Archive for January, 2008

Red Meat and Fried Foods Linked To Disease….

January 28, 2008

Go to fullsize imageWe have known this association of westernized diet ( read meat, fried foods and refined sugar) and the development of chronic disease all along but this new study published in Circulation this year 2008.  confirmed this even more! This study included the dietary intake using prospective data from 9514 participants (age, 45 to 64 years) enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.

Metabolic Syndrome is the combination of 4 major diseases in one: Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol and Obesity. The clinical implication of having the four diseases is the associated increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

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Findings:

  • Analysis of individual food groups revealed that meat, fried foods , and diet soda also were adversely associated with incident MetSyn.
  • Dairy consumption was beneficial.
  • No associations were observed between incident MetSyn and a prudent dietary pattern or intakes of whole grains, refined grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, coffee, or sweetened beverages.

Conclusions—These prospective findings suggest that consumption of a Western dietary pattern, meat, and fried foods promotes the incidence of MetSyn, whereas dairy consumption provides some protection. The diet soda association was not hypothesized and deserves further study.

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The above findings suggest only 1 thing:  Be careful with what you eat because what you take in predicts the product and outcome in terms of health or disease!

Red Meat should be taken the least and White meat the most! Diet Soda may make one less guilty to eat steak and I believe that is where the association lies between drinking this no calorie drink and the development of the disease.  In contrast, drinking diary product does not entice one to eat more fried foods and therefore it’s a healthier choice!

It’s a choice of what is good versus badwhat is healthy versus not and what you want versus what you need!

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Health Tips To A Successful Retirement

January 24, 2008

I recently read a nice article on tips to a successful retirement in the Wall Street Journal which made a lot of sense to me.  We know of retirement as one event in our lives where for once…we can now have all the time for ourselves…BUT are we prepared enough both emotionally, physically and health wise before we plunge into it?

The bottom line in retiring is to plan this stage in life ahead of time.  It is suggessted that start planning about retirement at least 5 years before you quit the work force.

The research is clear: “People who dont have a purpose in life, dont live long.” So if you retire and then do nothing except golfing, going to the beach…these will not last long before BOREDOM sets in because of not being productive….then Depression!  So plan on doing voluntering work and anything that is intellectually stimulating can make you stay sharp!

Staying Healthy is the most important factor to a successful retirement.  Statistics have shown that in US alone: half of the 60 year old will live up to age 85.  It is for this reason that saving money prior to retirement is also key to enjoy the benefits of all the hard work.  BUT always Remember… being healthy is also KEY! Why? because….a healthy lifestyle and good health can keep your medical costs down.

So if you plan to retire early and enjoy the benefits of retirement … then make sure you keep wellness ahead of everything else in life.   If you are saving enough to spend…make sure you spend them on luxuries you want to enjoy and not the frequent visits to doctors and pharmacies for your medications due to neglect of health!  Again It is thru Health where you enjoy your wealth!

 In summary, quoting Hartford’s Ms Mohyde in the article:

“Wellness in retirement maybe one fo the Best Financial Strategies”

Can I Exercise Even If I Have Arthritis?

January 21, 2008

A common question indeed! Diabetics are prone to arthropathies.  Or shall we say…joint pains due to arthritis affect almost every pateint after the age of 50.  The tendency of patient with arthritis is to assume a position that they deem less painful and avoid the joint from being moved.  Unfortunately this reflex of patients gets them into more trouble.

Exercise is part of arthritis treatment regimen…it is encouraged and not avoided. Exercise has been shown to help improve joint mobility, increase ones muscle strength as well as sense of well being by improving overall physical conditioning, and helping one lose weight.  Likewise, exercise has been shown to help keep bone and cartilage tissue strong and healthy resulting in improved mobility of the joints involved.

Some exercises that we recommend for patient with arthritis include: Flexibility or stretching exercises to improve the range of motion of the joints involved.  Strenghtening exercises to keep the muscles strong to protect the joints from further injury. For my patients with knee pain,  I usually also recommend stationary bike exercise to provide less strain to the knees while allowing mobility to the feet and arms.  Swimming is best also because the bouyancy helps put less pressure on the kness and joints.

