The Truth About Vitamins

Almost every patient that comes into the office can rattle off a list of prescription drugs and miscellaneous vitamins they take because they heard about some random study on the local news channel regarding their particular condition.  While I do believe that vitamins can be beneficial in some instances, there are things that I believe you need to know.  As good as vitamins can be for you, they can also be essentially worthless.  Yes, that’s correct, I did say your vitamins can be worthless.

As we look at vitamins, the majority of vitamins we purchase, whether it be at your local health food store or what seems to be a favorite of many people, the wholesale warehouse (ie, Sam’s Club or Costco), you are almost always purchasing synthetic isolated vitamins.  Synthetic meaning lab created and isolated meaning by itself.  Here is where the problem lies.  We weren’t created to take either one.  Synthetic vitamins aren’t natural.  In fact, there’s usually other chemicals involved, some of which can be harmful.  As well, when were we ever supposed to take in individual nutrients?  Take vitamin C for instance.  Many people want to supplement vitamin C due to the numerous health benefits that have been shown.  In most cases, the vitamin C you take comes as ascorbic acid.  Well, when you eat an orange for instance, the majority of the ascorbic acid is actually in the peel.  Not only do you get vitamin C with the orange, but you also get a ton of co-enzymes that assist in the uptake of the vitamin C and also increase your health.  You get things like magnesium, potassium, calcium, fiber, etc. all of which are necessary for proper cell function.  You can never get the same health from taking vitamins as you can from taking food.  It is not possible.

So what can you do to increase your health?  Start with small things.  Begin with eating some form of raw fresh fruits or vegetables before you eat anything else.  That includes meals and snacks.  If you want a donut, eat the donut, but eat something natural first.  This will help to at least increase the vitamin and nutrient sufficiency of the meal.  As well, you may find it will help curb your cravings for things that aren’t so good for you like the donut.  Clearly, our food nutrients have declined over the years due to agricultural practices.  If you would like vitamins, go with vitamins that are created from natural, whole food choices.  These will have greater nutrient contents and are much more readily absorbable.  Understand, however, that taking a multivitamin will never replace healthy eating.  It can only supplement that which you may not be getting.

What should you take?  Again, your diet is the key to getting proper nutrients.  However, there are some things that I believe everyone should take as they can’t be eaten in a great enough dose.  A good quality, whole food multivitamin is the way to go for your vitamin needs.  In our office, we use Catalyn by Standard Process.  It is food, so it is easily digestible and packed with nutrients.  Another key supplement is a quality fish oil.  Fish oil is rich in EPA and DHA two omega-3 fatty acids.  Our food today is essentially void in them so they would need to be supplemented.  As well, they make up the cell membrane of every cell in your body so they are essential for true health.  Also, a quality probiotic supplement is another product we should take every day.  The way we grow our food has decreased the good bacteria which our bodies need to have in order for proper digestion.  Start there and work on the diet and you’ll feel like a brand new person!

Yours in Health,

Dr. James Ashley, DC

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You really aren’t healthy…

Health and wellness appear to be very misunderstood in today’s day and age.  As a Chiropractor, it never ceases to amaze me what people believe to be true.  I am brought to this blog because I believe there is a false sense of what true health and wellness actually is.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard “I’m really a healthy person,” or “I have problems with cholesterol and blood pressure and I’m obese, plus I had cancer 7 years ago, but I’m all healthy now.”  I hate to admit it, but this aggravates me to no end.  See, we live in a society that is totally symptom based, that if I don’t currently have the diagnosis, then I’m perfectly fine and healthy.  It doesn’t matter that I’m on 6 different drugs and couldn’t chase my kids for 10 yards because I don’t currently have a diagnosis then I must be good.

The reality of the situation is that almost everyone that walks through my doors is unhealthy.  So how can you know? If you can’t do 10 push-ups, you’re unhealthy. If you can’t do 10 pull-ups or 10 squats, you’re unhealthy.  If you can’t stand and balance on 1 leg for at least 30 seconds, you’re unhealthy.  If you can’t walk or jog 1 mile without being winded, you’re unhealthy.  If you can’t bend over and touch your toes, you’re unhealthy.  If you can look at yourself in the mirror and not truly appreciate how wonderful you are, you’re unhealthy.  If your diet is beer, chips, and pizza (amongst other things, but you get my drift), you’re unhealthy.  I could go on and on and on.

