The Benefits of Laughter

Did you know that when you make someone laugh that you very well may be helping them strengthen their immune system, reduce food cravings, or even increase their threshold for pain? There’s even an emerging field known as “humour therapy” that is helping patients heal more quickly after surgery. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter has also been found to increase the number of antibody producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells within the body. All this creates a stronger immune system and better ability to ward off the effects of daily stress.

A good laugh also exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. Some research suggests it even provides a good workout for the heart. Laughter shifts our focus away from anger, guilt, stress, and negative emotions that can create more discomfort and stress within our lives. Laughter is contagious. If you bring more laughter into your life, you will not only help others around you to laugh more, but you will realize these same healthy benefits yourself. So it seems that laughter really is the best medicine but how do we increase our dosage? Here are a few ideas…

Start with a shift in your perception. Studies show that our response to stressful events can be altered by whether we view something as a “threat” or a “challenge.” Humour can give us a more lighthearted perspective and help us view events as “challenges,” making them less threatening and more positive.

Slow down. Slowing down and spending time with others is vital to bringing more laughter into our lives. We can’t make someone laugh if we don’t take the time to engage them or genuinely care about them. Tell a joke. Here’s a good clean one from my 5-year-old: Q: Why did the cookie go to the doctor? A: He felt crummy.

Say “Thank you.” Send someone a note just to say “thanks”...maybe for no reason at all other than for being a part of your life. Be encouraged to laugh like a child. Make someone laugh and know that their laughter is not only making them feel good but improving their health (and yours as well).

by Daniel Decker Pathways magazine Issue #17

A Little is Okay, right?

Today we are hearing more and more about the side effects of the additives in the foods we eat.  These are the same additives that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has easily deemed “safe” for us, the Canadian public at large, to ingest. 

Safe is defined by Congress as “reasonable certainty that no harm will result from use of an additive.”  The list is 700 items long and includes the most common artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, Splenda, NutraSweet, and Equal.  It also contains hydrogenated oils and artificial colourings as well.  All of these additives are human made and the FDA has either okayed them in full or is limiting their use.   But even this limitation is by only allowing 1/100th of what is considered to be dangerous into any one portion of food.  Which may have been okay, but much of the damage that comes from these additives is accumulative.  That means it builds up with each and every exposure!

So you say, “How does this affect me?”  Well do you ever read the labels of candy, ice cream, protein bars or any other pre-packaged foods?  Most of them not only have preservatives for a long shelf life, but have colourings to make you think the food is pretty and artificial sweeteners which are many times sweeter than sugar!

Did you know that the long term side effects of such additives have been linked to different cancers

And short term side effects include the following;

hearing impairment, vision distortion, tinnitus, headaches, dizziness, sleepiness, depression, irritability, inability to maintain focus, breathing difficulty, bloating, aggression, diarrhea, decreased fetal body and placental weights and brain development, etc.  The list does not end there. 

So if the list does not end there for the short term, meaning you could experience any one of these things with one use, and the long term gives way to a possibility of having a deadly disease, what amount is worth it all?

Is a little okay?

Remember the real damage is accumulative.  So how much is okay?

Well the FDA knows many of these additives are not healthy, hence the limitation of their use in single portions.  But is the FDA going to tell you how many portions over your lifetime that you can have?  Are they going to govern what you actually eat? 

Just take one portion that you may eat on a basis of 3 times a week.  Multiply it by 52 weeks in a year and you have eaten 156% of the amount that is considered to be dangerous, in just one year with just one food item of your diet!

Just think the average Canadian drinks 55 gallons of soft drinks per year.  Soft drinks are also the biggest culprits of osteoporosis.  Do you think this is a little amount?

You have to look at the big long term picture on a daily basis!

And you have to be the one to decide what is safe for you to eat!  Don’t leave it up to the FDA.

Feel vs Heal

Everyone knows the unanswerable question of “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”  Well when it comes to the body and the question of what comes first, the symptom or the disease, you may be surprised at the answer!

