Why Functional Healthcare is the Way of the Future

Why Functional Healthcare is the Way of the Future

(Source: Pexels)

(Source: Pexels)

With incredible advances in healthcare technology, emergency care, lifesaving operations, and a big budget for the health sector, you would think that the United States has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. In fact, Maryville University details how healthcare in America is a trillion-dollar industry, and the demand for professionals has continued to rise steadily in the past few years. Yet despite this seemingly flourishing image, the U.S. actually faces some deep-seated problems across different levels in mainstream healthcare.

In reality, the healthcare system in the United States is a source of stress and frustration for the average American. It has repeatedly been the topic of endless political debates and has been called out for its numerous flaws, which continue to affect countless lives around the country. Despite budget increases and proposed reforms, most people would agree that there is something seriously wrong with the system, as America has one of the worst healthcare outcomes and lower life expectancy compared to other developed countries. In addition, Business Insider reports that it has the third-worst mortality rate by nutritional deficiencies among all developed nations.

This status quo in healthcare has continued to fail Americans, creating a need for more effective remedies — enter, functional healthcare. We previously defined functional healthcare here on Align Brooklyn and detailed how it “focuses on enabling the innate healing intelligence of the human body to decrease the signs and symptoms of disease and declining health.” This kind of healthcare is revolutionizing the way people view and treat their bodies, and is en route to becoming the way forward for a number of reasons.

Customized Treatments

In mainstream healthcare, it’s easy to label someone with a disease and then offer a one-size-fits-all remedy based on previous knowledge. Functional healthcare takes a different approach by offering customized treatments for different patients. People who practice with this in mind understand that human beings are all designed differently and have varying needs and experiences. Those in functional healthcare take time to understand your situation in order to customize a treatment program for your unique individual needs.

Embraces Natural Remedies

Functional healthcare looks through all available options for a patient depending on their specific needs. It doesn’t overlook the benefits of natural remedies like exercise and a good diet. For instance, a functional healthcare practitioner may recommend yoga for a person recovering from an injury, or advise that someone avoid meat to reduce symptoms of gout. Although researchers from the University of Exeter point out how the increasing popularity of herbal medicines and other natural remedies come with certain risks, all that's needed is more thorough investigation and to careful apply certain methods. Functional healthcare's methods are better than most, as they focus on complementing the body’s natural ability to heal itself and offers numerous ways to help patients achieve this.

Holistic Approach

Too often, the traditional approach in healthcare entails treating symptoms rather than their underlying causes. Functional healthcare takes into account that the body is an ecosystem, and symptoms are a sign that something is wrong with this system. In other words, there are no isolated signs. A functional healthcare practitioner will ask why something is happening rather than just treating the symptoms. Preventative action is also part of this holistic approach, which empowers patients to have a healthier lifestyle in general rather than just continually putting out fires.

As more problems arise from mainstream healthcare, it can be expected that more people will turn to functional healthcare methods for their illnesses. And why wouldn’t they? An approach that values their overall condition and takes into account their holistic needs, all while providing them with multiple solutions and pathways — it undoubtedly has the clarity and concern missing in today’s systems, and is the way forward into the future of healthcare.

 Article by Carrie Woods

Couples that Sweat Together, Stay Together

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Kayla lawson & Sean Zimmer

We had a chance to get some intel on one of Align’s all star couples: Kayla Lawson and Sean Zimmer. Get to know this dynamic duo, who work on wellness together.

How long have you been coming to Align Brooklyn and what keeps you coming back?

Kayla: I became a member in the fall of 2015. I love the great variety of classes. The fun and motivational instructors, and the great vibe at the studio keep me coming back.

Sean: I officially joined in January of this year, but Kayla has been bringing me as a guest ever since she joined. I love that Align is a local independent business with a great community of instructors, staff, and members.

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It’s so wonderful to see a couple who share the same passion for fitness and wellness. What motivates you to stay on track?

Kayla: I feel my best self mentally, physically, and emotionally when I work out consistently. It's a huge part of my self-care.

Sean: I'm still somewhat new to fitness, so a big motivation for me is the fact that I'm always learning and pushing myself in this arena. Plus, I get to spend more time with Kayla.

What is your favorite class at Align and what do you love about it?

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Kayla: It's a tie between Fusion with Sarah and Ignite with Narissa. Both instructors are hilarious and keep class fun, even when they are kicking your booty.

Sean: Yoga Melt with Lavinia. It's so relaxing and grounding. It really helps me feel centered.

What aspect of your health and fitness lifestyle are you most proud of?

