Get Healthier AND Help Children

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Hey Folks!

For the month of December I will be donating a portion of every new patient visit to the Kids Health Links Foundation, specifically, their program “Upopolis”.  This charity was founded by Basile Papaevangelou and his daughter Christina to help children avoid the isolation that can accompany long stays in hospitals.  Being away from friends, family and school can cause additional stress on children, during a time when their immune systems demand the most of them.  Here is some information about Upopolis:

Upopolis™ is a private social utility that connects young hospital patients to their family, friends and school network .

Kids can use Upopolis to:

  • Build a profile, create a blog and stay in touch with people they know
  • Learn more about their conditions and treatment with kid-friendly medical information
  • Keep up with schoolwork while they’re away from class
  • Look up kids around them in hospital and share their experiences

Now then, to be able to donate money to this cause, I need you to know what I’m offering and why you should spend your time (and money) receiving chiropractic care from me.

You need chiropractic care.  You may not need a lot of it, but every single person will benefit from a properly moving spine.  For your genetics to express health, it needs a certain amount of movement.  Just like animals, plants, or any living thing on the planet, humans have optimal conditions in which to thrive.  Among many other things, a properly moving spine is one of those conditions.  Having exceptional movement in your spine means your brain is receiving full and complete input from your body, as you move it (you ARE moving your body with some regularity, right?).  When the spine isn’t moving well we set ourselves up for all sorts of problems that range from back and neck pain (the most common) to headaches, poor sleep, inadequate digestion, and an inhibited immune system.  I’ll stop there.

The point of this post isn’t to goad you into doing something you don’t want to do (because obviously that would never work).  The point is to try and present to you the reason why chiropractic care is essential to wellbeing, and from there to encourage you to tell your friends, family and coworkers to come in and receive the health care that they need.

And ultimately the more people that come in to realize their health potential, the more I can donate to the awesome cause that is “Upopolis”.

I will be providing chiropractic care @ Element Crossfit (in Mississauga/Oakville) Mondays and Wednesdays 6-8am (please call/email to make an appointment) and Tuesdays and Thursdays 5-9pm.

I look forward to helping you reach your health goals!

Dr. Ball

p.s. Here is the advertisement I’ve drawn up that (if you’d be so gracious) you can post on your facebook wall, twitter, blog, etc.  I’d really appreciate all the help I can get with this promotion as I’d like to donate as much as I can to this cause.  Thank you so much!

Put me on your FB/Twitter/Blog!

Get out the Gout!

November 17, 2010 1 comment
Spiked rods of uric acid crystals photographed...

Image via Wikipedia

So this post was brought on by a question from a friend who has the pleasure of being afflicted with Gout.  Must be terrible, thank my lifestyle choices for not exposing me to that sort of pain.  In case you know someone with this problem as well (and you very well might as Gout cases are increasing every year), we’re going to discuss why gout occurs and what you can do about it.

So first things first, What is Gout?  Gout is hyperuricemia.  Which means your body has too much uric acid in it.  How does this happen?  Well you’re either making/consuming too much uric acid (via the liver and from your diet) or you aren’t excreting enough (through the kidneys).  This can lead to uric acid exceeding its solubility in the body and materializing in places it shouldn’t be, most commonly in the joint where the big toe meets the foot.  Unfortunately it doesn’t materialize into nice spongy soft happiness, it materializes into sharp, crystal-needle shaped, pain-inducing sadness.  But why is this happening?

I’m going to let my chiropractic/logical side shine through here and ask you a question.  Do you think your body was designed to get gout, and that after X amount of time you were meant to get it ?  Or do you think that what you eat and how you live might matter?  Ok then.  Coming from the stance that we aren’t meant to get gout, and that we’re meant to experience radiant health, what are we doing wrong that is causing this problem then?

Without knowing what the patients current diet is like, I’m led to assume that the typical gout patient has heard, “don’t eat protein, because it has high levels of purines and therefore will lead to high levels of uric acid.” from the people currently managing their health.  It’s logical thinking, but ultimately it doesn’t work (otherwise you’d hear about people resolving their gout with this approach, right?).

The problem with not eating any meat out of fear of the purines, is that eating dense protein sources stimulates your kidneys to reduce the concentration of uric acid in your body.  The other problem with eliminating meats/dense sources of protein is that you’re then left with fat and carbs as your two sources of calories.  The gout guidelines of what is safe to eat also think that eating sweets, and other great sources of sugar is a good idea and “OK” for gout.  It isn’t.  Gout is often seen as an additional player in Metabolic Syndrome (AKA Syndrome X).  This comes to fruition by following the “Fat is the devil, eat more ‘complex carbs’ mentality”.  This is unfortunately one of the main reasons why there are more obese, overweight people and a greater incidence of autoimmune disorders in the world than ever before.  But that’s for another day.

