Health and Fitness

Quantity versus Quality

The common knowledge is that the most important factor in weight gain is simply eating too much. While it is true that portion size has increased over the past generation by approximately 30%, the quality of the food you eat is by far the most important factor. If you overeat healthy foods, you can still gain weight, but it is much more difficult.

Poor quality, processed and sugar laden foods trick our bodies into storing fat. The food industry designs foods to be calorie dense, hyper-palatable and to have a long shelf life. All of these factors may sabotage our health as well as our waistlines. Convenient, low-cost snacks and processed foods, disrupt our fat storage mechanisms and lead to metabolic imbalances..

It is somewhat of an acquired taste but you can be truly satisfied and eat as much as you want as long as you’re eating a vegephile type diet. This emphasizes dark leafy vegetables and high quantities of greens, high fiber content foods and only small quantities of free range eggs, chicken, poultry and fish. Think of the meat as only a small side dish added to provide some flavor.

Avoid processed foods and simple sugar. Anything with a shelflife measured in months, cross off your list. You can make healthy substitutions and still feel full. Substitute dark colorful fruits for ice cream or Jell-O. Substitute mixed nuts for chips or pretzels. In nearly every instance, there is a healthy alternative.

More importantly, eating a healthy diet will lead to better health. No matter what your weight, a healthy vegephile diet will lead to improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as improving your mood, sleep, energy, bowel function and pain, just to name a few.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Diet versus Exercise

When it comes to losing weight and maintaining healthy weight, diet wins hands-down. high-fiber, vegetable dominant or a “vegephile“ diet is the cornerstone of healthy weight maintenance.

There is a 80–20 rule that has been written about which is just about right. It estimates that the contribution of diet to your weight is about four times more important than exercise.

Obviously, exercise is important to maintain strength and flexibility. It further helps you maintain balance and flexibility and decrease fall risk. It will help you avoid injuries and stay active throughout your life. Additionally, muscle burns fat. Having a lower body mass index and carrying more muscle enables you to burn more calories throughout the day.

Unfortunately, it is easy to sabotage our weight goals by unhealthy diet habits. For example, a 12 ounce can of soda has between 125 and 180 cal. All of them come from sugar, between 8 to 11 teaspoons per glass. It will take close to 40 minutes walking at a medium pace just to burn off those calories, and this does not even consider the negative impacts of the insulin surge that occurs after consuming that much simple sugar.

The easiest way to achieve a long term, healthy weight is to eat a high fiber, plant-based diet. This will leave you feeling more full and allow you to eat fewer calories while remaining satisfied. Further, it decreases the transit time of food to your gastrointestinal track. This leads to a healthier balance of the hunger controlling hormones leptin and ghrelin which will decrease your appetite.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Health Policy

This past spring I was chosen to participate in the Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship. I am honored to be part of this program that is sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

It is a fantastic program that explores topics such as scope of practice, paying for healthcare, individual state issues, federal agencies, vulnerable populations, disaster healthcare, medical education, urban health and advocacy.

There are many reasons why every physician should be familiar with healthcare policy. The Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship recognizes this and its members seek to inform health policy discussions at the federal, state and local level.

There are many key issues affecting healthcare in the United States. Currently, no one factor may be more important than ongoing healthcare inflation. Intelligent health policy can ensure affordable healthcare while maximizing access to quality, and creating healthier communities.

I accept the challenge of the Healthcare Policy Fellowship . I plan to work for positive change and keep the conversation regarding affordable, accessible healthcare, that improve the lives of all Americans, moving in the right direction.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Single Payer Healthcare

In the United States, there are multiple payers throughout the US healthcare system. Close to nine out of 10 citizens are covered by some form of health insurance. This includes a mixture of both public or government run programs and private insurance companies.

I just completed a fascinating book called America’s Bitter Pill by Stephen Brill. Although most people are not in favor of a pure single payer program, nearly everyone agrees that something needs to be done to control the ongoing and accelerating healthcare inflation.

In his book, he explores what happened with regards to crucial decisions made involving the drafting and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare coverage was extended to millions of more Americans. But in the end, it turned out to be a windfall for many insurance companies, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, and did little to rain in the out of control costs.

He wrote that on one day he received 36 different pieces of paper from the same insurance company on the same day. Would taking the control of charges out of the hands of private insurance companies and putting them in the hands of a single payer simply things? No one can say for sure. I do know that things need to be simplified and efficiencies have be put in place.

Over the years, a larger percentage of the total healthcare dollar spent is being directed towards administration. Millions of administrators, insurance agents and executives never put their hands on a patient. This trend needs to reverse

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Arthritis Myths

Arthritis is a common condition that can cause pain and stiffness in multiple joints of our bodies. It can affect nearly any joint, though it’s most common in the hands, knees, hips and lower back. Today I’d like to explore some of the myths related to this potentially disabling condition.

Many people feel that once they receive a diagnosis of arthritis, there is nothing they can do. This is a myth. I empower people by letting them know that their diet and exercises can have an enormous impact.

From a diet standpoint, anti-inflammatory foods, rich in omega-3, such as nuts, dark leafy vegetables, berries and oily fish will have a positive impact on pain and flexibility. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining an ideal body weight decreases the stress across your joints and helps maintain a higher level of lifelong function.

Some people feel that if their arthritis hurts they should rest. On the contrary, gentle movement and activity will make you feel better. Range of motion or stretching exercises may have a profound impact on the pain and function of an arthritic joint. Low impact exercise program such as tai chi and yoga are often more beneficial than any medication.

Exercise can improve strength, range of motion and stability of an arthritic joint. By doing so, pain may decrease. According to the American College Rheumatology, “Exercise and arthritis can and should coexist. People with arthritis who exercise regularly have less pain, more energy, improved sleep, and better day -to-day function.“.

People often ask which is better, heat or ice? A good rule of thumb is, whatever feels better. One caveat, if you have a warm swollen joint, ice is definitely better in the acute phase. In some cases, heat is better at first to help you warm up a joints and when in doubt, use ice after exercise.

Stay well!