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By Dr. Doug Williams
December 10, 2018
Category: Paleo
Tags: Untagged

If you live in Indiana and are like me, you have been asking this question a lot the last few weeks! Most of us intuitively look for and like to see the sun. I work on a number of people who actually like the cold (and even the snow), but I have yet to find someone who would prefer to have overcast days on a steady basis.

We are winding down our series on the Paleo Lifestyle, as outlined by a special edition of Paleo Magazine: “Go Paleo – The Step-By-Step Guide.” This week, we are going to explore how the sun impacts our health. There is no doubt that as our society embraces advanced technology, we are spending more time indoors.

Could that actually be negatively impacting our health?

Sunshine and Physical Health


Let’s go ahead and deal with the elephant in the room…

“Doc, don’t you know, the sun causes cancer, especially skin cancer?”

Yeah, that is what I have always heard, and melanoma is the type of cancer most people associate with the sun. In fact, melanoma has been on the rise over the last twenty years, but is it due to sun exposure?

According to a study in the British Medical Journal of Dermatology, the rise in reported melanoma is actually due to the way they have started to classify the benign (non-cancerous) form of the disease over recent decades and not as a result of an increase in the actual malignant state.

An article by Dr. Mercola explores how there has been an increase in melanoma on those who are in the sun too little! I am not a dermatologist (“Dang it, Jim, I am a chiropractor, not a dermatologist!” – for all your Star Trek fans), and the relationship between the sun and skin cancer is complex. However, there is convincing evidence that some sun exposure is vital to skin health and other aspects of our well-being.

Adequate sun exposure has been linked to the following:

  • Reduced risk of colorectal cancer
  • Reduced risk of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Possible reduction in breast cancer risk
  • Reduced reduction in prostate cancer
  • Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Treatment of metabolic syndrome
  • Treatment of systemic lupus
  • Treatment of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Treatment of thyroiditis
  • Reduction of blood pressure

At least in part, the benefits of sun exposure have been linked to the increase in vitamin D that happens when our skin is exposured adequately to UV rays, especially UVB. Next week, we will talk a little more about how to go about maximizing sun exposure and minimizing sun risks.

Sunshine and Mental Health


Seriously, who doesn’t feel better mentally on a cold day when the sun warms your face? If you live north of I-70 in the United States, chances are, you’ve heard of S.A.D. – Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder is thought to occur when low levels of sunlight in the winter impact serotonin and melatonin activity – two brain chemicals associated with depression. This can be diminished and reversed with, you guessed it, light and vitamin D exposure! There are other ways to impact this and, again, Dr. Mercola has a great article on the science of S.A.D.

Besides S.A.D., sunlight exposure has been seen to benefit:

  • Non-seasonal depression
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Depression associated with pregnancy
  • Anxiety-related disorders
  • Panic attacks

Next Week…


Next week, we are going to talk more specifically about vitamin D, which has been linked heavily to a lot of disease states. We will discuss specifics on how it impacts health, as well as some practical ways and guidelines to increase it in your life through food, supplementation, and sun-exposure. Until then, especially if you live in Indiana, go out and get a little sun. I am pretty sure you won’t get a sunburn this week!

Yours in Health,

Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

By Dr. Doug Williams
December 03, 2018
Category: Paleo
Tags: Untagged

“I admire machinery as much as any man, and am as thankful to it as any man can be for what it does for us. But it will never be a substitute for the face of a man, with his soul in it, encouraging another man to be brave and true.”
– Reference to the electric telegraph from The Wreck of the Golden Mary (1856) by Charles Dickens

This is how the section in the Paleo Magazine opens regarding Connecting with Others. We are working our way through a special edition of the magazine called Go Paleo: The Step by Step Guide.

For those just joining us, you can review the other posts on our blog. In a nutshell, Paleo asks the question: Has modern life made us healthier people than our ancestors?

Last week, we discussed how increases in our use of electronics (phones, computers, tablets, etc.) may be leaving us with deficits in our ability to learn and remember, as well as in our physical bodies and relationships. Today, we are going to discuss how face-to-face connection with others  and the lack thereof can impact our health.

What Happens When You Don’t Communicate Face to Face?


