Is Life Expectancy Heading Downward?


shutterstock_309649415 (1)Have we reached the tipping point?

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

shutterstock_593434751.jpgFor 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!

shutterstock_281515502.jpgCanadians 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.

Join the free Medisys 30-day-no-refined-sugar challenge, click here:  Free No Sugar Challenge
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 No-Diet Diet

avocado and poached eggsThe No-Diet Solution to Weight Loss 

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!!!

For healthy recipes visit Medisys Nutrition Tips & Recipes

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

Top Trends in Preventative Healthcare

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Science and Technology Converge
Part I

As a passionate advocate of preventative healthcare and wellness, I am glad to see that there will be an increased focus on prevention, because many older people continue to have chronic diseases which overwhelm their daily activities and are not enjoying a good quality of life in their later years. It is worth emphasizing that while most of us will face some sort of illness in our later years, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle; get enough exercise, eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking, excessive drinking, sugar, salts and unhealthy fats and processed foods. That way we will cope with illness, aging and any disability in a strong and independent manner.

Advances in technology and science are making it easier for people to focus on preventative healthcare. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and for a more health conscious society, let’s look at some of the possibilities and opportunities.

 Wearable Technology will continue to grow! And why do I love it?

It seems we need to quantify every step, every workout, every morsel of food and every waking and sleeping minute of the day and as a result there is an ever-expanding range of technologies to support our need to chronicle our daily lives. Interest in mobile apps such as activity trackers like Fitbit will continue to capture consumer interest. According to a report by international consulting firm, PwC, “Adoption of health-related smartphone apps doubled in two years, from 16 percent in 2013 to 32 percent in 2014 and will continue. There are many fitness and activity trackers on the market today, it can be confusing.   PcMagazine, has an excellent article comparing various trackers and recommends you try them out before you buy. Once you’ve bought a fitness tracker, the next step is to integrate it into your daily routine, which I recently wrote about. “You’ve bought a fitness tracker—Now what!

What has worked for me is the challenge of maintaining my commitment by using my Fitbit, trying really hard to maintain that 10,000.00 steps per day. I appreciate a measurable outcome. And yup, I have learned once again, that “hectic does NOT equal aerobic”.

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 it the end of red meat?

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When weighing the cancer risk of some meats to colorectal cancer moderation is the new normal.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) a subsidiary of the World Health Organization, (WHO) ruled that processed meat causes colorectal cancer and red meat e.g. pork, lamb, beef probably does.

The finding was reached by a group of 22 international scientists who scrutinized existing research in more than 800 studies- and concluded there is enough evidence to say that processed meats such as hot dogs and ham increase the risk colorectal cancer. They found that eating as little as 50 grams (almost a pound) of processed meat a day drives up that risk by 18 per cent.

This is not really new; health experts have long recommended limiting the amount of processed meat and red meat from our diet.
Is this latest warning enough to stop people from eating processed meats or red meats? Likely not. But you can moderate your diet—have that occasional hot dog and limit your intake of red meat.
According to Registered Dietician and columnist Leslie Beck, processed meats should be eaten sparingly, if at all. Processed meats refer to meats preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. Ham, bacon, corned beef; pastrami, salami, bologna, sausages, hot dogs, bratwursts, frankfurters and beef jerky are processed meats. So are turkey (and chicken) sausages, smoked turkey and turkey bacon. However, most studies have looked only at processed red meats.

Diets high in red and processed meats are linked to a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes. A steady intake of fat- and sodium-laden processed meats can also increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, being overweight and cardiovascular disease.
But she says that you don’t have to stop eating red meat, its good a good source of high quality protein It is a good source of high-quality protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. That said if you eat red meat frequently and in large portions, you should cut back. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends a limit of three servings – three ounces each – per week.
Leslie also recommends varying your protein source by adding fish and chicken to your menu, replacing ground beef for ground turkey or chicken in burgers, chili and pasta sauce recipes. Replace deli meats in sandwiches and salads with tuna, salmon, egg or cooked fresh chicken or turkey. Eat at least four meatless meals each week, such as lentil soup, bean salad, chickpea curry, black bean tacos, pasta e fagioli, tofu stir-fry and vegetarian chili.
As always eating a diet that includes a variety of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. So does limiting alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise. It is simplistic to blame one food or one habit as being the “cause”, rather increasing risk relates to lots of health choices.
Staying healthy requires much more than eating less meat. For healthy recipes visit Medisys Nutrition Tips and Recipes

#healthyliving

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.

 

 

Six Top Tips For Healthy Aging

shutterstock_84108826.jpgA healthy older woman is active and independent. By active, I mean being able to do the things you want like meeting your friends, going out, and working out. You don’t have any limitations based on physical issues. Being independent is a more cognitive aspect o f health. It means you are able to do thins such as your own banking, your own housekeeping and travel without needing someone to go with you. You can live on your own, you’re not in any kind of institution.

What are the signs of healthy aging in older women?
There are several markers that are considered predictors for how well you are going to age in the next ten years. Those include:

  • Self-Assessment of quality of life
  • Body Mass Index
  • Ability to walk/run
  • Ability to squat down to the floor
  • Having a strong grip

What steps can you take?

The ability to grip and squat really speak to muscle strength and balance and overall physical fitness. The ability to squat is interesting become some women go walking or to exercise classes but may not be able to maintain their ability to squat. Being able to squat to the floor indicates strong posture and balance and decreases the risk of falling. Because if you fall, you are likely to break something and fractured hips lead to a 25% death rate.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure that reflects the relationship between your weight and height. Healthy women have a BMI of between 20 and 25. Women in this range tend to do better life long, no matter what you’re looking at.
Eat Healthy More of the Time. Have lots of fruits and vegetables and reasonable amounts of protein. My daughter who is a dietitian advises an 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time, each a healthy diet based on Canada’s food guide. 20 per cent you can relax a little bit.
When it comes to exercise, you need to do two things; strength training to keep your bones strong and your upper body strong. And some form of aerobic exercise that elevates your heart rate for 30 minutes. Meaning you need to exercise with purpose-this is not walking the dog or have a hectic day, hectic is not aerobic.
Stay or become socially connected. A Canadian government study showed that social connectedness  is really important for healthy aging. And you will feel better than if you were isolated by staying at home.
Finally, medicine is a team sport. You and your doctor work in partnership to make good health decisions for you along with other practitioners; pharmacists, dietitians, physiotherapist and other healthcare providers.

* Excerpts taken from an interview with Dr. Brown in an article published in Mind Over Matter, Women’s Brain Health Initiative Magazine, 2014

#active #healthy #activeliving

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.