Kayla: Having a balanced lifestyle. Between the classes we take or the food we cook, finding that balance is what I'm most proud of.

Sean: I'm proud that this year I've found consistency when it comes to my health and fitness.

When you’re not taking classes at Align Brooklyn, what are some of your favorite go-to spots in the area?

Kayla + Sean: We love Prospect Park, and spend a lot of time there. In fact, it's where we got engaged. For baked treats, we enjoy Colson Patisserie. We live close to Cafe Couleur, and love taking family there when they visit.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Kayla: Traveling, cooking/baking, and learning new skills like sewing.

Sean: Birding, making art, and hiking.

Some people say “couples that sweat together, stay together,” so we have to ask, is there is any friendly competition amongst the two of you?

Kayla + Sean: We don't so much compete as we do motivate each other to challenge ourselves and give our best in every class. Kayla notes that her competitiveness is mostly with herself.

Is there anything else you want to share with the Align Brooklyn community?

Kayla + Sean: We both work in the non-profit realm; Sean works at New York Public Radio (WNYC), and Kayla works at Accion.

Happy Earth Day!

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Happy Earth Day 2019!

This year's Earth Day theme is "Protect Our Species." It's hard to imagine but the world is facing the greatest rate of species becoming extinct since we lost the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago.

Normally, between one and five species will go extinct annually, but we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate, with multiple creatures becoming extinct every day. Just one example is that 40% of the worlds birds are in decline.

Unfortunately, we, humans, are driving this mass destruction of life with climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, trafficking and poaching, unsustainable agriculture, pollution and pesticides along with many other activities.

The problem is complicated because developed nations like the US have already benefited from economic development based on the activities that drive extinction and climate change, but the problem is now more pronounced in developing nations. In some sense we owe a "climate debt."

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We try to make Earth Day every day at Align BK. We are a green studio - partially powered by solar energy, made of sustainable materials like bamboo, we use all non-toxic, all natural cleaning supplies, and we ask that you bring a reusable water bottle to class to fill with our complimentary 5 stage filtered water. In our retail area we feature eco-friendly brands like @jadeyogamats and @yogavated leggings.

There is always more that we can do and we'd love your suggestions! Email us today at frontdesk@alignbrooklyn.com with an idea for how we can improve and we'll send you a promo code for 15% off any Jade or Yogavated item in stock!

Have you tried Align Define?

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Align Define is an intelligent barre class during which you move from larger movements that get your heart pumping to "feel-the-burn" pulses and isometric holds, efficiently conditioning your body. Our full body barre workout fuses the best elements of ballet, conditioning, and stretching for a unique and fun experience. Classes begin with a warm up focusing on postural alignment, followed by a combination of upper and lower body exercises using light weights, resistance bands, as well as weighted and unweighted balls. Afterward, we head to the mat for core work and close with an invigorating final stretch.

We spoke with Tara D. about the benefits of barre class and why she loves barre so much.

What are some of the benefits of barre workouts?

Barre exercise techniques target the muscles that help strengthen the core, improve posture, range of motion and endurance. Barre classes often focus on small movements called pulsing. While the movements are small, in Align Define we are sure to work the muscle in multiple locations to achieve a total body workout.

Can anyone do barre, or is it mostly for graceful dancer types?

The biggest misconception about barre is that you need to be graceful or have a dance background. Luckily this is false. Barre is for all levels of fitness. Barre is similar to Pilates in that it requires a simple mind-body connection rather than a dance background.

When I am teaching I focus more on verbal cues and foot placement to set students up in the correct form before beginning the exercise. I never use ballet-esq terms like “battement” or “fourth position,” because not everyone is familiar with ballet positions and choreography using these terms can make a student feel out of place or lost.

As an instructor, why do you love barre?

I love teaching barre because its a safe and effective workout, yet it's fun. Music is a big component of barre class, and there is a lot of room for variety and setting the vibe for the class your teaching that day. I love changing up my playlists from pop, dance, hip hop to rock and 80' and 90's.

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Are the principles similar to Pilates or dance? Or are they different entirely?

The principles of barre have similarities to both Pilates and dance. Music is a driving force in a barre class, and its important to move with the tempo of the beat and the flow of the instructors rhythm, which is similar to dance. Barre is similar to Pilates in which it incorporates a lot of the principles of Pilates like precision, control, and concentration on breathing. It is also similar to Pilates in which most exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time. During the leg workout part of a barre class, you should always engage your core, which helps with alignment and improves form.

What’s the history behind barre?

Barre was founded by Lotte Berk, a German born dancer, who created this method due to a back injury. Her goal was to combine ballet routines with her rehabilitative therapy into a form of exercise.