Now everyone would agree that the Central Nervous System (CNS) is responsible for the complete control of all functions in the body.  This includes everyday maintenance of homeostasis and the ever necessary immune system response to surprise attacks from viruses and bacteria.  With everything that goes on inside, it is amazing that we don’t actually feel these things happening.  But your CNS is also responsible for what you feel. 

It may surprise you to know that it is only 5% of the nervous system that is responsible for you perceiving pain.  For some, this is difficult to believe, especially when presented with excruciating pain.  The other 95% of the nervous system is responsible for every function of every cell, tissue and organ in the body.  Your actual life depends on this 95%, dictating how well your heart beats, lungs breathe, eyes see, how well you digest, hear, smell, and taste.  Everything.  The bad thing is that you can impinge 95% of a nerve and not feel it as pain.  You will witness, though, the areas that the nerve innervates perform at a lower level.  Then gradually, dis-ease will begin.  Lastly you may feel pain from the decrease in function.  But before you ever feel anything, the impingement must first happen.

This impingement of a nerve is called a Subluxation.  Subluxations can be caused by a number of traumas beginning with birth and falls during the time we learn to walk, and ending with car accidents and stress.  These Subluxations, if left alone, do a great deal of damage to the body that you might not even feel until later on in life.  I am sure you can easily see that by the time you actually feel something, you are already late. 

Unfortunately, many of us do wait until we feel a symptom to get help.  It is understandable then that if the Subluxations have been present for years, then it will take time to correct them and the damage that they have done.  In this case, one of two things can happen when you are under corrective Chiropractic care. 

       1. You can feel better immediately, but does this mean you are fully corrected?  Not necessarily.  Remember, if it took years to get that way, at least give it some months to heal, regardless of what you are feeling.  This way you can be sure the problem will not surface late because the cause is taken care of. 

       2. You could feel worse or stay the same for some time.  But does this mean you are getting worse?  Not necessarily.  If it took years to get that way, it will take some time to correct.  Pain is not a good measure of the health of your spine.  Have a little faith, we heal on God’s time, not ours.

Either way, the best thing is to correct the cause of the problem, not just rid yourself of the symptom or pain.  We do want you to feel your best, but more importantly we want you to heal at your best level.  And also of great importance, if you have taken the time to correct your problem, it is beneficial to maintain these results.  Your health is too important to leave it to chance!

Early Warning Signs - Will You Listen or Suffer the Consequences?

Sign #1: Muscle Spasms/Tightness

Your spine is an intricate system of joints and bony canals that surround and protect your nervous system. Think of it as a flexible circuit breaker panel attached to the base of your brain. Your body will go to extreme measures to ensure the delicate nervous system operates without obstruction—with all circuits clear. Any potential interference to nerve function is countered by your body’s compensational systems: meaning, if your spine misaligns or curves too much or too little, your muscles tighten and go into spasm in order to lesson and prevent further nerve-interfering distortions. Think of the bracing effects of your muscles as a cast or splint. Tight muscles after certain activity (gardening, exercise, prolonged sitting, etc.) should recover in a day or two. If the tightness or spasm is severe or lasts beyond a few days, chances are you have a more serious underlying problem. This is the time to act and see a doctor of chiropractic.

Sign #2: Pain

Pain is an outward sign that something is wrong. It’s a warning, like a fire alarm or bright red dashboard “check oil” light. As with muscle tightness, it should not last more than a few days following a trigger.

Patients often state that they had pain for a few weeks, but then it went away with over-the-counter pills. A month later, it came back even worse. Prescription medication made it go away again. This scenario of ignoring persistent pain allows the problem to worsen. Keep in mind, the absence of pain, especially when drugged up, does not mean the problem no longer exists.

At this point, the spine may be better thought of as a ticking time-bomb. It may take just a simple activity such as putting on a sock or driving for an hour and, BOOM, it goes off. This is when I often meet people. What would have been a simple fix a few months ago is now a complex problem requiring more care, potential loss of work, and far greater suffering. When pain hits (even when minor) and persists, please see a chiropractor right away.

