Do you know how healthy you are?

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How good is your health?
The Benefits of getting a Personal Health Risk Assessment

Don’t we all want to know how we’re doing from a health point of view and if we’re on the right track? That was a question posed centuries ago by the learned Hippocrates-the father of modern medicine who focused on diet and exercise to forecast the health of his patients. Fast forward a few centuries later and we now have a more formal process, called the Personal Health Risk Assessment.T
The process refined over the years is a four-part questionnaire used to evaluate the health risks and quality of life of patients.The questions are based on lifestyle including what level and form of exercise practiced,  demographics such as age, sex, personal and family medical history, and physiological data such as your weight, height, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Another important part of the process is your level of willingness to charge your behaviour to improve your health. A personal health risk assessment can have enormous benefits, whether the assessment is for a person or used as part of an employee health and wellness program.
It provides a snapshot of your current health. Enables individuals to monitor their health status over time. And having concrete information helps prepare you for a change in your lifestyle. The information is there, before you, and makes it clear in black and white what needs to change.
If your company is engaged in a health prevention program, it can help determine on an aggregate basis how healthy and productive the company work population is AND what health-related programs they might include such as lunch and learns, flu shot clinics, reviewing the company cafeteria menu to ensure healthy food choices are available, and introducing a health management program.
Hippocrates –the father of modern medicine at one point was imprisoned for 20 years for believing and arguing that disease was not a punishment inflicted by the gods, but rather the product of environmental factors, diet, and living habits.

The same holds true today.  You can make changes to your health.
A Personal health risk assessment is one of those ways.

The more information you have —both the good and the challenges—the better able you are to make informed decisions about what you can do keep or improve your well-being.

Disclaimer: The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts are made to ensure the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider. As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

Osteoarthritis: A rising epidemic as baby boomers age. Signs, Symptoms and Solutions.

Arthritis consists of more than 100 different conditions, which range from relatively mild forms of tendonitis and bursitis to crippling systemic forms, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The common denominator for all these conditions is joint and musculoskeletal pain, often as a result of an inflammation of the joint lining.
Critical to the outcome of the disease is an early diagnosis as it only gets progressively worse.  And therapies work best when started as soon as possible.
Consider this:
• Over four million Canadian adults have arthritis, and the numbers continue to grow.
• By 2036 it’s estimated that almost one in five Canadian adults will have arthritis, an irreversible degeneration of the bone.
• Two out of three Canadians affected by arthritis are women
WHAT CAUSES OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Osteoarthritis starts when the cartilage, that tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of bones that act as a cushion-like shock absorber, starts to break down and wear away. Joints become bigger as the body tries to heal itself, and bones begin to rub together, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. As we get older, our risk of developing osteoarthritis increases. Other risk factors include obesity, a previous joint injury and a genetic predisposition that researchers believe may have something to do with the shape of your bones and the way they fit together.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Understanding the signs and symptoms as well as treatment options can help to slow the progression of the disease which is an important step in living with Osteoarthritis:
Common signs and symptoms
• PAIN
• STIFFNESS
• JOINT DEFORMITY
• JOINT INSTABILITY
• LIMITED RANGE OF MOTION
TREATMENTS
Treatments are divided into non-medical therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, bracing and splinting, education, weight loss and exercise. All of which can lead to improving function and biomechanics. Dietary supplements including chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine can be taken up to three times daily in doses of 400 mg and 500 mg respectively. While the medical evidence for these products is inconclusive, most rheumatologists do not feel they do harm and may, indeed, be helpful.
Depending on the severity, medical treatments may involve the use of acetaminophen anti-inflammatories (NAISD’s), topical non-steroidal naproxen, opioid analgesics such as codeine or morphine under careful doctor supervision. Joint injections with corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid for knee osteoarthritis can also be used. The most invasive option is joint replacement involves surgery.
Whatever your condition and treatment goals, it is important to heed the signs and symptoms and take action as soon as possible because osteoarthritis while not curable, is manageable, with the goal of keeping you active, engaged in activity, and pain free.

