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Posts for: January, 2019

By Dr. Doug Williams
January 30, 2019
Tags: de-stress  

Let’s Take it Down a Notch…

We are starting out this year with a short series on practical ways to get and stay healthy, specifically looking through the following four topics:

  • Diet/Nutrition
  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Sound Nervous System

Last week, we looked at how stress can impact your nervous system and overall health by exploring the research of Hans Selye MD, specifically the General Adaptive Syndrome (G.A.S.).

This week, we are going to look at some specific ways to de-stress, as outlined in the Harvard Health Publication: Healthbeat.

  1. Stay Positive
  2. Meditate
  3. Exercise
  4. Unplug
  5. Find ways to take the edge of your stress

If you want to get it directly, just go to the link above. If you decide to stay with me through the newsletter, I promise to add in some caveats that will help you dial it in even a little better!

Stay Positive

By nature, I tend to be a fairly positive person. Looking on the bright side of things comes fairly natural for me – sometimes too much and I can be Pollyanna-ish! However, that may just keep me healthier.

An article published by John Hopkins Medicine showed a reduction in risk of heart disease by 33 percent when you keep a positive outlook on life! As interest in ways to impact health without medication grows, so does the research into how it might work.

The National Institutes of Health Newsletter related a positive outlook in life to lower blood pressure, longer life, healthier weight and blood sugar levels. The authors indicated that different areas of the brain are activated with positive and negative outlooks/thoughts. The areas of the brain activated by positive thoughts were also responsible for lowering stress hormones. In contrast, negative thoughts activated a part of the brain that has been associated with slower recovery and healing times from disease and illness. Turns out, healing really may be an inside job. You may not be a glass half-full person, but even asking yourself “what if” the glass was half-full might just make it so, at least when it comes to your health.

Meditate

I have written before on meditation, and I have some pretty strong opinions, mostly that I am not a fan of the type where you “empty your mind” and focus on nothingness. You never know who or what might just wander through!

However, there is a school of thought out there that embraces “Mindful Meditation.” In a nutshell, this is the practice of slowing down and paying attention to what is going on in the moment, and not worrying about the past or the future.

This has been a part of humanity since probably the time of creation. What is new, however, is the ability to see what part of the brain is activated when someone is engaging this, made possible with a new technology called Functional MRI. They can literally see what part of the brain is most active when people are thinking/focusing on different topics/aspects of life.

Studies have shown that mindful meditation actually changes the architecture of the brain, increasing areas that may boost helpful neurotransmitters levels related to mood and relaxation and, at the same time, reduce activation of the areas of the brain associated with fear anxiety and stress. There is a nice article in the Harvard Health Publishing newsletter on this topic.

So, much like staying positive, taking time out to be mindful and just focus on the moment can actually activate the parts of your brain that keep you healthy and deactivate the parts that make it easier for you to get sick.

Exercise

Exercise is, by far and away, my favorite go-to in order to de-stress – mostly because it doesn’t take a much thinking: just start moving! The other really nice thing about exercise as a tool for stress reduction is that it is not dependent on how good of a shape you are in. You don’t have to run a marathon to reap the benefits; for some of us, a walk down the block is plenty to get things headed in the right direction. I like what the Mayo Clinic says about it:

IT IS MEDITATION IN MOTION!


You get the benefits of meditation, as well as the physical benefits of, well… exercise! When our boys were little and they would be fighting, one of my favorite things to do was send them together on a walk around the block (I didn’t make them hold hands, but a few times I was tempted!). They would start out walking looking straight ahead not saying anything. By the time they got back, they would be laughing and joking, and moving a lot closer together, both physically and emotionally.

Years ago, I remember reading an article that said it is almost impossible to walk and argue at the same time. There is just something about movement that seems to unload our brain (probably the same areas as positive thinking and meditation) when we move. Walking is great, but really anything that begins to expend energy is a winner: wall push-ups, chair squats, a few walking lunges, all the way up to your favorite sport! While exercising when you are stressed is good, building it in to your routine is even better. It is like money in the bank!