Are there any requirements to take a barre class?

While there are no specific requirements for taking a barre class, if it best to notify your instructor on any injuries or health issues you may have. Barre is for all levels of fitness, all ages and genders. It is ideal to wear leggings or fitness apparel that you can move fluidly in, and grip socks to avoid slipping.

Tara DeGregorio bio:

A fitness enthusiast for over 17 years, Tara took her first Pilates class 9 years ago. She immediately felt a natural connection to the smooth and graceful movements in Pilates that related to her younger years as a ballet dancer.

Tara has always pursued her many creative passions, finding ways to turn them into a career. In December 2014, Tara became a certified Pilates Instructor through the Equinox Pilates Institute. She obtained her first Barre certification in 2015 through Beyond the Barre Method. Tara holds two barre certifications and is also trained on Pilates Reformer through The Pilates on Fifth program.

Tara has been teaching pilates and barre for over four years. She integrates her skills and love of movement through teaching while focusing on form and fun. She brings a smile and positive energy to every class. Her goal is to deliver a beneficial and enjoyable experience while building strength and confidence. Tara is a barre and Pilates instructor and Assistant Manager at Align Brooklyn, NY.

Immunity Hacks to Avoid Getting Sick this Flu Season!

Cold and flu season is almost here. And while we may not be able to prevent every cold, we can give ourselves a fighting chance by exercising regularly, getting proper rest, and eating a healthy diet consisting of high quality proteins, fats and a plethora of colorful vegetables and fruits. Still, the reality of daily life and the depletion of our environment, means that it is also important to supplement to ensure that our bodies are getting the nutrients we need to stay healthy.

Here are my three top functional nutrition immunity hacks to avoid getting sick this flu season:

Turmeric

We should all be eating more turmeric! If you like Indian curry, as I do, the yellow is from turmeric. This spice first became of interest due to Alzheimer's research. Indians have low Alzheimer rates and eat a ton of turmeric. Curcumin is the effective compound in turmeric and what you'll find in supplements. And unless you're eating curry everyday, there's lots of reasons that you should supplement with curcumin.

Curcumin is antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial and anticancer. It supports the digestive system, which comprises 70% of your immune system. It has been shown to reduce inflammation, which is important for numerous areas of health from muscles, myofascia and joints to heart disease and depression. A low level of inflammation is key to longevity and vitality.

Tumeric also has been show shown to support the liver. The liver is our body's internal cleaner. No matter how clean our diet, the modern world provides plenty of toxic material for our livers to deal with every day. Studies have shown that curcumin increases glutathione and decreases oxidative stress.

Recommendation: Inflavonoid Intensive Care

Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients are substances found in plants that benefit us by helping to ward off many common diseases. "Phyto" means plant in Greek, and phytonutrients are the beneficial chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. So far, scientists have identified over 10,000 of them and believe that there may be more than 20,000.

These nutrients operate at the cellular level, aiding function and communication. They commonly have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Interestingly, they act in groups - almost as teams - and should be ingested along with their entire family of substances.

Recommendation: Phytoganix

Reishi

Reishi mushroom is a fungus that is commonly used in traditional medical systems in Asia. It has been shown to boost the immune system through effects on white blood cells, which may help fight infection and cancer. Reishi and other traditional fungi are ideal for additional immune support during times of physical or emotional stress, as It has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression.

Recommendation: Mycotaki

When looking for supplements, be 100% sure to choose the highest quality available.

When you purchase supplements online from my portal, you receive 20% off of your first order. We also carry these supplements at the studio. And don't hesitate to ask me anything about these supplements, next time you run into me at the studio!

Why is fasting a poor strategy for nutritional detoxification?

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Throughout the many years that I have been successfully using Nutritional Detoxification Programs with my patients, I am often times asked why I don’t use fasting as part of the protocol that I prescribe. My answer to this is simple, “organ reserve” vs. “organ depletion.”

During a nutritional detox the liver is the superstar and does the lion’s share of the heavy lifting. The liver performs hundreds of functions in the course of detoxification. This is a huge burden, even for a superstar. The energy required for the liver to accomplish this task is enormous. Organs need to have a reserve ability, a resource not normally called upon, but available if needed to function beyond the usual demand. This ability is surely needed by the liver when undergoing a metabolic detox/cleanse.