Sign #3: Weakness

As one of the more serious warning signs, weakness signifies many possible underlying issues. It can stem from pressure on a nerve supplying a muscle. When this is the case, you may notice specific symptoms such as loss of grip strength or difficulty on steps or getting in and out of your car with one leg. As discussed above, muscles may be working harder than normal to compensate for underlying spinal and nerve problems. This can result in noticeable weakness localized in a single muscle or a muscle group. It may appear as strain when lifting yourself out of a chair or when your head feels heavier than usual. It may only show up as general feeling of fatigue— especially at the end of the day. Any prolonged sign of weakness (especially of one side or region of your body) lasting more than just a few days warrants immediate chiropractic evaluation.

Your body speaks to you on a regular basis. It does not use actual words, but offers little signs and symptoms. You can take your chances by ignoring these warnings, or be proactive. Chiropractic intervention early on provides an effective, inexpensive and comfortable solution. It can save you from debilitating pain and high medical bills. Although I am happy to help patients when problems are severe and may have been avoided for too long, it is also nice to help people early on. After all, no issue is too minor to justify a check-up. 

Early Diagnosis Important in the Detection of Scoliosis

Scoliosis, a lateral or sidewards curvature of the spine, plagues an estimated 4 to 5 million Americans. This spinal disorder, often confused as a disease, usually appears during the early teens. Approximately 10 percent of the adolescent population has some form of scoliosis. It is more prominent in girls and is not limited to adolescents. Scoliosis can also affect younger children as well as adults.

One of the most common signs of scoliosis is a prominent shoulder blade, often the right one. One shoulder may appear to be higher and the child may tend to “list” to one side. The hips may be uneven and one may seem to be higher than the other. The first sign of scoliosis is often that clothes will not fit properly. The hems of skirts or pants will appear to be uneven.

Scoliosis is often confused with poor posture, but it does not disappear as the child gets older. It has been known to strike in otherwise healthy children and often runs in the same family. Delaying the treatment of scoliosis can lead to serious and even life threatening diseases of the heart and lungs. After the condition has progressed substantially, the correction becomes more difficult. More complex treatments, including surgery, may be necessary.

This is why regular chiropractic checkups of both you and your children are a must. An untreated spinal curvature may advance quickly, especially during the period of rapid teenage growth. When the curvature is discovered in time, there are chiropractic methods that usually correct the curvature or prevent its increase. Even as adults, chiropractic care can provide relief to scoliosis sufferers.

The 3000 mile Tune-up

The 3,000 Mile Tune-Up

The question arises over and over again…should I still continue to come for regular adjustments even if I don’t have pain?  Well, I am glad you asked.  I would personally agree with getting regular chiropractic adjustments because I have been receiving maintenance adjustments for over 25 years now.  I have only had low back pain or neck pain with my occasional biking or snowboarding accidents.  Pain should never be the controlling factor of why you return to get adjusted.

Your nervous system is made up of over seventy-five miles of nerves and the nerve impulses can be as fast as three hundred and fifty miles per hour.   Only 5% of your body registers pain and 95% controls functions like breathing, digesting, thinking and eliminating.  Only in the last moment of pressure on a nerve will you feel the pain, but well before that pressure your bodily functions will be affected and decreased. Would you rather just feel good and be out of pain, or be healthy?  The first symptom of one who is having a heart attack is most often death. Prior to that heart attack, that person felt good.  Again I cannot stress how important it is to have your nervous system functioning at 100%.  One of the greatest tests that you can use is the Thermal (HEAT) and EMG (MUSCLE) scanner at my office.  These tests definitively show if your nervous system is operating at 100%. 

Well Dr. Andrea, how often do you get adjusted?  I aim for an adjustment once a month, or often more frequently. Pretty much whenever I see my brother Dr. Michael, we make sure to adjust each other.  Why would I do any less for you and your family?