Insulin resistance is a huge player as insulin is a potent inhibitor of uric acid excretion by the kidneys.  Most important in this resistance (especially in the case of fructose) is our ridiculous consumption of sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Despite the commercials by the corn growers saying “it’s just as healthy as sugar!” (anyone else find that sounds odd?) HFCS is not healthy.  Full stop.  Fructose stimulates purine synthesis by lowering the inorganic phosphate levels which normally regulate uric acid production in the liver, which leads to higher uric acid synthesis.  And since fructose is selectively metabolized by the liver, eating a diet high in fructose sets the liver up for insulin resistance.  This resistance leads to more free-flowing insulin, and now we have fructose causing an increase in uric acid production, as well as a decrease in uric acid excretion.  Fructose’s metabolism in the liver also leads to lactic acid production, which eventually reaches the kidneys and competitively inhibits the excretion of uric acid.  Yay!  Fructose is quite the effective multitasker!

Finally the part that really might make you dislike having gout, is that alcohol is also implicated in inhibiting uric acid excretion via the production of  lactic acid.  Alcohol is also great at using up those inorganic phosphates in the liver that like to regulate the production of uric acid.  So alcohol isn’t quite the Deion Sanders of gout that Fructose is, but it hits you with a double whammy.

So, now what?

Well, now you eat the diet that you are meant to eat.  Being humans we seem to be the only species that eats what we shouldn’t be eating, without noticing the health effects.  So, if you want to be healthy, you’d eat what a healthy person eats right?  If you found a platypus in your backyard and needed to take care of it, you’d look up what healthy, wild platypus’ eat and feed it that, right?  Well, you’re my found platypus and I’m telling you to eat what the other, healthy platypus’ are eating.  Keep in mind if you have certain things that light you up and make you feel awful, well, avoid those things!  While we are all extremely similar genotypically, there is still some play phenotypically (which makes life fun!) that leads us to need to tinker and play with what we’re eating until we find what works for us.

What you should eat:

  • Meat.  Wild game, poultry, red meats, something that used to live a great life.  Preferably wild caught, organic, free range, etc.  Take it easy at first and work into it.  Don’t try the 72oz. steak challenge, our diet still provides 1/3 of our bodies uric acid, but we need the dense protein to stimulate the kidneys to excrete more uric acid.
  • Vegetables.  Eat them.  If you think “dang, I’m eating a LOT of veggies here”, you probably still aren’t eating enough.  Find which ones you like, try new ones.  Avoid corn and peas, as they aren’t veggies, they’re a grain and legume, respectively.  Don’t go TOO nuts with potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash, they’re just a little higher in starch, and we’re trying to create some insulin sensitivity.
  • Fruit.  Don’t go overboard,  fruits main sugar is fructose.   But fruit are great for satisfying a sweet tooth, and avoiding crushing a Coke, or other crappy food that is super high in HFCS or sucrose.  Try to incorporate more avocado and coconut products in your diet.  They’re high in healthy fats and they’re delicious and filling.
  • Nuts & Seeds.  They’ve got lots of fat in them so can be a little calorie heavy as people can generally put away a lot of nuts and seeds.  They also tend to skew the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in an unfavourable direction.  But as a garnish, the fats are satisfying and they taste pretty good.


  • Water.  Tea.  That’s about it.


  • CRAP – i.e. candy, soda/pop, fruit juices, straight sugar
  • Alcohol – Just stay away from it for a while.  Try to eliminate it for 30 days at least, and then go light (if you must).  Avoid beer and drink something clear (tequila, vodka, rum).
  • Grains – they’re poison (lectins, phytates) tainted, nutrient-sparse and carb HEAVY.  They’re like fructose in that they’re great at multitasking; they destroy your digestive system while robbing you of minerals AND they spike your insulin.  The only things the grains are better than is the stuff in the “crap” category.
  • Legumes – they’re full of phytic acid and they’re a crappy source of incomplete protein.  If you absolutely MUST eat them, soak them overnight and then slow cook them.
  • Rice & Pasta – they’re also nutrient poor and carbohydrate dense.  Pasta and rice have their own lectins, and will wreak havoc on your digestive system.

In addition to the dietary recommendations, get some regular activity (walks, light hike, whatever you like to do that involves moving) and workout intensely once or twice a week.  Try to stay warm (to avoid uric acid crystal formation), and get some good sleep (8-9 hours in a BLACKED OUT room).  And I want to mention one last time, ease into this, find what works for you and what doesn’t (within the allowed parameters) and give it some time.  Like anything in life worth having, this will take time and effort.

All the best,

Dr. Ball

p.s. I have to give credit to Dr. Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, Tim Ferris and Gary Taubes for providing a lot of this information through blog posts, podcasts, newsletters and books!  All four of them have great books and I highly recommend them for everyone!

How Do YOU Stimulate Yourself?

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment
DNA, RNA, transcription, translation,

Image via Wikipedia

Hey Folks,

In a previous post I mentioned how animals in captivity have shortened lifespans and a whole slew of other problems.  Today we’re going to delve into the guiding principles of health, and why the oneswe’re currently using don’t work.

