1. The big hole in your head.
That’s right. You have a big hole in your head. It’s at the base of your skull and opens into the brain compartment. The Latin name for this great big hole is foramen magnum (“great hole”). In some cultures, the hole is called the “mouth of God.” So while it’s good you have a strong bony skull to protect your squishy brain from ski accidents and such, it’s also a good thing you have this Great Big Hole—because almost all the messages between your brain and the rest of your body pass through it.
2. “High” cholesterol
Poor cholesterol. It gets such a bad rap. And it’s so good for you. Hormones are made from it, nerve endings are wrapped in it, your brain is largely made of it, and your blood vessels are lined with it (which makes them slippery and allows the blood to pass through more easily). So why does everyone bash cholesterol? Well, as you know, high cholesterol is associated with heart disease. But, as you may remember from your freshman year Intro to Logic class, an association does not mean there is a cause-effect relationship. And in this case, high cholesterol does not equal higher chance of heart disease. In fact, as you get older, it’s normal (and good!) to see an increase in cholesterol. This is a natural protective effect to keep your aging heart healthy.
In recent years, the powers that be have changed the guidelines so that more people are considered to have “high” cholesterol and be “at risk” for heart disease. We could speculate about the suspicious connection between having more people categorized with “high” cholesterol and having more people “needing” cholesterol lowering medication . . . but that would ruin the nice Thanksgiving vibe we’ve got going here. When you’re ready to feel more Grinch-y, check out this interview with a Swedish health expert about the truth behind the cholesterol myth.
The brain tends to get all the credit, but the nerves deserve a shout-out, too. Every time you sneeze, squint, squat, blink, tie your shoe, pass the salt or digest a big plate of turkey and green bean casserole, it’s your nerves that make it all happen. You can think of your nerves like bundles of internet cables, each made up of millions of fibers. Signals are constantly flying through the nerves in your body at up to 200 miles per hour, transmitting messages between the brain and various parts of your body. Think of it as having 7 billion personal servants at your constant beck and call.
Chiropractors could also be called Nerve Doctors since our primary concern is the health of your Nerve System. Mis-alignments in your spine that occur through normal everyday life and through traumatic events like car accidents put pressure on the nerves and interfere with the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Chiropractic adjustments remove the interference and let your nerves get back to work so you can sneeze, squint, squat and digest your turkey.
If you remember your middle school mythology unit, you know that Atlas is the muscular deity who holds the world on his shoulders. If you’re a Libertarian, you have Atlas Shrugged on your bookshelf or Kindle. Either way, Atlas is a big deal. It’s a big deal in your body, too. Your atlas is the very top vertebrae of your spine, and it holds up the world—well, your head, anyway, which is pretty much the world to you. Most of the bones in your body are interlocking, but not the atlas. It’s a free-floating bone that protects your brain stem—the master control system for your body. Free-floating means you can twist your head to look over your shoulder when it’s time to back out of a parking space. (The pedestrians behind you are grateful your head has better range of motion than your knees.)
My friend fell off a 20-foot ladder a few years ago, which caused a compression fracture in his vertebrae. Here’s the cool part: his discs (the stuff in between the vertebrae) survived the fall totally intact, which means his bones healed just fine within a few months. People talk about discs that “blow out,” but the truth is that these suckers are incredibly strong and durable. Discs don’t really “blow” out; they wear out. Just like driving a car with mis-aligned tires will cause serious problems over time, your discs can wear out over time if your spine is mis-aligned. When a disc herniates (i.e. “blows out”), you can be sure it has been worn out and weakened for many years. Healthy discs are strong enough to survive a 20-foot fall off a ladder! Yet another good reason to take care of your spine through regular chiropractic care. An aligned spine = strong, healthy discs = no blow-outs!