Archive for December, 2008

Tips For The Holidays…..

December 23, 2008

The Christmas holiday spirit is just around the corner and everyone is now busy preparing for reunions with family and friends.  And what better way to prepare the celebration is to have a feast!  What is Christmas anyway without the parties?  The bulge and the extra fat that we get after these merry making activities is what makes us feel guilty enough to make us vow to do better on our Annual New Year’s resolutions.

So how can one avoid gaining weight during the holidays? Common sense advise is to keep in mind to always keep track of the calories we take in. But most of all, in situations where food is in abundance in the buffet table…my advise is to enjoy the foods that are nutrient rich but modestly high in protein (20 to 25% of the total calories) and low in carbohydrates (40% to 45% of total calories).

The fad of low carbohydrate and high protein diet has put protein at the center stage.  Since the Atkins Diet and the South Beach diet came into our attention, a lot of controversies has been made because of the absence of long term studies to document their efficacy and safety.  Recent data however have shown that a moderate intake of protein is not only efficacious in making one lose weight but also in improving blood sugar and cholesterol.

Protein intake is important to our body. If we don’t get enough protein- it can lead to growth failure, loss of muscle mass, a reduction in heart and lung function as well as impairment in ones immunity.  However, too much protein can also cause harm.  It can take a lot of calcium from the bone and can lead to fractures. Likewise, people with kidney disease should be warned about a high protein diet since it can further exacerbate the kidney problem.

Let me give you some tips on how to enjoy the benefits of a modestly high protein diet SAFELY….

Remember…different protein sources give different effects on our health.  Proteins coming from vegetables definitely are healthier because they are devoid of fat than those coming from meat. A steak and a salmon may have the same amount of protein but the saturated fat in beef is more than half that of the fish. It is the FAT that can cause harm and can lead to chronic disabling conditions like heart attack and stroke! 

Here are some Tips in Choosing Your Protein Sources wisely:

1. If you are a meat lover then get the lean cuts of beef or pork.  However a healthier alternative would be the white meat of fish and chicken breast.

2. A better option for a healthier protein source would be from vegetable sources like nuts, lentils, beans and whole grain.

3. For your daily protein needs, get them from different sources…mix and match for variety!

4. Soy based foods are also good alternatives to red meat but limit to 2 to 3 servings a week.

Lastly… simple lifestyle measures that you can observe during parties or in preparation for the holiday parties that can matter most in avoiding weight gain:

1.     Always eat breakfast everyday of your life.  If you haven’t done so regularly…do it now!  Avoid skipping meals as this habit can cause more weight gain!

2.     Begin your meals with soup or salad to lessen your cravings for the sinful fat filled dishes on the buffet table.

3.     Try to eat slowly by chewing your food thoroughly so your body will have time to analyze that you are already full.

4.     Once full then stop and walk away from the sight of food.  This habit will make you avoid getting more food even if you are no longer hungry!

5.     Use a smaller plate so it will look full with only a small amount of food.  

A nutrient rich meal that has a modest increase in protein content and a modest restriction of carbohydrates coupled with simple practical lifestyle measures can go along way in helping us avoid the holiday bulge!

Cancer Is On The RISE… Blame the Lifestyle…

December 12, 2008

Cancer is on the rise year after year… why?

It is set to overtake Cardiovascular disease as the number one killer…why?

Blame it on the poor eating habits and bad lifestyle … the “western” habits of enjoying life!…so BEWARE!

Here’s the excerpt of the recent media release of the International Research on Cancer in cooperation with the American Heart Association:

the burden of cancer doubled globally between 1975 and 2000 and is set to double again by 2020 and nearly triple by 2030.

The report—which was discussed at an event in Atlanta this week called Conquering Cancer: A Global Effort—says that low- and middle-income countries will experience the impact of higher cancer incidence and death rates more sharply than industrialized countries.

WHY? Apparently the cause of this rise is similar to why cardiovascualr disease used to be number 1:

  • Poor eating habits: high fat low fiber, high calorie foods…they are just so yummy that we cant afford not to eat and enjoy them at the expense of diseases!  They is too short…lets enjoy whatever we food we like.  I love that saying life is too short therefore we should enjoy…I do BUT I dont like to suffer and endure a hard suffering and ending.  That’s the main reason I am careful!  Poor eating habits have been blamed to be the culprit of OBESITY…obesity on the other hand is responsible for increasing the prevalence of breast cancer and other cancers.  The link between food intake and obesity to diseases are getting closer and closer and becoming dangerously closely linked!
  • Smoking and tobacco use: a known culprit of chronic illness but up to now continues to be a major health issue. 

Just a BAD habit to break so everyone says.  Again for me…just like losing all boils down to the plain D as in DISCIPLINE!

Life is too short…I agree.  But live it well… take care of the short life.  Be healthy and enjoy a wonderful healthy sense of well being!

Quit Smoking and Get Back Your Health…

December 11, 2008

Smoking is indeed addicting.  A lot of smokers know the risks but cant help themselves to quit smoking.  It is actually easier said than done… similar to asking patients to eat less to lose weight!