The human body is designed to respond and adapt to the stimuli with which you provide it.  That stimulus can be either genetically congruent, or it can be genetically incongruent.  Whether you believe in evolution, creation or any mix of the two, this guiding principle applies to you.

So what type of stimuli am I speaking of, that are causing you to adapt?  The stimuli I’m speaking of includes everything from where you are, to what you do and think.  To avoid chaos and bad science we need a guiding principle, to direct the stimuli you experience and to help us make intelligent choices with regard to those experiences.  How about evolution for a guiding principle?  If we use consider the things we do in life, are they consistent with the actions we have evolved to go?  Genetics appears to be the new culprit for poor health, but do you think that over the millions of years of our evolution that poor genes that made us sick were more successful at being passed onto the next generation than healthy genes?  Would it make any sense that your body was directed through tens of thousands of generations to sabotage you when you least expect it?  This is what we’re being taught and exposed to all day everyday.  Many drug companies claim that they are only indicated when other forms of treatment have not worked.  Lately it appears that step has been skipped over, and we’ve all assumed it won’t work.  Adusting your lifestyle is the ONLY thing that will make you healthier.  Taking medications will change your symptoms or lab values and you and your MD can celebrate those values, but you aren’t any healthier, that’s for certain. 

For just a moment, let’s pretend that you are the proud owner of the perfect genes.  If you were consuming a diet high in processed carbohydrates, vegetable oils, and grain fed meats.  You didn’t have any physical activity for the day, and you sleep poorly.  Do you think that your perfect genetics are making a mistake when they decide to upregulate the genes that lead to increased LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides and a down regulation of the proteins responsible for producing the insulin receptors on cells?  Or is your DNA just responding to the stimulus that you’re providing it?

If you believe it isn’t a mistake, and that it happened for a reason – would it make any sense to you to take a drug that prevents your body from being able to react to the stimuli you provide it?

I’m willing to bet you said “no” to that question.  But that’s what we’re doing with our current health and wellness model.  High cholesterol?  Who cares WHY it’s happening, continue to eat crap and take statins.  Little to no midline stability?  Forget correcting posture and how you move, do crunches until your face goes numb.  Depressed? Don’t worry about changing your lifestyle, it has nothing to do with you, it’s serotonins fault!

We are stuck in the one cure for one ill model, and we’re slowly being convinced that any inadequacies in our lives have nothing to do with us!  I’m sorry to tell you this, but you aren’t as unique as you think you are.  As homo sapiens we have the same genes as our ancestors from 40,000 year ago.  They’re all in there.  What we do with our lives is what affects how they’re expressed.  The diversity of people on the planet is a good example of the many different ways our genes can be expressed.  Can you think of anyone that exercise is BAD for?  That eating high quality, organic, free range food would be bad for some people and good for others?  That getting adequate sleep would be bad for some people?  That smiling and laughing is bad?

How can there be things that are good for EVERYONE?  Because we’re all designed to be healthy, happy, successful humans.  Full stop.  Your body can’t help but express crap if you feed it with crap.  It also can’t help but express excellence if you provide it with excellence.  Too much sitting is just as toxic as too much gluten.  Proper diet is just as important as getting exercise and sleeping well.  We need to give up the “I have this problem that requires that solution”, and embrace the, “am I living in a way that will best allow my DNA to express health?”.

What are you providing your body?  Are you feeding in crap and expecting excellence?   Take stock in what you’re doing well for yourself and celebrate it.  Acknowledge what you aren’t and plan a way to address it.  There is always a better you out there, waiting to be experienced.  Don’t get lost among the shiny promises of the one problem-one solution people!

What is Health?

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

The following post was written by Dr. Adam Blair.  He is practicing chiropractic in Pickering, Ontario and his contact information is available at the end of this post.  I highly recommend Dr. Blair and have had many of my occasional problems solved by his work.  Onto the post!

If you were to ask one hundred people what their definition of health was, you would likely get one hundred different answers- which is likely the reason you will never see the question asked on Family Feud.  Luckily, I’m here to provide you with a concrete foundation upon which you can begin to contemplate and construct your own definition of health. First I will dispel the myth that health is simply the absence of disease. If it were so simple, only two extreme possibilities could exist: you’re either healthy, or you’re sick. In reality, a person’s health exists along a much more complicated continuum. Let’s explore…

Everything you experience between the day you are born and the day you die, you experience through your nervous system. This being true, it is safe to say that you essentially live through your nervous system. Think about it. Sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing – your five senses and each one is integrated and interpreted through your nervous system.

When you get sick, you do not need to consciously tell your immune system to wake up and get to work. In fact, your body is miles ahead of you. By the time you begin to experience even the slightest symptoms, your immune system has been activated and is working to eliminate any pathogens that have been introduced into your system.  No conscious thought. No drugs. No surgery.
When you exercise, and the demand for blood to the muscles and oxygen to the blood increases you don’t sit down, get in touch with your cardiopulmonary system and politely ask it to provide you with some additional blood and oxygen.  Again, your body is ahead of the game. It has already increased blood flow by increasing heart rate and decreasing resistance within the vessels and increased oxygen intake by increasing respiratory rate.