Let’s take a closer look at just what “reserve” means and why it is so important, especially during a detox. I will do this by way of analogy. In this age of devices, many of us have experienced the peace of mind in knowing that we have our cell phone charger case. With normal usage or when we are close by a wall socket, there is typically no need to worry about running out of juice. However, when away from the office with heavy use, the need for a charger case becomes evident. This reserve charge can give us the confidence that we can keep doing business without worry of dropping the next call. In other words, the cell phone retains it’s valuable function even under unusual demand.

Back to our superstar, the liver. Because the liver does most of the work of detox, and this work requires greater than usual amounts of energy, I absolutely do not recommend long term fasting during metabolic detoxification periods. I am not opposed to fasting, after all it has it’s many benefits physically, spiritually and mentally. Just not during periods when a reserve of nutrient is called for so that the liver can do the work. It is not well-advised to starve your liver in times of high energy needs, as much as it is not advised to leave the office without your cell phone charger case. The additional nutrients come in the form of calories, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and herbs. These can be provided with a high quality supplement and a well designed meal program.

If you're interested in a nutritional detoxification program or a customized plan that boosts your organ reserve, schedule a wellness evaluation with me at the front desk. And don't forget: wellness members receive complimentary evaluations throughout their membership.

Align Ignite! The best metcon workout in Brooklyn!

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We're super excited to launch our new metabolic conditioning (metcon) class, Align Ignite! We’ve collaborated to create the most effective functional fitness and conditioning workout in Brooklyn. Don't worry - everybody can do this workout at their own level and build their baseline fitness ongoingly!

The primary goal of Align Ignite (formerly Align Circuit) is to set your metabolism on fire. We are upping our game and challenging you to up yours by committing to an 8 week variable conditioning cycle that uses heart rate based interval training to transform your metabolism into a fat burning machine.

Here are the principles on which we've based the class:

Variety

We all know that if we do the same workout all the time, it stops working. Regardless of what the goal of the workout is, we find that we hit a plateau. Align Ignite operates on an 8 week training cycle that you can jump into at any time. Each week, the intervals vary timed rest and work periods along a specific 8 week plan. As you get used to the feeling of the intervals, we encourage you to work with greater resistance and intensity.

Heart rate training 

There's not much question that heart rate based training is one of the most effective ways to improve cardiovascular heath and condition your metabolism to burn fat. Unless you're a competitive endurance athlete, interval training produces the best long term heart health for the general population.

We also now know that the heart rates you train at have an incredible effect on your metabolism. By varying your heart rate throughout your workout you get the benefits of both heart health and a raised metabolism long after class gets out. In the next week or two we will be offering you the option of using a heart rate monitor during class. This will allow you to know if you are in your target heart rate zone and how effectively you are working to get that bumped metabolic effect.

Effective and Efficient

Effective does not mean that you're dying to go home and collapse after class. To the contrary it means that you live to workout another day, but with a super charged metabolism. Effective also means that you are improving strength, range of motion and endurance.

Efficient means that you have the most effective results in the shortest period of time. You'll get the best result from this training program by consistently taking class 1-2x per week, but not more. If you want to push yourself, take 1 Align Ignite and 1 Align 1:10 class. Because these scientific workouts are efficient, it's not necessary to do them every day. It will actually be more effective to mix in yoga, core/Pilates, barre and definitely recovery.

Come check this class out! We promise you this is one of the most effective and efficient workouts in Brooklyn!

Register: http://www.alignbrooklyn.com/class-schedule/

Functional Posture, Functional Movement

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Just what does this word “functional” imply? Well, most simply it means to perform an action or activity three dimensionally, fully expressive, and in a global manner. In other words, moving as one would during activities of daily living. In the case of the elite athlete this would mean incorporating  training strategies that come as close as possible to the movements and challenges of their particular sport. For example, a baseball player might use a resistance band to exercise torso rotation in order to strengthen their swing.

However, for the majority of us who are not in training for a particular sport, our aim while training should be to enhance performance in our activities of daily living. In other words, life is our sport and walking, carrying and reaching for a top shelf are our activities. This means that “functional” training for most of us will incorporate movements that come as close to these movements and actions as possible. For example BOSU suitcase squats prepare us for carrying grocery bags on uneven sidewalks.

So, just how does posture come into play within the functional model of training? Well, in order to move our bodies through our environment most efficiently and effectively, optimal posture is necessary. It affords us with the elegance, grace and resiliency that our bodies express, when working with the reality of the ever-present force of gravity. A functional model of posture is not rigid - not “straight”, but rather fluid, supple and changing.

For many of us, daily activities have become dominated by sitting, slumping and crouching over some kind device or other. Since we do not have the luxury of not working, it has become imperative that we begin taking on Functional Postural Training, as we do any other fitness training in which we participate.