I had been going to my dentist Dr. Jarvin for about 22 years before he retired.  He had taught me very well the good habits of brushing and flossing.  Now with my current dentist, Dr. David, over the last six years, I continue my maintenance cleaning.  Since I started driving 24 years ago, I have been tuning up my car every 3,000 miles. Why would you not want your nervous system to run at its optimum peak for the entire life?  How long would your car last if you only tuned it up when the engine started smoking or the oil light came on? 

When it comes to your health and nervous system, it should be your number one priority with your family.  As Dr. Jarvin and my mechanic have taught me, “teeth and an engine can be replaced, but it can never be as good as the original.” 

You make the choice.  Health is your responsibility and you do have a choice to keep your family’s nervous system always operating at 100%.

-Dr. Andrea

Children And Chiropractic

By nature, babies are born very healthy.  They have been living in a perfect environment with everything they need being provided.  As children they usually do not have aches and pains and when they do, they are usually forgotten as quickly as they came.

However, something more serious could be going on.  It’s called Spinal Subluxation Degeneration.  It is a slow and relentless condition that results from spinal vertebral misalignment or malfunction and eventually erodes the structure and functioning of the spine.  It usually begins in childhood and results in permanent damage as an adult.  This structural damage is worsened by the scientific knowledge that this spinal malfunction results in nerve damage, even in children.

Your next questions are:  “How does this happen?” and, “Could my child have this?”  Most often this spinal trauma is caused from the birth process itself, especially if it was difficult.  Tossing your child in the air or yanking the child by one arm can cause a severe whiplash which is usually associated with car accidents.  Also, falling off a bicycle or the everyday bumps that happen to children could cause spinal subluxations.  Generally, children quickly become accustomed to these problems and go on with their daily activities.

Signs you can look for are:  Do your children get colds often?  Do they get ear aches or sore throats often?  Are they hyperactive?  When they were babies did they have colic or cry a lot for no reason?  Were they bed-wetters?  When your child walks or stands, look at his/her posture.  Is one shoulder or hip higher than the other?  Do their clothes fit unevenly?  Does one foot point out or in?  These are just some of the signs of spinal subluxation.

If you suspect a problem or just want your baby or child checked, let Dr. Andrea examine your child for spinal subluxations.  Only a Doctor of Chiropractic is trained to detect early stages of spinal degeneration.  Dr. Andrea will give you a full explanation of the problem and what is necessary for correction.  She is specially trained to care for babies and children, as well as pregnant women, and is the only pediatric chiropractor in the Sea to Sky corridor educated through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA).

A Doctor of Chiropractic can also assist you in optimizing your child’s spinal health, such as, letting your child crawl as long as he/she wants.  This helps them develop the proper spinal curves that lead to a stronger and healthier spine, thus fewer spinal problems when they are adults.  When you bring your child to the Chiropractor, have the things you noticed about your child, and when they happened written down so the doctor can give your child the best care possible.

4 Fundamentals to Keep the Body Fit and Strong

Did you know that poor posture is seen in greater than 70% of work place injuries?  Poor posture indicates that muscles and joints are under stress, and this imbalance causes muscles and joints to have to work too hard or inefficiently which can lead to inhibited performance and potential for injury.  Poor posture can develop from overuse in certain sports (for example, 1-sided sports such as golf or tennis), repetitive stress injuries (doing the same movements over and over), or muscular imbalance (stronger dominant side).

It is important to work on endurance, stability, balance, and flexibility to keep the spine and body strong and fit maintaining good posture.  Let's talk about each of these.


The first step is aerobic.  You can build up to 30 minutes 3-5 times a week with an elliptical trainer, running, stairmaster, swimming, biking, etc.  Aerobic training also strengthens muscles making agility drills easier with an aerobic base (think sideways running, skipping, etc.)