The author in the Paleo article lists the following social areas in which people are starting to lack:

  • Communication skills
  • Social graces
  • Grammar and spelling skills
  • Empathy
  • Altruism
  • Patience
  • Brain development

Just last week, I threw out a sign in our office that read: “Please Turn Off Your Cell Phone.” Why did I throw it out? Mostly because people just ignored it. I’ve found that many don’t talk on the phone anymore – they text and email instead! The norm in society is rapidly moving towards communicating less face-to-face with the person next to you and more digitally with people somewhere else.

But, it’s not just social areas that are being affected by lack of face-to-face communication = the physical being suffers as well. Reduced social ties have been linked to:

  • Heart disease
  • Slower wound healing
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired immune function
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Sadness

What Happens When We Do Meet Face to Face?


Five key elements occur when we meet face to face:

  1. We see and hear one another.
  2. We quickly exchange communicative stimuli (instant response).
  3. We convey and observe facial expressions.
  4. We convey and observe body language.
  5. We convey and listen to speech.

According to the author of the article, “compared to other forms of communication, face to face involves multimodial sensory information (nonverbal cues) and more turn-taking behavior between participants (with less interruptions), elements that may synchronize the brains of the participants.” Other forms of communication (texting, emailing, driving while talking on the phone, etc.) may not be able to do this at the same level.

Good communication means strong relationships, which are associated with the following health benefits:

  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Greater ability to manage stressful events
  • Lower risk of death in young women with breast cancer
  • Lower risk of death in young women after heart surgery
  • Stronger immune function
  • Reduced mortality rate

In teens, face-to-face communication during meals have been found to reduce the risk of smoking, drinking alcohol, depression, crime, and substance abuse!

Finally, consider the youngest among us. Toddlers have become amazingly proficient at working Mom or Dad’s phone. It can be really tempting to hand a little one a device for a few minutes just to get something done or catch your breath. But is the singing bear or video game really in their long-term best interest?

Kids learn the fundamentals of social interaction from their family.

The article reminds us that children have already learned a great deal from face-to-face play, which, in turn, prepares them for society with real world behaviors like sharing, cooperating, and respecting others’ property. Many schools are moving back to “play-based learning” (presumably in lieu of electronic ones) for this very reason. All Dr. Sue and I had to contend with when our boys were little were old school Game Boys – and those were hard enough! Today’s parents of little ones are to be commended, encouraged, and assisted anytime they choose to go face-to-face (and often times toe-to-toe) with their kids!

A Place Where It Meets in The Middle


I ended last week’s post saying that Pandora was out of the box, regarding technology, and wasn’t going back in. But maybe it’s not all bad.

Just this last Thanksgiving, my family was able to connect face-to-face with my father-in-law, even though he was in Colorado and we were in Indiana – all via an iPhone. Would it have been better to see and hear him in person? You bet! Would it have been nice to give him a hug? Sure! But the fact remained that he wasn’t physically present, but technology did allow us to be one step closer. We could see him and he could see us. Likewise, there have been times when we’ve been sick or otherwise unable to make it to church. We could observe the service in real time online. None of these things replace the benefits to body and soul that real live contact can, but it sure beats the alternative.

My encouragement to you and myself?

Don’t settle for second best unless you have to. Do all you can to get face-to-face interaction – it is important to you and the other people you engage with! God made us for Himself and for each other; we are supposed to share!

Yours in Health,

Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

By Dr. Doug Williams
November 27, 2018
Category: Paleo
Tags: Untagged

I am struck by the irony of this week’s topic being communicated via computer. I feel like a hypocrite already! Honestly, this may be the most important topic we explore in our series on the Paleo Lifestyle. In case you are just now joining us, we are working our way through a special edition of Paleo Magazine – “Going Paleo: The Step by Step Guide.” You can catch up on other articles in this series on our blog.

Unplugging, for the purpose of this article, is the intentional consideration of how, why, and how much to use our electronic devices.

There is no doubt that the inter-connectivity of our world via computers, phones, and social media has opened up amazing possibilities in knowledge, relationships, and communication. However, the speed this has developed and become utilized has left open several potential pitfalls. We are going to look at this through three different filters:

  1. How It Affects Cognition
  2. How It Affects the Body
  3. How It Affects Relationships

Cognition

cog·ni·tion
/ˌkäɡˈniSH(ə)n/
noun

  1. the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses

I have my own biases on cognition: how we think versus how we acquire knowledge. I am sure these come from how I started the learning process – paper and pencil (not the stone tablets my sons envision!). I just assumed everyone learned the way I did and liked to. Still, even I have started, albeit very slowly, to process information and learning on a more digital level. PDFs and eBooks are all things I would have never considered ten years ago, but are slowly finding their way into my tool kit for learning. Beyond intentional learning, things like video games, surfing the web, and YouTube videos are all having an impact on how people gather and process information.

