April 2014

Accountability, A Dirty Word?

 

Remember Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” ? It had quite a bit of notoriety several years ago  but I could never bring myself to watch it. Why you might ask? Although I agree that our medical system is tragically flawed and due to implode at any moment, there was a very important piece missing from that movie.You might want to call it the “elephant” in the room. Michael Moore himself appeared to be overweight and out of shape. Did he address that in his movie?

Where was personal accountability? Sometimes things happen. Cancer is one of those things. It is the result of many factors that are often out of our control (not smoking however which is in our control), but what about taking responsibility for one’s own health? Many diseases can be prevented with a healthy diet and exercise. We have the unhealthy habit in this country of blaming others when something goes wrong. What about looking within? We have great technology that can do amazing things such as opening arteries in the heart to prevent heart damage from a heart attack and removing plaque from the arteries that feed the brain to prevent damage from strokes. Even with all of this technology the true ability to prevent disease and keep things from getting to the point of needing it comes down to lifestyle choices. If you exercise, eat healthy, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking or never start, have your blood sugar and blood pressure and cholesterol under control odds are you will not need it!

I see patients all of the time who are fatigued and achy and angry that despite optimizing their hormone levels and vitamin levels they are still tired. When I ask them whether they have incorporated exercise and healthy living into their life they say “no”. What more can be done? What will it take to turn on the light of understanding? I am still trying to find the answer to that question. Each person is different, but it is a beautiful thing to watch when a patient figures it out. I am sorry it doesn’t happen for everyone. It needs to, and I challenge Michael Moore to find that answer to that question for one of his next movies!

Hooray For Chocolate

 

There have been many reported health benefits that have been discovered regarding the consumption of dark chocolate. One of those benefits is lowering blood pressure. When subjects with mildly elevated blood pressure were given a 100-gram dark chocolate bar daily their blood pressure significantly lowered. When milk was added to that chocolate, there was no benefit.

In another study, researchers divided a group of 470 elderly men into groups according to how much cocoa-containing food they ate and followed them over 15 years. The men who consumed the most cocoa-containing products were half as likely to die from heart disease as those who ate the least. In addition, they were half as likely to die earlier from any cause compared to those who ate foods containing the least among of cocoa or chocolate.

Finally, a recent study has found that 85% dark chocolate can decrease liver pressures after eating a meal in those with cirrhosis of the liver. After eating, abdominal pressures rise and chocolate can reduce that pressure.

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants called flavanols. Flavanols stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the artery walls. This causes the arteries to relax and pressures to reduce. That may be the mechanism for lowering blood pressure, preventing heart disease and lowering liver pressures.

Chocolate may be the new health food, but remember it has calories. So, if you are going to eat it make sure it is the good dark chocolate and that you reduce your other calories to compensate for the addition!

April Is Stress Awareness Month

 

Spring is here and stress is in the air. There are worries over the economy, unemployment, and the state of healthcare (among other things). There are ways that each of us deals with stress -both consciously and unconsciously. Some people get sick (not a great solution);others overeat; still others drink too much alcohol. But many people have learned to work it out in a healthy way using things like exercise, meditation, yoga, and talk therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT is a process that looks at a person’s beliefs, and helps to change negative thought patterns.It is like teaching people to look at the cup as half full, rather than half empty.A recent study has found that ten sessions of CBT significantly improved worry in older individuals with generalized anxiety disorder.CBT has also recently been shown to have an impact on depression and health outcomes in those who have undergone cardiac bypass surgery.

If you are stressed out, you are not alone.We suggest that you look to healthy ways to deal with stress and worry.If you feel you need help and would benefit from talking to someone, you might want to find a therapist who does CBT.And of course, you can always exercise too! Are you sick of hearing that from us yet?!

 

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