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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

So You’ve Bought a Fitness Tracker— Now What?

shutterstock_593935241You’ve finally decided to get into shape, need more motivation or just want another ‘toy’ to add to your growing list of fitness gizmos. So you begin to check out fitness devices. I started on-line and then decided to go to one of the big box stores to take a closer look. There are now so many of them on the market it can be daunting.
I was amazed at the variety of fitness trackers or ‘wearable technology ‘ as they’ re called on display. There are even trackers for pets and ones that will critique your tennis swing! I was totally lost. But quick relief, my daughter went online and bought me one!!! Whew, decision made.

So the first step is to decide what you want to track?
Steps, calories, heart rate, fitness activities besides walking or running or a combination of some or all, you can even measure the amount of sleep and awake time. Do you want one to wear on your wrist or discreetly on your person—in your pocket or attached to your bra?
Once you’ve made the choice the next step is to wear it for the first week—if you don’t regularly exercise then just wear it for a week to decide what you normally do –that would be your baseline.
Now that you know your starting point, it’s time to get moving.
Set a reasonable goal. Your fitness device might have a default goal — often 10,000 steps a day. From your baseline add 200-300 steps a day to increase your weekly total by 2,000. That’s an increase of about a mile a day. Keep building up until you get to 10,000.
When you look at calories burned, a reasonable goal is to increase by 250 calories a day. You can get that from 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise. Or you could burn that amount doing some extra moving during the day. Grocery shopping for instance burns about 100 calories an hour for a 175-pound person.
Remember, to lose 1 pound a week, you need to create a 500-calorie deficit each day. The best way to do this is by eating a little less and moving a little more.
Pay attention to how you feel. On a day when you walk 1,000 more steps than usual, you may notice you feel great and want to do it again the next day.
Transform wasted time into steps. Once you’re aware of your steps, the most boring parts of your day become opportunities. On hold with customer service? Pace your house. Waiting to pick up your kids from school, arrive a bit early and go for a walk. Take the stairs when you can instead of the elevator.
Healthy aging can begin with baby steps! And as always, it is one step at a time!

#run #fitness #active #healthy

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 ways to protect prevent skin cancer

shutterstock_564313852.jpgSkin Cancer in Canada is on the rise While the rate of new cancer cases and death rates for many types of cancers are going down, Melanoma or –skin cancer- is on the rise.   It is the most common cancer in Canada affecting one in five people today. A tan especially among young people is associated with attractiveness and looking healthy, but there is no such thing as a healthy tan. Using tanning beds and getting sun burnt in childhood and |Some alarming facts from the Canadian Cancer Society

  • Melanoma is the most common and deadliest forms of cancer in young people between the ages of 15 and 29.
  • Using a tanning bed before the age of thirty-five increases your risk of developing skin cancer by 75 per cent.
  • UV rays from tanning beds can be five times stronger than the mid-day summer sun.
  • Tanned skin is damaged skin. Even when the tan fades, the damage is still there.While it’s wonderful to feel the warmth of the summer sun and enjoy the outdoors sun there are also risks. Here are a few ways to protect you from the Skin Cancer Foundation
  • The sun is most intense between 10 AM and 4 PM –so seek the shade between those hours.
  • Do not burn.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens can be used on babies if needed, over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
  • If you are a beach goer, remember the intensity of sun exposure is elevated. Both water and sand can reflect up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays, however, beach and pool activities can be enjoyed safely as long as people take some extra precautions if f you use plenty of sunscreen
  • For effective ultraviolent A (UVA) radiation protection, select products that have some combination of the following ingredients: avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. MexorylTM), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Everyday sun exposure counts…Sun Protection is year round While we mostly think about protecting ourselves against the sun during the summer months, protection should be year round to reduce your lifetime sun exposure. So make putting on sunscreen a daily habit.

#sun #suntan #summer #healthy #skincancer

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

Brain Drain and Menopause: Reality or Myth ?

shutterstock_57740512Is there such a thing as Brain Drain and Menopause?
Research shows that the female sex hormone, estrogen, plays a key role in brain function. Estrogen declines during menopause, but that doesn’t mean your brain function will decline along with it. Although estrogen produced by our bodies helps the brain function, there’s no clear clinical evidence to support the notion that the brains of women after menopause don’t work as well as they did in the past.  What we are learning is the difference between changes with menopause and normal age-related changes in function.
Often, postmenopausal women do have memory slips or difficulty concentrating. However, research suggests a variety of potential underlying causes. These include disturbed sleep, extra stress, or depression. If you’re awakened by night sweats several times during the night, that’s often enough to interfere with your ability to concentrate or remember details for the next days’ meeting.

