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By Dr. Doug Williams
February 15, 2017
Category: Frailty
Tags: Healthy Aging   frailty   body systems  
Over the last few months, we have been working our way through the topic of Frailty, which is really a study of how the body unwinds over a life time. Most of the material we have been drawing from has come from an article published in "The American Geriatrics Society."

While some choose to look at topics like Frailty and the unwinding of our bodies over time as a bad thing, this article and our blog series took the approach that we are "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" and understanding how we function in youth and as we age can help us live as full and complete a life as possible!

The lens that we used to look at this topic consisted of four, separate yet interrelated, segments:
  1. Inflammatory System
  2. Endocrine  System
  3. Musculoskeletal System
  4. Nervous System

The first thing we looked at was Inflammation. We saw that researchers looked at these main markers in inflammation:

  • Cytokine IL-6
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Total number of monocytes

These were blood markers that increased with age and disease, and were related to the following disease states and functional issues:

  • Death (that is a big one)
  • Bone mineral loss
  • Muscle loss
  • Anemia
  • Insulin resistance (Adult Diabetes)

We also looked at how we could influence these various states of decline and dysfunction, primarily by how and what we ate. There are two links that can help with addressing this issue:

  1. Andrew Wiel Article
  2. Blog Summary from our Healthy Eating Series

Next, we looked at the Endocrine System.  The main markers researchers look at in the Endocrine System are

  • IGF-1
  • DHEA-S

These two markers primarily give insight into the sex hormones: Testosterone and Estrogen. These markers ebb and flow over a life time, but tend to trend down as we age, causing the following functional loss:

  • Decreased strength
  • Decreased endurance
  • Weight loss (due to loss of muscle tone)
  • Decreased walking speed
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Increased inflammation
  • Cognitive issues (dementia)

When looking for ways to positively influence these factors, we found several factors to pursue:

  1. Resistance training
  2. Weight loss/management
  3. Decreasing high glycemic index foods
  4. Increasing sleep
  5. Eating a high protein low carbohydrate snack before bed

Two links that were helpful were:

  1. Article in the Journal of Gerontology (Technical)
  2. Article in Life Extension Magazine (Reader Friendly)

After the Endocrine System, we looked at one of my favorite: the Musculoskeletal System! The main marker for this system is muscle mass or muscle to non-muscle tissue ratio.

We primarily focused on the glute muscle because it is such a big player in much of human locomotion. Decline in the musculoskeletal system results in the following disease and functional states:

  • Diabetes
  • Fall risk
  • Declining bone health
  • Independence

We referenced two helpful links:

  1. The Sit to Rise Test (explained the relationship between core strength and life expectancy)
  2. Getting Your Butt Off the Ground (blog series on how to improve the Sit to Rise Test!)

Finally, we looked at the Nervous System. We saw that the nervous system really brought everything together, which is why it is often called the Master System. The markers that were used in the original article are:

  • Gait (how stable and smoothly you walk)
  • Balance
  • Strength

We added a bonus one that has been making it's way into the literature lately:

  • Cognition (how well your brain works)

When the nervous system starts to fail, you see the following issues:

  • Falls
  • Loss of independence
  • Problems with coordination
  • Cognitive issues (mental slowness, dementia and, possibly, Alzheimer's's disease)

We linked to several articles:

  1. The Nurses Study on Walking (showed a dose-based relationship to exercise brain function)
  2. An Article in JAMA (relative to exercise and brain health - dementia and Alzhiemer's)
  3. Our previous blog series on Getting Out Of A Chair (practical place to start for glute strength)


What's Left?

As I write this article, I am 52 years old. I am sure that some of you reading are much younger than me and some older. One thing we all have in common is we are all headed to one last door in life to open.. death! We all are going to have to step through it, at some point. I have a lot to say about what I believe to be on the other side for me (the waiting arms of Jesus, who made the supreme sacrifice for me!), but that is not what this blog series has been about! This series has been about how things are going to unfold as you get to that last door. Personally, I would like to be able to walk right up to it at the end under my own power. While that may not be possible, I am going to do all that I can to operate as fully and completely as I can in the framework I have been given. I hope some of the material we have covered helps you to do the same.

