Anyone who sees me sitting will notice I often nod my head like an Indian and am constantly tugging at my face or neck. I try to loosen my minor muscles and my jaw and neck this way because they are often painful and tense.
While it is true that this can be caused by stress (I could have chosen an easier work environment for example), yet during my last holiday when I reached for the painkillers for the third day in a row, I was fed up with them for some time after that. In the past few years I have tried all kinds of different things and the latest acquisitions is a plate to prevent me from grinding my teeth at night (which I regularly lose during the night so there is still room for improvement there) and recently I have ordered the Upright Go. Which is a device that you place on your back and which starts to vibrate when you’re not sitting upright. You can use it to train yourself to sit or stand up straight. I haven’t used it long enough in order to be able to judge if it works, but reviews have shown that it could help.
Back pain as a business model: millions of patients are targeted on social media.
In addition to these home aids, I decided to go to a fifth physiotherapist. After listing my many various vague symptoms, to my surprise one of the first questions he asked was whether I was allergic to gluten or lactose. An allergic reaction like that can irritate your intestines and trigger an immune reaction which in turn causes your muscles to contract. Just like you sometimes get muscle pain with the flu too.
A different approach
I’d never thought about it like that before. A few times my chiropractor had told me that if your intestines are constricted, they are not able to do their job as well. Which could cause intestinal issues if you don’t stand up properly, for example. But this was altogether a different approach. This could mean that I could solve my neck and back problems by adjusting my diet.
This was in line with the book I had bought the week before at Micropia in Amsterdam. ‘Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ’ by Gilulia Enders is about the relationship between our brains and intestines, of which more and more is becoming known. The intestines also contain brain cells that communicate with our brains, which is why it is also called the second brain. We already knew that depression could lead to intestinal complaints, but increasingly more research shows that the opposite can also be true: an unbalanced mix of your intestinal flora can be the cause of depressive conditions. There is a connection between autism and an imbalance in the intestinal flora as well. This means that instead of behavioural therapy, treatment should focus more on restoring this balance, which is a completely different approach. It’s fascinating how everything is connected.
During my studies in Innovation Sciences at TU/e, I always imagined that in the future we would receive nutritional advice each morning from an intelligent toilet. I became enthusiastic when the first model appeared at the Lowlands music festival last month. Now just connect to the Picnic app and you will automatically get the right food on your kitchen table. Are we all going to collectively post our toilet scores online later on so that we can show that we really are eating healthily instead of just taking pictures of healthy food?
Over deze column:
In a weekly column, alternately written by Eveline van Zeeland, Jan Wouters, Katleen Gabriels, Mary Fiers, Lucien Engelen, Peter de Kock, Tessie Hartjes and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. These columnists, occasionally supplemented with guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions for the problems of our time. So tomorrow will be good. Here are all the previous columns.