In doing online searches for cognition and digital devices, I kept coming back to one main theme:

Distraction.

While many of us pride ourselves on being able to multitask, most of us probably think others are lousy at it. If we were honest with ourselves, we might admit we don’t do our best work when we are trying to focus on multiple things at once.

A 2012 article on the impact of technology and education compares students taking notes using paper and pencil with no tech access versus those taking notes while having access to texting emailing, messaging, and Facebook. Big surprise – the group that wasn’t multitasking out-performed the group that was.

Another article from the Cleveland Clinic relates ADHD-type symptoms as proportional to greater use of digital devices throughout the day.

Finally, this article discusses the term “Digital Dementia” in relationship to how the use of digital devices may lead to atrophy of certain aspects of our memory.

On some level, integrating too much digital media into our everyday lives as the potential to impact our ability to learn, our ability to focus on the big picture, and our memory. I can’t tell you from my research that this is convincingly conclusive, but there appears to be enough evidence to call into question how much, when, and how often we employ digital devices in our daily lives.

Body


Normally, when considering digital devices and being “plugged in,” we think in terms of what effect it may be having on our brain. Did you ever consider how it may be impacting your body and overall health?

The American Heart Association concludes:
“When it comes to childhood obesity, sedentary behavior may be the most influential and controllable factor that parents can change, especially through managing screen time, according to a new American Heart Association Science Advisory.”

And the American Heart Association knows that OBESITY = HEART DISEASE!

Another study in the Journal of Public Health looks at the role of screen time and metabolic syndrome (high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, increased waist circumference, and low good cholesterol) in children. What they found was a dose-dependent relationship bewteen metabolic syndrome and screen time: the more time you spent on a screen, the greater your odds for developing and progressing metabolic syndrome.

While these two studies are relative to children, how could this same principle not apply to adults?

Relationships


I have to admit, I have a pretty clear picture of how I think technology affects our brains (cognition) and our bodies. But I am more fuzzy on the relationships aspect. I have two sons: Josh in Denver and Caleb in Atlanta. My dad and brothers live in Denver; Dr. Sue’s family is in Arizona and Illinois. While I don’t text and I don’t have a Facebook page, I really like being able to call family on the way home from work. Staying connected, especially since we live so far away, would be pretty tough without a cell phone.

The flip side of that?

Sue and I still have love letters we wrote to each other when were apart prior to getting married (don’t look for those to be published on the blog anytime soon) – absence really did make the heart grow fonder! I also remember when I was first in practice, I treated a couple where the husband was a WW2 vet. They got married and he was shipped out for 18 months. I don’t think they were ever able to call… and mail came every six weeks! But somehow, they made it work and stayed married for the next 50 years.

I came across a really good article that details how the adverse use of our phones can impact our relationships with others and even ourselves, coining the word phubbing. Phubbing is snubbing others in favor of our mobile phones. The article describes the process as a vicious cycle: we’re in a situation where someone is paying more attention to their phone than us, so we go to our phone and perpetuate the whole thing.

Phubbing leads to less fulfilling relationships and loneliness, and loss of intimacy.

The author points out that you can’t connect well with someone you aren’t able to read physical cues from (smiles, tone of voice, frowns, etc.) and you can’t read physical cues if you aren’t looking at them. You could extrapolate this same process to watching TV while trying to hold a conversation, or surfing the web while talking to your mom on the phone. In any case, it gives us a good reason to pause and consider how much attention we are really giving others in our direct vicinity, in lieu of someone or something (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) that exists in a cyber world.

I Get It…


Pandora is out of the box (if you are a millennial, this is a different Pandora than the one you listen to on your computer!). We aren’t going back to the days of old… and that is OKAY. In moving forward, both as individuals and families, it is imperative that we consider the impact technology has on what it fundamentally means to be human.

Intentionally considering how, why, and how often to engage with technology will allow us to best thrive in the framework in which we were created!

Next week, we will take on the antithesis of unplugging: Connecting with Others!

