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The 3 Things That We All Need

Having been on a bit of a journey over the last few years looking at my own health and impending old age - yes I am now the wrong side of 50 and have been beginning to feel it. I don't want to live for ever but I don't want to live out my old age being 'ill and sick' with an expanding amount of medication to rely on. Looking around to see if there is anything I can do to help myself I keep coming back to certain things.


What really prompted me to look into this was a trip to GP a few years ago about a mole on my shoulder (which is all ok) but they had me and did the usual tests, I do not go to GP regularly. The big thing was my blood pressure - it was way too high. I new it was, life had been tricky and I was pushing too hard and my blood pressure was telling me this. The thing that got to me was that when I went back to discuss the results the Junior Dr, who was dealing with me, first line of treatment was medication - Statins. This was without any discussion about my lifestyle or what may be the causes. I refused the medication and started to address the issue myself - I knew it was not a medical problem but a lifestyle one, and one I could address without medication. I am not one for popping pills and was not about to start now! I have seen too many people have problems once they start down the medication route and this was not for me - not saying it shouldn't be an option, but not for me at this stage.





So to cut to the chase - in case you don't want to read anymore - the 3 things, I think, we need in our lives for a happy and, hopefully, healthy old age are: Movement, good gut health and making sure we are breathing properly. That is it, everything else will fall into place if these 3 things are addressed. A bit of an over simplification but I feel these are 3 key fundamentals to a long and healthy life. Basically If we can still move and explore interesting places; still enjoy good food - growing, making and eating; and feel light in our body, breathe easily and not have to fight for breath then we are going to be happier and healthy in all aspects of our lives.


#outdoorfitness

#homegrown

#movementismedicine

#explore







To explain a bit more and put some meat on the these bones!


I see a lot of people in clinic for a whole variety of reasons and I have to ask about their health, lifestyle and wellbeing. Some people seem to be old before their time. They are taking loads of medication, don't exercise or move much and are feeling pretty grim. Often people have had loads of tests but nothing really seems to be wrong, their GP cannot provide an answer as to why they are ill. Often Western healthcare gets stuck when the tests come back inconclusive. When there is not a tablet available to deal with it we are at a loss. Or are we? Is there more going on in our bodies that cannot be seen in a medical test?


Bodies get stuck, they do really want to help us heal, they are often trying their hardest to put things right. We have to provide the right environment to allow this to happen, or better still, not allow the problems to occur in the first place. This is where I want to be, not putting things right, but not allowing the problems to occur in the first place. People come to see me with pain in their feet. They may have seen their GP, had x-rays, had some painkillers and the issue is not improving. The diagnosis of 'Arthritis' is often proffered and they are sent on their way with some anti-inflammatory medication or gel. So they come to see me. This is a good place for me, all the tests show nothing untoward, all clear medically. So what is going on. Usually the joints (and body) are 'stuck', the foot has got stiff and not able to move as it wants to. This causes pain and gets more stuck as the body stiffens the area to help protect it. I have talked about this in my last blog - how bodies protect themselves.


Each joint is made up of two bones and a joint capsule surrounding the bones, there are other bits and pieces like ligaments, fascia and tendons as well. The ends of the bones and the inside of the joint capsule have cells that produce lubrication. So when we move the joint everything gets stretched, squished, twisted. This causes the cells to release their lubrication fluid. A bit like a sponge full of water, it will hold the water until we move it, squish it, squeeze it. Then the water gets pushed out. So if we do not move the joint and the surrounding structures then the fluid doesn't come out. Then when we do have to move the joint, it has no lubrication and is painful, which means we move it less - see, another vicious circle develops of pain guarding. We therefore have to move the bones and hence joints. This process can be painful to start with but, very quickly, starts to ease. People that come in with a lot of pain often leave with a lot less in a short space of time due to me moving the joints and soft tissues.



#movementismedicine

Feel what motivates you to get out and do it. Anything at first, just move more.


So No.1 move more. Even if it is a bit painful at first, move it. As it improves move it more! Listen to your body and do what it feels it needs, but push it a little because our lazy side will be trying to talk us into not moving.