The point is that true health and wellness has little to do with symptoms.  The reality of wellness is that if your cells aren’t functioning properly and getting all the required nutrients, then you are sick.  We need to start calling it what it is and telling people they’re dying.  Some people think we health nuts are just that, nuts, but the reality is that I love the fact that I can take my kids out and run and play and not lose a step.  I love the fact that I can still beat kids half my age at sports.  And I love it that I make choices to not have chronic illnesses plaguing myself and my family.  There is no cost to improved health and vitality.  There is only a cost to staying where you are.  My hope is that you catch my passion and choose to make some of the same choices for yourself!

Yours in Health,

Dr. James Ashley, DC

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Condition of the Month: Carpal Tunnel

As tax time approaches, I assume that more people will be either typing on the computer or writing out information pertaining to taxes.  Naturally, one of the issues that can occur when the hours we spend using our fingers and hands in that manner is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  CTS is often diagnosed as a problem with the median nerve as it heads through the transverse carpal ligament.  Typical treatment of the condition begins with either a cock-up splint and/or an injection of a corticosteroid at the site.  If the condition is not resolved, then there is the option of surgery to cut the ligament to release the nerve.

From a chiropractic standpoint, we look at many different things regarding CTS.  First and foremost is where the median nerve begins, the cervical spine.  If there is a dysfunction in the cervical joints, the information both to and from the brain can be decreased.  This doesn’t always, but can manifest as pain in either the neck or as distal as the hand.  As well, there may be dysfunction or impingement due to our postures.  We sit an enormous amount of time.  In fact, as I’m writing this, I am having to spend time in a posture that is not beneficial to my health.   And this is a posture that most of us sit in all day.  When we sit, we sit with our shoulders rounded, internally rotated, flexed and the shoulders, elbow and hand, allowing us to maintain the ability to type on the computer with ease.  If we maintain this posture for an extended time, we have increased our probability of these peripheral nerve issues.  The problem with the shots and the surgeries are that they never actually address the cause of what is causing the CTS in the first place.  They don’t’ fix the postural abnormalities leading to the condition.

Our goal as practitioners is to address the cause.  After a thorough exam, we would work to fix all of the issues, not just give a shot to relieve pain.  Using  adjustments and soft tissue techniques, we can very successfully not only decrease the pain of CTS, but also give you the tools to fix the problem.  As well, when we adjust you in any manner, we improve the function of the brain!  The brain controls every cell, tissue, and organ in the body and when it functions better, so does everything else!

Yours in Health,

Dr. James Ashley, DC

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Where Change Begins

Yesterday, I had the privilege to speak to the Georgetown High School Health Occupation Students of America.  For me, it was a wonderful experience.  I was invited to come and teach them about both Chiropractic Neurology and what Wellness truly means.  I believe it was an eye opening experience for these young people to be exposed to the truth that we aren’t slaves to our genes, that we don’t get sick due to bad germs, bad genes, or bad luck, but rather we EARN our chronic illnesses (yes, I said EARN) through numerous and continuous poor lifestyle choices.  It also really got me thinking.

We live in a society that is dying.  Not only are we dying, but we are dying at a much faster rate than we have ever died before.  We are also spending more and more on healthcare, yet at the same time we are getting sicker and sicker.  Recent science (and old school common sense) are very clear that the drugs and surgeries we are taking can never address the cause of why we are getting these illnesses in the first place.  Clearly, doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is insanity.  Despite this, we still seem to put all of our hope in this same system.  Our government believes that the answer to skyrocketing healthcare bills is that everyone has insurance.  This once again fails to address the cause!  We are getting sick because we’re not eating, moving, and thinking like we need to in order to improve health.  Instead, we are eating, moving, and thinking in ways that are driving us quickly towards death.  So where does change begin?

It is my belief that change begins with today’s young people.  One of our problems is that our elderly are so incredibly sick and have progressed to a point that many see no reason to change.  I am only 29, but I have seen lots of people my age and my parent’s ages that feel exactly the same way.  They feel as if there is no hope.  That we’re doomed to suffer with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression,  etc. for the rest of our lives no matter what.  I have seen the science and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is ABSOLUTELY WRONG!!!  If we don’t tell our kids, if we don’t let them know that there is hope, that they can make choices that can totally transform our society, then there truly is no hope!  As we age, we are supposed to pass on our wisdom from one generation to the next.  I know that I will do my part, the big question is, will you do yours?

