Health and Fitness

Pain and Inflammation

Many of us have heard of the benefits of a “anti-inflammatory diet”. It can affect the health of your cardiovascular, endocrine and neurological systems. This healthy way of eating also can be a powerful way to help manage chronic pain.

An Anti-inflammatory diet consist primarily of healthy, non-processed foods. It involves healthy oil such as olive oil, tomatoes, darkly colored fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, or cherries. It encourages healthy amounts of fatty fish such as free range salmon, herring, mackerel,or tuna.The consumption of redmeat is limited to approximately once per week. Healthy nuts, particularly almonds and walnuts are a snack that you can indulge in frequently.

An Anti-inflammatory diet consist of foods high in omega-3 fatty acid’s. In general, these include flaxseed and oily fish as noted above as well as dark green leafy vegetables or broccoli. Herbs and spices such as ginger turmeric and garlic may also alleviate inflammation.

An anti-inflammatory diet is an important way to reduce pain. As an added bonus, there are no negative side effects. Inflammation is a natural response to imbalances in our system that our body uses for defense. Chronic inflammation can occur in response to lack of exercise, consumption of processed food, and a lack of exercise. If unchecked it may lead to multiple disease processes including cardiovascular, neurologic, and endocrine diseases as well as chronic pain.

So listen to your mom and eat your vegetables! We are what we eat.

Health and Fitness

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a compound that is receiving a lot of attention lately. It is a major factor people point to when discussing the health benefits of drinking red wine. It is a compound that occurs naturally in certain foods but it is also available as a supplement to take over the counter. It is present in the skins of grapes and red wine. You can also find it in grape juice, colorful berries, cocoa, and peanuts.

Studies point to a multitude of health benefits including the possibility of lowering the risk of dementia and heart disease. With regards to dementia, it has been noted to decrease the amount of beta amyloid protein in the brains of mice. This protein forms the plaques that are a characteristic finding in Alzheimer’s disease.

Resveratrol acts like an anti-oxidant and may protect the body against damage, and therefore has multiple potential benefits. It has been touted as an anti-aging or disease fighting agent. It can help cardiovascular heart disease by decreasing inflammation and lowering LDL. It also may help prevent insulin resistance.

I wrote years ago “Don’t eat anything white”. It’s obviously a gross oversimplification. But if you follow this rule and choose the most colorful berries, fruits, and vegetables in the produce aisle of your grocery store, as well as in the wine section!, you’ll naturally consume more resveratrol and receive a multitude of benefits.

Health and Fitness

Life Expectancy in the USA

It was reported in the news this week that life expectancy rose in the United States for the first time in four years. We witnessed a troubling trend in the age adjusted death rate and life expectancy over the past four years. For the first time in history the United States, the current generation was not expected to live longer than their parents. Prior to that, life expectancy has increased by nearly 10 years over the last half century.

Looking at the map above, one of the major causes of mortality becomes clear. The shorter life expectancy’s correlate with decreased physical activity and increased obesity in the states above.

Interestingly, the death rate from influenza and pneumonia increased in 2018 as well as, unfortunately, suicide. Fortunately, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving heroin opioids and methadone were lower in 2018.

In my mind, this constitutes a public health crisis. With all we know, our life expectancies should be continuing to rise. Unfortunately, about 80% of adults still do not meet physical activity guidelines and 71% of us are overweight or obese.

Dr. Howard Koh at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health wrote that “Health starts with where you live, labor, learn, play and pray.”. “What that means is that we need to embed a culture of health through all sectors of society.”. We as physicians can make a great impact but the health of a community is up to all of us.

Health and Fitness

Gone Too Soon

Although we all watched him play basketball at the highest possible level for 20 years, he may have achieved his greatest successes in the final two years of his life. After retiring, Kobe Bryant applied the same passion and intensity to his business and writing activities that he brought to the basketball court. He wrote and produced podcasts, films, and books. Remarkably, he received an Oscar for his film “Dear Basketball.”

Ironically, the injury to his Achilles tendon, two years before he retired from basketball, may have been the springboard to his post basketball success. In Homer’s Iliad, Achilles is shot by an arrow in his Achilles tendon. This makes him unable to run or jump. For a warrior, this is a fatal injury. For Kobe Bryant however, it only made him stronger. It inspired and enabled him to jump to higher heights of success.

He spoke of the “mamba mentality”. For him it was a desire to be a fierce fighter in all that he did. He would say that “I enjoy passing things on” and we should “live legendary”. No truer words may have been spoken. How ironic that his time on this earth turned out to be shorter than anyone could have imagined.

We never know when the last chapter of our lives will be written. For Kobe Bryant, he pursued storytelling as a second act and created a story of his life worth telling.

He will be missed.



Health and Fitness

A Day to Reflect

After spending 23 1/2 years in private practice at my current location, I am cleaning out all of my things this week, and turning off the lights for good. As I go through all my old items, I’m running across old books, pictures and course materials from previous conferences I attended. It makes me nostalgic and tempts me to want to hold on too strongly to the past. in order to grow, this may not be the right thing.

In his short life, Martin Luther King was able to leave us with many great and inspirational quotes. He challenged all of us to be better people.

One of the great ones that I came across was “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “what are you doing for others”It’s not about what we have acumulated materially , it’s what we are doing today to make a positive impact.

Of the many items and knickknacks and I accumulated over the years, one that I am definitely saving is a framed quote by Martin Luther King Jr.. It states “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase”. Whether you’re hurt, scared or simply unsure, the most important thing is to simply keep moving in the right direction.

Health and Fitness

New Year’s Resolutions

While trying to find some inspiration for my weekly blog post, I turned to lists of the best New Year’s quotes. I have to admit that I found some pretty good ones. Obviously, they can take us in a million different directions. It’s best just to pick a couple themes or resolutions that work best for you.

One of my favorites is a quote by Neil Gaiman. He said “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you’re making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”

When I read this quote, it reminds me of the power of one person. The ability of each one of us to change the world. We can all help many by helping one and make the world a better place by doing good. It’s not about expecting or hoping or wishing. It’s about doing. Believe in your ability to do good.

“Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Health and Fitness

Merry Christmas

Christmas is a season of great joy. It is a time of birth, of healing, and of renewal.

For those of us who count ourselves amongst the lucky ones, it is also a time of great love and abundance, both of gifts and of food!

It is important however, that during this busy holiday season, you remember to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for others.

It is very easy to over eat during the holiday season. With so many options, be careful to control your portions. Be also careful to limit your alcohol intake. If you’re going to be drinking throughout the party, drink slowly and alternate non-alcoholic beverages such as a carbonated water.

My universal diet advice is to eat more fiber. To do this, load up on high fiber fruits and vegetables. Especially raw vegetables. You can basically eat as much of these as you want and not gain weight.

If you plan to eat more, and not gain weight, however, you’re simply going to have to burn off more calories. To do this, encourage your family to do some physical activity such as go for a walk. Put on some warm clothes and enjoy the fresh air.

Have a blessed, healthy and Merry Christmas !