Posture must be both functional and adaptive to our daily demands. As demands change from activity to activity, so must our postural intelligence. This can best be accomplished with a set of mental and physical exercises geared specifically to correct postural faults, combined with a diverse array of strength, mobility and movement sessions weekly.

 

Myofascia: the mind’s access to the body

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The phrase “mind-body” has quickly become a household term. It is used with regards to meditation, movement, fitness and wellness. But what is it that we are really pointing to when we use this concept? Just where does "mind-body" live? Interesting question, right? Well, the answer seems to be someplace between the nervous system and the skin. More specifically, embedded within the tissue called myofascia.

Myofascia is a tough, resilient tissue that covers every muscle fiber in the body. "Myo" means muscle, derived from the Greek. This tissue is so pervasive that it could be likened to a wetsuit covering your entire body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. So pervasive that in fact, if we could dissolve every bit of you except the myofascia, you would still be recognizable as you.

Recent anatomical research has discovered that myofascia has more sensory nerves than just about any other tissue in the entire body. What that means is that myofascia constantly sends messages regarding touch, vibration, and even balance to the brain to process and use so that we can gracefully maneuver through the world.

Myofascia is now referred to as the largest sensory organ of the body. And it is this capacity of the myofascia for sensory perception that we draw upon to hold an image of our body in our minds eye, when our eyes are closed. Go ahead try it. Close your eyes and imagine what you look like in your minds eye.

This being the case we can see why it is so important to maintain a healthy and resilient myofascial system throughout the entire body. This can be accomplished through body work, exercise and flexibility training as well as the now popular Self Myofascial Release (SMR) technique of foam rolling.

Calcium and Peak Bone Mass

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Most of us remember being told as children to "drink our milk" so that we could "grow big and strong," but did you know that we reach "Peak Bone Mass" between 25 to 30 years of age? Peak Bone Mass is the maximum strength and density our bones can ever reach. Once we reach our peak, bones cannot become stronger or more dense, but we can maintain them.

Our bones are constantly renewing themselves through a process of re-building and repairing. The process takes a few steps: 

1. First, our bone cells use proteins and other substances to create a substance known as collagen.

2. Collagen fibers create a kind of "net" that minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and boron attach themselves.

3. These minerals crystallize to create the "hardness" in our bones. These are called hydroxyapatite crystals.

If our diets do not contain adequate levels of calcium (and other minerals) this process cannot take place fully. When fewer minerals are caught in the collagen scaffolding, the crystals created are further apart, smaller and not as strong. The result: weaker bones.

Although we can continue to replace lost calcium throughout our lives, it is critical to store enough calcium in our bones while we are young. A 10% increase in peak bone mass while we are young, reduces risk of osteoporosis in our later years by 50%.

Even if you are over 30, you should still replace calcium each day by eating calcium rich foods and supplementing.

 

Calcium needs with Age

Our calcium needs change throughout our lives. Through periods of growth (such as childhood and adolescence) we need more of this constructive mineral. Calcium intake also will require an increase in our late-twenties/early-thirties. This is the time when calcium absorption can begin to decline and our need to fortify bones and keep density high is paramount to prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that can begin to effect our bones as early as our late 30s, with women (particularly of Caucasian or Asian descent) being the most effected. An uptake in calcium as well as regular exercise can help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. Bone building exercise must be load bearing and strength building. 

 

How can we ensure we take in enough calcium to keep our bones healthy?

We can eat foods high in calcium such as:

  • kale

  • broccoli

  • cheese, yogurt, milk

  • okra

  • almonds/almond milk

  • bok choy

  • watercress

  • salmon

  • sardines

Unfortunately, most people do not get anywhere near the recommended amount of 1,000mg each day with food alone, and so supplements are an important way to ensure that calcium needs are met. The most absorbable form of calcium supplement is called Calcium Microcrystalline Hydroxyapatite, which we carry in the shop at Align Brooklyn. 

 

Refilling Your Bowl

When your bowl is empty you cannot pour anything into anyone else’s bowl. Fill your bowl first, and often, so you can help to fill your neighbor’s.
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We have all heard this analogy (or similar) at some point or another. It is an easy way to visualize the importance of caring for oneself, as well as how our self-care practice benefits our fellow humans. It is very easy in these times for us to become overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the problems we face as people, a country, a world. Bringing a solid self-care practice into your routine will establish healthy coping mechanisms, constructive down time, and lessen anxiety. 

Below are three tried-and-true methods of self-care that we would love to challenge you to implement!

