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Protecting Your Sleep

If you are just joining us, we are 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. The argument could be made that people were just dying of something else instead, like war and pestilence! While that was true, I am sure, some of the issues we face today that our ancestors didn't is likely lifestyle based.

Last week, we talked about how important sleep is for health, as well as for preventing sickness. This week, we are going to look into some of the things that can rob you of sleep. It might help if you start to think of your bedroom (and sleep) as your castle. In order to get a good night's sleep, you are going to have to be diligent about protecting it.

Here are the five things we are going to look at:

  1. Screen Time
  2. Exercise
  3. Temperature
  4. Light Levels
  5. Mental Factors and Stress

Screen Time

Screen time refers to really any "back-lit" device: computer, phone, tablet, reader and television. I first came across the concept of back-lit screens interrupting sleep when looking for papers on the topic of ADHD. There is a really nice little article in Psychology Today by Victoria Dunckley entitled "Electronic Screen Syndrome: An Unrecognized Disorder? In it, Dr. Dunckley relates how interacting with screens shifts the nervous system into the fight or flight mode, which, in effect, amps up our brains. She relates this phenomena primarily to kids with ADHD; however, I have found that most of the things that can set off a child with ADHD tends to impact all of us to some degree - back-lit screens are no exception. The current recommendation is to put away the screens, at least two hours before bed! For some of you, that may be no problem; for others, it may take some major effort! This problem isn't going away - starting to deal with it now is in order.

Exercise

First, the good news about exercise and sleep: the National Sleep Foundation reported on a study that showed that those who get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week had a 65% improvement in sleep quality (that is about 25 minutes a day of exercise)!

Those of you that know me personally might find it hard to believe that I would tell you NOT to exercise. This may be one of those cases where you might want to rethink when (not if!) you workout. Exercise does several things that can impact sleep: it increases your body temperature and can stimulate your brain. These two factors may impact your ability to get to sleep, especially the closer you exercise to your bedtime. Again, the National Sleep Foundation notes that not everyone is affected the same, but if you have trouble falling asleep, you may want to move your workouts earlier in the day. The two hours before bedtime rule applies here for many people.

Temperature

The temperature you keep your bedroom at night might be keeping you awake, or waking you up after you have been asleep for awhile. I reviewed several articles for this section and, while not an exact science, thermoregulation impacts sleep in two primary ways:

  1. A cooler temperature helps to induce sleep.
  2. Temperatures top low or high can impact REM sleep. REM sleep is that portion of sleep where you have dreams and a lot of eye movement (Rapid Eye Movement). It is thought that REM sleep helps clean out bad chemical by-products from your brain, and that it is responsible for waking refreshed and ready to face the day.

I found ideal temperature ranges to be between 60-70 degrees; however, it did vary with the person. Too warm seemed to be more of an interrupt than too cool.

Light Levels

Okay, I will be honest: when I first read this one, I thought to myself: "Who doesn't get this?" But as I progressed through the article in Paleo Magazine, it started to make more sense. We tend to think of light as big sources: sunlight, a street light, an overhead light, etc. But really, any light can interrupt sleep: night lights, back-lit alarm clocks, cell phones, window shades that leak in the neighbor's porch light, etc.

Last week, we discussed circadian rhythm - that natural pattern of sleep and wake cycles that all life seems to follow. Artificial light can interrupt that! Remember that circadian rhythm plays a role in hormone production, cellular regulation and brain wave patterns. Start messing with that and you can have more than a poor night's sleep. A disrupted circadian rhythm has been linked to depression, obesity, cancer and heart disease. You can read a nifty little summary article from sleep.org here. The Paleo Guide sums it up: "Avoid any type of light at night, if possible. If your situation doesn't allow you to avoid all light, wear a sleep mask."

Mental Factors and Stress

For me, personally, this one probably impacts my sleep more than any of the others and I am guessing I am not alone. It gets pretty hard to turn stuff off during the day and, at night, when there is a lot less to distract me, my stress and brain can take center stage! There is a really nice article on Stress and Insomnia by the National Sleep Foundation on their website. It basically says: yes, stress does impact sleep, but dealing with it effectively starts before you get to bed!

