Look Beyond The Affordable Care Act… It’s Time to Become Proactive About Your Personal Health!

woman runner stretching

Many of us have misgivings about the Affordable Care Act. Although voicing one’s opinion is always a good thing, in this case it should not be a distraction from that which is most important, your own personal health. So, while the politicians continue to battle this out, be sure not to neglect yourself. Instead of ruminating over who’s paying for what, be proactive and do what you can to maximize your health. Here are a few strategies to employ.

First, as hackneyed as this may sound, it is essential to eat a healthful diet and maintain (or achieve and then maintain) an optimal weight. You may believe this to be inconsequential, but having looked at patients’ blood biomarkers for many years I can unequivocally state that losing weight when necessary dramatically improves one’s signs of metabolic disease. In fact, the changes I have seen are nothing short of remarkable. Inflammatory tests, tests demonstrating oxidation of fats, and blood sugar analyses ALL improve with proper eating and appropriate weight.

Then there’s the other commonplace admonition – exercise frequently, optimally on a daily basis. As with diet and weight management, exercise is an essential element in maintaining health and combating disease. Exercise can also take one’s abnormal blood tests and convert them to normal. The good news is that exercise does not demand visits to the gym. Gardening, walking, biking, hiking, and swimming all represent excellent forms of exercise.

Perhaps most important of all is the engagement of patients and their doctors. Patients and doctors need to work in concert in order to achieve the goals we all desire. By examining novel blood tests, appropriately utilizing the best of modern medical technology, and prescribing suitable medications when necessary, your doctor can help you achieve your optimal health. After teaching you the basics of physiology your physician can show you how your body responds to healthful adjustments. You can literally see yourself get healthier over time. From personal experience treating thousands of patients I can assure you that watching your own numbers improve will be incomparably motivating. So speak to your doctor; ask for his or her help; learn as much as you can about your own body; and get healthy in 2014!

Learn more about preventive cardiology at www.preventivecardiologyinc.com.

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A Walk on the Beach

Florida beach sunrise

Whenever feasible my wife and I enjoy a walk on the beach. This weekend was spectacular in southeast Florida, perfect for a peaceful, health-promoting amble upon a welcoming bed of sand. The ocean was obliging. The air carried a salt water scent and the breeze kept us comfortable as we strolled during the sun’s rise. Then it happened. The pungent odor of cigarette smoke invaded our space, instantly driving away our much-needed bliss. We looked at each other wondering who could possibly smoke at the beach. After all, the beach is meant for physical and mental salubrity. It is nature’s place; it is the embodiment of our reconnection to our roots, the birthplace of humanity in fact. How could someone mar this place and what would that someone look like?

Sitting by the shore, two young parents – accompanied by their three castle-building children – puffed continuously on their cigarettes. Walking thirty-plus feet from them, my wife and I could barely tolerate the smoke they emitted. Imagine then how much smoke their kids were inhaling! We know from countless studies that second hand smoke is deadly. In fact, every year approximately 40,000 Americans die as a consequence of second hand smoke. And, in view of our focus on healthcare dollars, we cannot ignore the extraordinary financial toll tobacco takes on our economy. Money is one thing. Offending my wife’s and my sensibilities and putting us at risk is another. Even more consequential though is the fact that these parents were unwittingly (I hope) putting their own children in harm’s way. Is this child abuse? I would argue it is. The data are irrefutable. Tobacco in any form – smoked, chewed, sniffed, or even involuntarily inhaled – can kill us. And, death aside, the immense cascade of hostile chemicals caused by tobacco and nicotine are terrifying. That being so, how is it not child abuse to subject one’s offspring to an ongoing and deadly threat? So while healthcare reform stares us unblinkingly in the eyes, let’s not neglect some of the most obvious and profound changes we can legislate. Let’s honestly and fervently take on the tobacco issue. Make smoking in public illegal. Make smoking in the presence of children illegal. In this situation let’s not get sidetracked by issues of civil liberties for the tobacco abusers. If they want to smoke in private, that’s okay. But, they are killing the rest of us. That is simply unacceptable.

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Tips to Improve Your Cardiovascular Health During National Heart Month

There may be no better time to change your ways and focus on improving your heart health than National Heart Month. Here are some simple tips that may help get you on a path to better cardiovascular and overall health.

An irreplaceable component in any healthful lifestyle regimen is exercise.

  • The American Heart Association advocates at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or any combination of the two). An average of 30 minutes a day, five times a week is an easy target to remember. (Personally I advocate 60 minutes of daily exercise). If you are unable to allocate a solid thirty minutes of your time to exercise you can divide your time into two or three shorter segments of 10 -15 minutes per day.
  • Walking is the simplest aerobic exercise you can undertake to effectively improve your heart health. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social, relaxing, and even meditative.
  • Racquet sports, basketball, swimming, golf, gardening – or any aerobic pastime that gets you up off the couch – are great ways to improve your cardiovascular health and potentially trim inches off that waistline.
  • If you’ve been sedentary for years, a full 30 minutes of exercise may be too challenging for you. Start with sessions of shorter duration – something is better than nothing – and gradually build up to a full 30 to 60 minutes of activity. Also, if you have been truly sedentary, see your doctor before embarking upon a new exercise regimen.

Adjust your diet
Excess weight can be a killer. Address any overweight and obesity issues you may have. If you currently eat a lot of fast food, sugary sweets or high saturated fat foods you should begin a transition to a more healthful diet. This is a lifestyle change and does not have to occur all at once!

  • Eat a diet that features daily servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables and at least one serving of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout) per week.
  • Limit foods and drinks high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. Avoid unhealthful snacks. Stay away from processed foods to the best of your ability. Avoid simple carbohydrates. Sugar is your enemy.
  • Consider a high quality fish oil pill that has been concentrated and purified to give you 1,000 mg of combined DHA and EPA in a single soft gel.
  • Take a good daily multiple.

Be your own healthcare advocate
In addition to undertaking a regular exercise regimen and eating a healthful diet here are some additional recommendations for leading a more healthful life.

  • Get a check-up. How often you have a check-up can be determined by your age, sex, and overall health.  Have your blood pressure checked, and get screened for hypertension.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether or not taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke is right for you.
  •  Get immunized: Annual flu shots are recommended for adults 50 and older, as well as immunization of adults 65 and older against bacteria that causes pneumonia and related diseases. Children should get immunized for measles, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, rubella, polio, hepatitis B, etc.
  • Cholesterol screening is imperative. Request an assessment of not only your LDL but your LDL particle number as well.
  • Never smoke; quit smoking if you’ve already started; and avoid second hand smoke.
  • Adults 50 and older should have a routine colorectal-cancer screening. (Genetic issues may dictate earlier screening).
  • Cervical cancer screening for sexually active women and women over 21 years of age.
  • Routine breast-cancer screening for women 50 and older and discussion with women ages 40 to 49 to set an age to begin screening. (Genetic issues may dictate earlier screening).
  • Calcium-supplements can be especially beneficial for adolescent girls and women.
  • Get an eye exam, particularly diabetics and adults 65 and older.
  • Manage your stress. Meditation, deep breathing, and simple exercise will help you do so.
  • Get routine dermatologic exams.
  • Get enough sleep. If you have a sleep disorder, please discuss this with your physician.
  • Always remember that you and your doctor are partners in the quest to keep you healthy and active for years to come. Find a doctor who is proactive and with whom you are completely comfortable. He or she should be instrumental in helping guide you throughout your life.

Visit vitalremedymd.com for more preventive healthcare solutions.

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