When you cut yourself and you cover that cut up with a Band-Aid, it’s the Band-Aid that is responsible for healing the cut….. right? False. Once again your body instinctively knows what needs to be done, and a set of complex biochemical events takes place in a closely orchestrated cascade to repair the damage.

So, we have discovered two distinct facts: one – that the nervous system controls everything and two -that your body is self-regulating and self-healing.  We are also going to go so far as to suggest that if we can ensure that fact number one is working as efficiently as possible, fact number two will also occur at optimal efficiency.  In other words, if the nervous system is free of stress (physical, chemical, and/or emotional) it is in an ideal state to ensure that everything in the body functions as it should. And this is the basis for our definition of health.

Our body’s are in a constant effort to achieve a state of balance.  We want to find a level of homeostasis (really homeodynamics  -but that is a discussion for another time) between the components of our autonomic nervous system. The idea in itself seems easy enough to accomplish.  However, our typical lifestyles (which are filled with stress) tend to tip the scales and cause an overactivation of our sympathetic nervous system.  This constant stressful state (your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight/flight response) makes it much more difficult for the body to respond efficiently to the outside stressors that it is subjected to on a daily basis. These stressors can be of the physical (sports, physical labour, etc), emotional (grief, relationships, work) and/or chemical (dietary, environmental, medications, smoking, etc) variety, and prolonged exposure without intervention can lead to the deterioration of a person’s health.

Stress is a cumulative event, and the body is capable of handling stressors when the nervous system is functioning as it is meant to. However, as the nervous system endures this constant bombardment from various stressors, the body begins to shift from a state of balance to a state of fatigue and guarding. This shift is a defensive reaction, and can manifest as alterations in muscle tone. It is logical to deduce that altered muscle function can (and will) lead to joint dysfunction. Joint dysfunction will lead to degeneration which will only add to the stress already placed upon the nervous system to function efficiently. The longer this dysfunction is allowed to continue without intervention, the more difficult it becomes to return the muscles, joints and nervous system to a state of balance.
The nervous system is intelligent to a fault. When the body becomes accustomed to performing certain movements and postures it begins to accept these as ‘natural’. Yet there is nothing natural about sitting in a chair in front of a computer or hauling skids off of a truck for 8 hours a day. We are simply not designed with these actions and postural tendencies in mind. The body adapts to these learned tendencies with alterations in structure (tighter, weaker muscles), while structure is undeniably related to (dys)function.  Most people assume that if anything unpleasant was happening within their body that they would realize it via discomfort or pain. False again.

It is common for early joint dysfunction to exist without any significant pain or discomfort.  In fact, only approximately 10% of nociception (the neural processes of encoding and processing noxious or unpleasant stimuli) is experienced as pain.  Just because you don’t have pain doesn’t mean you aren’t experiencing any structural or functional deficiencies. Waiting for pain to present actually leads to a longer path towards recovery, rehabilitation, rehabituation and restoration of health.

It would make sense at this point to delve a little further into chiropractic’s role in all of this.  As chiropractors we have a massive variety of tools and techniques that we can use to provide the service that makes us unique – the adjustment. Some techniques work for some doctors and not others. Patients are the same in that one person may prefer one technique while another prefers an alternative. What most techniques have in common (including those that I utilize) is that they are gentle, safe, and comfortable for the patient. A common misconception is that every adjustment is accompanied by a ‘crack’ (which in actuality is no different that the hiss you hear when you open a bottle of pop for the first time – the sound is nothing more than gas being released from within the joint). In reality, there are numerous techniques that are even less invasive and utilize highly specific, low force methods rather than a hands-on approach. Really, there is something for everybody! Another commonality is that these techniques are used to correct mechanical joint dysfunction, reduce nerve interference and neural tension by restoring proper motion to joints and re-educating the nervous system to function efficiently. And we know from earlier that an efficient, stress-accomodating (balanced) nervous system is a healthy nervous system. And a healthy nervous system optimizes a person’s potential for health.  As the nerves, muscles and joints begin to adapt and memorize the corrective changes being introduced via the adjustment, they begin to revert back to their truly natural state. Chiropractic’s role is to unwind existing patterns of mechanical dysfunction and nerve interference so that we can help you rebuild a healthier way of life. In this respect, chiropractic should not be viewed as a therapy, but rather as a lifestyle.

Now, since I only intended for this post to be a paragraph or three long, I’m going to step away from the laptop for now. However, if anyone has any questions regarding anything I have touched on please feel free to contact me. You can email me @ . I am currently accepting new patients, and if you would like to come in for a complimentary consult you can make an appointment by calling 905-831-9696.

Dr. Blair

What are you doing?

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

More importantly, why are you doing it?