Should hot flashes be the reason for your insomnia and the fuzzy thinking and memory glitches that follow a sleepless night, try reducing their hold on you with some lifestyle changes. Exercising daily is linked to a lower incidence of hot flashes. And some products designed to lower your temperature, such as the menopod, may be helpful. And if you’re a smoker, this may be the motivation you need to finally quit: Women who smoke have more intense and more frequent hot flashes than nonsmoking women.
If you think you might be depressed, which can cause difficulty concentrating, make an appointment with your doctor. Menopausal hormone fluctuations can be linked to depression in some women. Feeling occasional sadness isn’t the same as being depressed.
If your stress level is noticeably high, you may be able to control and reframe your intensity by practicing some form of relaxation. One of the simplest ways to combat stress is deep breathing. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, or gentle stretching are also good ways to reduce stress. If stress, memory slips, or other menopausal symptoms continue to bother you, consult your doctor. The key is to take action that will let you feel more in control.
Now what was I saying?

#woman #brainhealth #healthy #menopause

Chilling hot flashes? You might want to check out the Menopod. (www.menopod.com)- It contains a cooling technology inside the device. There are no fans or moving parts. When you turn the power on, it instantly drops to a cool temperature) so that you can discreetly place it on the back of your neck to stop the hot flash.

 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.

CAFFEINE-THE UPS AND DOWNS. HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

shutterstock_433348924 (1)Millions of us rely on coffee to wake us up, keep us going and improve concentration and focus. But how much is too much and what is the difference between caffeine and coffee. Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical found in more than 60 plants including coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts and as we know used to flavour soft drink colas. It is also found in cacao pods used to make chocolate products. Man-made caffeine is sometimes added to foods, drinks and medicines. So caffeine is not just found in coffee.
Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults.
That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee. For children, 100 milligrams a day is the most a child should be allowed, although I would not recommend that children drink coffee.
Caffeine and Medications
Heavy caffeine use among adults can cause unpleasant side effects and may not be a good choice for people who are highly sensitive to its effects or take certain medications.
For instance, caffeine is used in painkillers such as aspirin and acetaminophen and for simple headaches. It’s also used in drugs such as 222’s because caffeine helps absorb the codeine – so certain medications include caffeine.
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than are others. If you’re susceptible to the effects of caffeine, just small amounts — even one cup of coffee or tea — may prompt unwanted effects, such as restlessness and sleep problems. Here are some of the side effects. How you react to caffeine may be determined in part by how much caffeine you’re used to drinking. People who don’t regularly drink caffeine tend to be more sensitive to its negative effects. Other factors may include body mass, age, medication use and health conditions such as anxiety disorders. Research also suggests that men may be more susceptible to the effects of caffeine than are women.

  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Insomnia

So I would say yes to a cup or two but no to a pot!

 #coffee #caffeine #healthy #breakfast 

DISCLAIMER
T
he 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.

Menopause: Hot tips and a new technology can help keep hot flashes at bay

shutterstock_181675298.jpgAny menopausal woman will tell you that hot flashes seem to come out of nowhere, usually when they are least expected, accompanied by an embarrassing outbreak of  ‘the sweats’ which can leave you drenched in sweat, flushed, and feeling uncomfortable.Hot flashes develop when your brain reacts to changing hormone levels in your body, which happens during menopause. The change in hormone levels causes your temperature regulation mechanism to be slightly impaired. Body temperature rises too easily. Your body then wants to disperse blood flow to cool you down and sends blood to the surface, to your neck, chest and face, causing you to sweat.
While you can’t stop the changes going on in your life, there are a few things you can do to help weather those hot flashes and keep them in check. Let’s look at lifestyle options for treatment of hot flashes. The most common one is dressing in layers. Dressing in layers, with a tank top with and a shirt on top of the tank allows you to open the shirt or take it off when you start getting hot. There are also many new fabrics that will wick away the perspiration from your skin to help you cool down faster. Check travel stores and outdoors stores for products that can take the heat. Turn your thermostat down, open the windows or use an air conditioner to help maintain a lower body temperature, especially at night.
Drink lots of water and stay hydrated.   Drinking lots of water helps keep your body’s cooling system from over heating. If you do have a hot flash, drink cool water right away to replace what you’ve lost.   Stay away from hot foods and spicy foods.
One of the most interesting ways of cooling quickly I’ve come across recently is a new technology called a Menopod. It’s a simple electronic cooling device that looks similar to a computer mouse. With one press of the power button, the device drops to 5 degrees Celsius or 41 Degrees Fahrenheit and provides instant relief for hot flashes. It can be used discretely anywhere and anytime.
The Menopod, contains a cooling technology inside the device. There are no fans or moving parts. When you turn the power on, it instantly drops to a cool temperature) so that you can discreetly place it on the back of your neck to stop the hot flash. By applying the Menopod to the base of your neck, you are telling your brain you are not hot and the flash decreases or goes away. This is a Canadian invention which was recently introduced at the International Menopause Society World Congress, and doctors loved it. It’s worth checking out.