In the article the author outlines three steps:

  1. Set your sleep time for the total hours of sleep you are currently getting, not what you would like to get.
  2. Spend some time winding down before bed.
  3. Set up your bedroom to be a place of comfort and peace .

I know these seem like generalities, and they are to some extent; however, the article goes into greater detail. In addition, next week's newsletter is going to go into greater detail on strategies to maximize your sleep!

One final caveat before we leave the topic of "Mental Factors and Stress," which is something I do personally. If I am lying awake at night, I ask God if there is anything that He wants to talk about with me and, then after that is addressed, I try to ask Him if there is someone I can be praying for. That seems to help me get my focus to a little different location and help me sleep!

Good Sleep is Coming!

Today, we looked at five different factors that can impact sleep: Screen Time, Exercise, Temperature, Light Levels and Mental Factors and Stress. Each one of these has the potential of interrupting sleep. I am sure you already see some things that might be affecting yours! Take heart! Next week, we are going to be going over some practical strategies on how to improve these and get you to sleeping like a baby!

Yours in Health,

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

By Dr. Doug Williams
March 06, 2018
Category: Sleep

What's Not to Get About Sleep?

If you are just joining us, we are in the middle of exploring the "Paleo" health concepts. Paleo originally came to the forefront as a movement that followed the way pre-industrial humans tended to eat. It has expanded over the last several years to include other items like, sleep, exercise and community, among other things. We recently finished up the section on eating, which you can review here. We are working through material from a special edition of Paleo Magazine entitled "Go Paleo, The Step-By-Step Guide."

This week, we are going to start looking at sleep, why it is important, what messes it up, and how to optimize it! I think you are going to get a lot out of this one, and, hey, who doesn't like to sleep!

We Are Hard-Wired for Day and Night

Before the advent of electricity, most human activity, both body and brain, stopped once it got dark. We were literally forced to rest. Our unique human physiology was actually created to maximize this! During the day, when we are exposed to sunlight, our systems produce various hormones and our brains operate a specific way, primarily to keep us alert and active. At night, we produce another set of hormones and our brains operate in a very different fashion, primarily inducing sleep and repair. This daily (and nightly) cycle is called the Circadian Rhythm. Circadian Rhythm is primarily regulated by exposure to daylight, but can be influenced by other things, like temperature. There is a great summary sheet on this topic by The National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

How Much Is Enough?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following sleep schedule:

Infant                    12 - 16 hours
Toddler                 11 - 14 hours
Pre-School           10 - 13 hours
School Age           9 - 12 hours
Teen                     8 - 10 hours
Adult                     7 - 9 hours

According to a 2013 Gallup Poll, 40% of Americans get less than the recommended minimum of seven hours!

This rhythmic sleep wake cycle was the norm for most people up until several hundred years ago. In the last one hundred years, we have taken things to a whole new level! Shift work, 5 Hour Energy Drink, Starbucks, computers and televisions, expanded social calendars and societal pressures can and do cut into this cycle, especially the nighttime (sleep) portion of it!

A Storm is Brewing

The Go Paleo Step-By-Step Guide lists the following issues related to sleep deprivation (not enough time in bed) and disruption (poor sleep when in bed):

  • Problems with attention
  • Problems with decision making
  • Problems with memory
  • Problems with learning
  • Problems with problem solving
  • Problems with mood regulation
  • Decreased creativity
  • Increased depression, suicide and risk taking
  • Increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure and stroke
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Issues with inflammation and the immune system

WOW!
 
That is a lot of different things that can be related to not getting enough shut-eye. Quantity is a pretty easy concept. You know what time you go to bed and what time you get up. Quality of sleep is a little trickier though. Next week, we are going to cover some of the hidden things that may be affecting the time that you have set aside to sleep. Stay tuned!

Yours in Health,

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana
By Dr. Doug Williams
February 26, 2018
Category: Paleo

All Right, Team, Let's Pull This Thing Together!

Over the last month, we have covered a lot of ground. We have been working our way through the Paleo Lifestyle Approach and, more specifically, how it looks at eating. Let's sum it up!