Very frequently exercise discussions turn ugly and people get defensive, but this only seems to happen when people feel that the way they spend their time in the gym is being questioned. Before you get upset, do you question it yourself?

What I mean by this is, why do you do what you do, in the gym? Is your exercise supporting your goal? If your goal is to compete in an iron man triathlon, your time might be well spent practicing swimming, biking and running, in various lengths and environments. Training your 1 rep max deadlift or clean and jerk aren’t a terrible idea, but probably aren’t serving the ironman triathlete well in supporting their goal. On the other side of the coin, plugging in a 5k run everyday isn’t going to help someone increase their powerlifting or olympic total (or help with runs that are any length other than 5k). These are obviously only 2 simple examples.

When you tell me today is “chest and arms” day, unless you’re in a body building program, I don’t know what goal you’re working toward.  Tell me what your goal is and we will evaluate whether or not you are effectively working towards achieving it.  Simply spending time “doing the machines” or plugging away on the elliptical aren’t an efficient way to work toward your goals.

Always keep in mind the stimulus your training is putting on your body. Your body and its cells don’t know that you want to “get lean” any better than it knows that you want to “bulk up”. The only way to tell your body what you’re trying to do is to provide the appropriate stimulus and environment toward that goal.

As far as the exercise side of this equation goes, it isn’t a new idea that the good stuff of exercise is in the intensity. By intensity I mean YOUR intensity, because some very stupid workouts could be considered “intense”. I’m talking about the intensity directed at an appropriate stimulus. Whether it’s the intensity of a heavy squat, the intensity of the last 500 meters of a 10k trail run or the last round of Fran, it’s putting effort into something you know is going to be difficult. It’s that intense effort that tells your body “next time it’s going to be heavier/shorter/faster”. And in return, your body will respond to that stimulus and you improve.

So, you can’t get upset if you aren’t reaching your goals when the exercise you’re doing does not effectively direct you toward achieving them.  Have a plan.  Make sure it effectively supports your goal and then stick to it.  I believe it is Dan John who said, “the plan is to keep the plan the plan”.

Simple?  Yes.  Easy?  No.  But anything worth having is worth working for.

You’re an Animal

October 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Jones runs and plays like a free dog would.

Not in the wild, beast-like manner that you may be thinking, but you are most definitely an animal.  And you are meant to live like a human being.

Ok. So now you may be thinking, “Adam is being weird, why do I even read this blog”.   But my point is, we aren’t really free.  If you take into consideration how we live, it’s very similar to animals in captivity.  We spend most of our lives inside a box, whether it be a house, a cubicle, or even a car. This is not a good set up.

Let’s consider any animal in captivity. They get frustrated, they act out of the ordinary for their species, they don’t even want to mate with each other. When they do it actually makes headlines, “_________ animal has cute baby!”. Kind of ridiculous, however, does it remind you of anyone you know?

“I can’t seem to get to sleep at night anymore!

“My libido isn’t what it used to be”

“We’ve been trying to have children for a year now”

“I keep gaining weight despite eating ‘well'”

I could continue forever. These complaints are usually accompanied with stuff like

“I’ve been working hard, putting in a lot of hours at the office”

“Man, I’m so stressed out about _______”

“Did you see the late, late show last night???”

These people aren’t being the human they were designed to be.  Think about those animals again.  When they are taken out of captivity and allowed to go back to their native environment, (excluding those who have been raised by captive animals with copious human intervention), they thrive!  While my first sentence in this paragraph sounds almost philosophical, it is meant to be read more seriously.  We need to move, eat, and think like we are designed to.  We’re captive.  No wonder we suffer from these common problems (infertility, obesity, sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression).  Your genetics are responsible for your problems just as much as they are for your successes.  Live in a way that your genetics are designed to react optimally to.

We’ll dive into the “how”s and “why”s of this subject more at a later date. For now I want you to start thinking about the parallels between the problems that animals in captivity live with, and the common complaints you hear from people.  After that, consider the ways in which you are being held “captive” and what you’d do different if you were “free”.

All the best everyone!  Have a great Thanksgiving.

Organic doesn’t equal healthy

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment
Carrot cake

Image via Wikipedia

Hey Folks!

First off, I’d like to give a shout out to my friend Danielle, who is running the scotiabank marathon in Toronto today while I sit in a starbucks sipping a coffee with some heavy whipping cream and cinnamon.  Strong work Dee, you’re awesome.

Now onto todays topic, organic foods.  I checked out the Whole Foods in Oakville yesterday.   It’s a pretty awesome spot, but like most “health” related situations it sparked my curious side.  As an aside they’ve got some seriously awesome stuff at this place and if you’re mindful of what you buy, you can get some really quality food without breaking the bank.  The problem I have with places like Whole Foods is that I think they trick people into making the same dietary mistakes, but with organic or exotic ingredients.

Organic, gluten free carrot cake tastes amazing, but it’s STILL cake. People seem to forget that.