No. 2 Gut Health - your microbiome - this is getting to be know as your second brain. What goes on inside you, mouth to the other end, is becoming a huge topic of discussion. If our gut is not happy then there is a good chance the rest of our body is not going to be happy.


The rise in allergies, intolerances, IBS, skin problems, autoimmune issues and mental health can all lead to and from the gut. The basis of these theories are this. We are full of bacteria, they are essential for the digestion of our food, absorption of the bits into our blood and what to do with the rest of it. There are good bacteria that are really helpful in this process and there are some that are not. The bad bacteria mess with our immune system, stop digestion and absorption of good nutrients and generally mess with our bodies and brains. Guess what? The good bacteria flourish with good food and the bad ones flourish with food that is bad for us. This is a quick and very unsubstantial summary but basically, eating certain foods will cause us problems and eating others will help. There are some general rules but we have to work out what is good and bad for us over time or seek help. These good and bad for us foods can also change over time. What we once were able to eat now causes us problems, such as low energy or bad moods.


If we have been eating bad for us food for a while we may feel that something is wrong. Any symptoms related to anything above may indicate things are not right in our gut. There is now an increasing amount of information on gut health and what to do about it. But as usual if you want to know to more then consultant an expert.


I read 'GUT' by Giulia Enders, this is a great book and an entertaining read that really explains things in an easy to read format.



Our gut may be playing a bigger role in your health than we think. I have noticed a big change in how I feel by cutting out some foods and changing the way I eat during the day. I feel as if I have more energy and not getting the big hunger crashes that often led me to binge on sugar foods to get my energy back up. I have also been drinking Missionuk.com teas. There are 5 different types and well worth a look. Some are slow release caffeine green tea and some for recovery and sleep. We have to find what works for us, somethings work and some don't but hey, that's life. We are individuals and have to find the right thing for us.





No 3. Breathe

Yep that's it, BREATHE. We all do it all the time, well mostly, but how we breathe can have a big impact on the rest of our body. Simply changing from mouth breathing to nose breathing can create big changes to our nervous system. If we are feeling tense then we are likely to be breathing high in our chest, through our mouths, fast and shallow, we have all heard the advice to calm down and breath. Mouth breathing activates our flight or fight response in our body - our sympathetic nervous system - this makes us ready for action, this puts us on high alert. Nose breathing tends to drop our breathing lower in our chest and even down to our belly, this stimulates our rest and relax nervous system - our parasympathetic nervous system - this calms us down and lowers the high alert system.


If we are always breathing through our mouths then we are keeping our flight and fight response engaged. I see this a lot with people now wearing masks for a lot of the time. I noticed I was doing this to start with. You get more anxious and the more you breath the worse you get, your mask feels like it is suffocating and you breathe more. This must be what it feels like for people with asthma. I was also looking into breathing techniques and how breathing affects us and read 'Breathe' by James Nestor, it is an amazing book, and really explains how our modern lifestyles are altering the way we breathe and impact this has on our body. Mouth breathing has many other effects on our body - a big one being snoring, but the shape of our mouth and soft palette can also be affected. If you want to know more then this book is a great place to start.


Be aware of how you are breathing during normal day to day activities. If you are tense and feel your breathing is fast and tight then change it. See how if affects your emotions. A few simple things like holding the pause between breaths, just a second or so, or trying 4:4 breathing - in for 4 hold for 4 out for 4 hold for 4, repeat - in a safe space, can give us a totally different awareness in our body. Easy thing to try.



Summary

So this is where I have got to so far. I think these three little things will make a big difference. #moveeatbreathe


We have to make the time to move - a good thing, whilst we are moving we can be more aware of how we are moving and how we are breathing. Feel how much easier walking up a hill will be if we are light on our feet and using all of our lungs, not just the top bit. The better the quality of our food, the more efficiently we are able to fuel our bodies and use the good quality food for fuel and repair. Yes repair - recovery time is as important as the activity! it is never too late start these things. Our bodies are amazing things and will respond at whatever time of our lives we find ourselves. They are also able to put up with a lot of rubbish, just image how good they will feel if we give them plenty of good stuff!


Looking forward to a healthy few more years ahead.

































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