First, the Overarching Principles:

  • Eat real, whole food, not processed products
  • Eat local, seasonal food
  • Eat animal protein that was raised according to their species needs; ie, not living in restrictive pens or forced to eat drug infused inappropriate foods
  • Eat organic food grown in a nutrient rich soil

Next, the Food Pyramid:

Nuts 
&
Seeds
Fruit
FATS
Meat and Fish
V-E-G-E-T-A-B-L-E-S

Some Additional Suggestions:
  1. Pick one thing from each of the lists above (Overarching Principles of Eating, Paleo Pyramid) to start working on.
  2. Don’t go for the jugular! For instance, if you aren't really that invested in your breakfast cereal, consider changing it out for free range scrambled eggs (you can get free range chicken eggs at Walmart).
  3. Don’t try to make your spouse or kids comply. It just won’t end well, it really won’t. Pick a meal that you usually eat by yourself. For example – lunch is usually safe. If you don’t eat enough vegetables, make a point to start having at least one fresh vegetable with lunch most days.
  4. Don’t beat yourself up! Remember the 85/15 rule: it doesn’t have to be spot on all the time, just the majority of it. If you are one of those people who start out having to do the things, all or nothing, you are going to have to plan to fail part of the time. Life is hardly, if ever, an all-or-nothing event. You are in it for the long haul!

A Quick Check Sheet to Keep on the Fridge!

Some people just want the facts. The facts are that food can really cause a lot of health problems. The facts are that most of what we eat in the standard American diet is not very healthy and is, in fact, often times toxic. The fact is that the traditional food pyramid is wrong, at least, if you want to avoid diabetes, arthritis, possibly Alzheimer's (any diseases that are inflammatory based). The facts are that a healthy diet is simple. The facts are that it takes discipline, especially in the beginning!

EAT THIS                                                                              NOT THAT              

 

Fresh or lightly steamed vegetables (organic, if you can)

Heavily cooked vegetables in sauce (cheese, etc.)

Fresh fruit; no-sugar fruit sauce (organic, if you can)

Canned fruit, jams, fruit wraps

Fish, chicken, beef, pork (organic/grass-fed, if you can): baked or grilled

Fried or battered meat, lunch meat, hot dogs, Slim Jim's, etc., fast food

Water

Pop, fruit juice, alcohol

Caffeine-free herbal tea

Caffeine drinks

Raw nuts and seeds, nut butter

Salted nuts, peanut butter

Gluten-free "baked products," oats, rice and gluten-free "baked products" (sparingly)

Wheat and wheat products (cereal, crackers, chips, cookies, cakes, pies)

Butter, spices, fresh salsa, wine marinades

Margarine, cheese, gravy, BBQ sauces, bottled marinades

Flax meal, ground chia seed

Pre-packed store-bought baked products with a shelf life

Free-range/omega-enriched eggs

Caged white eggs

Olive oil, coconut oil

Vegetable shortening

Dark chocolate

Candy (especially brightly colored)

 

*Items in bold represent the worst of the worst.

Download Check Sheet

I hope you have been enjoying this series as much as I have been enjoying bringing it to you! We have been going through material found, in large part, in the special addition of Paleo Magazine called "Go Paleo: The Step-By-Step Guide." The outline we are using is:

  1. Eating
  2. Sleeping
  3. Unplugging
  4. Connecting with others
  5. Sunlight
  6. Movement and Play

Next week, we will start on Sleeping.  

Remember, you don't have to make it all work in one day, pick a piece at a time and see how it goes!

Yours in Health,

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

By Dr. Doug Williams
February 20, 2018
Category: Paleo

High Carb? Low Carb? No Carb? Help!

If you are just joining us, we are working our way through some material on the Paleo Lifestyle. You can check out some of the previous posts here. As you may recall, the Paleo Movement started out primarily as an approach to eating more like humans have historically (and potentially pre-historically) than how we have been eating over the last hundred years or so. Recently, the Paleo Movement has also incorporated exercise, sleep, electronics, and even social interactions. Currently, we are finishing up the section on food. Today, we are going to be covering carbohydrates. Before we talk about the Paleo approach to carbohydrates, let's take a minute and talk about exactly what a carbohydrate is!

What is a Carbohydrate?