There is a huge benefit to buying local, buying grass-fed/pastured and buying organic.  But buying organic pasta to put organic spaghetti sauce and organic parmasan cheese on top of it is just gives you an expensive plate of sugar.  It isn’t the lack of organic ingredients that is making you fat/inflammed/in pain, it’s the types of ingredients you’re eating in the first place.

Goji berries, while having a cool name, and packing some nutrients, are no better than blueberries. And we don’t have to go to Nepal to get wild, locally grown blueberries (that seems redundant doesn’t it?). If you’re shopping at health food stores to help the environment, purchasing exotic foods from across the world is not helping.  Things like goji berries, acai berries or the like, involve someone picking them lots of miles away, and shipping them around the world so that you can feel cool eating a “superfood”.  Don’t be that guy.  Eat the berries, fruits and vegetables local to our area, that are picked fresh, and allowed to ripen properly.  Concentrate on locally grown fruits and veggies. Kohlrabi, apples, figs, plums, peaches, beets, turnips, kale, brussel sprouts, the list goes on, are all good, locally grown, nutrient dense foods. Try to lean towards veggies, but fruit will satisfy a sweet tooth.

Organic cookies are still off limits people. Whole grain is not “ok”. Anything that resembles or seems like a grain is not ok. Get off the grains. these foods are still mostly sugar with some lectins, phytates and other wonderful ingredients mixed in. If you’re buying organic foods to be more “healthy”, you’re undermining yourself by eating these foods.

If you’re shopping at a health foods store to be cool, well, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, and those of us who are doing it properly hope you enjoy your zumba/insanity/ab rocket workout and hope that it works out well.

Aside from the above recommendations, here are some more:

  • Try to find a CSA (community sustained agriculture) in your area and support it, it’s worth it.  You receive a good number of fruit and veggies.  Get ready to eat some mystery vegetables.
  • Look into contacting a farm for pastured meat.   Many times you can request your cow be grass finished (I.e. It never gets fattened up with grain).   You’ll pay more, but it’s worth it.  Also, ask for the fat rendered from the beef, most people don’t, but you’re paying for it and it’s great for cooking.  And, since you chose the grass finished beef, the fat profile is amazingly good FOR you.
  • Go to a farmers market in your area.   It’s the market of local stuff (fruit, veggies, meat, etc.).   Prices will be a bit higher than the previous two options, but you’re paying for the convenience.

That’s all for now! If you have any ideas or suggestions I missed, post ’em to comments!

Chiropractic & You: a match made in my office

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Enjoy balance!You thought I was going to say “in heaven”.  Tricked you.  Onto the post!

You (probably) need to be seeing a chiropractor.  There are very few situations where your posture is (near) perfect, and your spine is moving properly in its full range of motion.  Full, appropriate range of motion is important.  Very important.  Time to delve into a little neurology.

So, in a typical joint (including its capsule and associated structures) there are numerous different types of mechanoreceptors (types of nerves).  Some of these nerves are responsible for sensing movement and proprioception (knowing where your body is in space), while others are responsible for the experience of pain (1).  There is, of course, some overlap between their function.  For example, some of the proprioceptive mechanoreceptors will result in pain if you’re outside of the appropriate range of motion for that joint (1).  Another indication that APPROPRIATE joint motion is crucial.  Too much motion can be a problem too, but we’ll tackle that a little later.

So here’s the deal.  If a joint isn’t moving properly it results in altered biomechanics.  The altered biomechanics are acknowledged by the brain and it protects the area by tensing muscles, relaxing others, and breaking down cells and building others in response to the stress put on it (usually in the form of scar tissue).  These newly broken cells lead to inflammation and the firing of those pain-sensitive mechanoreceptors.  So now we have tight, painful muscles, inappropriate joint mechanics and scar tissue being laid down (2).  Not good.  Enter chiropractic.

I have nothing bad to say about massage therapy or physical therapy.  They are fantastically helpful professions and modalities and they do amazing work.  We DO however, need to address the joint dysfunction.  I like to use the analogy of a fire.  When putting out a fire, you spray the base of the fire, not the drapes, ceiling or wallpaper.  So if we want to prevent the pain, altered motion and tight muscles from recurring , we need to address the joint motion AS WELL as the effects it has on the muscles and the effects the muscles have on it.  Once proper motion has been returned to the joint, the cycle is broken.  It would be nice if this could happen in one shot, but like all things that make your health considerably better (exercise, proper nutrition), proper joint motion is a lifelong endeavor.  The good thing is that with some diligence, you and your bodies joints will learn to move properly with very little outside input (chiropractic).  However it it is left to go unchecked, the cycle of dysfunction is allowed to continue and worsen.

The message that optimal joint function sends to the brain can have profound effects on health (3).  The varied effects that appropriate joint motion and its effect on the nervous system has on your health is the reason why there is such a wide variety of anecdotal evidence and case studies showing benefit of chiropractic with problems to which it is not classically associated.  Ideally, it’d have very little effect, meaning you’re already moving well and haven’t deteriorated into dysfunction, but that tends to be the exception versus the rule. So let’s work to make it the rule and optimize the input your joints are sending to your brain!  See a chiropractor, workout and supplement it all with some glorious massage (who DOESN’T want a massage, right?).  For those reading in the Mississauga or Newmarket areas, come in and see me!

