Alcohol Consumption-How much is OK?

How Much Alcohol Consumption is OK?

The reality for alcohol consumption and women is significant. Any more than 7-9 drinks per week for women can lead to breast cancer. I am not an abolitionist.  I do advocate drinking moderately. There is some evidence that moderate drinkers and those who drink just a little have a somewhat lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those that do not drink at all or who drink excessively.  And some of the newer data is looking at whether any amount is a risk.

Here is my take on the current guidelines.

So, what exactly is moderate drinking?

The Heart and Stroke Foundation defines moderate drinking for women as two drinks a day most days to a weekly maximum of ten; for men, its three drinks a day to a weekly maximum of 15.I have to smile when some of my patients try to demonstrate that they drink only moderately by saying they and their husband split a bottle of wine at dinner every evening. I smile only because few people really understand the word ‘moderate’ as it applies to alcohol.Half a bottle of wine is not quite within the bounds of ‘moderate.’ It’s actually two and a half glasses of wine, not two glasses!

The extra half glass of wine can add up.  In fact, it might be wise to limit your consumption of alcohol to considerably below the weekly maximum of 10 drinks.

As I said, I am not an abolitionist, but I will ask you to be careful with your alcohol consumption. Review what you are actually doing when you drink, tally how much you drink in a week—including the weekend bar-b-que and girls’ night out-and please make sure that your glass is not keg-sized. A serving of wine, for example is considered to be 4 ounces, not 6 or 9!

I know for me, I would rather have one or two servings when out for dinner, and that’s OK, as I generally am out for dinner once or twice a week, not nightly. So as we approach the holidays and parties, plan ahead, consider having a spritzer with only 2 ounces of wine, or having most nights with none, so you can have 2drinks at that party 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.

Obesity 2x higher than in 1981

Obesity rates for both men and women are about twice as high today as they were in 1981. In Canada, approximately 25 percent of adults are obese. Along with its growing prevalence, obesity is also becoming more severe, and the research shows that overall fitness levels are decreasing as the incidence of obesity rises. If we include statistics on overweight along with statistics on obesity we find that 67 percent of Canadian men and 54 percent of Canadian women aged 18 to 79 are overweight or obese, according to results from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (2009-2011).

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at obesity among American adults and found that obesity rates increased by approximately 50 percent through the 1980s and 1990s after having been relatively stable in the 1960s and 1970s. That was likely the start of it all. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (April 4, 2016) found that age-adjusted death rates in 2015 increased significantly from the year before; causes of death related to obesity were a major factor in the increase.

Life Expectancy Decreases

The same article points out that life expectancy in the U.S. increased consistently between 1961 and 1983, but between 1983 and 1999 life expectancy decreased for men and for women in U.S. counties where obesity was prevalent. The article states that “in addition to the health-related effects, the economic effects of obesity-related disease are substantial and predicted to worsen.” So, yes; I think we can conclude that there really is an obesity epidemic. And not just in the U.S.

But what exactly do we mean by obesity? Obesity refers to excessive weight for your height and body frame, based on Body Mass Index (BMI) guidelines. (You can use the BMI chart in the Appendix to calculate your own BMI.) This is a useful tool, but it has its drawbacks. For instance, it is based on the ratio of a person’s weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters squared, but it does not take into account how much of their weight comes from fat and how much from muscle. Because muscle weighs more than fat, people who are muscular may have a higher BMI and still be in excellent health.

If we don’t know the fat/muscle breakdown, another—and perhaps even more useful—way to measure obesity is to look at waist circumference. For women, a healthy waist circumference should be no more than 90 centimeters (35 inches). Healthy waist size varies, of course, based on a number of factors, including a woman’s height and bone structure, and even ethnicity: as a rule, for Asian women it should be no more than 80 centimeters (31.5 inches).

Waist circumference is a helpful health indicator because it correlates more closely with a number of health risks than either weight or BMI alone. And it turns out that the old apple or pear comparison is accurate. If we look at two women who are the same height and who are equally overweight, and one carries most of the excess weight in her hip area while the other carries it mostly in her protruding belly, we find that the second woman is more at risk than the first not only for heart disease but also for diabetes and other metabolic conditions.

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.

Common Sense Solutions & Dieting

 

One thing I’d like every woman to understand is the true meaning of diet. I cannot emphasize enough how much potential harm comes from our society’s insistence that diet simply means restricting caloric intake to lose weight.

