Health and Fitness

Physicians and the Environment

I read with great sadness and dismay this week that the Ford motor company is essentially stopping the production of all sedans in North America. As the owner of multiple Ford cars over the past 35 years, this is hard for me to believe. I have always been happy with the performance reliability and gas mileage of the Ford, Mercury and Lincoln cars I’ve driven.

I currently drive a Lincoln MKZ hybrid. I can easily achieve 40 miles per gallon in this relatively large sedan. I’ll never understand why people turned from gas efficient cars to large gas guzzling SUV’s. Once the floodgates were opened, however, nobody wanted to be the one without an SUV with its large size and and elevated sight lines. Now all American car companies are following each other like lemmings off the SUV cliff.

I can’t help but think this is a bad idea. In inflation adjusted dollars, gasoline is at a historically low price. At some point, however, this is going to change. When this happens, many people will be stuck with vehicles they can’t afford to drive. Also, it just doesn’t make sense to me to waste so much gasoline. Our country could literally burn 40% less gasoline if we would simply switch to small American made cars and not drive around alone in large SUVs or pick up trucks. Obviously, I don’t mean people who need a truck or large SUV for hauling or work activities.

As physicians, we must be concerned with the health of our environment. If we as individuals all made simple changes in our lives, it would have a profound impact. We could all burn less gasoline, use less water and electricity, recycle more, and turn down out thermostats.

Paul S Auerbach wrote in JAMA that “Environmental conditions contribute to the presence or intensity of many medical conditions, as with temperature-related morbidity and mortality, health effects of extreme weather conditions and their sequela, ecological change, starvation, allergies, pollution rated health effects, water and food borne diseases and vector-rodent born diseases.

Our health and the health of the world in which we live are interconnected.

Stay well!Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Food in Healthcare Facilities Should be Healthy

If you walk into any healthcare facility, you may be surprised that the food served to our patients well as the food that is served to healthcare workers at meetings is frequently unhealthy. This food, as well as food that is brought in by family members of the patients is frequently processed and sugar laden. I know that the primary motive is providing adequate calorie and protein consumption in a caring manner; but we need to try harder. Because unfortunately, these nutrient – poor foods come with a long term health cost.

Dr. Susan Wolbert, MD wrote in Kevin MD.com that it’s time we start discussing the elephant in the room. She stated “We need to show love and appreciation in ways that promote health rather than disease, and we need to set an example in healthcare.“. I couldn’t agree more.

Chronic respiratory illness and advanced age increase the risk of poor outcomes in Covid -19. Two more top risk increasing conditions, however, are obesity and diabetes. It is more important now than ever that we improve the diet of ourselves, our family members, as well as our patients. If we wouldn’t give alcohol or tobacco to patients with alcohol or tobacco use disorders, then patients with diabetes type 2 and obesity should also not eat sweets and processed foods.

The food we provide to patients as well as the health care workers should like look like the picture above. They should be colorful, fresh and satisfying. Cookies, candy, and processed sweets may be inexpensive in the short term, but the long-term cost of regular consumption of these foods to our health are high.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Public Mask Order Extended to Entire State

Last week, Governor DeWine extended the mandatory public mask order to the entire state of Ohio. With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, this seems like a reasonable expectation.

As of 6 PM on Thursday, July 23 all Ohioans will be required to wear a face covering. This excludes children under 10 years of age as well as people who are actively exercising, eating or drinking.

The simple fact is that facemasks can help slow the spread of COVID-19. Combined with other common sense measures such as frequent hand washing, sanitizing, and social distancing can have an enormous impact.

Surgical or cloth masks, although relatively loose fitting, can filter out large particles in the air and reduce contact and exposure to saliva and respiratory secretions of other individuals. Although estimated to only be about 30% effective, combined with other precautions it can add up to a significant decrease in infection risk.

My hope is that people will take these reasonable precautions seriously. If we do, maybe we can stop canceling our high-value activities such as church, school, family, and athletic activities. We should be able to perform all these activities if reasonable and consistent precautions are in place. These include wearing our masks, good sanitation and reasonable social distancing.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Leadership and Learning

I spent this past week in Dallas with my family. We drove there to move my son to his new apartment where he’ll begin an exciting new life and job after graduating from the University of South Carolina. I couldn’t be prouder.

While there, we traveled to the top of Reunion Tower. From there, we could see all of Dallas and the surrounding areas. We had a bird’s eye view of Dealey Plaza, the Dallas Book Repository, the infamous grassy knoll, and the x-mark on the highway where sadly, President Kennedy was shot.

From this height, it was easy to become philosophical, dreaming of a day when statesmanship existed and a higher level of discourse mattered.

President Kennedy had planned to deliver a speech to the Dallas Citizens Council on the day that he was shot. Several of his quotes resonate today with great power.

He said “There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future. Only in America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live. “

He concluded by saying “We in this country, in this generation are – by destiny rather than choice – the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, goodwill toward all“. That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength.

Health and Fitness

Exercise to Decrease Pain

Gone are the days when doctors tell you to go to bed and rest if you are in pain. Exercise has long been known to improve strength and mobility. It is now apparent that it decreases pain in many different ways.

Sciatica, or lumbar radicular pain is caused by nerve impingement. Exercise may have profound benefits on this type of pain by improving nerve gliding, stabilizing the spine and decreasing inflammation.

Diffuse pain and stiffness caused by a condition known as fibromyalgia may respond in a profound way to consistent exercise and reconditioning. Not only does it decrease overall pain, raise pain tolerance and decrease pain perception, it improves our ability to work and play and have a higher quality of life.

Exercise increases your heart rate and oxygen consumption which increases the flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body. This will help flush your system of toxins and inflammation, which may decrease pain and stiffness. Further, moderate exercise can increase your bodies productionof natural antioxidants which will help protect your cells and decrease tissue damage

For joint pain, range of motion and strengthening exercises that help stabilize the joint may take the pressure off painful areas within a joint which results in less pain and wear and tear on the joint.

Exercise can make you feel better in so many different ways and improve multiple aspects of your health. Decreased pain is one of the most profound benefits. Exercise on a regular basis, either sport specific activities or the recommended minimum of 150 minutes per week of a fun aerobic, strengthening and flexibility program.

Most importantly, stay well!

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