DISCLAIMER
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider. As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

The Sleep Revolution

bigstock-Tired-woman-in-front-of-comput-73500745-1024x750

I just reviewed Arianna Huffington’s important book on Sleep, The Sleep Revolution. Transforming your life, One Night at a Time. Let’s take a look at what she has to say. According to Ms. Huffington, the co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, we are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis. She says that sleep deprivation is having profound consequences – on our health, our job performance, our relationships, and our happiness. What is needed, she boldly asserts, is nothing short of a sleep revolution.  Only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives. (1)

A report by The World Sleep Association bears this out. The report claims sleep deprivation is a worldwide epidemic. This is also true in Canada, where the majority of Canadians –60% of us only get an average of 6.9 hours of sleep per night. — The experts recommend an average of 8 hours.

WHY IS SLEEP IMPORTANT
Sleep is necessary for our nervous systems to work properly. Too little sleep leaves us drowsy and unable to concentrate the next day. It also leads to impaired memory and physical performance. Without sleep, neurons may become so depleted in energy or so polluted with byproducts of normal cellular activities that they begin to malfunction. Sleep also may give the brain a chance to exercise important neuronal connections that might otherwise deteriorate from lack of activity. (2)
Why then, when it has been conclusively shown that sleep is an absolute necessity in keeping ups healthy and happy do we continue to discount sleep as a priority?
Ms. Huffington’s extensive research concludes that as a culture “we tend to dismiss sleep as time wasted—and a badge of honor—even though it compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives — and even our sex lives.”
Her book explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream.  She takes on the dangerous sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.

Here are Ms. Huffington’s twelve tips for getting a good night’s sleep. Doctors refer to this as sleep hygiene.

  1. Create a bedroom environment that’s dark, quiet, and cool (between 60 and 67 degrees).
  2. Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  3. Don’t charge your phone next to your bed. Even better: Gently escort all devices completely out of your room.
  4. Stop drinking caffeine after 2 p.m.
  5. Use your bed for sleep and sex only—no work!
  6. Keep pets off the bed (sorry, Mr. Snuffles).
  7. Take a hot bath with Epsom salts in the evening to help calm your mind and body.
  8. Wear pajamas, nightgowns or even a special T-shirt—it’ll send a sleep-friendly message to your body. If you wore it to the gym, don’t wear it to bed.
  9. Do some light stretching, deep breathing, yoga, or meditation to help your body and your mind transition to sleep.
  10. Choose a real book or an e-reader that does not emit blue light, if you like to read in bed. And make sure it’s not work-related: novels, poetry, philosophy—anything but work.
  11. Sip chamomile or lavender tea to ease yourself into sleep mode.
  12. Write down a list of what you’re grateful for before bed. It’s a great way to make sure your blessings get the closing scene of the night.

I try to keep to a regular sleep schedule- going to bed at the same time every night or close to it and waking up in the morning, generally at the same time. It helps my body and mind ready itself for sleep the same time every night. As with anything else establishing a new health pattern takes time, so don’t be discouraged.

Sources

  1. The Sleep Revolution. Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington. Harmony Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Random House LLC, New York.
  2. Source- Mental Health Canada

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

Is Life Expectancy Heading Downward?


Have we reached the tipping point?seesaw-teeter-totter

An interesting article recently appeared in the prestigious Journal of American Medicine Association (JAMA) about life expectancy and death rates in the US. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US (CDC) noted that death rates for the first nine months of 2015 increased significantly most notably due to obesity. Leading some to predict that life expectancy would decline in the United States by the middle of the 21st century.
The CDC report suggests that a “tipping point may have been reached beyond which technological advances may no longer compensate.” The article goes on to point out that between l961 and l983, life expectancy increased in a relatively consistent fashion throughout the United States. However, between 1983 and 1991 life expectancy decreased significantly for men in 11 US counties and 180 counties for women. The counties were those most severely affected by the obesity epidemic.
Some experts like David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Centre in Boston predict that the downward trend will almost certainly accelerate as the current generation of children- with high body weights earlier in life than ever before—reaches adulthood.

You might be aware that death rates have been dropping. This is largely due to modern medical care that may be able to prevent premature deaths among adults who develop obesity at a young age, by prescribing blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medications, heart bypass surgery, and various other medical interventions.