The current trend in maintaining a healthy weight is the non-diet approach for health, and although I say trend, it is more than just trendy.  It is not like the dozens of fad diets that have had brief popular appeal over the past fifty years that promise quick weight loss and often don’t deliver.

In my book—A Woman’s Guide to Healthy Aging- I look at some of the problems associated with our modern diet and consider some common-sense solutions that can help reduce your health risk for the long haul, I call this the non-diet diet.

The non-diet approach is a more balanced, realistic way to lose weight and maintain good health with nourishing foods, daily physical activity, positive thinking and smart life-style choices. This includes:

  • Making fibre your friend. Fibre keeps our digestive system running smoothly and also keeps us feeling full and satisfied longer.
  • Get cooking! Make healthier versions of your favorite take out—save time by buying pre-cut washed veggies.
  • Eat your fruit and veggies and your leafy greens
  • Boost vitamin B intake: Folate B12 and B6
  • Boost vitamin E intake
  • Add polyphenol-rich foods-brain foods that are powerful anti-oxidants: blackberries cherries plums, walnut halves
  • Reduce your fat intake
  • Increase your Omega 3-fatty acids
  • What your cholesterol
  • Get your daily calcium

Any way we look at it, regardless of our personal inclinations—whether we’re trim or we tip the scale, whether we live to run or we balk at running, whether we sleep like babies or get nothing better than a series of catnaps through the night—nutrition, exercise, and sleep are among the major factors that affect our health.

One very important thing to realize about these factors is that they are within our control.

Sure, other factors beyond our control also affect our health, including family history and genetic inheritance, sex, and age. We cannot modify those, but we can modify how we eat, how active we are, and how well we sleep. And for many of us, some modification is necessary if we want to live a long and healthy life.

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.

Skin Cancer–Summertime and the Living is Easy. But Not for Skin Cancer

 

Don’t be fooled looking at celebrity photos of stars walking the beach in Malibu all bronzed and healthy. It gives the wrong impression that looking good means getting a good tan in the summer.

The truth.  Sun and skin cancer go hand in hand triggered by exposure to ultraviolet rays and artificial tanning beds. One in six Canadians born in Canada in the 1990’s will get skin cancer—the number one killer of women aged 25-30. Skin Cancer is the second most in common cancer in young adults aged 15-34 * (Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation)

As you head off to vacation or spend your days outside this summer the most important thing to remember is to use sun block. And lots of it. The most common mistake is not using enough.  Does it surprise you to learn that a family of four will use one bottle of sun block in just one day!

The Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that when you first apply sunscreen, it should form a film on your skin. The white streaks won’t last long; sunscreen absorbs quickly.

To protect your lips, use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating, and according to the directions on the bottle.

Attention: parents of newborns.
Do not use sunscreen on babies under six months old. They are too small to absorb the chemicals and will be harmful.  The best way to protect your infant is to keep them out of the sun.

Although skin cancer is preventable and most often treatable, it remains the most common form of cancer.  So please protect yourself, your family and friends by passing this information on and practicing safe sun.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Considerable efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is 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 discuss

Workplace Health- Keeping a workplace healthy is all about prevention

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Workplace health is all about prevention. When one person gets sick, it can have a domino effect.  Soon everyone has ‘that cold so and so gave me’.  So, prevention is now more important than ever because this is the first generation that will not live longer than its parents. With an aging population and an increase in chronic health problems like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity on the rise, employers need to act. We can’t help getting older, but we can make changes in our lifestyle and prevent many of these illnesses.

Leading causes of death are all preventable. The way things are going now, 44 per cent of the population will be living with diabetes or pre-diabetes by 2025. The cost of diabetes to the Canadian economy will increase 25 per cent in seven years. Obesity is a trigger for other diseases and is also becoming more prevalent.  It doesn’t matter what diet or fitness regime one follows, it’s adherence that will make a difference.  As a family physician and Vice-President of Medical Affairs at Medisys Corporate health that provides employee health and wellness services to individuals and companies, we have a three-step philosophy to tackle this health issues.

  • The first step is to assess – identify major concerns within the employee population and define key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • The second step is to monitor – a physician will interpret the results and then monitor employee’s health changes and progress over time. They will determine the key focus areas for employee health services to address the issues.
  • The final step is to improve – deliver measurable wellness outcomes and drive employee engagement and participation in wellness programming.