Unplug

We actually dedicated a whole blog post to this back in Novemeber, so I won’t spend much time on this here, except to say that it is those darn devices that may actually be keeping us from:

  • Staying Positive
  • Meditating
  • Exercising

I know there is probably an app for all of these, but really, people, it wasn’t that long ago that we had to do these things without a plug! Try it out, you might really like it!

Find Ways To Take The Edge Off

There are probably as many ways to fight stress as there are ways to cause it. If you aren’t ready to embrace the ones listed above, or if you just don’t have the energy, that’s OK. Find one of your own!

This picture above is one of my favorites: Maisey. While not a “licensed” therapy dog, I am confident that she has saved me from a multitude of mental snaps over the years. Here is a list of 27 different ideas that really don’t take much effort at all. I am sure you can find something on here to start with!

Stress really does impact your mind and your body. Start small in working on getting it down and, as you see results, build those habits into your daily life, sort of like a multivitamin. You and your family will be glad you did!

Yours in Health,

Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

 


Let’s Get Down To Business!

I hope your January is going OK so far. As I write this week’s blog post, I am in Denver visiting my dad. Dr. Sue is back in Indiana and I am really hoping she will have the driveway cleared before I get back tomorrow (Sunday)! We are starting out this year with a short series on realistic ways to get and stay healthy, as opposed to all the quick fixes and miracle results promised around this time of year.

We are going to look at four different parameters:

  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Sound Nervous System 
  • Diet/Nutrition

Let’s start things off with looking at the impact stress has on a Sound Nervous System.

Healing, Physiology and The Stress Connection

In the early part of the last century, there was a famous medical doctor named Hans Selye. As a young doctor in school and early practice, he was struck by how many disease states were difficult to identify until the later stages of the disease.

Essentially, he found the body's response to most illnesses was fundamentally the same and it wasn't until late in its progression that the body manifested unique, identifiable signs.


In a sense, doctors knew you were sick, but weren’t sure why! This led him to go on and research this topic for many years, and, ultimately, Dr. Selye was one of the pioneers of the impact stress (both positive and negative) has on our health. One of his greatest contributions was the concept of the General Adaptation Syndrome,or G.A.S.

One of the key points of the G.A.S. is our bodies go through stages when they encounter a stressor (illness, death of a loved one, birth of a baby, etc.; Selye didn’t define stress as positive or negative).

Most people have an acute reaction to stress: elevated heart rate, lowered immune response, anxiety, fatigue, aches and pains, maybe catching a cold. If the stressor is short-lived, then the body pretty much recovers as expected.

However, if the stressor is not removed, something very interesting begins to happen. For a period of time (even months), the individual can show signs of recovery and appear to be handling things remarkably well. What is really happening under “the hood” though is they are living off of their stress hormones.

Stress hormones are really made for short bouts of insult and then they need a recovery period to replenish. If the individual never goes into a recovery period, they “burn out” the system. When you burn out the system, you can have a hard crash, resulting in disease states like cancer, ulcers, autoimmune diseases, etc. There is a great review of the G.A.S. in Medical News Today that is well worth the read.

Go Hug A Tree

So, if chronic stress literally “burns out” our nervous system and makes us sick, how do we deal with things like the death of a loved one, the birth of a baby or the loss of a job?

Good Question!


The strain of these events can often impact us well into the future, and, in some cases, our lives will never be the same again. 

Part of the reason I came out to Denver was to go with my dad to his first visit with a new chiropractor, Dr. Jenna. She was a delightful young doctor. She spent a lot of time with my dad getting a full history, part of which included the impact the loss of my brother (his son) and my uncle (his brother) had on his life and health. She proceeded to do a very thorough evaluation of his spine and then gave him an excellent adjustment. At the end of our time, with my dad sitting on a chair and she on the adjusting table, she said “Now, what are we going to do about your stress?” She hadn’t forgotten the conversation earlier and didn’t pass over the impact it could be having on my dad’s health… and, more importantly, she called him to take accountability!