Yours in Health,

Doug Williams, DC
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

 

By Dr. Doug Williams
November 20, 2018
Category: Paleo
Tags: Untagged

7 Steps to Perfect Sleep

Thanks for joining us this month on our journey through exploring the Paleo Lifestyle. You can catch up on previous posts at the blog. We have been working our way through a special edition of Paleo Magazine entitled Go Paleo: The Step-By-Step Guide.

Today, we are going to review “7 Steps to Perfect Sleep” by Melani Schweder:

  1. Steering Clear of Stimulants
  2. Taking Time Out
  3. Hacking Your Hormones
  4. Blocking Blue Light
  5. Going Herbal
  6. Making a Cave
  7. Embracing Your Natural Sleep Rhythm

Avoiding Stimulants


At first glance, this seems like it should be filed in the “Well, duh!” file. Who doesn’t get that stimulants keep you awake? But, in reading further, I found something I didn’t know: the half-life of caffeine can be up to five or six hours! That means, if you have a late afternoon coffee or a caffeinated soda with dinner, you still have about half the caffeine from that drink in your system at bedtime.

For instance, an 8 AM coffee with 100mg of caffeine would still leave 50mg hanging around in your system at 1 PM and 10-20mg at bedtime. It is easy to see how that could interrupt sleep. It is best to either avoid caffeine all together, or at least switch to decaf by noon.

Taking Time Out

You don’t have to reach too far back in human history to realize that evening and bedtime looked a lot different than it does today – we can thank Mr. Edison for that! Think about it: if you didn’t have any lights, how late would you stay up? What would you be doing before bedtime? Probably not watching TV or squeezing in some last-minute emails for work! More than likely, you would be reading or talk with your family… maybe sitting outside, if it was nice!

There is a good chance that you would be spending the last 20-30 minutes
R-E-L-A-X-I-N-G!

The suggestion in the Paleo Guide is to turn off distractions and spend some time in contemplation, walk, stretch, go through some deep breathing exercises, even journal. Who among us couldn’t use a little “Time Out?”

Hacking Your Hormones

A lot of our sleep cycle is regulated by neurotransmitters – chemical messengers in your brain. The precursors for neurotransmitters come from food. Stress and age can degrade our ability to put together neurotransmitters, which can impact your sleep.

One of the most common sleep neurotransmitters is serotonin. The precursor for serotonin is tryptophan. Tryptophan is found in things like turkey, eggs, salmon, nuts, and seeds. Having these as an evening snack may be helpful in inducing sleep.

Additionally, magnesium is a mineral supplement that greatly impacts hormones, especially cortisol (stress hormone) and the thyroid (one of the master glands). A tremendous amount of body chemistry and interactions are dependent on magnesium levels, and low amounts can really disrupt a lot of things – brain function being one of them!

This article explains how magnesium can help you sleep. Other recommendations include melatonin, GABA, and amino acid L-theanine. While I believe these could be very helpful, it is best to talk with someone who is well-versed in the effects of these substances before venturing out on your own. At our office, Dr. Markley does a really great job with nutrition – if you would like to schedule a visit with him, just call the office and let us know!

Blocking Blue Light

Blue light is generated by TVs, phones, tablets, computers, readers, etc. The current school of thought is that it interrupts production of melatonin – a signal for sleep in your brain. There has been an explosion of blue light devices over the last decade and it is often what people are using to relax before bed!

The Harvard Health newsletter published this great article on the effect blue light has on your sleep and more. Most of the sources I have read suggest turning off your screens two hours before you go to bed to get the greatest effect – I am hearing a collective groan across our readership! This might be the motivation you need to talk more with your family, read a paperback book (yes, they still make those), go for a walk, pray, etc.

Going Herbal

Back in the days before Big Pharma, our ancestors used plants and food to assist their bodies when they weren’t working right. In fact, a lot of medications you see today originate in the herbs your great-grandmother might have used for a headache or upset stomach! The nice part about herb-based treatment is its safety. It is pretty hard (but not impossible) to cause harm.

Some of the more common herbs used to help the body relax and induce sleep are valerian root, lemon balm, hops, passionflower, chamomile, lavender, and skullcap. You can get a lot of these as a tea (un-caffeinated, of course).

Create A Cave

Remember when you were a kid and you made blanket forts or caves out of cushions on the furniture? One of my favorite things was to sleep in a sleeping bag! If you grew up in a cold climate, you know how nice it is to get into a warm bed and how hard it is to get out in the morning!

