Most people are excited to leave 2020 behind and start fresh in 2021. Living a healthy lifestyle will make you feel better, give you more energy and improve your mood. Healthy resolutions should include increasing levels of vitamin D, creating an exercise routine based on activities you enjoy doing, building an ergonomic workstation, finding ways to decrease stress and seeking chiropractic care.
2020 was an extremely challenging and disruptive year for everyone. As we reset for 2021 and make our health resolutions, what value should we place on improving the quality of our diet? And what tips do you have to help kickstart better nutrition?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, it is a happy new year, and it’s kind of interesting how everyone was hanging such a high presence on the flipping of the calendar and hoping that everything was going to change. But things are going to take time to change, and there’s a lot of exciting things happening out there.
We’ve spoken before, and there’s a common perception that all chiropractors are into nutrition, and it’s not really at the forefront of my practice. However, there was one thing, a resolution that I think everyone should be taking on when we’re talking about nutrition, especially with respect to everything that’s been going on with the COVID pandemic. There’s been a lot of information going around about vitamin D and vitamin D deficiencies associated with deleterious effects on innate and adaptive immunity. And there are many, many data sets out there and lots of little research studies that are coming up, that really show that the vitamin D deficiency is a severe risk factor for COVID-19.
And unlike some other risk factors that exist, this one can be acutely modified. They did a study and they looked at 154 patients who presented to a medical center over six weeks. When they actually looked at how many people died from COVID related illness, the deaths were evaluated on the basis of a vitamin D deficiency. So, what they found was that there was a fatality rate of 21% compared to only 3% for the people who had higher levels of vitamin D. The most striking evidence was that vitamin D deficiency was found in 97% of all the severely ill patients who required ICU admission, but only 30% of the asymptomatic cases had the different levels, suggesting that lower levels are a necessary component for severe COVID-19 symptomatology. So, this is one of numerous studies this year establishing a correlation between low vitamin D levels and an aggravated course of COVID-19.
So, this was really, really interesting to me. And then they did some randomized trials with aggressive vitamin D replenishment, which is really showing some interesting positive results. And what they found was when they compared the group that were treated with vitamin D and given a lot of vitamin D, they saw a significant change in the overall health. The results showed that supplementation with vitamin D helped clear the virus faster. 63% of the treated patients tested negative for COVID by the 14th day, as compared to only 21% from the placebo group. In addition, the treated group showed a decrease in levels of fibrinogen, which is this one part where you might be hearing a lot about these cardiovascular instances where they’re having these thrombocytic events where people are throwing clots. So, there’s a lot of information there about vitamin D. And I think that’s probably the biggest thing that I would want people to take away from this podcast, is to really look into vitamin D supplementation.
So that’s my big one, but just understand that I’m not the biggest nutrition guru. There are many people who are far more qualified than I am to really talk about the details of nutrition. I often refer out to registered dieticians and people who have more education in it.
What are some tips for creating a sustainable exercise routine, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when gyms and fitness centers may still be closed?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, my gym has certainly been closed. It’s inside of a hotel, and I haven’t had access to it for about 11 months. The biggest thing I would tell people is get outside and walk, which dovetails perfectly with your previous question, because vitamin D has to be activated by sunlight.
What was interesting at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was just staying inside. They weren’t going out, they weren’t getting sunlight, they weren’t activating vitamin D so a lot of vitamin D deficiency was out there. And I think that may have contributed to a lot more people getting sicker than they actually needed to. It’s kind of interesting when we look at that. In the early part of the pandemic, yes, all the gyms closed down, probably permanently, some of them. But for the first six to eight weeks, I was like everyone else, I sat around pretty much stress eating, and I gained some weight. And I was really thinking about, “What am I going to do?”
When I was sitting in the office, pretty much by myself because very few people were coming out, I realized that I had some of these TheraBands. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with them, but they’re these like giant rubber bands. You can tie them to door knobs, and you can do a host of different exercises using those bands. So, instead of using weights for resistant training in the gym, I started using those in the office and I created a workout. We actually videoed it and it’s up on our website. We can definitely give people information if they’re happy to go on the website. It’s absolutely free to take a look at it. We can tell you where to get the TheraBands as well.
Then I augmented that workout with just running the stairs, jumping rope, doing some push-ups and sit-ups, and it was really refreshing for people to come in after they hadn’t seen me in a while and people started to trickle back and be like, “Oh doc, you look great. How’d you maintain it?” And I said, “Just send them the video,” is what we told them. I told my front desk just, “If they email the office, we’ll just email the video directly to them.”
The important thing about fitness and exercise, and I’ve said this before, it has to be compelling. If you don’t enjoy riding a bike, you’re not going to ride a bicycle. If you don’t like running, you’re not going to run. So, each individual has to come up with what they enjoy to do and what they like. Because again, if it’s not compelling, they’re not going to do it, and they’re not going to be consistent. And consistency is the key for exercise and staying fit.
There are many different things and there’s all different online yoga classes, the prenatal yoga center that we work with are awesome. They do all their classes virtually now. And a lot of people are enjoying it more. I just had a conversation with Deb, who runs that prenatal yoga center, and she said they have actually more engagement, because people are working from the comfort of their own home. She’s kind of seeing busier classes than ever, and she thought that the pandemic was going to wipe her out.
So, it’s really interesting, some individual choice, but if anyone needs guidance, please have them go to 57thstreetchiropractic.com, or shoot us an email, and we’ll be happy to send those to anyone free of charge.