Mindful actions and activities

These may be activities that you already engage in - a morning cup of tea or coffee, or an afternoon walk. Unplug from your headphones and screens and really focus on the sensations of the moment. Slow down and engage your mind by mindfully enjoying the little things. Breathe in the fragrant steam from your cup of tea, notice the squirrels scurrying around in the leaves while you walk to the subway and reconnect with your own mind. 

Exercise

Exercise is probably the greatest way we can practice self-care. Exercise is not only good for your body, but also for your mood and mind! Exercising releases endorphins, provides an opportunity to release energy or aggression in a positive way, and builds self-esteem. Find a class that you enjoy with an instructor that inspires you, and come back to it. It might be hard at first, but once you start seeing and feeling results you will only be greater motivated to continue.

Create a comfortable space for yourself

Maybe its re-decorating your bedroom with a cozy reading area, or sprucing up your bathroom and throwing a fun bath bomb in the tub, whatever you choose to do, the action of planning and creating a "treat" for yourself is almost as fun as getting to enjoy it afterwards. Try a project with long-term benefits such as a container garden for your kitchen, or going through your closet clutter and donating what you aren't using anymore. 

Support Your Body's Innate Healing Ability with Functional Nutrition

If you've been around Align Brooklyn or my office for even a short while, you've probably heard the word "functional" used a lot. At Align BK we talk about "functional fitness," which really just means exercising the body to move naturally and efficiently. Functional movement (i.e. yoga, Pilates, barre & functional fitness moves) helps us to continue to remain able to move efficiently across all planes of movement and maintain healthy movement patterns as we age.

Functional nutrition is similar. Functional nutrition (sometimes referred to as medicine) simply means using all natural, scientific methods to support the innate healing intelligence of the human body to decrease the signs and symptoms of disease and declining health. Functional healthcare examines any symptom you may experience, and uses all natural methods to facilitate healing.

If you look up most diseases in a medical text, you will find that the causes are largely unknown.  Traditional medicine typically focuses on treating the signs and symptoms of illness without much regard to their root cause. As a result, traditional medicine focuses on treatment protocols that minimize uncomfortable symptoms. 

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Functional healthcare views symptoms as the body's way of letting us know that something is amiss. In the functional model, symptoms are purposeful indicators, and not random occurrences. Functional medicine attempts to remove stressors that cause the body to signal that something is wrong, and also offers support to weak areas. Functional medicine views signs and symptoms as important messengers that will lessen and disappear when their cause is alleviated.

The primary tenet of functional healthcare is that the human body will always heal itself, if properly supported. It is only when the body is overloaded with stressors that it is prevented from healing on its own. If we examine the function of the body on the cellular level, and enable the body to access its creative healing potential, the body will naturally return to a state of homeostasis, and any signs and symptoms will lessen or disappear.

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Functional healthcare uses science and technology to determine where there is weakness, and prescribes scientifically tested protocols to both support the body's internal resistance and lessen stressors. In my practice I mostly use simple tools such as questionnaires and non-invasive tests like the BIA to determine nutritional status and cellular health.

We have so much more control over our over health than we are typically led to believe. Even traditional medicine is beginning to take seriously the connection between our minds and bodies. If we think about the pie chart below, we can consider how we can work on the areas in our control each week. With the right information and tools we can make a difference for ourselves and others.

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As an integrated wellness studio, our goal is to empower you toward total wellness. If you have any concerns about your health or would simply like information on maintenance for your unique biochemical needs, please schedule an appointment with me for a Functional Nutrition Consultation. 

What on earth are Phytonutrients?

Phytonutrients are substances found in plants that benefit human beings by helping to ward off many common diseases. "Phyto" means plant in Greek, and phytonutrients are the beneficial chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. So far, scientists have identified over 10,000 of them and believe that there may be more than 20,000.

These nutrients operate at the cellular level, aiding function and communication. They commonly have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Interestingly, they act in groups - almost as teams - and should be ingested along with their entire family of substances.

Years ago,  "beta-carotene" became a popular supplement, when scientists believed they had identified an anti-cancer substance. Smokers began taking it in high dosages to counteract the carcinogenic effects of smoking. It was only later discovered that taking beta-carotene increased the likelihood of non-cancerous lung tumors in smokers, when taken separately from the entire carotenoid family of nutrients.

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It is always best to get phytonutrients (and other nutrients) directly from food sources. An easy way to ensure that you get all the phytonutrients you need is to "eat the rainbow" each day. In other words try to eat foods in the full spectrum of colors from yellow to green to blue to red. This is great advice, but there are also phytonutrients in cauliflower, onions and ginger - just to name a few foods that you might skip, when following this rule too rigidly.

