Time to Invest in a Pedometer

Currently, roughly half of Americans do not meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity. Physical activity has many physical, emotional, and physical benefits, and it is one of the best things you can do for you health. It been shown to help decrease and maintain weight, to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, to strengthen bones and muscles, and to improve mental health and mood.

Many Americans find it difficult to start an exercise program and stick with it. A new study published in PLOS Medicine showed that participants who use a pedometer daily tended to be more active than those who didn’t.  When they utilized a pedometer  and received advice on how to increase physical activity, people had longer exercise sessions and they were more likely to continue to exercise long term,  3-4 years later.

So if you are having difficulty starting and sticking to walking more, buy a pedometer! It will help you stay accountable to your goals and keep you on the right path!

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

It seems like every year there is a new diet craze or a new way of eating. Many people are searching for the magic bullet for weight loss, and they go from diet to diet hoping that one works. The “new” craze is the ketogenic or keto diet. What is the ketogenic diet, and is it right for you?

The keto diet is based on scientific evidence and has been utilized for almost 90 years. It was originally created for patients with epilepsy since the keto diet mimics fasting, which has been shown to reduce the number of seizures for patients.  It is a very low carbohydrate diet which enables the body to use dietary fat and body fat storage as the primary fuel source for energy, rather than carbohydrates.  The body believes it is fasting because of the very low carbohydrate intake, and it starts to burn fat for energy. ”Ketosis” is a physiological mechanism that occurs in the body when adequate carbohydrates are not available to burn for energy, and instead, the body burns fat for energy, producing ketones as a by-product. When ketones rise in the body, it enters into ketosis, which is a fat-burning metabolic state that results in weight loss.

The diet works by severely limiting the number of carbohydrates that you consume to 10% of total calories. Carbs should come predominantly from leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables. For most people, this is about 30-50 net grams of carbohydrates, but some people get the best results on only 20g of carbohydrates. 20% of the diet should be from protein, especially fish high in omega-3s and grass fed and organic meats. All processed meat should be avoided. The remaining 70% should consist of healthy fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, coconuts, and medium-chain triglyceride oils. Dairy is allowed, but it should be limited. All sugar, grains, processed foods, and alcohol should be avoided.

In addition to weight loss, the keto diet has been shown to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and to improve blood sugar management. It also protects against cancer, decreases the risk of heart disease, and protects against Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions. It may also increase mental focus and alertness as well as increase energy.

The keto diet has been shown to work for weight loss, but it can be difficult to adhere to. Additionally, some people, especially those who have difficulty metabolizing fats, will not do well on the ketogenic diet. Consult a health care practitioner before starting the keto diet and see if it is the best option for your weight loss and daily regimen.

End the Silence

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. It is during this month where we raise awareness to an illness which affects millions of women worldwide.

1 in 10 women in the US are living with endometriosis, and sadly, they are often suffering in silence. It is a disorder that is commonly misdiagnosed as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or simply ‘period pains.’ It can take an average of 10 years between symptom onset & proper diagnosis.

Endometriosis is a disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside instead. Endometriosis growths bleed in the same way the lining inside of your uterus does every month. This can cause swelling and pain because the tissue grows and bleeds in an area where it cannot easily get out of your body. The growths may also continue to expand and cause problems, such as: cysts, inflammation, problems in the intestines and bladder, or formation of scar tissue & adhesions, which may not only cause pain, it may also make it difficult to become pregnant.

The pain that women with endometriosis suffer, which can often be severe and feel sharp or stabbing, occurs in the pelvis or belly and usually won’t go away with medication. Some women with mild cases have intense pain, while others with advanced cases may have little pain or even no pain at all. Other symptoms include excessive bleeding during and/or between periods, backache, leg pain, painful sex, painful bowel movements, and infertility.

While there is no known cause, there are several factors which place you at greater risk for developing this illness. These include:

  • Never giving birth
  • Starting your period at an early age or beginning menopause early
  • Short menstrual cycles
  • Having high levels of estrogen
  • Family history of endometriosis
  • Any medical condition that prevents the normal passage of menstrual flow out of the body
  • Uterine abnormalities

Unfortunately, there is no cure but there are several treatment options. The doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and take the one of the following steps to determine if, in fact, you do have endometriosis:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Imaging test, such as ultrasound or MRI
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbs like cinnamon twig or licorice root, or supplements, including thiamine (vitamin B1), magnesium, or omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Lowering your estrogen level by exercising regularly, taking birth control, or avoiding large amounts of alcohol and caffeine

If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of endometriosis, contact your doctor immediately. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can be on the path to feeling better.

 

 

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656

https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis

https://www.endostrong.com/#end

 

By Gina Stallone

What is a Free Radical?

Free radicals and oxidative stress are buzz words that have been trendy in the press. The media touts consuming foods with antioxidants to promote health and longevity, but why is it so important to fight free radicals and what damage do they cause?

Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species, are unstable forms of oxygen that have an unpaired electron. Electrons usually exist in pairs, and since free radicals are constantly looking for their missing electron, they move around the body trying to find a way to pair it. Some amount of free radicals in the body are normal, since free radicals are the products of normal cellular metabolism and are created through ordinary body functions. They help defend against infectious agents, regulate biochemical pathways, and signal cellular functions.  However, free radicals are also created from environmental exposure, such as pollutants, radiation, antibiotics, and chemicals. Additionally, they are produced from emotional and physical stress, overtraining, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and a poor diet, especially one high in unhealthy fats, sugars, and pesticides. These uncharged molecules can be very harmful to the body because they are unstable while moving around the body, and they may damage cell structures, including DNA, lipids, membranes, enzymes, and proteins, and they derail important biochemical pathways.

Antioxidants are molecules that donate an electron to free radicals to neutralize them. By reducing the number of free radicals, they protect against free radical damage. Normally, the amount of free radicals and antioxidants in the body balance each other out. However, when there is an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidant system, oxidative stress, or rusting, occurs. During oxidative stress, the immune system becomes overloaded, which harms and ages the body due to the damage to the structures in the cells. This can affect every organ and system in the body and is linked to the development of most chronic diseases.

It is important to consume a diet rich in antioxidants to combat free radicals. Some foods rich in antioxidants are berries, grapes, cocoa, green and white tea, and fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids, bioflavonoids, lycopene, quercetin, lutein, and resveratrol. Many herbs and spices are high in antioxidants, including turmeric, oregano, cinnamon, and rosemary. In addition to consuming antioxidants, our bodies create antioxidants by using vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals from the diet. The most important antioxidants in our body are glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase.

The Western Diet is one of the primary reasons free radicals are increasing. It is devoid of many antioxidants and is too high in calories. Because our diet is mostly “empty calories,” it lacks many nutrients and antioxidants, which are important for our internal antioxidant system. Additionally, the more calories consumed, the more work for the mitochondria, which produces free radicals as a byproduct.

In order to eliminate oxidation, we need to change our diet, lifestyle, and environment. First, avoid overeating and try to maintain a healthy weight. Eliminate sugar, processed foods,and refined carbohydrates. Eat organic fruits and vegetables when you can and avoid pesticides. Avoid toxins and air pollution and find methods for reducing stress. Supplements are available, but is better to have a healthy lifestyle and diet to reduce free radicals.

By Denise Groothuis RD

Get Some Sleep!

Ever wonder why you’re extra irritable or lack patience after a sleepless night only to return to normal after getting some shut-eye? This is because sleep & mood are directly connected. A lack of sleep can hinder you from thinking clearly and keeping your emotions at an even keel. Studies show that excessive sleepiness can hurt work performance, wreak havoc on relationships, and lead to mood problems like anxiety and depression.

It’s rare for people to sleep well all the time. You may be sleep deprived temporarily due to life events but can catch up after a few extra hours of sleep. However, long-term sleep deficits can cause long-term side effects and health concerns. Research has shown that long-term sleeplessness adds vulnerabilities to the common cold, diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease, anxiety, and depression. It can also be dangerous. Sleepiness makes your reaction time slower, which is especially dangerous when driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that at least 100,000 crashes reported to police each year are due to driver fatigue. You don’t need to fall asleep at the wheel to be a danger — drowsiness alone can be as dangerous as driving drunk. Driving while sleepy is like driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% — over the legal limit in many states. If you find that you consistently get less than 5 hours of sleep per night, you should speak with a medical professional regarding the best ways to remedy the problem before it becomes a bigger issue for you and for others.

 

by Gina Stallone

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar, or glucose. Normally, the pancreas releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. However, when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or when the body doesn’t respond appropriately to insulin, diabetes can occur. Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel. If you have diabetes, no matter which type, it means that you have too much glucose in your blood, which can lead to serious health problems. Chronic diabetes conditions include Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Potentially reversible diabetes conditions include pre-diabetes, which occurs when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Another is gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy but may resolve after the baby is delivered. For someone without diabetes, a fasting blood sugar on awakening should be under 100 mg/dl. Before-meal normal sugars are 70–99 mg/dl. Speak with your doctor to learn more and always go for annual physical exams/blood work to keep on top of your levels.

A key component to managing diabetes, regardless of which condition you have, is to maintain a healthy weight through a healthy diet and exercise program. Studies show that following a “diabetes diet,” rich in nutrients & low in fat and calories, is best. This generally consists of eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while cutting down on animal products, refined carbohydrates, and sweets. Speak with a registered dietitian to help create a meal plan that will work specifically for your needs. In addition, everyone needs regular aerobic exercise. Exercise lowers your blood sugar level by moving sugar into your cells where it’s used for energy. Speak with your physician about the appropriate exercise regimen for you.

By Gina Stallone

 

Kids and Concussions

Each year, approximately 30-45 million children & adolescents between the ages of 6-18 participate in organized sports. The young brain is especially susceptible to concussions. In fact, sports-related concussions account for more than half of all emergency room visits by children ages 8-13. Despite that large ratio, experts say that certain terms have minimized the serious nature of the injury. These terms, which are used to describe a hit, include “ding” or “bell ringer” and should be replaced by the actual medical term, mild traumatic brain injury.