In an upcoming blog, I will discuss other prescription options for those women that are having ongoing symptoms, not responding to lifestyle options.

#women #menopause #menopod #mature #healthy

 

 

 

 

 

Going Gluten–Free: Passing Fad or The Real Deal.

shutterstock_447232531.jpgThe demand for gluten-free products is exploding as more and more products are popping up on grocery shelves offering gluten-free alternatives. It seems food labels today proclaim everything is gluten-free –even vegetables! And according to a recent survey – a third of Americans are trying to go gluten-free. So what is gluten? And what does going gluten-free actually mean.

Firstly, gluten is a composite found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye and triticale.

A gluten-free diet –eliminating gluten’s is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease, a medical condition in which glutens damage the absorptive surface of the small intestine. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health.

According to the Canadian Celiac Association, statistics are not readily available but it is believed that 1 in 133 people in Canada have Celiac disease.

Some may not have Celiac disease but express an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten. In non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there is no attack on the body’s own tissues. However, many of the symptoms are similar to those in Celiac disease, including bloating, stomach pain, fatigue, diarrhea, as well as pain in the bones and joints. There is no clear way of diagnosing gluten sensitivity, so if you feel you might have an intolerance your only option is to eliminate gluten-from your diet for a period of time to see if your symptoms subside.   You could incorporate grains that don’t include gluten such as quinoa and amaranth.

However, going gluten-free means not eating many common and nutritious foods. Eliminating an entire food group also means having to adapt to an entirely different diet while ensuring you are still getting enough vitamins, minerals and fibers in your daily diet.

Gluten itself doesn’t offer special nutritional benefits. But the many whole grains that contain gluten do. They’re rich in an array of vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron, as well as fiber. Studies show that whole grain foods, as part of a healthy diet, may help lower risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

So before you decide to go gluten-free, check with your family physician and see if this is worth it for you.

#glutenfree #healthy #sugarfree #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.

 

 

Travel alerts internationally for polio and measles outbreaks this summer. Check your vaccinations before traveling

shutterstock_155497571.jpg

Travel alerts for polio worldwide & the resurgence of measles outbreaks in Canada, Europe and Africa, highlight the need for Canadians to get vaccinated before traveling to affected areas. Measles is a virus that can affect anyone and is highly contagious for individuals that have not previously had measles, or have not been vaccinated.

As long as measles is affecting children in other parts of the world, Canada will be affected as well. That’s why it’s extremely important for parents to ensure their children are vaccinated twice. Once when they are 12-15 months old, and again when they are 4-6 years old. Adults born before 1970 are likely immune, and everyone else needs to check their records. Polio, which has been eliminated from most countries, continues to occur in some areas of the world. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that travelers get vaccinated against polio when going to countries where polio has not been eliminated: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Syria, and Iraq.  As for polio, our travel clinics have been busy answering questions from travelers about getting the vaccine even when not travelling in affected areas.  My advice is to have one shot for polio, called IPV as an adult, if you have not already done so.
Measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus of the same name. It causes fever, runny nose and a characteristic rash all over the body. Most people recover, but the infection is fatal between one and three of every 1,000 cases. Polio is a contagious disease. It is spread from person to person through contaminated food and water. Polio can attack the central nervous system and destroy the nerve cells that activate muscles, which may cause paralysis and death.
So please check your vaccinations before travelling this summer.

#travel #summer #healthy

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.