In Health,

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic 
Lafayette, Indiana

By Dr. Doug Williams
February 08, 2017
Category: Frailty
Tags: exercise   frailty   nervous system  
 
The Nervous System Lies at the Hub of Frailty

We have been working through a series on Frailty, essentially what happens to our bodies as we age. This material is important for several reasons, not the least of which is, because it is going to affect all of us, if we live long enough, and knowing what is coming can be comforting on some level.

However, more than that, I believe that understanding how we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" allows us to not only appreciate what we have been given in our bodies, but also inspires us to take the best care possible of them.

With that in mind, we have been going over what happens to us over time, but also how to positively impact it. The Nervous System literally and figuratively lies at the center of our life and, ultimately, death.

Components of the Nervous System
 
The Nervous System is structurally broken down into two parts:
  1. Central Nervous System, which is composed of the brain, spinal cord and nerve roots
  2. Peripheral Nervous System, which is composed of the nerves once they leave the spinal cord
The Nervous System is functionally composed of about a million different parts! Okay, maybe not a million, but way more than I am prepared to cover in this material.
 
The most useful model for the functional aspect of the Nervous System is to think of it as a great big feedback mechanism.

It is constantly seeking information through our senses on things like: gravity, position, resistance, stability, sound, smell, sight, temperature, feel, etc., and relaying this to the brain in order for the brain decide what it wants to do next.
 
 
Think of Your Nervous System Like a Submarine
 
Submarines are known for operating on sonar - essentially, making a sound, waiting for the sound wave to bounce off something and return back to the sender. The submarine then could make a decision on whether or not it wanted to go in this direction or that. This is often called pinging.

Pinging is what your nervous system is doing all day long, searching out information from the periphery, relaying it to the brain, deciding what, if anything, to do about what it has found out and then taking action.

Going up a flight of stairs? Your eyes gauge the height of the stairs, your foot tells you if the surface is smooth like wood or has resistance like carpet, your heart rate and blood pressure increase (via messages from the nervous system) as you ascend and relay information to the brain in order to make a decision if you need to stop and rest halfway up or not.

Most of this happens automatically without you thinking about it... until it doesn't! Then, you have a problem - you might slip, stumble and fall, or catch yourself.

The interesting thing is that failures in the feedback mechanism happen at both ends of the age spectrum - a 2-year old learning to negotiate the stairs has some of the same issues as an 82-year old might - and for the same reason: The Nervous System is Not Completely Plugged In!

Often times, our physical "Pinging and Processing" can parallel our cognitive (ability to think and reason) "Pinging and Processing." In other words, our brains can slow to match our bodies!

This presents some very interesting possibilities. For instance, if you train the body, will the brain follow suit?
 
 
Train the Body, Train the Brain!
 
An interesting study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) in 2004 looked at over 18,000 women between the ages of 70-81 and their activity levels, specifically walking. The study found that, not only was there a 20% difference in cognitive function (brain activation), but that their cognitive function was related, in part, on a dose basis: the more active they were, the better off they were!

This is only one of many articles you can find on physical activity and the role it plays in keeping the brain healthy. Really, keeping the brain healthy is a reciprocal action, just like our sonar example from the submarine. The more information you can process, the more likely you are to get up and process it; rinse and repeat!

Another article published in JAMA in 2008 studied elderly individuals with memory issues but had not met the criteria for Alzheimer's. 138 people completed this study that split the group into two: half did what was considered an "educational and usual care program" and the other half did a "24 week at-home physical activity program." The "educational and usual care program" showed deterioration over the study time - they actually lost ground. In contrast, the "at-home physical activity group" not only didn't lose ground, but they showed improvement!

Components of accessing the nervous system for frailty include:
  • Gait: how well and how much you can walk
  • Balance: a measure of strength and coordination
  • Strength: a measure of how well you recruit your muscles to do a task; this can be a quantity and quality issue
Doesn't that sound a lot like exercise? It sure does to me! Once again, we find ourselves back at the basic premise that we were born to move and, when we stop moving, we stop living (maybe not all at once, but progressively, in both body and mind)!