Could you explain why it’s so important for people that sit in front of a computer screen all day to create a healthy workstation, and make ergonomics and posture a priority in 2021?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, yes, there’s definitely more of a need for this, but this need has always been present. And it’s a great question, because now people aren’t going into the office, people are working at home. And they don’t have the big, nice desk and the ergonomic chairs. I hear a lot of my patients coming in and saying, “Yeah, I sit on the couch with my laptop on my knees. Or the laptop is on my coffee table. Or I’m on my kitchen table.” And these things aren’t really well-designed workstations, right? They find themselves sitting in front of the computers for hours and hours through these lengthy Zoom meetings. The kids now are in school, they’re living in front of their computers more than ever before, right? And this is leading to foster sedentary lifestyles, decreased levels of fitness.
And the health experience is changing for adults and children. We have a lot of information in the office. We believe that ergonomics are extremely important. And we have this one sheet in particular that has like every possible measurement that you can have as to how high your chair should be, the height of your desk, how far away it should be, where your keyboard should be, the angle, the incidences, how you’re looking at the screen. There’s a myriad of things that go into a lot of detail. And again, that sheet we’re happy to send to anyone, all they have to do is reach out to us. And it’ll give us a basic guide of what they look like in front of their workstation. And then we can make some modifications to it. But you’re absolutely right, because people are doing lots and lots of sitting, working from home. They’re not getting out. So, this sedentary lifestyle, especially when they’re sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time, is leading to that forward head posture, strains of the neck, strains of the eyes, headaches, and a myriad of problems.
And we’re hearing a lot of the same songs being repeated by several different patients coming in, whether they’re young or old, everyone seems to be living in front of the computer now much more commonly.
Prioritizing our mental health should be a top resolution for people in 2021, especially while we all battle the effects of the pandemic. So, what are some ways people can decrease stress and improve their mood and mental health?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, there’s lots of things we can do. I would say the top of the list is eat better, rest more and appropriately, meditate, exercise, perhaps even taking a news and a media break, using positive affirmations. And of course, I’m a little partial to seeing your chiropractor to help you deal with the physical manifestations of stress. Typically, right now everyone’s under higher levels of stress, and we have been for over 11 months. And we all know that stress, tension, poor posture, accidents, falls, all create those misalignments, or what we call subluxations. And that’s the primary thing that a chiropractor is interested in, because when the vertebrae subluxate or misalign, they pinch and irritate the nerves. And typically, when we have stress, the muscles are tighter, pulling the bones out of alignment. So, stress has this very deleterious effect on the nervous system.
When your body is under stress, your body really goes into sympathetic overdrive. Sympathetic overdrive is the state of fight or flight where we’re cranking out lots of adrenaline and cortisol. And we’ve talked about those hormones a lot when our body is secreting adrenaline our pain sensitivity is higher. And also, cortisol actually slows down and reduces the function of your immune system, because healing is very metabolically expensive. It takes a lot of energy to heal your body. So, when it’s under stress, your body wants to save energy for this fight or flight response, whether it has to run away or attack someone to protect itself. It’s a very different state. And when you’re under that state for 11 months, that stress is really going to give you a hard time.
Meditation, yoga, are all great ways of dealing with stress, and chiropractic is a great way to deal with the physical manifestations of stress once they’ve arrived. The tightness of the muscles, the misalignment of the bones which irritate the nerves. So, clearing that out helps your body kind of restore balance and keep your body running, regulating, and healing at its best.
That’s pretty much the answer to my last question so if you’d like to add anything, please feel free. I was going ask you, why should people make chiropractic care one of their health resolutions for 2021?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: It just goes to show you that great minds think alike. I didn’t mean to steal your thunder on that last question, but sometimes it happens. You know, I’ve always maintained that prevention is the biggest thing that chiropractic has to offer. And again, in 2021, our stress levels are still going to be pretty high as the current pandemic situation is going to take a good deal of time to clear up. So, seeing a chiropractor has many benefits, just like as if you were going to the gym and start to exercise, I’m know you’re going to feel stronger. You might lose weight, but you’re also going to sleep better. You’ll digest food better, and you’re just going to function at higher energy levels just because you started exercising.
The same thing with the spine. By clearing pressure off the nerve system, it enhances the nerve system’s ability to function. And since your nerve system controls, runs, and regulates every other system in your body and controls every stage of healing and regeneration, it’s important that that system works correctly. Pressure on the nerve system can make your spine kind of work more like a computer running up, do you remember, that old dial-up internet versus a DSL or a T1 line. The faster and more efficiently your nerve system works, the better your body works. It’s just that simple.
That’s why I can’t stress enough how periodic chiropractic checkups is just as important as seeing your dentist, because if you brush and floss and you see a dentist regularly, your teeth will stay healthy and they’ll last you a lifetime. Well, the problem is, is most people think if they don’t have pain, then they don’t need a chiropractor. But the reality is, is you brush your teeth whether they hurt or not, and you should see a chiropractor whether you have pain or not. By getting your spine checked and clearing the misalignments, your body is going to be healthier and run better. Those misalignments of the spine can have the same effect of not being lined up right with the front end of your car. If you keep driving the car without the front end aligned, you’re going to wear the tires funny.
That wear and tear on the spine can cause degeneration, early arthritic change, and a host of other conditions. So, chiropractic care can keep your and nerve system healthy, and keep your nerve system optimized for better health, healing, and recovery.
To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit www.ChiropractorMidtown.com or call (212) 977-7094 to schedule an appointment.