THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE: MISUSE IN PREGNANCY

In four-legged animals the weight of pregnancy is distributed over four legs, but in humans all the extra weight (the baby, the uterus and the breasts) is carried at the front of the body. Because there is more weight in front there is an increased tendency for the body to fall forwards. The muscles at the back of the body therefore have to work more to maintain the balance. From an Alexander perspective, misuse is when this increased muscular activity is concentrated in specific areas.

The way in which a pregnant woman compensates for the increased imbalance will reflect her habitual misuse. If she has a tendency to an over-tense posture, she will pull her head and upper back backwards, by over-contracting the muscles of the lower back. The woman with a more collapsed posture will give up all attempt to retain her uprightness. In both cases the deep muscles in the pelvis and the muscles of the legs have to work extremely hard to maintain the balance, and there will be excessive tension in the joints, which will restrict their range of movement. The ligaments are also put under a lot of strain, because instead of doing their normal job -which is to make the joints more stable - they have to do a great deal of the work of supporting the body (which should be done by the muscles).

Unfortunately, instead of stabilizing the balance, this way of compensating creates a vicious circle of misuse. In both the over-tense posture and the collapsed posture, the lower back is allowed to curve forwards excessively, which throws the weight of the baby even more forwards. The body then has to further compensate by contracting muscles in an attempt to bring the centre of gravity back. And so it goes on, made worse by the fact that the baby meanwhile is increasing in size. This gives us the commonly accepted image of the pregnant woman having a very hollow back with the pregnancy carried far out in front. Some pregnancy books even suggest this is a physiologically natural aspect of pregnancy!

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THE BREAST CANCER PREVENTION DIET: REAL FISH

New data shows almost nonexistent levels of pesticide or heavy metal contamination in fish. These levels have dramatically dropped in species used for obtaining omega-3 oils, according to the U.S. Department of Fisheries. There are no good alternative sources of information to confirm or deny this level of safety. Several meals a week offish is a good recommendation.

The table on pages 88-90 lays out the total amount of omega-3 fatty acids in various fish and fish oils. Look for the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They stand for eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. They are the most critically important omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. The table lists the amount of EPA and DHA plus their combined total. (New food labeling that will include omega-3 content is being considered.) Fish oils are shown at the top for comparison. For the fish richest in fish oil, 100 grams of fish flesh will contain 2 grams of fish oil (100 grams is slightly less than a quarter of a pound). As you can see, to consume 10 grams of fish oil is the equivalent of eating a pound and a quarter of fish a day! That's a pretty remarkable amount. Practically speaking, you can get the first 2 grams by eating fish; any more and you're stuck with fish oil capsules.

A special note on tuna: Oil-packed tuna usually employs omega-6 vegetable oil, really defeating the purpose of eating the fish in the first place. Do shop for water-packed tuna and look to be sure that it has a high fish oil content.

Cod liver oil has high amounts of vitamins A and D. This on its own is a good thing, but to eat 10 grams a day of fish oils might mean taking an overdose of vitamins A and D. The oil-based vitamins A and D accumulate in the body and don't flush out, so you can accumulate toxic amounts.

Other Benefits

Omega-3s are increasingly being found to be powerful super-nutrients for a variety of diseases from rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis to heart disease. In fact, omega-3s are being promoted as the heart-healthiest fat. Eating lots of fish is even better than a vegetarian diet for reducing levels of certain blood fats that increase the risk of heart attack.

Analysis

Fish oils are the fastest and most effective way of changing breast fats. Aggressive studies are under way to prove they can lower the risk of cancer in human beings. Committing to a year or two of use while waiting to see how clinical trials develop should prove a low-risk proposition.

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