Prepare the body to move in short bursts.  Turns and lots of spinal rotations can put a lot of stress on the knees, so be careful and keep good form!  Focus on plyometrics which develop explosive, quick movements to generate muscle power and speed (try squat jumps and box jumps).


Most of your balance comes from your core, which doesn’t just mean your abs.  You must be aware that the front and back of the body have to be equally strong.  Balance is important for quick reaction times, so incorporate a BOSU ball into your workout while doing lunges, squats, or single-leg exercises.


Studies show that a 15% imbalance in flexibility increases your injury risk by 2 ½ times!  So                    stretching before a workout protects against injury, improves motion and flexibility, and stretching after a workout helps the muscles to return to normal length.  Also remember that connective tissue such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons shorten over time, so stretching is important especially as we age.  Try yoga for a fun and great workout promoting flexibility as well as strength.                                                                                                                     

In conclusion, human movement and function requires a balance of muscle length and strength between opposing muscles surrounding a joint.  Focussing on these four fundamentals will take you far, but remember that the only way to actually correct imbalance is through chiropractic adjustments.  In my experience, you are always better off first correcting the spinal misalignments before working on your posture with exercise.  The two together are an unstoppable force for the betterment of your health!

Matching Your Diet To Your DNA-Part 3

In this 3rd and final installment, we will go over what we should be eating for optimal health of our body.

What Should We Eat?

•          Our ancestors rarely consumed cereal grains and had no dairy, sugars, or processed foods.

•          Game and wild plant foods contained less fat, more protein, more roughage, and more micronutrients than do foods from our supermarkets.

•          Fruits and vegetables were consumed within hours of being gathered, typically with minimal or no processing and often uncooked.

•          Foods contained higher average content of vitamins and minerals (in excess of currently recommended dietary allowances).

•          73% of world-wide hunter-gatherer societies derived >50% of their food from animals, only 14% of these societies derived >50% of their food from plants (energy from proteins > that of carbohydrates).

•          organic, grass-fed lean meats (avoid grain fed), wild fish (avoid farmed), and eggs (free-range, organic)

•          plenty of fresh organic vegetables and fruit, emphasis on vegetables

•         Paleo diet is a good guide

This is not meant to promote any one "diet" over another.  You must think of food more as a lifestyle change, not a fad diet.  Developing good habits will go a long way and make it easier to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle.  Please remember, this is only a guide.  It doesn't mean you must change everything you are doing overnight, but may it encourage you to make a small change here and there until you are ready for another.  Don't complicate things, think simple and old-fashioned when it comes to what you eat. 

Matching Your Diet To Your DNA-Part 2

So what about our genetics?  Do they play a role in our health?  Here are a few key points in understanding the role of our genes and how often we blame our genes for the illnesses we suffer from when it's our poor lifestyle choices we should pay closer attention to.

•          Our genes our programmed for health. It is toxicity and/or deficiency affecting gene expression that leads to sickness and disease.

•          Our genes do NOT differ from our paleolithic, hunter-gatherer, pre-agricultural, pre-industrial ancestors.

•          Our ancestors, and surviving tribes that model their lifestyles, did not die from the diseases of lifestyle like heart disease, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, and stroke or suffer from the degenerative or autoimmune diseases like arthritis, lupus, M.S., chronic fatigue, low fertility, depression, etc. like modern humans do.

•          The only difference between our healthy ancestors and our sick society is toxicity and deficiency.  The genes are the same!

•          Built into our genes is the blueprint for optimal nutrition (innate intelligence).  To be healthy, we must eat and live congruently with this innate intelligence (provide it with sufficient amounts of ingredients it needs and avoid things that are toxic or interfering).

•          Modern illness is due to environmental NOT genetic factors.  Modern illnesses are AVOIDABLE! Modern health is ATTAINABLE!

Excerpts taken from Dr. James Chestnut's book "The Innate Diet & Natural Hygiene".  The 3rd and final part will come out next week.  We will talk about what kinds of food support our genes, which are best to avoid, and ideas to help us achieve abundant health!