But over time, some experts are predicting that obesity-related chronic diseases might outstrip the ability for technology to counteract the rise in obesity and its consequences.

As a physician, I can tell you that the most important step you can do for yourself and your family is to choose to live a healthy lifestyle and make healthy choices.That means getting regular exercise of at least thirty minutes a day, five days a week,eating fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes and nuts while eliminating high fat, processed foods and added sugars in your diet.

Read labels on packaged food and educate yourself and your family on the value of eating nutritional foods and not to be swayed by advertising.

A few actions today may forestall the predictions that children of today and tomorrow will lead a shorter less healthy life than their parents.

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Aging: Why genes from our mothers are not enough

For Mother’s Day

It’s that time of year when we think of our mothers and reflect upon

the gift of life we’ve been given. Indeed, it is the very reason we are on this earth.

What makes us unique and one of a kind is in our genes or genetic make up.

It is why family members look alike. It is also why some diseases such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease run in certain families.  These genes are the ones we are born with and cannot change. As a physician, when we assess an individual’s risk for chronic diseases, we take that genetic makeup, that family history into account.

Our genetic make up is a gift from our mothers (and dad’s too), it is not modifiable. There is a no return policy! However, it is often the modifiable risks, the ones we can change, that will make the biggest difference in our lives. For we all want not only to live longer, but also, to live those years in an active and healthy lifestyle, independent and with all our cognitive abilities.

 

While you may feel those years are some time down the road, it is never too late or too early to start thinking about healthy aging and what that means. It is time to make adjustments in your lifestyle so that you can live a longer and healthier life and act as a role model to your family.

Here are a few healthy aging strategies I counsel my patients to practice

  1. Eat a healthy diet of calcium rich foods such as leafy greens and dairy products or soy-based products if you are averse to dairy. Calcium from food products is ideal and we aim for 1200 mg per day from all sources. If you are eating well, you may be getting enough calcium in your diet and supplements are not needed.  Generally speaking, we all need Vitamin D supplements as we get little direct sunlight in North America and that is the common source of Vitamin D. Take Vitamin D daily–400-1000 IU’s for adults under 50 and 800-2000 IU for adults over 50.  That is a must!
  2. Eat Healthy. Follow the Mediterranean Diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits legumes and lean meats.   Women who eat more vegetables experience less risk of cognitive decline than their peers who eat fewer vegetables. The rate of cognitive declines the lowest in women who eat the most cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens. And there is a positive correlation between BMI (body mass index) and the rate of cognitive decline
  3. Exercise.  Use weight-bearing exercises that use your body weight such as walking, running, weight lifting to help to strengthen both bones and muscles, as well as improving your balance. Exercise with purpose. Running up and down the stairs doing laundry is not the same. You need to exercise to raise your heart rate a minimum of three to five times a week for at least thirty minutes to get the most benefit.
  4. Stay Socially Connected. It is important to stay socially active and connected with your friends and family. Doing Sudoku at home alone might be a good brain exercise, but it is not the same as being with people. Research shows that individuals who are socially connected live longer have stimulation to protect brain aging and overall have a better quality of life.
  5. Reduce Stress—Practice Mindful Meditation. While some stress can be a good thing and helps the brain cope with life- threatening situations, too much stress is harmful. If the stress is long term, it can raise the levels of cortisol, leading to weight gain. Chronic unrelenting stress, ages our telomeres, those caps that protect our cells. Mindful meditation and other activities that reduce stress has shown benefits such as an increase in the flow of oxygen rich blood to your brain. It is not only helpful to reduce stress for your emotional well being, it actually has a measurable physical impact.

 

So on this Mother’s Day and throughout the year, make a promise to yourself and your loved ones to stay healthy and follow the strategies I’ve outlined above. Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it is selfless as you will be there to take care of the ones you love…..and that’s the best gift of all.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

 

SUGAR SHOCK The unsweetened truth about sugar

sugarCanadians eat an astounding 88 pounds of sugar per year—it’s about one in every five calories we consume. Sugar by any name; barley malt, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, cane syrup, dextrin, dextrose, and sweeteners, *, is still a substance that if consumed in excess can lead to the proliferation of many cancers. In fact, it is hard to find food that doesn’t contain sugar.
Did you know that sugar is found in many packaged chicken broths? Yes, chicken broth! I picked up a box of organic chicken broth; cane syrup is listed as one of the ingredients. Why? Because North Americans like sweetened foods and food manufacturers, feed our sugar habit. In fact, it is hard to find many processed foods that don’t contain sugar.