My recommendation to those who suffer from arthritis is: Keep your joints moving. Exercise daily if you can and help make your lives better by making yourself feel better through exercise not only to help you move but likewise move free of pain.  

Here are some tips from the University of Washington regarding exercise and arthritis:

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These exercises can help keep your joints moving. Follow these tips to get the most benefit.

  1. Do these once or twice per day.
  2. Do each exercise 3 to 10 times.
  3. Move slowly. Do not bounce.
  4. Breathe while you exercise. Count out loud.
  5. Begin exercises slowly, doing each exercise a few times only and gradually build up to more.
  6. Try to achieve full range of motion by moving until you feel a slight stretch, but don’t force a movement.
  7. Don’t try to help others do their exercises by moving their arms or legs.
  8. STOP exercising if you have severe pain.

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Make exercise part of your daily routine.  Remeber to start slow and go slow. 

Again this is where Discipline Counts to make life better and easier!

Can Ginkgo Biloba Improve Memory?

January 18, 2008

I am always asked this question whether there is a vitamin or supplement to improve memory.  There are alreay several claims of ginkgo biloba being a “great” memory enhancer but so far I havent come across a study that says it does.

Ginkgo herbs and supplements are actually derived from the tree leaves and is being marketed in supermarkets everywhere.  Again just like any herbal preparations, it should be taken at your own risk because I dont see any clinical indication in medicine to provide herbal supplements or medications that do not have studies to support any claims.

Medscape Endocrinology Online recently published an article on Gingko which I want to share:

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Studies in the United States have found that ginkgo stabilized — and in some cases improved — cognitive function and socialization in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, although the clinical significance of the improvement was not known. LeBars and colleagues reviewed 2020 patients in an intention-to-treat analysis that resulted in a 1.4-point advantage over placebo in the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive subscale.

In addition, studies have also demonstrated that the standardized extract of ginkgo biloba (EgB) 761, is effective in reducing symptoms of claudication, giving patients a 50% increase in pain-free walking distance.

In contrast, a recent clinical trial failed to demonstrate any improvement in cognitive function or in the quality of life in cognitively intact, older individuals.

Ginkgo leaves have been associated with mild gastrointestinal side effects and headache. Ingestion of ginkgo seeds may result in serious neurologic and allergic reactions; therefore, they are not used for medical purposes. Ingestion of leaf-based extracts has been associated with a spontaneous hyphema (blood in the anterior chamber of the eye) in an elderly man, and with spontaneous subdural hematomas.

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Whether this supplement will have a place in the therapeutic armamentarium of Alzheimer’s disease or conditions that lead to poor memory remains to be seen.  For now… it is best to ask for advice from your doctors before you take any herbal preparations because they may interact with some drugs that you are taking for your medical condition.

So my recommendtion to those who wish to take ginkgo to enhance their memory for purposes of taking a supplement…I would say NO!  To those who wish to take ginkgo to improve their memory for test taking skills… my advise is: better study more than depend on pills!

In short… no study yet has been done to support an indication of ginkgo as a treatment option. More studies need to be done to prove it works and that its benefits outweigh the risks.

The Sun May Protect You Against Heart Disease

January 14, 2008

Recent findings of Vitamin D deficiency as another risk factor for high blood pressure and heart disease made me realized that we always take for granted the beneficial effects of the sun.

The findings published in Circulation. January 2008 is the first to show prospectively the relationship between Vitamin D and the Heart:

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Hazard ratio for heart disease according to level of 25-OH D

Level of 25-OH D
Hazard ratio (95% CI)
1015 ng/mL
1.53 (1.00-2.36)
<10 ng/mL
1.80 (1.05-3.08)

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The above findings suggest the Vitamin D Deficiency may increase your risk by more than 50% to develop heart disease.  Likewise it may also be an important risk for factor for the development of Hypertension.

It is estimated that approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of middle aged men and women are VitD deficient owing to lack of exposure to the sun.  The sun rays are important for the formation and activation of Vitamin D in the skin.  So hiding ourselves from the sun because of heat will increase our risk to develop Vitamin D Deficiency.

Vitamin D is also important for muskuloskeletal strength and in fact deficiency of Vitamin D may be responsible for a lot of muscle weakness noted in a population.