I was very impressed (and a little ashamed at this young doctor addressing things I too easily pass over). My dad talked about a few things he was doing (a Williams family trait: we don’t deal with some of the hard stuff, we just keep soldiering on). Dr. Jenna acknowledged those efforts and, at that point, encouraged my dad to get outside, walk around barefoot (this wasn’t lost on me, as I looked out the window at the snow falling at a rapid rate), and get in contact with nature.

Then she said, “You know… hug a tree!”


Dr. J, you were doing so well! Don’t ruin it!

Now my dad is pretty open minded about a lot (more so than me), but he was ROTC, active duty for six months and in the reserves for awhile. But, outside of a big beard and a gold chain in the 70’s, I wouldn’t have pegged him as the Tree Hugger Type. But, you know what? As I sat there and watched, he nodded… he got it! He recognized his system had been tied up pretty good and he needed to let it unwind in order for his system to take a step toward healing. Good job, Dad, and good job, Dr. Jenna!

Al and Number Two of Four Sons

It was really good to see my dad and catch up with my brothers, family and friends. In fact, it took my stress physiology down a few notches! The visit with my dad to the chiropractor reminded me that healing really is an inside job. We can’t avoid stress in life, but we can counteract and offload it along the way. That starts with recognizing the relationship between stress, and our health and nervous system. Next week, we will cover some ways to offload stress on a regular basis!

Yours in Health,

Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana


Yeah... Not really. Welcome to 2019, everyone! I have been racking my brain all week on what I was going to cover in this week's blog. Last year, we covered the Paleo Approach to health. You can find that and a host of other useful information (if I do say so myself) on our blog.

At first, I thought I should jump on board the media wagon and do a series on motivation, weight loss, exercise, super foods, detox diets, etc. Don't get me wrong, I love reading about that stuff as much as the next guy! But, like most of you, I either don't stay with it long enough to see results, or find it isn't all as cracked up to do or be as advertised. So, as much as I would like to bring you the next big thing in health and wellness, I can't. But I don't think anyone else can either!

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Instead of ripping off the latest headlines that over-promise and under-deliver, we are going to dive into a New Year's Health Series with a practical framework that is realistic and scientifically sound.

I know that doesn’t sound really exciting, so, to make it sound just a little bit sexier, I am going to call it:

Health Secrets from the Vault

 

Each week, over the next few months, I will drop a

SECRET FROM THE VAULT!
 

We will rotate through the four topics I have found over the last 25 years that form a solid foundation for health, optimal physical function, and minimal body pain. We will cover supportive science, as well as practical ideas on how to implement each one.

How About A Hint?

These are the four topics we will be going through:

  • Rest 
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Sound Nervous System

At first glance, these don’t sound very tantalizing or profound. They don’t look like they are going to provide any short cuts or dramatic overnight results either, do they? Not only that, but they sound like they might also take a little effort and discipline.

Sometimes You Have To Wash Off The Dog Before She Can Come In The House!

This is our dog, Maisey. If you have been getting this newsletter for awhile, you have seen her wander through the pages from time to time. She is an awesome dog: she catches the Frisbee, walks without a leash, doesn’t bark much, and comes when called. She does, however, have a few bad habits. One of them is rolling in stinky stuff. You don’t always know what it is, but you always know you need to get it off, if she is going to come inside! That’s the way getting and staying healthy works:

Sometimes it is messy, sometimes it takes work, sometimes it is inconvenient… but, in the long run, IT IS WORTH IT!


Stay with us over the next few months – I think you’ll find it’s worth it on many levels. You may not lose 100 pounds or add 100 years to your life, but I’ll bet you’ll feel better and experience more of what life has to offer when you are healthy!

Yours in Health,

Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana


By Dr. Doug Williams
January 07, 2019
Category: Paleo
Tags: Untagged

HAPPY NEW YEAR... LET'S GET MOVING!