Chiropractic @ Element Crossfit: 3505 Laird Rd. Unit 3.  Mississauga, Ontario.  L5L 5Y7.

Balchen Chiropractic & Massage Clinic: 17205 Leslie St.  Unit 13.  Newmarket, Ontario.  L3Y 8E4.

If you’d like me to contact me to make an appointment or ask a question, drop me an email here: Adam.Ball.DC(at)  Replace the (at) with @.  I made it that way because I already get enough “Cialis for super cheap!” emails as it is.


1. MacLean, R.F. (1994) Mechanoreceptor endings in human cervical facet joints.  The Iowa Orthopedic Journal.  Volume 13, pp. 149-154.  Accessed on 09/22/2010 from:

2. Chaitow, L. & DeLany, J. (2008) Clinical Application of Neuromuscular Techniques:  The upper body.  Elsevier.  Philadelphia, PA.

3. Srbely, J. (2010) Chiropractic Science: A Neurophysiologic Paradigm.  Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association.  54(3)

Ugh… Science.

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment
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Hey Everyone,

So after a fair amount of time reading and a comment I made and then instantly regretted making in regards to the vegetarian/vegan diet I have something to post about.  Science.

You have to love it to be interested in health and wellness, as I am.  Unfortunately, once you actually dive deep into the science-y goodness, it turns from a fountain of knowledge, into a huge pile of bullsh*t, with the odd nugget of gold (not corn) interspersed.  Unfortunately, todays post is not about the gold.

I like to think of my time as valuable.  And in endeavoring to learn and increase my knowledge, I like to read.  For the past few years I’ve read everything from blogs to books, to magazine and journal articles.  From the poorly researched, to the overly researched to the not researched at all (sort of like this post, I suppose).  This post is about the naysayer.  The Debbie downer.  Negative Nancy.

This person gets “published”, and doesn’t deserve it at all.  This person often is the author of randomized controlled trials that don’t tell you anything.  Those trials that required some SERIOUS statistical gaming to come up with significance.  This person gets published in arenas where all they’ve done is criticize someone else and offer nothing of value to the world.

I’m tired of reading this crap.  I don’t know how these people can feel fulfilled while making a living off spewing negativity and putting people down.

Ok.  Onto the guts of this post.  I commented on the Men’s Journal article about how to become a vegan.  I knew I shouldn’t have.  I knew it would attract the wrong kind of attention, but I thought my easy-going nature and polite tone would save me a lot of trouble.  It more or less did.  The jist of my post; read about the diet, and it’s positives and negatives before trying it, please.  I asked people to consider reading Lierre Keith’s “The Vegetarian Myth” for a great argument against the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle/diet.  I only received 2 comments, but one of them said this:

“You are wrong.”  and “Lierre Keith?  Are you kidding me?  She’s been completely debunked!”

The person then provided me with a website where the debunking occurs.  I humoured this person and read the site.  I won’t post it here because it isn’t worth wasting your time reading.  It’s complete crap.  Perfect for someone, say a vegan, who wants to feel reassured that what they’re doing is right.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t debunk anything.  All the critique does, is attack the WAY she makes her arguments.  So now the person can feel at ease, because that person who challenged their paradigm was wrong, of course.

Moving on.  I read a lot of Robb Wolf’s information and generally agree with what he has to say.  I recently heard he did an interview on T-Nation and there was a subsequent review/reply to this interview by Alan Aragon.  Alan Aragon apparently publishes a literature review each month.  I have nothing bad to say about Aragon as I haven’t read his publication.  This argument is purely with his appraisal of the Robb Wolf Interview.  I feel as though he’s jealous of Wolf’s current fame (if you’d call it that?) and has a bone to pick with anyone who says anything that isn’t backed up 100% by a randomized controlled trial.  I’m not going to post his review here as it’s a document that costs money.  He attacks Wolf in a way that makes Wolf seem unscientific and biased.  According to Aragon, the paleo approach to diet that Wolf advises is unscientific because any speculation about what paleolithic people ate is purely that, speculative.  So then I guess the existence of dinosaurs needs to be reconsidered too, since it’s also speculative?  I mean, there are no LIVE dinosaurs around now, so who’s to say the bones weren’t engineered by some evil (and extremely creative, and awesome, might I add) scientist?  Where the “concrete” evidence for that?

In his review he offers a lot of arguments against not only WHAT Robb Wolf says, but HOW he says it.  He insults Wolf for using correlative data, but then criticizes Wolf later, backing up his criticism with correlative data.  It’s ridiculous and most importantly for me… it’s exhausting!