So how much sun exposure do I recommend?

Just like anything…do it in moderation…meaning not sunbathing but exposing your face, arms and legs to the morning sun at least 15 minutes per day should be sufficient. 

You can also check your Vitamin D level which can be done locally in your lab.

Enjoy the Health benefits of the SUN!

Anxiety and The Risk For Heart Attack!

January 11, 2008

Are you always Anxious? Jittery? Worried on something? Have you been suffering from anxiety that you just cant help it be worried that something may happen?

Anxiety is defined as a feeling of fearfullness and uncertainty. Transient anxiety due to family problems or death can be normal BUT once anxiety continues overtime and is affecting your daily activities and is getting worse then intervention should be made.

I have long suspected Stress secondary to anxiety can definitely be harmful.  Stress hormones that our body produces can be harmful and in fact Stress is now considered a risk factor for developing diabetes.  Now a new study published in the Journal of Cardiology, January issue considers anxiety as a risk factor for one to develop heart attack.

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Anxiety characteristics independently and prospectively predicted MI incidence after controlling for age, education, marital status, fasting glucose, body mass index, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure in proportional hazards models.

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The above study is the first to show this relationship….and am sure more studies will come that will show Stress from whatever cause can lead to what we know now the Diseases of the New Century….

Remember…LIFE is Too Short….

  • Each day is a new day and once it passes…it’s one less day for you!
  • Live each day to the fullest…
  • Do things the best way you can and
  • Enjoy what you do best and Improve on Things you want to learn
  • Thank God for what you have.. and Stop being Bitter!
  • Learn how to appreciate things… understand why some things just dont work the way you desire. 

In short….

To Be Stress Free….ENJOY Being Alive!

Honey for Cough and Colds ?

January 10, 2008

If cough and colds medicnes are not that effective such that the US FDA recently made an announcement not to use these medications among children less than 6 years old… then what is our altrernative as parents with children arriving from school with cough and colds?

I have long heard about honey and its supposed “healthy” properties so I was not surprised when in a recent article published in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Dec 2007 , honey was assessed to be a safe alternative to cough and colds medicine which for me is just timely!!!! 

In this study the, the children with cough and colds were given either honey, honey-flavored DextroMethorphan ( a cold remedy), or no treatment 30 minutes before bedtime.  ______________________________________________

Results:  Significant differences in symptom improvement were detected between treatment groups, with honey consistently scoring the best and no treatment scoring the worst.

In paired comparisons, honey was significantly superior to no treatment for cough frequency and the combined score, but DM was not better than no treatment for any outcome. Comparison of honey with DM revealed no significant differences.

Conclusions :  Honey may be a preferable treatment for the cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infection.

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The study used buckwheat honey which contains more phenolic compounds than other varieties.  Apparently these substances have been shown to have antioxidant properties whihc may have contributed to the improvement of the symptoms of cough and colds.   The question therefore whether the effect is limited to this kind of honey only remains unanswered.

For me honey is easy to get and safe to drink.  Based on the study… it worked. I would definietly try it on my kids and then let’s all share experiences once we have tried it.

Bring Home The Honey! 

Foods To Eat To Help Reduce Wrinkles….

January 7, 2008

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Using data from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, we examined associations between nutrient intakes and skin aging in 4025 women (40–74 y).  Clinical examinations of the skin were conducted by dermatologists. Skin-aging appearance was defined as having a wrinkled appearance, senile dryness, and skin atrophy.

Conclusions: Higher intakes of vitamin C and linoleic acid and lower intakes of fats and carbohydrates are associated with better skin-aging appearance.

Promoting healthy dietary behaviors may have additional benefit for skin appearance in addition to other health outcomes in the population.

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Vitamin C as anti-aging has some meat to it.  It is known that vitamin C as an antioxidant play a role in the synthesis of collagen, which is a protein that helps keep skin elastic.  It can therefore be presumed that higher intakes of Vitamin C can bring luster to ones skin.

Great sources of Vitamin C that we can buy anywhere include brussel sprouts, red cabbage, snow peas and broccoli as well as canned and fresh tomatoes and of course our fruits especially the freshly squeezed orange juice.