While a protein can be used for energy production in the human body, it is not very efficient and way more important as a building block. Fat is a highly efficient form of energy, but takes a little while to get burning. Fat also has some very important roles in hormone and cell production. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are an energy source that burns fast and hot! They don't take much to get going, but they burn out quick. Carbohydrates also convert to fat in the body, if they are eaten in greater amounts than the body needs.

Sources of dietary carbohydrates include

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Legumes (Beans)

Carbohydrates in our diet can be either refined or unrefined. Refined refers to how much of the "wrapping" around the carbohydrate has been removed. For instance, if you took an orange and squeezed it for the juice, a high percentage of what you got would actually be pure carbohydrate. If you took that same orange and ate the whole thing, you would get the same amount of juice, plus a lot of fiber.

When You Consume Too Many Carbohydrates in Your Diet

The problem with consuming too many carbohydrates in your diet (and refined carbohydrates, for sure) can be summed up in two words: Insulin Resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas to help get carbohydrates into cells and to help convert excess carbohydrates into stored fat. If a diet is too high in carbohydrates (especially refined ones), then the insulin system works overtime. Do this for too long and it starts to become less efficient, and it will eventually stop working altogether, which results in Type II Diabetes! Diabetes itself is associated with a variety of health issues, including heart disease, eye issues, and numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.

What Do Paleos Do?

The "Go Paleo: Step-By-Step Guide that we have been following from Paleo Magazine emphasizes getting the majority of your carbohydrates from vegetables, then more sparingly from fruit, as it has a higher concentration of sugar (fructose).

It is recommend to stay away from grains and legumes. Grains have several issues: they are higher in carbohydrate compared to fruits and vegetables and, therefore, can raise your blood sugar more quickly. In addition, the primary grain we use in the US is wheat. Wheat has a protein in it called gluten. Gluten can have negative effects on both the gut and nerve system in a lot of people. Legumes (beans) are composed of a material that requires a specific enzyme to break it down for digestion. Most people don't have that enzyme, hence that famous song: "Beans, beans the magical fruit..."

The Paleo approach emphasizes getting your carbohydrates first from eating a lot of dark green leafy vegetables (like spinach), then incorporating vegetables and fruit from a variety of colors. Each color can add different nutrients. It is recommended to limit starchy vegetables, like potatoes and corn, as they have a high percentage of carbohydrate to weight.

What Do You Do, Doc?

Like I have said in previous posts, I try hard to follow the 85/15 rule: Eat right at least 85% of the time and don't worry the other 15%!

Here is what I typically do:

  • Most days, we try not to have any carbohydrates (fruit or vegetable) prior to lunch time. We do this by having either bacon, eggs and coffee, or turmeric tea with coconut cream for breakfast. Then, we try not to eat before noon. This gives the insulin system a long break from bedtime till lunchtime (for us, about 12-13 hours).
  • For lunch, I try to have a salad of salmon, carrots, celery, spinach, flax meal, and avocado, along with an apple and pear, and some nuts and M&M's for dessert.
  • Most dinners are a vegetable and meat, but we do eat chili, burritos, and hamburger rolls with gluten-free flour (dinner would be our highest concentration of carbohydrates).
  • When we bake, it is with 1/3 gluten-free flour, 1/3 almond flour and 1/3 flax/chia mix. The almond flour and flax/chia mix are actually very high in fat and low in carbohydrates. We usually make banana bread and M&M cookies this way, minus half the recommended sugar.
  • Our biggest indulgence are frappuccinos (this probably makes up most of the 15%)!
  • We rarely buy chips, crackers, or cereal.
  • You will see us at restaurants, mostly Chipotle and McAllisters, and that is another place we cheat a little.
  • Pop is rare; carbonated flavored water is the norm.

Again, 85/15 is the goal.

I hope this gives you a little better an understanding of how carbohydrates work and why it is important to chose them carefully. Remember, you don't have to be perfect or finish first to have a successful race, but it is a good idea to be heading in the right direction!

Next week, we will wrap up the eating portion of this series with a Quick Tips and Help Sheet!

Yours in Health,

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

By Dr. Doug Williams
February 12, 2018
Category: Paleo

I hope you have been enjoying our series on the Paleo Lifestyle. We are in the middle of the Paleo approach to food. Last week, we reviewed some basics on protein, which you can read here, in case you missed it.

