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Lower Back and Gut Pain: Are They Related?

Lower Back and Gut Pain:  Are They Related?

You have a second brain. 

If that’s not the coolest thing you’ve read today, you should take a nap and wake up to reread it. 

Not many people realize they can see a chiropractor for back and gut pain.  They are related systems, and therefore should be treated together.  It’s not something you will need drugs or surgery for; thus, chiropractors can help you manage and relieve those symptoms.

What’s most interesting about how quickly our patients recover under our care is the connection their food and drinking habits have on their back pain and mood.  Now we know why.  It’s because we have a brain inside our gut, and it communicates with everyone else.

The Brain-Gut

Remember the last time you had to give a presentation, go on a first date, or do something new, and you felt those butterflies in your stomach?  How about when you made a difficult decision based on a “gut feeling”? 

We often write these off as something that happens in our minds because we think about it.  But you’re getting signals from your second brain in the gut.  Scientists named this little brain the enteric nervous system, two thin layers made up of over 100 million nerve cells lining your tract from the esophagus to the rectum.  It communicates with and affects the central nervous system—the pain center in the skull brain. 

The gut brain’s primary role is to control the entire digestive process.  However, while the brain-gut can’t recite a speech or solve complex math problems, it still communicates with the other brain to help the body function. Issues within the enteric nervous system lead to familiar symptoms like:

·         Diarrhea

·         Irritable bowel syndrome

·         Leaky gut

·         Bloating

·         Pain and stomach upset

·         Constipation

Many people find that back pain goes away for at least a little while when they fix their digestive tract.  That’s a sign your back and gut pain are related.  The good news is now you can fix it. 

The Role of Diet in Back and Gut Pain

You are what you eat.  I know we’ve all heard it, but it’s just as accurate now as when it started circulating across our communities.  The food and drinks you put into your body are used or rejected by the two brains.  Something you’re eating is likely the reason for nearly every episode of back and gut pain.  Many people don’t realize that today’s food is not as nutritious as 50 years ago.  The soil and its vegetation are regularly leached of essential nutrients and treated with pesticides or forced to grow through genetic modification. 

Back pain is just one symptom closely related to food-related gut pain.  Food sensitivities or allergies include other symptoms as well, like:

·         Nausea and vomiting

·         Irritability and nervousness

·         Excessive gas and cramping

·         Heartburn

·         Headaches or migraines

What To Do For Back and Gut Pain

There are a couple things you can do now to start moving in the right direction:

1.       Start an autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet.  Also called an elimination diet, it’s an effective way to determine which ingredient is causing the problem.  You start by removing all known and popular trigger foods like dairy, gluten, and sugar.  Then, you reintroduce them one at a time, very slowly, and journal how you feel for a couple of days.

2.       Get a food allergy test.  Most food allergy tests can be done from the comfort of your own home.  A simple skin prick test can determine if you have an allergic reaction to a specific food.  While this is helpful for allergies, it’s doesn’t reveal sensitivities. 

The goal is to start moving in the right direction of health.  Norwalk has many great activities, so we understand the importance of getting and staying on top of your game.  Receiving care at Slovin Chiropractic Center means you’ll work with a partner who can help you change behaviors outside the office, so you can stop the pain yourself.   

We’re here when you’re ready to get started. 

Sources:

Medical News Today: Can stomach problems cause lower back pain

Hopkins Medicine: The Brain-Gut ConnectionEveryday health: Lower back pain and digestive health


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How to Avoid Winter Stress Meltdowns

For millions, winter is anything but a wonderland.  Managing the anxiety, fatigue and mood swings associated with winter stress can be a challenge.

Whether you call it winter stress or holiday blues, the period between November and January sends many people careening toward anxiety, overwhelming busyness and even feelings of inadequacy, and that’s without the added stress of Covid.

To help you start winter off right, here are several valuable and timely tips to help you avoid holiday meltdown and survive the anxiety often associated with the winter season.

First, start by really taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally. You are much more likely to avoid bouts of anxiety and drastic mood swings with this one simple step. Just be aware of what you are currently doing so you may make changes for the better.

For example, many people tend to overeat when anxious or stressed, particularly during the holiday season when high-calorie foods are plentiful.  While comfort food can be a great thing every now and then, over-doing it can have some unexpectedly unpleasant effects.  Indulging in too many sweets or high-fat meals can trigger increased anxiety, mood swings, fatigue and even erratic behavior.

By simply paying attention to the types of foods being consumed, as well as the amount, you can avoid many of the nasty pitfalls associated with using food as a stress reliever.

Second, caffeinated beverages can also have a definite negative impact on winter stress.  Studies have shown caffeine consumption increases the production of stress hormones such as cortisol.  This can result in increased feelings of anxiety and nervousness as well as increased fat accumulation, particularly around the belly area.

Of course, the most well-known effects of caffeine are “jitters” and sleeplessness, which often aggravate and intensify physical and emotional stressors.

The issue of sleeplessness frequently goes hand-in-hand with winter and holiday stress. And that is why it is number three on our list of things to help avoid winter stress meltdowns. Irregular or hectic schedules can leave you lying awake at night with thoughts and worries keeping sleep frustratingly away.  A lack of good, recuperative sleep plays havoc on the body’s hormones which affect physical and mental health.  The result is an increased level of anxiety, depression  and often even anger.

If you find yourself frequently losing sleep, try going to bed and rising on a regular schedule.  Yes, even on the weekends. Also, avoid heavy meals, sugar-laden snacks or alcoholic beverages within three hours before your regular bedtime.  As you lay down to sleep, make a conscious effort to create a mental picture of yourself relaxing on a beach, getting a massage or perhaps curled up in front of a warm fire.  Whatever you consider relaxing, send your thoughts there.

Another excellent way to help ensure a good night’s sleep is regular exercise during the day.  Staying active also relieves stress and encourages the production of mood-lifting hormones.  If hitting the gym every morning just does not fit your lifestyle or schedule, at least commit to taking three or four brisk 30-minute walks per week.  With this little bit of regular exercise, those extra pieces of pie or fudge will have a harder time finding their way to your waistline.

Number 4: Mediation is another highly effective “stress buster.”  This can be in the form of yoga, deep breathing or simply turning down the lights and listening to soothing music.  You do not need elaborate equipment or a special room for this.  Just find a quiet corner and spend 20 minutes letting the stress of the day wash away.

Finally, number 5. Set specific, attainable goals for the holidays, for next year, heck even for next week!  For instance, if you want to lose weight, create a plan, and do your best to stick to it. Goal-setting is a great way to take control of your life, particularly when faced with stressful situations.  And be sure to celebrate each milestone you achieve while working toward your goals, no matter the size.