Is Your Dental Health Making You Sick?

I have known for some time now from first hand experience that the health inside one’s mouth directly effects the overall health of our bodies.  It was a couple of years ago when I began my body, mind, and soul transformation from a couple of decades of drug addiction and alcoholism.  The journey has really been all encompassing, but now that I have a bit more clarity I have been able to look back through the experience and observe things from a Health Counselor’s mind.  My approach to Health Counseling and Nutrition Consulting is definitely a holistic one which is precisely the reason I have been able to identify what has helped me and what has hurt me through the process of recovery.  Beginning to see a highly qualified dentist at the very beginning was one of the best decisions I could have made.

I know today that a significant  contributor to my newfound health was taking care of the years of neglect inside my mouth.  But why is it that tending to dental issues actually makes my whole body more healthy?  When I began the process I had no idea what the answer to this question was.  Today, after my training to become a Holistic Health Counselor, I get it.  I am a big picture kind of guy, so I will try to explain in a big picture kind of way.

I know this may sound nasty to some people but try to think of the mouth the same way we think of the gut.  In terms of bacteria.  Our mouths are virtual breeding grounds for bacteria and enzymes.  The good news is that most of this bacteria is the good kind, much like a healthy gut.  If we are in good health, the good bacteria far outnumber the bad in our mouths and guts.  However, if the opposite is true, we have some problems.  The enzymes in our mouth are counting on the good bacteria to do it’s job so that we can begin the process of digestion as we actually chew.  An overabundance of bad bacteria inevitably leads to inflammation which leads to infection.  What we know today is that bacterial inflammation has impact throughout the entire body.  So yes, an inflammation in the mouth due to bacterial infection will travel through our bodies and and weaken our immune system.  And I’m not talking about just higher risk of catching a cold or the latest flu.  It can be far more serious like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even alzheimers.  If you don’t believe me take a look at what the Mayo Clinic had to say about it.

Taking care of my teeth did a lot of incredible things for me.  First and foremost it was really nice to look at my smile again in the mirror and feel good about it.  The benefits we get in terms of our self-esteem simply from being able to smile again in public without embarrassment cannot be measured.  I know what that feels like.  But the benefits to the rest of our body are  even more important in the long run and the good news is that it really isn’t that much work.  Brush, floss, rinse, eat a good clean diet, and see a dentist at least once a year.  I consider my dentist to be a saving grace in my life today, literally.  She has gone above and beyond each and every time I visit.  If anyone reading this lives in the NYC area and needs to see the best in the business, check out their facebook page here and contact them immediately!!

Training For Joint Movement

This is absolutely one of my favorite topics to talk about when discussing exercise.  I have chats on a regular basis at the gym about training for joint movement as opposed to training for muscle groups with people, and nine times out of ten I see those people make a few changes in their routines.  My background and approach to training people is kinesiology based, so I guess this should come as no surprise.  In layman’s terms, kinesiology is human movement.   It’s about how we move and just how that all happens. Well, I can tell you right now that without joint movement we go nowhere, we pick nothing up, we don’t hug our child, and we definitely don’t exercise.   So essentially the primary role of our joints is to move us, whereas the primary role of muscles is to facilitate that movement.

How many times have you heard people say things like, “gonna work my abs today, or today is chest and triceps day, or it’s all about legs and butt today”?  A million.  One thing I can promise you is that at least 25% of the time the exercises they are doing for specific muscle groups are not necessarily doing what they think they are.  I often tell people to vary the modes of exercise as well as change angles and intensity.  But here’s the problem for many…if you do your chest exercises on four different machines on your “chest day”, but you are using the exact same joint movement on all four modes, then you might as well stay on the same machine.  First of all, any chest exercise is really a shoulder movement.  Pectoralis Major, the largest muscle in your chest has the primary role of moving your shoulder joints into flexion.  Did you know that shoulder horizontal flexion, shoulder flexion, and shoulder adduction are all actually chest exercises?  So actually what you thought was chest day really turns out to be chest and “shoulders” day.  Your shoulder joints are involved with virtually every upper body movement. Check out all of the shoulder movements here and the muscles that ACTUALLY are working when we do them.  The same goes for other parts of the body.

Now how about lower body workouts?  My experience has shown me that with the lower body people tend to stay in the same joint movements even more so than with the upper body.  Particularly with men, the lower body workout seems to consist of endless sets of leg presses, dead lifts, squats, and leg curls.  Don’t get me wrong, these are beneficial exercises.  But how many of us actually go through the day always staying in a rigid straight forward and backward motion.  When we train this way our hip flexors and extensors and knee flexors and extensors are getting all of the work.  This has a lot to do with why so many people get hip pain when they do physical activities that require them to move laterally or twist.  How about some hip abduction and hip adduction exercise?  Remember this, your hip extension exercises work only the gluteus maximus.  Did you know that you have a gluteus medius and gluteus minimus also?  They lie on the sides of your hips and they need some love too.  The link in the previous paragraph will fill you in on the muscle functions of different lower body joint movements.

My primary purpose in training clients is to do a detailed assessment session first, then figure out what kind of program to implement once all the facts are in.  We will create a program based essentially on what their specific goals are and more importantly what a day in their life is like.  I want to know do you do a lot of walking, do you have to sit a lot, do you have to climb a lot of stairs, do you have kids to carry, do you do physical labor and if so what movements does it require.  Fitness should always address these things.  When creating an exercise program we always need to keep these things in mind so that we can replicate those joint movements which we use in our actual lives in the gym. After all, my job as a trainer is to implement an exercise program that will make what you do during a day in your life become much easier to do and in the meantime maybe shed some weight and help with other little things like prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, cancer…you know those annoying little deadly diseases?

Is it terrible to train like a body builder even if there is absolutely no chance you will ever actually become one?  I guess not, although it really isn’t very practical.  Especially considering the amount of stress on the joints and wear and tear on our muscles and tendons when you do train that way.  Maybe it’s a good time now to change some things up.  Play around in the gym or wherever it is that you do your training.  If you live in the NYC area I am available for personal training.  Contact me and we can do an assessment, and if you don’t live local to me I do offer consultation services as well as program design.  Happy Training.