According to a report by the SHRM Foundation, “more than 75% of high-performing companies regularly measure health and wellness as a viable component of their overall risk management strategy.” A survey conducted by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health “found that 83% of companies have already revamped or expect to revamp their health care strategy within the next two years, up from 59% in 2009. This year, more employers (66%) plan to offer incentives for employees to complete a health risk appraisal, up from 61% in 2009.

And it’s working! The Public Health Agency of Canada reported that by implementing a physical activity program, Canada Life in Toronto improved productivity and reduced turnover and insurance costs while achieving a return on investment (ROI) of $6.85 per corporate dollar invested.

A win –win for everyone. A solid return on investment for the company and a healthier employee and individual.

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.

Spring Cleaning – it’s Time to De-clutter Your Life!

shutterstock_335890811 (1)Spring cleaning is a time-honoured tradition of doing a deep clean of one’s home or a room.

In modern times, it’s also used as a metaphor for a time to reflect on our lives and look for ways to simplify or invigorate our lives. I look at it as a time to review expectations of yourself and others around you over the past year and whether you have been conscientious about saying NO and YES to yourself!

What that means is learning to make time for yourself. Setting time aside for exercise or reading a book or just relaxing, rather than meeting the expectations of others.

I know, it’s not easy with so many demands on our time these days between family, work and other obligations. It’s easy to put yourself and your needs last on the list. But here’s a strategy to consider, a way to prioritize the demands. Learn to say no. That’s right, say no.

No, I cannot take on more work, no I cannot accept that task, no we as a family cannot do more.

Here are three easy steps to learn:

  1. Open your month
  2. Say NO, thank you. It doesn’t work for me. Sorry, No
  3. Close your mouth. DON’T say “I’ll try” or “Maybe”. It is a clear, though polite, NO

And when you say No to something, you are, in reality,  also saying yes.
Yes to your health, Yes to your family, Yes to your life, Yes to a different priority.
Enjoy the YES and you have empowered yourself by saying NO.

So yes, spring cleaning and to de-cluttering and learning to say NO and appreciating the YES

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.

 

Are your immunizations up to date? Immunize Canada wants you to #getvax

shutterstock_164560082 (1).jpgImmunize Canada wants to make sure you #getvax and celebrate a healthy tomorrow.

100 years ago, infectious diseases were the leading causes of deaths worldwide.  In Canada, they now cause lets than 5% of all deaths, thanks in part to immunization programs across the country.

However, diseases don’t go away.  They are held at bay through rigorous vaccination programmes.  But suddenly in recent years, we have seen a resurgence of mumps across the country especially in certain age groups, born between 1970-1994. While this age group was immunized, they generally received only one vaccine against mumps, and we now know two are necessary. There are also individuals arriving from other nations where there are limited immunization programs, and they may be at risk.

Immunization week in Canada is April 22-29.  We have a lot to celebrate.   Our country was at the forefront of vaccine and drug discoveries when Connaught Laboratories at the University of Toronto, became one of the first to produce large-scale quantities of insulin in 1922 and continued to be a major supplier of insulin into the 1980’s.  Connaught continues to be active in vaccine production and research. When the Ebola outbreak resurfaced in West Africa between 2013 until 2017, Canada and the US partnered to develop a pioneering drug to fight the deadly disease which left 28,000 people dead and 11,000 more infected.

Arguably the most significant develop in public health over the past hundred years has been the development of vaccines.  While our vaccination rate is high, we can be doing a better job of reaching all at-risk groups including refugee immigrants, the mentally ill and those who are suspicious about vaccinations. All adults over the age of 65 are considered at risk as our immune system weakens with age.

New app helps keep track-CANImmunize

It is now easier to keep track, thanks to Immunize Canada and a new app, CANImmunize.  It helps you keep up to date with your vaccinations.  It also provides the ability to manage your families’ immunization records with the use of their smartphones or mobile devices. It also includes automatic reminders to schedule routine vaccinations and access to timely and trusted information about recommended vaccinations for children, adults, and travelers.  Available in the App Store for iPhones & iPads.

So this week and throughout the year, help yourself, your family and others stay healthy, by keeping up to date with your vaccinations and remember to #getvax

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. Great effort has 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 a competent person 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 the discussions.