The good news is…quitting smoking can do a lot of things to reverse the bad efffects of smoking done to ones body and therefore, it is never too late to QUIT.

The Harvard News Letter nicely summarized how the body responds immediately to weeks and months after quitting smoking:

Why bother? Even if you’ve smoked for years, you’ll greatly improve your health.

  • Within days, your blood vessels will regain much of the normal function that is damaged by smoking.
  • Within weeks, you’ll be able to taste food better, and your sense of smell will recover from tobacco’s assault.
  • Within months, symptoms of chronic bronchitis ease up, and lung function improves within a year.
  • Quitting reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke within two to five years.
  • And the risk of lung cancer begins to drop substantially within five to nine years of quitting.

More benefits await one that will decide to come clean this Christmas and the New Year. 

What better Christmas gift to give to oneself than a Clean bill of health… and what better resolution to have for oneself is to Aim for Discipline for Good Health for the New Year!

Alarming Rise in Adult Diseases Amongst Children….

December 4, 2008

As the world is becoming more obese… as our food industry is creating better marketing strategies to entice people to eat… as we see more children spending more time watching television… not surprisingly, we see more kids suffering from the chronic illnesses not known to kids in last century!

Now new data support our fear that indeed obesity is becoming more prevalent in our region as more international food chains are creeping up and luring our kids with better and bigger processed foods.  In the ned, our own personal health, our kids health and the health of our nation will suffer because we will be spending our fortune in treating the complications of what we have eaten during our lifetime.

A study published in Pediatrics this year is not only alarming but an eye opener…for all of us with kids!!!!


First-quarter 2002 baseline prevalence of chronic medication use per 1000 child beneficiaries ranged from a high of 29.5 for antiasthmatics to a low of 0.27 for antihyperlipidemics. Except for asthma medication use, prevalence rates were higher for older teens aged 15 to 19 years.

During the study period, the prevalence rate for type 2 antidiabetic agents doubled, driven by 166% and 135% increases in prevalence among females aged 10 to 14 and 15 to 19 years, respectively.

Prevalence of use growth was more moderate for antihypertensives and antidepressants (1.8%). R

Rates of growth were dramatically higher among girls than boys for type 2 antidiabetics (147% vs 39%), 

CONCLUSIONS. Prevalence of chronic medication use in children increased across all therapy classes evaluated. Additional study is needed into the factors influencing these trends, including growth in chronic disease risk factors, greater awareness and screening, and greater affinity toward early use of drug therapy in children.


Well for me this data say it all.  Where else can one get diabetes at an early age except from the rising prevalence of obesity.  Excess fat results in a state called insulin resistance where the body has to produce more insulin to counteract the resistance by fat to the effect of insulin.  We need insulin to drive sugar inside our muscles to be used for energy!!! 

Simple equation of FAT= Insulin resitance + Diabetes and others.

Others mean: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hgh uric acid, infertility, increased risk for blood clot, cancer and more…  Meaning, our kids if we let them be with their choices of food nowadays will be taking the medications that our fathers used to take when they were in their 70’s.  A scary though indeed BUT it’s now a reality!

In short… start good nutrition among the young. And have a happy healthy kid.

The Conflict of Taking Care of A Loved One….

December 2, 2008

Obejectivity is important as a physician taking care of patients. But the personal side of it is as important as patients seek our help to feel comfort that their illness is not all that bad after all…  The conflict comes when as physicians, we have to deal with an illness in the family.  Almost always by chance, we commit a blunder in our decision which creates the conflict… a situation we all want to avoid.

The recent article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine succinctly targetted the issue of the conflict that a physician in the family and the sick loved one have to expect with medical care:


Conventional wisdom and professional ethics generally dictate that physicians should avoid doctoring family members because of potential conflicts of interest.
Nevertheless, cross-sectional surveys find that the practice is commonplace. Physicians have unique opportunities to influence their family member’s care because they possess knowledge and status within the health care system; however, when physicians participate in the care of family members, they must not lose objectivity and confuse their personal and professional roles.

Because health care systems are complicated, medical information is difficult to understand, and medical errors are common, it can be a great relief for families to have someone “on the inside” who is accessible and trustworthy. Yet, the benefits of becoming involved in a loved one’s care are accompanied by risks, especially when a physician takes action that a nonphysician would be incapable of performing. Except for convenience, most if not all of the benefits of getting involved can be realized by physician–family members acting as a family member or an advocate rather than as a physician.

Rules about what is or what is not appropriate for physician–family members are important but insufficient to guide physicians in every circumstance. Physician–family members can ask themselves, “What could I do in this situation if I did not have a medical degree?” and consider avoiding acts that require a medical license.


The best role that a physician family member can do is support.  And be there in times of need.  And the thought that other family members know that there is a doctor in the family that knows better than they do….is comforting enough…. 

The conflict though begins whan the question of … where do personal reasoining ends when objectivity is required….

Life is But a Full of Challenges…and for us physicians, the situation can be one..