Of course, our lifestyles and depleted environment often prevent us from getting adequate levels of phytonutrients in our diets, and so supplementation can be beneficial. Particularly, as the seasons change and the flu starts to go around, it can be helpful to fortify ourselves with a high quality phytonutrient supplement. Be sure to choose only the highest-quality supplements that include the full families of phytonutrients. 

The two that I recommend are: PhytoMulti and Phytoganix from Metagenics. If you've been taking classes Align Brooklyn or seeing me as a chiropractic patient, you may have enough Perkville Reward Points for a 20-35% discount on an online purchase. We also carry both supplements at the studio. And don't hesitate to ask me anything about phytonutrients, next time you run into me!

3 Tips to Turn Your Fall into a Dynamic Transition!

Every year the time comes when we have to say goodbye to summer and prepare ourselves mentally and physically for winter. For many of us that means that kids go back to school and/or we go back to work. The seasonal change also means that some of the activities we have been doing outside are brought to a halt by rain and windy weather. Many of us are already making plans for the holiday season - and starting to feel the need for hot tea and soup.

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With the shift to fall we can easily get pulled in lots of directions and it's easy to forget about our personal goals and self care.

This fall, instead of letting ourselves get taken away, let's make this the most dynamic transition we have ever had. Instead of letting things unfold and finding ourselves in the middle of winter before we catch our breaths, let's infuse the fall with dynamism and intention. 

Three simple tips:

1. Keep it fresh and stay engaged!

Maybe this fall is the time to revisit your yoga practice? Perhaps, now is the time you will finally overcome your fear and accomplish a handstand. Or is this the time for you to get stronger by going up in weight or trying a circuit class. If you're a regular yogi, maybe you finally make time to check out the yoga wall workshop or decide to get good at barre class?

What are your personal goals? What kind of goal or intention will keep you engaged?

Try filling in the blank on this sentence: "I will make this fall a dynamic transition by (fill in the blank)."

Maybe your *blank* is that you spend two hours a week on self care or relax more or get in the best shape of your life by January. Keep it personal and keep it real. 

Try to remember to come to class with your reason, and remind yourself: "I came to class today because (blank)."

2. Schedule self care into your calendar

Stephen Covey points out that unless we schedule non-urgent and important things into our lives, we will always find ourselves putting out fires. This chart says it all. It's easy to have our time for exercise, relationships and relaxation eaten up by things that are not important but feel urgent or worse yet by things that don't feel either urgent or important but distract us.

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3. Go out of your way to support some one else

Once someone shared a powerful metaphor with me: if you push a bowl of water away from you, all the water comes flowing back to you. Supporting someone else is just like this. There are many ways to support a fellow studio member: you can hand them the props they need, you can introduce yourself and say hi, you can tell them about a class you took, you can hold their intention for them by buddying up and sharing goals, you can compliment their improvement, you can find something out about who they are or remember their name. There are infinite ways that we can create a supportive environment and continue to build the Align BK wellness community!

Let's make this season a dynamic transition together, and feel great as we hit the holiday season and enter the cooler winter months! Happy Fall!

 

 

What Time is it on the Clock of the World?

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Several years ago, I had the incredible opportunity to meet the legendary Grace Lee Boggs. A small group of us waited in a hotel lobby on the Upper West Side in anticipation. We had asked her to endorse our call for a truth commission: A People's Investigation of Money, Debt & Power. She had agreed to meet with us to discuss the project.

Grace was already nearly 100 years old. Her body was failing, but her mind was sharp. She didn't have time to mess around with small talk; she wanted to make sure that every moment of her life was used fully.

She looked at me and asked, "what time is it on the clock of the world?" She was a philosopher who loved ideas and provocation. "Com'mon, what time is it on the clock of the world?" It wasn't the first time I had pondered how to create value in the time we are living, but I was tongue tied.

One of the key concepts of Buddhism (as well as Hinduism and yoga) is the understanding of time as inextricably instructive to action. One of the subtle benefits of practice is a deepening sensitivity as to how to act at a particular moment in time. In yoga classes often our instructors prompt us to focus our awareness on how we feel on "this day" or "this moment." In Buddhist philosophy a snap of a finger holds 64 moments, and transformation is possible in each and every one of them. 

Grace decided to answer her own question by sharing with us about her life - the century she had seen. Looking back on this conversation, it strikes me that her analysis was so rich that she could actually see the future. She spoke to us about discomfort and loss - particularly the loss of racial power and the potential rise of a leader who would reverse the social changes she had seen and fought for.