Yours in Health,

Dr. James Ashley, DC

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The Joys of Christmas

I can’t believe Christmas is already here.  It seems like just yesterday we were in the 100 degree days of summer.  Well, this is Texas and winter isn’t that much different.  In fact, yesterday was the first day of winter and we were in the mid 80’s.  Not what you think about when you consider Christmas, but it’s reality nevertheless.  This Christmas is different for me than many that have come before me.

To start with, this November my wife and I celebrated the birth of our 3rd daughter Sophia.  Being a dad is amazing.  I love my kids beyond just about everything else.  My older two, Tea (6) and Bella (4) are overly excited.  They have been counting out the days for the last 2 weeks.  They constantly are creating new ornaments for the tree and singing songs.  To see the innocence is unbelievable.  This is different than previous Christmases though because for the first time in 4 years, I have been out of school and working rather than enjoying Christmas break together.  It makes you glad that you had those times and at the same time makes you miss them.  One of my  favorite things is to watch them opening their presents.  Now I do all that I can to make them understand that Christmas is more about giving than getting presents, but to see the unbelievable joy is so incredibly wonderful.

Another big change is that I have the privilege of seeing so many wonderful patients.  What I get to do on a daily basis isn’t like work to me.  I get to see transformation before my eyes.  I get to see kids with ADD start excelling in school, people with chronic pain find relief, people with balance issues going on with normal lives, things we often take for granted.  Growing up, I  always saw work as a necessary evil.  That you go and put your time in and when you can’t take anymore, you go home.  I can honestly say I don’t feel that way.  The impact we make on people’s lives can be seen by the abundance of Christmas goodies we have received from thankful patients.  Those are wonderful gifts in my opinion.  People took time out of their busy schedules to think of us and tried to bless us as we have blessed them.  Now I’m going to have to put in a little more workout time, but still, it’s always nice to know you’re appreciated.

I hope that you can truly be as blessed this Christmas as we are!

Yours in Health,

Dr. James Ashley, DC

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But my insurance won’t pay for that…

In the business of healthcare, insurance plays a huge role.  People use insurance for all kinds of things.  Whether it be breaking a bone, needing some blood work, a simple cold, or even just a standard check up, we use our insurance to pay for everything.  Now I do think that is a smart idea.  If you pay lots of money for an insurance plan, shouldn’t you use it to cover needs that it may help with?  Despite this fact, there are things that your insurance plan won’t cover.  In the chiropractic world, I hear a ton of patients forgoing care due to the fact that their insurance doesn’t cover their care.  Why does this seem to be such a problem?  I believe it’s due to a few different reasons.

1.  We don’t value ourselves or our bodies.  When your car breaks down, does your insurance ever cover the cost of repairing it?  Unless you have opted to pay for the warranty, then there is no such coverage.  Insurance also doesn’t pay for regular oil changes, fuel filter changes, tire rotations, tune ups, etc.  All these things are required to have a car that functions properly.  If you would do these things for your car, which can be replaced, how much more valuable are these types of things for your body which can’t be replaced?  Things such as exercising daily, prayer and meditation, eating nutritious foods, drinking water to cleanse your body, and especially getting adjusted are things that you should do because they help keep your body functioning properly.  Your insurance might not cover them, but it would be wise to do them anyways.

2. Poor priorities. Many people constantly complain that they have difficulties either financially or with time, etc.  “I’m sorry, doc, but I just can’t afford to get adjusted, eat vegetables, get a gym membership, and so forth.”  These are complaints we hear constantly.  The reality is that your health just isn’t that important to you.  Many of you care more about keeping up with the neighbors next door so you’d rather have a new big screen TV to show off or a fancy car to drive that you dismiss your own health and well-being. You can’t afford to eat well, yet you go out to eat 8-10x per week and consistently spend money on  poor choices and don’t think twice about it.