Why the concern? Insulin resistance leads to chronic illnesses.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. When people have insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, leading to type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. In insulin resistance, muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin and thus, cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells. That puts the body on the path toward metabolic syndrome, most commonly defined as having, at least, three of the following conditions: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and elevated levels of so-called “bad” cholesterol **

What can you do to cut down on sugar and sugar products?

  1. Read food labels on packaging and look for the food ingredients. You will quickly realize that many foods contain sugar that you didn’t think are sweet—like tomato sauce, crackers and salad dressings.
  2. Know the names that are commonly used to identify sugar as an additive in food.
  3. Limit buying packaged foods; they usually contain sugars.
  4. Avoid soft drinks and sweetened fruit juices.   Eat whole fruit instead. Whole fruit provides you with a lot more nutrition than fruit juice including more fiber and a lot less sugar.
  5. Once you know where sugars are hidden, buy foods that say ‘unsweetened’ or ‘no sugar’ like almond milk, soymilk, applesauce, oatmeal, unsweetened baking chocolate squares.
  6. Cut down on sugar. If you use two packets of sugar, use one instead. If you are used to buying sweetened yogurt, buy plain yogurt or cut down by using half plain and half unsweetened. If you want to have that piece of chocolate –have a piece instead of the whole bar.
  7. To cut down on sugar cravings, try loading up on protein, fiber, and vegetables that fill you up and will slow your digestion down. Fiber will keep you fuller and will help cut down on your cravings.
  8. Don’t substitute buying foods with artificial sugars—diet cokes, sugar-free candy—they can increase your cravings for sweet treats and may lead to weight gain.

 

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Extensive efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Sources:

* For a complete list of names for sugar

https://www.google.ca/?gfe_rd=cr&ei=G0_5VovYIuqM8QePsYco&gws_rd=ssl#q=names+for+sugar

** http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/insulin-resistance-prediabetes/Pages/index.aspx#resistance

THE DECLINE OF DIETING

app-icon-bevelpngThe NOT DIET

Dieting is defined as restricting oneself to small amounts of food to lose weight. An estimated 45 million Americans spend $33 billion dollars a year trying to lose those extra uncomfortable pounds. Which, as many of us have experienced will come back and then the whole cycle of food deprivation begins again.

So the question is if diets don’t always work, what does work and is there another way? The answer is yes there is another way. It’s not to diet!!
The current trend is to ‘NOT DIET’   But to turn to a more balanced, realistic approach to losing weight and maintaining good health with nourishing foods, daily physical activity, positive thinking and smart lifestyle choices

The NOT DIET trend was confirmed in a 2013 study produced by the NDP Group, an American research organization that reported people were dieting less and that women were showing the biggest decline in dieting. “In the past ten years, the percentage of women on a diet has dropped by about 10 points. In 1992, 34% of women told NPD they were on a diet; and in 2012, 23% of women reported being on a diet.”

Contrast this with the fact 57% of adults state they would like to lose 20 pounds and almost half of adults say they need to change their to improve the overall healthfulness of their lives.
According to the NDP report, here are what adults are doing now:

  • 55% said eating healthy includes adding to and taking out of their diet.
  • 25% said “adding something to the diet” is healthy
  • 19% said “taking something out” of the diet is healthy
  • 72% of adults said they eat reduced-fat foods
  • Nearly 45% of adults eat foods with whole grains on a regular basis
  • 24% include organic foods and beverages in their diet

Eating healthy, taking certain things about of ones diet, eating fat reduced foods, but nowhere is there mention of restricting foods as a way to lose weight.

So instead of dieting by depriving yourself of food, which usually is a joyless endeavour try practicing the 80/20 principles or the NO DIET. solution. 80% percent of the time focus on eating clean good-for-you foods, and 20 percent of the time you have the freedom to indulge as you please which means you don’t have to cut out treats, just be smart about it 80% of the time. And Enjoy!!!

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions