Health and Fitness

Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship

Today I completed my 12 months’ long Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship (OHPF). It was capped off by my capstone project in which I wrote a policy brief and delivered testimony to our class on the topic of pharmacy benefit managers.

The OHPF is a year-long training program designed for Osteopathic Physicians and other individuals with an established connection to the profession to develop the skills they need to analyze, formulate, and implement health policy on the local, state, and national levels Our class was filled with talented and interesting people, led by intelligent, engaged leaders. I was lucky to be part of it.

Two of the the most important topics were foundations of health policy and policy analysis. These issues really hit home with my topic of pharmacy benefit managers. They were created to be the middlemen in this complex and expensive market, but they write there own rules and have realized outsized profit. More transparency needs to be injected into the pharmacy benefits system.

If you want to make the world a better place, you have to get involved. It is easy to sit back, and complain, but if you want things to change, you need to act. Learning about policy creation and policy analysis as well as advocacy this past year has armed me with the tools to do just that.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Blue Zones

I was struck this week with a realization of how much you can learn by examining someone’s hands. They’re amazing part of our body used for grasping and holding objects or to another hand of someone you love. They provide much insight into the health of their owners through clues such as muscle tone or the health of skin and nails. If you’re so inclined, they also may be used to read your fortune!

Today I found myself becoming frustrated observing the snacks, drinks and food that was served at the local hospital and nursing homes. We all know what we should eat but it is rarely reflected in what we actually do eat and serve to others. What we eat, makes a difference. Evidence from the “Blue Zones” proves this point.

The Blue Zones are home to the happiest and healthiest populations in the world. Every day activities such as gardening, walking, and climbing hills and mountains, in conjunction with a healthy diet are the key to exceptional longevity of people living in these regions. Many of these places have high concentrations of individuals over 100 years old as well as clusters of people who had grown old without health problems like heart disease, obesity, cancer or diabetes.

Some of the healthy eating habits include a Mediterranean diet which is heavy in vegetables and healthy fats and contains small amounts of dairy and meat products. In Japan, healthy food staples include sweet potatoes, soy beans, turmeric and bitter melon. One Blue Zone here in United States in Loma Linda California has a diet of primarily grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Inspired by these findings, a Blue Zones project was created to change the way people experience the world around them. This includes community-wide, well-being improvement initiatives to help making healthy choices easier for everyone in the community.

To be successful however, the entire community needs to participate. This includes healthy food and work environments at work as well as schools and healthy food options in markets and grocery stores. Everyone needs to believe that they can make a difference.

Stay well !

Health and Fitness

Chicken Parmesan

One of my favorite dishes has to be Chicken Parmesan. It’s one of those dishes, lovingly prepared that just makes you feel good.

I always remind people that to eat healthy and maintain an ideal weight, you don’t have to suffer and you don’t have to avoid foods that you love.

A simple hack is to consume a lot of raw vegetables. A study out of Harvard found that cooking food increases the amount of energy or calories that it provides to your body and raw foods provide less.

This is a strong argument to eat more bulky raw nuts, fruits, grains, and vegetables. The body uses more energy in digesting raw food than it does cooked food. Further, the body expends energy fighting off pathogens that are more prolific in raw food than in cooked.

Cooking food alters the proportion of energy that our body absorbs versus what is lost to gut bacteria, and what is excreted by our bodies. Cooking basically basically starts the digestive process externally and our digestive system does not have to work as hard.

Further, bacteria in the our gastrointestinal track metabolize some of our food for their own energy needs. When you consume more raw foods, more energy is leftover for the bacteria and therefore fewer calories are absorbed by the human being.

It is therefor easy to see how if you’re eating a high amount of raw foods that require a great deal of energy to metabolize, that you can freely eat your fill of some delicious chicken parmesan!

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Drink More Water!

One of the most ingenious water related devices I have ever seen may be the instant hot water faucet in your kitchen sink. When you’re a great cook, this is great to have!

Second to this may be filters that are attached to the faucet to enable fresh, always available, satisfying cold water to drink. Grab a large stainless steel water bottle and fill it up multiple times throughout the day!

Today. I read an interesting article about a lady who has a water bottle with 3 cups of water in it by her bedside that she drinks every morning when she first wakes up. She went on to elaborate on all of the many positive effects this has had on her health.

Many of us start the day with a large cup of strong coffee. It would probably make a lot more sense if we started our day with a large bottle of water. This would help us be more alert and energetic and start our day on the right foot. Because of the diuretic nature of caffeine in coffee, it does a little to provide our needed hydration.

Water further aids significantly in digestion. A great deal of constipation is related to the fact that most people are dehydrated. This is especially important if you are trying to increase fiber in your diet. You need to drink a large volume of water or the fiber may simply make your constipation worse.

Water is also good for your skin and soft tissues. You will notice improved elasticity and fullness of your skin if you keep yourself well hydrated.

There are many other benefits of drinking enough water such as improving your energy, preventing headaches, heart arrhythmias , kidney stones, and many more.

It may not be necessary to drink a full gallon of water a day but at least 8 to 10 glasses may be a reasonable goal. This amount should help you realize all of the benefits of good hydration.

Remember, do not use your thirst as a guide. It is an imperfect mechanism and typically will only kick in when you are way behind on your daily water consumption.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Colors

This past weekend, it was discussed how red is the appropriate color for Palm Sunday and the celebration of the passion of Christ. It got me thinking how red can be such a beautiful color. It can bring really bring out the beauty in another person, It can enrich your home on the walls of your dining room and is a classic color for your car.

But the most important colors right now may be blue and yellow. I wear them on my coat every day at work to remember the people of Ukraine. Although I feel helpless, I’ll stand in support, kneel in prayer and continue to send a little bit of money. Hopefully, Putin will soon realize the folly of his ways and stop this senseless fight.

On a different but interesting note, I came across a fascinating podcast on Freakonomics radio. The host explained better than I ever could, the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. I have heard so many factually incorrect comments from otherwise intelligent people about the COVID-19 vaccine. People have said things like, “ It may mess with your DNA or they are implanting a chip in you. These statements are simply false.

The technology used in the mRNA vaccine was first developed in the 1970s. The COVID-19 pandemic simply created an urgent need for its adoption. This resulted in the merging of science and medical need with the help of unprecedented resources, to quickly bring this vaccine to market.

In simple terms, this vaccine is able to get the host body to replicate one of the attachment proteins from the virus. This results in an immune response or a “memory” that provides significant protection against serious infection with the virus.

This is exciting technology that may have significant future uses to fight many different diseases.

Stay well!