Training movement has a lot of components, but at the heart of it is this concept:

GET UP AND DO SOMETHING... ANYTHING!
 
A good place to start would be our blog series on getting out of a chair. It has some simple step-by-step exercises for strengthening your glutes, the biggest muscles in your body.
 
Whew! Well, I hope you have gotten something out of our series on Frailty. Next week, we will wrap it up and pull everything together. The last portion of the theory on Frailty is called Integrative, I think you will like it!

Until then,
Get Up and Do Something!

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

PS: Don't forget to visit our new blog page at Doug Williams, DC - there is lots of great stuff to explore!
By Dr. Doug Williams
January 17, 2017
Category: Frailty

We are on the backside of a series on Frailty, the study of how the systems of the body work together and what happens when they stop. In addition (and more importantly) - how you can slow, stop and, in some cases, reverse these changes to live your life as long and full as possible.

This week we are going to be talking about the Musculoskeletal System, one of my favorites! You might suppose I like it so much, because it forms the bread and butter of my livelihood as a chiropractor, and you wouldn't be totally wrong! However, the real reason I like it so much is that this system out of all of them reacts the quickest and with amazing changes, with just a little bit of stimulus, a little bit goes a long way!

This system is made up of the frame work (bones and joints) and the engine that moves them (muscles). It is the "hardware" to the Nervous Systems "software," which we will talk about next week.

Sarcopenia: The Technical Term for Age-Related Muscle Loss

About now, you are probably trying to figure out why there is a picture of old cigarette butts in a tree stump as a caption for this section. Well, I am going to tell you: The best example of age-related muscle loss I can think of is when older men lose their bottom muscles. Their waist might continue to expand, but their pants get saggy in the rear! Do you know how hard it is to find a picture of an older man's pants on the copyright-free picture websites? You can't! The closest I came was when I typed in "Old Butts" and this picture came up. So, the next time you see an older guy (or gal) with saggy pants or some cigarette butts, think about age-related muscle loss or sarcopenia!

There are a number of reasons why we lose muscle as we age:
  • Hormonal (sex hormone levels drop)
  • Inflammation 
  • Neurological (stimulus to the muscles decrease)
  • Poor Nutrition
  • Decreased Activity Levels
Declining muscle mass has been associated with a number of different health and disease states, most notably, diabetes, fall risk and weak fragile bones. In addition, diabetes is associated with a multitude of other issues including issues of inflammation (heart disease, neurological conditions). From a more practical standpoint, strong muscles allow you to do more of what you want for longer!
 
 
It All Comes Down To The Glutes!

In recent years, a simple test has been developed to determine how long someone will live: The Sitting Rising Test. Click the link to not only see it demonstrated, but to get some great background on why it is so important and some easy to do exercises to improve your test score. Basically, the Sitting Rising Test identifies how easy it is for you to get off the ground and correlates that to how long you will live - kind of scary! The main muscle that drives you up off the ground are your glute muscles, otherwise known as your bottom-behind-butt-derriere, you get the idea! We actually did a whole blog series, not only on the Sitting Rising Test, but also on how to begin to engage the glute muscles to improve your outcome on this test. If you are serious about getting stronger, this is the place to start. If your base isn't strong, everything else is going to perform poorly as well! You can check out the series called Get Your Butt Off The Ground here.

There are so many things in life that you can't control: genetics, accidents and, to some degree, stress. But one thing you can control is how often and how intensely you activate muscles and which ones. If the only muscle you have been activating lately is your bicep when bringing your fork to your mouth, try something new and get working on your backside!  Along the way, you might find that you feel better, move better, reduce your risks of falls, improve your blood sugar levels and maybe flat out live longer!

Next week, we are going to be talking about the software that runs your hardware: the Nerve System!