Grace, a Chinese American woman, had done the unthinkable and completed a PhD in Philosophy in 1940. But she quickly discovered that credentials and merit could not override her status as a Chinese woman. She was forced to take low wage jobs, but found a new life, when she began fighting for justice and change. 

"To make a revolution, people must not only struggle against existing institutions. They must make a philosophical/spiritual leap and become more 'human' human beings. In order to change/transform the world, they must change/transform themselves." ~Grace Lee Boggs

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Everyone of us was less than half Grace's age, and so for us the changes of this century were largely theoretical and historical. But, for Grace they were visceral - and although a lot had changed, there was still much more change left to fight for. 

Toward the middle of the meeting, we had a surprise guest: Matt Birkhold. Although I had met Matt previously, I did not know him well or that he had been mentored by Grace. It struck me that Grace seemed like his grandmother - so familiar, so respected and so admired, so loved.

Today, one year since Grace's passing, I can see the legacy of their relationship. Matt has responded to Grace's famous prompt, "what time is it on the clock of the world?" with the founding his organization, Visionary Organizing Lab. Visionary Organizing Lab provides innovative trainings that help deepen our perception of the connection between inner and outer change, empowering our understanding of evolution as revolution. 

We hope that you can join us on Saturday, October 8th at 1:30pm to continue to explore how we can transform our lives toward truly being the change we would like to see in the world.

Register at: http://www.alignbrooklyn.com/workshops/

What is a Yoga Wall? & Why You Should Use It

Our Yoga Wall can be an important tool for both advancing your practice and correcting underlying imbalances that manifest as injuries and chronic pain.

The Yoga Wall was originally developed by B.K.S. Iyengar and is often referred to as a "rope wall." Practicing with a rope wall is sometimes referred to as "Yoga Kurunta." Kurunta means puppet - and the wall allows practitioners to hang like puppets. Rope walls were common in India, where practitioners often installed them in their homes and used them to go deeper into poses or achieve asanas that they could not achieve without support.

Practice with security and without strain

A rope wall can both offer a feeling of security and also allow a practitioner to experience the benefits of a posture without straining. In particular yoga suspension walls can help with inversions and traction, alleviating spinal and pelvic tension. By using gravity as a natural form of resistance, the rope wall can allow you safely open up further and in new ways than you might without the use of this wonderful prop.

A tool for beginners, injured and advanced practitioners alike

The wall enables beginners and those with functional alignment issues to learn and experience correct postural alignment, while building strength and stability in weaker areas without straining, and while focusing on breath. The wall enables more advanced practitioners to fine tune advanced poses such as backbends.

If you feel stiff, have aches and pains, or that you need to strain to achieve poses in other yoga classes, Yoga Kurunta is a wonderful, therapeutic style to try. If you've been practicing Vinyasa flow, and are interested in working deeper or building your understanding of your personal alignment, try a yoga wall class or come to our monthly basics workshop.

We offer a Yoga Wall Basics workshop every month for those new to practicing with the yoga wall.

About the workshop:

If you are new to using the Great Wall for yoga, or would like to refresh your skills, sign up now for our "Yoga Wall Basics" workshop with Cat Murcek!

The Great Wall is a wonderful tool for yoga. Using it can...

  • change your relationship to gravity in a given pose

  • highlight new aspects of a familiar pose

  • ease weight on certain joints

  • allow for spinal traction with minimal effort

During the 90 minute session, Cat will guide you through the basics of safety precautions, standing poses, inversions for spinal traction, and more. You will gain confidence and learn the wide variety of uses the Wall has to help you strengthen and lengthen out in new ways. Come "learn the ropes" of yoga on the Great Wall with Cat! Limited to 10 participants, so sign up to save your spot today!

Visit www.alignbrooklyn.com/workshops for more information

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What is Functional Healthcare?

What is Functional Healthcare?

Functional healthcare views symptoms as the body's way of letting us know that something is amiss. In the functional model, symptoms are purposeful indicators, and not random occurrences. Functional medicine attempts to remove stressors that cause the body to signal that something is wrong, and also offers support to weak areas. Functional medicine views signs and symptoms as important messengers that will lessen and disappear when their cause is alleviated.

What is detoxification & why do I need to do it?

Although self-managed programs like juice fasts can certainly be useful, they only address one side of the equation by providing a simple way to reduce our intake of toxins. Although this is beneficial, detoxification can be more effective by simultaneously addressing the other side of the equation: fueling the liver (and other detoxification organ functions) to eliminate more toxins than under normal circumstances.