3. You don’t understand why you need it. I think this is probably the biggest problem.  See, everyone knows the apple is better than a doughnut, but not everyone will choose the apple over the doughnut.  We live in a society where there is a diagnosis for every symptom and we want a cure for each little symptom out there.  We don’t see the fact that our blood pressure is high is due to the fact that we are eating a big mac every other day while we sit and watch TV for hours upon end.  We just see that we have this symptom and surely there must be some pill that can control it so that I can just continue along with my life as is.  Did that pill ever actually fix the problem?  Nope, it did decrease your blood pressure, but it never addressed the cause.  Most patients look at adjustments they same way.  They only go to a chiropractor for pain.  The moment the pain has ended amazingly their better and can go on doing the very things that are causing the problem to begin with.  Unlike a pill, an adjustment does address the problem, only the problem isn’t pain at all.  That again, is just a symptom.  The problem is that your spine doesn’t move properly and when your spine doesn’t move properly your brain function decreases.  When your brain function decreases the function of every cell, tissue, and organ in your body decreases.  When you receive and adjustment, brain function increases.  When brain function increases, every cell, tissue, and organ functions better!!!  What we do as chiropractors goes way beyond just pain.  We improve the function of everything!  If you ever truly grasp that, your life will be totally changed.  You won’t just show up only when something hurts.  You want your car to function optimally, why would you not want the very same for your body?

Yours in Health,

Dr. James Ashley, DC

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Beating the cold and flu season with Vitamin D!

It appears to be that time of year again when many patients are complaining of problems with colds, coughs, allergies, and even the dreaded flu bugs.  This is the time of year that drug companies begin to market like crazy to tell you that you MUST have a flu shot, that you need Robitussin, Tylenol Cold, or any other number of drugs otherwise you’re going to be sick.  What is the risk of constantly being bombarded by all these drugs?  Are all of these drugs safe and effective?  Better yet, do they even do anything to stop the flu?  What can I do to help prevent these illnesses?

The medical profession urges you to get your flu shot as they feel that there is nothing better to prevent the flu.  The question I ask is “Is the flu shot actually safe and effective?”  Sometimes this is hard to decipher.  Statistics released by pharmaceutical companies are sometimes skewed.  This only makes sense as they are paying for the studies and you don’t want to release a study that is going to make you look bad.  The problem comes when they publish results that show a 50% decrease in deaths, yet when you look at the actual study, it may say 1 person died that got the flu shot while 2 people died that didn’t get the shot, which is exactly a 50% decrease in death rate.  My big question is what’s in the flu shot to begin with?  Do you know?  Do your doctors know?  One ingredient that causes a lot of controversy is Thimerosol.  Thimerosol is an organic mercury compound put into the flu vaccine as a preservative.  Many vaccines have removed thimerosol, yet the flu vaccine hasn’t.  Many doctors will tell you it’s perfectly safe.  How can it be safe to pump mercury directly into your blood stream when the same people tell you that will recommend you to open all the windows and clear the room for 20 minutes because your mercury containing light bulb just broke?  It doesn’t make sense.  If you care to see what happens to your brain and other neurons, take a look at this video and see for yourself.  The reality is that those flu shots will increase your risk of alzheimer’s, parkinson’s, ALS, MS, and other neuro-degenerative diseases.  So what can you do to protect yourself from these illnesses?

Let’s first look at why and when we seem to get the flu to begin with.  Most people associate colds and the flu with cooler temperatures.  I can assure you that the cold weather itself actually plays little role in the increase of these illnesses.  What may be the biggest culprit is the change in the amount of sunlight that we are getting during the fall and winter months.  As a society, we spend most of our days working anywhere from 8-6 roughly.  Since the onset of daylight savings time, the sun begins setting around 5:30.  This leaves little time for those who actually choose to do activity other than watching television to go outside to soak up a key nutrient, Vitamin D.  Even in the summer time, we find difficulties getting enough vitamin D, so how do we expect to get it when you don’t have a chance to go outside and get it from the sun?  This is one nutrient that would be a good idea to supplement when you know you can’t get enough.  Vitamin D plays a large role in the immunity of the human body.  Having healthy levels of vitamin D has been linked to increased emotional well-being, decreased colds, flu’s and cancers, decreased risk of autoimmune disorders, etc.  Feel free to ask us to have your Vitamin D levels checked to see if you are sufficient.

Yours in Health,

Dr. James Ashley, DC

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