Until Then,

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana
By Dr. Doug Williams
January 11, 2017
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

Welcome to 2017!  I hope you all had a great Holiday Season! We are committed to bringing you a lot of useful and easy to implement information over the next twelve months to make this  your best year yet. This week’s blog is going to be short and sweet, and get us started out on the right foot.  We are going to cover two things:

  • Our New User-Friendly Blog Site and Email Address
  • Recap and Road Map of the Current Series on Frailty

New User Friendly Blog Site and Email Address

We are excited to begin using our new blog site! In March of 2016, we launched a weekly email/blog campaign to our clients and their families. We did this to provide educational material about chiropractic and whole body health that was difficult to convey in a short office visit. Topics ranged from Alzhiemer’s to zinc deficiencies, and everything in between.

Initially, emails were mailed to you from [email protected]. These will now be coming to your inbox from [email protected] – make sure you don’t miss them!

*If you haven’t been receiving our emails, check your spam folder! Add our email address your contact list so you can keep up to date with our newsletters.

Our new email is linked to the stand alone blog site: www.dougwilliamsdc.com. Originally, after you received your weekly email, the content was published on our office website under the blog, but you had to poke around to find it. In addition, searching the posts was cumbersome. When you go to the new site, you land directly on the blog. In addition, if you send a loved one there for an article, they can sign up directly for the weekly email. It is an easier format to search for topics that we may have covered in the past. Finally, we are working on grouping similar topics together to create FREE E-BOOKS! Keep your eyes out for that in the near future!

As much as I would like to take credit for pulling all of this technical stuff together, I can’t! It is about all I can do to get the content down. The continued forward progress of our communication efforts can directly be attributed to Emily Duke! Emily worked in our office for several years until last May, when she and her husband Tommy (and their yet-to-be born son) moved to Texas. Well, the three of them (yes, the baby finally came last summer) have settled into a comfortable family life, but through the magic of the internet, Emily continues to help me get this material out on a regular basis. Thanks Emily!

Frailty: The Building Blocks of Life

The current series we have been on is exploring the concept of Frailty. From a research perspective, Frailty looks at how a number of different systems in our bodies are connected. More specifically, if one system starts to decline, you can often times manage. But when a number of systems begin to decline together, even though no single one severely, the whole system crashes!

That last point is really the intersection of life and death. Most of us aren’t surprised when someone dies in a car accident or from cancer. But how many times have you heard someone say “They seemed so healthy” after hearing of another’s passing?

People don’t live forever here on earth. The Reaper catches us all. But how we live, and ultimately how we die, can be influenced by the things we do in life. Follow a healthy lifestyle, live longer and potentially less painfully all the way to the end.

The study of Frailty helps explore the different building blocks of health:

  • Inflammatory
  • Endocrine (Hormonal)

  • Skeletal

  • Neurological

The hope is that the better you understand how these systems work together in health, and fail to work together in disease, you can implement strategies to maintain and heal them over the course of a lifetime!

So far, we have covered Inflammatory and Endocrine. You can check out the previous posts on these topics here.

Over the next two weeks, we will get into the parts that chiropractors absolutely love: Skeletal and Neurological!

At the outset, I indicated to our readers that this was some pretty deep and involved material, but that if you process it and integrate it into your life, you won’t be sorry!

Happy New Year to You and Your Loved Ones!

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

By Dr. Doug Williams
December 19, 2016
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

As we come to the close of 2016, I have one more post on Frailty (don't worry, I still have several more additions to the series in 2017!). The last one for this year has nothing to do with physical frailty. No, it is more important than that. I believe our bodies are a gift from God and that we are supposed to take care of them the best we can. However, in the end, we all "go the way of the earth." During this Christmas Season, may we be reminded that God didn't create us to live here forever, He created us to be with Him forever! It is for that reason, 2000 years ago, He sent His light into the world: Jesus. He did it just to say He loves us and wants us to be with Him always. I, for one, am very glad He did!

I leave you this year with one of my favorite songs - it is by an old Christian Rocker named Randy Stonehill and is called "Light Of The World". I hope you enjoy it, and that you and your family have a blessed Christmas Season!

Yours in Health,

Doug and Sue Williams
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana





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