You’re killing me people!  Asking people not to eat grains due to the phytic acid, lectins, lack of nutrients and abundance of insulin spiking carbohydrates is NOT nutritional blasphemy!  If you don’t agree with someone’s information, give a reason and an alternative.  Simply putting someone down isn’t doing anyone any good and is DEFINITELY not improving “science”.

Thanks for reading, the next post will be positive, I promise

p.s. Make sure you actually READ the journal articles you read too.  Methods and Results and that’s it.  Come to your own conclusions on what the data says.

Why do I train?

August 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I was recently asked during a workout (I work out in my driveway on a semi-busy street) by a passerby, “why are you doing that?”

As you can imagine, this particular passerby was a young, curious child with walking somewhere with one of their parents.  I didn’t have a lot of time to answer, as they were continuing their walk by, and while dripping sweat on the ground, chest heaving, I dropped my weight and said, “because it’s fun!”

Maybe the kid thought I was lying, and I’m fairly certain that the parent did, as they smiled and walked away.  After I finished my workout I got to thinking, why DO I train?  This blog post will look to answer this question.

I want to remain extremely functional as I grow old. I think if I can work hard to max out with a 500 pound deadlift now (or hopefully within the next couple years), than lifting my grocery bags off the ground when I’m 90 years young will be a breeze.  While I can appreciate the reduced work capacity associated with aging, it just gives me more reason to work hard now.  Studies have shown exercises can increase functionality in the elderly, the young, and those with disease (1, 2, 3).

I want to avoid disease and give my MD no reason to doubt my health. As we all know, obesity rates are through the roof, heart disease is killing about half of all North Americans, and diabetes rates are increasing at an alarming rate (I’ve seen they’re changing the name from “adult onset” to “age onset”, I assume this is because too many young people are suffering from this condition).  My genetics aren’t exactly stellar in the cholesterol department, the heart disease department, and to a small degree the diabetes department.  If I can optimize my blood markers and provide my body with a calm, balanced environment, I’m going to do what it takes to create that environment.  Many sources have found that insulin sensitivity is increased with exercise.  Body weight, body mass index, body fat, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and hsCRP (an inflammation marker) all respond favourably to regular exercise (1, 2, 4, 5).

I want to stay sane. Exercise is known to help reduce the occurrence of depression and lead to better well-being (6).  I know that when I exercise I feel better for that day and in the long run.  I don’t usually feel fantastic DURING the workout (sometimes I do), but shortly afterward I feel great.  I think it is due, psychologically, to a sense of accomplishment, as well as the endorphin release and further cascade of hormones released by the body in response to the stimulus of the exercise.  In my, n=1 case, I know it makes me more productive, happier, and more relaxed, consistently.

I want to look good naked. Don’t we all?  I don’t think I need to argue the fact that exercise is an important factor in body composition.  Diet is also hugely implicated, but we’ll talk about that in another post.  Exercise provides the stimulus your body requires to release hormones that will increase your insulin sensitivity, and cause you to synthesize protein to fix the damage you did to your muscles while exercising.  This protein synthesis is a metabolically expensive process, and you do it while at rest.  This means you’re burning mostly fat for the fuel used to assemble the amino acids provided by the protein in your diet (you’re eating high quality protein, right?) to restore your muscle tissue.  There is a lot more involved but that’s part of what is going on.

I like the challenge. Originally with exercise, I never stayed with my program which was usually because I didn’t HAVE a program.  I just figured going to the gym and doing some stuff was enough.  Occasionally I would follow the mens health monthly workout poster thingy.  I employ Crossfit for my training, which constantly challenges me to get better at everything as well as trying new movements or weights on a frequent basis.  It keeps me interested, and I ALWAYS feel like I have a lot of room to improve.  As long as you don’t let it get you down, it’s a great motivator to keep at it to get better.

Anyway, that’s what I can think at the moment as to why I train.  Why do YOU train?


  1. Martins, R., Verissimo, M., Coehlho e Silva, M., Cumming, S. & Teixeira, A. (2010)  Effects of aerobic and strength-based training on metabolic health indicators in older adults.  Lipids in Health and Disease. 9:76.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from:
  2. Ansari, W., Ashker, S. & Moseley, L. (2010)  Associations between Physical Activity and Health Parameters in Adolescent Pupils in Egypt.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  7: 1649-1669.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from:
  3. Subin, Vaishali Rao, V. Prem & Sahoo (2010)  Effect of upper limb, lower limb and combined training on health-related quality of life in COPD.  Lung India. 27(1): 4-7.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from:
  4. Bradley, R., Jeon, J., Liu, F. & Maratos-Flier, E. (2007)  Voluntary exercise improves sensitivity and adipose tissue inflammation in diet-induced obese mice. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism. (295) E586-E594
  5. Kirwan, J., Soloman, T., Wojta, D., Staten, M. & Holloszy, J. (2009)  Effects of 7 days of exercise training on insulin sensitivity and responsiveness in type 2 diabetes mellitus.  American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism.  (297) E151-E156
  6. Babyak et al (2000)  Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months.  Psychosomatic Medicine. (62) 633-638