This week, we are going to tackle one of the more confusing and contradictory topics so far: dietary fat. When we hear the word fat, it is usually in a negative context: "I feel fat," or "That food is high in fat," or "That fat is bad for you." While you may "feel fat" and some "fat is bad for you" food that "is high in fat" is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, we need fat to survive!

All Your Cell Membranes are Made of Fat

Fat is a great source of fuel and is used extensively in making all of the hormones that run our body. It surrounds and insulates our nerve system, protecting it and keeping it from short-circuiting. Fat also protects our vital organs from injury. If you didn't have fat in your body, you couldn't survive.

Every tissue and organ in your body is made up of cells. Every cell has a wall called a cell membrane, which are like the gate keepers for the cell: they let good things in and keep nasty stuff out. The primary building block of the cell membrane and, subsequently, your whole body is FAT!

But, not all fat is created equal. Some types of fat are very fluid and allow for easy transfer back and forth across a cell membrane; others are not so fluid and slow down, and can even stop the transfer of important items in and out of cells.

The least fluid fat and the worst offender is Trans Fat. Trans fat is actually an artificial fat, found in margarine and shortening, and can be found in anything with a shelf life (ie, cookies, crackers, chips, baked goods etc). Trans fat is very bad for cell membrane fluidity and, therefore, bad for you! Don't eat it!

The next fat in the fluidity scale would be Saturated Fat. Saturated fat is found primarily in animal and dairy products. Over the years, trans fat has been implicated in increasing the risk of heart disease. This thought has been coming out of heathcare for decades, but recent studies indicate it may not be true. An interesting article from Medical News Today was one of several I found indicating that reducing saturated fat in the diet did not reduce the risk of cardiovascular or stroke events.

The best fat in terms of fluidity is Unsaturated Fat. Unsaturated fat comes from plants, such as olives, nuts and seeds, as well as cold water fish and wild game. This fat is usually liquid at room temperature. In contrast to trans fat (which is harmful), saturated fat (which may be neutral), unsaturated fat may be protective in nature, relative to heart disease and its related disorders. A 2017 Harvard Health Publishing Article does an excellent job of summarizing the different types of fats and the potential health benefits of unsaturated fat.

A Closer Look at Unsaturated Fat

Just like proteins are made up of smaller particles called amino acids, fat is made up of fatty acids. Also like proteins, there are essential fatty acids and non-essential fatty acids. Non-essential fatty acids are ones the body can put together on its own and essential fatty acids have to come from a food source.

Two essential fatty acid groups that have been in the press a lot lately are Omega 6's and Omega 3's., which are both found in unsaturated fat. Sources of Omega 6's include grain (corn, wheat, etc), nuts, seeds and vegetable oil. Sources of Omega 3's are fish (cold water, deep caught fish, fish and krill oil) and wild caught game.     

We need both for healthy cells, but there is an important caveat: the ratio of Omega 3's to Omega 6's should be in the neighborhood of 1:1. Today, the ratio has been estimated as high as 1:25 (WAY TOO MUCH OMEGA 6'S). Dr. Mercola notes research that shows an increase in the following heath issues as the ratio of Omega 3's to Omega 6's increases: Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Macular Degeneration, Obesity, Cardiovascular Disease, Type II Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psychiatric Disorders, Cancer, Asthma, Autoimmune Diseases and others.

Doc, Bring It In for a Landing!

I told you at the beginning that fat was one of the more confusing and contradictory topics! But they are important. Here is the take away:

  • Far from being bad for you, fat is vital to health.
  • Certain fat is better than others, primarily based on how well they allow particles to pass through cell membranes.
  • The worst kind of fat is trans fat.
  • Saturated fat may not be as bad as once thought.
  • Unsaturated fat may improve your health.
  • Omega 3 fats are the best.

 Some Practical Steps:

  1. Incorporate cold water, wild caught fish (salmon) and/or wild game Into your diet.
  2. Start taking a fish oil or krill oil supplement.
  3. Look for Omega-enriched eggs and grass-fed beef.
  4. Cook with olive oil and coconut oil on medium heat.
  5. Use butter instead of margarine.
  6. Don't eat deep fried, fatty foods.
  7. Don't eat things with a long shelf life (cookies, chips, etc).

Until next time, eat healthy and live well!

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





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