What is interesting about the study is that those that had a high fat or a high carbohydrate meal developed more wrinkles and senile atrophy of the skin suggesting the long notion that fat is really bad even for the skin!

I do recommend foods rich in vitamin C but not to take any Vitamin C supplements in the form of a tablet especially on top of food.  Not only will these excess supplements adidify the urine but likewise increases the likelihood of stone formation.

Lastly…. 

The Best Way to Prevent Wrinkles?… Sunscreen!

Simple Steps To Control Your Blood Pressure

January 3, 2008

Go to fullsize imageAfter the holidays comes the Blues…. high sugar, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These form the deadly triad which if coupled with obesity forms the Deadly Quartet called the Metabolic Syndrome.  Its deadly because of the complications associated with the combination of diseases resulting in stroke and heart attack.  But we can do something about them if we are dsicplined enough to do it for the new year.

Recently the Harvard Medical School Publication: The Harvard Healthbeat came up with easy suggestions that we can do to help control our Blood Pressure.  Medications come in handy but they can have side effects.

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1. Check it. You can’t do much about your blood pressure unless you know what it is. Your doctor should check it at every visit. Measuring it at home is even better. Relatively inexpensive home monitors are available in most pharmacies.

2. Get moving. Regular exercise, even something as simple as brisk walking, improves blood vessel flexibility and heart function. It can lower blood pressure by 10 points, prevent the onset of high blood pressure, or let you reduce your dosage of blood pressure medications.

3. Eat right. A landmark study called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) showed that you can eat your way to better blood pressure. The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, and downplays red meat, sweets, sugar-containing beverages, and saturated fat and cholesterol.

4. Control your weight. If you are carrying too many pounds for your frame, losing weight can lower your blood pressure. You don’t need to become rail-thin — losing 10% of your current weight, or even 10 pounds, can make a big difference.

5. Don’t smoke. Nicotine constricts small blood vessels. Smoking a cigarette can cause a 20-point spike in systolic blood pressure. Quitting is tough, but there are now more aids to help.

6. Drink alcohol in moderation. A drink a day for women and one or two a day for men is good for the heart and blood vessels. Going beyond that can contribute to higher blood pressure.

7. Shake up your salts. Too much sodium and too little potassium boost blood pressure in people who are sensitive to salt. The imbalance is so great that the American Medical Association is calling for food makers and restaurants to cut the sodium content of food by 50% by 2016. Aim for less than 1.5 grams of sodium a day, and at least 4.7 grams of potassium.

8. Sleep is good. Burning the candle at both ends night after night can contribute to high blood pressure, not to mention increase the chances of developing heart disease or a sudden cardiac arrest. How much sleep is enough? At least six hours a night, though eight hours is probably more like it for most people.

9. Reduce stress. As surely as mental and emotional stress can raise blood pressure, meditation, deep breathing, and other stress-busting activities can lower it.

10. Stick with your medications. Taking pills to keep your blood pressure in check won’t make you feel any different. But it can keep you from having a stroke, heart attack, or other problem.

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So be warned and be good this new year.  Resolve to keep our body healthy by keeping our lifestyle clean.  Our biggest enemy is really the habit of eating out and enjoying the food too much neglecting to consider that harm that can be done to our body with what we put in!

Following Simple Lifestyle Changes can make a Difference!

Smoking and Impotence: A Deadly Combination

January 2, 2008

IGo to fullsize imaget is very difficult to stop an addiction.  Smoking is one problem that we almost always encounter among our male patients who come in with Diabetes.  Seldom do many realize that smoking in itself doubles or triples the harm that high blood sugar entails among our diabetic patients.

But one complication that many dont realize is that smoking contributes to the increasing risk of impotence. 

A survey published in the American Journal of Epidimeology showed that the risk to develop impotence among smokers is 42% higher compared to non smokers!!!!   If this vice is coupled with alcohol consumption and obesity then the risk of erectile dysfunction substantially increases further!

So to all smokers out there… you may just ward off the effects of smoking on the heart, and the lungs but to be impotent is a DISASTER!!!!!

This New Year’s: Resolve To Stop Smoking For Health and Wellness!