What is more natural than wanting to get out and get moving after the holidays? It is the new American tradition: overindulge over Christmas and New Years, then resolve to get in shape, starting in January! We have all been there... and a lot of us find ourselves there right now!

This week, we are wrapping up our series on the Paleo Lifestyle. Over the past year (with a big interruption!), we have been working our way through a special addition of Paleo Magazine called Go Paleo: The Step-By-Step Guide. We have explored how the Paleo approach to food, sleep, electronics, connecting with others, and exposure to the sun can impact our minds and bodies. You can review previous articles in this series at on my blog.

Today, we come to our last topic and, really, my favorite: Movement. I've had a lot of really great experiences because of movement and exercise over the years, like hiking in the foothills near my home as a kid, taking my own children to parks and forest preserves over the years, walking with Dr. Sue and trail running with my buddies.

When you think about it, life is book-ended by movement. As babies grow, we are mesmerized by their development in movement: their first time turning over, crawling, standing, walking, etc. When a loved one begins to wind down and close out of this life, we intuitively know that life is almost over by the decrease in movement, until they finally breath their last.
 

Good News...


There is a whole lot of life between the covers of the book! Let's look at what movement can mean to the pages in between!
 
 

STUCK INSIDE?


I will admit, I really like some of the home improvement shows that populate TV these days: Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, etc. I like to see the transformations of seemingly unlivable places into really beautiful homes. What's interesting is that they really like to use the word "space," as in "this is a really lovely space." Did you ever stop to think about that? Really, it is anything but a space! A house (office, car) is the absence of space; it is a confine! Houses, cars, and offices, by nature, limit our movement. According to Paleo Magazine, Americans spend over 90% of their time indoors.
 

Could the time we are spending inside (mostly inactive) be contributing to poor health?

 

ATTENTION ISSUES


I first came across the benefits of outdoor play (movement and exercise) while looking at research recommendations for kids with ADHD. There's an article published in the American Journal of Public Health that compares ADHD symptoms in kids when they've played indoors vs. outdoors. It concludes that activities in green outdoor settings reduces symptoms of ADHD significantly more than activities inside. I have always believed that the majority of the recommendations for kids suffering from ADHD can benefit just about all of us. Getting outside and playing is a good way to clear your mind, and to hit the reset button!
 

ANXIETY & DEPRESSION


You may not suffer from ADHD, but I'll bet, at times, you may struggle with anxiety and depression. An article in the American College of Sports Medicines Health Fit Journal had this to say about exercise and mental health:

"In summary, exercise appears to be an effective treatment for depression, improving depressive symptoms to a comparable extent as pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Observational studies suggest that active people are less likely to be depressed, and interventional studies suggest that exercise is beneficial in reducing depression. It appears that even modest levels of exercise are associated with improvements in depression, and while most studies to date have focused on aerobic exercise, several studies also have found evidence that resistance training also may be effective. While the optimal “dose” of exercise is unknown, clearly any exercise is better than no exercise. Getting patients to initiate exercise ---and sustain it – is critical."
 

WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE?


Some other benefits associated with outdoor play (movement and exercise):
  • Recovery from spinal surgery with less pain and stress
  • Benefits acne, psoriasis, eczema and jaundice
  • Reduces the need for pain medications in surgical patients
  • Helps older adults sleep better, and experience less pain and decline in daily activities
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves focus and creativity
 
 

YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK


They say our life is a book,and we started out this article with the statement that life is book-ended by movement.
 

Where do you find yourself?


The good news is, no matter what page you are on, if you are reading this today, the book is still open! You may have a lot of pressing issues in your life that you need to resolve before the book closes. I can guarantee that just about everyone of them can be made better by a little movement... and in some cases, a lot of movement! Getting up and moving outside can be the spark that helps you move mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Burn as bright as possible until the end!

I hope you've enjoyed this series on the Paleo Approach as much as I have enjoyed writing it. It has blessed me and made me a healthier person, I hope the same for you!

Yours in Health,
 
 
Care Chiropractic
Lafeyette, Indiana