mood and energy, for our immunity, for… well, everything! We can go days without eating solid food, but how long can we go without water? After two days we would be suffering from dehydration. As blood gets thicker from lack of hydration, the heart must work harder to pump the blood to the brain and the rest of the body. Our energy drops, the body slows. Within a week, the body will give out (if in the desert one would be lucky to last three days!)
So the question remains: How much water do we need?
There are many variables to figure out exactly how much each individual needs, but follow this basic guide:
Your body should get as many ounces as half of your weight (in pounds). If you weigh 100 lbs, you need 50 ounces of water. 200 lbs = 100 ounces, etc. You cannot substitute juice, pop, tea or any other beverage. This must be pure water!
For every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you consume, you must add an extra 8 ounces. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, meaning they cause you to excrete more water than they give you, leaving you with a negative overall water gain from them.
If you exercise or are in a situation where you are sweating a lot, you must add more water. Some recommend an extra 16-24 ounces per pound lost during a workout. An average, healthy person can produce as much as 32 ounces of sweat during an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise. You can weigh yourself before and after to find out how much water weight was lost, or you can just estimate.
Monitor urine color! The most effective measurement of hydration levels is urine color. If it is clear coming out, you are well hydrated. The darker the color, the more water you need. This is also a good way to monitor the hydration level of children.
As soon as you wake up each morning, drink two large glasses of water before putting anything else into your body. This will this ensure that you get a good start on your water consumption for the day. Doing this “primes-the-pump,” by kick-starting your metabolism and flushing out the digestive tract, thereby giving you a great start to your day.
Do this for four weeks, and you will feel like a new person!
Please, make sure that you are consuming purified water. While a simple Brita or Pur filter is much better than tap water, the best water is that which is filtered by reverse osmosis. Home kits cost between $200 -$300, will last for years and years, and cost between $50 and $100 a year in filters. It is one of the best investments our family has ever made!
So drink up! Cheers!