Virtually no sport is free of concussion hazard. A concussion is caused by a direct or indirect blow to the head. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to lose consciousness to sustain a concussion. Approximately 90% of concussions involve no loss of consciousness or only a brief disruption of mental alertness. You don’t even have to hit your head — a whiplash injury can cause one. Recognizing concussion symptoms in children can be more complicated than in adults, since a child may not be capable of articulating certain symptoms of a concussion, such as feeling “in a fog” or vertigo. Other symptoms, including irritability, may be mistakenly interpreted as a behavioral issue rather than a sign of a brain injury. Some competitive young athletes are so eager to get back on the playing field that they deny having any symptoms, or they downplay their symptoms, in order to get back in the game. Others may exaggerate their symptoms to avoid returning to school. It’s best to err on the side of caution and take all reported symptoms seriously. Find a balance between returning too soon and sitting out too long is an important part of the plan for optimal recovery.

 

by Gina Stallone

References:

https://concussion.weillcornell.org/about-concussions/kids-and-concussions

https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/24/concussions-can-occur-in-all-youth-sports/

Go Further with Food

 

March is National Nutrition Month. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics developed this in 1973, with the first theme being “Invest in Yourself – Buy Nutrition.” Its primary focus is on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating & exercise habits. This year the theme is “Go Further with Food.” With the New Year’s resolutions and holidays behind us, this month is the perfect time to re-focus our health needs and kick-start our health goals.

Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated! Start making simple changes to your daily diet & you will see some big results. Here are some simple tips to get started:

  • Eliminate processed foods
  • Minimize saturated & trans fats, sodium, and added sugar
  • Eat lean meats, poultry & fish
  • Consume a lot of vegetables in a rainbow of colors!

You want to eat what you love, but be smart! Always keep everything in moderation. Smart food choices will help guide you on the path to a healthier, longer life.

VO2Max Test

VO2 max is a measure of your maximum aerobic capacity. As your aerobic fitness increases, your VO2 max increases. This is an important aspect of running performance and for endurance athletes, as it will help determine the athlete’s level of fitness.

VO2 max specifically refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can take in and use during intense or maximal exercise. It is measured as “milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight” (ml/kg/min).

Establishing a baseline VO2 max is critical for any endurance training program. Once you determine an athlete’s VO2 max, you can then design a program using various endurance training methods, and test their progress with subsequent max tests. Beginner runners can improve their VO2 max simply by logging more miles however, more experienced runners will need to do harder workouts in order to boost their VO2 max. It is possible to increase VO2 max by regularly performing exercises that challenge the cardiovascular system. This is done by increasing endurance training volume and intensity over time. Full-body rhythmic movements which include running, cycling, swimming and rowing are all effective ways to do this. It’s also important to be sure and provide variety to the types of endurance training being done so as to continue challenging the body.

The Bruce Treadmill Test is common test done to estimate VO2 max using a formula and an athlete’s ability to exercise on a treadmill as the workload is increased. The Bruce Protocol is a maximal exercise test where the athlete works to complete exhaustion as the treadmill speed and incline is increased every three minutes. The length of time on the treadmill is the test score and can be used to estimate the VO2 max value. During the test, heart rate, blood pressure, and ratings of perceived exertion are often also collected.

The Bruce treadmill test is a maximal exercise tolerance test, it is not something to be done without a physician’s clearance and expert supervision. In an untrained individual or an athlete with an underlying heart condition, exercising to a maximal effort can lead to injury or potential heart events. While performing the treadmill stress test, clinicians will monitor the patient’s vital signs continuously and stop the test at any sign of trouble. For an athlete, an experienced technician should monitor heart rate and rhythm throughout the testing. Be sure that your testing facilitator has the appropriate clinical expertise and has conducted such tests many times before you step on the treadmill for your own testing. Since this is a maximal exercise test, it should not be performed without a physician’s approval and without reasonable safety accommodations and supervision.

 

References:

www.runnersworld.com

www.stack.com

By Gina Stallone

Get in the Know

A heart attack strikes someone about every 43 seconds. The most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort but there are many other signs & symptoms that can occur. Many movies portray a person clutching their chest and immediately dropping to the floor but it doesn’t always happen to quickly in real life. In fact, people often do not realize they are even having a heart attack at all! Research has shown that people often equate the symptoms they are experiencing with acid reflux, gas pains, the flu, or normal aging.

It’s important to mention that if you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms seek immediate medical attention. Aside from the chest pains & discomfort, the following symptoms can also occur: pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach; shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort; breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness; uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of your chest or upper back.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women but it is preventable. Schedule an appointment with your physician to learn about your personal risk. You can also quit smoking, which will cut your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent. Another simple tip is to start an exercise regimen. Just walking 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke. Lastly, you can modify your diet and make changes for a healthier, longer life.

 

Reference: www.heart.org