While I don’t want to sell our house and find a cave somewhere, there is no denying that some of the best sleep comes in cool, dark, relatively cozy spaces. Our bodies respond to physical cues like light, temperature, and noise when it comes to sleep. It makes sense that you would want your room to be dark (no night lights, heavy shades), quiet (you may need a white noise machine if you live in a noisy area), and cool The National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping your room at 65 degrees – personally, I like it colder, except when I have to get up!

Embrace Your Natural Sleep Rhythm

This section is my favorite because it says NAPS ARE OKAY! While the typical sleep recommendation is a “good eight hours,” the author points out that there are other views, specifically biphasic or polyphasic sleep patterns. This means some people might do better to sleep a shorter amount of time at night and take naps during the day. If you have more than one child, you have probably seen a difference in how much sleep they need and who needs a nap!

Winston Churchill only slept 5-6 hours a night, but he napped for at least two hours a day… at 5 PM! Here is a fun article on some of the sleep patterns of famous people.

Let’s Put This Thing to Bed!

  1. Avoid caffeine altogether, or at least switch to decaf by noon.
  2. Be purposeful about the last 30 minutes before bed. Let your body and brain wind down.
  3. Consider having some sliced turkey as a light evening snack, along with taking 200mg of magnesium before bed.
  4. Turn off your phone, TV, tablet, and computer earlier and earlier each night. Work your way up to shutting things down several hours before bedtime.
  5. Consider an evening cup of herbal tea.
  6. Make sure your room is quiet, cool, and dark.

Once you have done steps 1-6, be open to your body’s own clock. Don’t be afraid to sleep longer than 8 hours, or less, especially if you take naps.

I hope you got something out of this post on sleep… I know I did! Next week, we are going to tackle one of the most controversial topics yet: Unplugging! Watch out, millennials!

May God bless you and your family this Thanksgiving week. I am very thankful that He has seen fit to let me start writing again!

Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

By Dr. Doug Williams
November 14, 2018
Category: Updates
Tags: Untagged

Wow! The last newsletter I sent out was March 14th, 2018. Where did the time go? I hope those of you whom I haven’t seen in the office since then are doing well.

The main reason for the interruption of this series on Exploring the Paleo Lifestyle was the unfortunate passing of one of my younger brothers, Mathew Albert Williams. He passed the week after the last newsletter went out. This obviously hit our family hard and put us into “emergency operations mode” for awhile. Also, as most of you are also aware, we said goodbye to our long-time Staff Lead, Geri Warner, in July when she moved to Florida. We have had quite an eventful middle part of our year!

God Wasn’t Caught Off Guard With Matt’s Passing…

I was, but God wasn’t. It isn’t how I wanted things to play out, but I know He knows best. I am also of the opinion that we must have needed a big break between blog posts – maybe we’ve just been waiting for someone to get on the train and you’re here now – so let’s get going!

I started out this year with the intention of completing a series on exploring the Paleo lifestyle. We have been working through Paleo Magazine’s special edition of Go Paleo: The Step-By-Step Guide to look at how our pre-industrial ancestors lived. Part of the reason the Paleo movement has taken off is because a lot of the diseases we deal with today, like cancer, heart disease, autoimmune issues, etc., were not nearly as prevalent in our fore bearers. The argument could be made that people were just dying of something else instead, like war and pestilence! While I am sure that may have also been true, some of the issues we face today are likely lifestyle based. The last topic we reviewed (ironically enough) was on getting rest: Protecting Your Sleep.

The topics we have left to finish out before the end of the year are:

  1. Enhancing Sleep

  2. Unplugging

  3. Connecting with Others

  4. Strategies for Sunlight Exposure

  5. Strategies for Getting Out, Moving, and Playing

I am aiming to get this all wrapped up by Christmas – my present to you! Look for a post or two every week til the end of the year. I encourage you to review the whole series as you head into 2019 – now is a good time to start planning on a healthy and happy new year!

 

This is a picture of my brother Matt (he is the tall blonde guy – people used to get us confused all the time!). He made me laugh a lot, shared my bent on politics that broke with the rest of the family a little bit (this made for lively conversation and plenty of practice for all on patience), and I loved him very much. He will be missed, but I take comfort again in the fact that “God wasn’t caught off guard.”

I look forward to sharing the rest of the story on Paleo with you before the end of the year!

Yours in Health,
 
Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana




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